Dreaming of a White Christmas

Merry (almost) Christmas everyone!

I am just stopping in today to wish you all the coziest and merriest of holidays. I'll be curling up on the couch with my little family and reading Christmas books, drinking hot chocolate with candy canes, and watching Charlie Brown Christmas.

So what if we live in California and won't be seeing one speck of snow?

Merry Christmas!


My Christmas Advent Calendar

If you've been around here for awhile, you know all about my Christmas advent calendar. I made it a few years ago, back when Nina was a toddler and Henry wasn't even born yet!

Now that I have two kiddos, it's proven to be a great tradition for our family! The boxes are cardboard, with scrapbook paper on the lids. They are a great size to stash little goodies for each day. This year I'm using little chocolate coins from Trader Joe's. The boxes have magnets on the back so they can stick to the metal sheet that I framed and painted black.

Anyway, enough blabbing, Carrie! I wrote a detailed tutorial on how I made this, so if you're interested, just follow the link for more info.

I hope you have a great Christmas week!


Distraction Decorating in the Family Room

Happy Friday!

As promised, I want to show you our new family room, with some Distraction Decorating techniques thrown in. Here's a photo of the room on the day we toured the house, taken on my cell phone. Yikes.

As with the kitchen photos, just using a good camera and lighting makes a big difference. But here's a photo of the same room, from the same angle, today:

Just hanging my faithful buffalo check curtains warmed up this room immensely. (Since I always get this question, I'll go ahead and tell you that I made the curtains with fabric from Calico Corners. I believe it's just called Buffalo Check, in the color Bisque.)

The Christmas decorations make a big difference in cozy-ing up the room too!

I don't have a true dining room in this house, but this nook of the family room has a chandelier, so it seemed like the place for my dining set. We had our first meal here when my family came to visit last weekend, and it's actually quite charming to eat within view of the fireplace and Christmas tree, rather than in a separate room. But don't look too closely or you'll see the dust on that table...oops!
I painted the walls "Vanilla Brandy" by Olympic. I really like it, though I wish I had gone a shade darker. Oh well, maybe in the next house! (But please, God, not for a few years...I am so tired of moving!)
The fireplace creates one of my favorite scenes. Sitting here at night is so cozy! And, just like in the kitchen, putting some area rugs around the room helps to distract you from the older carpet in the house.
Lest you think I am some kind of miracle worker, the rest of my house is very incomplete! But I wanted this room to feel finished so we could relax and enjoy it for Christmas. It helps me forget the boxes that wait for me in some of the other rooms!

I hope you all have a great weekend!


Distraction Decorating in the Kitchen

OK, I think I would like to officially coin a new phrase: Distraction Decorating. As in, parts of my new house are a bit dated, and I'd like to distract you from noticing. Make a big fuss over here, and maybe you won't notice stuff over there.

Here is a photo (taken on my phone) of the kitchen and breakfast area, the day we moved in:

And here is the same vantage point, today:

Of course the lighting and the camera are better in the second photo. But mainly I have added paint and fabric and rugs to distract you. Now, instead of staring at the linoleum floor and older carpet and dated wood paneling, maybe you will stare at my cute stuff instead. See? Distraction Decorating.

Here's another angle of the same kitchen, on the day we toured with the owners.

Same angle, after some paint and other little tricks.
I am loving this combo of plates on the wall:

I replaced all the light switch covers with brass ones. I think it makes it feel more glitzy or something. And the wall color is Sherwin Williams "Comfort Gray."

Below is one of my favorite shots, because you see my wall of plates AND my most favorite curtains. There are birds on that fabric, maybe partridges or quails, I really have no idea. But the red pattern on the butter-colored background is so pretty! I bought the fabric on clearance at Denver Fabrics in (you guessed it!) Denver before we moved. I think it was $3 a yard.

My chalkboard looks great on the other wall, and it's fun to have the table coming out from the wall at that angle, instead of floating in the middle of the room and blocking the traffic flow. Plus it gives me a good spot for my favorite lamp, which I use at night instead of the fluorescent lights in the ceiling. Another Distraction Decorating trick!

Renting a house is a new world for us. I am used to being able to rip up carpet, paint anything I want, and generally wreck it all up as I see fit. As a renter, I have to tread carefully, and it's a new challenge. Hence, Distraction Decorating. Wait till I show you what else I've done! The family room is up next. See you soon!


Re-Loving Old Furniture

Today I'd like to tell you about the desk in Nina's room. That desk has seen many lives. I got it (free!) from a friend of my mom's when I moved into my first apartment as a single girl. It was originally a honey-colored wood and I painted it white, even before I understood the utter magic of painting things white! And here is the desk in my Colorado guest room a few years ago. It's on the right side of the photo if you look close.

Fast Forward: Then my dad came out to visit us in Colorado in August of 2010. I coerced him into doing projects in my garage all day. And by the way, I think I know from where I inherited this "project" gene; he secretly (or not so secretly) loved it. Can you tell?

Anyway, my dad did some work on the desk to make it more stable on the bottom, and I took the opportunity to re-sand the piece. Here it is in Nina's new room today:

I changed out the knobs too. It's always amazing to me what a little change like that can make to a whole piece! (The new knobs are from Hobby Lobby.) I also added some scrapbook paper as drawer liner, with a little Mod Podge to help glue it down and seal it:

I also roughed up the drawer edges with sandpaper a little more. I love the effect!

Not bad for a freebie from ten years ago!

Do you have a piece of furniture sitting around that you could "upgrade"? Before we all head out to the malls, or even to the Goodwill, it's even easier to wander downstairs to the basement or out to the garage. I still have a few pieces that I'd like to paint or update, right here in my own house, without spending a dime!

I'll be back with more next week. Have a great December weekend!


Birdie Brigade

I promised I would share more with you about this sweet little birdcage that I put together for Nina's room.

First of all, I picked up the cage itself from a church rummage sale months ago. I think it was $1. Then I got the little nest at Hobby Lobby (maybe $3?), and the blue eggs from TJ Maxx on clearance ($4?). The birdcage is hanging from a simple hook in the ceiling, using a ribbon I had in my stash.

Most importantly, the birdies themselves! Aren't they precious? I got them on Etsy from Megan at My Sweet Pumpkin. She custom sewed Nina's name on each of them, and even went out of her way to find the exact colors I asked for: pale pink, pale yellow and sage green. I think I paid $5 or $6 for each of them. Totally worth it!

I wanted to hang something in the corner of Nina's room to give it more dimension. (Check out my last post if you want to see her whole room put together!) The birdcage is perched high enough so we can enjoy looking at it, but little hands can't grab it. Gotta have a strategy with 22-month-old Hurricane Henry lurking around! :)

I'll be back on Friday to tell you about the desk in the other corner of the room. Have a great day!


My Pretty Girl's Room

Months and months ago, I got an offer from Dutch Boy Paints to review their product. Obviously, they know my affection for painting things. What with moving my whole house (twice) and all, it has taken me a long time to get around to using the paint that they sent me.

Oh, how it was worth the wait!

I promised my four-year-old, Nina, that her room would be the first room painted in the new house. I selected "Delicate Pink" from Dutch Boy's collection. Here's Nina's room before:

And here is the after! Excuse the harsh lighting; I was trying to get a photo with the accurate color of the walls. It's a pale pink that doesn't overwhelm you with it's pink-ness, which I love.

Nina's room is small, but I am so happy with the color because it gives it a warm glow when the morning sun comes in.

I will be telling you more about this birdcage (below) soon, and also about the desk (above).

The gallon of paint was more than enough to cover the walls in one coat. That is reason enough for this mother-with-no-time to become a convert!

Dutch Boy paint in Delicate Pink. I love it!


I'm Back!

Hi everyone!

Long time, no see. How have you been? I hope your Thanksgiving was a good one! How have I been, you ask? Let me show you. I've been staring at this:

Yep, those are boxes. Yep, we moved. Again.

About six weeks ago we decided that a move was in the best interest of our family. It happened rather fast, and right before Thanksgiving we moved from the gorgeous 1930s Spanish Colonial (quite frankly, the more beautiful house I will ever live in!) to this:

It's a sweet and humble 1950s ranch in Lafayette, California. While I miss those stunning hardwood floors and amazing view in the old house, I can't deny that there are certain perks to this new place. Namely, this tree in our new backyard, which is just begging for a tire swing:

It's been an interesting ride so far. We did most of the move ourselves since it was only a distance of ten miles. Lots of sore muscles, all in the name of saving some money! However, our poor dog has no idea where he lives, and sometimes I wonder if the kids do either. (For instance, today Nina asked me if she could play in the basement. I had to remind her that we no longer have one. Hmm...)

I believe, though, that this was a good decision for our family. I am feeling remarkably settled, considering how much upheaval we have had in the past few months! And I've already been working on some house projects that I can't wait to show you.

I hope you all have a great weekend. I'll be back next week with some new material, and can't wait to reconnect!


The Wall-O-Photos

Some of you asked to see the photo wall on the staircase landing. I must say, I have loved walking by it every day. Unlike my old photo wall, this time I branched out to include things other than just photos. I have a silhouette of my husband as a little boy, a framed poem written by my great-grandmother, random stars and mirrors and clocks, and a big letter G for our last name. I also included black accents as well as gold. I like the mixture!

For all of you who hate the angled photos, I am sorry. It's hard to get a good photo pointing up the stairs.

Basically I just started in the middle of the wall with that big mirror, and worked my way out. I didn't worry too much about everything being perfectly spaced, because I don't have that kind of patience! But I am thrilled with how it turned out.

And now, a small announcement: I am taking a break from the blog. I'm not sure for how long, I'm thinking a month or so. We've got some stuff going on that I will share with you eventually, but now I just need to deal with it. I am OK, we are OK, but my attention needs to be elsewhere.

But please don't forget about me, because I will be back!


Welcome to Henry's New Room!

Here's another example of how thankful a girl can be when her rental house has great paint colors already on the walls.

Henry's room faces the front of the house, and it's got these sloped ceilings that make it extra-cozy. It was already painted a warm brownish-gray, which looks great with his furniture.

The hardwood floors in here are so pretty. And his buffalo check curtains (from Pottery Barn Kids) look right at home!

I picked up that red lantern (hanging from a simple hook in the ceiling) at a Goodwill store back in Denver. We just ran the wire down the corner of the room, and it blends in with the paint color!

I love this little reading nook, where we read Henry's bedtime story every night.

It's a perfectly cozy room for a perfectly sweet little guy!


Living Room Love

I've been away for a little unplanned break. Working to finish the house, get settled, and more importantly, take time to engage in life here with my family. We've been exploring and enjoying the city, and a few weeks' time has helped to make me feel a little less like a foreigner. The kids and I even have a few play dates set up! So we're surviving.

I thought I might show you my new family room and den. Come on in! This first photo is taken from the doorway, which is to the right of the front door as you enter the house. (Oh, and also? You better believe I am counting the days until fall temperatures arrive and that fireplace gets some action!)

Now here I am taking a photo while standing on the couch, to give you another angle. I could not be more excited about those built-in bookshelves. I swear I would live in a pup tent if someone would build me built-ins in there.

I am standing in the corner by the bookshelves for this next photo. The room beyond the living room is being used as my den. Love that.

Here's a bit closer up of the den. Don't you just love the ceilings in this house?

The den again. Ahhh...lovely sight. This is the first time this grown-up has had a desk of her own in the house. Before I just had stacks of papers on the edge of the kitchen counter. I feel rather spoiled.

It's a great house to cozy up in. My kiddos seem to agree with me!


New Uses for My Old Stuff

My favorite thing about moving to a new house is the way that you get to re-think how you use your stuff. For example, this chandelier hung in my master bathroom in our Colorado house. It was a huge bathroom, so it worked really well in there.

In our new house, I decided to use it outside. I love how it makes the deck feel more room-like, and gives it more dimension.

Of course, anything would look good when set against this amazing view!

We sat out there the other night at sunset, and the candles hanging above us added such a nice ambiance!
Want to come over for dinner?


My New Kitchen

Today I want to show you our new (to us) kitchen! First, a few "before" shots:

Originally the kitchen and breakfast area were painted a nice, sunny yellow. I was thrilled because I thought the color would work really well with my furniture, which it did. Unfortunately, however, once I added my buffalo check curtains (an absolute necessity, as the kitchen faces the back of the house and gets crazy sun) it looked like Big Bird's house. Yellow, yellow, and more yellow.

Luckily, our landlord was OK with us doing a little painting. As soon as I got his approval, I was at the store in a heartbeat! The color? Sherwin-Williams' "Comfort Gray."

Seriously, I had that kitchen painted in a few hours! Nothing like impatience as the great motivator, huh?

The curtains seem right at home now, and I think the new wall color looks great with the trim and the cabinets.

I am also loving the lack of bugs out here in California...we can leave these doors open all the time!
Remember my subway sign? It's got a new home now!

And of course no room (of mine) would be complete without a wreath of some kind. I have an obsession.

The walls seem to change colors throughout the day, as all paints do. Sometimes it looks more gray, sometimes blue and sometimes green. I am really enjoying it!