Garden Inspiration

September 9, 2013 — Leave a comment

Did I mention that we live in the jungle? It didn’t start out that way but thanks to the SUPER wet summer and my lack of weeding and trimming, it is really feeling like we live in our own little jungle. Last Monday alone with got over 6″ of rain in less than 2 hours. It was pretty crazy! A store less than a mile from here had 5′ of water in their parking lot! Apparently it made the national news.


I have been remiss in actually taking very many photos of the garden, largely to avoid the ravenous mosquito population. Although with the slightly cooler weather I am starting to get the gardening itch again. While I don’t have a lot to show from here, I thought I would show you a few beautiful containers from Terrain for inspiration.


Hard Hibiscus, var. Disco Ball

While taking a peak at the garden in the last week I realize that I have lost quite a few perennials to mold and rot. You would have thought this would have been a good year for new perennials to take with consistently moist ground, but the water was too much for some of them! Our neighbors actually lost several street trees to disease related to the water.

Native Honeysuckle

Native Honeysuckle

Our Native Honeysuckle has over taken the back deck. We have been reluctant to cut it back because the hummingbirds LOVE IT. In fact we had a whole family spend their summer here, including a pair of babies. We never did manage to get a good photo, but it was so amazing to see them. It is about time for them to migrate, so we should be able to clear a better path to the backyard soon.

Joe Pye Weed and Coneflowers

Our Joe Pye Weed is just finishing blooming. It is such a pretty flower and the butterflies LOVE IT. I highly recommend Little Joe if you have a smaller garden.


Terrain always has amazing planters. They do such a nice job of mixing perennials, annuals and tender perennials (i.e. ones you can bring inside in the winter). I love this aqua planter.


This planter makes good use of several grasses (I really love the Japanese Blood Grass). Eventually these would outgrow their pots, but you could plant them like this for a summer and then move them to the ground in the fall. The succulents/sedums used here could be left in the pot over winter. I have started doing this in several of my planters with pretty good success.


Several varieties of saliva looks stunning in this urn. Of course saliva only blooms for about 3 weeks, so you would probably have to change it out, although it is another perennial, so you could just stick it in the ground after the pretty purple flowers have faded.


Finally this stunning mix with the planter surrounded by grasses and annuals is right up my alley. The tall Hardy Hibiscus look great in the background (although in reality they enjoy a wet, almost boggy soil and wouldn’t do well in a pot if left to dry out).

We also made a trip out to Yellow Springs Plant Nursery and Goat Farm on Sunday. I will show you what I picked out soon.

What is still doing well in your garden?

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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)?



Once I decided to work on the kids’ room this summer, I of course checked out all of the regular stores (Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, HomeGoods, Macys, Land of Nod, Pottery Barn Kids…), both online and in person, to see what they had in the way of bedding and accessories. Target is always one of my first stops since it is super close by, has good stuff and it is where I pick up our grocery staples every week. Fortunately it is Back to College season and the pickings are plentiful, fun and inexpensive. Of course the caveat is that you have to go now, because in a couple of weeks it will all be gone. They also don’t have any of these items on their website.

On my first pass I looked through all of the sheets, comforters and bedding, trying to find the perfect set for Maisie. No luck! But our Target has an aisle dedicated to ReStyle (one of their in-house brands) accessories. This season there is a lot of thin wire metal items in bright colors. I was smitten and at these prices you can afford to pick them up and tweak them and not feel bad.

So what did I pick up you might ask? I bought the lamp above for the bedside table. It comes in several bright colors, but I went with the gray base and shade with the neon green/yellow cord. I think it was about $17 but I bought it on sale for about $14. As you can see it makes an excellent home for lizards and dinosaurs.


Next up are these super awesome stools! I paid $19 for them but they were on sale last week for $17 a piece. As soon as I brought these into the house and still by the back door, the kids started sitting on them. They are the perfect height for my 4 & 6 year olds. They are super sturdy (the kids have already put them to the test). Target is offering them in several colors but I went with the bright green and blue. I may eventually paint them, but for now they are in full use as a stool and table for lots of lego and princess adventures. I bought 2 and am still considering picking up an extra pair (even though I’m not sure what I would do with them).


Finally I picked up this table on sale for $17 (regularly $19). Eventually I think this will make its way to the third floor but for now it is in the kids room. It is a bit small and low for a kids table, but until I get the space a little bit more finished it is getting good use. I think the neon pink will be painted another color and I might switch out the top for a wood one. Dana over at House*Tweaking has already painted the same table a fun red color and is using it in her living room.


In the meantime, while I am distracting you with cute accessories, I have been busy working on the kids’ closet (which is why there are giant piles in the background of the pictures). It was still covered in wallpaper, with the added bonus of a duct running through it! The lovely 1970s flower wallpaper was on top with an interesting 1940s(?) grid and waterlily pattern below. I also found tiny bits of an older brown gothic looking paper behind that.


Fortunately it is all gone now. I’ve finished my first round of spackle. It definitely needs another coat before primer. I also picked up supplies to frame out the duct in the corner (which should also hopefully shore up the plaster ceiling). I do at least have a plan for the space. I have picked up most of the things I need to make it a functional closet for 2 kids and their ever growing wardrobes!

Has anyone else scored anything good in the Back to College area?

*I was not compensated by Target for this post. I just thought you might like to see what is available in the store right now.

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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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Summer Update

August 12, 2013 — 4 Comments

liverpoolhouse1Hello to all of my long lost blog friends! I hope everyone is enjoying their summer! In case anyone was wondering, we are all fine here. I don’t have some great excuse for why I dropped off the face of the planet. I guess I needed a break from the blog, or at least one less thing to try to get done in a day. The summer is slipping away and I’m not ready for it to come to a close. We have been busy here, although more with swimming and laying low than house projects. We also managed a nice long vacation to Quebec, which was a really great adventure.


We have some house made progress, although at a much slower pace than I had anticipated (although that seems to be the way things usually go).  In the Master Bedroom all that is left is some paint touch up and the base board custom drawers (and hanging art and curtains…). We actually put this on hold for a couple of weeks so we could do some work on the kids’ room.


Bunkbeds are now in place, the door swing has been switched and the car beds have moved to the garage. This has allowed us to free up some valuable floor space and start reorganizing before school starts. The list for their room is quite long, but for once it is almost all small DIY projects, which will be a nice break from some of our more heavy duty construction projects.


The upstairs hallway is still a real mess, although most of the heavy duty construction work is done (except for the bathroom door/railing). As you can see the trim is a wreck, although we won’t be painting it until everything else is squared away. The ceiling fan is functioning, which is great as are our LED recessed lights (which are worth a whole separate post). The fan sounds a bit like an old prop plane taking off, but I mean that in an endearing way.

So that is about it around here. I will be posting more details and updates on all of our projects soon. I hope you will come back and check in! Has anyone gone on a great adventure or made progress our their house?


Sam is 6

July 1, 2013 — 1 Comment


I know I have been long overdue in writing. We have been busy celebrating my little guy’s 6th Birthday. I can’t believe how grown up he has become. Every time I go through photos I realize that there is less and less little guy. Fortunately he will still snuggle up with me. Although at camp he doesn’t want to give me a kiss anymore before I leave.

He requested a short haircut for the summer, which I think makes him look even older. It doesn’t help that he is in the 98% for height.


He was so good about his birthday. His only request was some Dr. Who toys.  Here he is with his new Tardis. And yes we are a big nerdy family!


Left to his own imagination, he is a silly guy who likes to dress up, draw elaborate pictures and play in the mud. I’m so proud of him, he has grown up so much in the last year! Happy Birthday to my sweet boy!


The kids are actually away for a couple of days visiting their grandparents. As much as some quiet time is nice, I already miss them.

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Old Windows

June 20, 2013 — 4 Comments

Sorry for disappearing. Life has been much more hectic than I would like. I’m still not sure how I am going to get everything done on my ever growing list, but I thought I would update my lovely readers on the house. The good news is that we have air conditioning! Kind of crazy for our old beauty. We like to think of it as a 125th birthday present. I’m still not completely convinced that it will be able to keep up when the hot weather really shows up, but fingers crossed it will do the job.

Meanwhile my roofer is almost finished except for 2 important spots. The current hot spots are the old windows on the back dormer. The sill was completely rotted, so my roofer handed the work off to my carpenter. He had to disassemble the frames and sill on both the inside and outside. He has replaced the sill but we are currently left with a large hole and some important decisions to make.


I had planned on restoring the 3 small casement windows, but they are in pretty bad shape. I also talked to a window restorer who warned me that they charge by the linear foot of glazing putty. And we have 31 panes just back here! Eeek! He also said that he had a 3 month backlog! For the the front of the house there is no doubt that we will restore, but back here it isn’t so clear. I’m in the middle of weighing the options, while a piece of plywood holds the spot.


Mr. S. has left it up to me to make the decision. Currently I am leaning towards replacing them with a single awning window. Before you roll your eyes or think I have lost all of my old house cred, I am looking at a custom wood window by Jeldwen with a similar mullion pattern. We went over to the showroom to get a better look.


I am pretty torn since I am always telling people to keep their old windows. Over the years we have replaced some windows, due to sizing issues but never one strictly to be replacing it. Of course the third floor windows have been taking a beating for the past 125 years without storms. Above are a couple of patterns that I am considering. The thinnest mullion that they make is 5/8″ wide. Our current ones are about 1/2″. The smallest that they can make the pattern is 4″, our current ones are closer to 3″. I am leaning towards the middle one right now. What do you think?


PROS For New Window

-Single awning window will actually increase the visible glazing.

-Awning window will allow for us to keep the window open in the rain to help exhaust out out hot air in the summer.

-It will be less expensive than restoring the existing windows

-I can get it clad in aluminum in a matching color so I won’t have to repaint it for a long time

-I won’t need to install an interior storm

-We can still reuse the existing interior window trim to match the other windows.

Cons For New Window

-Not Historically accurate.

-The window will still look different than the original windows.

I am off to give the supplier a call to get a quote. Stay tuned!



I hope everyone had a great weekend. It is raining here AGAIN! We had 5 1/2″ of rain on Friday and it looked like this. Yuck! The only one who didn’t seem to mind was Sam. His preference was to get his head as WET as possible.


The weather was actually nice on Sunday, but it is back to pouring rain this morning. Fortunately the roofers fixed most of the leaky spots on the roof on Thursday. They still have a bunch of little stuff to do, but at least we are making headway. I keep trying to get some photos of the garden, but the weather is not on my side!


In the meantime we did manage to install the Ikea PAX Hemnes doors (painted white) this weekend. I think that they look great and I no longer feel like I am sleeping in a walk-in closet. A longer post is in order, but we did need to do some hacking with the PAX because it is designed so that a drawer and it track can’t overlap with a hinge, and when there are 4 hinges per door that is a problem. Fortunately the internet came to the rescue and we literally hacksawed some drawer slides.  I also still need to decide on knobs/handles. I was originally planning on going industrial.


But now I am feeling like maybe going a bit more vintage in style like this porcelain knob with a wood finish ($9.99):

Or this Milk Glass Knob ($9.99):


I also love this Eastlake ring pull ($6.59). Unfortunately it is only about 1 3/4″ tall which I think will look too small:


Does anyone have any suggestions? I think I am still suffering from decision fatigue. We have a crazy week ahead. It is the last week of school and we have kindergarten graduation (part 2) coming up. Needless to say there have already been a few tears shed as my little guy starts to grow up.



Life is still pretty crazy here. The air conditioning guys are going into their 4th week (and are ALMOST done) and the roofer finally showed up today. Nothing like being in your pjs at 6:40 am and realizing that they are ready to get up on their ladder right by your bedroom window!


We also decided on doors for our bedroom closet. We were all set to order custom doors from Barker Doors, but found that Ikea is now selling an all wood door (Hemnes door in gray-brown, $80). Of course it is in pine in the wrong color, but that hasn’t stopped us before. The style wasn’t bad and the price was a LOT less than we were going to pay for custom doors. Granted the custom doors would have been nicer quality, but in this case we decided these doors were a good savings measure. We may even try and use more of these doors on the third floor.  In between birthday parties, swimming and generally trying to avoid being in our unbearably hot house, we managed to buy 7 doors and get them primed and mostly painted. Mr. S. took the opportunity to buy a paint spray gun from Harbor Freight. The fronts now have 3 nice coats and the back have 2 coats of white paint. They will need a little bit of touchup (we had to move them before the rain).

Okay so back to one of my new favorite purchases for the bedroom. We have been in need of new laundry baskets for a long time. Did I mention that I think some of our old plastic ones are from college? Anyway, most of the plastic baskets in addition to being ugly, are too big for our not so big house. Plus I have to carry them down 2 flights of stairs. It has always been an issue. I was determined to come up with a better solution with the new closets. Previously we had a 3 bag hamper system that didn’t work very well. So I went on the search for something that would fit in the PAX system, with minimal wasted space, but could be picked up and brought down to the laundry without having to change containers.

Since we went with the deeper PAX for the laundry section we had about 23″ of depth to work with and 37″ of width. Unfortunately Ikea didn’t have anything that seemed workable, which is strange since they have a lot of other boxes and bins that fit perfectly. I ideally wanted 3 baskets: one for whites, one for bright colors and one for darks.


Needless to say when I found these awesome laundry baskets I was excited. These are by Umbra and are called the Horizon Rectangular Crunch Can ($19.99) and are available in 4 striped colors and plain. They appear to only be available at the Container Store. I bought the red, green and blue. They are perfect for going up and down our narrow stairs and they look pretty cute in the closet too. I’m not sure why I waited so long to buy these. Did I mention that you can collapse them when not in use? They will probably never happen in our house, but it is a cool feature. The sides stay up quite nicely and I have been able to fit a whole load of laundry in one. Anything to help make laundry more appealing!  You can see we haven’t started the bottom shoe drawers or trim yet, but we are getting closer.