Monthly Archives: June 2017

Porch Post Progress


It’s now time to complete our front porch.

It’s only one of the biggest impact design elements on our house,

+ I’ve had to wait so long!

(Our neighbors must worry that we’ll never finish this thing!)


Here’s my inspiration, found on (where else, duh) Pinterest:

dutch colonial

That’s a Dutch colonial with an asymmetrical front, same as we have.

Here’s what our porch looked like when we bought our house:

dutch colonial before with shrubs

Overgrown shrubbery, bad aluminum siding, ill-conceived enclosed porch.

Here ’tis, after the bushes were yanked out, with the stone foundation exposed:

dutch colonial -- front 'before

dutch colonial front porch midway gone

HA!  Look at the craftsman-style dining light fixture!

dutch colonial front porch almost gone

Soon there were 2 (out of what would be 4) new posts at the front corners.

We had a bit of confusion over the size of the 2 in the middle.

G.O. thought we’d go with shorties, like the one seen here:


Something about that seemed off to me, though.

I wasn’t sure what would be suitable for our old house,

so we drove around our town’s historical neighborhoods

+ I went back to (duh) Pinterest.

Turns out that historical houses had long posts all along their porches.

Like this.  Yes, that’s another Dutch colonial.

porch -- southern living

Here’s one of our columns.  They’re fiberglass, very heavy.


G.O. has been prepping for tomorrow’s post installation,

which involves this big, red jack:



Once the posts go up, it will finally be time for the railings + spindles.

We have one very narrow section installed already:


You can also see my design for under the porch,

using gray lattice panels, in stock at Menards, + white 1 x 4’s.

G.O. painted the blocks black to make them disappear + add depth.

Here’s our inaugural effort, on the east side:


Seems we’ve come such a long way!

There’s still a lot more to be done, so stay tuned!


Colorful Magazine Inspired Re-Do

This special issue of Country Home magazine is available right now,

+ you must go get a copy!  It’s that good.

country home magazine cover

Away with less is more decorating + just say no to neutrals-only!

So, as one does after reading a really good home magazine,

I immediately engaged in a really fun re-do, starting with this:


Please.  How much do we love that sorter of mine!!??!!

The color’s perfect, + the patina is so wonderful!


I bought it in the early 90’s from a friend + happily used it in my old retail store:


Sadly, there are no photos of said sorter in said store.

Please.  I take dozens of pictures every week!?


I guess we’ll never know, but back to the sorter.

  After I closed the store + moved across the state to be with G.O.,

it’s been languishing inside our garage for years.

Then we moved into our Dutch colonial about a year + a half ago.

I mean, come on.


Was that blank living room calling for it, or what!?


Yes, it was.




So.  Speaking of being inspired,

a few weeks ago I spied a photo of this room in Diane Keaton’s house:


Next thing you know, I’m rearranging all my books by color!





I really love how the cubbies display some of my ‘smalls’,

including these cute milk glass chickens from Grandma:


And in honor of Grandpa, who always carried a buckeye in his pocket for good luck:


A commemorative beer glass of the Cardinals ’64 World Championship,

(+ check out that adorable rock baseball made by my grandson!)


Omigosh, how sweet is my girlhood bank?:


A sweet red (Cardinal?) pie bird from my friend:


And this fun pair of Dachshunds:


Our framed map of Illinois is from the 1880’s;

we bought it at a pop-up vintage market in Grand Central Station in NYC:



But wait.  There’s more.

My beloved new Country Home magazine

has inspired me to ‘busy up’ the top of my sorter!


My son’s name is Jonathan,

so naturally, I got a bag from Jon’s grocery store in LA + had it framed:


A wonderful handmade basket from a fellow artisan at a show in the 1990’s

+ my heavy glass Pottery Barn vessel filled with old baseballs:



Now then.

Never fear — there have been other revamps in + around the Dutch colonial:


And in our canned ham:


Stay tuned for updates!


Yet More Canned Ham Progress

Yesterday I shared some exciting new progress in our canned ham’s interior.

Turns out our new bedding

is the reason why we painted our refrigerator black + red!

NOW it makes sense!

IMG_0844 (1)

Both G.O. + I really love those new arrow decals on the wall!

My thoughts are to repeat them on the opposite end wall of the ham,

which is way too plain Jane:


Wow, what a yawn!

I’d like to see a single row of arrows on each side of the window,

 similar to this photo that the etsy shopkeeper posted:

decal of arrows single row

Not too much — just enough to “have a conversation” with the wall

on the opposite side of the ham.


Oops! Please disregard the dusty stove top — somebody needs to fire the house keeper (me!)


Hey!  What’s going on with those curtains?  You ask.


I am sewing them with this fabric from

It’s a very lightweight white cotton,

so our ham will be bright + light, even when the curtains are closed.

fabric for ham curtains

But that print!  I couldn’t love it more!

Turns out it’s “having its own conversation” with something in the ham,

but I’ll share that fun story tomorrow.

Back to the curtains.

Here’s Plan A for hanging them, with clip-on rings:


I’ve gotta admit, I’m not in love.

Maybe they would look better if we just shirred them on that rod,

OR how awesome would they look with black grommets!?

I think I want grommets.



G.O. has the job of grommet installation at our house,

wouldn’t you know it?

cats fighting

  Stay tuned.







Canned Ham Interior Updates

While we might not ever finish our Dutch colonial (sad!),

the good news is that when it comes to our canned ham,

we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel!


Sure, that exterior might look all vintage, retro + groovy,

but I worried that the plain Jane interior was more than a little blah.

The humanity!

I mulled over several options, like wallpaper,

but that seemed like such a huge project!

Besides, G.O. wasn’t having it.

cats fighting

We still needed some pattern in there, so I kept hunting.

Finally, after an exhaustive search,

I decided to order these arrow decals from etsy seller Danadecals:

Yay! — right?

The seller describes them as “arrows with a modern twist”,

+ I thought they would go with my proposed industrial/camp style.

Soon enough (but not before they arrived in our mailbox — oops),

I finally shared all of this happiness with G.O.

Frankly I’m drawing a blank re: what happened next,

but in a few days we decided to try + apply those arrow decals.

We timidly started with a wee small section above the bed.

Baby steps!!!



I think we both shouted “omigosh!” in our heads.

We really loved the way the arrows transformed our ham,

 even though, initially, they were a tad difficult to apply.

Maybe not quite as difficult as those press-on tiles in our kitchen:


I’m pretty sure that those scribbles mean G.O. was hating that project.

Poor guy.

But back to the arrows.

We persisted, + since practice usually makes perfect in our G.O.’s world —

within hours, he was putting them up all by himself.



Oops! Please disregard the dusty stove top — somebody needs to fire the house keeper (me!)

Let’s have another look-see, shall we?


Pretty exciting, no? — + how awesome is that buffalo check blanket?

It’s Martha Stewart, + I ordered it from Macy’s (no longer available).

Now, at long last, our wacky red refrigerator makes perfect sense!


I love it when a plan finally comes together!

But wait.  There’s more!



I’ll force myself to wait until tomorrow to share, though.

Stay tuned!





Plain Jane House Gets Its Makeover

We spent the weekend in my hometown in southern Illinois,

+ while there — as is my way — I perused the listings on

Do you do that, too?

Anyway, I was surprised that there were so many houses under $100 grand!

For example, this plain Jane (with lots of potential!) is only $49,900!

You can see more in the listing, here.

cape cod of greenville front exterior

Just yesterday on Facebook,

my cousin from my hometown posted the photo of a house

she was interested in buying, + guess which one it was!

Hard to believe, but yes — the plain Jane house!

cape cod of greenville front exterior

Say no more!

I was soon dashing over to Pinterest for some design inspiration to share,

+ here’s what I found, from the blog, Nesting With Grace.

It’s another plain Jane house, this one with a small porch.

(Some of my cousin’s Facebook friends suggested that ‘her house’ needed one!)

But something’s not quite right.

The wrought iron porch column + the stair railings

were all the rage, back in the 50’s + 60’s — but today, it looks dated + too thin.

It needs to be replaced with something more substantial,

  + on that note, here’s the stunning AFTER:

I know!  It’s like night + day, isn’t it?

It looks like they’ve replaced the wrought iron with white vinyl,

which is probably in stock at your local build-o-rama.

The light fixture’s been updated to something larger,

+ there’s a new mailbox + new house numbers.

Even though the porch is quite small,

there’s room for a sweet + welcoming French cafe chair.

The new front door has been painted a pretty shade of blue:

Now, pay close attention to this:

all the accessories — the chair + the flower pots —

echo the blue of the door + the white of the posts + railings.

For yet more color coordination, the shutters are painted the door blue,

+ the pair of white Adirondack chairs even have blue pillows.

There’s a lot going on,

but keeping everything in just one color family

makes the design cohesive + not too crazy or too busy.


The landscaping’s been updated with some classic boxwood shrubs

+ some pretty pink + red Knock-Out Roses, which bloom all season.

(Notice how the red is repeated in the red stripes of the U.S. flag.)

The new white window boxes add architectural detail,

+ their small evergreens (dwarf Alberta spruces?)

will provide winter interest when the roses go dormant.

Let’s have one more look at the $49 grand house in my home town:

cape cod of greenville front exterior

It’s easy to envision some of the blog house’s AFTER features here, isn’t it?

Remember — it, too, was once a plain Jane!

Now it’s time to share on Facebook!

Stay tuned for my cousin’s + friends’ reactions!



Welcome To Hydrangea World!

Our relatively small yard is now home to a whopping 18 hydrangeas!

What I am now calling “Hydrangea World” began last fall,

with this informal hedge of oak leaf hydrangeas planted on our lot line:


We bought 7 plants, 8′-10’T, @ $11 apiece, from Menards,

+ 4 of them are happily blooming already:


Next up — the western foundation of our Dutch colonial:


Once again, we planted a row of hydrangeas —

this time in mixed varieties.


You guys.

Look at the gorgeous blue of that Twist ‘N Shout, 3’-5’T!


Once I spied it (at Menards), there was no going home without it! —

which means that there are now 2 of them in our foundation bed:


There are also 3 Pistachio hydrangeas, with beautiful pink blossoms, 3′-5’T:


Aren’t the petals beautiful?


At the window bay, we planted 3 Endless Summer hydrangeas, 3′-5’T:



Wow oh wow — that blue!

In my last post, I spoke of this fertilizer for acid-loving plants.

hydrangea food

Turns out that hydrangeas love acid soil, + adding acid to said-same soil

results in blue Endless Summer hydrangea flowers.


That means I will be regularly fertilizing my hydrangeas with it,

as nobody loves the blue flower more than I do!


I would have happily added even more hydrangeas to our foundation,

but G.O. was insistent that we have a mixed-plant section.

Here ’tis


Upper left: Stirfry hosta 20″T x 36″W — Upper right: Ostrich fern 3′-5’T — Lower left: Younique Pink astilbe 16″-20″ — Lower right: Firefly coral bells 30″T-12″W


Coral bells

That’s going to look great, once the plants fill out, don’t you think?

And finally, in closing, here’s our climbing hydrangea (who knew?),

which was originally planted to grow up this trellis

on our garden shed . . .


. . . but which has since been transplanted to here,

underneath our pretty maple tree:


Wait.  What?

There’s an interesting story here; I’ll share soon.

As always, stay tuned!


Happily Fertilizing In The Garden

My friend in Florida suggested I use SUPERthrive vitamin plant brew,

. . . so I just fed it to everything in our garden . . .


. . . one watering can at a time!


It was quite a job, since we have lots of new plants in our yard,

but I love gardening so much, it’s not work for me!

Anything for my plants!

The instructions say that SUPERthrive can be used

in addition to other types of fertilizer.

That’s a good thing, considering all the “brews” that I add to my plants!

When anything new gets planted, we always add root stimulator,

a.k.a. Quick Start, by Miracle Grow.

root stimulator

As the season progresses, about once a week, I add fertilizer,

each one formulated for different sorts of plants.

My ferns + hydrangeas apparently grow best in acid soil,


so they are fed with this:

hydrangea food

 Fun fact:

Endless Summer hydrangea flowers turn blue if their soil is acidic,

which means they’ll coordinate nicely with all my blue garden accesories.

Here’s one of three** we just planted, with my beloved bird bath,

made with a blue + white transfer ware plate:


The birdbath is resting on an old hollow tree stump,

+ the silvery green plants in the background are pulmonaria,

more commonly known as lungwort.


My pretty blue gazing ball usually rests nearby on a white iron stand.

This morning I was moving stuff around, so I just snapped its photo on the lawn:


Here is one of my most favorite garden accessories —

my cobalt blue glass star!

We have three** of them hanging from a branch of a tree,

where they manage to catch the sun in both morning + late afternoon.


** Why groups of three, you ask?

Design professionals insist that odd numbers

are more pleasing to the eye than even.

I do this in my interiors, too.

  • * * *

Finally, in my quest for beautiful flowers + lots of ’em,

I add Bloom Booster to my flowering plants:

bloom boost

We planted an informal hedge of oak leaf hydrangeas last fall,

+ most of them are flowering already:


You may notice that the oak leaf hydrangea’s flowers are elongated

+ consist of hundreds of tiny, white petals . . .


. . . whereas the Endless Summers’ flowers are round-ish,

with larger petals.


What the hey — I have never met a hydrangea that I didn’t love!

We’ll probably add more to our garden as the summer progresses.

Stay tuned!

(If you’re interested in my post

about the front foundation bed of our Dutch colonial, go here.)


Got A New TV Show To Love

I’ve got another favorite HGTV show — it’s called Hometown,

starring this super cute couple, Ben + Erin:

hometown -- erin and ben

They had me at their old pick up truck* + their incredibly cool logo.

Don’t you love logos?

*G.O. says the truck looks like it’s a ’64 Chevy (+ he always knows.)

Thumbs up!

hometown -- pick up truck

Anyway, you know the drill with these shows:

The cute hosts show another cute couple some makeover wannabe houses,

the second cute couple chooses one, + then the re-do ensues.

Take this house.


hometown -- house before

It had plenty of curb appeal but now has lots more.

Extra points for the highly coveted (by me) red window sashes,

which play nicely with the pretty red Japanese maple.

hometown -- house front after

Every yard needs at least one Japanese maple!

hometown -- house front close up

Here’s the living room, sporting some really tragic green paint:

hometown -- house living room before

Now check this out.

I’m interested to know your thoughts on the busy tile fireplace surround.

hometown -- house living room after fireplace

I surprised myself with how much I liked it!

They based all their color choices on the tiles, which I think is genius.

hometown -- house living room after from above

My favorite makeover occurred in the kitchen (as it most often does.)

Here’s the lame + sad before:

hometown -- house kitchen before 2

Is it wrong that I like the existing vintage floor tiles?

hometown -- kitchen before

How could you not love white cabinets with pretty gray back splash tiles?

The range hood design is pretty swell,

+ little granny loves the bridge faucet, too!

I swear, I had that exact, same utensil crock from Lillian Vernon in the 70’s!

hometown -- house kitchen after looking at door

Yes, I’ll admit it —

the natural wood floor is way better than the original tiles.

Look how sweet — that little pass-through window

looks into the adjacent breakfast nook:

hometown -- house kitchen after view to b'fast nook

Notice how they kept that original cupboard, which rules:

hometown -- house b'fast nook before

Erin asked Ben to make a new copper counter top,

+ he didn’t even complain!

hometown -- house b'fast nook after

We’d have been all like this:

cats fighting

Ha ha ha ha ha!

Now, then.

The breakfast nook benches were originally one very long church pew.

Good job!

hometown -- house b'fast nook 2

At the top of the stairs, there’s a cozy sitting area,

which, in my little world, would never be used,

but hey.  It’s cool.

hometown -- house sitting area

The best thing about the master bedroom is the tall wainscoting, which I love

+ which I now want for our own bedroom.

You can’t go wrong with pale blue walls, either!

hometown -- house bedroom after

Oh, + check out how the artwork’s been hung low,

on the wainscot, rather than above.

That vintage blue dresser is definitely calling my name!

hometown -- house bedroom 2

We’ve got that same blue striped blanket, from Target,

+ I think that groovy tan + white gingham bedding is from IKEA.

So.  Are you watching Hometown yet?

I’d love to hear what you think of it!



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