Archives For FAMILY

Holiday Season Update

December 17, 2012 — Leave a comment
Maisie & Sam (aka Candle #7)

Maisie & Sam (aka Candle #7)

Hello all! I wish I had more to post, but I don’t. I am deeply saddened by the events in Connecticut and spent a lot of the weekend staying close to the kids.I also think I have officially overextended myself. I have a hard time saying ‘no’, although there are some things, especially related to the kids’ school that I always want to make sure get finished and done right. The kids had their Hanukkah play at school last week and it was fabulous! Sam made a great candle #7 and a good time was had by all. We also managed to make some Christmas sugar cookies this weekend, which the kids have been asking to do for a while. They were so blissfully unaware of what happened.

Hallway Progress

Hallway Progress

In the meantime I have been trying to get the front hall hooks and shelves finished, which has been painstaking slow. When I have a few minutes I run downstairs and put on another coat of stain to all of the parts. I managed to hang the lower piece yesterday and the kids enjoyed filling up the hooks that are up (although I ordered some more to fill out the board). I am really trying to get the top part finished by Friday. We will see if that happens. Fingers crossed! At least now I have all of the parts minus 6 extra hooks which can be installed after the boards are up.

I am sending my love to everyone!

P.S. The holiday cards are in the mail. So I will be posting up the picture and all of the details later this week.

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A Memorable Object

November 28, 2012 — 2 Comments

Vintage German Cow Bell now hanging on our Dining Room

I am fresh off the plane from the Midwest and pretty beat. It has been a long couple of days and I am already dreading the pile of work that awaits me. But first I had to hang something up.

I come from a family of farmers (at least on my father’s side); to be more specific, Iowa dairy farmers. I was actually born in NJ and my Midwestern relatives like to make fun of my “NJ” accent (which I like to think has more to do with my fast talking style then my actual accent). However I spent almost every Christmas in the Midwest and have fond memories of watching my grandparents, uncles and aunts milking their herd of Brown Swiss cows. We would stay at the old farmhouse and every morning my grandfather would scoop the cream off the top of the fresh unpasteurized milk to put on his cereal. His well worn hands taking a break from the morning chores.

So when I think of what objects would remind me of my grandparents, I always think of cows. I have put in a request for a Brown Swiss statue or pitcher to add to our Dining Room  animal menagerie, but I did bring one thing back with me. When I was 12 we went of a family trip to Europe. While we were there we visited the Black Forrest region in Germany. We picked up a vintage cow bell to bring back for my Grandparents.  For years it hung in their kitchen.  So it is with pride that I hung it up in our Dining Room (just above my cow bell).

My brother and me on the farm with my Dad and Grandpa

My Mom just scanned this old photo for me. No instagram filters needed!


Holiday Photo Shoot

November 27, 2012 — 2 Comments

Well we managed to get our holiday photo shoot finished and mostly edited over the weekend.  It took the most part of the day (not including editing). Fortunately with a bit of cajoling everything went well.

Our little helper

I don’t think the kids have a future in acting since their attention span is quite short and they kept asking when we could be done.

The Kids in Between Shots

The best participants this year were the kitties! Both stopped in for their shots unprompted (usually their photos involve a fair number of treats).

On a sad note, I am away right now visiting the great state of Iowa attending my Grandfather’s funeral. He lived to be 96, which is pretty impressive. Sharp as a tack until the end. He will be missed!


Happy Thanksgiving

November 24, 2012 — Leave a comment

Happy Thanksgiving from Maisie (and Miss Laura her amazing preschool teacher). I love that some things are  just as I remembered them as a kid.

Okay, so Thanksgiving was yesterday, but I wanted to send out a belated Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! We had a lovely day with my family including some tasty food including grilled turkey (awesome way to free up the oven) and cornbread and sausage stuffing.

I also just wanted to stay that I am very thankful for all of my readers and clients (and my family and friends)!

Sam’s Thankful Letter.

I am in love with Sam’s creation from Kindergarten. It is amazing what he has already learned in just a couple of months of school! He has announced that he is going to be an artist when he grows up. Needless to say that we are very proud, especially considering that 2 years ago he refused to draw or write at all.

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Hallway Before with undersize Coat Rack (try to ignore the rolled up carpet that needs to go upstairs and the miscellanous house trim sitting on top of the shelf)

Sorry I haven’t posted this week! I hurt my shoulder/back, making everything I do much more difficult. I am hoping that it heals soon!

I feel like I have a million projects started and nothing anywhere closed to finished. I would like to concentrate on our bedroom, but there are a couple of unknown pieces (i.e. future air conditioning and adding additional electric) that have put that on the back burner again. The new carpet is still rolled up in the front hallway. I am hoping to put that in soon so at least I can enjoy something soft on my feet in the morning.

So what is next on the agenda? I decided this week that I NEED to do something about the coat rack in the hallway. I have been trying to come up with a plan for this area for a couple of years now and it never seems to be a priority, but with the cold weather setting in, the number of coats have gone up and our little coat rack isn’t cutting it, never mind that the hooks keep breaking off! I am also looking for a better way to sort mail, besides sitting on the kitchen island.

Old Coat Rack looking really tiny here

Here is my list of requirements:

Zdenka’s Front Hall that I designed last year

1. LOTS of Coat Hooks at 2 Levels (Uppers for the grown ups and longer coats and Lower ones for the kids coats and backpacks). Similar layout to Zdenka’s front hall.

2. Shelves for holding mail baskets (ideally 3 baskets that hold 8 1/2 x 11 paper). I like this shelf from Martha Stewart.

3. The design needs to work with the Victorian feel of our front hallway (dark wood, preferably oak with Victorian brackets)

4. The design can’t stick out more than about 10″, so it doesn’t infringe on the main walking path.

5. I would love a bench, but I don’t think we will have space.

6. Have it done by Thanksgiving!

The Design:

I was planning on making something from scratch, since I want to maximize the 53″ of width. I have some sketches, but nothing that I was totally in love with. Then I found this shelf in the latest Home Decorators Catalog! It is stylistically almost perfect. The size is a little short though.  I am currently considering ordering it, and then tweaking it with a new wider top shelf and then adding a board below to hold the hooks. What do you think? Is it lame not to make it from scratch? The only other downside is that it isn’t oak, so the wood won’t totally match.

I have also picked out the coat hooks. I’m obsessed with dome style hooks, because they do a much better job of not pulling on the back of the coat. I found several but I really like this simple design. I plan on mixing these with some more regular hooks, to hold other things.

So stay tuned for more details!


Happy Halloween!

November 1, 2012 — 1 Comment

Luke Skywalker & Ladybug Girl

First, I want to send my love to all of my Mid-Atlantic neighbors who are still suffering and have been hurt by Sandy! You are in our thoughts!

We were extremely fortunate and managed to escape unscathed minus a few branches. After a couple of restless days at home life is getting back to normal here. Our elementary school still doesn’t have power but they are going to open today with emergency power, which should be interesting (we put an extra layer of clothes on Sam in case it is cold). Trick or Treating went on as normal in our Borough, although several of the towns around us are holding off until the weekend.

Luke Skywalker practicing with his Lightsaber

The kids picked out their own costumes this year and Maisie even managed to wear one that she already had. So it was an easy year for me! Sam watched the original Star Wars a few weeks ago with Mr. S. before selecting his costume.

Ladybug Girl

Miss Maisie was happy to be Ladybug Girl. She is a big fan of the books and wants to make it clear that she is not JUST a ladybug, but a Ladybug Superhero!

We had a great time visiting the neighbors and the night ended with a sugar high and this morning the kids looked like they had a post sugar hangover. Now we just have to make it through the school Halloween Parade!

I hope everyone enjoyed some Trick or Treating!

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Hunkered Down for Sandy

October 29, 2012 — 4 Comments

Our Old Pine Tree at the Beginning of the Storm

Today we are hunkered down at home. We cut our mini-vacation to NYC a little short to make sure that we were home with enough time to get ready (or as ready as you can get for a hurricane).  The winds and rain are picking up now and will only get worse for the next 24 hours. I’m really not looking forward the brunt of this storm! Our tall old house is not designed for this. Fingers crossed our pine (and house) will weather the storm okay. The eye is currently on track to pass about 10 miles south of our house early tomorrow morning. Yikes! To all of my mid-Atlantic neighbors, stay safe!


Speak Easy Train Car on SEPTA

Last week we went to the Bootlegger’s Ball for the opening of the Prohibition Exhibit at the Constitution Center. Mr. S. has worked very hard for the past 2 years on some of the interactive and short film portions of the exhibit (I’m very proud!). His firm was also in charge of designing a SEPTA train car to look like a speakeasy! Well it premiered yesterday, complete with dancers, and it is pretty cool!

Anything look familiar?

When he was designing it he needed some accurate building bits to manipulate in Photoshop. So he turned to our house for a number of house parts. Can you see them?

Stylish lady

The wainscot is from our Dining Room, the door is our front door and that radiator, that is ours too. Pretty cool, huh?

Picture from the Bootlegger’s Ball at the Constitution Center (we are hiding in the back) via CBS

I thought I would show you a picture from the Bootlegger’s Ball. Above is a vintage car in the lobby (with us in the background).

Mr S. & I All Dressed Up

And for a special treat, a self portrait of Mr. S. and me with Independence Mall in the background before the party last week.

Now we are off to prepare for Frankenstorm! I am hoping that we don’t get too pummeled. It sounds like our sump pump will be getting a workout and I hope that the house and trees are feeling strong!

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Blue Pumpkin with Blackbirds

Life has been quite busy around here. Any hope of getting house projects finished has disappeared (at least for the next little bit). Halloween has been the big topic of conversation at our house. The kids are very excited and we have finally managed to sort out the costume situation and partially decorate the front porch.  I picked up these blackbirds at the $1 store and I really like them especially since they have wire at the bottom for attaching. I still have hopes of making scary silhouettes for the front windows. We don’t get very many kids at our house, but I would like to entice at least a couple more to stop by.

Beautiful Fall Display at Terrain

One of the few up sides of frequenting a construction site south of here is that it is only a couple of miles from Terrain. I managed to squeeze in a few minutes and a pumpkin latte earlier this week. Their displays are always stunning. Above they have mixed a water feature with colorful annuals (kale, celosia and coleus) with a perennial low grass in the front and large branches in the back. I managed to pick up a couple of grasses on sale. I will probably be planting these in my raised bed for now and replant in their final location in the spring.

In other news, Mr. S. has been SUPER busy at work getting a bunch of things ready for the Constitution Center’s new exhibit  American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. I am hoping to be able to show you a couple of things next week. In the meantime the opening party is tonight, so I will be stepping out this evening.

We are suppose to be dressed in 1920′s attire, which is a bit of a departure for me. I spent a long time looking online for the right dress, since I couldn’t bring myself to get a flapper dress. After much debate and some returns I bought a new dress that I would call “vintage inspired”. I think it is pretty cute (although given the chance I would probably buy most of my clothes from Boden).  I still have to think about the accessories. Mr. S. (who is a far better dresser than I am) just picked out some handsome looking clothes from his closet last night.  Wish me luck!


Beautiful Mix of Fall Colored Perennials & Shrubs including Coral Bells in 2 Colors and Barberry

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. Saturday was splendid here and we took the opportunity to head over to Tyler Arboretum to enjoy the fall weather and let the kids run around in the woods (and up into some treehouses). I have to say that Tyler is pretty great. Over the last few years they have added a lot of kid friendly treehouses and experiences, that are the right mix of nature paired with activities to keep the kids occupied. So if you are in the Philly area I highly recommend a visit.

I thought I would share a few of the interesting plants and creations that we saw on our visit.

Berm with tube for the kids to climb through.

Maisie loved this tube with a berm on top. I was impressed that the plants could survive on top, including a beautiful Oak Leaf Hydrangea and some purple beautyberry (which make excellent cuttings also). Depending on the topography of your yard this would be pretty easy to replicate.

Gnome Bridge: I love the use of twigs for guardrails

Palette Shed

I really liked this shed that used a palette vertically on one side and filled it with annuals. The vintage terracotta roof tiles are also a nice touch.  I think this would be an interesting idea for someone to liven up a boring shed.

Bamboo Teepee with Rock Seats

I really liked this extra large bamboo teepee, complete with large rock seats. I have a stockpile of bamboo, so I am excited to try replicating this somewhere (Zdenka I am thinking of your house).

Beautiful 7′ tall light purple asters

Very Interesting Mystery Plant: Can someone tell me what this is? Asclepias physocarpa? (Thanks Stacey!) The seed pods are amazing.

Beautiful Mix of Annuals still holding strong