Remodelaholic Featured!

I am very excited to say that my blog is featured on Remodelaholic today!  I am avid reader of that blog so I was really excited to see my own post about curb appeal there today!  Click here to check it out!

For those of you visiting for the first time - Welcome!  Hope you decide to become a subscriber (links to the left) and come back often.


Dining Room Halloween Centerpiece

After yesterday's post about our dining room decor overhaul, I realized I forgot to give a little info about the centerpiece.   The centerpiece bowl and candlesticks were wedding gifts (Simon Pierce) from very close family friends.  I've had the orange candles for a long time but never used them and the pumpkin bowl filler is from Ross ($5).  I've also had the table runner for a few years. 

I have decided that I am going to try hard to only buy accessories which have some flexibility - either seasonal or use.  I think vase/bowl filler has become so popular because you can do a lot of different things with it.  I hope I can stick with my new mantra!  More Halloween decor later this week!


Dining Room Redesign Update!

I am STILL working on getting my dining room redesigned.  Although I am keeping all of the furniture, I am changing out most of the accessories and wall decor.  I am still missing a few pieces but it is getting much closer than before.  My dining room before was definitely leaning towards floral and feminine.  I am a huge fan of florals, but the dining room was overloaded.

This weekend I became really inspired to get my dining room up to snuff as we prepare to host Jim's family for Thanksgiving.  We are really excited to have them all here together - a first!  Maybe this was just the kick I needed.

Over the summer, I found a new rug and updated the chandelier

Now for some close-ups.

The buffet with a new mirror ($20 from Ross) and small buffet lamps ($10 each from Walmart).  Everything else was mine already.

The new boat paintings were my grandparents'.  They remind me of them and I love that.  The colors just happened to be perfect for this room.  I love when that happens.  I may get the inner mat replaced at some point because it has faded to an odd shade of purple.  I am sure it was dark blue at some point.

My china cabinet was rearranged a few months ago so we would get more use out of our good china (read about that here).  I recently added the blue rimmed plates which my mom thinks my grandparents received as a wedding gift.  Turquoise was my grandmother's favorite color. 
The mini bar was a very recent addition although we have had the bar cabinet for years.  (Read about that quick update here)  I added a new picture above which I already had on hand.  It's probably a few inches too high right now but I am not sure this picture is here for the long haul.

Finally, I added a reproduction map of Washington, DC in the mid-19th Century before Virginia took Arlington back.  Arlington was mostly forts and farmland at that point in history.  What a change in 150 years!


I am so happy with how it's turning out.  Can't wait to break out the extra leaves for the table!  What do you think?  Any additional ideas?


More House Plant Talk

I did it!  Finally transplanted my Dieffenbachia house plant into a larger pot.  Here is my sad specimen.

I became inspired again by my sister-in-law who put hers in a larger pot and left it outside for the summer.  Clearly it liked it!

So, I decided to start by re-potting it and then seeing how it goes.  It couldn't get much worse, right?
I know everyone is REALLY tried of hearing about these pathetic creatures!


Candy Corn Decor!

I've seen it everywhere this week and last, but I could not help throwing my own candy corn creation into the decoblog mix.  Decorating with candy corns is at your own risk, especially if you like them!  They are not my favorite candy so it is not hard for me to avoid them.  My parents were here over the weekend and almost ate my entire centerpiece!  Fortunately, I anticipated this problem and bought two bags.  Jim hates candy corn so no risk there.

Here is my candy corn creation using the same hurricane I have been using since summer and a platter I bought on clearance from HomeGoods (I think) after Halloween last year. 

I think the spider adds a fun creepy factor and also helps deter little (or big) sticky fingers.

Here's a view of our current kitchen eating area all dressed up for fall.  This picture was taken right before dinner last night so you can also see my unironed placemats.  I bought the leaf garlands at the Dollar Tree back in August not knowing what I would do with them.  They are pretty good quality and when I use two together, they look really full and more realistic.  
Elizabeth (4.5 years old) loves to help decorate and window clings are an easy way for her to help.  She does the design and installation.  I think she did a great job!

Linking to My Back Yard Eden - Make It Yours Day


Link-Up Party: Toy Storage Solutions and Playroom Ideas!

As mentioned last week and yesterday, I am having a link-up party so everyone can show off their creative toy storage and playroom ideas.  Let's hear about your ideas for keeping video games under control and Barbie and her friends in line!  I am collecting ideas for our own basement playroom which I am hoping to tackle this winter with some creative storage ideas - following a major toy clean-out!

This party will be open for a week.  Looking forward to getting some great ideas!  Here's the drill:

1)  Become a HOUSEography follower (either through Google Friend Connect, Facebook, or Twitter)
2)  Link back to this page from your linked entry or blog.
3)  Upload your thumbnail below.


Playroom Decor Ideas

Yes, we have a playroom.  I do not really talk about it because it is a primary source of my own decorator shame right now.  I would love for it to be a beautiful, fun, and functional room, but it is just not.  It's just a playroom with a television (with cable hooked up), dilapidated Ikea white laminate shelves, my treadmill, the dog's crate and a lot of big plastic toys.  My kids actually do play down here and Elizabeth plays with her beloved Playmobil sets here regularly (away from her little brother's busy hands).

The sofa in the pictures?  Nope, not ours - on loan from some neighbors and they have now taken it back so it is just an empty room.  

I am going to avoid buying new furniture for this room as much as possible.  My current idea is to use our old living room couch in the basement and get new living room furniture.  I may also move our red leather chair from the living room down here as well.  I can put the couch along the same wall as the couch in the above pictures. 

The major project is for the hubby to build some new built-in bookshelves along the back wall where the white shelves are now.  I am thinking about a style similar to the others in the rest of our house.  (More about those here)  I think we'll have to pull the carpet back and have it re-stretched and installed when we're done.  Not a huge deal but just a pain. 

We will also sell the armoire and the television inside it.  Jim is already dreaming of the black Friday sales he is going to hit to get his new basement television. 

That is the current plan but I really want to hear about some of your great toy storage and play room ideas.  Sooooo....

Check back here tomorrow to join our first HOUSEography link up party!  Link back to your blog or website with your toy storage solutions and playroom decorating ideas.  See you tomorrow!


Open Toy Storage: Easy Access and Fast Clean-up

Many people always seem to be trying to hide their kids' toys - in the basement, in kids' rooms, in dedicated playrooms.  Unfortunately that doesn't really work well in real life, at least in my family's real life.  The toys always migrate to where the adults are because the kids want to be with the adults.  So, you have to make the toys work in your space and not worry about the gaudy plastic because that is generally part of most of our lives.  I've learned to live with it.  I think the secret is to keep them corralled in corners of the room.  Kids seem to like corners of rooms - probably because they are cozy and somewhat confined yet part of the action as well. 

In our family room, I created a toy corner mainly for my 16 month old, but which kids of all ages seem to gravitate towards.  (Why do 4.5 year-olds still love playing with baby toys?)   Here is how it looked last night which is pretty typical for this part of the house. 

My kids (like all others) can make a pretty massive mass in about 5 minutes. 

Although I considered using some closed storage for this stuff, I really wanted my son is to play with the toys and 1 year olds are unlikely to dive into cabinets and toy boxes on a regular basis without some adult assistance.  But, with our solution, my son heads to this corner on his own and entertains himself for at least fifteen minutes at a time (I can make a lot of meals in about 15 minutes!). He can grab all of his own toys and see what he is looking for or, more likely, play with whatever is on top.  Let's face it, there's a reason why baskets seem to be the go-to toy storage option right now. 

I try to keep the toys organized so that all of the vehicle toys are in one basket and everything else is in the other.  This makes clean-up easier surprisingly.  I also try to rotate the toys between his room, the basement, and the car but he definitely has his favorites which never leave the family room.  Although the majority of his books are on his huge built-in bookshelves in his room, the small book basket keeps a few books handy - particularly lift-the-flap books which are his current favorite. 

Another great thing about the open basket option is that clean-up is a breeze.  I timed my clean-up tonight to see how long it takes to put everything back in relatively neat form - including putting toys back together with all or most of their pieces.  7 minutes exactly.  Seriously. 

I know everyone has great toy storage tips so check back here tomorrow for a link up party (my first!) and get some more toy storage tips!  We would love to hear everything from wrangling infant toys to corralling video game consoles.


Amped Up Fall Decor: The Mantel Revisited

Yup, back at the mantel in the family room again.  I am also working on the living room mantel as well, but the family room is where we are spending most of our time right now.  Since it's now October, I feel okay about it being fall and I am no longer morning the loss of summer every morning (only every other). 

Here it is a few days ago (read that post here) -

And here it is now with some added pumpkinification!

The beauty of this is that I had everything on hand so not a single penny was spent.  Several of the same items as in the previous version but some added pumpkins and a plant given to us by our neighbors in memory of my grandmother.  I love its rust colored metal pot.   What a beautiful memory.

The orange glass pumpkins were a gift from my mom many years ago.  I still love them.  They are so simple and pretty.  The acorn is actually a candle in a metal box.  I rarely burn real candles but I love its shape.  The little bird just keeps coming back for more!

I love this decor because it will last me through Thanksgiving but I am thinking some additional Halloween fun will invade our house in the next couple of weeks so more fun to follow. 


Mini-Bar in a Minute

I am STILL working on updating my dining room decor.  I am doing it in bits and pieces when I find inspiration or inspiring pieces.  (For about this ongoing project, see the posts here, here, here, and here.)  We have a great little cabinet that we use for liquor but which probably start its life as a radio cabinet or something like that.  It's a beautiful piece, but most people never know it's the liquor cabinet.  Maybe that's not a bad a thing!

But, as part of the dining room updating process, I decided to create a little mini-bar there for a couple of bottles of whiskey and bourbon for when someone (hubby) wants a quick evening drink.  My goal was to spend little to no money on this project so I first shopped my house for the tray (slightly tarnished which I kind of like) and the liquor bottles, but I did not have appropriate short glasses.  My kitchen glasses are a little casual for the look I was going for - slightly elegant.  So, I hit up Goodwill and found five matching cut glass double old fashioneds for total of less than $3.00 for the set.  I almost passed them up because there were only 5, but then I realized one would inevitably get broken by a flying truck, baby doll, or ball so I would just consider one of them to be a back-up!  Once the glasses took a long overdue and much needed trip through the dishwasher, they were ready to roll.

Here's the result -

I think it really works with the space, and was well worth the $3 investment!  And that vase with the lid was a great HomeGoods find for $12.99 and the fall pumpkin vase filler was $4.99 at Ross Dress for Less.

My goal is to get the dining room finished up by Thanksgiving since we're going to have a crowd of family in town for the weekend - I want it to be warm and festive.  We are so excited!


Grout Shout Out

I finally called someone to do the tile backsplash in the kitchen.  I feel like this is a cop out.  I had dreams (and nightmares) about us tackling this project ourselves but it really comes down to time.  I would like to get this done before Thanksgiving, but the hubs has a really busy month at work coming up so I just know this will linger on, and on, and on.  I don't want grout dust in my stuffing!

Where did my drive for DIY projects go?  I guess I lost it somewhere between 2 kids and working 35 hours per week in my big girl job.

How do you find good people for jobs like this?  I usually just start asking friends, people on my local parent listserve, and then I always ask my real estate agent friends (I'm lucky to have several in the biz).  So now I have a list of 3 or 4 people who I can call. 

As I have said before, my heart is set on a white subway tile backsplash (read more about that here).  Although I had considered doing a pattern of some sort behind the stove, I have now decided to just keep it clean and simple.  I'll be less likely to grow tired of it and it will always be in style and classy.  We have our awesome pot-filler back there anyway so that would cover up a portion of any detail back there anyway.  Keep it simple stupid.  (Woops, not supposed to say "stupid" anymore.)

Now I am down to choosing the grout color.  I am debating between white and gray.  I have ruled out black because I think it looks too geometric and schoolhouse somehow.  Don't ask.  It's just me.  This picture convinced me that I made the right decision on that.

Home Design Find

This question seems to be pretty widely discussed on Apartment Therapy and GardenWeb.

Here are some samples to peruse before you "vote".  I tried to find some pictures with white cabinets and black counter tops.  I'll listen but I won't necessarily do what you say!

via GardenWeb

Close-up of the above kitchen


Although the counters are not black like mine, this is a good comparison. 
Grout: Tec, Dove Gray - via GardenWeb
Close-up of the above kitchen

This is a gorgeous kitchen - love that oversized tile but I am wimp and will stick with the classic. 
via GardenWeb

So white or gray?!!  Tell me what you think.  Feel free to post links to your own subway tile but tell me the grout name.  Thanks!

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Thanks for the memories

I'm sad to say that my grandmother died in August.  It was somewhat sudden but she had all of her family with her, and she had seen a lot of family members over the summer.  She was 88 years old and lived a full and very happy life.  I wish I was half as positive as she was. 

I am very lucky to have wonderful memories of my grandmother.  That's really all I need - I don't need her things all around me to remember her.  It is nice that I received a few things that will always remind me of her, and my grandfather who died 8 years ago. 

Here are a few examples -

1.  Grandma's Needlework - My grandmother was a crafter in the truest sense.  She did every type of needlework imaginable (and unimaginable to me), and was a knitter as well.  I have a few framed pieces of hers in my house but one of my favorites is the sampler she did below which hangs at the bottom of the stairs in my kitchen where I see it every morning.  She made it to commemorate the purchase of our home in 2002 just weeks after my grandfather died.  It's classic and beautiful.  

2.  Grandpa's Favorite Chair - I always loved my grandfather's red leather chair where he read his beloved books (we have loads of those too) and I am proud to have it in my living room today.  When I sit in it now, it still reminds me of him and how I used to love to play on it and its funny footstool when I was a kid. I love watching my kids find new games to play on it now.  I know my grandparents would be very happy to just sit and watch them.

3.  Grandmother Clock - Of all of the furniture and things in my grandmother's apartment, the only thing that my brother and I both asked my mom for was this clock.  My sweet brother let me have it.  For both of us, our fondest memories of this clock are of Christmas Eve in their house in Cooperstown, NY where we occasionally spent the holidays.  This clock stood in the hall at the top of the stairs near the room where my brother and I slept as young children, and we listened to it chime while we tried so hard to go to sleep before Santa came!  It needs to be repaired although remembering how much it chimed, I might not mind that it no longer works!  Appropriately, it is currently in my living room next to Grandpa's chair.  I'm not sure if that will be its long term home but it works for now.

There were so many pieces of nice furniture left at my grandmother's apartment but we just did not have the space, and many pieces were also just not our style.  My advice to anyone faced with this dilemma is:

1)  Take only stuff that you love and would consider buying if it were in a store;
2)  If you are debating about a piece that you love because you cannot figure out where you would put it, take it because you won't have a second chance; and
3)  Remember that fond memories and love are in your heart and mind, not in physical things. 


Thrifty Gardening

I have been working on cleaning up my flower gardens over the past few weeks.  We did some mulching last weekend which really spruced things up, and we moved some lilac bushes from the back of our yard to the side (read more about that here). 

We still have some pretty significant blank spots in our planting areas near the screen porch.  I want to get a few more larger bushes or small trees to fill in the area a bit more, but I needed some perennials as well.  I decided to use some of the perennials that I already have including some beautiful irises which seem to thrive in my yard.  I spread them out so they will be on both sides of the path leading from the front yard gate and arbor into the backyard. 

I also transplanted some peonies which were not doing well in the far corner of the yard and spread them out in this area. They don't look so great now either but hopefully that will change by spring.  And we really need to do something to cover up those beautiful air conditioning units!

Fall is also the time to plant your spring bulbs.  I often forget until December but that still is not too late in Virginia fortunately.  You should also dig up and divide tulips and daffodils every few years because eventually they sort of choke themselves out with lots of small bulbs growing off the original. I usually do that in the spring after the leaves start to turn brown but I may do a little of that this fall with some daffodils that grow at the base of our huge oak tree.  If you want to expand your plant collection see if a friend or neighbor wants to swap some of their spreading perennials for yours.

This is also a great time of year to plant grass seed or sod your lawn.  We have some serious bare spots in the backyard which need some topsoil and seed.  We try to plan those types of plantings when rain is in the forecast, but usually we end up throwing the seed down when we have a few minutes. 

What fall planting projects are you working on?