Saturday, June 30, 2012

Family Road Trip | Tennessee

We are back from a little early summer family road trip.  We rented a  bus  minivan, packed up, and headed south for a few days.  We are a relatively short drive from Nashville and thought the boys would have a blast staying at a gigantic hotel, exploring the music scene, and making some new memories. And they did. We did too.  Here are a few pics...

road trip essentials: movies + basket of snacks + children in separate rows + ice cream 
{yes, that last one was messy}

We stayed at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.

Everyone knows hotels are half the fun of any trip and 
what could be more fun that one with a river and boats running through it?! 
The pools were great too and there was plenty of room to get lost exploring.

 {phone pic}

We spent a long afternoon enjoying the music and scene on Honky Tonk Row.

Charlie could have listened to the musicians and bands ALL DAY LONG.
Andrew and I did a little shopping in between acts...

He left the store with a cowboy hat and I left with a pair of boots!

We also made a trip to nearby Franklin, TN just outside of Nashville.
Oh my goodness, is it charming!

Plenty of cute shops for me and fun shops for the boys.
Please note Andrew is still in cowboy hat!

We stopped for lunch at this yummy and cozy bakery.  
Blue and white checked tablecloths on the tables, the smell of fresh baked bread heavy in the air.
Notice that sign??  Yep, 107 degrees!  It was STEAMY.

The best part of lunch though, was getting to spend it with Linsey and her gorgeous family.
Linsey and I became friends a couple years ago through our blogs and getting to meet in real life was exactly as I expected.  She is, in person, just as sweet,  pretty and genuine as she is on her blog.
She recently moved from Houston to Franklin and is busy turning their incredible new farmhouse into a home. I wish we could have had more time together but we talked as much as we possibly could from children to paint colors and hopefully we'll see each other again!  I'm so bummed I didn't take a picture of our families together!  {We both had our cameras too! bad bloggers!} 
We managed to take one of us {thank you, JD}...

On or way back to Cincinnati we stopped halfway to do a little cave exploring...

{when nature calls...  which is often when you are 3...}

{Very appropriate foot attire for a hike in the woods.  I can hear my Dad saying that right now! In my defense, it was too hot for socks and sneakers! I only slipped once!}

Thankfully the cave tour was by boat.
This particular cave had once been the hide out for Jesse James, and earlier in history, a place that housed camps from both Union and Confederate soldiers.  There was lots of folklore and terrific stories about a man eating swimming hole, missing bodies, lost horse drawn carriages and such.  
Perfect for boys! 

Now we are back and resting up. We had a great time, however don't be fooled, traveling with kids is tiring, shared hotel rooms and musical beds even more so {I might have contemplated taking a pillow out to the mini van at 4:00AM just to get a little peaceful sleep}, but well worth it!  
Lots of good family time!  If you are close, I do recommend Nashville for a family trip. The people are so welcoming and there is plenty to see and do. Liking country music is essential!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Historic Wilmette Kitchen Makeover

Sometimes I fancy myself an Ina Garten protege, other times a party planner, and occasionally a decorator. {One of the hazards of being a stay-at-home Mom! Haha!!}  I don't think I could do it as a profession because I'm so picky and have a limited range of what I like, I'd probably drive clients absolutely bananas. But recently I had a chance to play "pretend" decorator for the ideal "clients".  Ok, maybe not "ideal" because I worked for free, but ideal in the sense that they pretty much do whatever I suggest! My brother and his wife and two young boys bought a big, beautiful, old home in charming Wilmette, IL, an old suburb right outside of Chicago on Lake Michigan. I was honored when they asked for my help with their kitchen and living room.  Here is a peek at my ideas + inspiration and some preliminary pics of the kitchen.  We are going up to visit them in July and I plan to take my sister-in-law shopping so we can accessorize and warm it up a bit.    I think the few changes they've made already have a HUGE impact though.  They wanted to keep their current cabinets, floor, counters, sink and appliances.


The Plan...

paint cabinets a warm darker gray + brass hardware
remove wallpaper and paint walls a lighter gray
add fabulous light fixtures over island
add a bamboo blind over sink

add ironstone plates and platters above the window
add wooden cutting boards, ceramic crocks for utensils, baskets to corral supplies on counters
have washable slips made for counter stools
add a little greenery with topiaries or plants

After {STAGE 1}...

I'll share more as they finish it up.  
Amazing what paint and a couple new accessories can do, right?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Our Home | Summery Additions

When it comes to our house I haven't "decorated" much lately.  The project list is still long and wide, but I've been content for the moment to just leave things alone.  Partly because I'm trying hard to stick to a budget and refuse to start spending on the kitchen until I do, and partly because I'm just happy living with what we have and not obsessing about what changes I need to make.  Our upholstery is getting worn out so I don't care if the boys eat a bowl of ice cream on the couch while watching a movie or use the pillows as weapons in a pillow fight, our dishwasher has been on the outs but some nights it's nice to wash the dishes by hand with Jimmy and listen to music and talk {some days it is a real pain in the you-know-what though! And a new one is one the way}.  At the moment my focus has been more on just living and less on buying.  This is out of character for me, but honestly a home with with plenty of books, music, and good food is really more than well decorated enough and I'd lost sight of that a bit.  Before you go thinking I've lost my love of pretty interiors, let me assure you that is far from the case.  I've just been slowing down a little on the spending and it's been nice not running all over town looking at paint colors or fabrics or scouring websites.  HOWEVER, it is summer and a change of seasons always brings the desire to freshen things up a bit.  Here's how I've done it lately without breaking the bank!

I picked up this $19.99 toile duvet cover + sham set at Ikea for Holly's visit.  She stayed in Andrew's room and I wanted her to at least have something feminine in there.  I am normally an all white bedding kind of girl, but for that price it was fun to mix up our summer bedding without any real commitment.  The blue and white feels fresh and I pair it with higher end sheets so it doesn't feel like cheapy bedding, even though it is! :)

We've had lots of fresh flowers in the home.  While I like them all year round, in the summer I'm never without.  We only had peonies one week at Trader Joe's and I just about bought the whole bunch. {above photo by Andrew!!  I didn't crop or edit!}

I found a French antique bench for the bare space in front of our steps.  I've been looking FOREVER and when this one measured at the perfect dimensions I pounced on it.  I may or may not add a cushion. I was thinking a long, down filled cushion, covered in a pretty avocado green velvet with off white contrast piping.  I go back and forth.  I thought it would be a great place to sit and put on shoes, but it really has become more of dumping spot for the pool tote and my bag.

See? Meant to be.

I sewed a couple new pillows out of one of my favorite Kathryn Ireland fabrics. {Hey, good enough for Steve Martin to have in his home, good enough for me! :)} I have them on my red bergere chairs in front of the fireplace, but I prefer one on the above side chair.  Here's a close up of the fabric...

And lastly, I've added a little blue and white transferware to my collection...

When I get my open shelving in the kitchen I want a few platters to line the back and mix in a bit of color among all my white dishes and plates.

I will post soon about my kitchen planning and decision making... Enjoy your weekends!

ps. Thanks so much for all the great read aloud book recs!!  Off to the library this week!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Playing at the Park | Best Buddies

charlie + elliot
age 3.5  [almost 4 for elliot!!}
best buds 
current trouble makers, super heroes,  share a Happy Meal, run-around-wild kind of friends
future biking buddies, teammates, first sleep-over-at-each-other's-house kind of friends

{so happy i packed my camera along with the sippy cup and granola bar this morning.}

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Our Weekend | Great Friends + Good Food + Pretty Homes

This weekend was a treat.  We had a special house guest, my good friend, Holly.  Holly is a designer and very popular blogger, as almost all of you well know.  Her blog was one of the first ones I started reading and we became friends several years ago, after she helped work on a couple rooms in our home and we realized we had more in common than a love of decorating.  Even though we talk via email and texts almost daily, we had never met in person till this weekend.  And while this might sound a bit odd, being together was as familiar and comfortable as with any "real life" friend that lives here.  We had a blast together.  Here's how we spent our time...

We walked around the village and I pointed out plenty of "Holly" houses.
Basically confirming to her that she'd be right at home living here should she ever want to move.

Holly saw several clients in her two days here.  Whew!  I joined her on a couple visits.
I pretended to be her assistant.  Doing a lot of this...

One of the homes Holly is working on is that of my friend and neighbor, Carrye.
I adore her home. ADORE.  I can't spend too much time in it though, because it is makes me want to come home, pitch everything and start all over. 
It's warm and cozy and uncluttered. 
Definitely one of my very favorite homes.  
Holly is primarily helping with ideas for her boys' rooms and little finishing touches here and there.  Carrye is kind enough to let me share a few of my favorite spaces in her home.  
{Let the pinning commence!! :)}
{I know I'll get questions.  Her upholstery is almost all Quatrine. Her paint colors, all Farrow and Ball}

Holly also had clients is neighboring towns.
Where we continued to house stalk, rolling down the windows of our black car and taking pics.
Like house paparazzi...

We found time to pop in a few of my favorite shops...

They even put out buffalo check chairs in honor of Holly's visit. {hehe!}...

My boys were so excited for her to arrive and they just loved her!  
Charlie got in his share of snuggle time.
And Andrew did Facetime with Holly's son, Drew, talking the finer points of Lego.

We drank lots of coffee + lattes... 
Ate our share of chocolate {I think my chocoholic tendencies might have surprised? frightened? Holly, but it was chilly and coffee and chocolate just belong together}...
Had a very late night dinner outside at a local bistro 
{where a cute, young, server and recent Ole Miss graduate, was quite smitten with Miss Mathis. :)}...
Holly had her first scoop of Graters ice cream...
And I thought of a million more things I'd love to have shown her but there just wasn't time...  
It was sooooo nice having her here.  She fits right in and I was very sad to see her go.  
But I know three boys who will be mighty happy to have their pretty Mama back home!