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My favorite 2 minute craft from the 2013 holidays! 1 Miniature Tree in a Blue Canning Jar.

Happy New Year Everyone! I can’t believe it is already the second week of the year! We had a nice quiet New Years followed by 1 day of school and then a snow day! Now the snow has melted but we are having the coldest weather in 20 years. The downstairs is a bit chilly (as I sit here in multiple layers). Fortunately all the insulation in the roof means that the second floor is nice and toasty, even if there is a 20 degree differential right now between the 2 floors!

I’m not normally very good with New Year’s Resolutions but I have decided that there is one this year that I am going to try to work on. Spend more time with my family! Technically I do spend a fair amount of time with them, but the resolution is about spending quality time, where I am not distracted by the million of other things going on. I’m not quite sure how I am going to pull it off, but I am going to try. What New Year’s Resolutions have you made?

craftroom-011In other news, we did manage to actually have a fairly productive weekend. Mr. S. and I decided it was time to get working on the Craft Room. We have spent countless hours trying to get the walls and ceiling smooth. Between wallpaper that wouldn’t cooperate, old plaster with cracks and no finish coat, and patching from the holes for the insulation, I thought it was never going to end. Every time I would tell myself that it was the last coat of spackle I would find more spots. Well, we finally called the walls done and primed and painted. So far we have 2 coats of paint and I might go for 3 on the sloped ceiling/wall, since it shows every imperfection thanks to its super close proximity to your eyes and the way the window sits. We still have to prime and paint the trim and bench. craftroom-012 The door to the room will be staying stained, as it is one of the few places in the house to have its original finish. Almost everywhere else that is a stained finish the previous owner striped back, so it doesn’t have the same luster as this. The rest of the trim will be painted white to keep it clean. The walls themselves are a light gray, just enough color so the whit trim will pop against them. Fortunately the dark brown painted floor is in really good shape! There was nasty carpet covering it, that we chose to leave in place until the wall and ceiling painting was complete. It was very exciting to bring it out to the garbage yesterday! Hopefully by next week we can start actually bringing in the rest of the furniture and accessories! I am also ordering a couple of storm windows for the room. Once they arrive (and I hopefully like them) I will give you some more details!

I hope everyone is having a great 2014! Cheers!

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Holiday Card 2013

December 26, 2013 — 3 Comments



A Belated Happy Holidays!

As you can tell I’m running behind schedule. We have survived a whirlwind of activity in the last week and I am ready for some low key hanging out!

We changed up our family photo this year and took a break from the Living Room and instead took an imaginary trip to Germany.

And in case you haven’t seen our previous years…

Do you have a favorite?


snow2It is snowing here AGAIN! One delayed opening followed by a snow day. Kind of crazy for this early in the year in Philadelphia! Of course there are 2 excited kids in this house. Sam made his first snow man all by himself this morning. Pretty cute, right?

piano-winter2I’m still finishing up decorations around the house, but I have updated the top of the piano. Can you tell I am feeling shiny? I’m loving the gold sparkly spiky ornaments that I dug out of the random vintage ornament box. I went through ALL of the ornaments this year and did some purging and organizing. I can now officially fit all of the ornaments in one awesome vintage box.

christmasornaments1This is the gem that came from Mr S’s grandma. Pretty fun (if you ignore the old stains)! The new bench in the craft room will house all of our Christmas and holiday decorations. The bench dimensions were set by the size of my plastic storage bins. The bench will fit 4, but better yet it will fit 3 plastic bins and this extra long box. One small victory in old home storage!

craftroom-wallpaper5Speaking of which I finally made a decision on the wallpaper. I changed my mind and went with a different pattern, after I was still on the fence about a couple of the samples. This beauty is on its way! Its a 1970’s reproduction from Little Green called Reverie. A little crazy, but I like that it is a little nod to all of the crazy 1970’s wallpaper that we took down up here.

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I’m feeling behind in my holiday decorations and preparation! Maybe it is because I spend too much time looking at Pinterest and all of the beautiful decorations that I cannot even begin to attempt. Maybe I need to stop looking, but it is so addicting, and easier than actually getting to work. Fortunately I do have impatient children who actually want to decorate for the holidays! I have named Sam the official “tree fluffer” for helping reshape the fake Christmas tree. He took the low parts, which was a nice change for my back. I can’t be the only one who dreads getting their scratchy, bulky tree up and looking good.


Anyway, as I started getting the Christmas decorations out I realized that I had not photographed the Thanksgiving piano top. I like to adjust and tweak this small area whenever I get the chance (while ignoring the rest of the mess around it).  I kept a lot of the decorations from Halloween and just added a couple of later fall touches. I think my favorite new things are the glass blocks with the feathers on them. I bought them on clearance at Target and I immediately put them up. Now of course the area is in flux again as the fall orange makes way for sparkly Christmas decorations. Stay tuned for an update!

christmastree1Our main tree is up, lit and decorated in a beautifully messy way. This is the first year that we are putting up all of the fragile ornaments. So far only one casualty!  The kids relished putting up the ornaments, double and triple stacking them on the low branches.  I did go through after them and move some of the more fragile ones out of harms way. They also discovered how magical it is to lay under a lit Christmas tree.  Now I just need to clear away some of the boxes and toys and light the fireplace. Hopefully this weekend!

How are your holiday decorations going?

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Happy Halloween!

November 1, 2013 — Leave a comment


Another Halloween has come and gone. There are large quantities of candy in the house and the whole family is suffering from a post Halloween malaise. I hope everyone had a great time! The weather was warm here, which made for a much more enjoyable night than normal.


Elvis greatly enjoyed all of the attention! I wouldn’t be surprised if he started requesting to wear this costume out more often. If he was willing to sing in public I think he could start an act. He informed me that 54 people liked his costume during his Halloween Parade at school (not that he is counting or anything).


Rapunzel is in love with her hair (and I am greatly relieved that her hair is not normally this long).

pianofall-2In other related updates, I realized that I haven’t shown off the fall piano styling. It is one of the few things I have managed to get done in the house recently.

pianofall-1I inherited the orange chocolate pot from my grandparents recently and thought it was perfect for the fall. I added a bunch of Osage Oranges (aka Monkey Balls). They have a nice citrus scent and I literally pick them up on the ground at Maisie’s school where they are plentiful (and the kids like to throw them). Let here it for free decorations!

I hope everyone has a great weekend and enjoys the extra hour of sleep! Tomorrow is the last soccer games for the season. I’m looking forward to some lazy Saturday mornings in our future.

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Our Busy House

October 25, 2013 — Leave a comment


I know, I have disappeared yet again! Life has a funny way, of throwing you off your game. I like routine, and while I was looking forward to the school year starting, I had not realized how full my life was going to be. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lovely life with a sweet family, but finding time to carve out for the blog hasn’t happened. I’m still trying to figure that out. I miss writing and sharing and I have felt a little lost. I remember someone telling me that with kids it just gets busier (and harder) the older they get. At the time I had a baby who wasn’t sleeping through the night and needed A LOT of attention, so it was hard to imagine that to be the case. Now I would partially agree. We don’t over schedule our kids, but there is still a lot going on. Between school, homework, soccer and spending quality time with the kids it is pretty exhausting (although I would say not as tiring as having a small baby). I also have kids who like to be where ever we are, even my 6 year old generally prefers to play right by us (i.e. I am constantly stepping on legos). I am trying to savor this time because before I know it he will be hiding up in his room, but there are times when I wonder whether I will ever have real alone time again. My brain has felt really scattered, like I can’t put a complete though together. So please try and bear with me as I try to get back up and move forward.newplantingbed1

So anyway back to the house and the garden and design…

I have managed to squeeze some gardening in the last couple of weekends thanks to some glorious weather and some strategically planned play dates. I decided last weekend to create the last piece of planting bed that I have been envisioning for a while. I mentioned my love of southern magnolias last time I wrote. Well of course after I searched out the perfect tree for the driveway and paid full price for the South Magnolia ‘Kay Parris’, I stopped at Home Depot  the next week and guess what they had? Southern Magnolia ‘Little Gem’. Curses! I had checked there the week before I bought my tree and they didn’t have anything like that. The only good thing was that the price was not that much less than the nursery, so I didn’t feel too terrible. Since then I have been stopping over to the plant section about once a week to see what they have and more importantly to check to see when everything would go on clearance. Every year around this time they will start marking all of the plants down (to clear space for the Christmas trees!). Well last Thursday was finally the day! 50% off all perennials, shrubs and trees! They were just putting the sign up when I pulled up on my lunch break. I quickly assessed the situation and got a cart. I probably squealed like a school girl.


There were still a couple of Little Gems in stock. I stood there starring at them. $35 was pretty enticing. So I kept trying to think where I would put another one. Eventually I would like to replace our bamboo with several of these, but that project isn’t happening any time soon. I finally decided to pick one up and figure it out after I got home. I also scored a couple of pear trees for $11 a piece for the side yard, a few small Nandinas and some really cute coral bells (Heuchera ‘Circus’).


Once I got home I spent some time moving my new tree around, trying to find a place for it. We have some more sun near our shed after some tree trimming (which removed a large portion of our old birch tree) and removing dead branches from the cedar.  I decided that it was time to add the planting bed next to the shed. And if I strategically placed the new magnolia I could provide an additional buffer to the street. In the diagram above you can see the view that I am trying to block. It is hard to photograph but the general idea is that when you are on the deck this will eventually provide some more visual separation between the backyard and the street and adjacent driveway. It also allows for the tree to be out where I can touch the leaves and admire the flowers in the spring.


I filled in the remainder of the planting bed with some of my new coral bells and some miscellaneous other plants and hostas. I’m not quite sure whether this falls into part sun or not. This area tends to get dry due to the large tree roots. I think it may take some experimenting to get the bed to succeed!

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend. I’ve got a long overdue date night scheduled with Mr. S!

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This past Sunday we took a little trip out to Yellow Springs Farm and Nursery to check out the Native plants and their well known goat cheese. The cheese was delicious, the goats were cute and the kids made friends with Rosco the dog.


First off we said hello to the goats, who were not surprisingly very friendly. They were waiting to be let out into the field for a snack.

YellowSpringsFarm2Rosco spent the time playing with the kids. He taught Sam how to play fetch. Sam followed this by saying that clearly he needs a dog. Of course I don’t think the 2 feline family members of our family would agree about that.

YellowSpringsFarm3Maisie took charge of the camera. Not a bad shot! It is always fascinating to see the world from a small person’s point of view.

We tried their delicious goat cheeses! I highly recommend them, if you can find them! I think I will have to place an order sometime soon.

As for plants I wasn’t looking for anything in particular for the yard, except a super hardy native street tree. We decided on an American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana). It may not be the most exciting tree, but it should be the right size, super sturdy, non-aggressive roots and it is native. They were really helpful and pointed out that this is widely used in the City of Philadelphia with good success. SOLD!


Our new tree is about 3 1/2′ tall. I think it should be a good size for planting in our diminutive grass strip between the sidewalk and curb. As much as a I love a big tree, I have had better luck with smaller specimens taking over time.


We also picked up a couple of beautiful grasses for the front yard. We picked out 2 varieties, both with reddish tinges in the fall. I think my favorite is Panicum virgatum ‘Shanendoah‘ with nice plumbs on top. It should get to be about 5’ tall.

LittleBluestem-prairiebluesThe second grass is Little Bluestem ‘Prairie Blues’ which will get to be about 3 1/2-4′ tall. The color on it is really amazing! I am going to try and fit them in around the nandina in the front yard. They should be happy there with lots of sun and relatively dry soil. Hopefully I can get all of this planted this weekend. The weather looks good, of course there are several small jungles of weeds laughing at me. They better watch out, because I am hoping that their days are numbered!

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

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First Day of School

September 3, 2013 — Leave a comment


It is officially the first day of school here! Sam rode off on the bus (after a slight delay due to road closures) and Maisie headed over to Pre-School. Sam was wide awake at 6 am and ready to go “learn and play with my new friends”. Maisie was ready for her big girl Pre-K room. Meanwhile I have managed to keep it together (which is its own miracle).


First Day of School 2012

It is amazing how quickly they grow up! Of course they don’t always look this happy together, and spend a good bit of time fighting, but I like to think that they will be close friends forever.

Back to regular house posting soon!

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Getting Rid of Stuff

August 27, 2013 — 2 Comments


Things are abuzz here! School starts in a few days, my big guy will start First Grade and Maisie will start her Pre-K class. Our local pool will be closing after this weekend and there is lots to do between filling out paperwork, picking up supplies and trying to eek out the last bit of summer. To add to the craziness, our Borough has a town wide Garage Sale the first Saturday after Labor Day. We happen to have a garage full of stuff, and only part of it needs to come back inside. So we need to kick it into high gear and do some serious sorting! I always have a hard time getting rid of stuff and I am not a good salesperson, but we are hoping that this could make a serious dent in our piles. Before we started on the third floor we actually used both our garage spaces for cars. I’m not quite sure we could get back to that, but the plan is that by winter we could be back to having a fully functional garage.

In addition to the stuff already out in the garage, we also have a lot of kids toys that the kids have outgrown. Of course as soon as I mention getting rid of something, both kids immediately tell me that they LOVE it and couldn’t possibly part with it and play with it, how ever silly it seems. Sam trying to push on a ball popper when he is WAY too tall was pretty hilarious. I like to think we are at peak toy quantity (maybe I am dreaming) and that we can start to shrink the area that they take up or at least be able to put things away in a smaller footprint.

Of course the kids aren’t the only culprit. I have plenty of piles myself. One of my biggest vices are magazines, books and fabric. Once we get the third floor craft room finished I actually hope to get my fabric organized in a way that I can see it all in one place and make better use of it. The magazines require the most sorting and organizing. I have several binders full of inspiring pictures (of course with Pinterest, I find myself going to this a lot less). In a dream world I would scan the images that speak to me and get rid of them. hmmm…Not sure if that will happen in this lifetime.

Meanwhile, the kids closet is moving along. It just needs one more coat of trim paint, then the shelves and clothing rods can go in. I spent way too many hours in the closet over the weekend spackling some more, priming and painting. I am looking forward to actually using this closet for kids clothes and not random stuff. Of course this means I still need to find a place to store the vacuum.

Anyone else purging? Am I the only one who dreams of having an organizer coming over and helping me clear the clutter (or at least telling me it is okay to get rid of stuff)?


Shared Kids’ Room

August 16, 2013 — Leave a comment
Sam's Car Themed Room Before Maisie Moved In

Sam’s Car Themed Room Before Maisie Moved In

Hello again! As you can see I’m still struggling with getting back on a schedule. There is something to be said for the school year, when the day is much better organized! I have so much to share from the last couple of months but I thought I would start with the kids’ room.

If you had asked me whether our kids would ever share a room before I had children I would have said “no way”. I always had my own room and the thought of sharing one was not very appealing. We didn’t even plan on Sam and Maisie sharing, but after Maisie started climbing out of her crib, she quickly demanded that she sleep with Sam. Sam being a good sport said sure thing. They actually shared his bed for a while, until he decided that he would really prefer some level of space. At first we just put her mattress on the floor in his room (I know great styling!). But quickly it became pretty clear that they did actually prefer to share a room. So we did what any self respecting car family would do, we upgraded Maisie to her own car bed.


The kids posing in their car beds one last time!

This worked for a while, but Maisie is quickly outgrowing the toddler size bed and the space requirements for 2 giant plastic beds, is kind of crazy for an old house like ours. Also if you mention the idea of bunkbeds to a 4 and 6 year old, they will inevitably say, “When are they going to be here”. There was some initial complaining from a certain 4 year old when she was told that she would have to have the bottom.

Mark Ruffalo's Kids Room from Elle Decor

Mark Ruffalo’s Kids Room from Elle Decor

Once we decided bunkbeds were the way to go, I was on the hunt for not only a nice set that wouldn’t break the bank, but inspiration for a shared boy and girl room. I have to say the internet and Pinterest were a bit of a let down. There really isn’t much out there in the way of interesting shared kids rooms that aren’t blue on one side and pink on the other. The only exception was an image from Elle Decor. I am 90% sure that this is Mark Ruffalo’s house. I definitely had this magazine a few years back (okay more years than I care to think about because I don’t think I even had kids when I saw this). I remember thinking that it was a really cool space. I really liked the laid back vibe, mix of new and vintage and use of bright colors, without looking overly childish.


So last month I started a Mood Board and color palette, with the goal of having a finished room by September. To start with we knew we were keeping the rug, the dresser and the nightstand. 3 walls are a lovely griege, so those are staying and I put the striped accent wall in the maybe pile. Sam also informed me that he wanted to keep his comforter and sheets.  Pretty much screams “boy” doesn’t it!


After establishing what was staying I determined my color palette next. This took some restraint on my part. I tend to look for things I like and figure it out as I go, but in this space there was already a lot going on, so sticking to a color palette was important, and took a lot of self-disciple on my part. In the color palette I mixed some more girl friendly colors to round out the boy heavy starting point. If you ask Maisie what her favorite colors are she will quickly say “Pink, Purple and Red”. Purple was definitely a no go in the space and I didn’t want pinky pink. I finally settled on coral. Which apparently is close enough to pink to count. Fortunately coral is quite popular right now so I actually had some selection for bedding. I finally settled on Floral Gem in Pink and White Striped Duvet Cover, from Land of Nod. Of course this is backordered (originally until this week but now until September). errrr…

Next I picked out this really great insect print from Curious Prints on Etsy. I haven’t actually ordered it yet, because I haven’t decided on a size.  I also picked out this adorable print Moon Print from Land of Nod. Aaaah much better!


It is a challenge to mix the style so it isn’t cutesy toddler but not too grown up, all while making the kids feel included on the decisions. I am still working on some of the accessories, but I think the direction is really good now and the balance is starting to feel right.

Any suggestions?

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