Sunday, April 27, 2014

A sun porch makeover...

Like some of the other rooms in our home, the sun porch has gone through a few changes over the past couple of years. The porch is on the front of the house and is enclosed in glass windows, which open to screens when the weather is warm like it is now. We have also installed a ceiling fan out there, and there is usually a bit of a breeze coming in from the side, so it’s really a great space to sit and talk the night away. 
When we first moved back a couple of years ago and began the whole redecorating process, one of the first things I changed was the color of the porch floor. As you can see below, it was orange. But I’m not an orange person. I painted it a nice neutral oatmeal color and added some new rugs, accessories, flowers and furniture. Since it’s a popular spot for visitors, I need as much seating as I can get.
Here’s the before photo:

And below is the porch with the floor repainted and some additional furniture. It stayed like this until only recently, when I changed out and added a few things.

Here is the porch now, with the addition of a new rug, accessories and plants and my bird canvases mounted on old window frames that were just lying about.

I originally bought the bird canvases for the dining room, but they just weren’t quite formal enough. I absolutely love them, though, so they came to live on the porch, where they are perfectly at home. I love it when things like that work out.

With the arrival of the bird canvases also came an injection of color. I added teal and purple and more yellow to the mix. It makes the porch feel fun and welcoming and a bit eclectic.

The canvases hung up like that also provide a bit of privacy while still letting light through. And the purple and gold rug, which was originally in the hall before I switched it for a round light-colored flower rug, provides a wonderful burst of color while being a whole lot more comfortable to sit on or walk on in your bare feet than my old sisal rug. It’s also more forgiving if someone charges in with dirty feet. (I love the look of sisal rugs but if they ever get stained or dirty, you’re never getting them clean again. After a number of cleaning attempts over a period of months, I finally gave up on mine.) Even Miss Emily approves of the new rug.

There is one part of the porch you have not seen ~ it’s the view from the table looking in the opposite direction. That’s because I have something rather fabulous up my sleeve that I can’t wait to show you. But first, I must finish it. Otherwise, what do you think of the transformation? It’s amazing what a bit of color can do, isn’t it?

I am linking to:
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch
Make it Pretty Monday at The Dedicated House
Blue Monday at Smiling Sally

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The beauty of a new Rachel Ashwell book...

I was wandering through Target the other day and, of course, had to go to the home section to just browse around. I discovered that Rachel Ashwell’s line had some new items out ~ I bought a lovely photo frame in blue and white ~ and came across this new book.
“Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic ~ Treasure Hunting & Decorating Guide” was published last year, but I had not seen it before that day. After thumbing through, I added it to my cart. I’m going to spend some time this weekend going through it. I snapped a few photos to give you a bit of the flavor ~ there are sections on textiles and tabletops and even apparel. It looks like an enjoyable addition to my collection.

Wishing all of you a lovely day...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Kitchen-sink chocolate chip cookies...

Finding a great chocolate chip cookie recipe is like finding buried treasure. And I am happy to say I have struck gold with Elinor Klivans’ Kitchen-Sink Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of the things I love about this recipe is that it’s a great way to use up extra baking chips you might have on hand. As the recipe says, “there is just enough dough to hold the heaps, and I mean heaps, of chocolate chips, pecans, walnuts and almonds together.” 

Yum. It’s impossible not to feel you are being incredibly indulgent eating these babies because there is so much good stuff in them. Here’s the recipe from the book (FYI ~ I swap out types of chips and sometimes add more chips in place of some of the nuts, etc. The recipe is pretty forgiving.):

Kitchen-Sink Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mixing time ~ 10 minutes
Baking ~ 350 degrees for about 14 minutes per batch

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups (18 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup (4 ounces) pecan halves
1 cup (4 ounces) walnut halves or large pieces
1 cup (4 ounces) blanched whole almonds, toasted and chopped roughly in half

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift the flour, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smoothly blended, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until blended, about 1 minute. The mixture may look slightly curdled. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just until it is incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips, pecans, walnuts and almonds until evenly distributed.
Use a tablespoon to drop well-rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing cookies 2 inches apart.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the edges are slightly browned and the centers are just slightly colored, about 14 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

CHOICES: You can add 1 cup of raisins, dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots to the dough with the chips and nuts. White, bittersweet or milk chocolate chips, or a combination, can be substituted for the semisweet chips.

And do yourself a favor and pick up this wonderful cookbook.

I am linking to:
Tasty Tuesday at The Comforts of Home

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter...

A little spring beauty from my porch to wish all of you a Happy Easter. I hope you’re having a lovely day.

Photo by The Art of Living Beautifully

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

An accessories refresh...

Sometimes it takes awhile to find just the right accents. Such is the case with this bedroom.
This room went through a few different looks (you can see them all on my Big Redecorating Project page) before I finally decided to just stick with the gray and white. I wanted a sort of teal blue as the accent color but it took me forever to find just the right accessories to pull it all together.
You can see how the room looked halfway done here. There was nothing particularly wrong with it, but it still wasn’t quite right. The art, for one, wasn’t right. Nor was the bedside lamp or the rug.
The refresh started with the art. I found those lovely floral prints at Pier One for a song. And then after months of trying out different things above the bed, I finally realized I needed something that felt “open,” so as not to weigh down the headboard visually. I found the perfect thing on clearance at Target. During the same shopping trip, I also found this fab lamp that just sort of works with everything.

But the real find was this rug. After months of searching, I finally found a rug in the exact color I wanted. Once I had it, the entire room just came together. Now it feels fresh and rather perfect for spring and summer.
You’ll have to forgive the photos ~ I find this room extremely difficult to photograph. It looks prettier in person, but I think you get the idea. What do you think of the new look?

I am linking to:
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life
Homemaking at Hope in Every Season
Anything Blue Friday at The Dedicated House
Blue Monday at Smiling Sally
Make it Pretty Monday at The Dedicated House

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday beauty...

The tulips we planted along the walkway in our front yard have just started blooming. I thought their delicate beauty might brighten your Monday. Wishing all of you a lovely week...

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The joy of daisies...

I had forgotten just how much I love daisies until my husband brought me these yesterday. They are such happy flowers, so exuberant in their glorious pinks and creams, so joyful in their very existence. I hope their beauty brightens your day.

I am linking to:
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, April 5, 2014

Garden helper...

Our yard project has begun in earnest and Emily is busy overseeing things and hitching rides here and there. So far the front yard has been completely tilled up to allow us to plant new grass and I spent a little time at the garden center this afternoon picking out pretty hanging baskets and ferns and such. More pics of the yard, and more about our plans, to come. Happy Saturday.

Photo by The Art of Living Beautifully