Ask Dana – TV stand makeover, Buying Felt, and what is this canned pumpkin?

Last week we talked about Photography.
Today I’ve got a grab-bag of questions.
If you have a question for ASK DANA, please email me at:
danawillard (at) gmail (dot) com
I recently decided to paint and redecorate my house. But I have a messy TV stand that I don’t want to throw it away. I want to cover up some of the areas, so the messy books and dvds don’t show anymore. Any suggestions? I’m a very cheap person but I can invest some money in it if I need to. I’m sending some pictures for you to see.

Hi Barbara,
I’m happy you want to make-it-work with your current TV stand. A new face-lift can really transform it. Here’s what I would do to the room….

* Move the dvds and books to a totally separate bookshelf that has doors to hide everything. This could be a cheap IKEA bookshelf in another room, in a closet, or in a corner of the room where it doesn’t get eye traffic. My mom often buys old bookshelves at garage sales, paints them white, then tucks them in closets to hold items that don’t need to be out all the time.

* Slide the TV stand over a bit from the piano to give it more space. Maybe place a small basket on the floor between the piano and TV stand to hold a few books/magazines, kid toys, or throw blankets. I’d also add a pretty mirror or large piece of artwork on the wall to the right of the TV stand. And I love the piano. Looks like a beauty!

* Spiff up the TV stand so it acts as a piece of art itself, to hold pretty things rather serving as a catch-all station. I would paint the outside frame of the stand and the skinny pieces that face outward either white, black, or chocolate brown….and then paint the insides of each shelf (the shelf, the sides, and the roof of each cubby) a contrasting color–maybe bright red? orange? or a color that compliments your decor. Peacock blue? I thought I’d find a picture to give you a visual and low and behold, I spotted this photo on pinterest. What do you think?
I can picture it now!

* Finally, instead of filling the shelves/cubbies with tons of dvds….pick a few select books, some interesting trinkets, vases, handmade items, pretty things you like to look at, etc. and arrange them on the shelves.

I always recommend painting the trim and white walls of your house an Ultra Pure White color but that’s just my design aesthetic. It really brigthens up a room. You can read more about painting tips and ideas in my Painting 101 post HERE:
Good luck!

Hi Dana!

I was wondering if you could share where you get your felt? We have such a pitiful selection of fabric stores in my area. I’ve ordered some from Magic Cabin, but it only comes in rather small pieces/sheets. Then I’ll check a shi-shi site like Purl Soho and it’s ridiculously expensive. The felt of your adorable cookies looks so nice- I’d love to know where you got it, since I know you’re a logical human being who wouldn’t spend $60/yard on felt.


Thank you for finding me logical :). I definitely could never spend $60/yard on felt. But I can understand where you’re coming from. So here’s my not-so-secret, secret to buying felt….I get most of it at good old Joann Fabrics! But I don’t buy the cheap pre-cut squares. I purchase the stuff sold by the yard on bolts. And the color selection varies from Joanns to Joanns, so larger stores will have a better color selection.
And I love questions like these because it’s just the thing I cover in detail in my new book!
Here’s a snippet of info to help you out…

Felt comes in roughly three categories:

* Cheap Acrylic , sold by the yard or in pre-cut squares at most craft and fabric stores. These are usually lower quality, some square-cuts are thin, and come in limited colors (mostly bright or simple pastels)
* 100% Wool. This is the finest wool possible. However, it can be pricey (about $18/yard). It’s carried in some fabric shops, sold by the yard, and can be found in online shops, such as Wool Felt Central. They have every shade imaginable!! It’s lovely
* Blended Wool. This is my favorite. It’s a blend of 100% wool and synthetic fibers of Polyester or Acrylic. The wool feels much nicer than the cheapy squares and costs about 1/2 the price as 100% wool, about $7-8/yard. Fabric shops such as Joanns carry some interesting jewel shades, even some Heathers which give the felt a richer look. They’re sold by the yard and are definitely worth the extra cost (which can be countered with a 40% off coupon!)


Hi there Dana,
I have a favor to ask please…could send me your favorite pumpkin pie recipe? My sons’s kindergarten asked if I would make one, so the kids can see what it is like. Being a South African, I have only ever made pumpkin pie once and it was fine, but I’d like these kiddos to have fond memories of the pie šŸ˜‰

Mmmm, I do love me a good pumpkin pie, so you’ve come to the right place (and if you’re looking for many pumpkin recipes, just read the comments in THIS post or check out the ones I’ve made HERE).
But first let’s talk about a simple ingredient….
It makes me smile when I get comments from international readers asking about canned pumpkin. Such as this comment from Jac:
We don’t eat pumpkin pie in Australia – it’s totally unheard of. You make it seem so good that I googled it and realized you use CANNED pumpkin? – can’t believe you can even buy pumpkin in a can!!!
– Jac
I can see how it sounds odd–pumpkin in a can. I can’t imagine mashed potatoes in a can or squash in a can. But let me dispel any confusion about pumpkin here in the States. Canned pumpkin is simply pumpkin that’s been baked, pureed, and had some of the liquid squeezed out to create a nice solid pack of pumpkin in a can.
It’s very common here and used for most pumpkin recipes. Of course you can always make your own pumpkin puree from a real pumpkin, but the canned stuff is quite tasty and so easy. Make sure you read the label on the can however, since some pumpkin is packaged as “pumpkin pie mix” and has spices/sugar already mixed in. I think pumpkin tastes best in a pie or mixed with some sort of chocolate…
Like my favorite Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (with cream cheese frosting on top):
But you were asking about PIE here.

Okay, the recipe I always use is the from the Libby’s pumpkin can (Libby’s is the most famous pumpkin brand here in the US). So, here you go. Straight from the back of the can:

LIBBY’s Famous Pumpkin Pie
3/4 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

2 large eggs
(1) 15 ounce can Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin (or about 2 cups of homemade pumpkin puree)
(1) 12 ounce can evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell

MIX sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture to the eggs. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
POUR into pie shell.
BAKE in preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake 40-50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Of course, it’s best with whipped cream on top!

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