Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Decorating the Yard for Spring

Hello all! I am going to have soooo much to fill you all in on when my little hiatus is over. Until then, please enjoy this special guest post from my friend, Marlene, who writes the fabulous gardening blog, Bloom Adore


Daffodils are a sign of spring and also deer resistant.

Spring is one of my favorite seasons in the garden because it means winter is over! When daffodils start peeking out from the cold earth, I know that the season has turned a corner and warmer weather is on the way.

I can divide my spring ‘to do’ list into two categories: 1) Things I am doing and 2) Things I should be doing. I think all of us have the best intentions of putting that ‘should’ list into the ‘doing’ list but if you are like me, you realize it cannot all get done. The great thing about gardening is that you can just keep building on what you have already done!

My spring to do list is very long, so I won’t bore you with all the details of clean up, checking soil quality, cleaning outdoor containers, trimming grasses, starting my vegetables from seed indoors and edging the beds. This spring I want to share something I did not do: Spray for critters. It was on my "things I should be doing” list and it never made it’s way over to the other list.

Last fall, in preparation for this spring I planted about 500 tulip bulbs along my front landscape border. About 2 weeks ago, some little critter dug those tulip bulbs up like they were mining for gold! The more that furry thief dug, the smarter her got and I admit I was impressed! He moved on to the other bed of tulips, and instead of kicking dirt all over my lawn he started digging tidy little holes to remove the bulbs. I would have been even more impressed had he filled the holes back up to cover up his thievery.  I suspect it was the fat rabbit hanging out in my yard based on the fact that my dog will not chase anything unless we are out running and she’s on her leash (and no, my dog isn’t a digger, she’s a swimmer).

Gardeners have to be optimists or we’d dig holes for ourselves that are 6 feet deep rather than the basic 3-6” so I will remain eternally optimistic. Sadly, this spring I will not be enjoying my stunning display of colorful tulip blooms. However, I was able to feed some lucky little critter and now I’m passing on this useful information to you. Remember to spray early, before sprouts come up, and spray after every hard rain.

I found an organic critter repellent at my local small town hardware store that I will spray on my hostas this year, but you can make your own with items you probably already have in your home. If deer are your only problem, you can go to www.deer-departed.com (great advice on repelling deer and the name is adorable). One more piece of advice on critter spray….don’t stand downwind when spraying, it will make you smell really, really bad.

Bloom on!

A HUGE thanks to Marlene for joining us today. DO you have some pretty blooms in your yard? Critters?? I am so thrilled to see the sun and feel warm breezes. Finally!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bed Day!

A week or two ago, I saw this pretty tufted headboard in a sale on Joss & Main. Perfect for my re-design of Bela's room. 

Plan A was to make my own tufted headboard. Then I read how difficult that is for experienced DIY'ers, which I most certainly am not. Plan B was to make a straight-topped, un-tufted headboard. Still a bit of a challenge to put into practice. Plan C, for less than $200, is the perfect choice!

The headboard wasn't expected to ship for 4-5 weeks. However, it's only been ten days and it's almost here. Tracking shows that it will most likely be delivered today!

Quite a coincidence since on Thursday night Phil & I were at our local furniture store to purchase a new Sleep Number bed (more on that later...). We also ordered a twin frame to go with Bela's new headboard. We just wanted to be prepared; we had no way of knowing the headboard was already on its way to us. 

Our new mattress and Bela's frame are also being delivered today--henceforth known as Bed Day.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


This week's Project Simplify task is to plow through our piles. And I have a few at home from all the decluttering in week's one and two. All the things that need to be traded, sold, or donated are piled up near the back door. 

But where I make my living and my reason for living (Phil, Griffin, Bela) are dominating my time right now. 

My important piles this week and next are at work. Papers are stacked all across my desk and behind me on the credenza. We are hosting two big events to celebrate our silver anniversary, and donations are coming in hand over fist. Great news! But busy, busy, busy!!!

And the weather here is finally nice! Sunshine, balmy air. Perfection. So I'm hoping to be playing in the driveway and backyard and at the playground with my favorite people when I'm not stuck indoors doing work.

I'll be back with tips and inspiration to clean, organize, and beautify sometime after next Friday. Since this is such a great outlet for all that wild, creative energy inside me, though, I may pop in a bit here & there between now & then.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday I'm In Love: Frugality

Don't we all get so many advertisements through emails, catalogs, and commercials??? It seems like we are being sold something at every turn. And while I may not receive compensation for the products I feature in the "Friday I'm In Love" posts each week, it is still more stuff to buy.

So for this week, I am challenging YOU to find seven things in your home that are not being used but could be. Things that you could re-purpose in a fresh, fun way. Or just plain clean up and use.   

Since I've been trying to declutter our house one cabinet, drawer, and closet at a time, I'm extra aware of how much we already do have.

Like this beautiful box. It was given to me by my grandma years ago but had been in the basement, unused. Then I saw it one day as part of a vintage sale on One Kings Lane. I remembered how pretty it is, and since it reminds me of one of my favorite people, I brought it out of storage. 

Save money, declutter your stuff. Win/Win! What treasures are not being used in your house?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I Can See the Floor Now!

{week two of Simple Mom's Project Simplify series is emptying a pesky closet}

The closet in our entryway is not frequently used--maybe that's my excuse for jamming everything under the sun in there for the past few months.

The demise of this closet all started with that air purifier--which needs a new filter. It sat behind the sofa for a bit. Then one day I decided to "clean up" and put it in the closet. Fast forward nine months and here we are (and yes, that is a filter on top of it, I don't know why we haven't installed it).


As you can also see there are a few lunchboxes, a bag of paper shopping bags, a floral pillow, a bag of books that I was actually looking for, carpet cleaning solution, Bela's too-small rollerskates, and a bag of random cords.

I pulled everything out of the closet and onto the floor of our main living area. Then I started sorting. The bag of books will go to the local bookstore to be sold. The lunchboxes and backpack will be given away. I took the carpet cleaning solution out of the gigantic box. The pillow has been covered with a solid slipcover. The cords still have to be sorted. The paper shopping bags will either be used to carry things out of this house or trashed. 

... And that was just the floor of this closet. The shelf was another story. Loads of purses and cloth bags were constantly dropping on my head. But, the picnic basket was empty. Ergo, a solution! I put all of the small bags and purses inside the basket. Much tidier now!


Like any project, this one had its challenges. Mostly because the closet was filled with things that I wasn't ready to part with. Like Bela's preschool roller skates & lunchboxes, or the backpack Griffin used in kindergarten. There were also a few things that could be used someday if only. For example, if only we'd take the books to the bookseller, we could make some extra money. Or, if only we bought a new filter, we could breathe purified air. 

Next up: Piles.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


There once was a not-so-old woman from Nantucket...

Source (click on "view gallery"--this shot is image 10)

When her closets got full, she said "chuck it!" 

And that's just what I'll be doing this week in my closets. 

Here is the Before shot.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Making the Bed

"The art of being happy lies in the
power of extracting happiness from common things."

Henry Ward Beecher
Making the bed is one of my favorite household chores. Pulling the sheets smooth, folding the quilt over, fluffing the pillows. 

Until I can upholster a proper headboard for Bela, a folded-over quilt makes a soft place for our heads while we read bedtime stories.

With each step in the process, I think of the people who will sleep there. The sweet dreams I have for them.

Griffin has become an amazing reader by having 15-30 minutes each night to read before bed. When he feels sleepy, he clicks off the inexpensive clip-on light from Target.

It only takes a minute or two, but making the bed provides so many benefits. The bedroom instantly feels tidier with this one act. Bedtime becomes more welcoming. And it's a simple way to show love through action.

While I make my own bed each morning to preserve a sense of order and rhythm in days that are never the same, I have a different standard for the kids.
Making their own beds is one of the five things that Griffin and Bela are supposed to do for themselves at the start of each day, along with getting dressed, brushing hair & teeth, and eating breakfast. But it is not our highest priority on busy school days. In fact, I would prefer they sleep in and get extra rest, if there is a choice between the two.
On the days that they haven't made their bed--as a special treat--I like to make their beds for them. I do it in the evening when they are having a bath or shower. When I first started doing it this way, I had considered placing a little mint on their pillows, like the "turn down service" at four-star hotels. Of course kids, candy, and impending bedtime aren't a great combo. ;) And it's really enough on its own to simply make the bed.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Project Simplify: Drawers

{This is week one of Simple Mom's Project Simplify series and the mission is to declutter drawers & shelves.}

I had already organized my desk drawer here, but truth be told, this is what the drawer in the kitchen looked like after I had finished the desk.

While I was intentional about what I chose to put in the new desk drawer, I also sort of abandoned this drawer and all the stuff that was still inside. The reason was that I didn't have a good idea of what was going to end up in here. But to make more room in here



I moved the serving pieces here



And the napkins, placemats, etc. can now live here.


I used to call this area my "eyesore"--I was trying to make it function as a home office/kids' arts & crafts zone. Now it's just a coffee station.


And because it's small things like this that keep me happy with our home, I am linking up to Thrifty Decor Chick's It's the Little Things party. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday I'm in Love: Me-ow!!

So the day after I saw this bedroom...

Designstiles Portfolio

There was this living room. 

Raiana Schwenker on Sadie + Stella

Do you know what they both have in common? 

Arianna Belle

That's right. This pillow. Me-ow!

I've been in the market for some more pillows for our sectional and I think this would be the perfect choice. Now how many to buy??? 

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New vs. Old

"The quality of mercy is not strain'd,/It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven/Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;/It blesseth him that gives and him that takes..."
William Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice

The rains have set in. Earthworms washed up on our driveway this morning and the sky has been dark for three days. In an attempt to ward off all the gloom I am wearing my orange & white striped blazer. It reminds me of an orange creamsicle, summer, and better days ahead...

Continuing on the theme of houses I have loved {here and sort of here: house number three was a mid-century ranch} brings me to today's topic. New Construction vs. Old House. Nothing creates quite the firestorm as this issue, I think, in the otherwise mild & innocuous world of interior design. 

Case in point. Yesterday The Inspired Room posted Ten Reasons to Buy a New Home. Our house was built in 2006 and we moved into it in early 2010. So my response to her list was enthusiastic! I agreed with all of her reasons and gave two more. My disdain for home improvement projects (having a table saw in my dining room is so totally not my thing) and the open floor plan. With two young children and only one set of eyes for parental supervision for the first two years in this house, you better believe I was thrilled one big room defined our main living area. 

Among the old house enthusiasts who chimed in on the post was one person who replied directly to my comment. She must have had a very bad experience in a newer-build home, and it takes every ounce of gentility I can summon to not retort: "Did you really just insinuate that I have a messy, stinky house, AND no taste? Because it. is. on!" Mercy me. Breathe, crankypants. 

Her comment is gone today, although still in my email. Perhaps she realized what she said was rude or perhaps The Inspired Room removed it. I don't know. In a sense her criticism was good to read because it made me think long & hard about what I love about our home.

The style of house #1 was gypsy, house #2 was Cape Cod, and house #3 was Mad Men before that was cool (Fun fact: the first episode of MM aired on my birthday!). The only difference between any of these houses was the size of the payment and the ZIP code. Same girl, same furniture; I just figured out how to change it up to make it fun to fit the house. 

But now? This house is really our home. No chance of getting away from the kids' noise? Great! I want to hear them and be near them. I want to see my family playing or watching TV while I'm baking in the kitchen or loading the dishwasher. This sense of togetherness also informs our furniture purchases. When we bought our sofa, we chose a great big sectional. The best part is that when we cuddle together to watch a movie, I can touch every single person I love best. 

This new house also gives me loads of inspiration to write about how to make it look and feel charming, so surely there will be more to come. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Making Different Styles Work Together

Last week I posted a mid-century modern design board that featured this gorgeous chair with nailhead trim.

It's from Rugs USA and still 30% off with free shipping! What I love best about it, though, is that it could look great in a lot of different rooms. Which got me thinking about the houses I have lived in over the years...

The first one I decorated was a 1920's two-story in the city. I rented it during my final year of college and after starting my first job near the Capitol. The house had lots of architecturally  interesting details including stained glass windows, built-ins, and some hardwood floors. If I were decorating it today, the nailhead trim chairs would look great with this sofa from Urban Outfitters.

Not only does it look plushy but the back folds down into a sleeper, perfect for the college student-host. I would accessorize with more gypsy-style elements: throw pillows from World Market, for example, in order to create an ethnic vibe. 

My second house was a perfect little starter home. In the same city, it was a post-war bungalow in a totally different neighborhood and I decorated it totally differently from my college rental. 

If I was decorating it today, I would pair this striped Ektorp sofa from IKEA with the nailhead trim chairs to achieve a Cape Cod look. I would accessorize with red pillows (also from World Market) to really make it a little slice of Americana.

Here's how everything would look together. {The fabulous drum coffee table that also transitions well is from Ralph Lauren.}

One chair, two totally different looks.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Desk Drawer Organization

Earlier this week I showed you how I created a workable home office in my entryway. Today we take a peek inside the drawers.

The "Before"...

All of the office supplies had been in a drawer in our kitchen. Before I started putting things in the drawer of my desk, I decided what was important, what could be disposed of, and what needed to be elsewhere. The box for envelopes got tossed; the envelopes can be stacked neatly in a pile in the new drawer. The magnets will stay in the kitchen near the refrigerator. 

The first thing I did was to line the new drawer. I used two placemats. You would be surprised how much yuck can accumulate in the bottom of a drawer of office supplies. 

Then I layered in the supplies. Everything is separated by use. The sticky notes, rubber-bands, and iPod supplies are in berry baskets. Ours are authentically from the orchard but Furbish sells a cute one if you like the look. A favorite little teacup holds paper clips, a dish from Bela's play kitchen is just the right size for binder clips, and a tealight holder contains extra staples. In front of these are the loose envelopes and stapler.

In another corner of the drawer are an extra mouse, charger for my phone & Kindle, and book light.

Extra packing tape, a box of staples, and printer ink are in the center of the drawer.

Notepaper and a zipper bag of photos (including class pictures) are close at hand for writing notes to friends & family.

A tin in the front of the drawer holds my pens and pencils. The name magnet is a memento from a few holidays ago when I worked at our local Williams-Sonoma. Everything I used was from what I had on hand so the cost of the project was FREE!

Overall, I am pleased with how neatly everything fits into its new space. By making it look pretty, I am hopeful that I will stay motivated to keep it looking nice!

Friday I'm in Love: Room to Go

"April is the cruelest month, breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring/Dull roots with spring rain." 
T.S. Eliot in The Wasteland

The sun is shining today, which makes me wonder what in the world TS was gettin' at with his gloomy poem... Sure, this is the month of taxes and rain showers, but somebody got taken out to the ballpark today and the promise of warm breezes soon to sway my curtains has me happier than a robin with a worm.

For this week's Friday I'm in Love I am deviating a bit from previous weeks. Instead of one source for a bunch of sweet trinkets for your shopping pleasure, I've created a room out of items from several different sources. Bonus: Lots of them are on sale!

Clockwise: lamps / mirror / bar cart/ chair / pillow/ rug / sofa/ dresser

The sofa was the inspiration for the rest of the room. Mid-century modern style is hitting the mainstream hard, in part due to Jonathan Adler's new line for JCP. Called "Happy Chic" it is what we all aspire to be, I'm sure.  {just so we're clear this sofa is not part of the Happy Chic line although it is amazingly from the stalwart J.C. Penney company).

The dresser would make a nice large accent piece in a room. Either place or hang your big screen atop it and shove all those messy components inside the drawers. The drawers would also make nice storage for toys or board games. And no, I don't know if video game systems would function properly if placed inside the drawers, although I'm quite sure if we did this in our house I would soon find out.

The wool rug makes a lovely soft anchor for the room. I looooove rugs. Even if you have wall-to-wall carpeting, it doesn't hurt to have an area rug in your space. With 50-80% off rugs AND free shipping at Rugs USA right now, go wild!

The pillow adds a pop of color and texture as well as bringing a fun, ethnic vibe to the room.

The white chair could be doubled for maximum design impact if you have the space in your room. And since it is 30% off, why not? 

The bar cart and sunburst mirror, sadly, are not marked down. In fact, they would be considered the splurges in this design. But how can you have a swingin' sixties room without them, I ask? 

Last but not least, the gourd lamps. Sold as a set by Overstock, it was hard to narrow down my favorite colors. Arbitrarily, I chose yellow but I easily could have picked navy, aqua, coral, or fiery red. 

So whatcha think? Is this a good room for watching some baseball?? What would you do in here if this was your space?


Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy Home Office

Although I can work from home part of the time, there was no dedicated space for a home office in our house. Every inch was already accounted for. My solution? Create a little nook in our entryway!

My desk fits behind the sectional and is just the right size for my laptop and some books or papers.

A clear glass lamp from Target provides task lighting without adding visual weight.

To further differentiate this area from the rest of the space I covered the floor with this large rug

This little chair pulls up to my desk when I need to work.

I placed this big bookcase on the other side of the entryway so my books are close at hand.

Some pretty art behind the front door finishes off the space.

A close-up on the books on the shelf.

And some shelf styling with shells.

And this is what the Before looked like... :(

We've changed a lot since then.

This is where the bookcase used to be... So messy!

The entryway when we still hung coats there last spring.
Linking up to the Before & After Party on Thrifty Decor Chick....

TDC Before and After


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