Friday, March 30, 2012

shoe peeve

One of my biggest pet peeves is the pile of shoes by the door. We are a shoe off-at-the-door-kind of family. It keeps my house cleaner, and with four little ones, we spend a lot of time on the floor -playing, reading, wrestling, hosting stuffed animal & baby doll tea parties, eel hunting -the list goes on forever.

But I just hate that pile of shoes at the door. Even if each person only has one pair of shoes at the door, with six people, it quickly becomes a pile of at least a dozen loose flip flops, sneakers, boots, or sandals -just sitting there.

I don't mind a small basket of shoes, or a few tidy shoe cubbies, but with my crew, even a small basket doesn't really accommodate us.

Not to mention, our little yellow cape doesn't have a proper entryway or a mudroom. Remember, my family room layout here. There's not a coat closet in sight. (We do have a coat closet, but it's past the kitchen and down the hall. Not exactly handy for our frequent comings and goings.)

Enter the best thing I found ever . . .

Ikea's Shoe Cabinet from the Hemnes Collection

The larger one is not only taller, but deeper and includes a drawer. Prior to now I've never been a big Ikea furniture fan. I love all their space saving strategies and their organizational goodies, but their furniture, not so much. But this shoe problem was starting to make me desperate for a solution.

And I love it. The drawers slide open, easily accommodating even my husband's big ole shoes. The taller one has a double row in each compartment. In fact, I loved it so much, I bought two.

How do you solve your shoe problem? Or do you even have one? It's not just us, right?

Other post you may like: family room

Linked up to Miss Mustard Seed, Finding Fabulous

Thursday, March 29, 2012

spring mantle

We are finally starting to bloom here in New England, and I just had to take the opportunity to bring some of that spring fresh goodness inside.

I keep seeing forsythia everywhere!

And since the forsythia is the just about the only thing in bloom in my yard at the moment, that's where I headed. I just clipped some branches and put them in a vase. I love the instant pop of color. Especially since my walls are still a boring cream color.

This is what my mantle usually looks like . . .

covered in letters.

What are you doing to bring spring inside? Share!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

my pink bathroom -part 2

Remember my pink bathroom that literally fell apart two days before Christmas that I posted about here?

We were suddenly in a hurry to make it functional again. We could have just bought a single piece insert from the home improvement store, but the design girl in me just couldn't do it. Our overarching goal is to honor the architecture of our little yellow cape and thus preserve the original charm that we fell in love with at first sight viewing.

Enter Pinterest. Months before, I had casually started collecting images of ideas to serve as a jumping off point for when we got around to redoing the bathroom. I thought I would have months to meander my way into deciding how to renovate our little and only full bath. Now I had a matter of hours.

Images from here, here, and here (all via Pinterest).

(I don't know if other couples share this frustration challenge, but my husband and I communicate a whole lot better when we can both look at the same image and discuss the features.

What I love about each bathroom is the tile! Each bathroom looks like a peek into a charming little country cottage.

It was becoming increasingly clear, I love white subway tile.

What features are you drawn to over and over again?

Stay tuned for the shower reveal!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

dreaming of summer

that's the title of April's Pottery Barn catalog that just arrived in my mailbox yesterday. Like always, I found lots to drool over.

 It's the wall mount coat rack that I'm pining for in this image. I love the character it brings and the curvy lines, and for a small space, this is the perfect solution for the your guest's belongings.

Hotel Medicine Cabinet, in white.
I need all the storage I can get in my little yellow cape, so this medicine cabinet would fit the bill.
{Eventually we'll need to replace our-bullet proof pink Formica vanity. It's a pretty small space and I like these bath consoles, but I can't find them listed on the website. Maybe someone knows where I can find a PB double?}

 Nothing says summer like stripes. Of course, I'm leaning toward the light blue and yellow ones

 These would be charming in a kitchen nook or over an office space

 I would love a pair of these in my bathroom

 The glass final rod is the one I really want; I think it could be perfect over my sliding glass door

 This little sea grass stool could go anywhere, and it brings in a gesture of nature

 I have just the place for this wall mount clock -right in between my family room and kitchen

 Love the little surprise pop of red inside

A few of these lanterns would be cute in my yard.

All images from Pottery Barn

What are your favorite summer PB items? Or do your tastes lean some where else?

Monday, March 26, 2012

easter preparations

Easter is right around the corner, and I know my kids are excited. Like most kids, they love to decorate eggs, make holiday decorations, and search for their Easter baskets Sunday morning.

I love to make a big traditional dinner.

(try this leek and potato galette this year. It's yummy and easy to make)

Friday, March 23, 2012

they grow up too quick

Next year, I'll be sending my third little one to kindergarten. Like most moms, I don't know where the time went! One minute I'm snuggling a newborn in my arms and it seems in a breathe, that same little one is taking his or her first steps onto that big yellow bus, to carry them off to school and into a whole new world.

Even though I've done this twice before, I still want to be certain my little guy is ready for this new world and has all the necessary skills and tools to be successful. Have I taught him everything he needs to know? Will my child be physically, academically, and emotionally ready?

Luckily, there is an abundance of information available. Your school may even have a readiness test. I recently came across these two boiled down articles. If you are a little iffy on your child's readiness, or just want to confirm their skills, check it out.

Where do you turn for information for your little ones?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

my family room

My family room. What can I say? Its the most problematic room in my house. When we bought the house it looked it this.

These are the photographs from the realtor listing, so that's not our furniture (well some of it is, but that's another post.)

If you look closely and have great spatial reasoning, you'll quickly realize there is an entrance on every single wall of this room. This room was {still is} a problem because:
  • it has four entrances (one on each wall)
  • has a big gas stove right by the front door
  • no good place for a wall mount TV (disclaimer: we are a TV-loving family, so accommodating our TV in this room is a priority)
  • has no overhead lighting
  • two funny angle corners -this room is an addition to the house. It was built slightly angled, so the wall meeting the kitchen has both a severly accute wall corner, and an obtuse wall corner at the other end.
Not to mention the dark, dated decor which included wood paneling, old carpet, acoustic tiles on the ceiling, and the ceiling fan on the already low ceiling.

So, ultimately this room serves as:
  • the entry to guests (hardly anyone goes to my front door)
  • the mudroom off the garage
  • our family/TV/hang out room
What's a design loving girl to do? A girl who wants a beautiful, updated, and functional room.

And thus began our journey.

You may also like: shoe peeve

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

my pink bathroom -part 1

My house has {had} a pink bathroom. A really pink bathroom - a pink tub, pink square tile tub surround, a pink marbled Formica vanity, and pink tile two thirds up each wall, met by some very 1980's pastel-marbley-strippy wall paper.

Despite the pinkness, it was functional and wasn't too high on the reno list. That is, until two days before Christmas, and my husband went to just spruce it up a bit in preparation for his parent's arrival for the holiday.

His original intentions were to just re-grout the tub surround. An easy-do-after-work-kind of task. That is until the tile started falling off the wall.


The wall behind the tile was wet and just couldn't take the weight of the tile any longer.

So, it needed to go.

And go it went. Along with the wet drywall behind it. {Below are the only pictures I took of the evening with my iPhone.}

after we took the tile down

after we took the drywall out

While we had the walls open, we rewired and clean up the the electrical. (That little blue box is the electrical box for an outlet in a bedroom closet on the other side of the wall.)

Mind you, this was all after the kids were down for bed and I was trying to finish all of the Christmas /house guest preparations.

And this is the only shower in the house.

I quickly called my in-laws and let them know about the situation. Not strangers to DIY renovations, they just said, they would work on with us while visiting.

Sometime around 3am we decided to we were tired enough to quit for the night. By that point Bret had rewired everything, and gotten up all the backboard. He even took a shower that night.

Thanks goodness for a guy who never gets flustered and can fix just about anything!

Other post you might like:
Part 2-Pinterest to the rescue
Part 3 Partial reveal

Monday, March 19, 2012

carrot cake

just in time for Easter, try this easy, no fail, versatile carrot cake for dessert this year. Bake it as a layer cake, cupcakes, or for the more adventurous, cut and decorate into a bunny shape.

Recipe from
Betty Crocker's Cake Decorating book

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  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups finely shredded carrots (about 4 medium)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 c water
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 round pans, 8 or 9 inches.
  2. Beat all ingredients in large bowl on medium speed, scraping bowl constantly, until blended, about 1 minute. Beat on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, 2 minutes. Pour into pans.
  3. Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes: remove from pans. Cool completely.

Friday, March 16, 2012

mama smiles

My friend Mary Anne is the creative force behind the insightful blog mama smiles, "celebrating every day parenting through education, crafts, and play." This is one awesome mama! She is the mother of three little ones, with another one on the way, and is highly involved in with their emotional and intellectual development. She has the gift of turning ordinary objects and every day occurrences into magnificent teaching moments.

Check out this recent post about raising kids who get along.
Thanks for being such an inspirational mama, Mary Anne.

What are your favorite sites to improve family life in your home?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

irish love

You can't even imagine what a big deal St. Patrick's Day is around here in Boston.  Holy Irish, it's huge! Last weekend for a date, Hunny and I attended a local 141st annual St. Patrick's Day Dinner, Dance, & Banquet, complete with prayers and gratitude for St. Patrick and an authentic Irish boiled dinner. Whew! It was a new experience for me.

However, all the festivities have reminded me of how much I love the color green. Its always so fresh. And when surrounded by neutrals, gives just a pop of much needed color.

Some green pops around my own abode. Enjoy!
 this is my green Gava vase from Crate & Barrel;
it retails for $34.95, but I picked up after Christmas this year when it was 50%. Ignore the little green bead next to it that one of the Littles placed there for fun.

 these are the cute little "leprechaun"s my son made at this preschool this year in honor of St. Patrick's Day. He loves it, and "checks on it" throughout the week.

even our favorite grocery store, Trader Joe's gets in the green action with these fun little stickers.

If you want more. . .

check out designer Alison Royer's Kelly Green obsession in her January post here.


aspiring designer, Tiffany's Lucky Charms Round Up post here.

Oh, and if you're in the area, here's the information for the southie parade. It's actually held Sunday March 18th, starting on West Broadway at 1pm. Being relatively new to the area, I've never been, but I've only heard good things from the locals. Check it out.

Little fact I learned this year, despite being one of the three colors on the Irish flag, orange is sometimes considered offensive to the Irish. (Although, maybe just to the Catholic Irish? Fill me in if you know!)

How do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

the bible

We recently picked up this book at the home improvement store. It has been invaluable as we fix, update, and renovate our home. Like many older homes, our house passed the home inspection, but it is not up to code. So, we like to reference this as we go along updating areas such as our dated plumbing and electrical. Check it out.

By the way, has it for about 30% off shelf price.

Monday, March 12, 2012

old fashioned white bread

Feeling stressed? Take your frustrations out on a loaf of bread dough. The pounding is good for the texture and the soul while your tensions melt away.

The bread is made with milk for a tender and fine texture, just like your grandmother used to make. Enjoy!

Recipe from West Bend

  • 3/4 c milk
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 c bread flour
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 package yeast

Mix, knead, and bake at 375 for 18 minutes. Makes a 1lb loaf of bread to share with friends and family. Tiny fingers not included.

Linking up to BNOTP, Debbie Doos, Making the World Cuter, LinesAcrossMyFace, NifyThrifty, CRAFT, HomemakerOnADime, MadeByYou, MadSkills, SingingThreeLittleBirds, SweetAnneDesigns, S3, HowtoNestforLess, NotJustaHousewife, CoastalCharm, Carolyn'sHomework, SugarBeeCrafts, ClaimingOurSpace, MyUncommonSliceofSuburbia, aBowlFullofLemons, CozyHomeScenes, theDelectableHome, BoogieboardCottage, theMommyClub, GingerSnaps, SavvySouthernStyle, NewlywedsOnaBudget, DIYByDesign, UncommonDesign, Michelle'sTastyCreations, LiveLaughRowe, ShabbyCreekCottage, FirefliesandJellbeans, HouseofHepworths, the36thAve, LovingThisCrazyLife, FindingFabulous, AtthePicketFence, TheShabbyNest, 30HandmadeDays, It'sOverflowing, MopItUp, ClassyClutter, SundayRoundUp, What'sCookin', FrenchParty, OurDelightfulHome, MakingLemonade, BlissfulandDomestic, One ArtsyMama, KurtzCorner, TipJunkie

Friday, March 9, 2012

places i go to get inspiration

There are SO many design blogs out there! DIY design blogs, fixer-upper blogs, personalizing my cookie-cutter house design blogs, thrifty decor blogs, and more. Here are a few of my favorite blogs that consistently provide inspiration, how-to, and budget-friendly ideas. Which ones are you favorite?

Hooked on Houses
Julia and i have to be house loving sisters separated at birth. Other than my mom, I've never met anyone else who pines over houses as much as I do until I "virtually" met Julia. No joking, starting at about age 10, I would religious read the Real Estate section of the paper, and on Saturday's it featured a house plans, that I would spend way too much time pining over and fantasizing about. I stumbled upon her blog about two years ago and have been hooked ever since.

Young House Love
This is the blog for DIY lovers. John and Sherry are self-proclaimed "DIY dorks" and love to "spill the beans" and "over-share" about their home renovating and decorating adventures. Along for the ride is their little girl, Clara, and their tiny pooch Burger. The bargain hunting and re-use loving couple blog for a living these days, and it shows. I've been keeping up with them for the past two years.

Centsational Girl
This chick really does know how to do "fabulous for less." Kate's blog combines high end design features and her own budget-friendly makeovers for wonderfully inspiring decor-go-to. Her before and after features have to be my favorite.

Emily A. Clark
I just discovered Emily's blog in the last few months. Her real-world design experience and her practical pretty projects are what keeping me coming back for more.

The House of Smith
Another new one, we get to watch as this family of five transforms their boring builder-grade house into their personalized and stylish family home. Shelley's gregarious nature and passionate personality really shine through as she details their family's project to do list.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

spring seedlings

its almost time to start think about spring seedlings. Depending on where you live, you could start your sprouts anytime. Here in New England, we still have snow on the ground, so our garden starts will have to wait a bit.

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Last year, we planted
  • bell peppers
  • carrots
  • chives
  • cucumber
  • lemon basil
  • lettuce
  • oregano
  • peas
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • scallion
  • spinach
  • summer squash
  • sweet basil
What fun varieties are you planning on planting this season?

Linked to CentsationalGirl

Monday, March 5, 2012

lemon poppy-seed cookies

No matter what your weather outside, these little sunny babies will bring a ray of sunshine right in.

Recipe from

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus 3 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest (2 to 3 lemons)
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon poppy seeds, plus more for sprinkling


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring lemon juice to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook until reduced by half. Add 1 stick butter; stir until melted.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cream remaining stick butter and 1 cup sugar on medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix in egg and lemon butter. Mix until pale, about 3 minutes. Mix in vanilla and 2 teaspoons zest. Mix in flour mixture and poppy seeds.
  3. Stir together remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons zest. Roll spoonfuls of dough into 1 1/2-inch balls; roll them in sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Press each with the flat end of a glass dipped in sugar mixture until 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with seeds.
  4. Bake until just browned around bottom edges, 10 to 11 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.
Debbie Doos, Making the World Cuter, LinesAcrossMyFace, NifyThrifty, CRAFT, HomemakerOnADime, MadeByYou, MadSkills, SingingThreeLittleBirds, SweetAnneDesigns, S3, KeepingItSimple, HowtoNestforLess, NotJustaHousewife, CoastalCharm, Today'sCreativeBlog, KurtzCorner, Carolyn'sHomework, SugarBeeCrafts, ClaimingOurSpace, MyUncommonSliceofSuburbia, aBowlFullofLemons, CozyHomeScenes, theDelectableHome, BoogieboardCottage, theMommyClub, GingerSnaps, SavvySouthernStyle, NewlywedsOnaBudget, DIYByDesign, UncommonDesign, Michelle'sTastyCreations, LiveLaughRowe, ShabbyCreekCottage, FirefliesandJellbeans, HouseofHepworths, the36thAve, LovingThisCrazyLifeSomethingSwanky, FindingFabulous, AtthePicketFence, TheShabbyNext, ALittleKnickKnack, 30HandmadeDays, CheeriosAndLattes, It'sOverflowing, MopItUp, SouthernSunday, TheSweetDetails, ThriftyDecorChick, ClassyClutter, NYMelroseFamily, SundayRoundUp, TipJunkie, MakingLemonade

    Friday, March 2, 2012

    birthday favor

    If your children's school have the same non-food-birthday-treat-policy that mine do, it can sometimes be difficult coming up with favors for the little ones' celebrations. I found these little cute jets at a discount store, perfect for a five year boy!

    My little guy and I took turns stamping a piece of plain brown cardstock and punching out the gift tags. Then I just tied it on with a bow, and had my little fella sign his name on the back, and we were in business. Plus, all that name signing is good practice!

    He was pretty happy to pass them out to all his preschool friends the next day.

    What little non-food treasures have you found to celebrate?

    Linked up to The Delectable Home, delicateConstruction, live.laugh.rowe, DIY Showoff
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