Hello, Hyacinths. Hello, Spring.

Spring has finally arrived! It may be nearly a month since the official start of spring, but with the trees blooming, flowers blossoming and warmer weather, it finally feels like spring.

And with spring weather, comes spring flowers! Our hyacinths are back and in full bloom.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that our hyacinths were starting to peek out of the ground. I was really worried they wouldn’t survive the late winter snow storm we had in March, but they persevered. Last week, the hyacinths’ buds were starting to pop open for the first time.

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Now they are in full bloom!
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This is the third season for our hyacinths. Two years ago, I planted them as full-grown flowers and each year they’ve come back. This fall, I might add a few more bulbs so next year we have a full row of hyacinths and tulips. I planted a few tulips when I planted the hyacinths, but I’ve only had luck with one tulip coming back each year. Time to add a few more bulbs and see if they make it through winter.
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It’s almost time to plant annuals for the summer. Here is my late spring/early summer gardening to do list:

1. Plant more petunias.

I had great success with the petunias I planted last year. Despite the severe drought, they spread across the garden and were really beautiful.

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2. Mulch

Last year we added a layer of mulch to our garden, but after several rain storms, it’s time to mulch again.

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3. Plant a vegetable and herb garden in the backyard.

I’ve got big plans for a vegetable and herb garden this year.

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I picked up these seeds at Target and it’s almost time to start planting them! BJ and I enjoy cooking with fresh vegetables and herbs and we’re hoping that if all goes well, we will have many homegrown veggies and herbs to choose from!

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There are a few more items that BJ and I thinking about adding to our garden list for the year, such as edging the gardens with stone, but for now, we are going to focus on our first three items and add more as we go. Do you have any big plans for your garden(s) this year?

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Spreading Christmas Cheer

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” – Buddy the Elf
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I love the movie Elf and I always enjoy watching it around the start of December to get into the holiday mood. We kicked off this December with a marathon of Christmas decorating and each night this week we’ve been adding a few more decorations. It seems like I keep pulling more and more decorations out of storage!

Here is a peek at what we’ve been up to over the past week.

Friday night, I started by decorating our mantle. I changed our previous flower arrangements to red orchids, mistletoe and willows. We also hung the stocking we bought during an after-Christmas sale at Crate and Barrel a few years ago. And of course, the mantle isn’t complete without Zoey’s “meow” stocking, also from Crate and Barrel.
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Here’s a closer look at the orchid, mistletoe, willow arrangements.IMG_2551

Our hallway even got a little Christmas love with the addition of a wreath I made years ago and a cluster of oversized jingle bells.

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I love this time of year and it’s so nice to look around and see little touches of Christmas throughout our home. Our kitchen island is even looking festive this year with the placemats and table runner I found on sale (plus coupons) at Target.
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Remember our Christmas wrapping paper frames from last year? They’re back!
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I also started on the table arrangements for the dining room table. I still have some work to do on the main centerpiece, but here is a peek at the wintry vases I put together with some faux snow, Christmas vase filler and a few pinecones from our Fall vases filler. Pictures of the completed table look to come.


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Last but not least, here are our Christmas trees. The tree below is located in our foyer by the staircase.

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And here is our big beautiful tree in all its glory. It is so nice to sit on the couch and look over at our glowing tree. When the fireplace is going and the tree is all lit up, it’s so cozy and feels like Christmas.

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Now if only the weather would cooperate and send us some snow. Then it will really feel like Christmas!

Showing Our Home Some Love

Yesterday, we went to the first stop on the book tour for Sherry and John Petersik of Young House Love and attended the panel session for their new book, Young House Love, 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love. We also had the very awesome, yet very brief, opportunity to meet them when they signed our copy of the book. BJ scored the award for most awesome amazing husband when he left the panel session to snag a place in line so we could get a (very limited) copy of the book. Best husband ever!

Here is our copy:

And… confession… I was super dorky and nervous when I met Sherry and John. I was so excited to tell them that they inspired me to write this blog and how I really enjoyed their blog and projects. I kinda got a little shaky and instead of calmly signing BJ and my name in their book, I think it probably looked more like scribbles. But with all the dorky, nervousness aside, I was super-inspired when we left the book show and I was so glad we went to hear them speak and got a chance to meet them and get a copy of their book.

So what’s makes a book signing with your favorite home improvement and DIY bloggers complete? A trip to Ikea, of course. We left the book signing with me super inspired and recapping the entire presentation for BJ (We tried FaceTime while he was in line, but it didn’t work. Boo.) The great part about all the things that John and Sherry mentioned in their panel session is that we are actually in the process of trying to show our house some love for an upcoming reappraisal. With financing rates as low as they are, we are hoping to take advantage and get a new lower rate on our loan. Part of the process is to have the house reappraised since we are on the edge of a few financing rates.

Sherry and John’s advice during the session was invaluable and some of it I definitely needed to hear… such as “design and use your house for how you live.” It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting your house to look a certain way because it’s what you think other people will like, but you should design your home for how you live. You’re the ones that live there every day and call your house your home, right?

So with a reappraisal on the horizon and me still inspired from the panel session, here is our “Show Your House Some Love for the Reappraisal To Do List.” Or at least that what I’m calling it.

1. Weed the garden and replant the potted mums

In September, I planted mums in our new pots out front and they looked great until the frost came in and killed them. They looked so pretty after they were planted. It was a bummer they didn’t stand up to the cold temperatures. I tried covering the pots with blankets on the nights they called for frost but it didn’t keep the cold from getting to them.

Today I went back over to Home Depot and picked up some new mums to replace the brown ones on our front porch.

2. Spruce up the loft so it looks like we use the space

Our loft is one of those challenging spaces that were not really sure what do with. But after listening to the Young House Love presentation, we decided to use the room for how we live. Here is the loft in its current state:

My master plan is to use our college alma mater’s colors in a tasteful way. While we were Ikea this weekend, we picked out some Poang chairs with blue cushions and I’m now on the search for some yellow-gold chevron fabric so I can make curtains and pillows We are also going to hang some photos of the stadium and campus. The idea is to make this space a movie/game area inspired by our college. But it has to be tasteful. We’re not about to plaster our school’s logo on the wall with a ginormous vinyl graphic and call it done.

While we were at Ikea, we also found our future loft entertainment/storage center:

3. Organize and clean the spare bedroom and BJ’s office

I haven’t talked much about our spare bedroom or BJ’s office because they weren’t much to talk about. After we moved in to our our house, the spare bedroom and BJ’s office quickly became the two rooms that we stuffed everything into and then ran out and shut the door behind us. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

This weekend, we conducted a major overhaul of the spare bedroom and BJ’s office so they are presentable, usable rooms in time for the reappraisal. And we want to finally use those spaces for the way we live instead of just stuffing them full of items we don’t want to deal with.

4. Finish the crown moulding and baseboard projects

Last year, we started putting up crown moulding in the living room and kitchen and here is where we left off:

We also ripped out the trim in the dining room when we tiled the floor last year and we haven’t had enough time to replace what we tore out.

The remaining crown moulding and baseboard are now purchased and ready to sand, paint and install.

That’s our list! This week we are going to jump in and try get the list accomplished before we have the house reappraised. It’s time to show our home some love. Wish us luck because it could get crazy around here!

Chrysanthe-mums the word

Happy first official day of Autumn! The weather is beautiful here today. I hope it’s as beautiful where you are!

In preparation for the start of Autumn, I decorated our front porch with new pots full of beautiful chrysanthemums.

=-] <;— Quick side note: As Zoey walked across my keyboard she somehow entered that smiley face. So I guess she likes the new mums!

Ok, back to the task at hand. I decided to go with taller pots for our porch mums this year. And these were on clearance at Home Depot. Winning!

Last year, I had several small pots and two pumpkin pots for Halloween. Here is what our porch looked like last year:

This year, instead of planting the same color mums in the same pots, I decided that wasn’t exciting enough so I planted two colors in the larger pots and planted one color in the smaller pots. And after I finished throwing potting soil everywhere, the finished product of our pots looked like this:

Our porch is looking very festive for the first day of Autumn. I really like the larger pots. They are more visible on our porch.

That’s all for this post! I think I will celebrate Autumn with some hot apple cider on this chilly windy day. Have a great weekend!

A little vase filler goes a long way…

A few weeks ago, I was browsing the clearance racks at Target and I stumbled across this great vase. I think it was originally $17.99 and I bought it for $7.49. I thought it would be perfect for our bedroom to sit on top of the new dressers we bought at Ikea. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I love tall vases and this vase was a great find.

I was scouring the clearance section again at Target and over the weekend I found this beautiful vase filler on clearance! It was originally $10.19 and I bought it for $3.05!

Since it was such a great deal and I absolutely love the colors, I bought two!

Our master bedroom is full of deep rich oranges and greens and I thought the red and plum tones would complement the green and orange well. After I spent a few minutes arranging the filler, I came up with this:

It looks beautiful in our room on top of our dresser. It’s new home is next to tall arrangement of orange poppies.

I even had enough vase filler left over to use it in the arrangement of gerbera daisies by our bed. It looks better than the former sea shell filler that didn’t go with the decor of our room. I plan to incorporate the sea shells in our bathroom instead.

After the tall vase and the gerbera daisy arrangement, I still have some vase filler left over and I already have a few ideas of how to use the extra.

Have a great week everyone!

Making it Rain Up In Here

So this crazy thing happened in August: it started raining again! In the past two weeks, we’ve seen more rain than we saw in the past two months combined. The watering bans starting lifting, the burn bans started lifting, and we finally have green grass again.

We are so blessed to have rain again. It’s been a rough summer for most of the United States.

Our grass might be a little patchy after baking in the sun for two months, but we’ll take it. It’s been a long drought and I’m so glad to see green grass and bright colorful flowers again. I was starting to wonder if we were going to stay brown until Autumn. I finally heard the sound of lawn mowers the other day. It was great. It was also wonderful to smell fresh-cut grass again.

Although I was diligent about watering my plants throughout the drought, I started to tire out in the end and fell a little behind once it started raining. Unfortunately, it didn’t rain enough in the first week to keep our potted plants really moist. I’m afraid they might not last much longer. I think it’s almost time to change the petunias for mums.

Despite our pitiful potted plants, the petunias in our garden are still growing strong. With a little mulch and some rain, they are getting just what they need.

It’s been a very hot and dry summer, but now that things are turning around, I’m looking forward to the start of Autumn and some crisp air and cooler temperatures.

How are your gardens doing this summer? Did you have to contend with drought conditions and  hand water your plants every day or every other day? Or did you let them go in hopes that it would rain again soon?

Hooray for Rain!

It rained here today, and I am so happy to see the damp soil in my plants’ pots. It’s been extremely dry for over a month now. During the drought, I’ve been patiently watering our flower pots by hand and since our voluntary watering ban was put in place a few weeks ago, I added hand watering our gardens to the list as well. We finally decided to call it quits on watering our lawn and its starting to suffer. Hopefully more rain is on its way soon.

Thankfully, our gardens are still going strong. Last week, it cooled down enough to mulch and the layer of mulch is helping keep the moisture in the flower beds.

Our Black-eyed Susan’s are also doing really well despite the drought. I think they are getting a decent amount of shade from the tree in our yard.

Stay cool everyone and if you are in a drought area, I hope it rains soon!