A Birthday Present for HOUSEography!

As a birthday present to my dear blog, I got it a mega makeover!  She was sorely in need of some changes so here they are...

Lighter, brighter and overall more my style.

[update!! Thanks Casey!] Here's a screen shot of my old blog.
I'm hoping the new blog will be a little easier to navigate and generally easier to read.  Thanks to Casey at Sugar Studios for the wonderful work at a great price!

What do you think?  Like the new design?

On the porch front, the painters are scheduled to come today to paint!! I'm so excited. Woohoo!


Porch Progress: The last leg (hopefully)

I am really hoping we are down to the last leg of our screen porch renovation journey.  Ideally, we'll be done this week but the weather will have to hold for that to happen.

Here's the view from the back of the house.  The area without a railing is the doorway. There's a frame there now but it has been raining here most of the weekend and I didn't get an updated picture.

Here are a couple of close-ups of the railing detail.  Loooooove it.

From the front...

I finally made a decision on the porch ceiling.  Took a week to make that decision but only about 2 minutes to choose a color for the floor! I'll keep you in suspense for a couple more days.  Hopefully I'll be showing final pictures early next week!

Next up will be fixing the landscaping around the porch a bit and get about 20 bags of mulch to fill in what is washed away.  The work area is really clean though so I don't think it will take much to make it all nice again... I hope.  Our front yard is also in major need of some grass seed and water. Our sprinklers have been turned off throughout the porch renovation so I am itching to get them turned back on and get our grass back in shape.

And then there's furniture... I have my eye on a table which I may fill you in on next week.

Feels good to be in the last few days of this project... I'm ready to eat dinner out there again!


Master Bedroom: More Mirrors

This is my 500th blog post... hard to believe!  I have a blog-iversary gift to my blog (and readers) planned next week. Eye candy!!  Can you guess what it is?  Now, on with the show...

For a while the pictures over our bed have been bugging me.  I really like this original artwork (purchased at a yard sale by my mom many years ago), but it seems a little wasted over the bed where you can't see it. They seem a little too small for the spot and just don't have the impact I wanted.

A few months ago I found a great Crate & Barrel mirror at Goodwill for $20.  I didn't know where I was going to use it but I think I may have finally realized that if I see something I really like - no, actually LOVE - for a great price (under $50) then I should buy it because I will likely end up regretting not buying it and inevitably think of a million places to use said thing about an hour after leaving it behind.  So, home it came with me...

So, I popped it over the bed to see if I liked it.  Result - I do like it. Not sure I love it but it's a departure from the starburst mirror that is over nearly every blogger's bed right now.  Raise your hand if you have one?  Don't get me wrong, I love the look but just wanted to try something different.


Here's the before -

And now...

I like that the mirror is a little less traditional and stuffy than the pictures were.  It also shows off the ceiling height in here. 

I have already found homes for two of the pictures. One is in the corner with my grandmother's chair.  I love the colors together and it grabs more attention. I'm debating adding one of the others over the top of this one for more height.  

The other is over Jim's dresser but it was too messy to photograph in good conscience!

There's a quick change-up for a Tuesday morning.  Have you done any quick changes in your bedroom to lighten it up.  


Angel Food Cake Cheating

I needed an easy cake for Elizabeth's 6th Birthday party.  As I have said before, I am not a baker. I don't have the patience or the ability to measure accurately. I often leave out ingredients but I still like to "make" my kids' cakes.  So, I am always looking for an easy dessert that seems homemade (like it's on my own plate) but really it took 5 minutes.  So, an adapted angel food seemed perfect. Also, it's light and works with fruit so it was perfect for little girls who were already stuffed with pancakes and candy.

This is beyond easy. All you need is a store-bought angel food cake, fruit of your choice (I used strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and kiwis.  And Cool Whip (or whipped cream if you prefer but I love Cool Whip and so does my daughter!

First, slice the cake in half horizontally. Set the top aside.

Next layer on the Cool Whip and then a layer of fruit. I filled the center with Cool Whip as well. Maybe overkill!

Layer more Cool Whip on top of that.

Finally, replace the top and cover the entire thing with Cool Whip as if it were icing. Decorate with fruit of your choice.

Elizabeth loved it and thought it was perfect for her - my berry and kiwi loving girl!


Elizabeth's Pancakes & Pajamas Birthday Party

Last weekend we celebrated Elizabeth's 6th birthday with a Pancakes & Pajamas Party.  Six of Elizabeth's best friends came over at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning wearing their PJs ready for pancakes!!  They were all so cute and super excited to show off their PJs!  This was a great compromise for a 6 year old birthday since most of the kids are not ready for sleep-overs but they are already excited about the possibility!

I spent a good part of Saturday morning hanging a ton of streamers in the dining room.  I wanted it to feel enchanted. Thankfully the blue painters tape held overnight and only 2 streamers had fallen by morning!

I added balloons, paper lanterns, and tissue paper poofs around the chandelier.

While the girls arrived, they started working on cereal necklaces. They strung Fruit Loops (a delicacy in our house) and multigrain Cheerios onto elastic meant for jewelry.  To stop them from falling off the end, I clipped a small binder clip on the end of the string.  They would have done this for 45 minutes I think but I wanted them to eat the pancakes while they were still warm...

That's my little man Alex working on his own cereal necklace!  

After tying 8 square knots on the necklaces, we moved them into the dining room for pancakes and hot chocolate.
We had special toppings for the hot chocolate including graham cracker and oreo pieces and mini chocolate chips.  And of course whip cream in a can!  For the pancakes we had maple, strawberry, and blueberry syrups, as well as fresh fruit.  I also had yogurt for them in a bowl on the side.  

I think they felt very adult sitting in the dining room with coffee mugs!

Of course, curly straws and a cereal necklace snack ensured they were firmly in kid-ville!

After pancakes, they headed outside (it was almost 80 degrees at 10 a.m.!) so they could decorate a pillowcase. I bought the pillowcases in bulk on ebay and I already had the fabric paint from baby shower onesie decorating (more on that here)! 

When they were done, they played outside on the swing set while I cleaned up. Then we came back inside for a candy hunt! Elizabeth had missed Easter at home while we were in London, so she really wanted to do it. We could have skipped it but she loved it!  I made baskets for each of the girls from the dollar store. Each had their names on them and a little label

Finally, they came back in for my no-bake homemade cake (recipe to follow tomorrow).

By this point the girls were super sugared up but with only a few minutes to go, Elizabeth opened her presents. Total chaos but so much fun for the girls to see her open their hard-thought presents!

The adorable invitations and favor labels were made by Michelle at Bugaboo Designs.
I also customized my winter wreath to greet Elizabeth's guests with some more ribbon and some "6"s cut out of card stock I had on hand.

Hard to believe my baby girl is 6 years old!

Happy Birthday Elizabeth!

p.s. I found a lot of inspiration on Pinterest, and especially from the very talented Cassie at Hi Sugarplum!  Thanks Cassie for so many awesome ideas!!


Master Bedroom Built-ins Progress Report

Sorry about the lack of posts over the past few weeks. Not sure anyone actually notices when I don't post but we were knee-deep in party planning for Elizabeth's 6th birthday party.  More on that to come later this week I hope!

I keep forgetting to update you on Handy Hubby's progress on the master bedroom built-ins.  That's probably because he is working on them solely in his shop so they aren't in my face every day!  I love this part of the process since there's no mess in our bedroom.  That will likely change this weekend.  

So, now Handy Hubby has pretty much finished the base box and doors so you can get an idea for what they look like.  

The open top space is for our cable box and DVD player.  Our TV will go on the shelf above that, and then a bookcase will surround the TV with a few shelves above that.  

This weekend we have to try to find some hinges and I'll try to get this part primed and painted so Handy Hubby can install it and then get started on the top.  I haven't decided what kind of metal finish I want on the hinges and I'm not entirely sure I'm going to paint this one white. {Gasp}  I'm leaning towards a blue-gray color.  At least it's not a large piece so repainting would not be the end of the world!

What do you think?  

Looking forward to getting it 


Screen Porch Progress: Paint or Stain on the Ceiling???

I owe you a real update on the porch but the last few days have been hectic  to say the least!!  I'm struggling for the first time in this entire project.  I cannot decide whether to paint or stain the ceiling which is beautiful as it is but I am just not a bare wood person (despite some other bare wood on our house which may change shortly as well).

(This picture is actually from a couple of weeks ago before the skylight was installed... more on that later this week.)

But, what do with the ceiling. All of the posts, beams, and trim will definitely be painted to match the sandtone trim color (matched to our Andersen windows) on the rest of our house (a slightly grayish tan).  But the ceiling seems like an opportunity to do something different. The wood ceiling is nice though so I am considering doing a semi-transparent stain but it's unclear whether it should be light, like a white wash or pickled, or dark similar to our HardiPlank siding.  If we paint it, do we paint it the same as the rest of the room, or paint it a pale blue like so many southern ceilings (google it and you'll see...).

Before you jump to a decision, here are some inspiration photos for you to think on...

Blue ceilings...

Young House Love

Cortney Bishop - Design Sponge


Traditional Home

Hmmm.... After looking through these (and loads of others on Pinterest and Houzz), I can eliminate the blue (although I love blue porch ceilings and I would consider using it on my front porch at some point)... but I do like both he pickled-whitewash and the straight painted ceiling.  Not sure I want it to be dark although it would certainly highlight the wood detailing against he stony trim.

Thoughts?!!  Help!!


Screen Porch Progress: Framing

We got back from London and were happy to see some progress while we were gone.  Of course, I was dreaming of a fully framed and roofed porch ready for paint screens and electricity.... Ummmm... no.  Clearly I was delirious!!

But, the framing had a good start and the roof was going on when we arrived home.

And by Tuesday, we had a finished roof.

Instead of plywood sheets, we have a tongue and groove pressure treated roof so the inside looks finished.  It will all be painted but it will have a great look inside.  Handy Hubby is totally cringing because he loves the bare wood. Can't do it - sorry.

Then on Wednesday we had shingles going up.  My vision is really starting to come together.  More on the shingles later.

Anyone watch Modern Family last night?  I had tears running down my face watching it. By myself. Handy Hubby is working hard on the master bedroom built-ins so I have lots of TV time.