Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday I'm In Love: Giveaways!

Giveaways are great for both bloggers and the companies who sponsor them. And getting the chance to win an expensive pillow or lamp shade is not too shabby for those of us who read blogs!

The best giveaways, in my opinion, are the ones where I find something new that I like so much I would be willing to pay for it if I don't win. Yep, I'm pretty much a salesperson's dream.

Anyway, Sadie + Stella and bryn alexandra both have just such FANTASTIC giveaways this week. Perfect for a little spring pick-me-up in your home! 

S+S is giving away not one but TWO pillows (your choice!) from Mimosa Lane. Here are some of my favorites.

bryn alexandra is giving away $100 in the Cruel Mountain shop on Etsy. Cruel Mountain makes gorgeous custom lampshades. Here is a sampling of my faves. {I was extra-excited about this giveaway because I had found the Cruel Mountain shop earlier this week.}

Be sure to visit these blogs to enter to win! And leave me a comment to let me know your favorites because I'm curious like that.

Disclaimer: I do get an extra entry from S+S for blogging about the giveaway; I think that is off-set by your entries, but maybe I'll get some good karma... :)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Complicated and Juxtaposed

In design, I like contrast. Dark and light. High-end and low-cost. In life, as much as I crave simplicity, the reality is that sometimes issues are complicated. In those cases, I think we should strive for balance. 

And then there are the times when two extremes must co-exist. 

Like my 40 Bags in 40 Days project. Which is about to become 40 Bags in One Day. Even as I listen to a podcast with Katrina Kenison about slowing down motherhood. One of these days I'll have to write my love letter to Katrina Kenison, but not today. I have bunches of bags to fill.

Here's a snapshot of the house that I'm calling artistic. It needs some loving attention. How is it possible we have so much STUFF?!

I can't see a good decorating plan when I have stuff everywhere. And as long as cabinets and closets are stuffed to overflowing, there's no place for things to go...

We colored Easter eggs last weekend--or at least one little person and I did. Neglected in the background is that microwave cart. But it will find its season of transformation, just like the caterpillar becomes a butterfly.

And on the day I was able to get this beautiful book, I also found this hilarious off-color nutrition site. 

Just like my house, my body is going through a spring detox. Upon the suggestion of my doctor, I am wheat-free. Weirdly, it is easier to say "no" to a donut when I can't even have bread. And I'm supplementing with this liver detox. I see whiter whites in my eyes and feel less of that rusty feeling in my joints. 

Now for another day of glorious sunshine and some fresh air with this old girl...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Goal Setting

By the time we are able to harvest some vegetables from our garden this summer, I might will have some of my decorating projects done. 

1. 80's microwave cart transformed into a glossy white cabinet.
2. Hemmed drapery on master bedroom wardrobe (have to learn to sew first...).
3. Kids' bedroom makeovers including paint, window coverings, art, and more.

And maybe some photos to go along with it. Happy "spring"! Is it warm where you are or snowing today??

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday I'm in Love: Furbish Accessories

It's characteristic of the vastness of the blogging world, I suppose, that I continue to discover things new to me. That's what happened this week with Furbish, a curated collection of fabulous finds for the home, created in 2009 as an extension of the popular lifestyle blog Suwannee

I like the prices, and LOVE the products so it's a natural fit for this week's "Friday I'm in Love". With a collection like this, you only need to buy one or two items to really make a style statement. Find your favorite and give yourself a treat!

Shown clockwise from top left: a book of paper placemats featuring pop-out disguises ($28 for 25). Raccoon storage bin $36 (camel also available). Brass USA paperweight $26. Paper mache zebra hook $62.

I am a little bit obsessed with pink flamingos lately so I love this print. It is an unframed 8x10 for $25. Organic glass vase $42--very petite with a six inch diameter and only eight inches tall. Brass longevity finial for the top of a lamp $12.  Orchid tray accented with 22k gold $165. And yellow spotted silk pillow $45. 

Colorful dragon pillow $165 -- great size at 18x24 inches. Turquoise capiz lotus holds tealight or votive also available in orange & green $16. Melamine Chiang Mai tray $14. Jolly Roger horn box $28 -- about the size of a $1 bill. Tiered pendant in blue (also available in aqua and taupe) $300.

There is so much more on the site. Check it out, and let me know if you get anything!

Also, since I know so many of you are book lovers like I am, Fab is having a great sale on clothbound Penguin classics. The "Ancient Adventures" set featured here costs $30 for the pair. Other great titles in the sale include works by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and the Bronte sisters.

Happy weekend!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The 80's: Take Two

Last night we finished watching Argo. It must have started out slow because the first time we tried to watch it, I fell asleep. Last night I was too exhausted to walk my dog or clean the house after work but I managed to stay alert through the entire movie. 

From the Washington Post
And it was so good! I remember following the Iran hostage crisis when I was a very little girl, terrified that the Ayatollah would come to Michigan.

Besides the captivating story (which won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay), watching the movie confirmed for me that the 80's are so totally back in style. 

Need more proof? 


Dallas is back on TV.

Jonathan Adler
Brass is on chandeliers.

Little Green Notebook
Animal prints are on office chairs.

Bold colors are getting preppy.


Eagles have landed on mirrors. 

What are some of your favorite 80's looks that are coming back into style? Anything you absolutely want to forget??

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lightness and Dark

I can't decide whether to write about fashion or women's issues today. I'll intersperse some of my favorite images from the One Room Challenge for those of you who just don't care that much about either (today is their big reveal--prepare to get giddy).

From Calling It Home. Linda is the ringleader of the ORC. It was hard to choose my fave detail from her makeover; I ultimately picked this one because I know that gorgeous gold-framed mirror was a $15 Craig's List find.

On the one hand there is my fab outfit. The calendar may say vernal equinox, but March is roaring outside like a lion with a burr in his paw. I don't care, though. I know it's coming. I feel it in my overly cold bones. So I'm wearing a sleeveless purple floral print dress today. Happy Spring!  I copied my sweet Bela's fashion sense and am wearing leggings instead of panty hose. The leggings are white cable knit that function like tights (read: should never be worn without something over my derriere). Big black boots--accident that the word "big" appeared after my behind?? And a lavender cardi. Only 3/4 sleeves so I'm shivering as I type. But I craved a salad yesterday, and I'm pretty sure that means spring is nigh.

From Kim Macumber Interiors is a re-designed home office in her basement. LOVE all the orange plus the pops of green.

On the other hand is Steubenville. We may be the only young household in the capitol area to carry the newspaper all seven days, which I have deduced from all the advertising by AARP, but I have no clue what number CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News are on my television. Which is a good thing because even with my head in the sand I hear enough about things I would prefer not to. 

Check out this little girl bedroom from Little Black Door. Could that fabric lampshade be any more divine?? Not to mention every other single thing about this sweet space.

Some beautiful, chic ladies who are also the most amazingly loving mothers complimented me today on my  outfit. And I feel good in it despite being cold. But I have a secret. There's a torn seam on the side of the dress that I just noticed even though it's pretty big; I purchased my leggings from the same place I buy my groceries; and the boots are older than my son. Also, when I was putting on makeup today I first had the thought that lots of blush makes me look so much more cheerful. Then I thought "kind of like Bozo." Refer back to the first sentence of this paragraph, though. Make an effort at style and people will appreciate it. It doesn't have to be perfect to be perfection.

Nancy from Powell Brower Interiors re-did her laundry room to be sleek and chic.

As for the other, I am a mom to a girl AND a boy. By the world's definitions they are a potential victim and a potential perp. But by god I will do everything in my power to make sure neither is either. I have hope. Griffin told me this weekend--completely unprompted--that he didn't like the suitor-selection scene in Brave because it made the princess seem like a prize, not a person. Another time, the sweet little neighbor boy wanted to "save" Bela while they were playing. She refused so she could save herself instead.

A little detail shot from Julia's bedroom on Pawley's Island Posh. Part of a bigger bedroom re-do that is truly masterful.

Some of you have never met me in person. I swear my truth is pretty close to the perception. I am cheerful and gentle and love to build other people up. When I walk my kids into school I sing out my hellos to kids, parents, teachers... So when I read about dehumanizing crimes of power and humiliation like in Steubenville and it makes me think dark thoughts of what I would do if that girl were my baby, I wonder "really? could I be a fierce grizzly bear mama?".  To protect her and keep her safe? To ensure that not only does she not see herself as a victim but that nobody else does either? 

From Classic * Casual * Home written by Mary Ann Pickett (no relation, although I'd love to pretend to be related so I could stay in this amazing guest room).

And then I remembered! Some of Griffin's friends were being mean to Bela during a playdate awhile ago and I turned on them. I told them "nobody talks to my daughter that way" and made them apologize to her. Who knows if any of the kids remember. Or if it made Bela feel valued, or the boys to see her as a person worthy of respect. But I'm glad to know that indeed I can be a strong mama. 

Super fun playroom from Markova Designs/Hodge Podge. I love seeing our family's favorite books on their shelves and the fun patterned pillows.

Be sure to check out all of the ORC participants via the links on their reveal pages. There is so much more to love than just what I featured here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Design Crush and Announcement

There is no better time to announce that we (FINALLY!!!) purchased a real camera than to also reveal my latest design crush. 

The camera is a Canon EOS Rebel T3. Much like this one, however, we found an amazing deal at a local store. As we drove home, full of satisfaction with our purchase, Phil pointed out that most people in our rural area aren't spending $400-plus on cameras. Thus, a Black Friday deal on the eve of St. Patrick's Day.

At some point I'll figure out how to actually take some good photos and upload them here on the blog. For now, though, I am soaking up inspiration from a professional photographer/photography instructor-turned-interior design blogger. Design Crisis was started by two friends--Erin (the photographer) and Karly (a web designer)--in Austin, Texas, in 2008. Their blog is irreverent and stylicious. 

Check out these pictures of Erin's mid-century modern house.

Design Crisis

This is just. such. an amazing room! I love the dark teal wall color, the way the fab bookcases are painted the same shade and melt into the background. Then the pop of cream from the clean-lined sofa. The symmetry of the pillows. The texture of the pillows. The color and pattern on the pillows. The barest peek here of the big, spotted rug. The reflectiveness from the sofa legs and the swing-arm brass wall sconces. And how the sconces are flanking this portrait that has literally divine color blasting off the canvas. 

Now check out what the room looked like before Erin made it over.

Seriously?! Did you laugh out loud?? I did! This is what the room looked like before someone had the courage and creativity to go from average to awesome!

One more time... When I say "be bold" -- THIS is what I mean. Whoda thought??

Here are a couple more photos from their smart, funny, beautiful blog.  (Told you it was a design crush--could I have used any more loving words?!).

Design Crisis
From a post about her long living room. While I love the emerald green chairs, my favorite part is the gold-framed black whatever that is--painting?
Design Crisis
From a post about her little guy's nursery. The huge chest, the pattern on the chair and the soft pillow, the drummer boy art. The drapes, the rug. Are those brass pussy willows coming out of the chandelier?? It's masculine yet soft all at once.


A detail shot from the nursery. More soft and hard elements.

The reason for the nursery. Isn't this photo stunning?! Proof that great photos really matter (and, of course, that babies rock).

What do you think? How can you be inspired to make your home more you? 
And how excited are you to see some of pictures of my house soon?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Taking Care of Ourselves

Today's theme is evolving into self-care. The real, honest-to-goodness kind of self-care that results from facing up to the scary things, the unpleasant tasks, or the just plain unattractive, un-fun ways to spend our time and money. 

One blogger I follow posted today about her cancer diagnosis; another friend has reached her weight loss goal of 100 pounds! For me, it was an oil change. My car needed more than five quarts of oil and was well overdue when I pulled in to a quick lube shop this morning before work. It feels good to know that's done! Satisfying that I've done something to take care of me. 

Up later this week are hair cuts for G&B, a vet visit for our dog, and then more "taking care of me" time when I get a physical on Friday. I'm also committing to walk everyday (just putting that down makes me wrinkle my nose with the burden of actually having to do it--and I really LIKE walking!). Actually go to yoga class. Eat yogurt. Not eat a donut...

Of course I am not alone in putting off the stuff that seems important but not urgent. As if I have all the time in the world for exercise. Or that another brownie isn't a big deal. Or that I can keep throwing stuff into a cabinet and shutting the door. 

What will you do to take care of YOURSELF today? I'm now off for my {stupid, good-for-me, grumble-the-whole-way} walk.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday I'm in Love: Coastal Decor

"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade." Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
The Coastal Contemporary sale on Joss & Main today is a wonderful mix of high and low, and all perfectly sun-shiny. I have great expectations of summer just looking at it.

These pieces are all in the low price range. For the set of two pillows the price is less than $30. Likewise the "You Float my Boat" sign is less than $20 and the ottoman is less than $100.

I'm crazy for seagrass if you haven't yet noticed so I totally dig this little end table for $86.95. The striped runner is fairly priced at $109.95, and the colorful anchor pillow is a bit of a stretch at $38.95.

Now for the higher priced pieces.

Unfortunately, the high rollers have already done their shopping, and the sweet $2,300 buffet is gone. But that great patterned chair and coral print are still available. 

I also like the easy way the high and low pieces mix together...


Those nesting tables are my absolute favorite in this sale and only $104.95. 

There are many other things I like in this sale like a cute little writing desk, big red anchor pillow, and tangerine indoor/outdoor rug. Just the word "tangerine" makes me happy. You too? Anything you are coveting??


Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Good Night's Sleep

Last night I slept better than I have in a very long time. I popped out of bed at 5:00 a.m., nearly two hours earlier than my normal struggle-to-rise time, yet couldn't get back to sleep. 

Usually I wake up with a backache--nothing too debilitating--on the presidential scale of pain I'm closer to a JFK (sore but still suave) than an FDR (secret wheelchair). But today? Not only do I feel rested, I feel GREAT!

What happened to effect such dramatic change? Am I dreaming?? 

Actually we simply added a foam mattress topper to our bed. That's it. Little change for big impact. If you have a mattress that needs to be replaced but you aren't ready to commit to the purchase yet, a foam mattress topper might be a really good solution for you, too.

Inspired by my restful night of sleep, I thought I would show you a few of my favorite master bedrooms. But I don't really have any... Flabbergasted? So was I! I suppose I'll have to start paying more attention to this area of the home. 

Here's a little something, though, to get the creativity flowing.

Charles P. Rogers Sleigh Bed

This one is great because the bed is truly the focal point of the room.


Everything about this room is lovely and inspiring! Designed by Darlene from Fieldstone Hill for Edie at Life in Grace, I love the elegance and the playful, yet subtle, colors. 

And this perfect blend of softness and crisp lines--feminine and masculine--from a South Shore Decorating post full of breathtaking master bedrooms.

It's a good start... How did you sleep last night??

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Be Bold!

My first boss posted this earlier today, and it is GREAT. Because it is hard to try, but fail. To not be able to meet your own expectations. And to think that maybe you're just not cut out for it. Maybe you were crazy to think this thing would work. I have definitely felt this way with Cosy Carolina (what in the heck does that name even mean?!) along the way. 

The secret? Keep going. 

Do this in whatever you do. Whether you are writing a book or a blog, launching a business, or choosing a paint color. Do it, keep doing it, and sooner or later you will get it figured out the way you want it to be.

It's parent-teacher conference time in our school district and my kids have to be reminded to try, even if they fail. Take risks. Be bold! 

If you overspend on something that doesn't end up working with your decor-so what?? If the paint color you choose looks terrible-repaint! Confidence doesn't mean having all the answers; it's simply knowing you can handle whatever comes your way.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Links: What I'm Reading

A glimpse of my week through the blogs I have been reading:


Both Griff and Bela are still in the Tooth Fairy phase of life so I enjoyed this post from The Inspired Room. This cute little box would be a sweet way of storing their baby teeth.

Although it has been snowing today, there has been a definite feel of spring in the air lately. Which has all of us thinking about our garden and getting outdoors. The Longfield Gardens blog featured elephant ears earlier this week. I love their tropical look!

Yesterday's rain got me looking at people's umbrellas. My favorite was a bright yellow! My friend Dana's new blog features some very cool umbrella-inspired chandeliers.

Rainy days can bring even the sunniest personalities down so I was thrilled that Positively Present's picks included a link to her interview on Positively Empowered radio.

Finally, tomorrow is week six of the One Room Challenge. I cannot wait to see what all of these designers and bloggers have pulled off in their spaces. Very inspiring! 

Click here to find links to all of these blog participants

Offline I have been enjoying Katrina Kenison's first book Mitten Strings for God, essays on slowing the pace of motherhood. So lovely. 

And I made my first ever purchase from Craig's List, and will soon attempt to transform this 80's microwave cart into what currently only exists in my imagination. Wish me good luck!

What have you been up to lately? Do tell! :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

How to Shop for Decor on a Budget

Our houses shouldn't claim too much of our budget. Experts recommend that your mortgage or rent should be about 25% of your income. A budget for maintenance and home improvement--which I interpret to also include decor--should be somewhere between 2-5% of your total income. The average household income nationally is $50,000, in which case the average homeowner would spend $1,000 to $2,500 per year on home improvement.* 

How do you keep your spending in-line with your budget? Here are a few of my tricks.

1) Picture it
Picture in your mind what you want the completed space to look like. What is your color scheme? What is the "look" you are going for--glamorous, exotic, beachy, mid-century modern? Make a list of what you need to accomplish the look, then shop your house first. Chances are you have something in another room that would work great in your re-design.

2) Set a dollar amount
Few of us have unlimited funds. Only you can really say what you can afford. That's great. I believe that it is important to save more than we spend. And that's great, too. Either way, though, decide an amount and stick to it.

3) Shop 
Online or in person, go looking for the things you need for your space. Having a rough idea of what you want (colors and sizes) tends to be better than trying to replicate an exact image.

4) "Try it on" at home
Once I've found something I like at the store, I take it home to "try  it on". One great, easy way to do this is to take pictures with my camera phone. Besides having a photo of the product, I don't have to write notes about dimensions or price.

Another way to "try it on" is to find a sample. The drapes above were callin' my name the last time I was in World Market. Even though they were on sale and of good quality, I was a little worried about committing to the purchase. The pattern is pretty wild and the price was over $50 for the pair. I ended up finding some table linens in the same pattern, and I purchased just one napkin to take home. It worked in our color scheme so I went back for the drapes the next day.

5) Answer the deal question
Is the item on sale? Can you get a discount? Are there any coupons online or in your local newspaper? That's always a bonus, and it's always something I check for.

A beautiful home & a solid bank account shouldn't be mutually exclusive. What do you think? Any other shopping tips??

*There are a few other ways to calculate how much to save for home improvement projects (ex. based on the square footage of your home, the purchase price, and/or negative factors like age and exposure to elements). Basing it on income, though, gives us a good start and seems most realistic. Figure out what works best for your household. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday I'm in Love: Craig's List Finds

Ah, Craig's List. I love it. Scrolling through furniture listings for my area is one of my favorite things to do on my kindle. CL is just like the classifieds of old... But with "missed connections" and sometimes a murder or two

Anyway, it's the power of imagination, elbow grease, and thriftiness that are the true subjects of today's Friday I'm in Love. 

Take our first item. A standard looking microwave cart, circa the 1980s. However, this is exactly what I need for my art cabinet in the dining room. It's exactly the right size for that corner (I measured). My family had one of these when I was growing up. I have such fond memories of the satisfying little click of the magnet latch when the cabinets closed. :) 

With some paint and new handles, this baby can be born into a new century!

Then there is this large mirror, for sale for a few weeks now, which I totally do not get. The seller doesn't list the dimensions, but that's okay. I am sure it would be just the right size over my newly painted former microwave cart. Maybe I'd even add a bit of gold leaf rub-n-buff to a few spots for some shazam.

And then, there is this BEAUT!

It's an aerial photo/map of Marco Island, Florida, where lovey and I spent a week last summer. A very special romantic place AND just the right colors for our bedroom. But--and this is the best part!!--I don't like that there is no mat. So I would re-frame the Marco Island print and use the brushed gold metal frame (with a mat) elsewhere. Two for one! 

Perhaps I'd use it in the re-decorated dining room. Perhaps to properly frame this print I bought from Jones Design Company awhile back. The talented lady Jones is so happy to be headed to Florida herself that she's offering everything 50% off until Sunday. Coincidence?? Or the magic of the universe...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Organizing Tip: Have a Monica Closet

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful,
or believe to be beautiful."
William Morris

The Power of Moms has recorded a great podcast with professional organizer Julie Morgenstern. She was one of Oprah's favorites and is usually featured on public television during fund drives. The podcast is 25 minutes long--short enough to listen to while you eat lunch at your desk, prepare dinner, or fold some laundry. And there's a giveaway (but it ends today). 

Morgenstern says that organizing is all about being ready, and that the more we automate, the freer we are to live lives we truly enjoy. During the podcast she shares a lot of tips about how to organize both our spaces and our schedules so we can become our best selves. 

From what I have learned over the years, organizing usually comes down to making a decision. Ideally, we are answering the question in the quote above. Is this thing useful? Is this thing beautiful? There are a few more questions we might end up asking ourselves, especially if we share our homes with others. Questions like: Is this item precious to someone who is precious to me? or Could this be useful or beautiful later/with a new paint job/in another spot?

But often when I'm cleaning up, I'm in no mood for making decisions. I just want the mess gone. Thus, my tip for today is to designate a spot where you can dump things out of sight for the short-term.

The only place I have ever seen this tip in action was Monica's closet on Friends. Which proves that even in the smallest space (a NYC apartment), you can still have a place for those things that you don't really need today, but you might end up wanting or using later.

Monica's junky closet on Friends

Monica's otherwise pretty & well-designed apartment on Friends

My dumping ground is in our basement. Actually it's pretty much the WHOLE basement right now, thus 40 bags in 40 days. 

Do you have a Monica closet? How often do you cull through it? 


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