Spring is Near

The official start to Spring is less than 3 weeks away.  However, it  feels like Spring has already sprung here today.  The sun is shining and we are supposed to reach nearly 70 degrees.  I am under no illusion that this is going to last, but I will certainly enjoy it while it does.

This weather has me, and I’m sure may of you, starting to think about Spring cleaning and projects. I am starting to get a game plan together for some of the more substantial projects we have in the works for this Spring & Summer.

FINALLY finish our spare bedroom/office… I have made a few futile attempts in the last 15 months or so since we moved into our new house to finish this room, but have lacked the inspiration & motivation to do so.  I think I now finally have a direction in my head and a plan to carry it out.  As much as I hate to admit it, it will still likely always be somewhat of a catchall but at least it will be pretty.

Tackle the landscaping… last year we just cleaned up the overgrown landscaping that was already there when we moved in and called it good enough.  Now it is time to make it what we want.  This will involve removing the rose bushes in our backyard (don’t worry, they will be going to a good home with my mom)  and hopefully replacing them with a small vegetable garden.  I do not necessarily have a green thumb or a black thumb, I’m probably somewhere in the middle,  maybe a blue thumb?  My approach to landscaping is to keep it simple and easy to maintain.

Build a small storage shed… due to our HOA guidelines, this requires us to start planning so we can submit our proposal for approval, which is why we are starting now.   We have already enlisted the help of my dad for this.  We only need it to be big enough to store some lawn equipment and miscellaneous things so we can both continue to take advantage of parking in the garage.

If all goes as planned for these projects, I will have some before & after photos along with new posts to share with you as we make progress.

What projects will you be tackling this Spring?

 

 

My Favorite Things: Part 2

In Part 1 I wrote about a few of my favorite things when it comes to decorating & design including: reclaimed wood, subway tile & glass coffee mugs.  The list continues today with a few more of my favorite things…

Fresh Flowers

pink flowers

There is just no better way to brighten up a room than with fresh flowers.  The options are endless…they can come from your favorite flower shop, farmers market, grocery store or in your own backyard.  As much as I would like to, I do not always have fresh flowers in my house due to the cost, but I consider it a treat when I do.  Houseplants are another great option for providing some color, freshness and texture without having to worry about cut flowers that inevitably wilt and die.

Word of caution: please always be conscientious if you decide to pick your own fresh flowers & avoid protected areas/species/your neighbor’s garden.

 Edison Bulbs

Edison Bulb

Edison style light bulbs (with clear class and exposed filament) seem to be increasing in popularity at a steady pace.  I love the fact that something as simple as a light bulb can have so much character and warmth.  Depending on the size required, Edison bulbs could be a quick and easy update to your existing lighting fixtures.   There are even a multitude of light fixtures that are designed specifically to showcase these little treasures.

Mercury Glass

mercury-tealights-c

Some may call it a mild obsession, I consider it a fascination…I have several mercury glass pieces in my home and I am always drawn to the displays any home décor stores.  I love the way that the light of a candle can dance right through it.  Mercury glass is versatile enough to be incorporated into both vintage and modern design styles.  The photo above shows what I would consider to be the classic mercury glass with a silver tone, but it can be found in a variety of colors such as gold, red and more.  There is just something so whimsical and timeless about mercury glass that I don’t think I will ever grow tired of.

Black & White

black white

I truly do appreciate the beautiful light and colors that photographers and painters can capture, and I do not want to discount that it any way.  But for me, I usually prefer black & white photos and paintings.  This applies to everything from family photos to nature paintings for me. If you have two of the exact same photo side by side (one in color and one in B&W) and I am given the choice, I will almost always pick the black & white.  Maybe this is because I like the aspect that black & white can add to décor without distracting from it, or maybe it is just a weird quirk of mine.  Either way, I think black and white photographs and paintings can be easily incorporated into any décor.

What are some of your favorite things?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decking the Halls

How do you deck your halls?

We drive by countless houses and enjoy the bright lights and outside displays; there are even shows dedicated to finding the most elaborate Christmas lights.  But what about the inside?  Personally, I put much more effort into the Christmas decorations inside my house.  As selfish as it may sound, I do this because I want to enjoy my decorations to the fullest and I don’t often spend time standing outside my house.  Also, sometimes we don’t get to share our Christmas decorations with as many friends and family members as we may like, especially if traveling for the Holidays.  I love getting to see the varied decorations of friends & family whenever possible… Real tree or artificial?  White lights or multi-color?  Specific character or theme?  Everyone’s traditions and interpretations are equally unique and festive.

So I am taking this opportunity to share my Christmas decorations and I am inviting you to do the same…How do you deck your halls?

Warmest wishes for a very Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year!

Quick Fix: Laundry Room

Not all worthwhile home updates require a great deal of planning or a large budget.  We have been in our new house for almost a year now and one of the rooms I left neglected until recently was the laundry room.  I realize it isn’t exactly the most exciting room to makeover, but it started to bug me that I hadn’t done anything to make our laundry room more organized and less boring.  I finally decided to spend a little time and money to spruce it up a bit, and I am glad I did.  I would say in total I spent a few hours searching for good deals on items to use, and ended up spending less than $50.  It was by no means a drastic transformation, but enough to make me happier every time I open the door.

Before & After

How I did it:

  • Searched for items in soft greens, blues & natural tones
  • Utilized miscellaneous bins/baskets I already had in the house to organize things on top shelf including: cleaning supplies, paper towel, light bulbs, etc.
  • Put Command hooks on the wall to get brooms/mops off the floor
  • Added a brown woven fabric hamper & plaid rug to make it feel a little warmer and less sterile
  • Found a cute LAUNDRY sign and a fabric plastic bag dispenser, both from Etsy  (see my previous blog post entirely dedicated to Etsy)
  • Used a wire rack made for closet organizer system to keep dryer sheets & stain remover handy at all times
  • Purchased a small galvanized bucket small enough to sit on top of the dryer to empty the lint trap instead of having to carry to the trash every time, added the word “LINT” with a chalk marker.

Nearly a year after moving in and it feels good to finally have this checked off of my to-do list!  On to the next project…

Mom, The Gracious Hostess

In recognition of my Mom’s birthday today, this post is dedicated to her…

I have realized that any foundation I have for being a successful hostess is thanks to my Mom, because she is the best.  We have a large immediate and extended family.  Gatherings for our immediate family regularly average about 15 people and extended family gatherings up to 40+ people.  Mom has played the part of hostess for everything from Holiday dinners of every sort, to graduation parties and even picnics served out of the back of their SUV for our family canoe & tubing trips.  Even on a whim for  a regular evening meal, she has always been willing to make accommodations for extra last-minute friends or family members.  Mom exemplifies the concept of  “the more the merrier” mentality and embodies what it means is to be a gracious hostess.

What stands out in my mind more than anything else is that she never seems overwhelmed or stressed by the task of hosting, and I believe this comes from her approach.   Mom never sat me down to teach or instruct me how to bee a good hostess.  However, through observation I have learned a great deal from her…

Plan & prep ahead:  I think this is of the utmost importance.  Mom is a list maker (so thankful I got that from her) and she starts by making a list of what she plans on serving and then follows with a grocery list for ingredients needed.  She starts this process sometimes weeks in advance, and usually shops at least a few days in advance so everything is on hand.  Mom does any prep work possible before the day of the meal of the event.   This may include browning meat, chopping vegetables, baking cookies, etc.  The more that can be done ahead of time the better, this helps cut down on the potential of any last minute stress.

Keep it simple: Everything Mom serves is delicious without having to be too fancy or complicated.  She makes a point to have a variety of things so that every person will have something they will like.  Depending on the meal, she usually has a mix of sweet & savory dishes, and incorporates fruits & veggies whenever possible.   Due to the size of our family, the most practical way to serve such a large group is usually to have a buffet full of things that can be dished out & enjoyed easily.  An added benefit to serving buffet style is that once everything is set out everyone can serve themselves and she can enjoy time visiting with everyone.

Details make a difference:  Even for a buffet style meal like mentioned above, Mom doesn’t forget the details.  She still serves on nice trays and dishes and also coordinates matching paper products to fit the occasion.  These may seem like small gestures but they add a special touch that doesn’t go unnoticed.

Remember favorites/allergies:  There are certain family favorites that Mom includes time and again, and they have become tradition.  (Some of ours include Grace’s jello salad & cheese-ball, monster cookies, Dad’s rolls, haystacks, etc.)  Also, she makes minor adjustments to certain dishes due to a food allergy in our family so no one has to miss out.

Enlist help when needed/available:  Mom always found a way to involve me when I wanted to help.  She would have me set the table or arrange the cookie display, anything I could handle.  Dad has also always been more than willing to help shred, chop, stir where needed.   Let me just say, he is an equally admirable host.  The two of them operate like a well-oiled machine  when it comes to serving large groups.

I wholeheartedly believe that my love for entertaining and striving to be a good hostess, stems from my Mom.  She makes it seem effortless, even when I know it is not, and truly enjoys herself and her family in the process.   Enjoying each other is really what it is all about, and we appreciate her for always making it special.

Happy Birthday Mom, Love you lots!

snacks brunchspread

A few pictures I had on my phone from past family gatherings

Etsy Obsession

Perhaps obsession is a strong word…but when it comes to online shopping, especially for my home, there is one site that I consistently return to more than any other.  At the very top of my list for online shopping sites is…Etsy.  I have purchased so many wonderful things on Etsy including: jewelry, clothes, gifts, wall art, pillow covers, a window valance, a dog collar, soaps, and I’m sure that I’m missing plenty of other goodies.  It is a great resource for both ready-made and custom products that you won’t find anywhere else.

Discover items you can’t find anywhere else

For those of you that have never heard of or just aren’t familiar with Etsy…it is an online marketplace on which you can purchase a wide array of handmade and unique items directly from the designers, artisans and craftsmen that create these items around the country and the world.  These sellers set up their online shops through Etsy.   You can add items to your cart from different shops and checkout all at one time.  Most shops accept major credit cards and PayPal, I have not encountered any shops that don’t.

Shop directly from people around the world

My “favorites” list consistently has at least 100+ items on it at all time, and probably 25+ shops.  I can honestly say I have been satisfied with each and every one of my Etsy purchases to this point, and don’t foresee that changing.  The quality and selection of handmade items on Etsy is unbeatable.   I have experienced great communication with shop owners and the transactions couldn’t be easier.   The best part about shopping on Etsy is that you can get one of a kind and custom items that you can’t find at any local stores.

Below is just small sampling of both ready-made and customized products that I have purchased for our home on Etsy.


Peacock

Peacock Canvas Print (11×14) from Carolyn Cochrane Fine Art Photography

Visit Shop Here

laundry sign

Smoky Green Wood (5.5×12) Laundry Sign from The Sign Factory

Visit Shop Here

welcome pillow

Burlap Bench Pillow (80×28) from Take Flyte Farm

(Customized with special font/text color request different from above)

Visit Shop Here

Pillows

 Ikat Pillow Covers from Castaway Cove Decor

(2 Custom sizes in bottom 2 fabric choices)

Visit Shop Here

soap

Fresh Linen Mini Soaps from Ginger Grey Soaps

(I also purchased their Milk & Honey and Gray Skies Mini Soaps)

Visit Shop Here


 Go check out Etsy today to see what treasures you may find!

*I am not affiliated with Etsy or any of the listed shops, just a big fan!*

A Treat, No Tricks Needed: Pumpkin Cake Balls

I had an inclination to try making some type of cake balls (or cake pops) for a while, but I was slightly intimidated at first.  When my husband told me his work was celebrating Halloween with a carry-in, and we were invited to a party the following day, it seemed like the perfect time to try them out.  I decided a few weeks before to do a trial run to make sure it wouldn’t be a complete disaster.  To my pleasant surprise, they weren’t as difficult as I had thought.  There are a few steps in the process so they do require some patience but the end result is well worth it!  They may not look “perfect” the first time or two but they will get better with some practice.

Pumpkin Cake Balls (about 2 dozen)

  • 1 box pumpkin cake mix balls1
    • Eggs, vegetable oil & water needed with mix
  • 1 package vanilla almond bark/candy coating
  • 1 container of cream cheese frosting
  • Sprinkles/decorations of your choice
  1. Prepare the pumpkin cake mix according to box directions balls2just as if you were baking a cake.  Let cool completely, I recommend making it the night before
  2. Crumble the entire cake into a bowl, a fork helps break it up and mix with 3/4 to 1 whole container of frosting. Roll mixture into small balls (approx 1-1 1/2 in. diameter) and place on parchment paperballs3
  3. Chop up the almond bark/candy coating and melt over low heat stirring regularly until smooth.  Gently dip in each ball and use a fork to turn/coat completely.  Once coated, place back on parchment paper to set.
  4. While coating is still “wet” add sprinkles or decorations you desire.  I usually dip about 6-8 balls and then add the decorations, if you wait finalballstoo long the coating sets and the sprinkles won’t stick.
  5. Once the coating is set trim off any excess drippings or coating that has pooled around the bottom, add to mini cupcake wrappers and VOILA!

Why I love these… (aside from being delicious)balls4

  •   Pumpkin is perfect for Halloween & Thanksgiving, but you can use a variety of flavor combinations of cake/frosting/coating that will work for any occasion including Holidays, Birthdays, etc.
  • These can be made a few days ahead of time, they stay fresh & moist thanks to the hardened coating
  • Cake balls are perfectly portioned, individual servings, that are hassle & mess free to transport & serve…what more could you ask for in a treat?

HAVE A SAFE & HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

 

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