Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pretty garden gates...

In a continuation of our front yard makeover, my husband just finished building the gates for our picket fence. I must confess I am seriously in love with the fence ~ and I think the pretty gates have only made it more adorable. I can’t wait for spring to finish planting a cottage garden in front of the fence. It’s already cute and welcoming ~ a lovely informal garden will only make it more so.

You can see the caution tape still up around the nearly-finished side walkway in the photos above and below. That section of fence on the other side of the side gate is the last to be finished. Once that is done, my husband will finish the walkway and the landing area and then get started on the last walkway, which will run around the flower bed in front of the porch. I just hope the weather holds out for him to finish it all. The other walkway may just have to wait until spring.

The front yard looks completely different than it did just a few months ago. I can’t wait to see what next year brings.

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The beauty of a fab find...

Sometimes I love it when things don’t go according to plan.
I found this bar-height chair a few weekends ago when I was furniture hunting at a local antique/vintage mall. It was $25. Seriously. It’s in excellent condition so I grabbed it and brought it home with me thinking I would give it a makeover ~ paint it a funky color, etc.
I brought it in from the car and set it down in the living room where you see it now. When I walked in the room later that night, I thought, you know, I kind of like that there just as it is. I had company visiting and without any prompting from me, they said the same thing.

So, for now, I have decided to leave my new find there in its new home. It came in handy when I cleaned off the coffee table for a little autumn decorating ~ I just moved the books into the chair, so now it’s a bookshelf. Somehow, it seems to work.

I’m sure at some point I’ll give it that makeover. If I can ever figure out what that should be. In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy that my original plan was replaced with something that requires no work from me.
Wishing all of you a lovely week...

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Friday, October 24, 2014

Autumn blooms...

I am just loving these pretty autumn blooms. They are called Echinacea Cheyenne Spirit ~ a beautiful flowering Coneflower. I picked up two containers of them, one for each side of the walkway outside of the gate. They are new to me, but I realized after I bought these that a neighbor of mine has some planted in her yard along the fence (they are perennials) and they look just beautiful. I may see about transplanting mine into the ground in the spring. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy their beautiful autumn blooms.
Wishing you a beautiful day...

Photo by The Art of Living Beautifully

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The beauty of style...

I just had to share the latest addition to my bookshelf ~ “Elements of Style ~ Designing a Home and  a Life” by Erin Gates. It’s page after page of gorgeousness, with some wonderful guidelines and tips for decorating. I found my copy in a bookstore, but it’s easy enough to find online if you’re interested.
What wonderful new books have their way into your homes?

Wishing all of you a lovely week...

Monday, October 20, 2014

A little aubergine for autumn...

I don’t know that this technically qualifies as aubergine (it’s probably closer to purple), but I hope you’ll forgive the stretch ~ I couldn’t resist the alliteration.
People always think of orange and browns and yellows when it comes to autumn, but I am also drawn to the deep purples and maroons. Since I have a wonderful old collection of purple transferware, I thought I would use a couple of pieces as the centerpiece for an autumn display on the sideboard in the dining room. The bright floral and butterfly tray that was there was just too summery.
All in all, it’s a simple display, but pretty. And much more suited to the season.
Wishing all of you a lovely week...

I am linking to:
A Return to Loveliness at A Delightsome Life
Make it Pretty Monday at The Dedicated House
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Friday, October 17, 2014

Autumn decorating...

Like many of you, I love the change of seasons and always try to switch out some of my decor to reflect Mother Nature’s current state of mind. In the living room, I switched out the pillows and throw on the sofa, cleaned out the fireplace and installed new candles, and redid my coffee table with these pretty autumn wares.

Don’t you just love that owl dish?

Wishing all of you a lovely autumn day...

I am linking to:
Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound
Make it Pretty Monday at The Dedicated House
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Red Velvet cupcakes (the easy way)...

I absolutely love red velvet cupcakes. While I always prefer them made from scratch, I picked up a couple of boxes of Betty Crocker mix in the grocery store awhile ago because they were buy one get one free ~ I figured it was worth trying them. The first batch was good but a bit lacking in chocolate flavor, I thought. So when I had a craving for them last week, I decided to use the other box of mix but add a bag of Ghirardelli’s milk chocolate chips to them. I didn’t bother to melt the chips down; I just threw them in the batter. (Tip: To keep the chips from sinking to the bottom of the cupcakes, put them in a bowl first and toss them with a tablespoon or so of flour. Add them to the batter just before you put it in the pan.)
And you know what? The cupcakes were wonderful. Those bite size pieces of chocolate were an excellent addition. So, there’s your life hack tip for the week: Go ahead and buy the red velvet cake mix if you’re pressed for time, but throw in a bag of good milk chocolate chips for optimum flavor. And don’t forget the cream cheese frosting.
On a side note, I just realized this is my 601st post on this blog. How cool is that? Cupcakes for all!
Wishing all of you a delicious day...

I am linking to:
Homemaking at Hope in Every Season
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Weekly Want: Lamp love...

I am in love with this lamp from Pier One. In LOVE. I love the shape, the crystal/glass, the metallic finish. It’s absolutely perfect. The only problem is I truly have no place to put it. I am hoping inspiration will strike and I’ll come up with a reason to order it other than I just really, really want it. Click here for more information or if you think you must add it to your home.
Wishing everyone a lovely day...

Photo from Pier One

Monday, October 13, 2014

Front yard makeover: Part I...

We have spent the last several months working on our front yard, Emily included. (Well, OK, Emily has mostly just sat around looking cute, but that’s pretty much the extent of her contribution to everything.) There is still quite a bit of work to be done, but I thought I would show you how it’s coming along so far.
Below is the before photo. Note the old bushes, the sidewalk leading to the front door, the red paint on the foundation under the porch, the lack of grass, etc. We had to have a dying 100-year-old oak tree removed from the left side of our front yard, unfortunately, and in the process the grass in the front yard basically got destroyed by all the heavy machinery.

Below is the corner where the tree used to be.

The first thing we did was plant grass ~ not the smartest thing to do in the spring in the Carolinas, but we had little choice. Luckily some of it grew (though we’ve reached the point again where it has to be redone for real). The next thing my husband did was cover the old sidewalk with brick pavers, which took him forever since he did the mortar, cutting, etc., all by himself. We also took out the ancient, woody azaleas in front of the porch ~ they were quite spindly ~ and replanted and reshaped that bed, along with the one on the other side.

Then my husband decided to start working on building a picket fence, partly for looks but mostly to keep Miss Emily in the yard where she belongs. (She has this terrible habit of wandering off if you turn your back on her for 10 seconds.)

While he was working on the fence, I kept tackling the various flower beds in the yard. This one along the side fence really needed some attention. Here’s the before:

And now, the after. We have a bunch of old bricks laying around the yard, so I made it a point to repurpose them. I enlarged the bed and curved it to provide some interest. Much better, isn’t it?

Below is the new, reshaped flower bed in front of the porch. I also scraped the peeling red paint off the brick and painted it to match the front step. It looks much better.

A shot of the almost-finished picket fence, now painted white with primer.

With the picket fence nearly finished ~ all that is missing is two gates and one more portion on the other side of this walkway ~ my husband decided to stop work on the fence to go ahead and redo the walkway. Because he planned on moving the walkway and widening it slightly, he wanted to get that in place first before he built the fence around it.

Below is the walkway nearly finished. You can see he has work to do on the step and landing near the driveway, and he still has to put in the trim bricks (that wood will come out). Once that is done, he’ll be able to finish the fence.

Due to the remaining large oak tree in the front yard and the gas/electric lines, we had to put the fence back off the sidewalk a good distance. Which means, of course, more landscaping. In the photos below you can see what we’ve done so far. Other than planting some additional bulbs along the walkway, this is probably going to be all the landscaping we’ll do this fall. Once spring comes, I will do a bit more.

In the photo below is the corner where the old oak tree we had removed used to stand. I planted some shrubs that will grow into a nice hedge in that corner and some flowers in the front. We also planted a flowering dogwood tree and a couple of gardenia bushes.
One of the problems we discovered in digging the holes for fence posts and plants is the over abundance of tree roots. We live in an older neighborhood with all these giant, fabulous trees, but that also means there are tree roots everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. It makes digging and even tilling the ground an absolute nightmare.

Before the weather gets cold, my husband plans to finish that one walkway, the fence and the two gates. We also have to get the fence painted. If he has enough time (but I kind of doubt it), he still has one more walkway to build ~ this one will be off the main walkway on the other side, running around the curved flower bed in front of the porch. And we also have to do something about the grass.
But so far, so good. What do you think?

I am linking to:
Make it Pretty Monday at The Dedicated House
You’re Gonna Love It Tuesday at Kathe with an E
Before and After Wednesday at The Dedicated House
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A lovely autumn day and a sneak peek...

Miss Emily loves cooler weather, so autumn’s arrival has meant she wants to be outside all the time. The weather today was absolutely lovely ~ you could feel the crispness in the air.
I have mentioned that I have a lot of yard projects to show you ~ you can see a sneak peek of some of them here in this photo (the walkway and the picket fence). I’ll have more for you over the next few days.
Wishing everyone a lovely weekend...

Photo by The Art of Living Beautifully