Thursday, February 27, 2014

Things I Love Thursday // 2.27.13

  • Vitamin D 
  • Having tickets to see Lake Street Dive tonight in Charlotte with good friends ~ Greg discovered this band quite by accident sometime before the holidays. We've all been enjoying their album Fun Machine--especially their cover of Hall and Oat's, Rich Girl. They've just come out with a new album, Bad Self Portraits and performed on Letterman and the Colbert Report last week. I cannot wait to see them live!
  • My Anthropologie Galen sunglasses ~ Now on sale! Not only is the shape great, the color is slightly off the beaten path and I find that this pair goes great with so many different things. 
  • Thunderstorm Cuddles ~ We had the most intense thunderstorm I've ever experienced last week. It shook the house and woke G and I almost immediately. Soon thereafter, the girls woke up and each made a bee-line for our bed. The four of us laid awake in our giant bed and were thoroughly impressed by Mother Nature's amazing show. It was a sweet moment and because it's so rare for them to intrude into our room in the night, it really was delightful.
  • Josh Brown ~ Josh is a young artist who grew up in Charlotte and attended the neighborhood high school. He's since graduated and is currently attending Savannah College of Art and Design. I was introduced to his art from a neighbor who saw some pieces at Shain, a local gallery. Here's one of my favorites. 
  • Jo Malone ~ I was introduced to the brand recently by a girlfriend who generously gifted me my choice of products. I'm slightly obsessed now with my own "signature scent." After much agonizing and nearly poisoning myself with samples, I created the perfect combination for me using English Pear and Freesia body creme under a light spritz of Lime Basil & Mandarin cologne. Now I can go almost a full week without showering… I kid. 
  • Torie & Howard Organic Hard Candy in "Pink Grapefruit & Tupelo Honey" 
  • These memes all featuring the same photo of a little boy eating a bowl of cereal 
  • Girl Scout Cookies ~ Honestly, it has to be said: I might hate these as much as I love them… but the love is clearly there. Clearly. {dusting crumbs off my lap}
  • An ice-cold pint of Fat Tire on draft ~ I know this isn't some mind-blowing new discovery but sometimes you're just reminded how great something quite simple can be. I especially love this brew with a burger or a bowl of chili. Cheers! 
  • The huge white and red camellia trees blooming in the back yard
  • The sound of the girls playing in the backyard with neighborhood friends
  • Homemade, fresh, Blood Orange Martinis ~ I cannot take credit for these. Thank you, Carmen! 
  • Meeting new friends ~ We were so happy to host dinner for a great couple from Oregon who are moving to Charlotte via a two-year stint in Chicago. I was virtually introduced to Emily through a mutual (one of many we've discovered in common) friend. After several months of "chatting" by computer, we finally met in-person when they were here on a house-huting expedition. So fun.
  • This recipe for Summer Sandwiches that I modified only slightly by toasting the bread and making them smaller, appetizer-sized nibbles 
  • Little artists who, with quiet intensity, fill the children's menus whenever we go out to eat 
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Harry Potter Birthday Party (Part II)

Here are a few overdue details from our Harry Potter Birthday Party.
I bought the glasses on Amazon and then added a little masking tape around the nose piece.
The pens were used in a couple simple games I had the kids play. These are Crayola markers and colored feathers from the craft store. Turning them into "quills" just took a squeeze of hot glue and a stem of black pipe cleaner wrapped around the spot where the feather was attached.
The cupcake toppers were assembled with cocktail picks, scrapbook paper, black pipe cleaners, a little ribbon (for the snitch wings), and toothpicks (for the broom). In hindsight, I messed up the number of quaffle balls (there should be just one red) and the bludgers (there should be 2 black)--so don't make your set like mine.  
You cannot have a Harry Potter party without wands. I was so happy to find mine from a small seller on Etsy. The price was terrific, the quality was great (detail, sturdiness, variety of colors), and the tips were appropriately "dull" for the age of the kids who received them. 
Crafting and assembling the broomstick bags was the next step. The broomsticks are made from 2 lunch-sized brown paper bags and a little ribbon. I used the wands as the broomsticks.
Once standing, the strips of the outer layer "relax" a bit and take on more of the characteristics of a full and bushy broom.
We stuffed our take-away gift broom bags with a pair of glasses, the wand, and a couple of Harry and Ron's favorite wizard treats: Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans.
Cheers to your little wizard!
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Monday, February 17, 2014

Home Transformation | Dining Room

We "finished" the dining room makeover a little while back and it's high time I showed you some pictures and told you about the process.
Like the rest of the house, the dining room was yellow when we first moved in. The picture on the left is of our tour with the monkeygirls in January 2013, before we moved in. The furniture pictured belongs to the family that sold us the house. On the right, you can see our furniture and the random unpackings that landed on the table. If you look closely, you can see our old dining room rug (all warm, earth tones--totally "wrong" for this house). By the time this picture was taken, I had found some inexpensive and washing-machine-safe chair covers in bright white to cover the moss green high-backed chairs we already owned.
To open the room and simplify furniture placement, we choose to remove the french doors separating the dining room from the front entryway. From the entryway, the living room opens directly across from the dining room. Removing the doors made this feel more "balanced" and again, gave more of an "open" impression when you first step into the house. We also added the picture frame moulding. 
The next step was to patch (where the hinges had been) and paint
It's difficult to see but the small hutch in the corner is a beautiful old piece that belonged to my husband's grandmother. Inside are several small figurines and keepsakes that came to us from his family. I love that you can see a peek of our ombre green staircase in the bargain-priced group of mirrors I found at Target. 
The chandelier was much improved by removing the mismatched crystal ornaments and giving it a thorough cleaning.
I love the blue rug. I wasn't sure what color I wanted to use in this room until I found the rug. Once that was selected, the rest came together really easily from things we already had.
The old radio cabinet was my great-grandmother's. I remember it from her dining room in all the years she lived in the same small house on Willow Road in Menlo Park, California. She used to keep family snapshots and everyone's school pictures inside. I'm so honored to hold onto it for our family. The rooster statues were my grandmother's. They always stood side-by-side atop my grandmother's china hutch and later, on the bookshelves in her family room. 

The basket shelving is great for linens, candles, napkin rings, etcetera. I love the way our random collection of small blue glass bottles and vases display an assortment of clippings and flower buds. It doesn't matter what I put in these little vessels--it always turns out great. 
My favorite feature in the room is the set of over-sized cutlery that hangs on the wall. This spoon and fork pair were a fixture in my grandparent's house (the house I grew up in). 
More than anything else I own, they evoke a deep sense of family.
So this is our fun and fresh dining room. You should know, we've enjoyed a grand total of 2 meals at this table since we moved in.
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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Things I Love Thursday // 2.13.14

  • Tamiflu ~ Seriously, y'all. On Saturday it felt like I was getting a cold. By Saturday night, I thought it might be a severe cold. In the wee hours of Sunday morning (had I been capable of formulating any thoughts other than, "I'm going to die. My organs are shutting down. I'm going to die."), I would have definitely said, flu. With the nursing of my parents (visiting from Oregon) and my hubby, I managed to survive Sunday. First thing Monday morning, my doctor confirmed I had Influenza-A by swabbing the back of my nasal passage. (Let me assure you, "swabbing" sounds rather innocuous and yet, NO, it is not.) Thankfully, the hubby and the monkeygirls had their flu boosters this season. Apparently, I couldn't be bothered. Lesson learned. The hard way. 
  • Sleeping Queens ~ This is a great new card game that our friends just sent us and it has been so much fun to play (not to mention a life-saver during our 7-hour power outage during this most recent snow storm). 
  • Being taken care of ~ I touched on it already but want to stress just how great it felt (in hindsight) to be taken care of during my illness. In general, I don't get SICK. I get colds, my allergies flare up, I wear eye patches from time-to-time [ha and ha], and I strain my muscles doing things like blowing out my hair and picking up shoes off the floor (wish I was kidding). My point is, that typically, I'm never sick enough to actually "call in sick" and stay in bed. In fact, in the 16 years the hubby and I have been together, we can remember maybe 2-3 times that I've been really ill. Earlier this week, I literally could NOT get out of bed. Thank you so much to my mom and dad for stepping up and filling in--not only with the girls--but nursing and checking-in-on me, comforting, delivering tea and soup and medications, laundering, cooking, packing a week's worth of school lunches in advance, and driving me to and from my doctor's appointment/pharmacy… While I'm certain that G and I would have figured out something, it was such a gift to not have to. 
  • Finally figuring out what combination of drain cover and old-fashioned, rubber bathtub stopper worked to make our ONE bathtub functional ~ It's been a year in this house and we literally just had our first baths. Fun, fun, fun! A good soak can really turn your day around. 
  • Having a sunny week in a tropical local to celebrate another year of my hubby's hard work ~ Every winter G's company sends a ton of people to Cancun to celebrate the top producers. Each employee has an option to bring along their significant other--meaning, it's an "adults only" trip. This year, the company hosted about 1700 peeps. It's loud, festive, indulgent, relaxing (true), and fantastic. Thank you, Company.
  • The quiet intensity of Olympic Curling and OMG, Norway's team uniforms (I wish this picture did them better justice. They were pretty fantastic.) 
    {image via Robert F. Bukaty/AP Photo}
  • My new favorite show, Sherlock (Thanks, BBC!) ~ The good news: Each episode is a solid 90 minutes of smart, entertaining, original material. The bad news: There are only 3 episodes per season! (What?!) And only 2 seasons available NOW.
  • North Carolina Snow Cream ~ I had no idea this dreamy little kitchen concoction even existed until my sweet friend and NC expert, Rebecca Hunter mentioned it on one of my Facebook posts. Yummy! 
  • Having power ~ No, not like a "magical one" or anything… just the regular electric kind of power. Being without it for a whole day during a big, scary snow storm reminds me to sincerely appreciate what I so regularly take for granted
  • This amazing team of snowman builders 
  • These super cute wedges I saw on my girlfriend in Cancun last week ~ Yes, I did. ;) AND these other super cute sandals on my other girlfriend. No, not yet… I can't decide on a color!
  • Cool Cats ~ Richard Parker, especially. 
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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Things I Love Lately // 2.2.14

I missed posting my Thursday list earlier this week and I will miss again this week--so I thought I'd hit you with a little "Things I Love Lately" to hold you over. ;)
  • Celebrating a great friend, among great friends over the last weekend in sunny southern California (and Catalina!)
  • The first 2/3 of Gone with the Wind (As far as I've gotten so far...) ~ So many passages stand out as exceptional examples of capturing and expressing each character--especially Scarlett O'Hara. Most recently, I was taken with the following: "Religion had always been a bargaining process with Scarlett." 
  • This silly little snowman that the girls made this week in our tiny snowstorm (that managed to shut school down for 2 days) 
  • The vulnerable openness of those that are able to sleep on airplanes
  • These sweet cheese knives I received as a birthday surprise upon my return from SoCal ~ They're everything I love: Cute critters, ivory, gold accents, and related to CHEESE! 
  • Welcoming my dad and mom from Oregon this week ~ They are here to love and care for the monkeygirls while we are away.
  • The anticipation of seeing friends and catching up with them over cocktails in the sunshine ~ For the majority, this is the one time all year to see one another. Traveling from all the corners of the country, we converge in one resort on this amazingly indulgent vacation to celebrate professional achievements.  
  • Simply sweet surprises ~ Like when your neighbor just pops over with some cocoa for the monkeys after the snowfall. 
  • Cheese Straws ~ This is a Southern Delight that I've grown to love and appreciate wholeheartedly. They are little cracker/cookies that are light, crisp, crunchy, and delicious. I haven't even had any homemade yet--the "store bought" are amazing enough. I'm sure a homemade version would blow my mind. 
  • My fancy nail art ~ This is an idea I saw in a magazine last week. I'm trying another version of it this week for my sunny vacation. 
  • Anna Kendrick ~ Especially so after seeing her Newcastle Superbowl commercial.
  • This gum (Thank you, Amy!) 
  • How my girls light up when they're with their grandpa and grandma
  • The first 3/4 of The Goldfinch (As far as I've gotten so far… --I am also reading another hefty novel; Remember?) and finding another goldfinch on the wall in our hotel room over the weekend ~ It really is the little things, people. 
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