Friday, April 29, 2011

A spring home tour...

One of the great things about the change in seasons is the opportunity/ excuse it affords to change things up in your house. When we move from cool to warm temperatures, it makes sense to lighten up, put away heavy blankets, clear some things out and do a little rearranging. I like to try and step back and evaluate a) what's bugging me in the house or simply isn't working, b) what I am tired of looking at for whatever reason, and c) what I have put away that I could use to switch things up. I firmly believe that changing things up in our environment invigorates us and makes us feel better ~ if you don't already practice this seasonal clear-out, try it and you'll see what I mean.
I knew I wanted to put my pretty pink slipcover on my couch, so that meant the rug in the living room had to be moved or put away, because it simply wouldn't work. I was going to put it in storage and then I had an idea to try it in the dining room. The dining room is a little on the narrow side, so I decided to lay the rug the opposite way, which accomplished two things. First, it made the room seem wider, and second, it took care of the expanse of wood floor behind the table that needed a little something. (Even Russ seems to approve of the new placement, as you can see.) I freshened up the linens and table centerpiece, but left my pretty tea cups and tea pot out on display on the chest under the double window ~ I never tire of looking at dishes.

The living room...

The living room sofa got its Shabby Chic pink rose slipcover back, and a few pink accent pillows. I also took out the ottoman swamping the room and put down two smaller rugs. One is a runner in front of the fabulous old chest that holds the TV (not shown ~ it's a hideous huge, widescreen that my sweetie adores) and the other is in front of the sofa. You can sort of see them in the photo directly above, which was taken from the front room, or reading porch. My little tea cup lamp now resides near one of the built-in bookcases on either side of the fireplace.

The reading porch...

I love to keep flowers on this table to greet people as they come in the front door. You'll usually find whatever is in season at the moment in bloom there ~ right now, it happens to be tulips. The comfy papasan chair, now decked out in spring colors, is a favorite spot to cuddle up with a book, which is why I always think of this room as the reading porch, even though I refer to it as the front room so as not to confuse people.

I hope you enjoyed this little mini-tour of spring changes. If you'd also like a quick peak into my kitchen, click here.

I am linking to Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound. Stop by Beverly's place to join in or see more lovely pinks.

I am also linking to Seasonal Sundays at The Tablescaper. Stop by for more seasonal beauty.

Photos by The Pink Home

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kitchen updates...

My kitchen has been in need of a little help here of late, mostly thanks to my aging dogs. We have hardwood floors in the kitchen and throughout the house, which I love, so I use quite a few area rugs to help define spaces. I had, until this past weekend, a lovely 8x10 rug with lots of reds and blues in the middle of the main part of the kitchen. Our kitchen is huge ~ it seriously is as big as our living and dining room put together ~ so it needed something to sort of ground it and make it feel not quite so cavernous, especially as we also have a breakfast area, which almost seems to be its own little room, as you can see above and below. The rug, which I had acquired some time ago, worked beautifully, especially as I love red in the kitchen.
Unfortunately, as my dogs age (one is going on 14, another 12), they seem to have the occasional problem with making it outside and for some reason, the kitchen rug seemed to be ground zero. One accident too many and it was time for the rug to go. I figured it probably wasn't worth it to replace the rug since my dogs would probably do the same thing again, but the kitchen needed a little something, so I found a couple small, colorful rugs at TJ Maxx ~ the rooster one above and the fruit one below. The rooster is in front of some cabinets and the fruit one in front of the refrigerator. Between the two, they add a little fun and color, without being prime targets for the dogs. I figure that's as good as it's going to get for now.
Since I switched out the rugs, I figured I might as well do a few more updates. We had already moved the breakfast table and put in a bookshelf to accommodate all (OK, most) of my cookbooks. I hung the dish fabric canvas on the opposite wall, changed the tablecloth, put a big bowl on the table and filled it with fruit and presto ~ an easy, quick kitchen update. Since I have been making other seasonal changes in the house, it was nice to give the kitchen a little bit of a lift, too.
Come back later this week to see the change in seasons in my other rooms.

Photos by The Pink Home

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A springtime treat...

It really is the simple things that make the change of seasons so enjoyable. I always think of deviled eggs as one of those things that helps herald in spring/summer. We always had deviled eggs at Easter growing up, so that's probably why. After that, we enjoyed them at summer barbecues and picnics and, of course, on Fourth of July. They're a simple, wonderful warm-weather dish ~ easy to pop in your mouth and they never last long enough to spoil in the heat. They usually make their last appearance around Labor Day weekend and then they are gone again, waiting to be rediscovered next spring.
I've always thought deviled eggs were one of the easiest things to make, but I recently came across someone who said they had never learned. In case there are any others out there, I thought I'd share my simple recipe.

P.S. For the dish lovers out there, the fabulous pink plate the eggs are sitting on is a vintage beauty I picked up at a flea market. It only makes an appearance in spring and summer, it seems.

Deviled Eggs

Boil a dozen eggs until cooked through. Cool, then peel the eggs. Cut each egg in half lengthwise and gently pop out the hard egg yolks into a bowl. Using either a masher or food processor, crumb the egg yolks. Add about 2 teaspoons of mustard (I use a teaspoon each of yellow and golden), 1 teaspoon of sweet relish and 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of mayo. Add a pinch of salt and stir together, blending well. Taste the mixture and see if it needs a little more salt or perhaps a little sugar (as odd as that sounds). I often find that a little less than a packet of Splenda will do the trick. It may need a little more mustard or mayo to suit your taste.
Fill each egg with a teaspoon full of the creamy yolk mixture and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Before serving, you can sprinkle with paprika, fresh chives or even little pieces of crumbled bacon ~ whatever strikes your fancy.

Note: This should serve 4 to 6, depending how many deviled egg lovers you have on hand. I find that two deviled eggs (1 whole egg) per person is a good rule of thumb.

Photo by The Pink Home

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter blooms...

"Easter spells out beauty ~ the rare beauty of new life."
~ S.D. Gordon

Beautiful lilies, tulips and a lovely rose ~ a mix of traditional Easter flowers and a little extra beauty, in perfect spring colors. These are some of the lovely blooms I will be gazing on this weekend, so I thought I would share them with you. Wishing all of you a beautiful Easter holiday.

Photos by The Pink Home

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Change of plans... and a new look

Dearest readers ~

To quote Mark Twain, "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." Or, I should say, reports of the demise of this blog have been greatly exaggerated. Well, more like flat-out wrong.
Please understand there is no conspiracy afoot, no blogging rumors gone awry. It's simply that I reported several times, wrongly as it turns out, that I was planning to take down this blog and take up permanent residence at The Pink Home. While I have taken up residence at The Pink Home, and the two blogs do share some common ground, the truth is I can't bear to take this blog down. I tried. Really. And failed. It felt like I was putting one of my dogs down. I kept coming across things I wanted to share that didn't exactly fit the scope of The Pink Home blog and then I kept thinking about all of you, who have given me so much affection and encouragement. And then I started to wonder exactly why I felt I had to take this blog down anyway ~ it's not like I couldn't have two. And then yesterday, I got the urge to shine the place up, add a little new sparkle to it. After all, I didn't need two pink blogs. And I have been rather neglectful here of late, though I prefer to think of it as a needed break. The more I worked on freshening up The Art of Living Beautifully, the happier it made me and I realized I was definitely going to hang around.
So, here I am. Still. And yes, still at The Pink Home, though that blog will chronicle more of my efforts to open a shop under the same name and feature my photography more prominently. Pink abounds there, and will likely show up here, too. For those that would like to follow both blogs, I would absolutely love to have you. (I don't blog daily on either, so you won't be bombarded with posts. And thank you to those who already follow both.) For those who follow one or the other and hop back and forth to see what I'm up to, bless you. And while there will be the occasional overlap, I've discovered that each blog really has its own personality, so it's best to honor those.
For Furry First Friday fans, I will be restarting that next month. May 6 is the first Friday, so mark your calendars and get your posts ready.
Oh, and there's one more thing: I finally decided to put my real name, which is Eileen, on my blogs. Bella is a pen name I took when I started blogging a couple of years ago because it means beauty and it seemed to suit. But with The Pink Home venture, it seemed like keeping a pen name would just confuse things, particularly with the planned shop. So it's just Eileen from now on.
Break's over. Hope you enjoy the new look.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lightening up for spring...

I love fabrics and pattern, as you know, and will look for basically any excuse to add more ~ new pillows, bedding, curtains, table linens, napkins, etc. Lap blankets fall into this category. I love seeing a neatly folded stack of blankets when I open a cupboard, ready to be pulled down for a cozy read or a snuggle on the porch.
With the change in seasons, I have switched out which blankets get used. The heavyweight, darker colors are put away and in their place are light, almost airy, blankets with soft colors, like this one above. I bought this blanket a few years ago and each spring when I get it back out, I remember how much I love it. The soft blues and greens are so pretty ~ perfect for spring.
How is the season shaping up at your home?

Monday, April 18, 2011

The beauty of dreaming and doing...

Please forgive my absence this past week ~ I have been busy, busy, busy trying to get my dream off the ground while still handling all of my other responsibilities (you know, life). As some of you know, I have launched a new blog, The Pink Home, in preparation for the launch of my Etsy shop by the same name. (If you haven't already, please do stop by The Pink Home blog and follow me there. I would be so grateful.) 
And if all good things come to those who wait, that must mean I'm in for a bit of luck with The Pink Home shop when it finally opens. Slowly but surely, I am making headway on getting it open ~ emphasis on slowly. I'm trying to make sure I do things properly, from paperwork to merchandise, and that takes time. So much time, as I am learning. And when you already have a full-time job and other responsibilities, well... let's just say I have an even greater respect for those who have Etsy and other online shops ~ it is indeed a labor of love. 
I have been busy paring down offerings, trying to start on a manageable level as I get my feet under me. To kick things off, I will be stocking prints of various beautiful photographs, notecards and art ~ all the original work of moi. (One of my latest snapshots is featured above.) I have ordered some of the prints and art for the shop and am (still) designing the stationary offerings. Fingers crossed these turn out as good as I am hoping or else it's back to the drawing board. Perish the thought.
If there's one thing I have noticed about all this work, it's that I am rather enjoying it. In fact, I'm actually having a ball. 
As author Sarah Ban Breathnach says, "The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do." 
On that note, it's back to work...

P.S. If you haven't already, please be sure to stop by The Pink Home on Facebook and like us. I'll be posting special offers, extras, etc., as things get moving. You can click on the badge in the left column to take you there. Merci.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wallpaper as art...

When I come across an image that makes me think, "Oooh, good idea...", I file it away for future reference. I have a mountain of these images from magazines that I periodically sort through. I started keeping images on my computer a couple years ago ~ I store them all in a folder and use it as my screensaver source so these beautiful ideas are always sort of popping up. I came across this forgotten image from Country Living in my e-mail yesterday when I was cleaning it out. The wallpaper squares are kind of a neat way to add visual interest to a room ~ wall covering and art all in one, while making use of scraps of leftover paper. Beauty and resourcefulness... perfection.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Combating the gray...

It's a gray, rainy day here and it looks like we're in for plenty more of the same, along with an added dash of cold temperatures, for the next few days. I am missing the gorgeous spring weather we enjoyed last week. I am also lamenting that I likely missed my window to photograph my neighbor's gorgeous flowers. I've been meaning to snap photos for a few days and now it's unlikely I'll get a chance with all this rain ~ the wet weather and wind will probably do them in. Sigh...
Of course, there is always some color and beauty to be found to combat the gray. I stumbled across a most marvelous slide show on Midwest Living's web site all about peonies ~ growing tips, varieties, etc. These photos are from there ~ aren't they gorgeous? Beautiful enough to brighten the grayest of days. I absolutely love peonies; they are so graceful and elegant. One day I hope to have a whole huge batch of them growing in my yard, though I'm not quite sure how ~ they love sun and my yard has a lot of shade. I may have to lose a tree. Hmmm...
I hope you're enjoying lovely weather and lots of beautiful color wherever you are. If you haven't had a chance to stop by my new blog, The Pink Home, please do. It's a lovely place and I'd love your company.