Summer Wreath

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It is officially July, and I had all the best intentions to post before the first day of summer, yet here we are almost half way through summer. This summer has been full of projects, friends and family, so the blog has taken a back burner yet again. However, just because it is past June 21st doesn't mean the front door can't get refreshed to finish up these last couple months of summer before the first day of fall. 

I have been on the hunt for a wreath for the front door for a while now. I kept finding some beautiful options except I kept running into the same problems - too small, indoor use only, looked "cheap" in person, and were all overly priced. I decided the best option would be to just make the wreath myself. I figured it couldn't take too much time or money. So, I have pulled together all the necessities and a step by step for you to follow whether it be for a bright, cheery summer wreath or if you really plan ahead and start on a warm, cozy fall wreath. 

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Left Image: 24" Diameter Wire Wreath Frame Right Image: 18" Diameter Wire Wreath Frame *Winner*

Left Image: 24" Diameter Wire Wreath Frame
Right Image: 18" Diameter Wire Wreath Frame *Winner*

Tools & Supplies 

As you can see, the items needed are pretty basic. The most fun and probably initially the most time consuming is deciding the direction you want to go with your wreath in color, texture and size. As you can see above, I bought more than enough flowers. I initially spent about $100 in flowers, and this was with Michael's 50% off sale that was going on. There was no way possible that I was going to use all those flowers, but you never don't want to have what you need in the middle of a project, and I wasn't exactly sure what was going to work best. My policy is often - "buy more, return later." At the end of the day, I spent a grand total of $47 on all materials and flowers. 

The wire wreath frame is also pretty important. The worst thing would be to do all the work of making the wreath, and it be the wrong size. Buy multiple sizes, and check the proportions against the door. Above, the 24" Diameter is on the left and 18" Diameter on the right. The twenty-four inch option wasn't terrible, but it didn't fit nicely within the window, but it only went over a few inches at the window edge looking a bit "off." I also, could get more bang for my buck flower wise with the 18" diameter frame, so I went for it. 

To Make

  1.  Start with the greenery/rope and create a pretty heavy base around the wire frame. I used a green rope with a few white flowers already attached. There were a too many white flowers for me, so I removed a few as well as added a few leaves from another plant (see the barren white flower above). 

  2. Place your largest, most prominent flower around the wreath. DO NOT cut the stem. Below I show two options - a poppy and a spiky flower (not sure the real name). I loved the color of the poppy flowers, but needed a new texture and scale so went with the spiky flower. See below the comparison between the two.  
  3. Begin placing flowers into the wreath, filling in where needed. Try to keep it as organic and natural as possible. Being too symmetrical will feel a bit forced. 
  4. Once you have all your flowers placed get down in the weeds, and start connecting the flowers to the wire frame and other flowers using the floral wire. This is the most time consuming part and can be a bit tricky to get everything secure. Don't worry about seeing the wire, for the most part you won't see it when finished. 
  5. Trim extra stems, leaves and flowers from the wreath. I mostly trimmed the larger spiky flower stems. The other stems I weaved into the wreath to create a bit more security. 
  6. Hang up and test that all the flowers and greenery are in place. Then hang up and enjoy! 

Above is a closer shot showing the two variations in flowers. Either could have worked, but it took less spiky flowers to get the same oomph than when using the poppy flowers. There were also quite a few holes in the greenery even when all the flowers were added, so I added a second rope at the very end. I don't recommend doing this, but it wasn't that big of a deal. 

Below, the floral wire and pruners were put to heavy use. The pruners were amazing and made the job much easier with both the wire and the floral stems. I also frequently use these to "borrow" flowers from the park for floral arrangements. If you don't own a pair, I highly recommend spending the $15 and investing in a pair! 

Overall, I have been very pleased with the finished product. It brings a bit of color to the front porch, adds privacy to the glass door, and has held up well. I wouldn't recommend hanging this wreath on an exposed front door, but if it is under the porch there shouldn't be any major problems. The plan is to store the wreath away this fall to use again next summer. Not sure what it will be replaced with, but I am sure I will find something. 

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer by the pool, with friends and a few projects mixed in between. 

Happy Friday! 

-a. 

Potted Plants

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The last time we posted, it was back in April, about our patio renovation. The brief update is we are moving forward with the stone patio!!! After quite a bit of discussion between Tyler and I, we have decided to hire someone for the stonework, and we will be adding the additional landscaping. I can't wait... it begins in June which is a little later than I wanted, but still exciting! I will have an update for sure once it is completed!


On another note, I wanted to share my current mishap. We had a very sad situation going on in our front entrance, which really needed to be taken care of 2 months ago, but I just hadn't done it. Unfortunately, I have a very black thumb - not gray - black. About 6 months ago, I decided to purchase a Fiddle Leaf Fig for our entrance. I looked everywhere and finally found one online at Home Depot, here. They didn't have them in the store, so I ordered a plant offline and surprisingly it showed up looking just like the image and ready to be potted. However, it didn't last long...

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As you can see above, the plant was on its last leaf - seriously. I see them all over blogs, and they bring such life to a space, so I figured it was worth a try. Of course after purchasing the plant, I decided to do some research on how to keep a Fiddle Leaf Fig alive. It didn't take long to learn that about 80% of people kill their fig plants, which of course means, my percentage was closer to 99%. I really did try, but as you can see it was a bit of a failure. 

I found this cute Ponytail Palm, shown above, at Lowe's in stock and for a grand total of $10.98. The plant has great texture, height and color, which is really what I needed in my entrance. It also had a tag saying "Plants of Steel," which I think basically means its impossible to kill - a win win all around. 

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Repotting the plant was simple, and took about 10 minutes. I used my existing pot from Ikea, a bag of potting soil and that was about it. I took everything outside and threw my sad Fig plant away and planted the cute, happy looking Ponytail Palm, which I have started to call Suzi. 

Above, is the finished product sitting proudly next to our heavy Buddha, which we hauled back from Thailand 3 years ago. Already there is much improvement in the entrance, and it looks a bit more lively. I am debating on whether adding art above the vignette, but haven't pulled the trigger yet. It may happen this weekend, but no promises. According to the Steel Plant instructions, the Ponytail Palm takes very little water or care. So here is to keeping an indoor plant alive; let's hope it lasts longer than 6 months! Do you have a green or black thumb? 

-a. 

Patio Inspiration

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It is finally spring, and I am dying to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. The past few days have been a bit dreary with spring showers and winds, but that doesn't mean I can't start dreaming of warmer days and sparkling wine. The past few years we have been slowly been adding bits and pieces to the back porch and flower beds which I have showcased here and here. This year, it is all about adding a stone patio as a walkway and a place to gather around our fire-pit. We spend most evenings - work days and weekends - in our backyard, so it only makes sense to add to the space! Of course, I can't create a space without some inspiration, so here is what I have so far... 

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Above is our backyard currently. What you don't see is the back porch set-up as we hadn't pulled it out from storage yet (it is officially out now though) and all the beautiful flowers Tyler planted which are starting to sprout. The chairs are for general placement and the fire-pit was a gift from my parents that we use ALL the time. We aren't doing an in-ground fire-pit as we want the flexibility on the patio for possible dining or seating. 

Sources: 01, 02, 03, 04, & 05

Sources: 01, 02, 0304, & 05

Above are a few images I have been hoarding/dreaming about for a while. Our overall concept that we try to continue to reference while selecting flowers and laying out our yard is "Controlled Whimsy." Of course, everyone sees images differently, so below are the reasons I am drawn to each image. 

  1. This image may be on of the first images I pinned when we bought our house. The flagstone along the side of house mixd in with mulch seems so intimate, soft and inviting all while still bringing color and control to the space. Who couldn't love this image? This image is what I keep referencing if I ever have question of direction. 
  2. This past summer we went to a beer garden in San Fran and they had huge wooly blankets you could borrow while enjoying the cool night air and a cold beverage. We use the outside almost 9 months a year, so a few wooly blankets draped over some chairs would be perfect for fires in the fall. (Ideally hoping to find some inexpensive blankets that I can dry-clean). 
  3. Obviously, I love flagstone, and the colors of this are perfect mixing the grays and tans together. I also think this would be the way we achieve our "circle" for the fire-pit space "connecting" the flagstone together. 
  4. The flagstone mixed with flower beds and grass is really what I am going for. The patio will be coming off our back porch on the ground, and ideally it should all feel organic, yet connected. 
  5. The sparkly lights, the lounge chairs and a roaring fire all beckon to sit at for hours. This is all on the grass, but at the end of the day, this is the atmosphere we are trying to create in city!  

So that leads us to the question... which chairs should I buy to go with our fire-pit patio? Ideally we would have 4-6 chairs and they should be easy to move because most likely we won't leave them out all the time and if so the cushions will come in for sure. I also want them to be extremely comfortable. If its a beautiful night, we may be sitting in them for hours. I also want to make sure they go with what we already have and give off the right vibe, so which ones do you think we should go with?

  1. A really playful, comfortable chair from one of my favorite stores - Target. These are $211 for two chairs and a side table! In person these are more tan than gray, but are they too "cool." 
  2. These chairs are easy to store and set-up, which would be nice as I do think they might blow away if there was a storm. I like bringing a touch of wood onto the patio and I could easily add a few pillows to make these more comfortable. For only $50, I could easily get 6 of these and store them no sweat. 
  3. Who doesn't love a good Adirondack chair? These would be a bit heavier and probably not move in and out. The white would be fresh and tie back to the porch, and I can easily see the blankets draped over them. This style of chair can be super pricey, but I found these for $60! 
  4. This whole set is pretty, and I kinda want to just have one in my house, but not sure if it is really right for the vibe we are creating outside. They do look comfortable, but are $100 a pop and I don't know if I love them that much. Thoughts? 

Check back to see the beginnings of our back yard. We have marked it out and are getting quotes so we can compare DIY'ing the job or getting some help. I am hoping we have a complete patio by mid-May, so keep your fingers crossed for inexpensive quotes! And I would love any input on the chairs or if you have any expert advise! 

Happy Spring!

-a. 

Candle Jars Repurposed

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I am an avid candle buyer, and I can hardly resist a candle that is in a beautiful or interesting container. This isn't a recent discovery. In middle school, I loved Yankee Candle and the wax melts that you could put in ceramic dish. My sense of smell has changed overtime for sure, preferring more of the floral, musk smell rather than the sweet vanilla, and pumpkin pie scents back in the day, but that doesn't mean I haven't filled my house with a variety of candles in an assortment of sizes, colors and finishes. Eventually the candles run out, and you are left with a container that is often too pretty to toss. Luckily, it doesn't take much to remove the leftover candle wax and repurpose the jar. Here are a few different ways you can reuse a "jar."

Two of my candles that recently ran out, and my cute little matches that I found in Nashville this past fall. 

Two of my candles that recently ran out, and my cute little matches that I found in Nashville this past fall. 

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Above is the start of my "collection" of jars, containers and bottles that have had a hodgepodge of uses prior to their current state. As you can see, there is a mixture of finishes, sizes and textures. I don't ever like to throw them away because you never know when you might need one, but it is getting a bit out of control... 

Many of you may know how to remove wax from candles, but just in case here are the simple steps for having a brand new container for "free." 

  • Burn the candle until there is no longer any wax - best part of the process. 
  • Place the container in the freezer for a day or two. 
  • Remove the container and scrape out the wax. I typically use a butter knife, but be careful with glass jars so you don't break the glass. (this hasn't happened to me yet...) 
  • Place the jar in the dishwasher on the top rack to be cleaned. 

Above is my collection of make-up brushes and a set of small perfumes that I use on a daily basis that I like to keep readily available. I also think the touch of color add a little something to the bathroom. Sadly, while I was taking photos for the blog, one of my mercury glass containers (the one with the brushes) shattered across the bathroom floor. However, I had a few back-ups to choose from going with a clear, texture glass. On a side note - our bathroom isn't that big, and we have to be as creative as possible when it comes to storage. Right now it is a bit generic, but it is on my list of rooms to freshen sometime in 2017. 

The brass container above was a refresh as well. Our old toothbrush holder was one I made, and it had seen some better days. You can find the how to here. Keep in mind when searching for a toothbrush holder - go with a solid container and one that will actually fit your toothbrush and maybe a razor. Just because it is utilitarian doesn't mean it has to be ugly! 

Above you can see a few simple examples of what I have done. The homemade candle from Candle Lab is great because it is tall, dark and works great for taller items like paint brushes. I used this candle up pretty quickly - it just smelled so good. I may even go back and make another one... The blue and white container is from Thailand honeymoon and really is just beautiful alone. Currently, I have it sitting in the guest room which would be great to have hold small samples or ear plugs for guests. It really does shine on its own though. The last container is a textured mercury candle holder that I used as a vase for my wedding tables. I used all sorts of containers in the white, gold and clear combinations for multiple small arrangements on the tables. 

Containers can be used for anything really! As you can see, I use them for all sorts of things: make-up brushes, perfume collections, paint brushes and even as vases for my wedding. Just remember next time you find yourself purchasing a candle, it isn't just about the scent you are purchasing, but about the container too! What do you do with empty containers - do you toss them out, or do you have a collection as well?

Happy Shopping!  

-a. 

Wine Club!

Some days/weeks are a bit rougher than others, but you know it is going to be a good weekend when you have a box of wine waiting for you when you get home. I am not a wine connoisseur, nor do I try to be one, but I thoroughly enjoy a nice glass of wine after a rough day at work, over some cheese with friends or curled up on the sofa with a good book. I would say on average I prefer to spend less than $15 for a bottle of wine - that may be cheap to some or pricey for others, but I would say average I am between $10 - $13.99 a bottle. For the last few years, I have been a Kroger wine regular with a few occasional stops at Oakley Wines, but I have recently discovered Wine Insiders, and I think I may have converted... 

I honestly had never heard of Wine Insiders until my brother-in-law gave me a Groupon to order a box of wine as a nice gift. It took me a while to actually purchase a box, but the first box I ordered was a mix of reds, whites and rose and it showed up right before the holidays! It was perfect - we hadn't spent much on the box, had multiple options of everything, and to top if off - all the bottles had beautiful labels! They were the perfect hostess gift as well as a nice little collection for home. Since then, I have ordered a few more boxes, the latest being all whites. 

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As you can see above, this case had twelve bottles (some do have 15) and there are two of each variety. Each one is pretty different, but do have handy little guidelines/suggestions on the backs of the bottles as to what you should serve with it and what special flavor notes the bottle may have. Having a variety to choose from has been a fun little surprise and a bit refreshing as well. I was in somewhat of a rut drinking the same brands of wine from Kroger, however having a variety of unknown brands has pushed me out of my comfort zone and it hasn't cost me much if not saved some money. The thing is, that at the end of the day I am either going to buy wine from the grocery store, the local wine shop or online and so far online has been convenient, refreshing and successful. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed receiving a box of new options to try, and it makes life just a tad bit easier. So far, I can't say really anything negative about Wine Insiders, except that you do have to sign for the package, but that's technically not their fault. There is always a sale, so wait for the deal and go for it and as they say, "A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine!"

Happy Friday!

-a. 

Making Plans - Part II

Images from Top Left, Clockwise: 01, 02, 03, 04 and 05

Images from Top Left, Clockwise: 01, 02, 03, 04 and 05

Last week, I talked about where we are at this very moment in our house and what I would like to ideally tweak/adjust. Above are some beautiful inspiration images that I have been lusting after for a while on my Pinterest board, here. I understand that white is the thing on the internet these days, but I love something about a good moody, cozy room that feels a bit eclectic with new shiny pieces and old worn objects from the flea. As you can see above, the rooms are all a bit dark, a few antlers, fresh white dishes and some old and new pieces. I am hoping to take these underlying ideas and pull them together in our home. Of course, there are a few decisions to be made, so check out the plan options below. 

As you can see in the two plans above, the only major differences are the dining room tables themselves; the rest of the pieces remain the same. I originally wanted an expandable, oval table. After some serious hours hunting, I have come up with nothing that felt just right. The oval Eero Saarinen inspired table worked well, but the hubby was not a fan at all. Typically, he doesn't say much, so when he voices an opinion, I feel like I should listen. So then I started thinking that a typical rectangle could work nicely as well with the right finishes. Once it was placed in plan and tweaked a bit, it became the better solution for sure. Not everyone has the resources to create a plan and check out various options, but I highly recommend it if you can. I still plan on marking it with tape in the dining room to confirm the size one last time before having a custom table made! The big change in both of these, is that the seating arrangement in the living room will become tighter, cozier and the walkway from the backdoor is a bit tighter, but still useable. 

Above are a few of the pieces we either already have, or what I am looking at to purchase. When designing, it is important to think of function and form. Sometimes it is hard to find exactly what you are looking for, but no one wants to live on eggshells in their own home. Nothing is officially final, but this is the general direction I am headed with a few explanations, pricing and sources below! 

  1. A beautiful metal console table. I don't know if this is my final selection, but I do like the dark metal finish and gold pulls. This house doesn't have a ton of "hidden" storage, so the more drawers the better and a simple shelf below for styling! 
  2. My current, probably long time, Dante Sofa from Arhaus. This was our first big furniture purchase for this house. I love the sleek lines, neutral color and I think it will only be better with time! This sofa isn't going anywhere unless it gets destroyed or we move and it is too small for the space. 
  3. The gold and marble coffee table I am saving up for. This pretty piece is around $1100, but works perfectly at 58"w x 28"d. I also love the rounded corners and the softness it brings to the space. It is also a pretty durable piece, so you can throw your feet up on it and not worry about breaking it unlike glass. 
  4. Two matching "worn" leather chairs are way down the road. I want these to be super comfy and possibly even recline. Of course, these wouldn't be on the inexpensive side, so a sale and savings will be in the future for these bad boys. 
  5. A dining table is number 1 on my list right now. I want something pretty simple with a white "marble" top. The overall space could use a bit of bright, white and a "marble" quartz is super durable and beautiful. The one shown above is from Restoration Hardware for an insane amount of money, but I am hoping to find someone to make it. Still working on the details, but it is looking promising for sure! Will have more info once it becomes a reality! 
  6.  Eventually a rug would be nice, but want to hold out for an actual table. The colors in this one work nicely, but ideally a darker rug would be good to hide stains and such so we shall see. I do like the mix of gray, cream and copper in this one from West Elm. Still on the hunt though. 
  7. My newly purchased chairs! These were a steal for $160 from Everything But The House. They need to be reupholstered, but it is just the seat, so the price shouldn't be too bad. I am thinking a gray velvet shown above. I haven't decided if I want to refinish them or not, but I am thinking no. The height works great in our space and they are strangely comfortable to sit on for a dining chair! Really excited to see the finished product! 

As I mentioned before, these items aren't being purchased tonight on my credit card, but will take some time and savings, but at least I know what I am aiming for and if it is all going to work together. Because turning a house into a home is a process, some of these items may be tweaked or may never happen, or we may add additional pieces (chandlier?). Either way, I am excited to see it come to life, sooner rather than later I hope! What are your home goals? 

-a. 

Making Plans - Part I

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We have officially been living in our home now for 3 years, and we have slowly taken it from a house to a home, but that doesn't mean everything has been worked out and is just the way we want it. There are still quite a few elements that I would love to tweak, add or eliminate. However, it all takes time, money and the most difficult element - patience. I am often frustrated when I look at blogs online and within a few weeks/months from purchasing a house, it is all "perfect." Most of us don't have that luxury, so I have pulled together the "in-the-moment" pics, unstyled as is, and our existing plan/layout of the space with new plans and ideas showcased next week in Part II. 

For the most part, I am pretty happy with the layout and flow of the space. I really like that the TV is tucked away for easy viewing or conversation. We struggled at the beginning with light sources, but we have 3 in the living space now, which works great in the evenings giving off a soft ambient light. However, as you can see in the plan above the items I would like to add or adjust aren't huge necessarily, but would make a pretty big impact. 

  1. A dining table and chairs that would fill the space proportionally. 
  2. Adding a new, larger coffee table to the lounge space, pulling that space together a bit more. 
  3. Shifting the sofa into the lounge space allowing more room in the dining room, as well as adding a console table along the back of the sofa to divide up the two spaces a bit. 
  4. And last on my list - matching leather lounge chairs with low backs. I love both chairs that I have now for sentimental reasons, but would like to use them elsewhere in the house. 
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Above:

Overall, the living/family room works great. I love our sofa - clean lines with a bit more traditional details, comfortable and coordinates with most things I bring into the room. If you can't do an "L" shaped sofa, I highly recommend getting an ottoman for flexibility and comfort! There are my two "coffee tables" as well. The wood box was $3 from a flea 7 years ago, and the gold and glass piece is from EBTH and could be in nicer shape, although it has worked well so far. I really like the accessories on these pieces, but would really prefer a piece that is durable, you can put your feet on and makes a more cohesive statement. 

Below: 

The dining room KILLS me right now. Every time I look at it, it makes me a bit sad. The biggest problem with an open layout - you can see everything ALL the time. We recently added the china cabinet, which works perfectly under the window with all my wedding china. The find for that piece goes to Carly! I also have had the bar cart forever - even before they were all over pinterest. Not sure I will keep it exactly as is, but it is useful for sure and works great off to the side. For the most part, the biggest issue is the table and chairs! The table is too small, and the chairs are outdoor chairs and are slowly destroying our wood floors. Of course, this may be the most expensive adjustment to the space. Working on this now, and am getting excited for what I think may be an affordable solution! 

Don't get me wrong, there are things that I love about our house - the location, open floor plan, efficient use of space, 1/2 bath (HUGE deal in Cincinnati), the character (especially the thick trim and base board) and all the windows, but there are a few things I am still working on. I keep telling myself our house will be more of a home with stories behind each piece instead of being picture perfect overnight. Make sure to come back next week to see what I have planned! What dreams do you have for your home? 

-a.