Sunday, August 31, 2008

Falling for fall...



During our trip to Prince Edward Island, I rediscovered my love affair with fall. I wasn't exactly prepared for it, but it came rushing back to me via visions of pumpkins, hay bales and corn stalks. Thrown into the sea of fall inspiration, was the veritable bounty of fresh harvest vegetables - acorn and papaya squash; beets; baby, new potatoes; zucchinis and all things green and delicious. The art of display seems to be a perfected talent amongst the farm stand proprietors we came across on our journey. At each stand, we found something new and tasty to pile into our car, and by the last stop, we were fishing for change in our pockets to buy as much as we could of the fresh vegetables there for the "picking".



I love white pumpkins. No, I mean I really love white pumpkins!! But, they are becoming exceedingly difficult to lay my hands on in our small town. I did manage to pick some up at the local grocery giant last year, but they were small, misshapen, and not as white as I would like. So, when I ran across some at one of the farm stands this past weekend, I bought all of them...for a dollar a piece!! The farm stand owner laughed at my excitement and offered to go pick some more for me, but common sense prevailed, and I happily set off with my perfect, white beauties!

What do you love about the fall? Is it the crisp, cooler weather, or is it the fall colours seen everywhere from the trees, pumpkins, and gourds, to the warm hues in the home decor shops that usher in feelings of coziness, comfort, and nesting? For me, it is the feeling of coming together that fall evokes from me. Gatherings for Thanksgiving, pumpkin carving parties for Halloween, and scrumptious, hearty meals cooked on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It's all good, and as it should be. Fall simply means that feelings of warmth come from within, instead of from the summer sun. Either way, it is hard not to love fall, and all its bounty...


***Tell me what you love best about fall...***

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Perfect Get-away...


Thanks to everyone who left us such thoughtful wishes for our anniversary! Now, I do try to stick to mainly decorating topics, but I also treat my blog as a journal of sorts for me to look back on and remember what has gone on in my life. I have never been one to have a diary (too much work), but I do find it helpful to jog my memory by sometimes writing about the "minutiae" of my little life. So, if it is too dull for you to read, by all means click on any of the great links on my right sidebar! Sometimes, it's all about me, as the saying goes...!!!

We just returned from our big night away to celebrate our anniversary, and I feel like a whole new person! Just hanging out with my husband without refereeing our kids' squabbles and, instead, talking about anything and everything without interruption, was bliss...
We decided to head over to Prince Edward Island (which is the setting to all of the Anne of Green Gables stories to take in some theatre, great food, and a little shopping of sorts. Well, the shopping didn't amount to much, but the hotel, dining, and show we went to far surpassed our expectations!!

Being highly sophisticated, we nixed ballet or opera for a rousing rendition of "The Ballad of Stompin' Tom". Stompin' Who, you might ask? Well, I'm too lazy/embarrassed to go into details, but let's just say he is a relic of a man who has lived a very difficult life that was capped off by a very successful, Canadian career - characterized by his nasally twang, catchy lyrics, and stomping foot as he sang to his adoring fans.
Would I have gone to the show of my husband wasn't one of those adoring fans? Well, no, but I am more than happy I did! We witnessed some amazing acting talent, humour, and music, and I would recommmend that anyone within spitting distance should attend! I might add there was also an incredibly handsome actor appearing here and there throughout the show, who more than held my attention at times...I may have been married for fifteen years ladies, but I'm not dead!!!


We stayed at a hotel called The Great George Inn, and let me tell you (again, my sophistication is rearing its ugly head...), it was the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in!! From the scent of fresh-baked cookies that greets guests as they enter the lobby (provided all day long!), to the amazing service, attention to detail, and beautifully appointed rooms (and you know my hubby is frugal...ours was the cheapest room..you should see the others!)......well, we had to pinch ourselves at how lucky we were to stumble upon this spot!! Indeed, our whole trip was perfect, and I don't exaggerate! From the games of Scrabbles we played on the ferry, to the delicious meals we had, strolling around the city with nary a care, to the great entertainment and laughs we had...it really was rejuvenating and affirming: we really still are the people we once were before responsibilities took hold! In fact, my husband vows we will not wait the five years until our next milestone anniversary to return there...No, we will be back next year to recharge our batteries as a couple. I think we have just found some more of the building blocks to a strong, happy marriage.
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No need to worry, I will return to my usual topic, decorating, on Monday!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Brick by brick...


What's a fireplace without a little brick? Well, if your brick is ugly, chances are it's not much of a fireplace at all. What's a girl to do?

Well, there are many options: bring it all down (but not with a huff and a puff...) and start anew; resurface using a great natural stone like slate, or a stacked or field stone; clad the fireplace in a great wooden cover up and mantel; or, for those on a very tight budget (or who are simply looking for a stop gap before undertaking a more expensive option), painted brick.

Yep... good, old, cheap, accessible paint. Indeed, painting your brick can be the perfect way to give your fireplace a temporary, or permanent face lift. And really, who can't lift a paintbrush for an easy make-over like that?

Don't think you'll like the outcome? Well, reserve your judgement until you check out these great makeovers from some of my favourite, talented bloggers and websites:

This is Aimee's fireplace before her fantastic makeover:

and after... wow!!

My sister's fireplace makeover...so much prettier! Liz, at Violet Posy, recently posted her great fireplace face lift. I love how much more tranquil her space looks now. You can check out the entire post here.

before...


after...


The following fireplace (from the website, Home be Dazzle.com) was reclad in old brick and wooden panels and moulding:

Voila! This can be your next step for those wanting a full and complete cosmetic overhaul of their fireplace. Isn't it lovely??


**********************************************************


Need some tips on painting your brick?

Here are some tips from Sharon Grech, colour and design expert with Benjamin Moore:


1.Clean the brick using TSP (trisodium Phosphate)

2. Cover smoke and soot stains with a good quality primer sealer

3.Once dry, seal the brick using a latex primer

4. Paint with at least two coats of latex paint (the higher the sheen, the easier to clean)

5.Use a high-pile roller (20mm or thicker), and a brush to get to the mortar lines.
(as adapted from Style at Home magazine)
*********************************************
Well, I'll be...! Terri Sapienza, of The Washington Post, picked my little, ol' blog again for their Blog Watch feature! I am beyond honoured, and very grateful! Thanks Terri!!

Picture Yourself Organized

It's the last holiday weekend of the summer.
Are you wondering what to do?
You could spend some time reading some of the blogs
that were late to the paint party.
Then, you could make something pretty and useful.
Yes, I think it's time for...

ANOTHER TUTORIAL!


Today we're going to create some beautiful organizational tools.

First, gather your supplies. You'll need:
*a large picture frame
*your choice of spray paint
*a heavy duty stapler (doesn't everyone have one of these?)
*a roll of hardware mesh or poultry wire---both can be found in the fencing section of home improvement stores
*wire cutters or tin snips
*saw tooth hangers (optional)
Next, paint your frame the color you desire.
When it's dry, unroll the wire "fabric"
and measure and cut it
to fit inside the frame.
The poultry wire can be cut with wire cutters, but
the hardware mesh is more easily cut using tin snips.

Pull and staple the wire to the back side of the frame.
You may need an extra set of
helping hands for this step.
You can get fancy and add some ribbon
to the front of the frame if you'd like.

I also added some S hooks that I squeezed
one end shut onto the wire.

Are you wondering what we just made?

Well, if you used hardware wire and added S hooks,
you just made
a great frame to hang your jewelry on.
If you used poultry wire, just add some binder clips
and you have a pretty memo board.
You can even customize these.
The addition of a knob makes a plain frame
look like a cabinet door.
Instead of binder clips, you can use clothes pins.
You can even paint and cover your clothes pins
with scrapbook paper.
That's the beauty of this project, it's very versatile!
If you want to hang your frame, add sawtooth hangers.
Or just lean your frame against the wall.

Congratulations!
You've just been framed for organization.

Picture Yourself Organized

It's the last holiday weekend of the summer.
Are you wondering what to do?
You could spend some time reading some of the blogs
that were late to the paint party.
Then, you could make something pretty and useful.
Yes, I think it's time for...

ANOTHER TUTORIAL!


Today we're going to create some beautiful organizational tools.

First, gather your supplies. You'll need:
*a large picture frame
*your choice of spray paint
*a heavy duty stapler (doesn't everyone have one of these?)
*a roll of hardware mesh or poultry wire---both can be found in the fencing section of home improvement stores
*wire cutters or tin snips
*saw tooth hangers (optional)
Next, paint your frame the color you desire.
When it's dry, unroll the wire "fabric"
and measure and cut it
to fit inside the frame.
The poultry wire can be cut with wire cutters, but
the hardware mesh is more easily cut using tin snips.

Pull and staple the wire to the back side of the frame.
You may need an extra set of
helping hands for this step.
You can get fancy and add some ribbon
to the front of the frame if you'd like.

I also added some S hooks that I squeezed
one end shut onto the wire.

Are you wondering what we just made?

Well, if you used hardware wire and added S hooks,
you just made
a great frame to hang your jewelry on.
If you used poultry wire, just add some binder clips
and you have a pretty memo board.
You can even customize these.
The addition of a knob makes a plain frame
look like a cabinet door.
Instead of binder clips, you can use clothes pins.
You can even paint and cover your clothes pins
with scrapbook paper.
That's the beauty of this project, it's very versatile!
If you want to hang your frame, add sawtooth hangers.
Or just lean your frame against the wall.

Congratulations!
You've just been framed for organization.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happee Anniversary!!

My wedding anniversary has me thinking. What brings couples together? What constitutes a happy marriage, do husbands have to be soulmates, and how did I get so lucky? I love my husband. He is perfect for me, but he's not perfect, nor am I (really!). I don't care who you have, if you say he is perfect, I will not believe you. Just the inherent differences between men and women makes the male counterpart imperfect, right? Does he love to shop for the same things you do? Does he always put the toilet seat down and rinse out the sink after shaving? Will he let you talk, uninterrupted, about babies, kids, your job, friends...all things feminine..? Will he sit and watch HGTV with you? Well, if you have said yes to all of those, maybe he IS perfect!! Who am I to judge...??

We have been married for fifteen years now and we have been through a lot. Multiple moves, three children, serious illness, death of a parent, job changes, business start-ups, life-threatening injury to one of our kids, and the normal hiccups and growing pains that accompany two people who basically grew up together. We met when I was 17 and he was 21 and we knew almost immediately that we would marry. We never had those tumultuous break-ups/make-ups when we were dating; and we have always agreed that if we had to choose one person to do things with, it would be each other. Because of our age and just to be sure, I wanted a long courtship; and five years later we married. We trust each other implicitly and neither of us have ever flinched or gave a moment's pause when the other went out with our friends for an evening out (however infrequent). Yes, we are happy and still look forward to each other coming home at the end of each day. Perfect we are not, but perfect for each other...yes.

taking time to pose with Sophie during a triathlon

We lived in a small town for a while after marrying, and we marvelled at how the "Gossips" would basically take pleasure in the marital problems or breakdowns of others. We are just the opposite. We both love to hear that people are happy, and are genuinely saddened when others are not. I can picture nothing more lovely than seeing an older couple walking hand in hand down the street. You know that they have likely struggled like every other married couple at times; but their love perservered, and I send up a silent prayer that we will be as fortunate.

Marriage takes work...somedays it takes all out stamina, but it is usually worth the battle. No marriage is perfect and I always think of my sister's wise words about judging other couple's "marital state". She said to me, "No one knows what goes on behind closed doors in a marriage. The couple who squabbles a lot may be more secure and happy than the couple who portray perfect bliss." I agree one hundred percent. Relationships are the couple's alone. I wish everyone peace and contentment in their relationships. Perfection is hard to achieve...and I don't really think it exists. I'll take what I have, thank you very much. A husband whom I am proud to stand next to, to parent with, and to have him hold my hand in his. That's all the "marital bliss" I need...

Happy anniversary to us!!!!!!!!




Back to Basics

It's been great to take a break from the basic black routine. I've enjoyed painting with new colors. And after all the inspiration from the party, I'm looking forward to trying a few more. But sometimes only the color black will do.
I've been looking for some stools for my kitchen for some time now. I finally found some that had a great design and were well built. The best part about my find was that these nice little stools were at the thrift store!
There was only one drawback. The stools were a dark blue and I don't have any blue in my kitchen. I do have black. I have a black table and a black cabinet. So it only made sense that these cute little stools had to be black.
I used the handy dandy liquid sander before I painted because these stools will get a lot of wear and I don't want the new paint to chip. Liquid sander works like sanding. It takes the gloss off the original finish and prepares it for a new coat of paint.
I like my little stools all dressed in black. They'll fit right in with the other black furniture in my kitchen.
It's always nice to find what you've been looking for, and get it for a great price.

Back to Basics

It's been great to take a break from the basic black routine. I've enjoyed painting with new colors. And after all the inspiration from the party, I'm looking forward to trying a few more. But sometimes only the color black will do.
I've been looking for some stools for my kitchen for some time now. I finally found some that had a great design and were well built. The best part about my find was that these nice little stools were at the thrift store!
There was only one drawback. The stools were a dark blue and I don't have any blue in my kitchen. I do have black. I have a black table and a black cabinet. So it only made sense that these cute little stools had to be black.
I used the handy dandy liquid sander before I painted because these stools will get a lot of wear and I don't want the new paint to chip. Liquid sander works like sanding. It takes the gloss off the original finish and prepares it for a new coat of paint.
I like my little stools all dressed in black. They'll fit right in with the other black furniture in my kitchen.
It's always nice to find what you've been looking for, and get it for a great price.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Thank You & A Look A-Head

Thank you all so much for participating in my first ever blog party. I think it was a great success---because of all my wonderfully creative and talented friends. You all amazed me. There have been a few late comers, so check on them too. It was so fun to see the many ways spray paint can transform things. I know that I've added a few more projects to my ever growing spray paint list. I'm beginning to think it might be a wise idea to buy stock in spray paint companies. That way I might be able to recoup some of the large amounts of money I spend on those marvelous little cans.

And speaking of spray paint. . .

I went to the blue big box home improvement store to buy more paint and look what I found.I couldn't pass this guy up. Look at that toothy grin.
You can't be afraid of an old thing like this.
It has good bones...bwahhhaahaahaa!!!

I'm not putting out my Halloween decorations yet,
but I thought I'd give you a little preview of things "a-head."
Thanks Susie for the "heads up" on the crows.

Now you can see why this guy
headed
out the door with me.
He's just too much fun!

A Thank You & A Look A-Head

Thank you all so much for participating in my first ever blog party. I think it was a great success---because of all my wonderfully creative and talented friends. You all amazed me. There have been a few late comers, so check on them too. It was so fun to see the many ways spray paint can transform things. I know that I've added a few more projects to my ever growing spray paint list. I'm beginning to think it might be a wise idea to buy stock in spray paint companies. That way I might be able to recoup some of the large amounts of money I spend on those marvelous little cans.

And speaking of spray paint. . .

I went to the blue big box home improvement store to buy more paint and look what I found.I couldn't pass this guy up. Look at that toothy grin.
You can't be afraid of an old thing like this.
It has good bones...bwahhhaahaahaa!!!

I'm not putting out my Halloween decorations yet,
but I thought I'd give you a little preview of things "a-head."
Thanks Susie for the "heads up" on the crows.

Now you can see why this guy
headed
out the door with me.
He's just too much fun!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mudroom Alternatives...

I'm all about the mudroom. In fact, you might be getting tired of seeing so many tributes to it here. But, for those who share my appreciation for great storage, a well-planned mudroom just can't be beat. However, I also know not many of us have the space to build one, or had the forethought to make room for one when building our homes. Others, still, live in older homes that don't even have adequate closet space... so a mudroom is a laughable luxury!

So, what better time than "back to school" to re-examine how we can all carve out a little space to store the menagerie of backpacks, boots, and coats that comes with being a bustling family?
The following photos show alternative ways to salute the mudroom - ways that defy the limited space in our homes and the challenges that accompany working with what we have:
This mudroom area was built in the home owner's garage (see the garage door mechanism overhead?). But, it could just as easily have been created in the basement of a home with a basement entry...photo source: Southern Living
Here is another mudroom space in the basement of a home. Anyone out there with a split-entry style home? This would work for you!

photo source: Design Inc.ca

And yet another garage mudroom:

photographer: Thomas J. Storey

Do you have a small foyer? Here are two great examples of creating your own mudroom area within:

both photos: Southern Living

What about a back porch? Front porch? If storage is really your dilemma, haul out the wicker furniture from the space and add some great hooks, benches, and cubbies. Make your home work for you!!

photo: Tria Giovan, Cottage Living

photo: Country Home

Party On

Let's keep this party going one more day.

Party On

Let's keep this party going one more day.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

PAINT PARTY!!!

It's Time to Celebrate the
Wonders of Spray Paint!


I've showed you my
"paint outside the black box" projects.

Now it's time to show off yours.

It will be fun to see all the
different colors you've chosen,

including our favorites, white and black.
(Yes, it's fine to show off something black)
I'm as excited as a kindergarten girl
opening a new box of crayons!

Let's start clicking and commenting!