Monday, April 30, 2012

Landscaping...And A Little Move

At this time of the year, nice days are few and far between.  It can be in the 70's one day, and snowing the next.  So, whenever the sun comes out, Craig and I jump at the chance to tackle some landscaping. Everything we're working on inside the house goes on the back burner.  Well, last weekend, we had a little sun.  And after taking in our daughter's hockey game, we decided to finally remove two old bushes in our yard.

We have been slowly transforming the yard over the nearly seven years we've lived here.  We've pulled out several old, half dead bushes and planted a few new ones.  But we've done it slowly - still trying to decide if certain bushes can be saved.  And as I've spent some time cleaning out the beds this spring, I decided we needed to yank a couple of bushes in front of our garage.

These three tall bushes are not my favorite.  They are a little out of scale, and not in great condition. But I can live with them - well most of them.  A few years ago, we pulled out a very dead huge bush in between them and planted those two small round boxwoods.  That was phase one.  I have always wanted to remove the middle tall bush so there would be some symmetry.  Then we could plant a few prettier more-in-scale bushes in between the taller evergreens.  Last weekend, we got started.

Craig went to work on the evergreen.

It was going well...until we spotted this - 

We found a bird's nest.  So, Craig lifted me up (yes, my old cheerleading moves come in handy...), and discovered eggs.  We decided to move the nest to the bush that we weren't cutting down.  And crossed our fingers that the mom would find it.

By the way, can you believe how beautiful those eggs are?  When I first peeked in, I didn't even think they were real.  I had no idea that that color blue could be found in nature.  Amazing.  Anyway, Craig carefully placed the nest into the middle of the other bush (he made sure it was in a very stable branch).

Then, we went back to the matter at hand.

With a little digging (well, a lot actually), Craig removed the stump.

Now it was on to the next bush.  Notice the picture above - there was a smaller bush planted right in between those two huge evergreens.  It had to go.  So, Craig dug it out.

Meanwhile, I was in charge of cutting up all of the branches so we could dispose of them.

All in all, the project went smoothly.  And now we have the space (and symmetry) to plant a few new bushes.  Here's what it looked like before - 

And here's the after - 

Hopefully, next weekend, we can get some new plants in there.  And mulch...

Oh, and in case you were wondering, we have seen the mommy bird in her nest.  So, it seems like the move was successful!  

Friday, April 27, 2012

My Friday Five - Week 23

Stick a cork in it!  Yup, that's right, I've put together a collection of projects using wine corks.  Simple corks, which I have thrown out for years, can be beautiful.  Who knew?  And when I see some of these projects, I wish I had saved all of those corks. Luckily, I have done a little research and discovered that you can buy used corks on Ebay.  Oh the internet...


1.  Slice them up and frame them - 

Rachelle from Adventures in Creating made this cute cork board art.  It looks so interesting - but it's also functional.  It's a neat piece of art but it can be used to pin notes or pictures too!  

2.  A cork table - 

This is so cool!  Karen from Crafts For All Seasons came up with this great idea.  Head over to her blog to see how she put this together!

3.  Wine Cork Wreath - 

This.  Is.  Gorgeous.  Tiffany from Living Savvy created this by using a foam wreath form, old corks and toothpicks.  I need want this...I may be borrowing this idea.  Head over to her blog for all of the details.

4.  Wine Cork Monogram - 

I love this idea.  I've seen a few versions of it on Pinterest (read - novice crafters can tackle this) but I grabbed this tutorial from Growing Up Gardner.  What a fun little accessory for a bookshelf or counter!

5.  How about a Wine Cork Backsplash?

How Clever!  Patti from Pandora's Box gave a little corner of her kitchen some interest by covering her backsplash with corks.  This really looks great.

Are you inspired yet?  

Oh - by the way, I have some more wine cork ideas pinned to my Pinterest board.  Like a necklace, coaster, and giraffe sculpture (really).   Check them out here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Master Shower

I shared my master bath remodel a couple of weeks ago, but there are still some details that I wanted to include.  So, today, I'd like to talk about my shower.  I'm not going to lie - this was an expensive room.  And I picked some high end finishes (I balanced it out a little with some DIY and inexpensive finds that aren't very noticeable).  I really needed to spend the money here if I ever want to sell this house.  We will be competing with newer homes complete with jacuzzi tubs and huge walk in closets (neither of which I have).  Jucuzzi tubs aren't something that I love but I know people want them.  So when we decided to remove the old tub, we wanted to replace it with something gorgeous-

We think it's a lot better than the tub we took out - 

We are really hoping that there are other non-bath people out there who will appreciate all of the details in our new shower.  We spent a lot of time picking out just what we wanted - a blend of contemporary and traditional.  

Let's start with the fixtures.  We chose Kohler.  It's a brand that we knew and trusted and we liked the selection.  What really sold me was the shower head and body sprays.  They are called WaterTiles.  I loved the square contemporary design.

These are my favorites elements of the shower - and I use them everyday.  But I share this bathroom with Craig and he had a request too.  He wanted a rainhead.  So we looked through the Kohler catalog, and found this Contemporary Rain Head

He loves it.  I am not a huge fan.  It looks beautiful, don't get me wrong.  I just can't use it because it washes all of my hair into my face which is really uncomfortable.  And a bit suffocating.  So, women, keep that in mind if you want a rainhead (I don't think it has anything to do with this particular rainhead - it's just the overhead water thing that doesn't work for me).

The last aspect of this shower that I wanted was a hand shower.  Why?  This may sound crazy, but I love to be able to wash off the walls and glass after I clean them.  Our other hall bath (which we haven't remodeled yet) doesn't have a hand shower and it drives me crazy.  But I know that other family members use the hand shower for actual showering so I think it was a good choice.  Kohler offers a few different types, and we chose the Flipside

Funny thing about the Flipside - it is advertised everywhere - TV, internet, and magazines but I had never noticed it until I picked it from their website.  Now I see the ads all over.

Ok so with all of these fixtures, we needed to choose a trim package.  I picked the Devonshire for it's traditional feel- 

As you can see in the picture, it took one thermostatic valve (temperature control - the bottom valve) and two transfer valves (output selection - the two top valves) to make this shower work.  So, yes, we can have any combination of shower heads or body sprays that we want. This was very complex and took our plumber a little time to figure out, but it's nice to turn anything on or off and personalize our showering experience. 

What else went into our shower?  Marble tile.  When we entered a local tile shop, I knew immediately that I wanted this marble.  It is polished and elegant.  It is very spa-like - and that's exactly what I was going for.  I decided to do a subway pattern up the walls, with an accent of 1 x 1 tiles - 

And I carried the 1 x 1 tile to the shower floor.  I also had two niches built-in to the back wall for shampoo and conditioner.  That has worked out great!

Another design element that was important to me was a bench. 

No I don't sit there while I shower - but I wanted a place to put my foot when I shaved my legs.  Was that too much information? Well, I had been in hotel rooms that only had a shower stall, and I noticed how inconvenient it was to shave.  So, by building a half wall and bench, I solved my grooming dilemma.  :-)

Once all of the marble tile was in place, I set out for a slab of granite to cap off the wall, bench and counter.  I decided to pick a slab that would most easily blend in.  I just didn't want a lot of contrast.  

Once all of the tile and granite was in place, We hired a glass company to install a custom glass enclosure.  Again, not cheap but very worth it.  We had a watershield product added to the glass which makes it very easy to keep clean (I squeegee it everyday) and it is very heavy duty.  

By the way, I have no affiliation with Kohler (darn), I just like their products.  And we purchased all of the shower fixtures through a local plumbing supply store (not the Kohler website).  We have been very happy with the end result and wouldn't change a thing.  So much so, that we chose Kohler sinks (cambor) and faucets (forte - that is the low arc model.  I'm not sure if the exact faucet that we chose is available anymore) for the vanity as well.

I hope that answered some questions.  I still have some more details to share, so expect another bathroom post soon.  :-)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

White Room Challenge - Flowers

I am was a huge fan of Design Star on HGTV when it first came out.  Loved it.  And the best episode of the series was always the White Room Challenge.  After a few seasons of the show, however, I became less enchanted.  The producers seemed to focus much more on drama and less on design.  I really wasn't into the drama and I stopped watching the show.  Except for the White Room Challenge episode.  I always came back for that one.  So imagine how excited I was when HGTV decided to make a whole series around that little slice of Design Star heaven.  It was the first time in years that I was actually making plans around a TV show.

I still remember the first season of Design Star when David Bromstad created a living room out of pet store supplies.  I was amazed.

So creative.  I've always believed that season one contestants had it harder than the rest because they had no idea this challenge would be presented.  And even though the future contestants didn't know what kind of crazy store they would have to work with, they at least knew the white room was coming.  They could plan a little.  But the only other room that made any sort of impact on me was season two's Todd Davis' - 

Using supplies from the dollar store, Todd created a tidal wave.  Not very functional, but very clever.  And well executed.  And if I remember correctly, he was scolded for it's lack of functionality.  Over the years, that changed.  Judges wanted the room to be creative.  Usefulness no longer mattered.

Which brings us to the new show - The White Room Challenge.  The people at HGTV have taken the best element from Design Star and and made it into a weekly series.  Yay!  So what did I think?  Ummm....meh.  at best.

The challenge was to use at least 1500 flowers in a creative way (not just stick them into vases).  Let's see how they did.

First up, Saadia.

Oh my.  She really had a tough time during the challenge.  I thought the couch looked great.  Utilizing roses was a great choice.  What didn't look so great?  The back wall.  It had potential.  Saadia was trying to create a chevron pattern but ran out of time.  Had it been finished, it would have been really cool.  But, I don't understand why she was also making a chevron rug.  That didn't make sense to me.  There is such a thing as too much chevron.  I also didn't get the coffee table redo.  Using huge flowers threw off the scale.  Needless to say, the judges weren't wowed by her room.

Next, Carissa.

Carissa was going for a floral bistro look.  I didn't get it.  At all.  But the judges loved it.  Even though many of her flowers were just thrown on the floor.  It was much too busy for my taste.  It looked very sloppy.  

Moving on...David.

David's room was the most colorful.  The judges loved it.  But again, I was confused.  There was a lot going on and I wasn't seeing a very cohesive look (which was one of the requirements).  He created a very cool coffee table by pressing flowers between two pieces of plexiglass.  Although it was pretty, it was way too big for the space.  And I really disliked the paint-splashed floor.  It kinda looked like an afterthought.  Blah.

The last contestant was Matthew.

This was my favorite room.  I know the color may be a little boring for this challenge but I thought it was well thought out and executed.  I love the "sconces" on the side walls.  And the focal point on the back wall was stunning.  It seemed very elegant.  It doesn't read as well in the picture above as it did on TV but believe me, it was pretty.  Unfortunately, the judges weren't as impressed.  It came off as boring and Matthew didn't win.  

Ok, now the fun part.  What would I have done.  Come on, you know you think about how you would handle this challenge.  Well, my immediate thought was an ombre wall.  Using flowers.  Something like this - 

But with flowers.  Like this - 

Or this - 

How beautiful would that be?  Or how about a flower arbor?

Or a cascading flower table runner - 

Or flower chandelier - 

It seems like there were so many things you could do with flowers so I was a little unimpressed with the four rooms on the show.  But I'm still hopeful.  Next week, the contestants will travel to a salvage yard.  Hmmm...

Did you watch The White Room Challenge?  Did you like the rooms?  Did you agree with the judges?  What would you have done in this challenge?  I'd love to know if I'm the only one who is watching this show...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Candied Bacon - I Pinned It And Did It!

I really love Pinterest.  It's such a great resource for new ideas and recipes.  As a matter of fact, before I go any further, did you notice my new sidebar Pinterest gadget?  Now, you can see my latest pins!  Or, head right over and follow me on Pinterest!

Anyway, back to this recipe.  I pinned this Candied Bacon recipe a while back and wanted to give it a try.  Mmmm bacon.  That was pretty much all I needed to hear.  Every Some weekends, we have a big breakfast with bacon.  And I sort of look forward to it.  Maybe a little too much.  But it's bacon so I'm not even going to apologize...So when I came across this Candied Bacon Recipe from Recipe Girl, I was curious.

This is super easy to make.  There are only three ingredients - bacon, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  You can get the whole recipe from her site but it basically involves coating the bacon in the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture and baking - 

Take note - we only made a few slices - just in case we weren't fans.  This is bacon.  We don't want to mess it up.  :-)

Ok so what did we think?  Yum.  It was really good!  Much better than the time we tried to dip bacon into melted chocolate (that was just wrong, I know, but it's bacon and chocolate - who knew it could go so wrong...).  Adding the brown sugar and cinnamon gave the bacon a different texture and definitely added some sweetness.  I'd share a beautiful after shot but we ate it too fast to get one.  It was that good.  A new favorite around here.  

Thank you Pinterest!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Winner - Fashion To Figure

I have selected a winner (via for my Fashion To Figure giveaway.  Ready?



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Saturday, April 21, 2012


This giveaway is now closed.

Hey everyone - I just want to remind you that my Fashion to Figure giveaway ends tomorrow!  Don't you want to win ANY item from their store ($30 value)?  Not only do they have really cute clothes -

But - they also have beautiful jewelry and accessories - 

Fashion to Figure has so much to choose from - and you could be the winner!  For more details and a chance to win, Click Here.