Thursday, September 29, 2011

More Mia....

When we first got Mia while living in Guatemala, one of our friends told us we should have named her Mi Amor....Mia means "my love" in Spanish. Isn't that so cute? We loved it, so it stuck but only as a nickname since her full name had special meaning to us as well - Semilla Maya, "Mayan seed" in Spanish. She was such a tiny little thing and we were lucky to have a chance to see her sprout grow.

Growing is what our little seed has done & just a few weeks ago she turned 2! We can hardly believe it. Our baby is 2! Since I was on my blog-cation over her birthday, I missed posting photos. I hope it isn't too late, because here they are now! Mia had the best birthday - or at least I hope she did. Luckily I had the day off, so I got to spend it with her. We went on two long walks, played ball several times, had an outing to PetSmart, a swim in the lake, dinner out & dessert at home. We love our girl!

We sang Happy Birthday to her.

She sat very still and listened. It was too cute!

Getting a special birthday kiss from her mama.

Her first lick of birthday cake deliciousness.

Our best attempt at a birthday family photo.
Sleepy girl didn't want to get up from the cool tile floor!

Yes, I realize that the majority of you think we are crazy. The rest of you probably just think we need a baby. We know - all of you are right. But for now (& for always) we will love our little Goldie Girl just like we would any other baby!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Worth the wait

All forms of indoor decorating ceased over the summer while we slaved away on our fence but now that we are wrapping up and Fall is setting in, I'm beginning to think about the inside of the house again. Really there has been zero point in putting nice things inside thus far because they either get covered in drywall dust from upstairs or mud from our backyard. It's been a year of living with ugly things & I'm so over it so I'm working on a plan of action that will be ready to go when it's finally time to pull the trigger.

Since our dining room is the center point of our somewhat open first floor, I'm starting in there. French doors connect it to the living room and it can also be seen from the kitchen. In general I feel like dining rooms are a difficult place to incorporate pattern. There are typically 3 options in which it can come into play - the walls, the rug or the windows. At our house it's going to be the windows.

Back when we moved in we had a 5 foot high white wainscoting installed to enhance the bungalow look of our home and a few months later we painted the upper portion of the wall a deep greige. It's Benjamin Moore Eagle Rock at 200% so it ended up being just a tad shy of Bear Creek. It flows nicely from our kitchen which is one shade lighter - Willow Creek. The contrast between the white wainscoting and dark walls is great - I love contrast.

Since we are using the Heywood-Wakefield dining set I inherited from my grandparents which is very different from our typical style, I wanted to use a color that complimented the wheat wood tone of the furniture while staying true to what we naturally gravitate toward.

Then to offset the furniture's wheat wood tone with the warm grain our of floors we brought the wall color back into the floor in the form of Pottery Barn's Heather Chenille Jute Rug in Espresso. Normally I wouldn't recommend a jute rug for areas where there may be spills, but the dark color of this one will camouflage any accident we may have! And quite honestly, my discount is what really talked me into it.

So far we're looking pretty neutral Nelly, right?

Well, knowing that we would never find a buffet to match Heywood-Wakefield's wheat, we sought out in search of something with a mid-century feel that needed a little TLC in the form of paint. Luck have it we stumbled on this guy for about $100 at the Salvation Army down the street.

It's really dresser that someone used as a media unit (there's a giant hole cut out of the back), but it fit the style we wanted. Ben said repairing the hole was an easy fix, so home it came with us. Honestly, price aside, I really like it. It's solid wood with great lines and is going to look amazing painted a bright bold color. I'm thinking something like this......I'll explain why in a minute.

So then I was left with the real hunt - fabric for drapery panels. Who would have guess it would ever be so hard? There have been dozens of samples brought home and taped to the wall. Let me show you just a few of the early contenders.....keeping in mind that the turquoise for the dresser was not yet finalized during the hunt.

{Iman Home from Calico Corners}
Ben hated it...and so did I.
You can't tell in this photo, but the turquoise is actually furry.

{An ikat found at Mary Jo's}
Not enough color.

{Another ikat}
Too blah.

{Thomas Paul by Duralee}
Getting closer - a good match, but still not enough color.

Finally I came across these premade panels at World Market that were just what I was looking for and looked great with the walls & furniture, so I bought them.

As time went on though, I couldn't get over the "cheap" quality of the fabric. They weren't lined, but I felt certain that was an easy fix. The real problem though was the quality of the pattern. It was screen printed on and just looked sloppy up close. While browsing in the store one day I realized that the same print was available in a table cloth and for some strange reason the quality of the fabric & pattern seemed to much better. It took forever but I was able to track down the largest size with hopes of making my own lined drapes. So I brought them home and let them marinate in the space for a while, but still something just didn't feel right.

You see, I had a secret. In the mean time had secretly fallen in love with a designer fabric that I was comparing all the rest to.

{Schumacher's Chiang Mai Dragon in Alabaster}

The only problem was the price per yard - too high for me to even mention! Why is it that I have a knack for falling for the most expensive thing in a store without even looking at the tags? I'm cursed with fabulous taste, I guess!

I wouldn't even let myself consider something so pricey, so I kept going back to the World Market near miss. Still though, I couldn't live with them! But then I got some advice from a designer friend of mine. Yes, she agreed, it would be a splurge, but it could also be the stepping stone that we've been searching for to set the tone for our whole home. Plus it's a quality fabric in a timeless print that could always be sold or repurposed in another home. Not to mention, she added, we only had 1 window - luckily not more! While I heard what she said and knew she was right, the budget still lingered on my mind. Feeling overwhelmed and stressed out I mentioned my dilemma to Ben one evening and much to my dismay, he agreed with my friend. Yes, it will be a ridiculously expensive splurge but we loved it and needed an inspiration piece for the rest of the house.

So here I am today, slowly but surely saving up my pennies to splurge on the fabric of my dreams. Since we've got so many other projects going, it's going to take a while, but when I finally save up enough, I know it will make our dining room the design center piece that we will use as inspiration for our entire first floor.

Now on to accessorizing.......... ;)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Prepare yourself

You are about to look at some of the cutest photos you've ever seen.

Of course they all involve the love of my life. My goldie girl Mia.

Prepare yourself. You may die and go to cute puppy heaven.

Exhibit #1. Look at those puppy teefers!

If you look real close you can see her adorable little bottom teeth. The front two aren't lined up with the rest - they are pushed forward just a bit which allow her to be the perfect nibbler. They remind me of a super cute jack-o-lantern!

Exhibit #2. She let's us play dress up with her.

Seriously. This little girl has played every role from baby Jesus all wrapped up in a swaddling clothes at bath time to Mother Teresa in a kitchen hand towel!

Exhibit #3. She is always a good sport.

Ever since she was a little puppy girl, she has loved watching sports with her papi.

Exhibit #4. How can we ever get mad at her?

Even when she is naughty, she's so stinkin' cute! (This is an old pic, but nothing has changed!)

And finally....
Exhibit #5. She loves to be the center of attention.

From falling down at random stranger's feet & rolling over onto her back to demand a belly rub to riding in the cart at her most favorite place in Charlotte (Lowe's), girlfriend doesn't have to seek out attention - she just gets it!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Porch appeal

I know I said I'd return with a looky looky at our nearly completed fence, but the priorities have changed for now. Rather than working on the fence the past couple of weeks, Ben has been assisting our carpenter with the trim work in the upstairs renovation. Together they've been able to get a good deal of it done which means we can start thinking about soon (like in a few months) closing out those open permits and beginning the Phase 2 demolition - master bedroom, family room & laundry room.

In his spare time, which hasn't been much, Ben put the finishing trim on the fence but not yet the stone. I've been hitting up the paint desks at Lowe's & Home Depot trying to make sense of the exterior stain selection. It's daunting - let me tell you. Those little chips they display look nothing like what the stain actually is. On top of that there are so many choices - solid, semi-transparent or toner. We were convinced we'd do a semi-transparent for a saturated color but still wood grain look, but now after sampling a nearly a dozen or so & not really diggin' any of them, we're reconsidering toner. We did upgrade to a better quality wood, so why not show it off a bit! Not to mention that we need to make sure this color we works with all of our other finishes - the stone for the columns, the flagstone we are considering for our future patio, our existing brick, possible future house paint colors & our new sod. It's overwhelming when there are still so many unknowns.

Now let me get to the topic I had intended to post about. Our new found curb appeal. Did you realize that Labor Day weekend marked our 1 year anniversary in this house? That's right - we've officially been living in the South for 1 whole year, y'all! While I do hope to one day write a reflection on what we've experienced & learned this past year, I need to give that one some thought first. Obviously these days I'm finding fewer and fewer moments to devote to this poor little blog, but that's an important one that I want to give my whole attention to. In the mean time, let me share with you the curb appeal that it only took us one whole year to create! (Seriously - attention had to be given to the inside before the outside.)

Along with our newly green yard, we've gotten our landscaping under control. Gone are the nasty overgrown azaleas from the front and our pair of camellia trees have been trimmed back a bit. Obviously our pecan trees have still not been touched...nor have the stickers been taken out of our new upstairs windows!

I know it doesn't look like anything special, but you have to admit it has come a long way from what it once was. I no longer feel like we are living in the cob-web covered haunted house on the corner!

Really from a distance the changes to the green part of the year don't look very different, but if you could have seen it all up close, you'd know it wasn't good.

Now how about a closer look? Without spending much over $50, I worked some porch magic.

It's still not where I want it to eventually be, but it's a good start - at least I think. Let me walk you through some of the details.

If you've been around here for a while, you may recall this $5 Craigslist purchase once looking like this.

Isn't it amazing what a little creativity & paint can do?

Then there is this trio.

The retro metal chairs belonged to my Ma & Pa. I remember bouncing on them in their sun porch way back when I was a little girl. They were rusty white when we inherited them, but after some sanding and spray paint, they look brand spankin' new! The little black and white table in the middle was also Ma's. It's a ballot box. Would you have ever guessed? See that slot on the top? That's where you cast your vote. Ma was a jury commissioner extraordinaire for many years so she must have acquired it during that time. When I inherited it, the top was covered in wood grain contact paper. Talk about retro! The pillows are a little something I whipped up with some Sunbrella fabric I found for cheap online. I will never get enough of classic black and white stripes.

Then there was this project. I loved me some paint chips back in college, but long gone are those days. The Ikea table though is a keeper.

Can you spot it now?

The wood/white combo is another current fave of mine. In fact we we are hoping to tie it into the other side of the porch with a variation on this as a coffee table sometime in the near future. Ben has his eye on the perfect pallet for me at work. Now we're just waiting until it becomes available.


And let's not forget about my 'late night jazz up your boring door mat' project.

Spray paint - I can't live without it people. With all my spraying, you probably think I must be high on fumes by now! ;)

The old porch swing also got a new coat of paint - but not the spray kind.

Top the whole thing off with a couple of Pottery Barn outdoor faux fiber pillows, some Homegoods blue ceramic planters & my mildly artistic green thumb & that's how our house got some long awaited curb appeal!

*Since the writing of this post there have been some additions - I'll try to remember to photograph & share them soon.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lots of Labor

Forget Labor Day. We had a Labor Weekend! Actually most of the work done over the weekend was more like the icing on the cake. There was a bit of heavy laboring, but most of the prep work was done during weekends prior, but now it's done....well, at least in the front yard!

I didn't get a chance to take before photos before the work got underway, but just imagine our front yard looking like two big dirt patches.....the ones that we prepared over our anniversary weekend two weekends ago. Did I mention that we gave up giving each other gifts this (7th) anniversary in turn for a giant pallet of sod? Romantic, huh? Being on a budget really sucks sometimes!

Remember how I mentioned that my parents were coming to town? Well they did & we certainly put them to work for 2 days before we all sneaked away to the beach for a couple of days. While mom and I did a bit of shopping (yay for Charlotte's new Container Store), dad and Ben got started on the work in the front yard. Sprinklers & sod.

My dad did the heavy lifting & left Ben to tend to his baby.

Can you even guess how happy he was to revive his old machete?

Our finished puzzle patch grass.

We ended up having a bit extra so rather than let it go to waste, we prepped a small section of the back side yard. The rest of the back yard is still a total mud pit, but remember - poco a poco.

Never mind the flagstone - just playing around with some ideas for a walkway.

Oh yea, and don't forgot to go back and oogle the fence. It's not quite done yet. We still need to stain & install the stone on the columns, but HALLELUJAH it's almost done. I'll be back with a better look at it later this week. Later!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I know, I know

The other day I said I was back but it just may have to wait until after this holiday weekend....sorry! We've been working hard all summer on some projects that we're in the midst of finishing up and it feels like my attention should be directed toward them! I'll give you a hint - our backyard no longer looks like this.

the really sad & hideous fence is gone!

Literally all summer (since Memorial Day weekend) Ben has been slaving away on a new fence - he insisted on doing it all himself. It is in the final stages we just need to finish up some trim, install the stone on the columns and then stain, stain, stain. But soon friends you will get to see it. If I do say so myself, it's awesome. Thank goodness our yard is the size of a postage stamp because otherwise we'd probably be working until next Memorial Day weekend! And the best part of it all is that this little girl is no longer sequestered to the deck. She's got her yard back - albeit nothing but dirt!

poor little girl was without freedom all summer!

Speaking of dirt, our front yard is about to undergo a bit of a makeover as well. If the backyard is postage stamp sized, the front is .....well so tiny there isn't really a fair comparison!

overgrown & dead

In the fall/next spring we plan to do some real landscaping but for now we're at least going to trim things back and turn that lawn green. To save face for summer we threw some seed down and got a bit of grass - fescue . We watered a lot, but it still ended up looking dead. So after some research Ben decided to kill it off, so from about July 4th on it looked like a haystack! Last weekend we traded in what was supposed to be a little anniversary trip to the mountains for the chance at giving our house some very much needed curb appeal - in the form of sod. So instead of hiking and hanging out in Brevard, we chopped & tilled the front yard (and side yard) & ordered our be installed this weekend. Yay! Good thing my parents are coming to town to help us! (Do you like how we tack on a bit of work to all family visits to NC? It's bonding time, right?)

So prepare yourselves (well not too much - I don't want to let you down). The next time you see photos of our yard it WILL be green. The yucky old paint job on the front porch will still be there and so will those giant bushes (at least some of them), but there will be changes. Effort has been made. Poco a poco, right? We're not miracle workers - just DIYers!

Happy Holiday weekend!