Category: Decor

Happy Valentine’s Day to My Home

I’m in love with my home.

Yes, I have an actual Valentine, and I have four children who are my loves but my home also holds my heart.

It’s my hope that everyone could find a true love like this:

  • We love spending time together. There’s no place else I’d rather be than inside my home’s four walls with the ones I love.

  • My home holds everyone and everything I love under one roof. {disclaimer: my parents don’t live here but I love them just as much}

  • I’ve made mistakes with my home; too many to count. I’ve painted the wrong color, I’ve chosen the wrong chair, I’ve hosted the wrong parties. But still my house forgives and lets me continue to pull and tug at her windows and floors.

  • We’ve seen our share of therapy and made it through the tough times: plumbers for clogged toilets, roofers for loose shingles, glass repairmen, heating & air specialists, and sink hole fixers {to name but a few}.

  • We’ve shared all four seasons together…summer running through the sprinklers with the kids, carving pumpkins on the counter in the fall, hanging stockings on the mantel at Christmas and coloring eggs at the first sign of spring.

  • I may try to change my home from time to time {I know what’s best, right?}, but she loves me anyway despite my constant nagging and second-guessing.

  • Sometimes we watch some racy stuff together after the kids go to bed. Mostly HGTV shows like Fixer Upper and Beachfront Bargain Hunt.  There’s no jealousy involved; we’re just gathering ideas to try out on our own.

  • My home doesn’t seem to mind if we are hard on her. A height chart drawn right on the door casing? Done. Spray paint on the front of the house? No problem. That’s unconditional love right there.

  • There have been a few (thankfully not many) sad days at our house…mostly just fighting between siblings {sister runs around pinching brothers because she hates loves them so much}. Oh and the long nights of strep throat or tummy aches, how could I forget? Those things only make us closer.

 {imagine my surprise when I walked outside and saw this. scrub and scrub as they might, it has never quite come off. c’est la vie…} {imagine my surprise when I walked outside and saw this. scrub and scrub as they might, it has never quite come off. c’est la vie…}  {…and yes, they’re scrubbing in bike helmets; that’s a whole ‘nother story} {…and yes, they’re scrubbing in bike helmets; that’s a whole ‘nother story}

  • My home brings out the best in me. The best colors, patterns and fun sides all wrapped into one.

  • We’ve had fun together, from dinners with friends to birthday celebrations to sleepovers to the usual nights of homework & Disney Channel.

  • My home keeps us safe and warm and shielded from the daily grind of the universe. She’s got arms long enough to wave lovingly goodbye in the mornings, welcome us back in the afternoons & hold us tight all night long.

  • I plan on growing old right along with my home. We’ll just have to overlook each other’s wrinkles/cracks in drywall and gray hair/faded paint.

  • We’ve created a family and memories together that will last a lifetime. And we’ve got the scrapbooks & photo albums to prove it.

Thanks, home, for being you! I wouldn’t trade my {valentine} for anything. Your home can be your Valentine too.  All that’s required is love inside. And remember: don’t ever, ever go to bed mad! Even if we have to be separated someday, we will carry her with us wherever we go.

{after all, home is where the heart is}

 

The Kids’ Table at Thanksgiving

I come from a large extended family, and we’ve always had big gatherings for holidays. One thing you could always count on: there would be a Kids’ Table. For many years, of course, there was no question as to which table I would belong. I was oh so young and after all, it was the most fun table.  My cousins and I, including Cody who you’ve met on my blog, could talk about what we wanted, throw table manners to the wind, and eat 5 of my grandmother’s homemade rolls without anyone saying “you’re gonna spoil your dinner!”.  Never mind that the table itself was always some type of temporary folding table that came out of hiding when needed (along with matching folding chairs), or that we had mismatched plates and glasses (the adults got the fine china). It was our “fancy” table! Sometimes there was a token adult or two present, those that straggled in late or perhaps came unannounced (trust me, they were happy about their lucky last-minute good fortune).

Thanksgiving Kids' Table
Kids' Table Thanksgiving
{kids will feel extra special if you include their crafts on the table, as I did with my son’s mason jar ring pumpkin. All of the adorable melamine plates are from Pottery Barn.}

This isn’t to say we didn’t do our fair share of spying on the Adult Table. What were they talking about (whatever it was seemed kind of boring)? Did they have different drinks and food? Why is everything on their table so neat? The Adult Table consisted of, well, adults: my parents, aunts & uncles, and at either end, my grandparents. My grandmother rarely sat down though, as she always felt she had to serve us, constantly check the rolls in the oven, and keep cooking seconds, thirds & desserts. Now having four kids myself, I completely understand her plight. Her food was the best we’d ever tasted and we always wanted more, more, more!

Kids' Table Thanksgiving

Just being a part of the Kids’ Table is fun, but here are some ideas to make it even more fun:

  • Use craft paper as a table runner, set out crayons or markers, and let kids go to town drawing or playing tic-tac-toe. They can also use the paper to write what they are thankful for (not a bad idea for the Adult Table too!).
  • Set the table with holiday-themed plates (paper or not), napkins & cups.
  • Download a crossword puzzle app such as Crossword Hobbyist, then design one around relatives & special places…this provides hours of fun!
  • Use a website like Really Color to turn family photos into coloring pages.
  • Have kids write down what they are thankful for on slips of paper and place them in a jar. Read them aloud in front of the whole family later.
  • Set up a cookie or cupcake decorating bar.

{spray paint leaves from the yard (that the kids can collect) in gold, write names with a Sharpie & you’ve got a unique place card!


My grandmother’s passing left one lonely open seat at the table. Who would fill it? Since I was the oldest grandchild, I was the natural choice. My dad approached it like something akin to a presidential election. “There’s something we need to talk about,” he said, in a serious voice, long before the holidays that year. Normally this type of preface would throw me into a tailspin but I held it together. “Do you want to move to the Adult Table on Christmas Eve? We have room now and you’re the natural choice. But…you know you can never go back to the Kids’ Table if that’s what you decide.” Once made, the choice would be set in stone.

I’ll admit it was tempting for a second. I’d finally be let in on those adult conversations! But really it wasn’t a hard decision for me. I would forever remain at the Kids’ Table, where it’s okay to fall backwards in your chair, stick asparagus up your nose and set the table on fire (those things actually happened once, along with many other shenanigans).  My cousins and I often gather for a “Kids’ Table Reunion”, along with our children. The only difference is now we have two Kids’ Tables…one for the kids and another for the adults!

{our ever-changing chalkboard, next to the kitchen}
{so many cute turkey options are available!}

Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours, at whatever table you’re sitting!

Style the Perfect Bar

Style the Perfect Bar

You’re the perfect hostess, but wouldn’t you love to enjoy the party too? One way to do that is to leave (some of) the bartending duties to the guests themselves. Don’t feel guilty…giving guests a little job breaks the ice for them and frees you up at the same time.Style the Perfect Bar

It’s nice to serve each arriving guest their first cocktail or refreshment the moment they enter (perhaps a signature cocktail), show them the food table, make an introduction or two and then let them pour refills from a self-serve bar for subsequent drinks.

Style the Perfect Bar

Here’s a quick how-to on setting up a well-stocked self-serve bar:

The Bar Itself

You don’t need a large restaurant-style bar to serve up a stylish one. Consider the above photo: this mimosa bar was staged on a small kids’ table.

Style the Perfect Bar

You may only have a tiny bit of space. No problem; all you really need are the drink itself, cups, napkins and perhaps a few stirrers. Ice can be kept below in a tub or cooler. You’d be surprised how much “bar” you can fit onto a little bit of surface!

Style the Perfect Bar

Sometimes all you need is a bucket of ice, insert the bottles and set the glasses nearby!

Style the Perfect Bar

Ideas for bars: small tables, bar carts, dressers, armoires, buckets, how about a vintage ironing board covered in a tablecloth?

The Location

People will always be able to locate the bar….there’s some type of “party radar” for it…so put it out of the main flow of the party. Many will tend to gather there, so you don’t need to make it so central that it clogs up the flow of the party. Depending on the number of guests you have, you may even need two bars (people don’t like to wait in long lines for a drink!). If you’re hosting an indoor/outdoor party, be sure to locate one bar outside.

Style the Perfect Bar

The Liquids

The basic, absolutely-necessary alcohol list:

The basic, absolutely-necessary mixer list:

  • Club Soda
  • Tonic
  • Coke
  • Diet Coke
  • 7-Up or Sprite
  • Ginger Ale
  • Orange Juice
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Grapefruit Juice
  • Low-Cal Flavored Mixers (our pick: Be Mixed)

Some nice extras to have:

Figuring out how much to buy is always tricky. But now there are online tools you can use! For example this one from Evite allows you to take into account number of guests, duration of party and types of alcohol served.  Evite Drink Calculator

Style the Perfect Bar

 The Extras

There’s all kinds of garnishes & tools you will want to have, if not on the bar, then nearby (you certainly don’t need everything on this list). Click to see my picks:

Style the Perfect Bar

Style the Perfect Bar

 The Finishing Touches

Finish off your bar with some flowers (nothing fancy; I like to stick some in an old wine bottle or mason jar. Pick some up at the grocery store or cut last minute from your yard). You could also lay a couple of big sunflowers on your bar. A string of pom pom fringe looped around bottles is a cute touch too.

Style the Perfect Bar

Style the Perfect Bar

Above all, have fun with whatever you do, and your guests will too!
Happy Party!
Bathroom Makeover

The Green Bathroom Makeover

OUR ST. PATTY’S DAY BATHROOM. 
 
Somehow this ended up being the only green thing in our house, unless you count the grass outside. We always referred to it as the “green bathroom” (still do) and it’s the first one you come to when we get home, right by the back door. So after school the kids are always yelling out “I call the green bathroom!” and “No I call it!”, as if running upstairs to their own would take so much longer.
Bathroom Makeover
 
I loved it for quite a while. And I still love the actual bathroom layout. But then I started not loving it so much except for the zebra mirror over the sink.
 
Last year I embarked on a complete overhaul. The walls were sort of like stucco so they had to be scraped down. I decided to go with a navy & white color scheme, since basically I’m slowly switching everything to those colors!
Bathroom Makeover
 
The pendant light remained (in addition to the original silver ceiling). It’s one of my best finds, from Round Top in Texas. It was covered in mud but cost only $30. I toted it home, cleaned it up and spray painted the chain and other hardware silver. Now it’s a bright beacon at this end of the house.
 
The cabinet became navy with gold drawer pulls, and my sweet friend Terry at Fabric Etc. in Bristol sourced this fabulous wallpaper for me!
Bathroom Makeover
 
I decided to cover the whole wall behind the sink with a mirror and changed out the sconces to dangly capiz shell lights from Shades of Light. The wall-to-wall mirror really opens things up and gives the entire space a blingy effect! From the hall you can spy the family caricatures on the opposite wall, which we had done a couple years ago on a visit to The Greenbrier.
Bathroom Makeover
 
I wasn’t sure of what to do with the zebra mirror. It definitely wasn’t right after the makeover but I wanted it back up. So I painted it the same blue as the cabinets and then painted my version of the wallpaper on the sides. At first it felt too busy. I admit I had to live with it for a while & get opinions from friends before I finally opted to keep it up. I’m so glad I did!
Bathroom Makeover
 
I especially love the look now from down the hall; even though I officially have nothing green in my house to celebrate this day with. But it makes everyone who walks by smile! Oh, and the itty bitty leprechaun-size cowhide rug is a little surprise!

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall!

My children’s school, Sullins Academy, recently held its annual auction to benefit the school. This is the school’s biggest fundraiser and there was no shortage of work done by the students, teachers and moms. Each class has an art project for the live auction and I was in charge of the 3-year-old class (after all, I do have 3 of the 10 toddlers in the class!).

The goal of the project is to do something creative, have each child participate and sell (you hope) to a parent at a high price! I decided to do a mirror surrounded by handpainted tiles fired in the kiln at our local ceramics studio, Kil’n Time (a big thank you to the owners, who graciously donated all the supplies).

All of the classes had amazing art projects, but I must say I am especially proud of Mrs. Oliver’s class for doing such a wonderful job! Here is the finished mirror (and my reflection, snapping the photo!):

First, I painted a border around the tiles the kids were to paint, along with each child’s name. Then they painted whatever they wanted on the tiles. Mrs. Oliver painted a tile too.

Next, I took pictures of each child (and Mrs. O.), traced them on a tile, and painted a background. Kil’n Time used a special technique to fire the photos in a sepia tone on the tiles. I painted a couple of filler tiles with the school and class name, and voila, we had a finished product that went for $1,200 at the auction! Ok…I must admit that my dad was the one who bought it, but still there were many bidders driving up the price!

I also donated 18 pairs of earrings for the silent auction. Last I checked they were going for around $900, which made me very happy!

I displayed them on this enormous box that almost didn’t fit on the silent auction tables. Covered in turquoise burlap (fun but messy) and leopard ribbon, it has an artsy sphere made out of chicken wire at the top.

Before we put the tiles on the mirror, Jackson helped me paint the frame.

His t-shirt may not have helped the Cowboys win, but Sullins definitely won at the auction!

Unique Uses-More Round Top

There’s no end to the unique uses people found for things at Round Top. Alas, these things did not come back eastward with me. I do hope they found good homes. {Sidebar: Rancho Buck came a’callin’ last week with all of my purchases (click here to see them). All arrived safely and I didn’t even regret anything.}

A yellow drum topped with glass and set on feet makes a dainty round cocktail table.

While we’re on the subject of round things…I loved this huge yellow rose-y of Texas star yard art piece, which used to be a wheel of some kind. And top right, tire frames were outfitted with mirrors. Random hoops were scattered on the wall to make an artsy statement, bottom right.

Garden items could be found in multitudes. A few of my favorites were: an iron headboard turned garden bench, old windows formed into a miniature greenhouse, golf clubs with random metal pieces added to make kooky-face garden stakes, water meter covers used for stepping stones, windows on top of a makeshift porch roof and a little ferris wheel that held potted plants on the “seats” (it actually rotated!).

This vintage window could be hung on a back porch with plants placed on various open window “shelves.”

One trip to Round Top and you’ll be convinced that anything can be made into a lamp. If you know how to weld, you might want to set up shop down there because these things were selling for hundreds of dollars each (yes, many had “Sold” tags on them). In the center, some type of cutting blade was welded onto a lamp form. Top left is an old rectangular iron piece used as a lamp base and bottom left, an old beekeeper’s mask was converted into a light. Top right, some old clamps form “C”-shaped lamps and bottom right, an old orange wheel served as the base for a lamp.

Of course not everything was meant for the serious shopper. Consider this bovine-painted door or the banjo-playing man made of nuts, bolts and license tags. The tin man thought he had it bad…

Fun Stuff at Round Top

Just please don’t tell me you’re tired of my Round Top posts, because I’m not done yet. There was just so much to see and photograph, it’s overwhelming. Only a few more, I promise! As you can see from my pictures, collections of things make a bigger statement when grouped together in large numbers…

Blue and white cast iron mermaids sunning on a bench.

Colorful wooden baskets {not vintage (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but pretty anyway).

A pickup truck bed full of rusty Radio Flyers.

Speaking of rust…a pile of old water pumps.

Bottle caps of every beer denomination, set in epoxy on top of a counter at a diner.

More bottle caps, this time adorning one of those bouncy animals we used to see outside the grocery store. I was happy not to find any beer caps on this old kids’ ride.

Who would have thought metal carts could look so inviting? Reminds me of stewardesses (i.e. “flight attendants” for the politically correct) for some reason.

Whether you find this sign offensive or funny, it pretty much sums up Round Top in three words. I can’t say I’d be happy if my beloved junk ended up under this sign one day, but I guess it’s better than the landfill. I would rather give my kids fun memories to remember me by anyway.

 

Sue Whitney at Round Top

One of the highlights of my trip to Round Top was meeting Sue Whitney, junk connoisseur and founder of Junk Market Style, her brand that revolves around-you guessed it-junk. Just my kind of gal!

Sue was there signing copies of the new book she co-authored, Junk Beautiful: Outdoor Edition. Of course, I scooped up my copy right away and asked for her Jane Hancock. I can’t wait to implement some of her wonderfully creative ideas! She has co-authored other fabulous books, including Junk Beautiful: Room by Room Makeovers and Decorating Junk Market Style. Just the other day she appeared on the Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda.

Sue’s booth was totally inspiring. Items from the antiques market were pulled together into a stunning vignette and sold. Proceeds went to Houston’s Habitat for Humanity. Next time you want to throw something away, just remember that even junk can be charitable.

One man’s trash truly is another’s treasure.

 

Round Top Recap #2

I actually did find some “serious” stuff in Round Top…everything wasn’t totally off-the-wall, as seen in my last post. The best part was the price! The total cost of all of my purchases was less than what I’d pay for a nice sofa. I think my hubby was hoping I’d bring home only what I could fit in my suitcase. No such luck! It’s all being shipped to me by a company by the name of Rancho Buck (what a cool name), which I used before when I shopped at Scott’s in Atlanta. They are apparently fixtures at the major markets and move the heavy stuff all around the country.

Our new house will have a screened porch and we plan to dine out there as much as possible. I found a great brown and turquoise table that seats 10-12 and these colorful chairs to go with it. The table was formerly used in a convent in Pennsylvania. I do hope it won’t be offended by any of our dinner conversations or libations.

Our twin boys will be sharing a bedroom (I’m sure everyone will pile in there at some time or other) and I wanted them each to have a full-sized bed. I found these two painted beds (incidentally, they are the colors of my alma mater, William & Mary, an unplanned but very convenient coincidence). The yellow bed was a steal at a mere $75.

Being a huge fan of all things animal print, I was thrilled to find this vintage desk, freshly painted a pink leopard for Janie”s room. The top lifts up to expose a mirror and secret compartment. The drawers are lined with sheet music, a lovely touch (especially since she loves music!)! To complete the ensemble, I couldn’t pass up the little black chair (for $56!) and coordinating leopard flower magnetic board.

I loved this cute red desk for Jackson’s room.

This desk will be perfect for our twins’ room, since it is long and has 2 cubby holes already. It’s from an old school and has lots of graffiti etched on top. I even spotted a “dirty word” but I’ll be able to scratch it out with a sharp object before letting their young eyes read it.

For $2 per pair, these salt and pepper shakers were a bargain.

I’m really excited about this find but the photo doesn’t do it justice. I bought two of these pendant lights for our screened porch. Four metal industrial crates were welded together to make an unusual light. Possibly not everyone’s cup of tea but I think a good addition for what is shaping up to be an eclectic porch.

I bought one of these round metal spheres, maybe to just set out in the yard as a “sculpture,” or I might wire it and use it as a rustic chandelier.

This little $35 light is going in our powder room, after I paint the metal areas silver.

I fell in love with these two sets of lockers, straight out of old schools (I heard kids don’t even use lockers these days? How do they pass notes and catch up on gossip? I miss the days before text messaging!). The blue set will find a home in my storage room and the kids can use the red ones and have 2 lockers each.

Another “old school” find. How cute is this turquoise water fountain? Its new location will be in our mud room. The kids can run in from the backyard and get a drink, courtesy of this salvaged fixture from a school in Laredo, TX.

This piece from a carnival ring toss game (bought from the same vendor who sold me the little duckies) will look great in our playroom.

My cousin Laura surprised me with this fun wooden sign for our lake house that she bought at Round Top in the fall. I love the colors and it has bottle tops all over it! A lady paints these right outside Royer’s Cafe (a must-stop for any Round Topper) for those of us who like to shop while we wait to be seated for dinner. I can’t think of a more perfect combination.

Unique Uses-Round Top

There’s no better place to find things that are used in a unique way than a flea market or antiques market. Round Top takes the cake! Here are some fun items I purchased while at Round Top. Some may think you have to look pretty hard to find the good qualities in this stuff, but I think the beauty is pretty evident, don’t you?

This is a vintage golf ball bucket, the kind we used to find on driving ranges. It has been turned upside-down and wired to be a pendant light. I just saw one of these (new, of course) in a catalog! I plan to hang it over the sink in our laundry room. Being from a family of golfers, how could I pass this up?

Another pendant light, which I plan to hang in my “potting shed” (which is actually just a glorified storage room off our garage). It was made from an old copper creamer pot.

There was a big basket of these glass pieces, for $1 each. It used to be an enormous dangle from an equally enormous chandelier. I think I’ll use it as a butter dish (after a good soaking, that is).

Another big basket held these little glass jars, which formerly held cream on tables in diners and restaurants, back in the days before plastic took the beauty out of everyday objects. They will be cute as bud vases, along with these little test tubes I picked up for a mere 10 cents apiece.

I found some brightly colored items at a cute booth called Vintage Girl, including these two candle holders and a couple of old door knobs, which I’m going to put in my daughter’s closet to hang scarves or belts from.

Vintage flower frogs were everywhere! Aside from the obvious use (arranging flowers, for those of you who, like me, aren’t particularly tuned in to floral convenience items), I might use one for a pen holder. The test tubes will fit in the bigger frog for an unusual flower display.

Vintage wire baskets, racks and trays were also in abundance. I’m going to hang this one in my closet to organize necklaces or scarves.

Also from Vintage Girl, this salvaged register was hanging with several others, all of which had been painted fun colors like turquoise and bright orange. Even though it weighs a ton and is coated with what I’m sure is lead paint, I still think it’s sort of cool. Necklaces could dangle from this quite well.

Don’t ask me why this caught my eye. It really is pretty funny though. It’s one of those large red vintage Christmas light bulbs turned into a mosquito! I’m hoping it will ward off the real thing when hung by fishing wire on my back porch.

Last but certainly not least are these vintage duckies, straight from a stint at a carnival near you (I love carnivals…we could walk to one from home when I was little). I purchased them from a vendor who had bought out a carnival that was going out of business.

One for each of my little duckies. And just like my duckies, they don’t all want to stay in a row.