Maura has Some Exciting News!



Guess what?

Yay! We are expecting baby #2 in late May. I'm 17 weeks along and we have our big ultrasound to find out the sex two days after Christmas!! I know I have been a slacker blogger for the last few months, but I was just so tired that first trimester...trying to nap when Maura napped or going to bed earlier instead of staying up to write posts...sorry!

I might not be around again before Christmas hits (I really wanted to participate in all the Christmas home tour linky parties this year, but I don't know if its going to happen)...we have our big annual holiday party at our house this Saturday and my sister is in town from London. So, just in case, wishing all of you a wonderful holiday and peace, love, and joy for 2013!!

Our New Advent Calendar and an Etsy Rec



Now that Maura is really understanding and loving Christmas, I wanted to get an advent calendar for us to do together. And by get, I do not mean make, I mean buy!! All hail those Moms that have DIYed theirs (and there are some beautiful and amazing and inventive ones out there), but I was just being realistic. So I hit up etsy and searched and searched. I finally, after a long time, landed on one I knew was just perfect for us...this Felt Christmas Advent Calendar from Dani of the etsy shop twirlybird.

I love it (hung low in the downstairs hallway so Maura can reach)! Its basically a big felt Christmas tree (with 24 buttons on it) and every day Maura pulls out an ornament from the corresponding pocket and hangs it on the tree. By Christmas Eve, with a special gold star ornament, the tree is fully decorated!

I went with this advent calendar for a few reasons. I knew the one I wanted to get would be an investment, I wanted to be able to take it out year after year and use it as one of our family traditions. I also knew that there was no way I would be able to keep up with the kind of calendar that you have to fill up with little presents and gifts and treats everyday. That would just stress me out way too much, and I wanted this to be fun. I also wasn't sure that I wanted our countdown to Christmas to be focused on more gifts. I like the idea behind this, each day you are surprised with what ornament is in the pocket, so there's still suspense and other than that, its just about the simple joy of seeing the tree fill up.

Seven different kinds of ornaments come with this calendar, plus the unique and special gold star for the top of the tree on Christmas Eve - snowflakes, cardinal birds, bulbs, peppermint candy, silver bells, and holly. They are all beautifully made and I love the subtle and sophisticated color palette (its not screaming over the top Christmas). Its your job to fill the pockets with the ornaments in whatever order you decide, I of course tried to separate them out and make it so there would be balance in color, shape, etc when the whole tree is done (ha!) but Maura gets so excited that she tends to peak, or take out some and put them back in other pockets, etc. Oh well, she's having fun!!! Its still hard for her little fingers to actually string the ornament loop over the button, so usually I end up doing that part, but I can see her having the hang of it by next year:)

Sorry, took these photos last week on the 4th of December. So by now we are hanging ornaments on the third row of the tree (and it's hitting me that Christmas is only 2 weeks away!!) However, here's a product shot from Dani's shop with the whole tree done up. Isn't it so cute?! Totally random, but I just noticed that the bottom row of my tree is the same as Dani's - ornament, snowflake, bird, peppermint candy. What a weird coincidence! I just randomly picked the different ornaments and put them in the pockets right before I hung it up!!

This calendar has made it extra fun every morning to come downstairs after we wake up! Great quality and customer service from Dani (she's a stay at home mom of 3 boys who loves to sew). Thanks for helping us start a new family tradition!!

PS. Do you guys have advent calendars? Where did you get yours or did you make them? If you do the treat every day kind, how in the world do you think of that many little things to put in there?!

My First Experience with Chalk Paint: A Before and After



Let's just say I'm a convert!

After buying both some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint a few weeks ago, I finally jumped in and painted something!! Yippee. Can't tell you how good it felt be doing something hands on:)

I decided to start with this little black cabinet in our kitchen that I keep my cookbooks, recipe printouts and various (Its originally from Target, but I scored it for free when my old office moved and they didn't need it anymore.)

I purchased a sample jar of ASCP in Duck Egg for $14.95 and hoped to get away with just that to cover this baby. I didn't do the inside (or the back), but by adding a little water to the second coat to stretch it out a little (a trick from the awesome guys at Maison Decor in South Boston), I was able to get her done! Here's the after:

Ahem. No, I didn't get a chance to style the top of the cabinet, so this not as pretty of an after as it should be, sorry!! But you may notice that I did get something else done...after like a year of not writing a single thing on the wipe board above the cabinet, I took it down and put up the two cork boards from Pottery Barn that I've had sitting new in their boxes for like three years. High five!

I love this Duck Egg color! Its that lovely ambiguous area between blue and green and grey, one of my favorite colors that I never quite know what to call. I feel like a lot of the details of this piece like the bead board and turned legs were getting lost before in a sea of black, but now the new color brings them out a bit.

And can I just say that I really really liked working with the chalk paint! I did no prep, other than dust the cabinet, pull it out from the wall a bit and slide a piece of paper under each leg so I wouldn't get paint on the floor. Then while Maura was napping, I went to town. I had no idea what I was doing, but it didn't seem to matter:) The paint went on great, the brush strokes sort of seem to dissolve, and if you do see them, it somehow adds to the look, not detracts.

After the two coats, I took some sand paper and distressed the edges a bit. Most of the time I got it right and just the black showed through, other times I think I rubbed too hard and some white start peaking through. It doesn't bother me though. In this I am not a perfectionist!

To finish the piece, I actually used Miss Mustard Seed's furniture wax, not Annie Sloan's. I bought Marion's to use on a piece I'm going to try next with the milk paint and the guys at Maison Decor told me I would definitely be ok using it to cover the chalk paint (which was really nice, they had my best interests at heart and didn't get me to spend money on something I didn't need). If I didn't know what I was doing painting this thing, I really really did not know what I was doing when it came to the waxing bit (last I checked Marion didn't have the tutorial up yet on her site on how to use the wax), but it was super easy and fast! It was kind of like wiping Crisco all over your furniture and then wiping it off. I also just used a cotton rag I made from an old t-shirt, didn't spend the money (yet) on the special waxing brush.

I kinda want to go around my house and paint everything now! I'm definitely a fan. At first I was pretty intimidated, but after having just jumped right in, I feel like I'm going to be using this stuff a lot. Well, next up I'm going to try out the milk paint, looking forward to seeing how chippy my piece will be on its own with just the paint doing the job. Anybody out there used the milk paint yet? Scared to try the chalk paint? Just go for it!!

Mini Foyer Update: Chevron Rug



Hello! Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend:)

I'm very happy with the path our foyer has taken over the years. First we got a new entry rug, refinished the hardwood floors, painted the inside of the front door black and hung up 4 framed antique fish prints. Oops, then I kinda recently killed said black and white striped rug by trying to wash it...and almost killed our dryer! Let's just say the fringe did not survive:(

Soooo, kinda needed a new rug. Didn't search for very long before I found this indoor/outdoor chevron rug from Ballard Designs. The size I needed was only $35 and I had a 15% off coupon, so I just went for it (you guys probably remember I'm impatient and don't love to do a ton of has come back to bite me in the butt before, but hopefully not on this one). I got the "Gray with Sand" colorway, which even though the gray is dark, I think still adds a nice level of color depth to the space.


I'm trying to bring in more pattern to our home. I know that chevron is like way popular right now, at least online, but no one that I know in real life whose house I go to has anything chevron in it. So I'm cool with still sporting it. Do any of you think we worry too much about what's current and overdone, etc. in the design/blog world and let it get the best of us?

And now that it's gotten deep around here, back to the before with the striped rug (also from Ballards):

and the after of new chevron rug:

Got a favorite? Straight stripes? Zig Zag stripes? I can't say I like either one better, they both have their merits. And discuss:)

PS. Remind me in a while (when I forget) that this rug is not supposed to be washed in the washing machine either, just hosed down/spot cleaned:)

Taking the Paint Plunge



Guess what? I'm now the proud owner of these:

Yay!!! Yesterday I had to head into Boston for a doctor's appointment, so I decided to make a side trip to the closest retailer we have of Miss Mustard Seeds new Milk Paint, the quaint and friendly Maison Decor. Amy and her son Justin were super helpful when it came to answering my questions about the milk and chalk paint and really aided me in figuring out what I needed to get and what I didn't need to spend more money on. 

So, I'm going to try the Linen (like a winter white) milk paint on the old dry sink that I inherited from my mom (I'm going to use it for toy storage in the family room) and I'm going to see how far the sample jar of ASCP in Duck Egg (a pretty, soft green/gray/blue) will get me on the small black cabinet in my kitchen that I've been wanting to paint for forever.

I'm so excited to actually get going on these!!! Getting the paint was the last step holding me back, so now there's no excuses!!! Let's get some stuff done:)

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Ps. I am currently writing this post during the day because I'm in the middle of a standoff with Maura. She refuses to get dressed in the morning or take her clothes off at the end of the day. We had an incident last weekend where I got a very cute dress stuck on her head while I was trying to get it off and since then its like she's scared of putting things over her heard. Last night we fought with her for 2 hours to get her clothes off so she could take a bath and then get dressed into her pajamas. This morning its been an hour and a half since I started trying to put her clothes on. Apparently we are not going to go do the errands I wanted to get done today. Any and all advice appreciated, I'm about to pull my hair out. Way past the crying about it stage:) 

DIY Pressed Leaf Art



We've got some new artwork hanging up in our living room!

 Maura and I started collecting leaves way back at the beginning of October. We go for a walk or are outside in our backyard almost everyday, so this was something to do with the added bonus of teaching her about fall. We got a pretty good collection going and then I showed her how to press them in between the pages of a large, heavy book. I figured we could make some sort of arts and crafts project out of them. My first thought was garland, but we already did that with our pine cones. Then my plan was to frame a bunch of them glued down to a large sheet of paper, plus maybe then we could try to identify them.

Wouldn't you know that before I could get started, this came in the mail?

Gasp! Love! Pressed leaf art by Lucy Mitchell was featured on the cover of the November issue of Country Living. Once I saw this, I had to change my mind and do my/our own version. I love things in multiples, there's definitely a lot of drama in lots of one thing. Just bummed I didn't think of it on my own first.

This was super easy. I already had white cardstock, so I just cut a bunch of 5 x7 cards out of it and used spray mount to adhere down the leaves. I tried referencing some online fall New England leaf guides to see if I could actually figure out what each of the leaves were. Eh, I was about 50% successful, and most of that was just guesses. (I figure no one I know is a super leaf expert, so its not like they are going to be in my house going "You are wrong!! That is not an oak leaf!!")

We hung them here in the living room, to the right of my vintage map, on the way into the family room. I love the idea and look of actually thumb tacking them to the wall like Lucy did for the CL cover, but I wasn't loving the idea of a bunch of holes in my wall nor the fact that Maura would have thumbtacks readily available for the taking. So instead I used Scotch 3M Removable Mounting Squares (which I have had super luck with before) and tried to make it look like they are pinned to the wall by only using one piece of tape and putting it near the very top middle of the card. (And I totally eyeballed all of it, no measuring or level using.)

I also wanted to include some sort of description as to what this was, sort of to commemorate our adventures, so I made the first card in the top left corner of the grid this sort of plaque. I'm not sure yet how long I'm going to leave these up...I mean, I know they're obviously overboard fallish, but we don't have anything else to put on this wall and I like the quirkiness this adds...I mean, I'm a stay-at-home mom of a 2 year old, this is my life! So at least now we have a way of remembering how much fun we had together doing this:)

Looking back at the inspiration, I aesthetically still like Lucy's wall more. Her cards are bigger, there's way more of them (I thought 14 was a lot, but they don't actually take up that much room), I don't have the lovely gradation of color and shape in the leaves that she does and I do like how her walls are white so the cards blend in and the leaves pop.  (Plus there's the whole thumbtack thing, oh well..and that beautiful wood sideboard and those green over-sized bottles!!.) But I'm surprised I actually got this done at all (knowing my track record) and my kid and I did it together. Priceless:)

Ps. In case you haven't noticed, I've been a pretty bad blogger lately. I am currently happy posting once a week and not trying to stress myself out by coming up with anything more. Ok with you guys? Has anyone else been in a blogging slump lately?

Dining Room Update: Fern Prints



Hi! Just a quick update to our dining room. Finally hung the two fern prints I bought at the Brimfield Antique Show back in May of this year ($4 each, pages from a 1938 publication).


I'm completely happy with them here where they are, as they are. However, before I hung them up I had pondered perhaps painting the mats a dark gray to add some contrast. Now I'm not sure if I need to or if its worth it, considering I like them fine enough as is. So I did a quick mock up, maybe you can help. Here they are again with the white mats:

And here is what they might look like with dark gray painted mats. Thoughts? Better? Worse? Stupid? Leave as is? Thanks!

PS. How is everyone fairing after Hurricane Sandy? Thankfully, things are fine here, it was just really windy and rainy. Hope you are all ok!!

Fall Vignettes: Mantel



Here's the last spot in our house that I decorate seasonally, the mantel.

I started out by hanging one of the pine cone garlands Maura and I made last Christmas.

Then added this wheat..uhm..thing that I made a long time ago based off Martha's tutorial (I just change out the ribbon to go with whatever I'm putting it with) paired with a couple of the fun, small gourds we got at the farm stand.

On the other side, another one of my vintage #13 mason jars filled with dried hydrangea sitting on
a couple of Hardy Boys books (nothing like consistency, huh?!) balances things out nicely.

For kicks, color and shape, I added a branch we found outside, as well as a couple of the acorns we collected.

And thus concludes this year's episode of fall around this Sarah's house. (Well, I have another little project I want to get to - did you see the cover of the new Country Living yet? - but we'll see if it happens.)


Hope everyone is having a good week so far!!

Fall Vignettes: Foyer Bookcase



I love our bookcase for fall because its something fun Maura and I did together.

We love collecting natural things while we're outside playing (last year it was pinecones) and our yard and driveway have a ton of acorns on them right now. We put our finds in this little glass bowl and it was the first seasonal thing to go here on the bookcase. (Aren't they cool?)

Then we took a trip together to a local farm stand and had fun picking out all sorts of different pumpkins and gourds. I love the non-traditional colored ones like this soft gray green pumpkin. And it looked pretty paired with some dried hydrangeas in one of my vintage #13 mason jars.

I took back out my old Hardy Boys books and used two of those cute little striped pumpkins for bookends. I like how they add back in some warm tones to really achieve a good balance of color here for fall.

Lastly, I wanted to use my chalk board again up on top of the bookcase (I like having something tall there to make use of the double story wall). And since Maura is so into acorns (Tinkerbell's best friend Terrance wears one as a hat, you know!!) I decided to do my own botanical drawing of one. I love how it turned out and so does she:)

I've got one more fall spot in our house, the mantel, and then I'm going to have to come up with something else to post about. Hmmmm.....

***edited October 29...linking this up to Melissa's Favorite Fall Projects party over at The Inspired Room!

Fall Vignettes: Ledge Shelves



...otherwise entitled "How to Change your Seasonal Decor from Spring/Summer to Fall in 5 Minutes or Less":)

As much as I like fall, I love summer way at this time of year I'm still in denial. But, the last few days, with the leaves finally changing color and the temperature dropping, even I have to admit that fall is here. 

This might look familiar. If you remember, our spring/summer ledge shelves looked like this:

Tee, hee. I'll admit, there's not a ton of free time around here to be messing with seasonal decor, but I enjoy it, so I'm not giving up yet. I did decide, however, to cheat in here a bit. Racking my brain to figure out what I could do here for fall, I realized the only springie things about this are the color of the books and the prints inside the frames. The rest...well, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Or if your toddler is about to wake up from her nap, just get 'er done good enough.

First up, switch out the cool tone books for warm tone ones. Check.

Second, open up the big frame and rearrange the prints inside so that the bird one (also used last year for fall) is in the front. Store the spring one behind it. Tip - I always keep the different prints that I put in each frame still in the frame even if I'm not using it at that time, then you always know where the ones that are the correct size for that frame are.

Three. Quickly find, download and print a fall related image from Vintage Printable. Load her up into the small yellow frame, again moving the spring image behind.

Four. Dust around your stuff if you are feeling ambitious.

Coming soon...our fall mantel and foyer bookcase (which I spent a little more time on!). Hope all is well in your neck of the autumn woods!

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