All Aglow

Our home has been decorated for the holidays, and it is nice to have a bit of “normal” right now, with my father so sick.  We won’t be holding our annual family gatherings this year due to his health.  So, Eric and I will just have a small, quiet Christmas with just the two of us.

Anyway, Eric decided last year that he really wanted lights on the wreath on the front door.  He found some great battery operated lights this year, and now our wreath has its own little bit of brightness.

Eric found a beautiful tree again this year.  I just love the smell of a real tree in the house.  I scaled back a lot on my ornaments this year though.  I wanted a more simple look on the tree.

Some of my favorite ornaments are our Swarovski annual ornaments.  I’ve been giving one to Eric each year since 2005.  They catch the light so beautifully.

And I decided to put out the Nutcrackers again this year on the mantel.  Eric saved the branches he had to cut off the tree at the bottom for me, and I used them on the mantel.  I love the way that looks.

The odd man out in the Nutcracker theme is this guy.  He was a gift to me from my parents when I was about nine or ten.  My parents used to take my sister and I to see the Nutcracker ballet every year at the holidays.  One year, before we went, they presented me with my very own Nutcracker.  You wouldn’t believe how much I cried with joy.  He’s looking a little worse for wear, and his hair and beard are looking a bit thin (they are rabbit fur).  But, I get such pleasure from having him out at Christmas.

We’ve received so many lovely cards from friends and family.  Unfortunately, this year I had to make the decision not to send out cards.  There has just been too much going on to get them done.  I hope everyone understands.

And our tree in the entry.  This is my “handmade” tree.  I hang handmade ornaments on this tree, along with some pretty red glass balls.  There’s a train around the base of this tree as well.

And my Dickens’ Village.  Eric made me a fabulous platform for my houses this year.  The table I set them up on has rather high sides, so it was getting difficult to make them all fit.  Eric made a platform to go over the top of the table and it worked out perfectly!  All the houses fit.  And several of these were gifts from my parents over the last few years, so I love seeing them out.



And yesterday, I managed to do all of my gift wrapping.  These were headed off to the Post Office to be mailed.

I hope you all have a lovely holiday and that it brings you much joy and happiness.  Thanks for stopping in to see me and I so appreciate all your sweet comments!



Curb Appeal

Like I said, Eric and I have been nesting lately.  Not sure what’s in the water, but I’m liking all the changes we’re making around the house.  Recently, he brought home some solar powered LED lights to put along our front walkway.  (Please pretend I had swept up the crepe myrtle blossoms off the walk before taking these photos – kind of the antithesis of curb appeal, I know.) 

The light on our front porch doesn’t illuminate very far and with no other lighting along the walk those steps were a bit treacherous in the dark.  I love the way the little lights look and they put out an amazing amount of light. 

I am looking forward to having guests over for dinner sometime soon.  Guess I’d better sweep that walk first though…


Living Room Redo

Since I’m on a spring cleaning/redecorating kick right now, I thought I’d share before & after photos from a while back when my friend, Jennifer, came over to help me do some revamping in our living room. 

Let me start off by saying, 1) we rent our home so there’s only so much I can do (ie no paint, etc.) and 2) our living room is one of the places in our home that gives me the most trouble designwise.  I just can’t seem to get it looking like I’d like it too, barring buying all new furniture, which is not in the budget right now.  So, I was thrilled when Jennifer agreed to come over and help with a little revamping. 

These are the “before” photos.  And OMG they are bad.  I had pulled out the picture hanging gear, which is what’s sitting on the couch, but otherwise this was pretty much the normal state of affairs.  Sad sad sad. 

All the furniture in here is hand-me-down except for one bookshelf, that I bought. 

I’m actually a little horrified to be showing the before shots.  But, what are you gonna do?  The room is just a mishmash of furniture and styles and I was hopeful that we could at least make it somewhat less of an eyesore. 

I pulled some inspiration photos to show Jennifer.  Some of the photos were of stuff I had around the house, that I thought might work in the room (she kept saying, why is buried in this other room???).  I want a look that is warm, eclectic and shows our love of travel (ie things picked up from all over the world).  Plus, Eric loves Cuba and the “Havana” style, so I wanted to bring that in as well.

Jennifer did an amazing job with what she had to work with.  The first thing she did was move the piece that was over the mantle into the entry and replace it with a map that we had in the office.   Love it! 

She worked on rearranging the bookshelves and some of the knick-knacks I have.  The two ceramic Japanese eggs moved over to the top of the bookshelf. 

The print hanging on the wall there (that you can’t really see clearly) is a photo from Grand Central Station that Eric took and is sepia-toned.  It used to hang in the entry, but this was a better location for it.  It works with the warm tones we were going for in the room. I don’t even really remember what was on the coffee table before (I think it was just a ceramic bowl and the chess set).  I like the carved box there a lot better (plus then someone isn’t throwing stuff in my beautiful piece of pottery).

I really love the map over the mantel, but I’ll have to work on things to put on the mantel itself.  For now, I’m liking the blue and white bowl.  She also placed the hookah and a brass bird vase next to the fireplace.  I need one more item there to round it out. 

The coffee table is actually one of the few things in the room that I like.  It’s different and interesting.  But those couches have got to go.

We worked on the artwork over the sofa too.  Originally, three prints of the photos Eric took in Rome hung there, but when I created our gallery wall of travel photos they got moved.  I replaced them with those flower prints, which I admit, were not great.  Jennifer suggested a collection of Cuban things to hang there.

And when she redid the bookshelf, I ended up with this collection of cigar books and boxes.  Love this shelf.  And my wooden bowl from Hawaii looks perfect there as well. 

View towards the kitchen.

And I like what she did on the media cabinet, she put my pottery collection up there, as well as my two statues (but oh to have cabinet doors over all that equipment).

View towards the entry.  You can see the art over the sofa better. 

Here it is closeup.  A Cuba painting.  Two framed collages of cigar wrappers.  Cigar art is just fantastic and so colorful.  And Eric had this cigar mold that was in my inspiration photos.  We took it apart and with his permission I attached hangers to it so that we could hang them.  Brilliant – I love the texture and interest these add!

And here’s a closeup of the bookshelf.  She rearranged my books to make the shelves more interesting and add some color coding and rhythm.  It looks so much better!

And one of the things I had in my inspiration photos was this map of Cuba I’d been eyeing.  Jennifer encouraged me to purchase it, and a few months later it took up residence over the mantel.  I love it!

So there you have it, my living room redo.  It’s still a process, and I hope to one day be able to purchase new furniture for this room.  I think it will go a long way towards creating the vision I want.  But, in the meantime, Jennifer did a great job with what she had to work with!!


Five Years

On Friday morning I came downstairs to find not one, but two vases of roses from Eric.  We were celebrating our five year wedding anniversary, and I couldn’t believe all the roses!  They were stunning!  He also had a sweet sweet card for me as well.

We decided to celebrate our day by going out to dinner on Saturday night.  He took me to Texas de Brazil, which was fantastic.  We had excellent service and a wonderful meal.  And we indulged in Caipirinhas and the best flan we’ve had in a long time. 

And actually we’d gone out to dinner the Saturday before to an amazing Greek restaurant, Zizikis.  So it was kind of like we had double the celebration!! 

Along with my two vases of roses, he also gave me a single white rose.  Before our anniversary each year, I put out the vase that we used for our rose ceremony during our wedding.  And each year, he places a single white rose in it, as a continued promise of our vows.  That, to me, is the best part of our anniversary.

Since the traditional gift for a fifth anniversary is wood, I decided to gift Eric with some frames.  We always print out one or two photos from our trips and hang them.  I knew we had at least two trips we’d never printed photos from, and I figured I’d give us a promise for more travel too. 

Once the photos are printed, they’ll hang on our gallery wall in the entry of our home.  I love love love having all the photos from our travels hanging here together.  And it greets you as you come in the front door, so they are always a conversation piece.  I can’t wait to get the opportunity to travel again.  It’s something we really love to do together, and I always love exploring new places with Eric.

We had a lovely anniversary, and I can’t believe another year has come along.  (Eric even let me use his nice macro lens to take some photos of my roses – roses and a photography lesson – you can’t beat that!)

And to think that five years ago, we were here…


Random Tuesday Thoughts


On several of the blogs I read, I’ve noticed that there has been an interest in creating a gallery wall to showcase photos and/or art. I wanted to share our gallery wall with you too. When Eric and I first got married and moved into this house, we came to a bit of an impasse about hanging art on the walls. Having a BFA in Art History, I was of course all for bringing art and loveliness into our home. But, we have slightly different ideas of what is lovely. After months of blank walls and a lot of back and forth, we struck on the idea with printing photos from our travels. It began with photos from our honeymoon in Rome and from our cruise in the Caribbean where he proposed. In the past three years we’ve added a few more trips to that list. Initially, I’d scattered the photos throughout the house. But, then I was inspired to hang the majority of the photos together in our entry. I loved the idea of showcasing not only Eric’s photography, but also a gathering of memories of those wonderful places. Eric was a little hesitant about hanging them all together, but I ran the idea past my good friend, Jennifer, the decorating guru. And once Eric was met with the argument that “Jennifer says it will look great,” we starting arranging the photos on the wall. The wall now holds photos from Rome, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Chicago. I am sure we’ll be adding to this collection with our more recent trips to Virginia and Miami. I love how this wall looks, and I feel like it is very representative of us to people first entering into our home. If you want to see some other great gallery walls, take a look at Blue-Eyed Bride’s gallery wall …

and the photo collections over at elefantitas alegres…

Eric and I found we loved traveling together so much, that I gave him this as a wedding gift. It was a promise of many more trips in the future.

World Travels Map

And completely unrelated to my decorating musings, this morning was my first venture back to a regular yoga practice. It is so hard getting up even earlier in the mornings, but I feel so much better when I start my day off with yoga.


For now, I’m going to do two mornings a week. My body was so happy to stretch today! I definitely needed it. I’m just using a DVD for yoga currently, but I’m interested in giving classes a try again. I’ve had two people recommend Bikram (hot) yoga to me. One girl that I see at the gym alot said that she’s started doing Bikram yoga and is now in the best shape of her life. I may give it a try. There’s a couple of places that offer it near me, Sunstone Yoga and Bikram Yoga Grapevine. I also have a DVD at home of Baron Baptiste’s. He teaches Power Vinyasa Yoga, and from what I remember of doing the DVD some time ago, I really enjoyed it.

So, today was just relaxing and stretching, but it reminded me how much I love yoga and how much I’ve missed it. And after walking 3.2 miles on Saturday and getting huge, really bad blisters on my feet, I really needed both the relaxing and the stretching.


A Week in Photos

7/12/09 – 7/18/09

I am so in love with our gallery wall. In fact I did a post on it here.


And the map I gave Eric for a wedding present to mark our travels together.

World Travels Map

I eat salads pretty often for lunch which can get old. But let me tell you, the salad I had here was so delicious – avocado, egg, steak. Yum!

My Salad

And rounding out the week, Lone Star Park photos here.


A Week of Photos

5/3/09 – 5/9/09

Just a mismash of photos this week.

I finally bought lemons for my new rooster bowl that Julia bought us for our kitchen window. I love this so much.


My neighbor doesn’t do a lot of lawn care, so sometimes I get a little surprise coming through the fence between our yards. I did think it was pretty though.


Over the weekend at church they had had a new member tea. Monday night I stumbled across the tea set that hadn’t been put away yet and snapped a few shots of it. Silver tea sets are just so pretty. They are, however, a nightmare to take photos of. So many reflections!


While at Ava’s house last week, I stitched on this little piece called Petites Lettres Rouges. I personalized it with my grandmother’s name and year of her birth. I’ve added it to my guest bath near my vase of champagne corks. It feels very Parisian to me.

Petites Lettres Rouges Framed

When I picked up the lemons for the bowl in the kitchen, I also picked up a silk plant to put in the entry way. I needed a second plant in here, because the lone silk ficus looked sad. Yes, I’d rather have real plants, but I can keep these alive. And you can see my gallery wall in the background, which I love. You can also see the pretty baskets I have the two plants in. I bought both of these years and years ago, and just now put something in the second basket.

The entry way is coming along. I just need some sort of a two-door cabinet in there and I’ll be all set.

Entry After

My African Violet bloomed. I can’t believe that not only is this thing still alive, but it still blooms for me. Makes me think of my grandmother every time. She loved and grew African Violets.


And my very first Chanel purchase. I love the gift wrapping.


Chanel Cosmic Violine laquer. Love the color even more in person. I can’t wait to try it out.



A Few Simple Changes

So, over the past few months I’ve been making some small changes around the house. The search for a new house has been slow and frustrating. So, while I would love to be thinking about decorating a new place…this is the one I have. Recently we took a trip to Virginia to visit a friend and her family, and I was extremely inspired by the decor in her home…it was warm, inviting, as well as elegant and classic. I’ve been trying to narrow down my own style and I believe I may be a traditional girl in some cases leaning towards the cottage feel, in some cases leaning toward the British colonial feel. But beneath it all, it is always traditional. I am definitely not modern, definitely not shabby chic. So, I’m going to be exploring some ideas surrounding finding my style in an effort to better define it in my home. But for now, a few simple changes are all I’ve done lately. I do keep looking back at those photos of the office and media room that I posted on here some time ago and cringing. They really look terrible. And I have not given up my plan to really overhaul those two rooms…it just takes time, inspiration, and possibly a bit of money.

So here’s a recap of what I’ve done.
In the master bath, I needed some additional storage, as well as I got tired of looking at that gap under the counter (I’d love some built in drawers here). So, I purchased these two baskets from Michael’s while they were 50% off. They work well for holding extras like Kleenex and toilet paper, cotton balls and Q-tips.
I missed having a windchime hanging outside. I used to have two hanging at my apartment, but when I moved I just never rehung them. After being at my mom’s house and hearing hers I decided I wanted to at least hang one of mine. So, Eric was a sweetie and hung this one for me out on the back porch. This windchime was made for my by my best friend’s brother. I love it.
Eric decided that he wanted to display a few more swords from his collection. We’d talked about hanging this one in the dining room, and finally got around to it. It hangs over the doorway into the kitchen.

We hung this one in the entry way. I believe this is his favorite sword. He has several more that I am considering how to best display them.
The last thing I did around the house was something that had been bothering me since the day we moved in. Or, since the day we decided to purchase our dining room furniture. I have this rather large cat tree monstrosity. The cats love it, but I really don’t want to have to look at it. When we moved in, the piece took up residence in the dining room because we didn’t know where to put it. In my apartment, it was in the living room next to the couch. Well, when we got ready to purchase our dining room furniture, the cat tree had to be moved, so it got moved to the entry. I didn’t really intend to leave it there, because it’s such an eye sore. But, needless to say, two and a half years later it was still there. At the beginning of July, I posted photos of my Fourth of July decorating, including my Stars & Stripes quilt top that I hung on the wall. Well, in that photo you can clearly see the cat tree in the background. One of my commenters (possibly on the other blog – the craft blog), stated “I love people who not ashamed to have a huge cat tree as part of their funiture!” Now, I am sure that the person leaving the comment did not mean anything negative at all in her comment, but it struck a chord with me. I realized that my entryway – the part of my home that is a person’s first impression of our home, is dominated by this huge cat tree! I don’t want that the be my statement piece, if you know what I mean. So, a week or so ago, we were having company and I asked Eric what he thought about moving the tree. He also hates it where it is, but didn’t see any other place to put it…so it had stayed there. We brainstormed and decided that since we already had the media room torn up (due to a leaky ceiling we had moved all of our cds, etc. over to the other side of the room), it would be easy to move it into that room. So, after a bit of maneuvering (I had to move a bookshelf so that the tree would fit through the door), it is now in its new home in the media room.
My entry way is now bright and open. I’d like to place a small table or cabinet here and then use it for seasonal vignettes. I’d also like to hang a photo Eric took of Grand Central Station here. So many possibilities, but for now I like having the open empty entryway as a first impression, rather than the other.

And Romeo seems happy with the move.
The photo at the very top of this post was taken prior to our dinner guest arriving. We recently bought new everyday dishes and I just love that they are all white. We used our wedding crystal as well. It was such a lovely evening, but I was well-pleased with how the table looked too.
I should have a couple more changes to show soon, as well as a discussion on style and trying to define that in my home.

More Valentine’s and a Few Improvements

Well, I promised you a few more Valentine’s photos. Above are the glass scatters I bought. Aren’t they cute? I love conversation hearts, so when I saw these, I had to have them. Eric’s mom bought us these beautiful votive holders.
I loved how the table looked with the heart tree and the gifts.
And of course, my sweetheart brought me roses in a beautiful vase.

We had a wonderful Valentine’s Day!
Over the weekend, I was feeling a bit of spring cleaning coming on. I found myself working on a few of the problem areas around the house. You may remember my New Year’s Resolution to work on my office and media room. Let’s start with the media room. This mainly required going through the boxes I brought home from work when I was laid off and getting rid of the extranneous junk. I also cleared off the boxes of china and crystal from on top of the bookcase, so that you don’t just see stuff piled up when you look into the room. Here’s the before…
And here it is now.
I am pleased with how it is coming along. Granted I still have boxes on the floor, but once I find a new job, they will be moved out of here. I think just having some vases and a photo on top of the bookshelf looks much better than the boxes. I also got rid of the stuff stacked on top of the cd tower. It was mostly videos and cds that needed to be taken and sold. So, not only did it get rid of the clutter, but we made money too! Those three boxes right next to the door are full of magazines. As soon as I can find a better solution for storing them, those boxes are outta here! I am thinking of those magazine boxes maybe, that will fit on a shelf and not look as bad as the magazines themselves. Anyway, I’m making progress!!
And I also did some work in the office. The corner where the printer and network equipment sit was bothering me.
So, I cleaned out one of the drawers in the set of plastic drawers our office supplies are in. I managed to get some of the compressed air and stuff like that into the drawer. The hard drives that were sitting over here also got moved, as did the printer ink cartridges. I also put away my quilt that was sitting next to the file cabinet in the brown paper bag.
Better, yes?

And, then for the corner of doom. I hate this corner so much, it is just a pile of junk.

So, I had a sudden burst of inspiration to get some shelves down from the attic. These were my grandmother’s and I used to have my craft supplies on them. They are not in really good shape (as you can see I am missing one of the top pieces), but I think they help. They allowed me to organize some of the stuff that was stacked on the floor, like the laptop case, file folders, scanner, etc. I took all the loose hard drives and put them in that brown box on top of the scanner. I got rid of the pen holder on top of the plastic drawers, and organized the drawers themselves. I also donated the electric stapler that had been sitting here (not plugged in) for almost two years. I still have two boxes of magazine articles, etc. that I want to scan into the computer, and then that will get rid of all but the printer paper box – which can go on the bottom shelf. I am really happy that this is a little more organized now!

I think it looks so much better – not perfect, but definitely better. You may notice, I’ve also been working on cleaning off my craft table. I definitely want to take the advice I got about making a skirt for the table to hide some of my craft storage. I think that will definitely help.

And while I was at my attack on the clutter, I decided to do something nice. I found a great frame at Hobby Lobby last week for 50% off. So, Eric and I printed out some photos from our trip to San Antonio last year for our anniversary. I decided to hang it in the entry next to the photo from Gettysburg Eric took. I think it looks better with the two pieces now, because the Gettysburg picture was a little small for that area. Love it!!!

I’m going to keep working around the house and I’ll be sure to show you my progress!

A Few More Changes & Thanksgiving Decorating

Over the weekend, I spent some time taking down the Halloween decorations and putting out the Thanksgiving pieces. Above is a photo of one of my Harmony Kingdom pieces. It is sitting on our mantel surrounded by some fall leaves (silk) and pumpkins/gourds.

I really don’t have much in the way of decorations for Thanksgiving, but I did also put out my fall table runner, which I believe I purchased from Pier 1 Imports years and years ago. I also set out my amber glass turkeys. These came from Williams Sonoma a few years ago. I just absolutely love them. Eric is not so sure about the turkeys, but I think they’re great. I’d love to have an arrangement of some sort in between them for some height on the table.
Also this weekend, we hung one of the photos from our trip to Philadelphia. We chose one of Eric’s photos taken at Gettysburg, specifically from the top of Little Round Top. I love using our travel photos as art in our home. This photo is probably a little too small a scale for the entry, but it works for now. I am considering the entry way finished now.
While I was looking critically at our living room, it ocurred to me that I had never even considered hanging curtains in this room. Once I started thinking about it, I really wanted to do it. I had two panels from my apartment, so I pulled those out. I wasn’t able to match those and get a second set, so we ended up purchasing two new sets of curtains. We also purchased the rods. In my apartment I had brushed chrome rods, with sort of swirly ends. Those weren’t going to work in my Moroccan room, so we went with sort of a bronze-y brown color with what I would call “pineapple” ends. We also bought some tiebacks for the curtains in a deep red. Everything was purchased at Target, and the curtains were on sale! I love the way they look, they are casual, but make the room look so much more finished. They will help with trying to watch a movie during the afternoon too! I think the living room is definitely coming along.
Since I have been basically focusing on the downstairs, I should probably show you the upstairs. Next post I’ll show you the master bedroom and bath. Both rooms are very close to being finished, so they won’t need much attention.