Friday, September 6, 2013

Mary Carol Garrity 2013 Fall Open House Tour

I can't believe it's September already. What happened to the summer? Actually, it still feels like summer in our part of Kansas. Today and tomorrow is Mary Carol Garrity's fall open house, and it was 93 degrees today. It's hard to get in the mood for autumn and the upcoming holidays in a puddle of sweat, but I made the drive to Atchison, Kansas, anyway.

By way of comparison to what I've seen her do in the past, Mary Carol really cut back this year. Every room wasn't dripping in fall decor. There were just little bits of autumn tucked around the home.

Inside the foyer, a table was made ready for fall with a simple bowl of pumpkins and seasonal foliage.

Who wouldn't love to have a foyer large enough for a sitting area?

Inside the den, only sign of fall was a wooden dough bowl filled with the colors of autumn.

And then I looked up.

In the living room, a large vase filled with faux branches made a bold statement in the center of the room.

All the upholstery in the living room is white.  I can't imagine how she keeps it all clean, especially with evidence of at least one dog in the home.

I always stop to admire the window seat.  It's always inviting, no matter what time of year it is.

The dining room was loaded with the colors and textures of the season.  I saw a lot of people buying these orbs today, but I already had one.  They are much more versatile than the ones she offered last year since they are collapsible and can be stored flat.  I found mine last spring at a local home decor store.

Notice the little knife-rest?  I'd love to find some of those!

Of course, the chandelier was dripping with pine cones and fall branches.

Through the door is the breakfast nook, which connects the dining room to the kitchen.  I love the light blue ceilings in this space.

Notice the cheese domes being used at the place settings.  This is going to date me, but we still have the marble plate and cheese dome we received as a wedding gift.  How often do you see these in thrift stores and garage sales now for next to nothing?

I love the little island in the kitchen.  Mary Carol's home is grand, but the kitchen is tiny!  It always gives me hope for our own little kitchen.

Let's go outside!  The screened porch was still looking like summer with only a few pumpkins tucked here and there.

My one purchase today was one of the lanterns seen on the left side of the hutch.  Thankfully, there was a tent set up next to the house that had them available for purchase because her store downtown, Nell Hills, was filled with people and the room with the line to check out there was horribly, horribly hot.

More pumpkins and orbs on the patio.  I'm so glad I have an orb of my own now!

The patio table was loaded with autumn's bounty carried in a small wheelbarrow.

I love these iron candlesticks.  They seem so versatile every season.

On the patio table there was a dough bowl and an orb.  Swoon!

Doesn't this look easy to put together?

I adore the little statue with the ribbon sash.  Usually, he's holding a bottle of wine.

But today, I'd be more interested in a big bottle of cold water than a glass of wine.  Eventually, summer will turn into autumn here in Kansas, and I'll be ready with new ideas to decorate for the season.  

By the way, if you pin any of these images, please give decorating credit to the talented Mary Carol Garrity.

I'm linking up...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Problem with Bay Windows

When we bought our house, one of the things that I really loved was the bay windows in the living room.  Fast-forward ten years later, and I ask myself, "What was I thinking?"

Yes, they provide a lot of light, but I've really struggled finding the right window treatments.  Here's the picture from the listing when we bought the house.  Check out that swag!  Huge floral print decked out in 1990s jewel tones!

Can you believe when we wrote the contract, I insisted on the owners leaving that valance?  Again, "What was I thinking?"

After a couple of years, they were looking faded and outdated, so I sold them on Craigslist and replaced them with a simpler set of three valances to coordinate with the new olive green walls.

Say it with me now: "What was I thinking?"  At the time, I thought it was an improvement, but Mr. Tallgrass said they looked "too whimsical."  The seed of doubt was now planted and growing like a weed.

(To my credit, the tutorial for making these valances is one of my all-time most viewed posts.)

After adding the overmantel in the living room, I was ready to ditch the valances for something more neutral.  I looked everywhere for affordable curtains that were at least 108 inches long.  Many reviews of curtains I found at JC Penney or Bed Bath and Beyond were negative because the panels were actually different lengths than advertised, sometimes off by as much as two inches.  That wouldn't do when trying to dress three windows in a row!

I was ready to give up on buying ready-made curtains and submit to making my own, if I could find fabric that wouldn't break the bank.  Let's see...

Four (possibly six) 108 inch panels
$15 per yard for featured fabric (on sale)
That's at least $180 before 10% sales tax, plus I'd still need some sort of lining fabric.

We have a home decor fabric outlet in town, so I thought I'd check it out.  They have fabric for as little as $4/yard, but when it's gone, it's gone, so planning ahead is crucial when shopping there.  And that's where I found pre-made 100% linen panels.  They were perfect!

And the price?  $26 each for 120 inch panels.  A little hemming and a lot of ironing, and they were ready to hang.

I had to coach the pleats into shape for a couple of days.  Some strips of scrap fabric work well for this.  Just press the pleats with your fingers then hold them together with the strips tied every foot or so. After a couple of days, the pleats will stay in place on their own.  I love the neutral, classic look of these linen panels.

I'm linking up...
Between Naps on the Porch
Cedar Hill Ranch
Savvy Southern Style

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Lighten Up

Sorry for another disappearing act.  This summer hasn't turned out as I expected, and I've been pretty under the weather.  Being sick is never fun, but it always seems to be a little worse during the summertime.

We've managed a few un-blog-worthy projects around the house, like replacing a storm door that was literally crumbling to pieces and having gutter guards installed since the trees are now taller than the roof line (read: regularly clogged gutters).  The yard I worked so hard on this spring is now a weedy mess.  The laundry piled higher and higher, and when I was finally feeling well enough to tackle it, the washer broke.  Oh well.

During a good week, I decided I'd had enough of our dark olive green living room.  I had changed it from a ho-hum taupe about five years ago to SW Olive Grove and immediately regretted it.  It was just too dark.

Adding the overmantel helped lighten the room, but I still wanted a brighter, happier look.  I wanted to stick with a shade of green, and I finally settled on Valspar's Desert Grass that I had mixed at Sherwin Williams because I love their Cashmere paint.

It's a much more cheerful room, and the traditional cherry furniture I love seems less heavy now. This shade of green really blends well with the brass hardware, especially in the grandfather clock, my very first Craigslist purchase from about five years ago.  Can you believe I scored this beauty for only $125?  Since it had been stored in a dirty garage, I had it professionally cleaned, and the serviceman said it was worth about $800.  Score!

I've always been and admirer of secretary desks.  My grandmother and my great-grandmother had one, but I thought they were a little old-fashioned until I saw the many hutches and the secretary desk in Mary Carol Garrity's home:

So when I found a secretary that had just been put on the sales floor at ReStore, I pounced on it.  It's filled with beautiful books (that we've actually read, thank-you-very-much!) and favorite pictures documenting some of our family history.

It took five years, but I think I've finally figured out this room.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Garden Walk at Dusk

Dusk: The darkest stage of twilight.

The crickets and the toads are beginning their evening songs.

In a couple of weeks, the lightning bugs will be making their appearance.

I had one lone yellow iris in the garden this year.  It was transplanted from my grandmother's garden a couple of years ago.  I'm pleased I didn't lose it in last year's drought.

And the nodding columbine sways in the corner, spreading its seeds everywhere.  It's one of the most prolific plants in my garden.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Garden Walk at Twilight

No, I'm not talking about the young adult fiction series about a peculiar love triangle.

I'm talking about that wonderful time of day between light and dark.  In a couple of weeks I wouldn't dare be outside this time of day, even coated with bug spray.  But the mosquitoes haven't been too bad yet.

Shall we take a stroll through the garden?  One variety of lavender is in full bloom.

The peonies were behind schedule this year.  They finally bloomed this week, and then torrential rain promptly knocked over the pretty blooms.

The mint broke from its pot last year and bolted.  It looks pretty now, but it will be a problem I'll have to remedy soon.

There aren't many blooms on the lilac this year, but they still smell wonderful.

My favorite annual is the geranium.  I remember a great-grandmother had potted geraniums.  They always remind me of her.  

Gardening evokes such wonderful memories of those who came before me.  Do you have a flower that reminds you of someone or someplace special?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sunday, May 26, 2013

In the Garden (Coping with losing a pet)

Early gardening season is usually one of my favorite times of the year.  This year, I'm tending the flowers with a heavy heart.

There haven't been any posts for several weeks for a reason.  The advancing years began taking their toll on our beloved dog this past winter when she had to have a large cyst removed from her side, and it returned a few months later.  She turned 16 in March, and then things really began taking a turn for the worse a few weeks ago.

Our home turned into a doggy hospice, and my evenings were spent taking care of her.  She had numerous, ugly cysts that would break open.  We'd patch her up with extra large gauze pads and tried to secure them with ace bandages.  She lost control of her bladder so we attempted diapers.  I bought two types of steam cleaners and cleaned the carpets every night.

Deep down, we knew what was inevitable.  We didn't want to find ourselves faced with making that hard decision, but we were concerned about suffering.  She looked terrible, but her spirits seemed good.  Then she stopped eating her dog food.  I'd whisper to her while she was sleeping that if she saw a sparkly rabbit in her dreams, and he was running over that rainbow bridge, it was OK if she wanted to chase him.

Just run and don't look back.  

Either he didn't appear in her dreams, or she didn't listen to me.  She was like that.  One day, I came home from work, and it was obvious she hadn't moved for hours.  While I cleaned her, my husband called.  He said he had a bad feeling and was coming home early.

She couldn't get up on her own anymore.  We discovered a large lump on a hind leg that was obviously causing her pain, and the next morning, the entire leg had doubled in size.  Once we lifted her, she struggled to walk.  There was a phone call to the vet.  We gave her the best final hours we could.  We carried her outside and spent the afternoon sitting in the grass with her under the maple tree until it was time...

I had a hard time working in the garden this year.  I knew there was cleaning, weeding, planting, and mulching to do.  But my garden companion was missing, trotting along the parameter and running to the back door whenever I turned on the water.  I finally made myself get outside and get to work.  It was tough at first, but it is slowly getting easier.

I keep finding her old tennis balls in the flower beds, and I'm just going to leave them there.  I can't bring myself to clean her nose prints off the front door either.  Not yet.