Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Say hello to my little friends.

Chances are someone you know has made friends with Alex and Ani. But if you haven't been properly introduced, then let me be the first. 

Alex and Ani is an innovative jewelry company whose mantra is providing it's wearers beautiful symbols of positive energy and empowerment. They offer an assortment of jewelry, from rings to necklaces to earrings, but I'm most infatuated with their bangle bracelets. Their designs are simple and elegant and can be worn by themselves or layered with lots of different types of bracelets. And, for those of us with infamous "man hands," they were kind enough to make their bangles expandable for fuller figured hands! 

I'm loving these bracelets and the multitude of styles, symbols and finishes you can choose. 

Happy Shopping! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The View (from 40)

It has been a summer of mini-adventures and milestones for the northern end of this blogging duo - family vacations, Bible camp, BBQs, birthdays, boating and minor home renovations. And like Laura, I too sent my youngest to kindergarten last week with feelings of "Now what?" and "What the HECK just happened?"  We are crossing the one week threshold today and my kindergartner still has a lot of anxiety walking through that door every morning. His feelings are simple and concrete: he's scared. New school, new kids and a lot of unknowns. I know that he'll adapt to his new school life like all kids do, but he wasn't the only one feeling anxious. I had a lot of anxiety about my ability to adapt to being alone! And for a minute, I think I actually wished he could stay home! Of course, the thought of home-schooling (and "new math") is still WAY scarier than being alone, so off he went. 

But my feelings of "What just happened?" continued and were compounded coming off the heels of another milestone: my 40th birthday. dun dun dun.... Yes, yes, I know what you're all thinking, "She doesn't look that old!" (That was what you were thinking, right?) But, thankfully, I am.  Thankfully? Yes, thankfully. 

I didn't put together a long list of things I've learned along the way, but I can tell you that the view, the overall view of life, family, love, kids, friendship is clearer. I've made it out of the cloud cover of my adolescence, the fog of my twenties and the sleep-deprived haziness of my thirties (and trust me, when you have a baby that didn't sleep through the night for two years, it can get very hazy!), and the view is more lovely than I ever imagined! It is so much easier to be who you are and say what you mean without apology, say "no" to the things you don't really want to do and, well, just be who you are meant to be. I'd be lying if I said being an empty nester (from 8 to 3 anyway!) and turning 40 didn't creep up on me a little, but I don't hear the haunting music or yearn to be the younger version of myself. I feel like I have a nice patina after 40 years of experiences and just enough years under my belt to look back with a little perspective. I'm thankful for the journey so far (even the messy stuff), for the mistakes I've made along the way and for all the characters I've met - especially the one I married. And the anxiety about the changes milestones sometimes carry is a welcome shot of adrenaline. 

"...if you've found meaning in your life, you don't want to go back. You want to go forward. You want to see more, do more." Mitch Albom Tuesdays with Morrie.

So to my last buddy entering kindergarten, I have anxiety and butterflies the same as you about all the changes. And just because I'm not the mom who cries at drop off don't think that I haven't reflected on what the closing of this chapter means. It's just that I have the advantage of knowing that butterflies are a sign of good things to come - new adventures, new discoveries, a new view of the world. It is human to look back, reflect and maybe be a little anxious about what is ahead, but hang in there because the view continues to get better, clearer and more spectacular the higher you go. And really, who doesn't love a good view? {Erin}

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

So That's a Wrap!...Now What?

If you are thinking what I am thinking..... that seems like A LOT of Saturdays, right!?! :) 

Today I put the last man standing on the bus to Kindergarten and although it's not an "empty nest", it will forever more be abandoned from the hours of 8 to 3! When searching for the perfect quote to start off what will be my synopsis of this chapter of parenting ended, I came across this one and had two very clear routes I could have taken.. And alas, I chose the route of least emotional lamenting because if we can laugh we just may not cry, right?!

I started this blog over a year ago, and still to this day some of my favorite posts have been personal ones. Maybe not for you, but for me, because this blog is for sure to share my passion for decorating but also if nothing else ever came of it I wanted it to somewhat chronicle my life as just an ordinary stay at home mom in case someday my kids wanted to know who I really was and what I was thinking the whole time I had the privilege of being their mom. I have written about adopting my son, raising a girl and what I've taken away from my life to date, you know, before mid life crisis sets in. 

Since Erin joined me sharing her crazy design skillz on the blog I have not written much on the personal front but today, before I dive back in to blogging after a long summers nap, I have to reflect on what it's like to put your last baby on the bus... Yes, for years I have been taking him to the bus stop but today they actually took him:)   One of the first things you think when you walk back into your house and get the door shut (and double bolted) is, holy shit, what just happened here?! You recall all those annoying older wiser, CRAZY TRAIN moms who say to you, in the middle of your toddler's grocery store breakdown, that it will all pass by before you know it. And I guess that's true and maybe part of the reason this quote resonated with me. It's a reality check, and yes it does go by fast (and I'm just speaking to the baby years here) but let's be honest, if you sit down too long in silence and really think about all that's happened in those years,  its not all that fast at all!! Especially if you put yourself through it several times in a row:)! 

In fact what makes those more dependent years fast is not some kind a miracle of time travel, it is a sense of humor! I realized what I wanted to really write was an ode to the kind of sense of humor you have to have to be a really great mom. No one ever talks about that but it's a survival method and it's developed with experience and aged in all of us like a fine wine. There are two very interesting things moms have in common, they all love their kids and they all have a sense of humor, whether they realize it or not, that only comes about by the "pull yourself up by your boot straps" mentality of child rearing through the early years. We all handle parenting differently, but we all laugh at the same parenting jokes that we deep down, wrong or right, know to be somewhat true! Some of my favorites...

So in good humor I will tell you the honest feeling that swept across me after the door was shut and bolted for long enough for me to think straight.  Okay time for recon! I should use this time to go to the bookstore and finally have the time to figure out how I can fix all the problems that I have diagnosed the kids with over the years. Then I should work out, yes, that's perfect!! The better I feel the happier I am to deal with, right?! If moms happy the whole village sings! Oh yes, and the blog I have been neglecting...I will write a post!! And so I wrote the post (and that's all I had time for mind you)... and somewhat like parenting it has taken a different direction than I imagined. It has turn out nothing like I planned but it's real and it's funny, the rabbit trailing and all. It's funny like all the parenting shit that has blown my way in the the years of wiping bottoms, cleaning vomit, holding my foot against the bathroom door, trapping myself in A BATHROOM, just to hold on to what little privacy was left! So today I'm not setting out to fix a thing, I'm not going to try to figure out what to do with the rest of my life like my job as a parent has ended at the bus stop and I'm not going to think anything more about what I should have done differently. Today I'll take time to realize I'm a human being, I'm doing the best I can. I am both funnier and wiser because of all of what life has thrown at me and celebrate that more than anything it's my kids that have brought this out in me. They have taught me more about myself than I will ever be able to teach them. 

So I started this post with a diet coke and am ending it appropriately with a wine! Cheers to milestones! To babies growing up and to parents finding their sense of humor and celebrating it every once in awhile. Its not easy being a parent!


To Vincey, "my sweet sweet"

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Client Crisp & Casual Bedroom Makeover

I have a new client who has come to the all too familiar crossroads in home ownership: love it or list it?! They have a five bedroom home tucked away on a quiet cul-de-sac. It is an incredibly charming home with built-ins, a finished basement and an outdoor pool and living space that is a get-away all it's own. Sounds too good to leave, right? Their problem is useable space. A dining room that no one dines in and a family room that functions mainly as a toy room for their 18-month old twins. We are in the midst of coming up with a game plan for the main level that can accommodate the toys, home computers and family living space needed for four children ranging in ages from tweens to tots. 

In the meantime, they've asked me to design a master bedroom oasis for maximum comfort and relaxation. For me, the most relaxing rooms are those that feel clean, uncluttered and crisp. 

I started with light gray walls and crisp hotel bedding for a clean feel and then added crisp pops of color and gold accents for texture. 

Benjamin Moore Gray Owl

I recommended they add simple trim work to bring a focal point to the room. 

I also recommended they mix up their furniture shapes by adding round end tables.

I looked at two lighting options for the room. Wall-mounted sconces such as these from Ikea and West Elm. 

And hanging pendants to frame out the bed. 

My client has existing bedroom furniture they would like to use. There is a matching bed, dresser & mirror (shown), tall dresser and end table in the room. I recommended that they have the drawer fronts painted on the two dressers and add new hardware. 

And accessories for color and texture: 

I'm so excited to see this room transformed for two very deserving parents. I'll show you renovation ideas for the master bath later this week!

Happy Day! {Erin}

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Outdoor Facelift! Lakeside Renovations Underway!

Laura and I are lake babies of sorts. Our dad was an avid sailor and our family piled into the old conversion van every weekend of the summer and made the pilgrimage to Northern Michigan to be on the water. 

This is our family sailing somewhere on Grand Traverse Bay. And yes, that is my dad looking like Crockett and Tubbs from Miami Vice should be chasing us! Ah, the 80s!

My husband also grew up on lakes around the northern Indiana area, so we always knew that the lake experience was something we wanted our kids to have as well.

We bought our lake house together the summer before we got married and it has been a work in progress for the last 10 years. We have redone most of the interior, but the cosmetic exterior has always been last on the list of things to update. We've done many of the things that you have to do to maintain the exterior. . . new roof, fresh paint, etc. But now it's time to do some of the fun stuff! 

Here is where we are starting from. We like to call it our box with a crooked triangle on the top. Another casualty of the 80s! 

We wanted to make the place look more symmetrical and "cottagey" without tearing the roof off and starting over. We also have two sliding doors on the bottom, lakeside level. The right side is a bedroom and the left side is a small living room and bar. It has never made sense to us to enter and exit through a bedroom, so we wanted to replace that slider with a window and make the actual entrance more prominent. From this wish list here is what our builder came up with. . . 

And here is the best part - the entire front is a facia. We don't have to tear into the actual roof line. The facia will correct the roof line from the front and most visible side of the house without any major construction to the existing roof. This is a slightly different rendering but you can see the facia. 

Our other plan is to update the landscaping. We live outside and we use our place pretty consistently from early spring to late fall. These are both great times of the year for evening bonfires so we wanted to incorporate a fire pit and more outdoor lounging space. Here is the direction we are taking. 

We plan to have the existing patio stamped with an overlay. Here are some of the options I like so far. 

And then we will add natural flagstone around the firepit. 

Renovations are starting at the end of this month. Stay tuned to the progress along the way!


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

REVEAL Top Secret Nursery-It's a girl!!

If you have been following along, my client (& friend) enlisted my services to plan and install a top secret nursery behind closed door! No problem, right?! 5 weeks ago she gave me "the envelope" with the gender of the baby inside and I swore not to breathe a word to anyone, including them! I've been bubbling over not being able to give any peeks at all as to what I was planning as everything screamed girl! So you wanna peek!? Well here you have it! Just a little one before I make you get into the details... It's all about the details, I know you agree!!
When I started I decided on my color scheme and had the idea almost immediately that I wanted to paint all the doors, trim and window casing the more dramatic accent color. I chose a soft subtle peach color that almost has a golden hue called "Champagne" for all the main walls in the room. Then I used "Certain Peach" for the baseboards, window trim and doors. The green and the deep coral were used on accent furniture. Can you see the fabrics in the background?! 
I love the fabrics for this room! There is both a modern and vintage feel which I think every little girl should have a good mix of. There are only so many years you can pull off a really soft vintage look for a little girl. Knowing my days are numbered with my own daughter's eclectic room makes me sad as she points out jeweled light up "Peace" signs with hideous colors...Lord help me! But the truth is that although I do listen to what my clients want, I always have some selfish motives in my designs, that's what you get with me!:) Speaking of that, I am happy to share many sources with you but not all as a courtesy to my clients who pay for me to give them a unique design. Make sense?! I am happy to say that I sourced several Etsy shops to comes up with my bedding design though. I love Etsy and I always looks there first, for everything! I also hate most of the bedding sets that they have out there! I always want to change something. I had this problem with my own kids but Etsy wasn't as far along as they are now and they have some super cute baby linens! The sheet and changing cover were hand made and the fabrics were from one shop. The skirt was from another Etsy shop. 

The crib was in her son's room and was chocolate brown. I love this crib and although she gave the option to get a new one if it was a girl, I knew this one had not yet seen the end of the road (it is also special to me as it was my daughter's crib that they got when they found out they were having twins and needed two cribs the first time around)! So I had the lady that painted my other client's china cabinet come and match the crib paint to the new dresser I got for the room! 
We also used a gold paint to highlight some of the details on the crib! You know how I love gold and gray together! They are a perfect combo!
I know you saw the little peek of pom pom garland above! I used a whole bunch of these as a sort of new age crib mobile. I love these for a party or for decor and they have gained much popularity in all the colors and patterns you can get now. I tried to marry all the shades of coral and gray in one happy cluster to pull everything together in the room. These were fun, but a tad time consuming as each one comes flat and it's assembly required on these babies! 
 As to not take away from the drama of the cluster of poms I hung a semi-flush mount light in the center of the room. With me it is usually the bigger the better on the chandelier but this light was very well priced at under $150 and it made the perfect statement... fancy and sophisticated but not fighting to be the center of attention! 
To the right of the crib sits a rocking chair that she already had. It is a darker gray fabric so that is partly why I chose to do the crib and dresser in light gray as to draw attention away from the chair color which was intended to go with a whole other nursery decor and to make it feel like it was chosen for the room from the start. When you are playing up the colors in the room and playing up pattern, best to only let some accent pieces be in color and the bigger pieces more neutral. In my opinion, that is! 

This little wicker table is a antique shop find and was only $30 so I used the green to have it sprayed. We had little space so the table had to be small and delicate looking with just enough space to sit a bottle. 
Here is the table in its "before" state! Needed a tad of color!
Also found at the antique place was this little rocker! Can I get an "awww"?!? That's what I did when I saw it! I was like "that is so stinking cute, I wish my kids were little enough for it..." then I was like "wait I'm doing a nursery here"!! If you don't know me I'm a stitch absent minded and this makes perfect sense! 
OK well now you have seen the curtain panels. Probably my most favorite thing in the nursery and where most of the inspiration came from. These mint colored marvels were the ones when I spotted them. The color is even more gorgeous in person! The ruffles are perfectly frayed. The only problem was they are linen and slightly sheer... Although there are wood blinds on the windows my client's request was darkening panels!! What to do?! Well, I will tell you! I decided to do a double rod and do the reverse of logic. Hang the "sheers" up front and a blackout panel in the back! I almost died when I found a white blackout panel with a ruffle edge to stick out on the sides!! These are the kind of things we dream of people! And by "we" I mean, me! 
Anyway, on we go and then I will show you it all together!! For the dresser my client wanted function too. Now I am all about using and painting vintage dressers in kids rooms! You know this to be true! However, with the old comes the limited functionality (e.g., drawers not as smooth and spacious etc.). When it comes to Rachel (I don't usually mention the client by name but she won't mind me razzing her a bit) you don't mess with the function! She had made mention of liking the drawer sizes on this Pottery Barn one I landed on. Of course, I couldn't let PB win, I had to change it a little to make it look more vintage:) 

Here is it as it was...
A few decorative knobs on top...
We probably need to change the hardware color too... Gold, of course!
And done!
The mirror wicker scroll mirror above the dresser was painted to match the rocking chair and some decorative accents for the dresser. I loved this lamp as it matched the ceiling light perfectly and I got to have my "chandelier" looking fix with it! 
Lastly I found a cute book about what little girls are made of and had the idea to fill several frames with pages from the books to do a corner gallery wall above the rocker. I went to Hobby Lobby, picked out frames that were 50% off (as they almost always are at Hobby Lobby). Then if you pick their frames then they will do the labor for free so you just have to pay for the mats to be cut! I chose a soft gray mat and gold frames. Go figure...right?! Since they are glass frames I never had a good picture up close without a glare so I am posting these before ones in hope you can read the little print on them!
Here is the best I could do on a close up with all the glare... I know, the room looks yellow and you can't read them but hey, I tried on these limited photography skills!

OK so I think I covered it all! You ready to see some final pictures?! And of course I couldn't help but to do a before and after of the main wall view:)!
Congratulations to Team T on baby Quinn! What a fun and exciting project this has been! I'm kinda sad to have it all over with! I guess I need another baby's room to do!! Who's next? It can't be me....that ship has so far away:)! 


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