Hey y'all...look what I did!

Life has been so busy in our house lately that I've barely done anything to it at all other than a little cleaning here and there. Today I woke up and knew I would tackle my photo project and complete it. Well...once again, things don't always work out as planned, right? Right. So you build a bridge and get over it as my mom always told us kids. 

Since I wasn't going to be able to print my pictures today without the Mr. here to help me {boring story you won't care to hear} I gathered my picture frames that I spray painted about two weeks ago and decided which ones would hold prints and which would contain artwork. So, here's what I made today:

These are the three pieces of artwork that I made today and placed in their frames. They will be a part of a gallery when it is all completed.


"R" for Ritchie, of course.

Lovebirds because I'm obsessed with birds and I think it's just sweet.

Our wedding date...
Dang, these look good just like this! Don't tempt me, then I'll have to go back to the drawing board for my gallery.
This was such a gorgeous frame I had to use it, but the opening is only 4"x4" and I was worried a picture would look cramped in there. What to do, what to do....easy art! I just found one of the many sweet love notes the Mr. leaves for me and placed it in the frame, perfect! I made sure to pick one that I would be cool with company reading...not a long sappy one that would make me blush!

So far, you want to know how much this project has cost me? $0 . Yep, I gathered all the frames I could find in my house that weren't totally committed somewhere else, spray painted them all black or white and drew all the artwork myself. My only cost will be the pictures I'll have to print at the store. Anybody can do this and make a BIG design impact in their home for just a little money.

Hopefully with the Mr.'s help the whole gallery will be up soon, and you better believe I'll post pictures when it happens. Until then, here's a little sneak peek for you.


Autumn is here!

Oh my goodness I am so happy it is officially autumn! I know for me and many of you it does not feel like fall just yet, but that doesn't get me down, because I know it's just around the corner. This is why I'm glad my stint in AZ only lasted one year and I am now back in my glorious North Carolina with all 4 seasons...especially fall. Isn't the picture above just breathtaking? It is a picture of the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC. The drive through the Blue Ridge Parkway in autumn is really stunning. I highly recommend a little getaway to the NC mountains, it is magical. 
The Mr. and I have such fond memories of the mountains. It is where we met, we continued to fall in love and had our first date-a fall picnic on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Autumn stirs romance, you feel like cozying up with a loved one and re-introduce yourself to your home which you're about to spend a lot of time inside of. 
I enjoyed the fall nesting party a few weeks ago making my home look a little more like autumn but now I feel I am really settling into it. I'm wanting to wear my cozy clothes but have to fight myself into a t-shirt and shorts everyday for our weather that is still in the 90's. The good news is the nights and mornings feel crisp and because of that I've been drinking a warm mug of spiced apple cider almost every single evening. Even the Mr. got in on it and threw a box of this blueberry tea in the grocery cart the other night.
What autumn things are you doing now? I would love to hear how you start to get a little more in the spirit of fall!


White slipcovers...to be, or not to be?

I think my indecisiveness is creeping up on me again and I need a little intervention...from YOU! White slipcovers-gorgeous-are fabulous and a little scary! We own a cream colored sofa right now that is not very comfy and are trying to figure out if we'll just add a loveseat, some chairs or sell it and buy a sectional. However, before I buy anything I want to settle the months-long debate in my mind if I should cover the next piece of furniture in white slipcovers or not?

I look at pictures of your beautiful slip-covered upholstery and could just about drool over them! How about the slip-cover queen herself, Pink and Polka Dot with her beautiful sofa and how the slip hugged every curve of the furniture? LOVE! 

Or what about this amazing chair over at Nesting Place? I am crazy about those cute little pleats! If you want to read about an amazing {and cheap} makeover heavily impacted by the use of white slipcovers then check out her latest blog here. She shares every painful step of the way and how her, Pink and Polka Dot and about 10 other ladies had a slipcover party for her sectional! Now that's a party I want to be invited to.

Ok, so you can see just from these two ladies why the temptation is there....they are beautiful. Are they really that functional though? Pink and Polka Dot showed the red kool-aid down the front of hers and how it completely came out when bleached in the wash! I was just about sold there, but I decided to do a little experiment of mine.I gathered up some dingy white sheets, towels and t-shirts from around the house and used bleach and blue dye to brighten the whiteness {WARNING: Follow all directions for the blue dye so all your pretty whites don't turn the color of the ocean!}. I decided if I could get these bright white then I could do the same for a slipcover...well, my whites are still dingy whites and not-so-bright. So sad!

So, all you ladies who SWEAR by your slipcovers, I want to believe you, and I want them in my home, but I don't have the extra money to replace them once they're here. So, what are your suggestions? What fabric should they be so stains will come out easily? What is your secret arsenal against said stains? Please, spell it out to me because I'm clueless but I'm willing to take the plunge. Are your stains really coming out or are you doing some creative photography? Please, comment away, I am in need of some serious guidance. Thank you all so much!!


One of those days...

Do y'all ever have one of those days? Of course you do, we all do. Nothing about today was horrible, really, just difficult. I started a new job, which is great that I have one, but I guess it's the first day blues mixed with lots of little things that just went kind of wrong today. 

I don't know about you, but when I have these kind of days, I dream of the moment that I can just relax and escape from it all. With our week being super busy, and our weekend filled with visiting family, the only escape I can see right now is my bed. Sleep. Rest. Comfort. 

If only that was my bedroom...but I have to say, I love, love, LOVE my bed! It is comfortable, big enough for me, the Mr. and Phoenix, and something we waited a long time to buy-which makes us all the more thankful for it. 

After a day of exhaustion and dreaming of this moment, I'm off to my lovely bed. Sweet dreams!


Delicious and Healthy!

Something that I am passionate about is making good, close to gourmet food for my family. Even though it is just Daniel and I right now, I still want him to crave my dinners every night and feel like he is always fed well. This is a way I want to serve my husband and family. So, I am always on the hunt for new recipes and I learn lots of to-do's and make lots of mistakes along the way. However, in keeping with one of my goals for this month to make at least two new recipes a week, I found this Rachel Ray recipe. I hope y'all enjoy this yummy dinner as much as we did!

{Ginger Soy Chicken over Shredded Lettuce}

- 1lb. chicken breast cut into thin strips
- 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil {3 times around the pan}
- salt and pepper
- 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 6 scallions {green onions} cut down the middle, then into 2-inch pieces {like little matchsticks}
- 1/4 cup tamari {I just use soy sauce}
- 3Tbsp. honey {3 times around the pan}
- 1 head of shredded iceberg lettuce {make it really easy and buy it in the bag!}

* Heat large skillet over high heat and add vegetable oil...it'll smoke up a bit. Add chicken seasoned with a little salt and lots of black pepper. Stir-fry for a minute to sear edges, then add ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes more.
* Add scallions and stir-fry for another minute. Then add tamari {soy sauce} and honey to form a sauce and glaze the chicken. Let it bubble for a little bit then take it off the heat to see if the sauce is thick enough for your liking. If not, throw it back on for another 30 seconds and check again {this sauce will not get really thick, but you don't want it watery either.}
* Cover a platter with lettuce, place chicken on top, then pour the sauce from the skillet down the row of chicken. 

A few things I figured out making this a few times...I like my chicken sliced thinner than the above picture. I bought pre-sliced chicken this week because it was on sale rather than the whole breasts and I thought, Score! No slicing! But here's why I like them thinner: when put on the plate, it's more like a chicken salad. If the strips are smaller you don't have to carve up each piece of chicken for every bite you take. Just something to think about, especially if you have children that you have to cut up everything for. 

Usually I make this with some brown rice and Daniel loves to mix all of this together, but I didn't make any last night. We had to get to soccer last night {Daniel joined a league in town} and were in a bit of a time crunch, but that's life, right?! You go with the flow. Even without the rice, this was very filling for the two of us, and we have leftovers for lunch. 

This is a flavorful dish with a touch of sweet and a little burn to it, but the lettuce cools it off. If y'all end up making this leave a comment and let me know, I would love to hear if your family's enjoyed this too!


Funny little thing...

So, funny little thing happened yesterday. You know how I talked about how cheap and easy it is to give a little fall flair to your home with a glass container and some pine cones or acorns? Well, I had not created my own centerpiece like this yet, but had it as an idea in the back of my mind to share with all of you.

I took Phoenix outside yesterday afternoon and as I walked along the fence in our backyard I saw all the Pine trees had dropped tons of pine cones! I swear it was like *ding* here's what you were just talking about, Heather! So I grabbed as many as I could off the ground, brought them in and filled my empty hurricane vase on my kitchen table. Ta-da! Instant fall decorating for free that took all of one minute to accomplish.

I kind of giggled when all of this happened because I was just talking about the idea then the opportunity presented itself. A few minutes later it was made even funnier when I read a comment from 1 Bella Stager and how she liked the pine cone hurricanes from yesterday's post...then I proceeded to make my own version. You've gotta love the simple things in life and just laugh a little.

Are the rest of you ladies ammending anything to your fall decor since the fall nesting party yesterday? What were some of your favorite ideas you saw from others? I'll tell you mine:

-The tree sketches in pretty silver frames at Pewter+Sage...like little jewel boxes!
-Home and Harmony's rope swing on the front porch...oh so southern!
-The old, stacked books on Melissa's mantel over at The Inspired Room.
-I know it's not home decorating, but we change our wardrobes for fall too and I fell in love with this beautiful DIY  flower necklace at Boogieboard Cottage! Sooo J.Crew-my fav!

That's just a few of the many beautiful things I saw yesterday, what about you guys? What sparked your interest?



Fall Nesting Ideas.

What is fall nesting some of you might ask? Well, I'm not sure if there's really an official definition that we use out here in blogland, but I loosely define it as how you create your home. Not just decorating, but every inch of home. The sights, sounds, smells, the feel of your home at any given time or season. Autumn is such a rich time in a home because everyone comes inside more, snuggles together more and you make your home a little more comfy and luxurious. Thicker, softer blankets are at hand to curl up with and a hot drink in your hand feels lovely on the crisp days. I wanted to say a big thanks to Melissa at The Inspired Room for hosting her 3rd annual fall nesting party. I'm excited to link up today! 

Here are a few of my fall nesting ideas for my home this year, some that actually are in my home, and others I just dream of:

 With all the fall wreaths out there that can sometimes be a little expected, I like this one made of feathers. Not only is the material unexpected but the texture is so fun!

 I love antlers in a home juxtaposed next to something soft and almost girly-but not overtly so. Think of this above white slip-covered furniture, a faint gray/blue color on the walls, some sort of throw pillows with just a little ruffle and some shiny silver accessories. Wouldn't it be such a nice touch of rustic in the home? It would definitely make the Mr. happy!

Pine cone hurricanes! They look like flowers, but are so much appropriate for this season rather than spring or summer.

Decorating your home doesn't have to turn into some big Martha Stewart project if you don't have the time. A pretty piece of glassware you already own filled with washed off acorns from your backyard is cheap and simple! Maybe try pine cones {just make sure all the bugs stay outside}.

We're moving more into the sense of touch in our homes now. Starting with these super nice leather pillows from Restoration Hardware. I saw some faux leather ones at Wal-Mart last week that I'm seriously contemplating for my own sofa...and it is MUCH cheaper than these, but you get the same look!

I have wanted this gray fur throw for 3 years now. It is Pottery Barn, and lovely, I have held it in the store and I like the way it feels as much as how it looks. This thrown over a sofa in your home would just scream comfort.

This nubby table runner adds nice texture to a dinner table. They can feel so cold if you're not careful. Everything is shiny, fragile, clean...I like how this roughs it up a bit so that it's not too precious.

When cold weather hits, I start craving my hot apple cider in the evenings snuggling on the couch with my Mr. Make a pot of it for your family with a cinnamon stick in it. Your house will smell lovely!

If we're going to have apple cider then we also have to have s'mores!! I actually got really excited last night and made me one for dessert. It was heavenly.

 I just bought some of these at the store {did y'all do the major Glade cuponing and CVS extra care bucks deal a few weeks ago too?} a few weeks ago and have been saving them until now to make my home have that rich, fall aroma. I'm telling you, half of decorating is convincing ALL your senses, not just sight. And this I consider is part of making a house a home. I can't wait to light my candles tonight and make the house smell yummy.

 So this is what is actually happening at my home for fall nesting right now as far as decorating. It's not much, since we just moved in and have bigger priorities right now like...furniture. However, I think just a little effort at least makes it feel more like fall around here. The door mat was already here and I have kept it just because we need one and I'm spending money in other places than that right now-sticking to the budget, you know! The door hanger was given to me by a sweet lady we stayed with in FL this summer named Mary Jo. One day I told her how I thought her door hanger was cute, then she ripped it off the door and forced me to take it with me back home. I tried so hard to not take it but she won. How generous! So, I'm displaying it on our new home. 

I think its a fresh take on fall. It has bright springy colors, but it's decorated with berries, pumpkins and pine cones. Fall door hanger with an identity crisis? Haha, I don't care, I think it's nice...and free!

 I bought this woven pumpkin at Target this week. It was $15 which I thought was quite a bit, but I thought about it for a few weeks before I bought it. The quality is very nice, when you hold it, you don't feel like you could crush it in your hands if you wanted. I decided if I kept it for the next 20 years, set it out every fall and packed it nicely when not in use then I was getting my money's worth. Pumpkins never go out of style for fall and this one won't rot! Even better, I saw one in the Pottery Barn catalog that looks WAY more fragile than mine and it's also a LOT more expensive than mine. Gotta love something of quality for a deal.

See what I mean, while charming and all, I feel much better about my purchase.

So, living in a townhome, we have a little yard, but we can't make a fire pit-the landlords would NOT be happy with us. Daniel and I love a fire and we've been dreaming of having a fire at our house for years. Well, thanks again to Target, we bought this copper fire pit last week and we are sooo excited about it. You know how I said I got excited about s'mores...well it's because of this. Actually, one night this week we're going to roast s'mores and hot dogs over our fire pit for dinner. Why? Because it's fun, it's making memories! Not to mention, this fire pit was originally $120 and I got it on clearance UNDER $40!! 

Those clearance deals at the end of summer is how we were able to get a few things for our patio recently. Otherwise they can just be too expensive for something that gets rained on all the time. I can't wait to share with you all our little patio makeover in a few days. It's not much, but it will be something great little bit by little bit. 
I hope this inspired y'all in creating a warm feeling in your home for fall. Don't forget to go to The Inspired Room and check out more ideas! Happy fall nesting!


Aerie Bed & Breakfast

So, the week after we went to Topsail Island with my family for vacation, we met up with our new youth group at Camp Vandamere, about 20 minutes from New Bern, NC...still at the beach. Our 4th Anniversary was coming up and we really wanted to have a little night away to ourselves before all of our packing and moving craziness began. So we thought Beaufort because we love history and have heard so many great things about it. Well, we couldn't find anywhere we wanted to stay that was available. I got discouraged because I really wanted a night away, but my ever-optimistic Mr. saved the day. He started looking at places in New Bern. I had never been before and Daniel went once when he was really little but didn't remember much. We were game for an anniversary adventure. Then, we found the BEST bed and breakfast we have EVER stayed in. The Aerie Bed & Breakfast.

This B&B has thought of everything! In your room is one of those new one-cup coffee makers with all the coffee brands, flavors and creamers you could want. In the rooms and the parlor you see issues of Our State everywhere for a little relaxing magazine reading about our lovely state of NC. The most luxurious robes were hanging in our closet for our use and if we liked them so much we could buy one in their gift shop along with lots of other products The Aerie provided for our comfort. 

This was our to.die.for. room. It is called the Hidden Room-and for good reason. We had our own private entrance to this room accessible up the back deck stairs. It is connected to the house but you are not connected to any of the other bedroom walls, it is completely private without feeling segregated. Then, you open the door to this delightful room. It is stunning in pictures but when we actually walked in it took our breath away. You couldn't help but feel peaceful when you were in this room, every inch of it was kind on the eyes. 
I love the soothing palate of layered creams, whites and blues. When you keep something simple like this rather than lots of busy colors and prints it makes a room feel calm. Definitely something you want in the room you sleep and unwind in! This bed was heavenly, they sell the sheets that are on all of their beds and I have never slept in softer sheets in my life. Actually, it was Daniel who flipped out about them because he was the first to get in the bed and he was like, "Oh, my gosh! Heather, you have to feel these sheets, they're awesome!" You know when the man says that, then it's serious business. 

In case you don't know, I love a pretty vignette. I also have a little obsession with birds. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I saw this cute little setup in the room complete with a darling birdcage. The decor makes the place so enjoyable, everywhere you look your eye rests on something beautiful. From this little moment above, to the fleur de lis door stopper, bundle of flowers on the door knob of the bathroom and the eagle door knocker. All of it has been thought of, I believe the owners truly wanted you to feel at home and not like you were in some sparsely thrown together room like so many other places are. I think it goes with the thought of "you're just staying here for a night or two, not living here". However, that is what makes The Aerie different! You are living there, for a night or two so you should feel that way.

Speaking of the owners, their names are Mike and Marty Gunhus, and they were wonderful hosts! We were always greeted with a smile and they talked to us like they had nothing else to do in their day but when we were ready to move on they didn't try to hang onto the conversation and keep you trapped there {you know how some people just don't know when to say goodbye?} . When asked they told us about the history of the house, things to do in New Bern and they gave the best restaurant recommendation ever! There will be more on the restaurant later. 

 Marty whipped up the gourmet breakfast we had and let me say, she is one phenomenal chef! We had three choices for a main course {which change everyday, by the way} and when they brought out those plates...oh my, they were works of art. I wish I brought my camera to breakfast but I wasn't anticipating something so beautiful. We were waited on by Mike and Marty very attentively, our coffee was always hot and full-the way to my heart, you know.

There are great amenities with this place including use of the local YMCA, spa services, available {and free} beverages any time you want them and a great DVD selection for your use. Every afternoon there is a social time with drinks and appetizers in the parlor which we were really excited to attend....then we accidentally fell asleep and missed it all! I was so mad at myself, but we were so tired after being at camp with the kids then going straight there. I guess we needed the rest. 

This was our private entrance. See....Hidden Room. Mike and Marty were so kind and let me walk all around their beautiful inn and take pictures of other rooms. Can you tell we loved this place and we'll be coming back?

What a gorgeous backyard! Can't you just picture yourself having coffee out here one morning or a charming garden wedding? We wanted to sit out here but it poured rain all night and was soaked the next morning. Those back steps are how we got to our room most the time but you can also enter through the front door and come out onto the back porch as well. I don't know why, but I totally forgot to take pictures of the front of the house-dumb.

Oh so charming, don't you think?

Now, as much as I've been telling you how great this place is you would think I'm getting paid for this, unfortunately no. When I find a place of high quality with great people running it then I always want to let people know so they can experience it too. We have enough evil people in the world running bad businesses so when we find the gems out there let's give them some praise for the great work they're doing! Just another testimony on how accommodating they were is when we arrived it was still a few hours before check-in and you're supposed to notify them if you're arriving early. We knew this so we just thought we would park our car and walk around New Bern for a few hours until check-in. When we asked the housekeeper if it would be alright for us to just leave our car parked there she let us check in! We told her it was ok, we didn't have to but she almost insisted on letting us get settled. How nice! That left a huge impression on us, on how Mike and Marty run their B&B and their staff. 

One more thing that made our stay fun: Banjo. There he is in all his playfulness. I know he looks like he's napping, but he had just playfully chased us up the stairs and I think was trying to fake us out here. Banjo is their 10 month old puppy and he was very well mannered but very lively. He brought smiles to all our faces when he scampered all around the house. 

Ok, I know this was a very long post, but I had so many wonderful things to share with everyone. Daniel and I summed up New Bern like a low-key Charleston. We adore Charleston, but sometimes it is so busy and crowded, so this is a perfect alternative-and closer too! There is a lot to see and do in this town and we're already dying to go back and visit our new favorite town and The Aerie. Go to their website and take a look around at all they offer. They have won so many awards and are very distinguished in their world of bed and breakfasts. This is a great and affordable getaway even for a night. I can't wait to go back!


Southern Living-good for the soul.

Who else loves this magazine? I love the homes, recipes, learning about other beautiful places to visit in the South and their encouragement to slow down your life and enjoy those whom you love with a nice outdoor dinner or cozy winter party. 

This month the magazine is celebrating "the Soul of the South". You know, how Southerners have a different perspective on life, the things we do may be a little more traditional, but how there is something so comforting in that. Something like writing a beautiful thank-you note {hand-written by the way, not email} is often forgotten in this busy world. However, there is a little tutorial inside their glossy pages on how to wow someone with a heartfelt thank-you note. They are also sharing homey ways to set a beautiful table, make mouthwatering sweet tea, savor small towns, read William Faulkner, and remember to count your blessings, and many more ways to slow down and savor your life.

These next two photos are not featured in this month's issue but I love them because they show some of the things I love most: warm, beautiful homes.To die for kitchen...hello!

I love this bedroom probably because it reminds me of the feel that my bedroom has. Of course, it does not look nearly as stunning as this one but I get the same feeling of comfortable elegance. Don't you love the mix of textures in this room? From the shell chandelier above the plush bed to the shag rug atop the hardy wood floors. It oozes comfort and I love, and I mean love a room layered in texture. 

I'm starting to look for fall nesting ideas to share with you and how I'll dress up my home for the cooler weather. Check back on Wednesday as I'll be linking up with the Inspired Room for her fall nesting party. This is a blog I love and I'm excited she's throwing this party. Will you be there too? 

Thanks, Southern Living for all your pretty, pretty pictures!