6.30.2011

Recycled Bird House

Since Handy Hubby built the awesome sand box under our play set fort, we still had a bunch of cedar planks leftover from the privacy fence we removed to make room for our neighbors' new garage (YEAH!).

My daughter loves to work with her dad in his work shop so they decided to build a little bird feeder out of some of the cedar. It is already weathered so it really blends with the surroundings and looks old.  They used a metal bracket that we bought a while back to hang a hummingbird feeder that still lives in its box (BOO!). We hung it with some twine (not a long-term solution) from our garage in view of our kitchen sink window.

The birds seem to like the final product!





Have you made a bird feeder?  Recycled any building materials?

Hope everyone had a great long weekend!

6.29.2011

Styling the Console Table

I keep telling  myself I am going to take a break from blogging now that it's summer, but that just doesn't seem to happen since I keep coming up with fun things to write about!  Over the past few weeks, I've been collecting things to style my console table in the living room. The table works perfectly in the space but I had put some random things on there but nothing really hit me as perfect.

For some reason, I don't seem to have a great before picture of where it was. This picture was from my friend Kim's shower back in March.

The chairs normally reside in the dining room but I like chairs in here so I am considering some other chairs in here. But I digress.

I had some great shopping luck at a random little store in Poolesville, Maryland after a strawberry picking adventure.  We stumbled on this store after strawberry picking with the kids on a gorgeous Saturday morning in May. We then decided to drive through Poolesville to see what was there. Although there was not much else, there were two great little consignment decor stores. Who knew?!  I didn't find anything at Finder's Keepers (although there was a lot of cute things), at the garden stop across the street which I think was called Stephanie's Secret Garden. Of course, the timing was less than idea - two hungry kids, one tired husband, and TWO GREAT STORES I HAVE NEVER BEEN IN BEFORE. Argh.

So, I had about 20.5 minutes and this is what I could decide on. The driftwood wreath was $30 but looks so much more expensive. It fills up the space without being overbearing. The small silver candy dish was $10. I love these dishes and have seen them in several stores but never went for one. I'm sure I could have found one cheaper on ebay but this was so cute I couldn't pass it up. Plus, this adds to my ever expanding blue collection.

Next I found a pair of great lights at.... HomeGoods! Where else really? They are not very thick or large, but fill the space nicely.

So, here's how it looks now...

The trunk underneath is also from HomeGoods a few months ago. I think it was less than $30 on clearance but I love the black patent sheen.

The next question is whether to keep this picture here, or move it to the family room and then put a mirror here. The reflection would be the fireplace which would be pretty but I do love this picture here. Decisions, decisions...

Discover any fun stores in your neighborhood? I love the consignment trend for home decor stores. Kind of makes up for how many people are stealing the good deals in my thrift stores! hah!

6.28.2011

Yard Sale Finds

A few weeks ago my friend and neighbor, Amy, and I went on a yard sale expedition. There were a couple of big neighborhood sales going on which made it easy to hit about 25 sales in a few hours. We didn't find too many deals early on which is odd because I usually get tons of stuff in the first hour and then nothing after that. We saw a small dresser for $35 which needed work. We both passed it up but then both realized we could have used it in multiple places in each of our homes. I won't make that mistake again!

I ended up getting two great lamps. First this desk lamp which I paid $5 for but it works and even came with a CFL bulb so I think it was worth it!


Then I got a floor lamp at one of the last sales we went to. It doesn't work so it needs to be rewired but Handy Hubby can handle that. On the plus side it is very heavy brass and has great styling. It will likely end up in Alex's big boy room or our reclaimed home office.

I also found these two candle holders. The one of the left is from Crate and Barrel and came with some extra brand new tea lights. The one on the right is a bit of a mystery but I liked it. I'll probably use one or both on my porch. Well worth $1 each!



In addition to this stuff, I found a bunch of books for my kids. My son is obsessed with trucks and trains so it's hard to pass up anything in that genre right now! Both kids also enjoy Richard Scarry so I've been expanding our collection of his work. Amy scored a great mirror with tons of potential. Hopefully she'll blog about it soon!

6.27.2011

House Tour Room-by-Room Link-up Party: Front Entry, Stairwell and Hall

We had a great weekend, including a quick trip to New Jersey for my cousin's wedding. It was a lot of fun hanging out with parents, brother, and cousins for an evening, but then we came right back home yesterday so we could attend an event at Elizabeth's school, a birthday party, and squeeze in some pool time as well. Wow, I'm still tired!  I'm really looking forward to the 4th of July long weekend!


It's Monday so it's house tour day again! This time we're touring your front entries, stairwells and hallways. These spaces are often ignored so I wanted to give them the attention they deserve. After all, you pass these spaces many times per day so it's a great place to display items you love to look at. 

We don't have a front entry but one of the best features of our house is our stairwell.  Before we renovated, our stairs were one of the better features of our house. They ran up the back of our living room. We installed a runner to cover their imperfect finish but they still were very fitting for our colonial. 



We wanted to keep the stairs where they were or modify them in the renovation process but ultimately our architect convinced us that moving them to a new location opened up so many options for us (including making a useless 4th bedroom into a perfectly sized room).  Thank goodness she was persistent! 

Here's how our stairwell looks now...


The stairwell goes up four stories - basement to attic - with no interruptions. My kids often eat a snack sitting on the bottom step. That step is also our time-out seat.

We originally planned to have a short banister to the right of the refrigerator but then our builder asked whether we thought we needed it because we all loved the open look. We did not need it for code purposes since we had the other handrail and it was less than the minimum drop off. We decided to leave it off knowing we could add it later, and we never looked back. Also, one other fun fact - the newel post at the base of the stairs in the picture above is actually our original newel post from our old stairway!

We have this small wall gallery of family pictures started on the first flight of stairs but we hope to extend that up the stairs as the years go on. I found the M at Ross for about $6 a year or two ago. They often have them if you are looking for something similar.


I also love how it's the centerpiece of our house both inside and outside. Here's the view from the driveway which gives you an idea of the height. It almost looks like a tower on the side of our house but it's so pretty in the early evening with all of the lights on.

 
This door off the driveway is the one we use most frequently now. Our tiny mud area is right inside to the right under the window. 

Your turn! Please link up any post about your front entry, stairwell, or a hallway in your house. Did you do something fun? Do you have big renovation plans? Let's hear it (and see it!). Feel free to link up to 3 separate posts. 



HOUSEography House Tour Link Party


6.24.2011

Blue, Blue, Blue

After bringing in the blue pillows for the porch sofa and chairs, I started really disliking some of the other red details I had going on out there - particularly the red cushions on the dining chairs. I am in an anti-red mode right now - no idea why.

I stumbled on the Target summer clearance sale last Sunday and picked up some new blue and tan striped cushions for $13 each. Yeah! Bye rusty red.



Check out the gorgeous hydrangeas!  These have been going strong for almost 2 weeks!

Here's what it looked like before in case you forgot -

 I think it's great with the sofa pillows and the tan in the new chair cushions is similar to the sofa cushions.
I plan to spend a whole bunch of time relaxing out here over the next couple of days. Have a great weekend!

6.23.2011

Summer Mantel (teensy bit late)

Although the official start of summer was only Tuesday, it has felt like summer in Virginia for about 2 months. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I LOVE SUMMER. I love everything about it including the heat but especially the pool, beach, BBQs, being outside, eating on the screen porch, evening walks, gardening...

Honestly, I almost didn't do this post because my summer mantel looks quite a bit like my winter mantel. I think that's because I LOVE the glassware that I have up there now. The blues and greens work so well in my house that I just didn't really feel like changing anything. I still have some ideas for other things I could do to make it more summer-like, but I think I'll generally keep it going in this theme. Maybe I'll change for fall. Or maybe not.



For those of you concerned about TV viewing, here's the view from the sofa. No obstructions!


I'm still considering options for hiding the television when it's not in use. More to come on that though!

6.22.2011

Composting - 2 1/2 months later!

We started composting back in late April (more on that here and here). Several people have asked for an update on how it's going so here's the post. Honestly, the biggest issue was finding a place for our compost tumbler. We picked it up at Costco back in May for about $100 (thanks to my friend with a membership).  I ultimately decided to keep it in the driveway next to our trash cans. Trash cans are already not pretty pretty or the cleanest so adding the compost tumbler to the same area really wasn't a big deal.

 Inside the compost looks like this. It really doesn't smell but there are a lot of little flies in there.
So far, it has been really easy once we started getting in the habit. It really does not smell bad - definitely not as bad as our trash can filled with diapers!  We are mostly composting kitchen food waste and some yard waste - grass clippings and plant trimmings - all "green."  We have thrown in some shredded paper and some sawdust for added "brown" stuff to balance out the carbon/nitrogen mix.  Although some people advised against composting fruit, we have composted fruit from the beginning and haven't noticed any extra smell. Our tumbler is rodent proof so the extra sugar should not be a problem. Fruit seems to break down quickly. In fact, everything seems to break down quickly! I am still experimenting with what needs to be chopped up. We do not put corn cobs in because we have heard they take forever to break down.

A friend recommended getting some compost accelerator (or starter) which seemed to get things going really quickly. I think we'll probably scoop everything that's in there now into a plastic box and let it finish in there. If we keep adding to the tumbler, it will never be "finished" and ready for use in the garden. If we take out what's in there later this week (it's supposed to be super hot here the next few days), I think we'll have a good shot at having some compost ready to use by later this summer.

We are still using our the World Market countertop compost holder. It sits nicely on the counter near the sink.
Definitely worth $14. When it's full or it starts to smell, time to take it out. Generally that coincides with either a full trash or recycling bin so it has not been a big deal at all.

Overall, I don't feel like we have greatly reduced our trash but I do think we run the garbage disposal less than we did before we composted. I definitely feel good about salvaging our food waste in a way that hopefully we'll be able to benefit from down the road.

6.20.2011

House Tour Room-by-Room Link-up Party: Front Porch, Stoop, & Door

Summer will officially arrive this week, although it has been here weather-wise for quite a while!  So, it's time to get those front doors and porches ready for the good weather. I love walking around the neighborhood admiring everyone's door colors and wreaths. Now I get to cruise around my virtual neighborhood and see all of my blog-buddy's doors and porches with this week's house tour link-up party!


I've done quite a bit of work on our curb appeal this year. We got our flag out for Memorial Day weekend, of course.

 A few weeks before I realized we had never filled the holes and repaint the spot where the flag bracket was prior to the renovation. Woops.
 I got out some spackle and fixed the holes and Handy Hubby (with my Handy Dad looking on) sanded it down and repainted before Alex's birthday party. Considerably better now!

I had added some tickweed perennials as well as some liriope grass to fill the border. I also added a couple of knock-out roses which aren't flowering yet. Maybe they are deciding whether they like their new location and whether they want to stick around and put on a show.

 I also filled my urns with new plants for summer but they still need some more height so I need to get some spiky plants to define them a bit more.

Not sure if I ever pointed out the view from the street to our screen porch. I love waving to our neighbors walking or driving by when we sit out there.
Here's a shot of our mailbox which caused me a lot of heartburn to find. Most mailboxes are horizontal but we didn't have enough space between our shutters and door frame. I finally found this one online. No idea where because it was more than 5 years ago!
 Here's the wreath that my mom made for me about 3 years ago while we were renovating.
 I love the yellow and purple with the fun poppy accent.
Now it's your turn - let's see your front door, front porch, stoop, walkway, or whatever other curb appeal you have to show-off. As always, torn up and in-progress posts are more than welcomed! Please don't forget to add my button or link to your post or blog.



And here's my party button!

HOUSEography House Tour Link Party



p.s. Like this post, vote for HOUSEography on Picket Fence Blogs by clicking here (and that's it!). Thanks!

6.16.2011

Fun camera accessories!

I purchased a few fun accessories for my camera in the past couple of weeks which I thought I would share. First, I bought a tripod. We had one at some point but I may have sold it in a yard sale. Tripods are really important for low light photography. I went for a really basic model because I figured I won't use it all the time.

Dynex Tripod
On a whim, I bought this fun wide angle lens which attaches to my kit lens like a filter. I bought it so I can take wider angle pictures of my rooms and yard. I think it works pretty well considering it was less than $10!!
Wide Angle Lens
It has a slight fish-eye effect which I think is fun. Here's a photo of our very messy kitchen taken using both the tripod and the new lens. It has a fun-house effect which I think is well worth $9.99!


I also ordered the remote for my camera which I think will come in handy for family self-portrait sessions. Unfortunately I used some reward zone points from Best Buy to buy it so it's on back order. Annoying. I'll let you know how it works when I get it. Best Buy was running a great special on accessories last week so I took advantage of that opportunity to use some expiring points.

Hubby also bought me a speedlite for my birthday. It took care of the annoying "busy" error that I get when I take a lot of indoor pictures with the internal flash. It's an annoying quirk in the Canon T1i which does not make me happy!! Problem solved.

Have you bought any new accessories for your DSLR recently? Tell me!