Friday, November 30, 2012

Outdoor Decor

The other night I pulled into my driveway at twilight. The curtains were open and life was happening inside. It made me pause for a moment to think about our house from that perspective. Of someone looking at our house from the outside. Do you ever look at your house this way??

Isn't this potted arrangement so beautiful?! My friend Sabrina made it for my front porch. It's the only part of my house that the rest of the world ever gets to see so why not make it pretty? Especially this time of year. Bonus: it was really affordable and it smells AMAZING!

Here is a photo of Sabrina from last Christmas. Besides her stunning potted arrangements, her business Second Nature Designs in Haslett, Michigan, also sells hand-tied wreaths. 

Second Nature is marketed at homeowners who want to change the look of their home seasonally or for a special event or party, for those who are staging a home for sale, and for business owners who want to create a great first impression. 

Check her out and "like" her Facebook page! Then place an order for your own beautiful potted arrangment(s)! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Stuff I Found

First I checked out this book from the library:
Serena & Lily's Nursery Style book
Then, I found this on Etsy:

Baby Mobile Ninja by PinkCheeksStudios
Neither of which is relevant to my life. Sorry to have alarmed --or excited-- any of you.  :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Full Moon Dreams

There was a big beautiful moon out our front window at dinner last night, and a big bright moon from the back window this morning. Which means I had nightmares and insomnia... 

In ONE of my zombie dreams last night I got to meet a favorite interior designer. Tobi Fairley has been featured in Traditional Home and on HGTV as well as decorating celebrity homes. But, last night, she was just another one of the refugees from the zombie apocalypse. We were all staying in this truly beautiful home in order to figure out how to battle back against the face eaters. It was quite cinematic. Of course, I introduced myself to her.  :) Then a zombie burst through the floor and I ran to hide while the warriors fought off the zombies...

In honor of the dream, here are a few of my favorite images from Tobi's portfolio.
This image is from Energy House. I seriously love that name! 
 Also from Energy House.

From Inverness Circle... You can just get a glimpse of the way she uses black & white in this design from the reflection in that big sunburst mirror over the sofa.

Here's a black & white shot from Inverness Circle. I love how rich the gold frame looks against the black & white. I am also partial to the origami animals in the glass box since Griff is working on a school project about origami right now. 

This is from Mediterranean Estate. I like the series of framed pieces on the wall (can't really tell what they are, maybe sheets of music??). Up, up, up has been a theme I've been thinking about in my own space lately so I'm happy to see it used here.
Similarly I like this series of wall hangings, particularly so because of the sea-creature theme.
From Build for a Cure.

Just when you think you know what the color scheme is going to be, she switches it up on you, which keeps it very fresh. Love these book spines and the bouquet of roses. From Build for a Cure.

This kitchen from La Marche features a gorgeous banquette as well as lots of fun fabrics.

This kitchen is from Pleasant Valley, which was one of Tobi Fairley's favorite projects and how I first learned about her. In fact, this is a wider view of the bar featured in a post I wrote way back in July. The paint color on the cabinets is Sherwin Williams Topsail SW 6217. 

In fact, color is my favorite aspect of Tobi Fairley's designs. I must not be the only one who feels that way because Benjamin Moore has teamed up with her to offer another contest (remember the Layla Grace dining room contest? Judged by none other than Tobi Fairley!).  

This one is the 2013 Color Trend Design contest, and four winners will attend design camp with Tobi. How fun!

What do you think the color trend will be for 2013?? Leave a note in the comments to let me know!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cyber Monday Relief

Not to be a major downer here, but if I see the words "Cyber Monday" one more time today, I might scream. Do you feel that way?? 

To escape, I organized my Pinterest boards. Did you know that you can now create secret boards? You are allowed up to three. I've tried it and it works, but I can't tell you what they are because it's a secret. ;)

Here are a few of my favorite Pinterest images from recent days.

This beautiful entryway is not yet decorated for the holiday season. It is simple, symmetrical, and so lovely. 

These chandeliers in Grand Central Station are amazing, aren't they? Whenever I think of Christmas shopping I always think of the beautifully decorated windows in New York City at this time of year. I imagine it's early evening and I am walking down some busy NYC street, Christmas carols are playing in the background, and snow lightly dances around a street light. Too many holiday movies, I think, otherwise where did the soundtrack come from??

I love these window boxes filled with evergreen branches and tied with a simple red ribbon. So easy!

This lamppost with a simple berry wreath looks so inviting, especially with the snowflakes in the background.

If you are rarin' to go shopping online today, Joss & Main has a pretty good little cyber deal. Enter CYBER30 at checkout to get 30% off your purchase. {If you join their site from here, I will get $15 when you make your first purchase. Thanks!}

Friday, November 23, 2012


"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings." Arthur Ward

Paper Crafts

Thanksgiving eve lunch

Sweet potatoes for pie and chocolate chip cookies

Thanksgiving blend coffee from Starbucks



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dining Room Design

In a few spare minutes this morning, I designed my ideal dining room using Olioboard for a contest sponsored by Layla Grace. Here is my entry.

If you visit this link on the Layla Grace website you can vote for my entry (daily) for the next five days. You can also see how much this room would cost for each of the different elements. 

I tried to use some consistent colors across the design as well as create a theme of sorts with the birds (art & rug) as well as the bird cage like chandelier and branch-y candelabra. What do you think? Would you enjoy a meal in this room?? I think even my fish sticks would taste better here! ;)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Holiday Card 2012: Blessed

Today is the last day for 20-40% off holiday cards at Shutterfly (use code CARD40 at checkout). 

Because I tend to wait until the last minute, today is the day I ordered mine! It was super easy and actually sort of fun to create my card. I selected 31 favorite card images from a selection over five pages long, plopped in my photo which I had already uploaded to Shutterfly, and kept at it until I found a few that I liked. 

Narrowing it down to just one was difficult, (there were about five other choices I really liked), but ultimately I chose "Blessed" as our holiday message. The card is blank on the inside so I can write messages to loved ones; and although we are Catholic, not everyone on our mailing list is, so I wanted to avoid printing "Merry Christmas" this year. 

**Because I am sharing this image on my blog, I will receive a coupon for $10 off my next Shutterfly purchase. But, more importantly, I wanted everyone to get a preview! :)

5x7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Six Tips for an Easy Countdown to T-Day


Depending on your holiday plans this week, today is the day you might be getting your turkey out of the freezer to thaw, or labeling your pie plate or casserole dish to take to someone's house. 

Thanksgiving 2006. My biggest hosting gig, yet I still had time
to snuggle with my littles.  :)

In the past I have been a happy hostess, having as many as thirteen adults and eight kids including my own newborn, and other times as few as three adults and two kids. My view of hosting Thanksgiving is a bit like childbirth. I tend to underestimate at the outset how much hard work is involved in the labor, and then mysteriously forget everything about it after it's over. Thus, my first sentence above about taking your turkey out today... It all depends on the size of the bird, I guess, and I always have to Google just how long it is supposed to take per pound. 

So, if you are hosting the feast and need some encouragement, here are a few little reminders to make everything flow smoothly this week. 

1) Get all of your serving pieces out. 
Find the bowls & platters and the forks & spoons. Now is the time to realize your gravy boat is holding decorative soaps in the powder room, not Thursday morning. One thing I find helpful is to put a sticky note or even the recipe card into/onto the dish that I'll be using to serve whatever it is (and then add the serving utensil). Not only does this help me think through how many dishes I'll need, it can also be handy when company comes and wants to know what they can do to help. 

IF you are ordering pies or breads, go to the bakery today to get the best selection. Waiting until Wednesday might mean that you don't get what you want.

2) Plan something for the kids.
If you will have kids at your celebration, download some crafts or games that they can do while the adults are occupied. Construction paper turkeys and pilgrim hats are also fun and easy, or use paint & Q-tips to make a pretty fall tree. If the kids are older and the weather cooperates, consider setting out a football or other sports equipment to encourage time outdoors. If you're not sporty, you can plan a nature hike or scavenger hunt in the wild instead. Check out this fun printable from Bloom Designs.


3)  Wash your linens.
Not only do you want to have your tablecloth(s) and napkins ready, but think about hand towels for the bathroom and kitchen dish towels. Have more than enough. Along the same lines, be sure to stock the bathroom with plenty of whatever you might need: toilet tissue, hand soap, feminine hygiene products, air freshener or a candle, and maybe even antacids and painkillers (just keep them way out of reach of children).

4) Get your table decorations ready.
If you haven't decorated for Thanksgiving already, or you want to ramp it up for the big day, consider a pretty table setting. It doesn't have to be expensive to be beautiful. In fact, the most lovely and memorable place settings are often small and pulled together. A bouquet of fall flowers split into smaller vases set along the table, votive candles on a runner, or tea lights on a dish of acorns would all make very cute and affordable table decorations.

5) Set the table.
For the events I host at work, the caterer always pre-sets the tables. It makes things run so much smoother, and that's with waitstaff! If you are having a sit-down dinner, then on Wednesday night you may want to set a plate, napkin, utensils, and drinking glass at each place. For a buffet, you can set up the plates near where the food will be served, with a basket of utensils (perhaps wrapped in the napkin) here or at the end of the line, and create a station for drinks.

6) Prepare any make-ahead dishes.
Many dishes can be made and held over. Wednesday night is the perfect time to get these out of the way. Order a pizza or other take-out for your Wednesday night dinner, and start cooking! This is also the day to make any last minute trips to the grocery store or bakery.

Have a wonderful day counting all your blessings! 

Hopefully this list will help you to feel less stressed. Let me know in the comments if that is the case, or leave your own handy tips to encourage someone else.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Bookcase

I recently rearranged my bookcase, sorting the books by color. It was a bit of a challenge to apply ROYGBIV, and it may not entirely be how someone else would see the rainbow, but overall I am pleased with the result. 

The top shelf has books with black to grey spines on the left and white to cream spines on the right. In the center is a black & white photo of me and the kids from a few years ago.

The second and third shelves are seen in this photo. I like the way the warmer colors on the second shelf (the golds, reds, and oranges) contrast with the cooler colors on the shelf below (the blues & greens). I end-capped shelf two with a silver dish full of shells from our trip to Marco Island atop a reference book. The yellow flowers on the third shelf balance out the watery blues & greens of the book spines, and refers nicely back to shelf two. 

The bookcase is about six and a half to seven feet tall, and dark wood. It's hard to photograph, which is why this post is so wordy... The bottom two shelves are dedicated to the kids. Since this photo was taken I've switched around the baskets. Now it only holds two of those baskets and they are aligned the other direction; it is much less messy. The bottom shelf has board games.

Currently the bookshelf is in the corner of the living room near the bar. But that is the ideal place for a Christmas tree so it's time to do some re-thinking and moving!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

French Provincial Provocation


I am absolutely LOVING this French provincial dining table I found on Craig's List this morning. According to the listing, the apron and legs have been freshly painted, lightly distressed, and waxed, and the table top was freshly stained and sealed. It comes with one leaf, which adds 12" to the 62" overall table length.

Here are some more detail shots...


It's $350 and in Clarkston, which is about an hour from here.

If we bought it, then we would need new chairs as well as a bench to create a banquette-look along the lines of these:

Elle Decor

Better Homes & Gardens
Fieldstone Hill Design

The seller in Clarkston is also offering this gorgeous little French provincial desk, which would be perfect for Bela's room. Love all those little drawers on top!! Isn't it darling?

I measured our space and used my most positive voice, "This is how big the new table is." But the love of my life just shook his head. No, we will not be buying these things, lovely as they are. It's fun to dream, and very instructive to know what we like. Now we can set about finding a dining table or desk with the same lines and refinish it ourselves for much less. 

{Although I think if you were going for this look in your house, and wanted both items, you might be able to negotiate a lower price with the seller... Maybe. They're so pretty I imagine they'll sell quickly!}

Friday, November 16, 2012

An Organizing Interview

Bela's apple picture

They say the apple doesn't far fall from the tree, and I feel that is true with my little "apples."  :)

Bela, in particular, shares my interest in organizing and decorating. She spends hours playing with her dollhouse (my own first "house") and has arranged it in the absolute cutest way, using a miniature baker's rack to hold the purses for her Polly Pockets, among other things. 

Beyond that, she does many other adorable things like creating place settings for dinner, remembering to send a card to her cousin for Halloween, and laying out her clothes for school. Take note that she knows how to spell the word "November" in the top picture; the kid knows her calendar.

Here is her checklist for last week's movie night (moovee tim). She is quite methodical, but also angel sweet. 

The other morning I asked her a few questions before heading out to first grade. Her answers are provided here so that we can learn from the wisdom of a little child.  :)

Mom: Why do you organize?
Bela: So I can find things.

Mom: What's your favorite thing to organize?
Bela: My dollhouse. I find lots of shoes for my Polly Pockets.

Mom: Did someone teach you how to lay out your clothes the night before? 
Bela: No.

Mom: How do you know when to do things?
Bela: {Shrugs}

I wish she had been home this morning to help me look for our plaster Thanksgiving turkey. It's lost somewhere in the basement, and I'd love to find it to decorate the dining table. She has a knack for knowing just where to find things. Truly, the apple of my eye!  

Joss & Main has the cutest sale going on right now: loads of fun patterns on bags, pillows, and rugs. Check it out!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Six Ideas for Christmas Decorating or Giving

Because it will be here before we know it (Thanksgiving is already next week! How did that happen!?!?),  here are some fun items for Christmas decorating or giving.  :)

This lovely little ornament is sold by Arhaus for $9. Buy just one or two, fill them with your own magical items (or let your kids!), and hang them from the fixture above your dining table or in another fun place in your home. Be creative!

I love this burlap and poinsettia pillow from Pottery Barn. It says Christmas yet is still neutral enough to coordinate with any color scheme. I think it would be so fun to create a holiday pillow tradition. Buy just one new holiday pillow each year and see your collection grow!

To make it even easier to afford buying some pretty new holiday decorations, The Inspired Room and Reluctant Entertainer (two of my absolute favorite blogs with the nicest bloggers) are teaming up for a wonderful giveaway. You can win a KitchenAid stand mixer AND handmixer, a $100 Pottery Barn gift card, and an apron from the Hip Hostess. Visit either of their websites to enter (but be sure to leave a comment on both blogs to qualify). Good luck!!!

For a coastal-themed home, these shell-shaped candles from Wisteria are the perfect accessory. There is something so cozy about having lit candles at this time of year. Put a few of them on a pretty plate and light 'em up!

Deer are so "in" right now. Besides these cute cocktail napkins from Joss & Main, I've also seen pillow covers, place cards, you name it! Find your own way to incorporate this look into your holiday design scheme for a hip look.


And because no holiday home is complete without a party, here's a great book for planning a cookie swap. 

If making something is more your speed, try this yummy looking peppermint sugar scrub from The Idea Room. You can give it as a gift, or use it on yourself to zap the stress of the season. I cannot wait to try it at home (both the making and the bathing!!).

Whatever you choose to do to celebrate the holidays, though, my wish for all of you is that you will truly enjoy this time of year! :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tavern Inspired Holiday Decor

I had lunch today with a friend who also works downtown. Such a treat!!! She and I have been trying to schedule it forever, literally a year or more. I don't know why I allow myself to postpone the connections that are so enriching. Do you ever do that??

We ate at Tavern on the Square in downtown Lansing. I had been there once before a few years ago for Happy Hour drinks with another friend, but I had never eaten there. The food was great (I had the southwestern chicken & black bean soup), but I was most impressed by the decor. 

The restaurant has a large, sectioned-off outdoor eating area with a fireplace! The fireplace was lit today, which was lovely to pass by. We've had snow already and I had walked there from my office. 


Inside, the restaurant has dark wood walls, a dark painted bar, and dark furniture. The lighting, however, makes the entire place feel warm and cozy. There are lanterns interspersed with simpler hanging fixtures over the bar. Totally a look I would replicate at home. Beyond the bar, across from where our table was located, is a large reproduction of Washington Crossing the Delaware on the wall. 



I love the look of very dark walls as well as having a certain fondness for bars (above are a few of my favorites of both). Tavern on the Square made me wonder where I could copy that look in our own house. Furthermore, the entire restaurant was decorated for the holidays with greenery, twinkle lights, and ornaments hanging from the ceiling. It was so charming and it made me really excited about decorating for the holidays. 

We have some business to attend to before we can really start thinking about Christmas. Things like rearranging the entryway again, moving the bookcase finally, and seriously purging some toys. I feel so torn about this last task, but listening to the discussion between the Happiest Mom Meagan Francis and Happier at Home author Gretchen Rubin on the Kitchen Hour helped. It's just stuff. The kids will feel better if I deal with it.

To address that little issue of postponing the things that bring me joy, I bought myself a pass to my favorite yoga studio this week. There's such a sense of peace in knowing where I'll be for the rest of the year. And that that place is on my mat, in a perfect sanctuary, where I'll be able to gaze out the windows and see snowflakes and the tops of trees.

Is there something you can do for yourself right now that will help you to brave the hustle & bustle of the holiday season ahead?? Please share your ideas in the comments section. :)


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