Thursday, September 27, 2012

You're Invited | Kayce Hughes Trunk Show

I'm so excited to be hosting a  Kayce Hughes Trunk Show!
Her clothes are among my very favorites!
For a dress + skirt loving person, like myself,  
they are as perfect for everyday wear as they are for special occasions.
I get more compliments wearing her clothes than ANYTHING else in my closet.
PLUS, she offers an absolutely ADORABLE line of children's clothing too!

While I've loved keeping her clothes "secret,"
 they are too cute not to share.
Friends, neighbors, local readers...everyone is welcome.
Please email if you need directions!
Bring your friends!
The more the merrier!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Let's Talk Counters

Hello, friends!  I was planing on sharing a few cozy fall additions in our family room, but we've had a couple gray days with more in the forecast, which, as you know, doesn't bode well for interior photos.  Instead I'm going to attempt to walk you through the decision making process for our kitchen counters.   Hopefully, it will help others out there in the same conundrum.  I had hoped to have our new counters installed when I wrote this so I could vouch for my decision, but they are taking longer than I expected.  Hopefully, next week.  I'm praying, next week. Because without counters I don't have plumbing and a kitchen without plumbing is not easy to live with for a long period of time. This marks my third week in case you are counting.  :)

Before I begin, a BIG Disclaimer: I'M NOT AN EXPERT ON THIS SUBJECT!  This is just a collection of information I used to help me make a decision.  I'm sure others have had different experiences with the same materials.

When we first decided to redo the kitchen I was interested in butcher block counters.  I thought they would be a cost effective option that added warmth and suited the farmhouse style of our home.  However, my main concern was wear and tear.  I especially worried about the wood around the sink and potential warping over time.  I am admittedly not the world's most meticulous housekeeper, making me shy away from things that require additional upkeep or maintenance.  I considered using a different material on the counter shared with the sink and limiting butcher block to my island.  I like this look a lot, but my kitchen is very small and having multiple counter surfaces felt too busy.  Butcher block - out.

Then came Holly's visit.  She suggested soapstone.  Not really suggested, I think her words were "and you'll be using soapstone for the counters, right?"  To which I replied, "of course!" Ha Ha.  I LOVE the look of soapstone.  Again, it seemed perfectly suited to the style of our home and it reminded me of kitchens in New England. Soapstone is a soft, non-porous, highly durable, stone.  Meaning it will scratch and potentially chip. I happen to find the scratches and little imperfections part of soapstone's charm.  I know that is a deterrent for others.  It is impossible to permanently stain, but it can show marks that will wear off over time. Soapstone is typically oiled with mineral oil when installed and periodically thereafter.  The oiling is not for protection, rather for aesthetics, to show off the veining and to speed oxidation {the darkening process}.   Soapstone starts off a lighter gray and then darkens to a charcoal, almost black color over time.  Certain soapstone is more black and others more green.  There is natural white veining that can range from prominent to more subtle.  All soapstone for counters is now quarried in Brazil.

A few variations...
Majestic Soapstone

Hazel Eyes Soapstone

Brenton Brook Soapstone

I fell in LOVE with a sample at a design center that was the perfect dark gray with very subtle veining.  Unfortunately, it came from a quarry that had closed a year earlier.  I was crushed.  I was sent a large sample of a potential substitute soapstone.  I lived with the sample for a week and just didn't love it the way I had the other.  I tend to prefer soapstone un-oiled, but found it showed every fingerprint and smudge.  We put drinks and food on it and all left marks.  Marks that easily washed up, but I didn't want to be constantly wiping the counters down.  When oiled the sample looked greener than I wanted and the veining too pronounced.  Here are some examples of oiled vs. unoiled...

{this sample is lighter than what I would have wanted, but you see the difference the oil makes} 

{this is exactly the look I had wanted}

Click here for a gallery of good examples of soapstone counters.

Even with those concerns it wasn't until we had our lighting installed that I decided soapstone just wasn't going to be the right choice for our space.  Our tiny kitchen really needs lighter surfaces to reflect and bounce light around the room.  Dark, matte counters would absorb light.  This is the challenge of pinterest and magazines, you ultimately have to take into account not just the style of your home, but the amount of light, the layout, etc.  What might look gorgeous in another space isn't always the best choice for your own.  Soapstone - Out. Sniff. Sniff.

So, two options shot down, what's a girl to do?!! I was confident that light was the route to go.  I think marble looks beautiful, but I worry too much about staining.  My boys sit at our kitchen island all the time and spill and draw and who knows what else, on that counter. I think of the pile of lemons I found that Andrew had sliced directly on our counters to make fresh squeezed lemonade last summer, that sat there for several hours before I discovered the mess and how I might have reacted if that mess had been atop marble.  It would have been ugly my friends!!   I know that with time, stains, even the etching from acidic foods on marble, all add to a pretty patina, but, in the meantime, I would zero in on them and potentially regret the decision.  Sooooo....the look of marble without the searching lead me to quartz.  Quartz requires no sealing, no maintenance, is non-staining, non-scratching and heat resistant. is not a perfect marble substitute.  If you've forever lusted over marble this won't cut it.  But, if you want to get close to the look without the worry this may be worth checking out.  My favorite in the store was the Cambria Torquay, but my favorite at home was the Silestone in Lagoon.  I also brought home the Silestone Lyca which has more noticeable "veining" but to me it looked more unnatural under my lights. Here are some examples in other kitchens...

Cambria Torquay

Quarzite in White Macubus Calacutta {info on quartzite vs quartz here}

{taken with my phone}
Silestone Lagoon, Cambria Torquay

The above is the look I'm hoping to achieve with my counters.  A soft light gray, with no visible veining from a distance, that looks marble-esque.  Stay tuned to see how it actually turns out!! 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

kitchen notes | finishing touches

We've just wrapped up a glorious weekend, filled with bright blue skies and cooler temperatures.    Saturday night Jimmy and I enjoyed a late dinner outside at a favorite Mexican restaurant and today we squeezed in the farmer's market, a neighborhood baseball game, bike rides, naps {for some} and dinner at my parents.

We've been without a stove, sink, kitchen plumbing and counters for about a week and the novelty of eating out has worn off, so we are mighty grateful for my Mum's cooking.  Speaking of the kitchen, if you want the play by play you can follow along on instagram {nineandsixteen} or click on the instagram tab above.  I don't have the time to adequately blog about the great counter debacle so I'll be very brief. I was set on soapstone, found a sample I LOVED and was a VERY happy girl.  When it came time to place the order we discovered that the quarries for that type of soapstone closed about 6 months ago and there is no more to be had.  The available alternatives weren't to my liking, so I made a 180 degree switch and went light.  As in a marble look alike quartz.  I love marble, but I'm too afraid to use it so I went with a suitable alternative.  I MUST blog about the options out there because it is interesting and may help others who love marble yet are scardy cats like myself. :)  I also think the dark matte soapstone might have swallowed up my tiny kitchen, I need to be able to reflect and bounce the light and the quartz will allow that, I hope!

So...Once that decision was behind me I was able to focus my energy on the finishing touches, which is really my favorite part.  I'm still debating on a fabric for roman shades.  I might even just end up with a solid linen, but at this hour, the top contenders are pictured above.  I'm using a grain sack like material for the under sink skirt and recovering the counter stools in check scalloped slips. I'm phasing out the raspberry-red colored checks.  They felt too loud in the new kitchen.  I will keep the fabric though and convert it to pillow covers because I know at Christmas time I'll want a bit more of it around.  I'm keeping the red check ottoman in the living room though. I added a sconce in the corner of the kitchen between my two windows and I adore it. I replaced our cheapy door knobs with pretty porcelain ones.  We have polished brass and antique brass knobs throughout the house but for some reason the 2 doors in the kitchen had matte pewter knobs, no idea why. I've been all over the board on shelf brackets too but I've firmly decided to keep the ones pictured above.  Now that about brings you up to speed.  The kitchen should be complete by the second week in October.  Most of the work, besides painting, will wrap up late this week/early next week.  Fingers and toes crossed those wonderful painters of mine are running on {maybe ahead} of schedule.  I'll be back with sources, great online shops, and more info on counter top options soon.  For now I'm all tuckered out.  Nite!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

preschool is back in session

Well, that's it, summer has officially concluded for us! Today was Charlie's first day back at preschool.  Only for an hour and with half the class, just long enough for me to squeeze in a cup of tea and a little uninterrupted Mama chit-chat  But by next week they will be up to two and half hours three mornings a week.  I honestly think he is ready for more, but I'm not.  I savor our one on one time together.  It is probably {in my opinion} the biggest advantage to having children spaced 6 years apart.  They each get a lot of undivided Mama attention in their younger years.  Aw, who am I kidding, he'd rather be playing with his big brother than hanging out with me, but I love it.  We went out together for lunch today and as I was paying the pill he said, "okay, come on girl, let's go". Cracked me up.  He was thrilled to be going back to his sweet school today and I hope he has as wonderful a year this year as he did last. Charlie makes me and most other people around him pretty happy {most of the time.  he's not perfect!}, I pray that never changes!  I'll miss his irresistible little face for those few hours he's away each week, but I'm quite certain he won't be missing me, at least not too much! xo

{with best buddy from last year, Michael}

{with neighbor buddies Ruby + Carter}

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Day of 4th Grade!

{a very non-genuine smile!}

This morning we walked our 4th grader to school!!  Andrew slept well and woke up rearing to go.  I, on the other hand, was off, and have remained off the entire day.  I blame it on my own night-before-back-to-school jitters and multiple midnight visits from a certain 3 year old who was seeing monsters in his room.  I had so carefully laid out everything in advance -- backpack, supplies, ingredients for breakfast, yet somehow this morning I managed to make pumpkin spice doughnuts without pumpkin {I was able to make a quick save and they tasted fine but it put us a little behind schedule} AND we managed to walk about 1/4 of the way to school before we realized the supply box was left at home.  Nothing like sending off your child on the first day without even a pencil!  Thankfully, Daddy was there to run back and we still made it with plenty of time to spare.  Sometimes my attempts to make a day extra special and properly mark the occasion don't really end up quite as I planned.  I even messed up the after school/dinner treat too!  Andrew requested homemade pretzels and my first batch of dough didn't rise!!  My second batch was glorious though and while they weren't ready when he walked in the door, they were an hour later and all was just fine! But what absolutely made my day was seeing Andrew's big smile after school and hearing about how "awesome" his day was and how much he likes his teacher. Yay! Here's to many more days just like this! 

For Andrew...
I pray that this year is your best yet.
That this is the year you realize being you is enough.
I pray that you have a teacher that sees your creativity and appreciates your busy mind.
I pray you continue to learn when it's necessary to conform {a little} 
and when it's time to let go and express your individuality. 
I pray that you have good friends near you when you need them.
I pray you stand by and stick up for others when they need you.
I pray you stay so honest and share all the details of your day, good and bad.
I pray you know it's more important to have a loving heart than a strong mind.
I pray I don't put too much pressure on you or set expectations too high, 
and I pray you forgive me when I do.
I pray your worries are few and that you don't rush to grow up.
I pray you leave me each morning feeling loved 
and lastly, I pray that there is a smile on your face {most days} when you return home.

{in 2 short years this one will be joining them. so hard to believe!}