Thursday, October 31, 2013

More autumn touches...

Happy Halloween, everyone. I can’t believe October is over already ~ the month just flew by for me, which is partly why I am a bit behind in my seasonal decorating. In addition to the autumn touches in the living room I shared yesterday, I wanted a simple little bit of autumn in the dining room and kitchen as well, so I put together a very low centerpiece for the dining room table of pears and apples and pinecones and berries (fake, in case you’re wondering) in a pretty oval basket tray. I think it works wonderfully ~ very seasonal, but understated. 
In the kitchen, I got out one of my favorite autumn baskets and added it to a couple of others on top of the fridge. Just a cute little addition to the room.
Wishing everyone a safe and fun holiday…

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Autumn touches...

I have been wanting to add a couple of touches of autumn to the living room but just hadn’t found quite the right thing. After a couple of weeks of looking for inspiration, I came across this adorable little owl dish and thought it would be perfect paired with my leaf bowls and this cute little leaf placemat for a pretty autumn vignette on the coffee table. I added the glittery little pillows I save for this time of year to the sofa and that was just enough to make the living room feel seasonal. Cute, don’t you think?
Wishing all of you a lovely week...

I am linking to:
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life
Home at Rose Chintz Cottage
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fireplace makeover 2: The reveal...

Finally! After a month of work, our fireplace makeover is complete. And it is fabulous, as you’ll see. My love, who did all of the hard work, really did an absolutely amazing job. 
Here’s what the fireplace looked like before:

A bit old and dated, particularly that red tile hearth. Here’s what it looks like now, after our little renovation:

Isn’t it gorgeous? I absolutely love it. It is so elegant and classic and beautiful. My love has been itching to redo it for awhile now and I’m so glad he did. He told me I could pick out the materials and he would do the work ~ who can refuse an offer like that?
We decided to go with one whole slab for the hearth. Everyone who has walked into our home thinks the whole thing is marble, but the hearth is actually granite with a marble look that we had cut to size. Then I picked out marble tiles to cover the brick. 
A couple of close ups:

We thought the light marble would brighten up that space ~ the red brick was pretty dark. And I wanted to make sure we chose something classic that would look good 30 years from now.
I just love what the fireplace makeover does for the room ~ it makes everything seem more elegant. The fireplace has always been the main focus of the living room so I couldn’t be happier. What do you think?

I am linking to:
Home at Rose Chintz Cottage
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home
Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The romance of autumn...

“Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze.”
~ Amanda Cross

Autumn is an incredibly romantic season. I know everyone gets married in June, but there’s something about cooler weather and turning leaves that I think makes everything a bit more romantic ~ candlelight, a gorgeous wrap, a late afternoon stroll are all somehow better in autumn. So are train rides. Watching the gorgeous leaves change color as you meander by is a wonderful way to spend an autumn afternoon. I have always found old trains to be incredibly romantic, a symbol of glamour, graciousness and good taste from a time gone by. 
Sometimes it’s nice to just feast the eyes on images that conjure romance, isn’t it? For more, click here to visit my “I’ll take romance” board on Pinterest.
Wishing all of you a lovely weekend...

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Goodbye, my sweet boys...

Sometimes timing is an odd thing. 
We had to say goodbye to both of our sweet boys yesterday rather unexpectedly. Wally, on the right, has been failing for some time; we did what we could for him these last few months but when he started having trouble breathing we knew it was time to let him go. We had already decided we would take him to the vet this week when our other sweet old boy suddenly took a bad turn. 
Nicholaus, on the left, was in fairly good health despite his advanced years until he somehow hurt himself this weekend. Like many dogs, he developed hip problems as he got older and his back legs gave him a lot of trouble. Over the last couple of years, he has struggled to get up, and the problem has steadily gotten worse. Somehow over the weekend he threw his shoulders out and his entire body came out of alignment; our (and the vet’s) best guess is he did it struggling to get up. He injured himself pretty badly (his back was basically in the shape of an s) and the vet said there wasn’t much they could do for him. They could sedate him and try to fix his shoulders, etc., but they said because he basically had no muscle tone in the back anymore, it was very likely it would just recur again. Since the poor guy couldn’t get around and was suffering and there wasn’t a lot we could do, we decided to let him go, too. 
If there is one consolation in our grief it is that they went together; Nicholaus would have been completely and totally lost without Wally. It was bad enough when we lost Russ last year; the three of them grew up together and have always been known as “the boys.” Nick would get so beside himself if we had to take the other two to the vet or groomer that we often had to bring him along, too. He would not have handled being the last one left very well; I think it was part of the reason we held on to Wally so long even though we could have (and maybe should have) let him go a few weeks ago. I suppose, in a way, the timing of Nick’s injury is a sort of blessing. But I still didn’t want to let them go.
Wally, who would have been 15 on Halloween, was always a big dog trapped in a little dog’s body. He was willing to take on anyone ~ or at least bark at them. In the group, Nick was the muscle, Russ was the brains and Wally was the alarm. He was the first to alert the boys to any dog events ~ you know, the postman’s arrival, another dog walking down the sidewalk in front of the house, even a bird flying overhead. He was a cute little thing with a grumpy disposition ~ sort of like the old guy who is actually sweet at heart but a bit gruff. That was Wally.
Nick, who turned 14 last month, was just love, an overgrown lap dog at heart. He was a bit neurotic and headstrong and sometimes not the brightest dog around, but he was incredibly loyal and sweet and funny and would never let anyone harm his family. 
We will miss them both terribly, but I know Russ is beyond happy to see them again. 
Goodbye, my sweet boys. May heaven appreciate you as much as we did.

~ Nick, Russ and Wally ~

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fireplace makeover 2, Part II: Progress

Emily has been busy, as you can see, overseeing our fireplace renovation project. Our new granite hearth is installed and we bought the marble tile we had picked out to cover the old red brick.
Here’s the new hearth below, waiting to go in:

Let me just say getting that heavy slab of granite into that hole was much more difficult than you would think, mostly due to the mantel. We considered taking the mantel off, but since we weren’t 100 percent sure it would come off nicely without damaging the plaster walls or paint or anything else, we decided it was best left in place. If there is one thing I learned growing up in an old house, it’s that if you can leave it alone and still do what you need to do, leave it alone. Anyway, after a couple of false starts, the granite went in nicely. And as you can see, it looks gorgeous. It’s already a hundred times better than the old red tile that used to be there. 

I spent a couple of hours on Sunday measuring and laying out the tile pattern just so, then numbering it all. My love cut the tile to size earlier this week; within a few days, the project should be completed.
You can get an idea from the photograph below what it will look like once it’s all done. Just imagine the tile I have laid out on the floor over the red brick. It’s going to be just lovely. To be honest, I really liked the fireplace before. But now that I can see how it will look after this little makeover project, I’m really loving it. It will be so much brighter and prettier in my pink living room, don’t you think? 
Wishing all of you a wonderful weekend...

I am linking to Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound.

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Easy Mexican Cheeseburger Pizza...

There I was in the kitchen yesterday morning trying to figure out what to have for dinner. I had some pizza dough on hand and we seemed to have an abundance of ground beef, so I thought I would make some type of cheeseburger pizza. As I started to cook I decided to bump up the heat a bit and give it a Mexican flare. It turned out really well and was so quick and easy, I thought I would share.

Mexican Cheeseburger Pizza
Serves 2-4

Pizza dough (enough to cover a 9x13 pan)
Ground beef
About 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper
8 ounces of tomato sauce, homemade or canned
Shredded cheese (I used a Cheddar and Monterey Jack blend but any Mexican-style shredded cheese will work.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease baking pan if needed. Brown your hamburger, adding salt and pepper and minced garlic to taste. Add crushed red pepper to hamburger as it cooks. Roll out your favorite pizza dough (I used fresh dough from Publix’s bakery/deli) on a floured surface so that it will fit shape of pan. Move dough to pan and create an edge all the way around by turning up dough and pinching. Pour tomato sauce over dough, then add cooked hamburger. Carefully mix sauce and hamburger together slightly on top of the dough, adding a little bit of cheese as you go. Once they are all mixed together, top generously with remaining cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes (crust should be brown around the edges and cooked through). Enjoy.

I am linking to:
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life
Homemaking at Hope in Every Season
Home at Rose Chintz Cottage
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home

Photos and recipe by The Art of Living Beautifully

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A chandelier redo finishes the dining room...

There have been quite a few changes in the last couple of months around my house. The latest project to be completed is my dining room chandelier makeover ~ a project that helped finally finish this room.
Originally, the chandelier was brass ~ that terrible bright shiny brass that was popular a few decades ago. My house was simply plagued with it ~ the light switches, the fireplace insert and the dining room chandelier were all shiny brass. Slowly but surely it has all been eradicated, thank goodness.
When I first lived here, I decided to just paint the chandelier with a creamy white that went perfectly with my sort of shabby chic dining room; after all, the chandelier worked fine and had pretty lines, just an ugly finish. But after I completely redid the dining room last year, the chandelier didn’t really go any more.
At first I was just going to replace it but after looking and looking, I couldn’t really afford anything I liked. So I decided to try another home makeover to dress it up. I bought three little bottles of paint suitable for painting on metal, a couple of sponge brushes and some crystals ~ all of which cost me about $20 ~ and got down to work. 

I painted the chandelier with a couple of coats of glossy black to start with, then painted the candlesticks a dark metallic gray. I went through the crystals next, trying to figure out what would go where ~ I think that took even longer than the painting.

Once all that was figured out, I went back and put the final touch of paint on the chandelier ~ this time, I used the bronze paint I had bought. I wanted to make the chandelier finish mimic the other finishes in the room; the dining room chairs have metal frames with this sort of old bronze finish, as does all the wall decor in the room. I applied the bronze paint very lightly, emphasizing certain areas and sponging it off others. When I was done, it looked like this:

And here’s the full view:

A definite improvement, don’t you think? Best of all, the bronze finish and the crystals catch and reflect the light just like I hoped, as you can see below. If I had left it plain black, it would have just sucked up the light.

Along with the chandelier makeover came a couple of other changes in the dining room, the main one being this piece of art below. One of my dear friends has had this heron print for ages and it’s always been one of my favorites. It was tucked away in a guest room in her new house and I told her it would look really good in my dining room ~ I had been trying to find the right piece of art for that wall for a year and nothing was working. I knew instinctively the heron print would be perfect, particularly with my bird wall stencil, so my friend brought it to my house to live for awhile. (In case you’re wondering, this is something I have done for years with two of my friends. A piece of art or furniture no longer works for one of us but would be perfect in another’s house, so it goes to live with them for an undetermined amount of time, usually with the understanding that the piece still belongs to the original owner and they can have it back whenever they need it. Of course, I don’t recall any of us ever needing anything back, but still, it’s nice to have the option.)

This is what my dining room looked like last year after I finished redecorating and buying new furniture:

And here is what it looks like now, after the chandelier makeover and with the art and accessories changed around. You can also see the kitchen has been repainted in that time, from green to a golden yellow that goes beautifully with the rest of the house.

I also finally found the perfect mirror for this corner (in my attic, of all places), and moved the blue glass that was on the sideboard to the top of the secretary. 

I’m so happy with how it all came together. Those finishing touches really do make a difference. What do you think?

And in case you’ve forgotten, or haven’t seen the in-progress posts, here’s what the dining room looked like to start with:

I am linking to:
A Return to Loveliness at A Delightsome Life
The DIY’ers at Home Coming
Mod Mix Monday at Mod Vintage Life
Make it Pretty Monday at The Dedicated House
Blue Monday at Smiling Sally

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Thursday, October 3, 2013

October blooms...

Happy October, everyone. After some lovely fall weather, the temperature has turned upward again, as it’s prone to do in early October where I live. Usually after this one last bit of summer temperatures, things cool down again and autumn settles in to stay. Even if it doesn’t feel like it outside right now, these lovely flowers in glorious fall colors remind me it is in fact autumn, which is my favorite season. I can’t wait for the weather to remember it, too.
Wishing all of you a lovely day...

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully