Upcoming Project: Landscaping

Warning: Photo overload.

It’s no secret.  We bought this house for the yard.

030Our last house was a cookie cutter, dropped to literally bake in the middle of a concrete jungle.  When we finally sold it, we knew that our next house would be more about the “setting” than the house itself.  We wanted a connection to the outdoors, and a reason to be in it.

We definitely accomplished that with this one. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s also a lot of work.  Back breaking, sweaty work.   But it’s so worth it.

084You can ask me how I feel about that after the next few weeks, though.  We are starting on a landscaping update that will save our wallets, but break our backs.

Let’s start with a tour, as it stands in it’s current condition…

We live on a corner lot, and we back to a small creek, leaving us with what is definitely our biggest “pro”: the view and the size (relatively good-sized for our area).  This is our view out the back of the house.  It’s not all in full bloom right now, but just wait a few weeks.

021That cactus.  When you open the front door, your eye goes straight to it.


The wisteria started blooming this week, and it’s all I can stare at.  Last year we had to pull out so much overgrowth that it never bloomed.  Not an issue this year.  It covers an arbor that before we pruned, we couldn’t even see.  Now it’s hard to know if the wisteria is holding up the arbor, or if the arbor is holding up the wisteria.

And then you turn to the left, and you’ll see our biggest challenge:  Privacy.

074Along with a golf course community comes iron fences.  Yay for the view on the outside.  Nay for the view from the inside.  And since we can’t add a privacy fence, we are coming up with alternative options.  A challenge, yes, but I’m just so grateful to have a yard like this to play in that I will gladly accept it.  Here’s what we are going to attempt to build this weekend…

arbor bench…or something like it.  I scored some fence panels from the Habitat for Humanity Resale Store a few weeks ago, and our plan is to basically build something like this, and wrap the back and sides in horizontal fencing to mimic a lattice.  I think it’ll not only tackle one of our biggest problem spots, but it will become a focal point at the bottom of the path, and create a perch for taking in the view.

040Now let’s take a walk…

031This little meandering pathway sold me the first time I walked it.076078041Sure, sure.  There’s other areas we need to improve, and while privacy is somewhat of an issue, the iron fence does connect us with our neighbors.  Almost every time I’m out there working, neighbors stop by and say hello.  I don’t mind them taking a peek.  It’s too pretty not to share.  Or at least it will be.

036Here’s the arbor with that glorius wisteria…

051053058It grows high and low.062Here’s another problem spot: this corner is completely open for all to see.  I plan to add some more artsy privacy screening, like old shutters and hanging pots.  I got this awesome fern at Walmart the other day, and if they had more I’d have gotten them.  I think a few strategically placed hanging plants could do the trick, and it couldn’t be easier or cheaper.

097I’ve been adding hanging plants in random spots all week

090093But now that I’ve done so, I’m completely infatuated.  I want to hang them from every limb.

Well, that’s it for the backyard.  We also plan to tackle some spots in the front yard in the coming weeks, but I’ll save that for another post.  For now, I’ll be resting up and making a materials list.

Wish us luck!



Weekly Randomness

Ready for my random post of the week?

Last week, as you know, was Spring Break.  The hubs had to work, so me and the kiddos headed up to visit my parents at the lake.  We have an old mobile home there, and while it’s not fancy, it still feels more like home to me than any other place in the world.  Nonetheless, it’s been a while since we were there, and it needed some major cleaning.

lakeIt’s just a happy place.  We have no wifi, cable tv, or even very good cell phone service out there.  It’s so peaceful.  We spend our time outside, or around this coffee table playing games and working puzzles.

While I was there, I got caught up on all of the good shelter magazines.  My mom gets all the good ones.  While going through the latest Country Living, I came across this…

stick arborYeah.  So, I’m going to need one of those.  Can you even imagine?  Some people are just so dang talented.

Speaking of talent, I’m still learning macrame.  Last week I showed you the first plant hanger I made.  Since then I’ve added another plant hanger…

macrame planter2…And my latest creation was a wall hanging…

macrame wallY’all.  I could make a million more things.  It’s so fun, and the process is so simple, yet it still takes focus.  It’s one of those things that’s a little meditative, which I love.

I also went to Calloways this past week for some new potting soil.  I can’t seem to keep succulents alive.  It’s seriously sad.  My brother in law told me I wasn’t using the right kind of soil, so I found a cactus blend that I’m hoping will give my little babies a fighting chance.  While I was there I spotted these…

calloways terrariumsI love the air plants, mosses, and tiny ferns they used.  It’s like miniature gardens.  I’ve been inspired by these for a while, and it may be about time I try it.

I started a new volunteer gig this week at the resale store for our community’s homeless shelter.  I lucked out on the position, but I’m thinking I could be in trouble.  When I got off my shift, I ended up shopping and spending $35.  I wonder if that will happen every time?  I scored some cute t-shirts, a maxi dress for summer, and these little trinkets…

findsWhen I got home, I was in the mood to bake.  Something in me has been craving zucchini muffins, and while most zucchini bread recipes are super bad for you, I came across this recipe for Zucchini Bread with Apples and Carrots and let me just say:  Holy moly.  Make them.  Eat them.

zucchini carrot muffinsThey have whole grain goodness and no refined sugar.  Plus, they are loaded with veggies, so throwing them in the kids’ backpacks for school is a good idea.

Well, y’all, that’s pretty much it for my week.  I hope yours has been swell.  It’s almost Friday, so if not, keep on truckin’!



Weekly Menu, and Foyer Progress

I didn’t post my weekly menu yesterday because it’s pretty lame.  We’ve got a few busy nights, and so I just put the menu together using some leftover meals we didn’t cook from the last couple of weeks.


Over the weekend, I continued painting the foyer.  Unfortunately, with these tall ceilings, I couldn’t finish.  I’ll have to call in the pros for that.  Before, it was dirty builder’s beige.  Now it’s bright, clean Agreeable Gray (Sherwin Williams).  (Sorry for the poor quality pic here).

foyer progress 2As you can see, I still don’t have it fully styled.  Believe it or not, this is one of the last rooms we’ve touched since we moved in a year and a half ago.  It’s got a ways to go, but the new paint is a good start.  Although the console isn’t exactly the right scale for that tall wall, it stays.  It was one of the first pieces of good furniture we bought together when we bought our first house.  But, I’ve got some ideas for making it work.  Hopefully I’ll be able to share that in the coming weeks.

foyer progress 6What I’m going for is an atrium feel.  With the skylight and tall ceilings, it’s got so much natural light that it’s perfect for my plants to thrive…if I could keep the naughty kitty out of them.  Poor Oscar was twice this size.  (Does anyone else name their plants???)

As you can see, we are still dealing with the lovely green marble and white tile floors.  I’m afraid there’s not much I can do about that either.  Until we get to replace them, we just have to live with them.  I think this is the room that will definitely benefit the most from some beautiful new wood floors.  Until then…ignore them!  That’s what I do.

I bought the cool new black and white planter from Homegoods yesterday.  I was going for something graphic and a little modern, since the piano and table of my grandmother’s were starting to make this spot feel like…well…my grandmother’s.  I’ve got plans for the glass terrarium.  The stones were painted by my kids and their grandmother last summer.  I plan to add some smaller rocks and some succulents.  I also want to change out the picture frames, but I’m trying to use what I’ve got.  I can’t replace it all at once.  I’m thinking my next project for this spot, though, will probably to recover that piano bench.  The red is too much for me on top of the rug.  It stays.

foyer progress 4I’ve also seen some peeps painting baskets.  I think this one could use some work.  I scored it on the cheap a while back, and it’s size is perfect for storing our hats, mittens, and scarves.

I also painted the front door, which someday we will replace, but in the meantime the same Urbane Bronze that we used on the kitchen cabinets warms it up in the same way wood would.  That’s fun to say. Wood would.

Anyways, it’s an improvement.  Or, a step forward, at the least.

foyer progress 5

Thanks for stopping by.



What’s Up Wednesday

Happy hump day!  Here’s what I’ve been up to this week…

As of yesterday I finished sanding and painting the doors and trim which means I’m so close to being done, I can taste it.

averys doorThat should mean I could start cleaning up this mess…

kitchen mess…except that when I painted the new trim on the coat closet door, I went ahead and started cutting in for new paint in the foyer.

foyer paintWhat can I say…It was next on our list.  And, it’s the same paint that I’m using outside Avery’s room, so I figured while I had my paintbrush wet I might as well keep going.

I’ve also been prepping for a presentation for a client.


And, since I’m in “busy mode” and can’t sit still, I also painted these thrift store urns so they will be ready for me to plant some succulents.  Surely I can find time for that in the next day or so.

painted urn

One of my picker buddies scored these awesome shutters from an old building in Dallas.  I have plans for them.

shuttersIn addition to the home reno projects we’ve had, the kids have also had a school project that has taken over the garage and dining room.

dirty dining roomI’m not gonna lie, the messes around here have just about gotten to me lately.  But the good news is, by next week most of it should all be wrapped up, and I’ll get to spend some time really cleaning.  I seriously can’t wait.  I’m already thinking about how insane I’m going to get about it.

It’s all downhill from here!



Weekly Menu

I finally got the chalkboard paint on the pantry door, and over the weekend the handy husband updated the trim, as well as on the coat closet.  It’s a simple project that costs about $26 per door and about 30 minutes of his time.  Well worth it.  Just wish I didn’t have to sand and paint.

pantry doorIt’s a snow day here in North Texas, which means icy roads and everyone scrambling like it’s the end of days.  I went to the grocery store yesterday afternoon to just grab a few things for last night’s dinner and ended up doing all of my grocery shopping for fear nothing would be left.  The shelves were totally picked over, so I think the menu looks pretty tasty considering I threw it together based on what I could get my hands on.  Stay warm!

Monday:  Hamburger steak with onion gravy, brown rice, steamed broccoli

Tuesday:  Chicken tikka masala (jarred sauce), basmati rice, cauliflower

Wednesday:  Slow cooker spare ribs with saurkraut and potatoes.  So stinky good!

Thursday:  Leftovers/snack night

Friday:  ??

Saturday:  Spaghetti and meatballs

Sunday:  slow cooker roast with veggies

Peace y’all!


House Tweaking

Sorry I didn’t post a weekly menu this week.  Our schedule is busier this week than usual, so we are pretty much having snack night every night except last night.  We had Shepherd’s Pie, and I highly recommend you try it sometime, particularly on a cold night.


The last few days, I’ve been spending time tweaking a lot of things.  We are still underway on Avery’s bedroom, which has taken entirely too long, thanks to a really annoying door fiasco.  Anyways, it was finally installed, and now I’m getting ready to paint it, along with the new modern trim we installed.  We still need to find mirrors for her closet doors, but I’m bound and determined to finish the entire room by next week.  I’m dying to post a tour.


I’ve also been playing around with the mantle in the study.  It’s been a little looking a little “stuffy”.  I recently scored some old shutters that I think I’ll try up there (haven’t picked them up just yet), but I really want to try some slightly more whimsical touches, so I threw up an old bicycle wheel that came from the hubby’s bike.  Spray painted yellow, I think it might be the start of the direction I want to take.  Not everything here will make the cut; this is just where things have landed lately.


My favorite little styling display so far is in the dining room.  I’ve been tweaking this room since we painted it a few weeks ago.  I’ll be excited to post a tour of it as well, but for now it’s been taken over by a school group project.  I’ve given up on keeping it clean and tidy until after that’s over, and the buffet is the only spot that I won’t let them touch.


It’s hump day, which means the rest of the week is downhill from here.  Make it a good ride!



A Combined Kitchen/Living Room: Fresh Inspiration

My best friend is ready for a big change in her kitchen/living room.  While it may not happen overnight, it’s useful to have the big picture in mind when moving forward.  So, I put together this post to help her figure out the end goal, and how to accomplish it in a few simple steps.  Let’s take a look at the moodboards first:

erin moodboard


Sofa, Curtains, Pair of Chairs, Rug, Storage Ottoman, End Table, Lamp, Lidded Basket, Black Cabinet, Picture Frames, Pillow, Pillow, Pillow, Pillow, Pillow

erins kitchen


Kitchen, Kitchen Island, Breakfast Table, Dining Chairs, Chandelier, Fabric for Roman Shades

Here’s how I suggest she go about combining these two rooms, at a pace she can afford…

Step 1:  Paint all of the walls in a fresh coat of Sherwin Williams Amazing Gray

erin--amazing gray

Step 2:  Since she already has a leather sectional and the rug pictured, I suggest starting with the curtains, Roman shades, and pillows.  Focus on neutral colors and modern prints.  If you have $$ leftover, replace your existing ottoman for one that has storage for all of the kids’ toys.

Step 3:  Attack the kitchen.  Paint the cabinets a creamy white and wrap the island in faux stacked-stone.

Step 4:  It’s time for new furniture!  A new leather sofa and a pair of chairs in a bright color will instantly open up the room and add interest by mixing textures and colors.

Step 5:  Breakfast room.  A new round table and chairs in interesting finishes will update the room instantly.  The black chairs will tie into the existing black television unit, as will a new chandelier in a bronze finish.

No matter the budget, big changes are possible.  Hopefully by following these steps, she can get the biggest bang for her buck. I’ll look forward to seeing when the transformation starts to take place.

DIY Art: Using Stencils

I’m working with a friend on a piece of art for over her fireplace.  We were inspired by a piece that I found online, but it didn’t fit our budget.  We both like DIY projects, so we figured we could totally do this.

051I figured the easiest way would be to use some stencils.  Stencils are everywhere, in case you haven’t noticed.  There are so many styles and options, and you can find them online and in stores.  It’s almost mind boggling.  Which is why I have none.

Never fear.  I did have some cardstock and scissors, as well as an hour on the couch with Ave while we folded and cut random shapes and patterns.

013 Then I just laid them out in a random pattern on some scrap wood I found.  You could do this on canvas or artist’s paper for a less rustic look.  I didn’t spend much time on it, as I was just trying to figure out my method.  I imagine if you had spent a little more time and thought with your design than I, it wouldn’t turn out so weird quirky.  I didn’t care.  I figured I could always take the finished product to the lake, where everything else quirky ends up.

006Then I took some spray adhesive like this

010 - Copyand lightly sprayed it on the back of the stencil.

011 - CopyUsing my fingers, I lightly pressed the edges down onto the board so the paint wouldn’t bleed through.

017 (2)Then I got my paint.  Just my usual suspects.  I picked colors from my palette at the lake, red, yellow, turquoise, etc…

020 - CopyI used a dabber, or whteveryoucallit.  Just remember when you load it up, don’t over blend your colors.


025This will help them to blend easier.  I wanted my piece to be full of color, and for those colors to blend into an almost airbrushed look.  Anyways, again I was totally random in my application of my paint.  I just tried to keep it fairly symmetrical.

029I went ahead and filled in both the positive and negative spaces.  I’m not sure I meant to, but once I did there was no turning back.  At this point, I knew it would end up at the lake.  I just didn’t know if it would end up on a wall or in a bonfire.  Totally freaky looking.  I still rolled with it.  Heck, I even added more stencils.  Why not?  I figured I couldn’t mess up something that I had no plans for, right?

031 (2)Skipping forward (I think it got too dark to take pics and I couldn’t wait till morning to move forward), I removed the stencils.  After adding a little more detail by freehand, like little dots, and giving it a good sanding here’s how it ended up…

055 (2)See how the colors blended and faded into one another?052Some of that is from painting it two different colors, then sanding to reveal the bottom color.  See my corners?  I love how the red is coming out from under the turquoise.

056 - Copy053In the end, it turned out nothing like our awesome inspiration piece, but I’m not too disappointed.  I gained some perspective on a method, and am able to give her some tips when she decides to tackle this project for herself:

  • Take your time with your design.  It’s the one thing you can’t necessarily change in the end.  But, at the same time, don’t over think it.  Keep it simple.
  • Add layers of both color and detail.  It gives depth to the finished piece.
  • Have fun with it.  There’s really no way to plan out exactly how it’s going to turn out.  Just focus on the colors and in the end I think it would be successful.

051I’m thinking this piece is going to end up on a wall, after all.  We’ve got lots going on at the lake these days, including some new floors.  I’ve been taking some photos, and when we get a little further along, I’ll share them with you, as well as a photo of where this thing ends up.

Go out, be inspired, and be inspiring today peeps.




Erin’s Living Room Revamp

Last month my BFF called me to tell me that all she wanted for her birthday was a living room redo.  She lives just north of Austin, so I jumped at the chance to get away for a weekend with my bestie and our 2 girls (+1 adorable little guy).  We did have a few challenges to deal with, including the fact that this was a long-distance redo.  Although I’ve been there several times, I didn’t have the usual preliminary design meeting, where I take photos, inventory, and measurements.  So, we relied on lots of phone calls, texts, and of course pinterest to get us going.  Surprisingly enough, it turned out pretty wonderful.

Before pics?  No.  Not only am I bad about that, but from the moment I walked in the door we got to work.  Her hubby was out of town, which meant she and I were on our own installing curtains and moving furniture, all while wrangling her 18 month old cutie pie and our daughters.  We had big plans, I tell you, but of course it didn’t all get done.  I guess that means I’ll have to take another trip soon to wrap it all up.  Damn.

But, here’s a glimpse of how it looks now…

She said she wanted a brighter, more modern room.  What stood before were dark, heavy, plaid curtains (4 panels, if you can imagine). We immediately decided to cut that down to two so she could let in more light and open things up.

The biggest change came from the addition of color through pillows and the bold pattern on the chevron rug.

We didn’t change any of the furniture, but we did add this little end table that I scored for just $14!  I just painted it and added a little glaze to wake it up next to the brown sofa.  We still need to find a lamp, so don’t worry–that plant ain’t stayin’.  It’s just representative of the scale for the future lamp that we didn’t have time to shop for.  A basket underneath houses some of little man’s toys in style.

The windows were 144″ wide, so finding hardware was impossible without going custom.  So, we just took two 1 1/4″ wooden dowels that I painted the same as the end table and we connected them in the middle.  We used ready-stained rings, brackets and finials and ended up with a truly custom look for much less.  I think we spent $10 on the rod.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

Another trick we used to save $$ but get a custom look, was to take ready-made curtains and add a 6″ banding to the edges.  It not only customized them, but it also gave us an additional 12″ of width so they would look fuller.  Unlike our overwhelmed lazy butts, you may want to iron yours.

I also found a little wicker chair hiding in her corner that we pulled out and added pillows for a pop of color at the other end of the room.  It can easily be scooted around for extra seating whenever needed.  Her homework is to find some fun scrapbook papers to cover the books for even more color on the bookshelves.

And, naturally after I uploaded the pics I realized that I didn’t get a whole-room shot.  Well, I did, but it also included 3 kids, toys, and Lauri Berkner on the TV.  Everytime I’d fluff a pillow or arrange accessories for a shot, they’d jump on them and ruin sweeten the shot. So, I guess that gives me another excuse to head down south again.

All in all, we had a great weekend full decorating, food, wine, and girl talk.  I came home exhausted and chubby.  Proof it was a great weekend.  I’m going for a run now.