Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Going to London to See the Queen

Ok, not really, but we might as well be, we are so excited. (Husbands, not so much). 
We have been shopping, packing and planning our outfits and every move. Did you ever wonder why Mrs. Howell had 3000 outfits for a 3 hour tour? Yeah that's us. Ann has been setting her alarm for 3:30 am because she read that is how you get acclimated. For real. I am loading up my purse with Ambien. For real. We will shop 'til we drop and take tons of pictures of our overseas adventures. We are even going to a country house which I have a feeling is much different than a house in the country. Our client has lots of tres chic plans for us. Here we are at our airport send off...

Oh, and check our blog on Friday, Sissy from Blue Hydrangea will be our guest. Have a look!

credit to: British Airways and US weekly images

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's That Time Again...

I'm a Christmas Tree snob. I'm talking, will not, could not ever, ever, ever have an artificial tree. Hate artificial trees, love the smell of the real ones and artificial trees feel like a fake Christmas out of Frontgate.
 I mean, look at them. They are so happy and full of Christmas cheer. I might be able to hang out by the fire with my husband packing up organized bins of ornaments if I had an artificial tree that zipped into a pouch.

I realized that happy marriages involve two things. The first one, I won't name and the second involves making it through the holidays. Right around December 1st (every year) my marriage begins to crumble.  Nothing spells D-I-V-O-R-C-E like DECORATING A TREE. Here's how it all began...

First Christmas: We drink hot chocolate, put on Christmas music and set out to decorate our first tree. It is small, probably fit for about 500 lights, I insist on 5000. We plug in the tree and hold hands (we are newlyweds) and the center of the tree blacks out. I add something "festive" to my hot chocolate and we start over.
Second Christmas: Much like the first, but we use electrical precautions, hold hands, plug in tree. It is amazing. Enough lights to power a small country. Then, cute little Christmas gift (puppy with red jingle collar) runs around corner, gets tangled  in extension cord, pulls entire tree over, crashing bulbs, ornaments and spirits.

Third Christmas.... let's just say it gets worse from there and hot chocolate is no longer the drink of choice.
By the 9th Christmas... in the words of Justin Bieber: never say never.

We bought a pre-lit 15' tree. I was going to be like the well pressed girl in Frontgate ad. We bought it on Craigslist and I think it is safe to say that my snobbery disappeared due to sheer frustration and budgetary restraints. It comes in 4 simple (very large parts) and will save my marriage.
Seriously??? Ok, so maybe I was wrong. All I want for Christmas is a decorated tree and a handy husband.
Please, while I am London, could someone assemble and decorate my tree? This is directed at my hubby, but he doesn't read our blog and thinks the only person who does is Ann. So... Graham, if you are reading this, please tell Daddy or Santa or Elf on a Shelf that mommy would like a stress free tree this holiday season. It must LOOK real. Something like this would do just fine....
Simple and elegant. I love it. 
A little more rustic, but still elegant. 
I can even go for whimsy. May have to paint walls pink. I'm game. 
If you feel so inclined, put one out by the pool. Oh yeah, we don't have a pool. Perhaps another good thing to install while I'm out of town?
What do you prefer? Real or fake? Do you and your family enjoy a Norman Rockwell trim the tree evening OR is it a pull each other's hair out, knock down, drag out, ornaments flying, fuse blowing event? 
Do tell... and feel free to swing by and decorate my tree.
Bye bye birdie...

credit to: Coastal Living, Frontgate, Better Homes and Gardens

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Chaos and Thankfulness...

So, I am glad it's Thanksgiving and all my kids are home from school. I am so ready to eat and nap! Lucky for me Thanksgiving is at my in-laws and all I have to do is show up with mashed potatoes. Hooper is already at her in-laws and all she had to do was show up! I need a day off...

The last few days went a little something like this:

I was in charge of cooking a turkey for Molly's class. (don't ask...) Turkey is thawed out at 9 p.m. Sunday night after 2 days on my porch.  I cooked and carved the turkey at 3 a.m. Looks like I killed the bird twice. Took to school... no compliments...And I don't blame them.

Lesson learned: Go to K&W Cafeteria and spend whatever amount necessary to avoid ever doing this again.

I had to make corn casserole for Cowboy Day at Jackson's school. Woke up to find an element burnt out in my oven. Lost the recipe the teacher gave me to follow so I  came up with my own. Made the casserole and broke into my brother's house to cook it. Left it cooking and took Addie to school in time for her 9:15 performance. Went back and got 1/2 baked casserole and took it to Jack's school by 11. I slid in and hid my casserole behind the pretty one's the pretty mommies made. Praying they do not know which one is mine. Left early to attend a parenting seminar. Trust me, the irony is not lost on me either...

Lesson learned: Sign up for plates and napkins.

However, In all the chaos, I am thankful...

For Addie and the fact that after I got her to the Pre-School performance I noticed that she had taken her outfit up a notch with gingerbread tights and a striped shirt. "Which of these families is not like the others..." I am thankful that by the 4th child I know that it is more important that she dressed herself then what she wore.

We are both thankful for our families
 If you didn't read Hooper's last post about her Mimi, scroll down and read it. She is very thankful for her this year and always.

And we are thankful for you! Thanks for reading, commenting and letting us know you enjoy our projects and ramblings! Enjoy your friends and families! 

Happy Thanksgiving!
Bye, bye Birdie,

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mimi Moves

I am the oldest of 12 grandchildren. There is a very special bond between the oldest grandchild and the grandparents, and my "Mimi" and I have a rare connection.  She is 83 years old, is the funniest person I know and has always been there for me. She has never raised her voice, took me to Baskin Robbins at least once a week for my entire childhood, walked hundreds of miles with me "shelling" at Bald Head, and about a year ago, broke her hip.
We became very afraid she would not be able to safely continue to  live in the house she built over 50 years ago. This house is a brick Georgian where she and my Granddaddy raised 5 kids, 12 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren and hosted countless Christmases for over 40 people (each year)...  
(Me and My Mimi the last Christmas in her old house)

She asked me to renovate her new home and turn it into a place in which she could start this next chapter of her life. Needless to say, with tons of opinions and ideas coming at me from every direction, I was nervous to take this on. Not to mention the fact that it has been over 50 years since Mimi has built a house and her favorite colors are mint and peach. Need I say more? 
The home was dated, carpeted, wallpapered and just didn't feel like her. It would be hard to image Christmases here, or sleep overs without some changes. Before...

 The galley kitchen was dated with wallpaper and a floral border, laminate white (and stained) tops, linoleum "brick" floors, florescent lighting and outdated appliances.
The breakfast room, while equipped with floral border, was closed off from the kitchen and crowded. To make this feel like home, we were going to have to make some changes.
Moving day was bittersweet. She was nervous and sad and we kept her occupied her somewhere else, so we could knock it out and surprise her with her new home. My mom, her sisters and I began transporting her fragile heirlooms, breakables, portraits and most importantly... memories.Last Friday, when we hung the last picture, we called her to come over. The kids waited in the driveway holding up their "Welcome Home Mimi" signs and we took pictures of her walking in. I can only equate it to a ticker tape parade. It was one of those moments that when you are in the middle of it, you know it will stick with you forever. I was so thankful to be right there in that very moment to reveal my most important project to date.

Krista DeChamps from Prestige Kitchen & Bath designed an amazing new kitchen that incorporated the breakfast room. David DeChamps of Red Star Construction did the renovation and both did an amazing job. See below...
 We tried to duplicate her breakfast room. We added the built-ins for additional storage and opened up the space. 
 She loved this tile and it is various shades of MINT. The shape is contemporary, but on the diagonal, they are more traditional. 
 All new cabinets, tops, backsplash, hardwoods, appliances, lighting. 
Thank you Krista and David! You did and amazing job...

She wanted a cozy space so We picked her favorite colors and went from there.

The portrait of my grandfather is the focal point. 
 We moved her drapes, accessorized with her things and got her an Oriental to lighten up the room.
 I love her portrait. She was so beautiful (and still is).

 Her dining furniture fit beautifully in this large dining room. Previously, it was carpeted and the walls were dark green. We added the coffered ceiling and brought her chandelier over from the other house. A portrait of her when she got engaged hangs over the sideboard. 
 Her bedroom is awaiting aqua and ivory wool carpets, but her bedding, furniture  and drapes from her other house fit perfectly in the new space.
And a spot for me to sleep over... 
She was speechless. Literally. She walked through the house with her hot pink leopard cane with her mouth wide open. There were no stairs to fall on, no thresholds to trip on, levered door handles for arthritic hands, easy to operate faucets, handicap railings in the very comfy soaking tub and mint and peach galore. 
She called me that night to thank me and to tell me how much it meant that we did that for her. I told her that she has been doing that for me every day for the last 36 years and I'm glad I could finally do something to show her just how much I love her. In that very gesture, she got a small taste of just how much we all love her. My hope is that this next chapter of her life lasts a very long time, with all of us by her side.
I love you Mimi!

Bye bye birdie,

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Indiana... $1500... & a Before and After!

Sooo.... I had a busy weekend. Friday I flew to Indiana with my M.L. (mother in law) to visit my husbands cousin, Natalie. I know that sounds scary but I have a great M.L. and don't mind flying. (it was practice for London...did y'all know we were going there?) Anyway... I went to put together Natalie and Sean's house.

This is how it went down... Boy(Sean) meets Girl(Natalie). Boy and Girl fall in love and are getting married in April. Boy has house, Girl has apartment. Boy likes modern, Girl likes cottage. (lucky for them I like everything!) Boy and Girl gave me $1500 to re-do Boy's house. (remember Hooper's $1500 re-do here. Don't go thinking we can do this for everyone!)Boy and Girl get a weekend transformation!
 When I got there all that was left in the L.R. was the sofa. Everything else was history... Sean and Natalie had painted the walls Benjamin Moore beach glass.


I will walk you through the transformation and how I stretched $1500 with some D.I.Y. as well as  what I splurged on...

The chair was less the $200 and the wool rug was $150- both from Overstock. The  side table , lamp, and blinged out coral was  from Home Goods. The gray linen drapes were a major splurge at over $100 but sooo worth it! All the window hardware came from Lowe's. This is always the first place I go, they have a great affordable selection!

The console was $160 from Overstock, the mirror, lamp, tray, frame,  basket , and 3x5 rug  all came from Home Goods. (never underestimate the power of Home Goods...)

The pillows were a splurge. The big pillow came from HG and I had the zebra pillow made. But the printed pillows are silk and from West Elm. This is a good place to drop a little extra cash. The pattern is delish and really ties the room together....A place to save is the DIY art. I found frames I liked at HG, I just didn't like the art inside. So we made a quick stop at the fabric store and bought this beautiful taupe damask. We framed it and voila! 

Mercury glass honeycomb vases flank the T.V. above the mantle. I raided Sean's office for a few books to put under the shorter vase. Sean has some great books. I remember when I used to read....
I used the ottoman from a chair at Natalie's house as a coffee table. It doesn't take up to much space and didn't cost a dime! The cowhide and leather tray almost went home in my suitcase. Another fab find at HG with more great books on top from Sean's stash!

We didn't stop there... We had a dining room to do as well:



 The room had been painted, Natalie's table was in place and  the vertical blinds had been ditched. (good move) We brought a sea grass rug over from Natalie's house that fit the space perfectly. We bought $6 worth of burlap and made the runner using no sew tape. (greatest invention EVER!!!) The drapes and hurricanes both came from Target.

A new light fixture will replace the fan and transform the space!

The plate rack was in the room and not removable. So we embraced it with a DIY project. Natalie and I found .99 cent plates at Goodwill and bought $6 worth of craft paint.
After a little wine, taping, painting and touch up we got a fun collection for $12 that adds just enough whimsy to the room.

The kitchen could not be ignored... When I got there it was blue. Go Colts.

Sean had replaced the hardware with modern pulls (that I loved!) and we (really they...Sean, Nat's mom, and my Mother in law) painted the walls Ben Moore Rockport Gray.  Some no sew valances in a cool print was all the room needed and completely within budget!

Sooo.... After a long weekend, the project was complete! Boy and Girl were happy....

And Boy and Girl will live happily ever after in their 1945 bungalow...

Congrats Sean and Nat!
Bye, bye Birdie,
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