Thursday, July 31, 2014

Have You Ever Wanted to Write a Blog?

Once in awhile, in real life, a friend will mention that she is thinking about starting a blog. I always say "go for it!" 

Here are my top six reasons for blogging, followed by my five handy tips:

1.  Something to do
This might sound like the best reason NOT to blog for some people. Since I keep my writing sessions pretty short (see handy tip #1 below), blogging is just an expression of my hobby.

2. Make new friends
Reading other blogs has helped me get to know a lot of other people who share my interest in interior design. Some are professional interior decorators, others are hobbyists, but I've learned from all of them.

3. Give & take
When I started reading blogs, I felt like I needed a way to introduce myself since these people were sharing themselves through their writing. Being able to refer them back to my blog does that. There's also the slim chance that my ideas, or my story, might resonate with a reader and inspire them somehow--which is a good feeling.

4. Hones my voice
The more you do something, the better you get. Being able to tell a story or communicate an idea is important enough to practice.

5. Clarifies my "vision"
Since this is mostly a design blog, my posts help me clarify what my vision is for a project. I think of it as a "to do list" that I'm sharing with the world.

6. Potential for extra income
Besides a few posts with affiliate links, I haven't taken advantage of this option yet in 2+ years, but the option is there. It would be great to earn a little income on the side for my home improvement projects, but it's also pretty great that I can say whatever I want...

Now for my handy tips.

1. Set a time limit
I try not to take more than 15-30 minutes to write each post. If I use images, I save them to my computer and add the link to the empty post, then fill in with text around it.

2. Containerize your lists
If I write a list (and I do LOVE making lists), I think of a number and then fill in the blanks. It helps me stick to my time limit and containerizes my ideas.

3. Develop a vocab
I have a common language that I fall back on when writing to simplify things. It helps me express myself more quickly and is true to who I am. For example, I think every post I have ever written must have the line "so fun!" somewhere. Other words I (over)use are: beautiful, gorgeous, stunning...

4. Be yourself
I try NOT to think like a marketing genius and instead hone in on who I am and what seems right intuitively to me. This is good training for the rest of life, too.

5. Keep going
It bums me out a bit when I see someone with talent and a fresh voice who gives up after a few blog posts. Sometimes life is just about hanging in there.

And I'm three minutes over my time limit for today so until we meet again...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Countdown to ORC Linkup #3

Now that planning our wedding is a thing of the past, it's time to think about what project to do for the next One Room Challenge Link-Up!

ORC Linkup #3, hosted by the incomparable Linda of Calling It Home, begins in October. I've had loads of fun in the first two rounds, re-doing my mom's laundry room from a distance and making over the "keep" off the kitchen in my current house. 

Our house has great bones, is in the most perfect location for us, and the previous owners did some things for which I am grateful, like painting every wall white, but there are still a number of projects we want to tackle. 

And there is no better time to do it than the six-week one room challenge while the (blog)world watches!

So what should we do??? 

inspiration via BHG
1. Kitchen: this majorly needs to be addressed since there is no dishwasher and the wall oven has stopped working. However, the idea of doing it ourselves in a relatively short time-frame with people watching fills me with anxiety. It has been done beautifully by others, though. My favorites are 6 Wilson and Simple Details.

from the MLS listing

2. Entryway: this project has some pretty obvious benefits. We would be adding curb appeal, organizing the foyer, and finishing the petite powder room. It's manageable within the six-week time-frame and wouldn't bust the budget.

from Instagram
3. Lower-Level: Because our house is a split-level, the basement is just a few steps down from the kitchen. There are windows at ground level and it would be the perfect spot for extra hangout space. Right now, though, it's a catchall for crap as you can see above. Since it is visible from the kitchen and dining room, it would be great to snazz it up with some paint, carpet, and artwork. 

All three projects would tie in nicely with the project that I already accomplished in the "keep." Furthermore, getting the rooms on the ground level finished feels like the right thing to do--as if I am creating a structure for the decor of the rest of the house--literally building up from these ground floor projects to later take on the rooms on the upper levels. 

So what's your vote??

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lingering Over Dinner: Dining Area Design Plan

So, to riff on yesterday's post about not really having it in me right now to buy new armchairs and foreshadow tomorrow's post about upcoming projects, let's chat about my dining area and the big money I'd like to spend there.

Our dining area is at the front of our house, facing the street, and open to the kitchen. Which is why I call it an area and not a room. It's not formal; we're more likely to be eating tacos on paper plates than serving a dinner party, but I do want it to look nice.
via Smith & Noble

One of the advantages of the cozy little nook in which this area is located is that I can finally create the banquette of my dreams. There is a huge window at the front and on one side. The third side is a wall where I hung some antique plates.

via Smith & Noble

I want to create something like these banquettes but want them to blend more into the background. To accomplish this, I would move the table out more so that chairs could fit on all sides.

via 1stDibs
Our tabletop is round and made of a soft wood like pine, which has not been a good choice for our family. We've had it just since we moved into our house last December, but already there are some scratches and nicks in the wood. I love the base, however, as well as the story behind the table so we're keeping it. But I foresee a new top, maybe something marble and oblong like above?? A friend mentioned that she painted hers with chalk paint so that's an option, and I love the look of glass. I also think it'd be fun to have a few different options that I could swap out when I need a change, not unlike adding a tablecloth, just bigger and bulkier!

The Meurice by Jonathan Adler

The area was originally a den so the lighting over the table isn't quite right. I really like this modern chandelier from Jonathan Adler. It's called the Meurice, which makes me want to start singing Steve Miller and speak of the pompatus of love, whatever that is. It costs about $800, a fair price, but over my budget.

A great rug underneath the table is essential. I like the idea of something with reds and blues and lots of pattern to hide spills. Finding the right price point is tricky, though. And since I'm dreaming now anyway, how about this one? (great color swatches, too!)

I dig these fun melamine plates, a colorful upgrade from paper.

What do you think? Would this be a fun space to linger over a meal?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Random Thoughts, Mostly About Chairs

I hope y'all can handle some randomness because that's what is up my sleeve today.

It feels like a perfect fall day except that it's the end of July. This happens every year. There is always a cool down after my birthday, and then August is hot as hell. Which is great because I've put off doing all the fun summer things with my kids this year until next week.

There is a book project due at my day job and it makes me wonder yet again why anyone would ever want to write a book. But reading books? Totally my thing. I finished Those Who Save Us over the weekend and started the first book in the Gabriel Allon series.

Are you using Chairish? They teamed up with some bloggers (not me) in the last few days to promote their service, which is described as an affordable middle ground between Craig's List and 1stDibs. 

I haven't actually bought anything on Chairish yet, but I did find these absolutely amazing Milo Baughman chairs today. Available for free local pickup in New Hampshire or white glove delivery service to my ZIP for an extra $349.

They are "hug" chairs. A pair of chairs. They swivel! And cost less than $1,000. Pretty much perfection.

Chinoiserie Chic
The blue velveteen would be fine for now. But down the road, I think it would be so fun to have the chairs re-upholstered in Golding's Mia Multi fabric. I recently ordered a free sample of the fabric from Calico because I thought it was so close to my vision for this style of chair. Then, lo and behold, I realized I had actually seen it before here.

This is what the fabric looks like on a broader scale. I love all the colors especially the watery blue and that POP! of citron. 

Alas, the last thing I should be shopping for are chairs. Our kitchen is still all busted up (well, no dishwasher and a non-functioning teeny-tiny wall oven). We also have so many other projects that the hand-me-down recliner in our living room will have to suffice for a bit longer.

On the other hand, I did get something done today for which I feel proud: my weekly home blessing hour. I've been following the Flylady since before my daughter was born nearly eight years ago. Whenever it feels like chaos is taking over my house, it's the system to which I return. It's nice not having to think too much about what to do. I don't need to re-invent the wheel, I just need to get something done. 

So this morning I set the timer on my phone for ten minutes and cleaned. I adapted the Flylady's schedule to what works for me 1) dusting with a dry mitt/microfiber cloth (this is the one I have but you can find a similar one here) 2) vacuuming hardwoods, rugs, and the living room carpet 3) windexing mirrors, faucets, and spots on some furniture and the front door 4) mopping with a Swiffer wet wipe, and 5) putting things back where they belonged. I even managed to do a very quick swish & swipe of our main bathroom. It's not perfect, but it's a start. 

Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Brace yourselves. Here come the bride... pictures! 
Carin Cryderman Photography * Flowers by B/A Florist

I have two amazing photographer-friends, and both were involved in the day.
Lindsay Wilkinson Photography
Lindsay doesn't do weddings so I asked if we could have a family portrait session and I would show up in my wedding gown. She said yes! :)

Carin Cryderman Photography
Both photographers got some shots in black and white. This one from before the ceremony shows my husband(!) and his dad talking with his grandpa.

Carin Cryderman Photography
The bridesmaids all wore different dresses in the same shade of the same fabric.
Carin Cryderman Photography

Carin Cryderman Photography
Individual shots of my kids. And then the two of them walking down the aisle together. 

Carin Cryderman Photography
Carin Cryderman Photography
Carin Cryderman Photography

Carin Cryderman Photography

Lindsay Wilkinson Photography
We also had lots of friends and relatives who brought their cameras and shared their photos with us.

I chose not to get my hair done professionally but to have a makeup artist "do my face" instead. False eyelashes definitely made me feel pretty!
Carin Cryderman Photography
I spent the day before the wedding at the spa, which helped me to feel really relaxed! You can see my red sparkly manicure here, and my pedicure is my "something blue."

The cake cutting song was "Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Poison. We both devoured it before sitting down. It was soooo good!

The cake topper is from Emily Steffen's shop on Etsy

I requested long tables rather than rounds for the reception, which was held outdoors under a big tent. We also had an amazing wedding coordinator who was responsible for making it all look so beautiful!!!

The Arboretum has a Japanese garden, and one of the special surprises of the night was finding this message in the rocks!

There was dancing!

And lots of little princesses! 

My daughter had changed out of her flower girl dress by the time we got to the reception. Except for the sisters on the right, none of the girls knew each other before last Saturday (although they all knew my daughter). It was so fun to see them playing so well together! And, it was the same with my girlfriends, too. Some of whom had never met but were new friends by the end of the night!

Truly the BEST day ever! Thanks so much to all of our family and friends who made it so special. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

You Say It's Your Birthday...

Not only am I getting married on Saturday, it's also my birthday. I feel a teensy bit like Molly Ringwald in 16 Candles... :) 

One of my gifts to myself is that I'm signing out for the next few days. Here are a few of my favorites from the week, a day early:


1. On the Veranda
Just about everything that Veranda posts I swoon over, which makes me think I really ought to get a subscription to that magazine. How about this absolutely gorgeous Southampton garden? Check out the link for even more beautiful photos (hint: I always select "view thumbnails" to see everything at once).


2. Tie-Dye Treats
I could seriously eat an entire pan of Rice Krispie treats by myself. And with no oven currently in our disaster of a kitchen, it's one dessert I can still manage. This colorful recipe from In Katrina's Kitchen looks like fun for everyone!

3. Navy Seal Training
I just saw this commencement speech from May and love the advice in it. My favorite tips:
  • "Be your very best in the darkest moment" by finding inner strength to never lose hope or give up. 
  • "Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can't do the little things right, you'll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better."
4. ENFJ + INFP 4ever
This site has great info about Myers-Briggs personality types, and I just discovered that my fiance's type and mine are a perfect match! 


5. Whatever is lovely...
My birthday is always a time to reflect and I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a good person. The Catholic church lists these seven virtues which seem to be a good guide. The bible quote above, from Etsy seller RachelCarl, is adapted from a reading that is part of our wedding ceremony. 

Have a great weekend and eat lots of cake!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Word of the Day Wednesday

And the word is antimacassar

It's what you call that apron of extra fabric on the arm or back of a chair or sofa. To learn more about the history of these things check out this blog post.

When I bought this vintage chair for my one room challenge, the antimacassars on the arms were dirty and threadbare. Which is exactly why they serve such a good purpose: without them, the fabric on the arms would have been damaged, requiring re-upholstery. Instead, I was able to fix up the chair by simply removing the antimacassars.

In the store, I had figured that these were affixed to the chair with thread, as most antimacassars seem to be. However, once I got the chair home, I realized the antimacassars were held on with a metal spring! I didn't need wire cutters, though. I was able to sort of unscrew the spring from the chair and gently pull it out without damaging the fabric. 

Antimacassars. Something to keep in mind when you find a great chair for cheap! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

MCM on Amazon

I know what you're thinking: why in the world is this chica blogging when she has such a busy week? But it's like that saying "if you want something done, ask a busy person." And it helps keep me calm. 

Yesterday I followed an ad from Facebook to Amazon for this mid-century modern (MCM) classic chair. The spindly legs make it known as an Eiffel like the tower in Paris. The sellers of our house had a multi-colored set of vintage Eiffels in their dining area. My preference, though, is just white. And this is a great price for the pair at $156.99 plus free shipping. To compare, Staples also sells a pair for $176.09. 

Besides the great price, what was super exciting to me was the "Customers who bought this item also bought..." section! Like this rocking chair for $93.09 plus $7.90 for shipping. 

Dot & Bo

On Dot & Bo, my regular go-to shop for mid-century modern decor, you have more color options including fun colors like pop yellow and fuschia, but the chair is more expensive at $159.99 and is currently sold out in all the colors I like. 

IKEA via Amazon
You can also order this IKEA faux fur throw through Amazon. Even with a small shipping fee, it costs just under $20.00, which is great for those of us without an IKEA store nearby.

There is also this pillow which adds such great warmth and texture to a room. The faux fur is only on one side of the pillow, but for $15.74 plus free shipping it is a less expensive alternative to Pottery Barn's faux sheepskin pillows, available in two sizes, and which I have in my house (and LOVE).


I also like these yellow Tabouret stools, set of two, for less than $100. Bright yellow has been appealing to me lately and I think it has to do with a need to balance out the watery elements (learn more about Feng shui and your decor from my friend Dana here).  

 I also cannot stop thinking about these inexpensive Lucite nesting tables. They cost $122.37 with free shipping. The rounded edges are perfect for a house with kids or clumsy adults. The clearness of the Lucite makes them visually disappear, which is also perfect in a small space.

Despite what Elle Decor has to say on the subject, I really dig this futon. The sides can be lowered separately, the reviews are positive, and the price is right. I am a "use what you have" designer and I'm positive that you can create a chic looking room, even with the 15 items they say are taboo. In fact, that sounds like a fun challenge that I might have to try!

And as long as we're talking about things designers hate to decorate with, here's a ceiling fan. I like its more modern look and it costs less than $100 with 42" blades (good for a room sized 12x12). I would prefer skylights that automatically open when the temperature in the house gets above a certain number, which is a feature of one of the homes in  Dreaming Green, but I'm not a multi-millionaire so we'll just have to cool off with a ceiling fan.

All these items would look appropriate in our house, built in 1957, but also could be used in moderation in another style of home to create a "collected over time" look. 

What do you think? Any MCM classics appeal to you? Do you agree that everyone over age 30 must burn their futon??

Monday, July 14, 2014

Wedding Week Begins!

Holy smokes, people. THIS is it. I get married again--and for the final time--on Saturday. 

There are still items on the TO DO list, but everything truly feels as if it is falling into place. 

To keep myself calm, I am practicing lots of grounding meditations. Which basically means that I am paying attention to my feet on the floor. Which translates into me moving rugs around our house and thinking about new flooring options. 

from Dreaming Green: Eco-Fabulous Homes Designed to Inspire
My thoughts on a polished concrete floor in our ground level rooms got a boost from this book over the weekend. I love the mix of wood cabinetry and stainless, pro-quality appliances with the smooth dark floor. Even the counter stools are fitting with my latest crush.

Polished concrete will work best with lots of sumptuous area rugs to keep it warm in the winter months (which can be half the year in Michigan). I like this one for under our dining table. It's an 8x10 and I think the khaki, red, and navy will hide spills like a champ. It's also fairly inexpensive. I found it at Home Depot.

Of course, not as inexpensive as this free one that someone in my community was giving away last fall. Isn't it lovely? But it only measured 5x7, which is still a bit small for the area I want to cover.

The rug in this photo moved from its spot under our dining table. It was the wrong color to coordinate with the other rugs on that level (which are all shades of blue). It, too, was only a 5x7. I like how it pulls together the office, but its absence means we need to get something for under the table. 

And this one peeking out from under all of the cardboard? It is part of the re-designed keep but last night rather than sleeping I started thinking about moving it to my daughter's bedroom. I'll post a picture on Instagram if that's what I end up doing (and that's where most of these photos are from).

As the yogis say, "om"!


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