Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kathleen's Visit



Kathleen flew home today - which is sad.  We really didn't do a ton of stuff - which was nice. We mostly just spent time together. We did manage to squeeze in some fun things in between all that talking and visiting.  Here's a rundown of our favorite things we did.

1.  We went shopping...twice!  I got my new favorite outfit........

2.  .....and Kathleen got her new favorite lipstick.  This was the major goal of our first shopping trip.  Two and a half years ago when Kathleen came to visit we tried to find her a perfect everyday color, but to no avail.  She's very happy with her new color and it looks fabulous.  (By the way, I bought a true red lipstick, a first for me!)

3.  We got our toes pampered.  I picked a fall color!

4.  We ate good food.  My friend Emily owns a cafe that has delicious food.  We ate lunch there twice!  We had a pumpkin bisque that was to die for!  

P.S.  How cute are the pockets on my new sweater?  I love the sale room at Anthropologie!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bead on a Wire


Kathleen and I have had a great time. On Friday night I hosted a gathering of friends to check out the jewelry that Kathleen makes. She started beading a few years ago, and her work is beautiful! It was fun because she sold jewelry and got to meet a lot of my friends she hasn't met before. Our friend Dawn (who's super talented) designed Kathleen's logo, and I think it is really clever and cute! That's Kathleen's card at the top. Here are examples of some of her pieces.....






Friday, September 26, 2008

On a mini-vacation..at home


I probably won't be putting up any new posts for the next couple of days.  Kathleen is in town and we will be out and about (or just watching movies, drinking coffee and staying up too late).  This picture is from a little over a year ago when we celebrated the 7th Harry Potter book coming out.  Yes, we have HP t-shirts on and yes, we are drinking a concoction of butter beer.  I miss Harry........

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Antique Frame + Grace= Beautiful


A couple of years ago my mom spotted a frame at an antique shop that she really thought I would like because it had a bow at the top (she's good like that). I love bows, always have. Does anyone remember BABS? She's waiting patiently in my basement for the day she can be used again! Anyway, when we had our family picture taken over the summer the photographer got a really beautiful shot of Grace. I thought that the feminine frame would be really great for her picture. I took the photo up to our local framer. He cut the picture and put a back on it...all for free! Another reason to support local businesses.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Life Made Easier


Does everybody have this now? I think that this is the greatest thing that has come along in a while (on a relative scale). I can now go anytime to drop off a package!!! No more hauling both kids out of the car and into the post office and no more waiting in line. Really great for moms. Well done USPS.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Now It's Fall


I had big plans for the children and I to usher Fall in today.  After school we were going to the apple orchard to pick apples and read some books about fall and Johnny Appleseed.  

Then Grace threw up at school.  Harris and I had walked up to the library, and I had forgotten my cell phone.  I strolled home to find Bryce and my mom both pulling in the driveway. Apparently since I was unreachable the school called Bryce, who called my mom- who was waiting for an appliance repairman.  When he left my mom set out to pickup Grace.  Meanwhile, Bryce also left to pick up Grace.  Mass confusion (for me) ensued.  The moral of the story is to try really hard to bring my phone with me everywhere I go.  I'm really bad about that.
What did our parents do before cellphones?  
Even though we couldn't go to the orchard we read the sweetest book, "Now It's Fall" by Lois Lenski.    The book is the size of your hand and the pictures are very vintage, which of course they are because the book was first published in 1948.  The verse of the book covers pretty much every aspect of fall in a really sweet and gentle way.

  

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Our weekend...perfect!


We had a great weekend!  It involved no work on the house, some alone time, time with friends and time with the children.  Can one ask for more?  A big thanks goes to my mom for watching the children today while we went to the gardens.  

FRIDAY
Friday night my mom asked if the children wanted to spend the night with her and, of course, they did.  That gave Bryce and me an opportunity to test drive a car we are considering purchasing.  Sadly, the Saturn is coming to it's end.  We are friends with a gentleman whose family owns the dealership, so he brought the car home and let us drive it around for the night. Pretty nice service huh?  We went to another dealership and looked at a different car but unfortunately the salesman seemed to not know much about the car - so we left.  We went out to dinner and had a lovely meal.

SATURDAY
On Saturday, we went to our friends' house to celebrate their daughter Hannah's birthday. They had delicious food (even made from scratch baked beans!) and the children had a great time playing outside in the gorgeous weather we had.   

Marci made the flower cupcakes and they turned out really cute!

SUNDAY
Our friends, Sonja and Ryan, invited us to go with them and some other friends, Kristin and Tim, to an event at a local sculpture garden.  They had local vendors of food and wine.  I ate myself silly, as did Bryce, and it was all delicious.  We had a lovely time!  I would have taken some pictures of the food because the presentation was so beautiful but I kept eating it too fast! On a funny note, Kristin and I were accosted in the bathroom by a woman who had clearly had a bit too much to drink!  That was just bizarre.

Ryan, Tim and Bryce


This path was on our way out.  The picture from the top of the post was in the middle of the gardens.  Really beautiful.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Repainted cabinet...again

When we first moved to this house we had the rather unpleasant realization that much of our furniture just didn't fit.  Of course, our favorite and special pieces we found spots for but one item we could not fit in.  Eight years ago in Atlanta I found this china cabinet at a consignment store for $100.  At the time it was a maple finish and very dated, but I loved the petite stature and the wide open glass windows.  I bought it, painted it black and it fit perfectly in the breakfast area of our home in Atlanta.  

When we moved here there was nowhere to put it before or after the renovation, but I couldn't bear to get rid of it so we put it in the basement.  Every once in a while I would take new measurements and try to work it in somewhere.  Finally, this summer we decided to bring it up and put it in the dining area, even though I was worried it would make the room look unbalanced.  I decided that it was more important to have things out that I would enjoy and use rather than worry too much about fit.  

We hauled the cabinet up from the basement and had to once again paint it because the black did not compliment our kitchen/dining room.  (I'm really thankful that Bryce is such a good sport!)  What I really love about the cabinet is that it shows off my favorite dining and serving pieces.  It makes me happy and reminds me to use them!


P.S.  I'm not sure what I'm going to put over the cabinet yet!

P.P.S.  I arranged all my favorite pieces in the cabinet...then my mom came along and rearranged all my favorite pieces.  They look better her way!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Angel Birthday Party



I was looking through some pictures today and came upon Grace's 5th birthday party. I love birthday parties for children. I think it goes along with my love of anything and everything themed! The angel party was one of my absolute favorite parties because it was just so pretty. Even though it was a year-and-a-half ago, I thought I would share it. I figured my vast readership (all 4 of you) wouldn't mind.

For me, the cake is the center of children's birthday parties. A few years before Grace turned five, I saw a cake in a Wilton cake magazine that was for a Christening. I thought it was so beautiful, and when Grace decided to have an angel party I was really excited to make the cake. Bryce thought I was crazy. Of course he always thinks that, but he also always comes around.

When we sent out the invitations we also sent angel costumes that I found on-line. The girls wore them to the party and they looked so precious and beautiful. I particulary love this photo because Hannah, who is standing behind Harris, looks especially angelic gazing down upon him!

For lunch we served angel hair pasta with halo bread. Besides the cake, we also had angel cookies and strawberries. The children took petite angle food cakes home with them.

Bryce and I have always made the children's birthday cakes and we love doing it. Honestly. It's our birthday tradition to stay up until the wee hours of the morning baking and decorating the cakes. Bryce is so detail oriented that he is really good at icing the cakes. Check out the hair and feet on the angels. He's really quite amazing!


During the party, the girls jumped on a small trampoline (the small, round, exercise type) to pretend to fly and made a sea shell angel craft.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Customer Service and Kayce Hughes

I believe that good customer service is a dying art nowadays. It seems as if we are often disappointed by companies and how they handle-or don't handle-a problem. Kelly recently had a regretful conversation with a company that I thought prided itself on customer service and offering quality products (I seem to remember my sister having a similar situation with the same company). Now I'm looking for new photo albums because I don't want to deal with a company who just doesn't care if you are their customer or not.
So you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I recently was when I ordered a dress from Kayce Hughes. I bought a dress that was on sale and called them up to check on sizing. They were very helpful with this issue, and so I ordered the dress online. The next day I received a phone call from one of the girls at the office. She explained that they were having a free shipping offer and asked if I knew about it. I did not. She said that they had refunded my money for the shipping, WITHOUT ME ASKING! Needless to say I will definitely check out their site again and tell my friends about it because I really appreciate a company who takes time to appreciate their costumers. Thank you Kayce Hughes.

P.S. I really like the dress I got. I think that it is great for fall and spring!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Paint Colors

I'm not sure why picking paint colors is so difficult but it is.  

In choosing colors for our porch we were tied to the color of the house because we can't change that anytime soon.  The previous owners of the house had inexplicadly decided to paint every single surface the same shade of boring...I mean beige (I'm really not bitter).  I just can't understand their reasoning, try as I might.  

At the beginning of the summer when we first started our porch makeover, my first instinct was to paint our floor red.  Yes, red.  Then I second guessed myself.  I consulted parents, friends and professionals.  The professional was a neighbor of a friend who we often see at gatherings at my friend's house (does any of that make sense?).  She kindly offered to stop over and in five minutes flat gave me some great ideas.  I really liked her suggestions but they still didn't "feel" right.  So I went to a local paint store that has been recommended by a lot of people.  The owner of the store does free color consultations.  I left her store absolutely sure that I had my color palette down.  I was going to do a sage on the floor and a similar shade, but lighter, on the ceiling.  Fast forward a few weeks to when the painter was getting ready to come and paint.  

I decided that maybe I should go and get one of those cute sample bottles that Benjamin Moore makes.  I spread it out on the porch next to the house and immediately knew that it was all wrong.  I had a mild panic attack and went the next day and bought 3 more samples of green and then I went back and bought 2 more samples of different greens and on a whim picked up a red.  Then I went back and picked up one more red and two different blues.  Here is what my porch looks like after all the samples were done.....

The second color on the right was the original color I was going to do.  On the paint chip it looked like a really nice shade of sage but on my floor it just looks really washed out and not ideal for a porch that gets rather dirty.  *I decided to go with the dark red, I guess you should always trust your first instinct.  

In keeping with my southern heritage I would like to do a blue on the ceiling.  Of the people that have seen the colors it's pretty split about which one to go with.  I've already decided but am curious what you think, which one would you go for?  


Monday, September 15, 2008

Porch Makeover Part 3

Bryce and Harris made new steps leading up to the porch. The old ones were rotting around the old nail holes. I really like the way he rounded the ends on them.

He also had to replace the downspout and put new moulding in the corner of the porch. The downspout had been leaking and had rotted out the corner. We had to have the moulding specially milled because Bryce could not find that particular profile. He finished that over the weekend and the porch is now ready to be painted.


P.S. Apparently Bryce and Harris have an affinity for working shirtless!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Highs and Lows


Tonight at dinner our highs and lows were all the same - a first for our family, I think.  Our high was spending the day with Leah, Bryce's sister, and her husband Aaron.  They drove up this morning (a three and a half hour drive!) and went to church with us.  We then ate lunch together, explored town a bit and then just hung out at home.  We really appreciate them because they always make an effort to stay in touch with us and the children.  We were really glad they came to visit and promise to visit them soon.

P.S.  Our low was the weather.  It was hot and humid!!!  I'm ready for Fall!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Tool Guys


Bryce had to get a new tool in order to finish the new stairs on the front porch. He has been wanting/needing a jig saw for a long time now and was glad the opportunity arose. Fortunately for Harris, the particular tool that Bryce chose was one that Harris has the exact replica of and he is thrilled! Harris is as fond of his tools as Bryce is of his - the apple did not fall far from the tree in this case. Harris honestly believes that Bryce can fix anything (which he usually can). He says that he wants to be a "worker" when he grows up. All I know is that Bryce is very lucky because he has one great assistant now!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The SafetySack


As we were getting ready to send Harris off to preschool I also had to think about getting his "in case of emergency" packet ready. As most of you know, Harris is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. Fortunately, his preschool is peanut/nut free which makes it really easy, although I know that will come to an end once he begins grammar school. I'm not going to worry about that until the times come (I'm still really hopeful that he will grow out of it...unlikely I know but one can hope).

A year ago I was struggling with how to carry around the EpiPen, contact list and the Bendadryl. After some research I found the SafetySack. It's a heavy duty, zippered plastic bag (which locks) that fits an EpiPen, Benadryl, and an instruction sheet. The instruction sheet has contact information, emergency action plan, EpiPen directions and a place for a photo.

Now I just throw the pouch in my purse and go. It is also easy to give to caregivers, such as his preschool.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Harris goes to nursery school!




I just dropped my baby off at nursery school (my town is old fashioned-elementary school is called the grammar school and the preschool is still called a nursery school!).  

He did great!  I was worried because he can have a hard time with separation from me, but he gave me a hug and kiss, took the teachers hand and walked off.  I think it really helped that he knew Grace had gone there.  She also talked to him about all the wonderful things he would do.  He always feels better when Grace is with him, and I think that carried over to school.  

I'm going to miss him.  He is such a joy to be around (most of the time, he is 3 after all).  However, I will enjoy having 6 hours a week to get some things done!

P.S.  This is the new lunchbox that Harris picked out.  It's made by Sassafras and it's a frog.  I love it and so does he.

P.P.S. On the way to school Harris told me that he thought God pushed up the sun each morning with his finger!  I think that is brilliant.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Porch Makeover Part 2



After we fixed the radius on the porch we turned our attention to the stairs and walkway. The old concrete walkway came from the side of the house to the front of the stairs. It was about 12 inches wide and was completely covered by the massive rhododendron at the corner. We had put some temporary bluestone so that our mailman wouldn't have to walk through the grass everyday.

Our stairs and built in gutter were rotting in places and had to be replaced. The moulding for the gutter has been a bit of a issue, apparently they don't make the same profiles they did 100+ years ago. Anyway, we had a landscape company who ripped out the plantings, tore up the concrete and installed a bluestone walkway. We were very fortunate that a colleague of Bryce's had given us the bluestone! We had discussed doing the walkway ourselves, but I'm really glad we didn't because it turned out to be very involved and took a lot of time with a team of men working.

The day after the walkway was finished, I walked out on the porch and realized that something was not right. The walkway was crooked! Then to make matters worse Bryce placed the old stairs on the new footings and they looked like this....

Obviously, this just wouldn't do! So they came back out and had to take up the whole walkway and start over again! The second time was the charm and it turned out perfectly.

Up next, the stairs......

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ratatouille

I thought I would share a new recipe that I discovered a few weeks ago.  I had an over abundance of vegetables from the farm and was flipping through the recipe book "The Swan's Palette" looking for something to use them in.  I found a recipe for Ratatouille and since it would use up 5 vegetables I decided to try it.  We all really liked it!  Of course, we ended up having an impromptu movie night and watching the Disney movie "Ratatouille".  We can't pass up a good theme! 

    Ratatouille
2 large onions, sliced
3 green bell peppers, chopped
6 tablespoons vegetable oil  (I use less)
2 zucchini, sliced
1 small eggplant, peeled and chopped
1 (29 oz.) can chopped plum tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed

Saute onions and bellpeppers in the oil in a large skillet until the onions begin to turn golden brown.  Add zucchini, eggplant tomatoes and salt and mix well.
Simmer covered for 40 minutes.  Add garlic and simmer 2 minutes.  Adjust seasonings.

Monday, September 8, 2008

House Cleaning


I can't keep my house clean. Ever. This summer I have tried various ways of cleaning to see if one works better than the other. I have cleaned a room a day but that is frustrating because I feel like it is never done. I've cleaned all in one shot but that takes too much time and I dread doing it. I've also tried not cleaning it at all but then it starts to drive me crazy.
The one thing that I really like about cleaning (besides that for 5 fleeting minutes my house is clean) is my cleaning products. I have used Caldrea products for the past 5 years or so and I love them. We chose our scent to be Lavender Pine and I use the furniture polish, scrub and all purpose cleanser. They smell nice, they work really well, are earth friendly and I love the design on the bottles (although I am sad they took off the cleaning fairy, I really liked her). It might be a bit of a luxury to buy specialty cleaning products, but I say that anything that makes you happy and cleaning a bit more pleasurable is worth it!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Porch Makeover Part 1



Here is the house when we first bought it. We have done extensive work on the inside but haven't touched much on the outside.....until now.

It all started innocently enough (it always does). We have a really nice wraparound porch that we have not done much with, which is a shame because it's one of the reasons we bought the house and what gives the house much of its exterior charm. Bryce and I decided to do a front porch makeover. So I thought I would share the makeover in parts.

We decided we wanted railings on the front porch and a bluestone walkway leading up to the stairs. After getting several estimates for the railings, and collecting many opinions, we nixed the railing idea. Apparently to make a railings for a radius is quite time consuming and costly. However, while getting estimates for the railing it was discovered that one of the piers that supports the porch was falling down. Of course. It shouldn't surprise Bryce and I - this house is 100+ years old and constantly has something that needs to be attended too. So we started to repair the pier which led to even more unfortunate discoveries. Finally, the radius was fixed and a nice column was in place where an ugly pole once was. We would eventually like to replace all the current columns with the new full columns. All in due time.


This is the radius on the porch and the pole we replaced with a column.


Happy Grandparents Day


Have I mentioned how much the children love and adore their grandparents?  They are so blessed to have such loving and involved grandparents.  Our parents help us out in so many ways, and I hope that they know how appreciated they are.  We love you!
 
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