January 1, 2014

Good Riddance, 2013

If you’ve been following the blog this past year, you’ll know that 2013 has been a doozy for us and one we are thrilled to be finished with. Every year, I recap the year with a blog countdown. This year has been so overwhelming that I hardly have any material to recap. BUT, this is a blog for documentation, so I’m going to do my best to accurately reflect the haps and mishaps around the house on Penny Lane.

 

10 In January, we finished our Kitchen Improvement baby steps and recapped it here.

 
 

A bad taste was left in our mouths in February when a slab leak flooded our HVAC ducts.

 
 

8 In March, we continued to clean up the slab leak mess with cleaning and sealing our ducts.

 
 

7 On the bright side, our yellow chairs were reupholstered in March.

 
 

A trip to California in March inspired me to work on our Master Bedroom decor in April. I continued working              on the decor in June and September.

 
 

5 In May, I recapped our new front garden bed.

 
 

4 Although it was purchased in February, I finally revealed our healthy and growing Fiddle Leaf Fig in May.

 
 

3 In June, I deemed 2013 the Year of Ugly Money when our 30 year old A/C unit went out. The Year of Ugly               Money was further confirmed later in June, when a fender bender totaled my car. Not Penny Lane related,                but it helps to demonstrate just how excited we are to move on to 2014.

 
 

In November, I hosted my first all-matching place setting Thanksgiving.

2013 Tablescape

 
 

And as we excitedly reached the end of the year…

 

1 I crafted a DIY Advent Calendar for Christmas.

 

In an effort to save you from having that same bitter after-taste in your mouth about 2013, I will say this. While it has by no means been an easy year for us, the mishaps we experienced throughout the year have left us better off (aside from the new loan payments, of course). We have a more efficient heating and cooling system. We are paying significantly less every month to heat and cool the house. We are thankful that we can experience these mishaps and know we can find a solution that won’t devastate us. We especially want to thank our family who has been there to support us this past year. From borrowed cars to borrowed beds, the support has been much appreciated. And as always, we are so incredibly thankful for our family, our friends, their health and ours, and our continued success in our careers.

So how about you? I’d love to hear some stories about how great 2013 was for others!

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December 31, 2013

Christmas Craftiness

I’m racing the clock to turn in a post about the Penny Lane Christmas before the new year rings.

Every Christmas, I get the urge to be super crafty. I think it’s because crafty Christmas decorations are far more acceptable than crafty Tuesday decorations. It’s late. I don’t know what I’m saying.

This year, my craft was an Advent Calendar. I’ve been wanting to put one together for the last few years, but never had a design fully conceptualized until this year. I have Pinterest to thank for a plethora of options from the store bought to the simple DIY to the crazy design-y DIY.

Here are some of my favorites.

image courtesy of unusuallylovelysquarespace.com

image courtesy of relocatedliving.com

image courtesy of pichouline.com

In the end, my final design was driven by circumstances and opportunity. Due to our beloved fig tree, we relocated the Christmas tree to our dining area. Opportunity came from a blank wall next to the tree that needed to be filled. Circumstances came from trying to create the calendar almost entirely from materials I already owned: a 24″x48″ canvas with layers upon layers of different paint color from its previous lives, white paint, colored construction paper, double stick tape, and gold paint. All I had to buy were the containers and velcro.

I painted the canvas white (the same white as our walls), laid out a grid for 24 boxes (yes, I was the girl who bought out all the 3 inch paper mache boxes from the metro area Hobby Lobby stores), painted gold numbers on construction paper, labeled the boxes, and attached them with vecro.

The boxes are currently empty, but over the next couple of years, I’d like to fill them with small ornaments each to symbolize a different bible verse telling the story of Christmas.

What about you? Do you get crafty during Christmas? What have you made recently? Tell me in the comments below!

November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

I’ve been away so long and feel a bit like I’m talking to an empty room, but I’m doing it anyway.

We just hosted our third (third?) Thanksgiving and I feel like I’m getting a little better each time. This year was all about acquiring a complete set of dinnerware. A typical table setting count for our Thanksgiving dinners has been 8, and in previous years, we have made do with glassware and flatware in sets of no larger than 6.

So what do I do when I want new flatware? I hit up Ebay for a 24k gold set, of course. I found a great, used, vintage set on Ebay called Florentine. It was much less expensive than buying new and further idealizes my Vintage-or-IKEA product selections.

And what do I do when I want new drinkware? I arrange an IKEA trip, of course. We also managed to get some additional folding chairs for when we have extra guests.

2013 Tablescape

Next year, I’ll work on a better Tablescape image. I get so caught up in getting the food ready that once it’s on the table, we all dive in. I did get talked into taking a picture of the bird in all its glory.

Bird 2013

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

September 2, 2013

Where’s My Fork?

‘Cause I’m done with my headboard wall.

Too bad the photo doesn’t do it justice. In real life, the drapes are so tall and the headboard is so low. It’s an elegant combination.

I had been searching for drapes for this space since April. I debated my color and pattern options, but I knew I wanted a 96″ length and back-tabs. Unfortunately, It seemed nearly impossible to find 96″ tall back-tab panels in a brick and mortar store in Oklahoma City. As always, I inevitably found myself looking through the many IKEA options.

I am a huge fan of the Aina unbleached linen drapes that are hanging in the dining room…

But I worried the linen color of the drapes might clash with the linen-ish color of the master bedroom walls (Sherwin Williams Balanced Beige). Just imagine if the drapes had a more pink undertone than the walls… I couldn’t live with myself!

I fully intended on taking down one of the dining room panels and comparing it to the wall, but I unexpectedly found myself 30 minutes away from an IKEA before managing to do so. No big deal, I could easily find another place to hang beautiful linen drapes, yes?

Obviously, I’ve ruined the suspense by putting the image front and center on this post, but imagine how thrilled I was, 500 miles later, to find the drapes to be almost an exact match to my walls. You can’t write this stuff!

So the master bedroom headboard wall is complete… save for a brass bird adjustment and ever-evolving nightstand styling.

By the way, that makes for 4 different IKEAs that I have visited – Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis, and Centennial. I’m tied with Rob, but he has me beat by distance with a visit to a Russian IKEA. How many IKEAs have you been to? Let me know in the comments below!

June 16, 2013

The Year of Ugly Money

If 2012 was the Year of the Exterior (which, in actuality, will really span several years), then 2013 must be the Year of Ugly Money. It started back in February, when we had an unchecked slab leak. In March, the slab leak turned into upgrades to our floor duct and insulation situations – unseen but still very important. During that process, our air conditioning unit was checked and it was brought to our attention that it may not last through the summer.

Great.

Our A/C in this house has never worked properly, and every summer there has been something to address with it. We didn’t know why until a couple weeks ago when… you guessed it… the A/C went out again. Turns out, most air conditioners need to be replaced every 10 years or so. Our air conditioner was installed in the 80s.

So more ugly money spent, but hopefully we will be reaping the rewards by having a more efficient system that will lower the electricity bills.

Have you spent any ugly money lately? Or did you spend it a while back and are now seeing the benefits? Tell me about it below!

June 2, 2013

Troublesome

My troublesome master bedroom was requiring some ‘Frasier’ inspiration. I had furniture I loved and pretty bedding to go with it, but it still wasn’t working for me. After much deliberation, I realized my biggest problem was how I was treating the lines of the headboard. With the overall height of the headboard at only 26″, it was even more difficult to accessorize.

So I took a cue from Emily Henderson on how to style my nightstands. The most important step? Lighting. I had originally considered the usual table lamp, but with an only 11″ tall headboard and no great way of corralling electrical cords, I decided against them. Instead, I installed sconces centered above the headboard for easy reach.

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The sconces functioned well, but having them centered just above the headboard really disrupted its low, elegant, albeit challenging, line. And don’t get me started on the Euro shams. If my goal is keep that continuous line, I was majorly failing. So I started entertaining other options for nightstand lighting.

I really loved the idea of hanging pendants centered above the nightstand, a la The Brick House:

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image courtesy of the brick house

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I bought vintage pendants that were originally a mono-point hardwired fixture and rewired them to be two separate plug-in swag pendants.

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But when I test hung them in our bedroom for placement, I decided they were totally off. The combination of the teak bed with the brass birds and the swag pendants was far too Bohemian for my taste. Much more like Frasier’s free-spirited one-time girlfriend, Caitlin, than Frasier himself.

Finally, I put my Frasier hat on. What would Frasier do? I obviously couldn’t do table lamps, sconces, or pendants. The only thing left was a floor lamp, which would need to be able to reach at least Rob’s side of the bed, considering he used the wall sconces the most. So, I started looking for a classically shaped floor lamp and found this beauty at a local vintage shop for a great price.

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It may not be the Arco floor lamp, but it very well may be as close as I will get to one. So here it is in my space.

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And here’s my sort-of-styled nightstand.

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Where do you draw inspiration from? Do you have a troublesome room that has taken some time to complete?

May 28, 2013

What Would Frasier Do?

I am often full of ideas and easily inspired, but there are times when I can get hung up on a space. In those times, I will often think, ‘What would Frasier do?’

I have always been a big fan of the show ‘Frasier’. The televised combination of witty puns, a drizzly climate, and thoughtful interiors is right up my alley. I remember watching syndicated episodes on TV right before bedtime when I was in high school. High school. And here I am, over 10 years later,  wrapping up our bedtime viewing of the series ‘Cheers’ on DVD with plans to continue with its spinoff, ‘Frasier’, on DVD for the third time.

In other words, I like ‘Frasier’… a lot. I also like Frasier’s apartment. I see it as a wonderful combination of classic, eclectic, and contemporary. For those unfamiliar, here’s a floor plan and interior rendering.

image courtesy of Nils Gleissenberger

(I can’t attest to the accuracy of the floor plan considering many story lines included Daphne making trips to a community laundry room.)

So some of you may be thinking, ‘What would Frasier do?? But your interiors look nothing like Frasiers…’. True. I’m inspired by the essence of Frasier’s apartment. Clean lines, neutral colors warmed with wood tones, and a touch of tribal motif. Whenever I need inspiration for creating a warm, classic, masculine space. I think of Frasier.

Stay tuned to read about how I applied this inspiration to a troublesome room of mine.

May 19, 2013

The Garden

I’m a little obsessed with it. I stare at pictures while I’m at work. I peek outside at every opportunity. I love my garden. And now I’m going to obsessively write about it.

Earlier this month, I shared the new garden bed in this post, but I didn’t give you the details on what I planted in it. I did include this colorful, yet cryptic landscape plan to better illustrate my plan for the garden.

Before elaborating on where we are now, though, I’ll have to walk you through how we got here. Last year we dug out the shrubs that blocked the view from the dining room window and planted Miscanthus Adagio (‘A’) ornamental grass and Red Yucca (‘Y’) in their place. That summer, the Adagio grass grew nice and full and the Yucca each gave me a stalk of flowers. It got me so excited that I began thinking about what I wanted to do with my remaining front yard. Knowing full sun, low maintenance, and drought tolerant plants did well for me in this spot, I contemplated forms and colors to incorporate into the design.

I adore ornamental grasses because they are very low maintenance, provide wonderful movement on breezy days, and winter interest in an otherwise forgotten landscape. I had to have more. I chose to add at least one more Miscanthus Adagio and Miscanthus Gracillimus (‘G’), which can reach heights of 5 feet, to anchor the bed.

My favorite color for flowers in the garden is purple. There is just something about the green and purple color combination in a garden that feels both lush and modern to me. I chose my two favorite purple flowering plants, Walker’s Low (‘W’) and Lavender (‘L’), to fill in the garden. Last, but certainly not least, I chose to include Echinacea ‘Julia’ (‘C’ for its nickname of Coneflower) for both its bright orange flowers and the beautiful winter interest it provides when left upright until spring. Next year, I plan on adding a third ornamental grass,  more Walker’s Low, Coneflower, and Red Yucca to the garden.

But enough talk, here are some pretty pictures of my young garden.

To the right of this picture is my now year old Miscanthus Adagio and Red Yucca. Both have grown like crazy on very little water and lots of sun. In the lower left corner of the picture, you can see the new and still tiny Walker’s Low and ‘Julia’ Coneflower. Both will grow wide enough to almost reach the sidewalk.

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This is a bit of a better image of the Red Yucca. I love how they lean so gracefully towards the sidewalk.

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Red Yucca Flower Stalks

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This is the Miscanthus Gracillimus that is only 2 feet tall yet and in a bit of curly-bladed transfer shock. Because of this, it may not get as big as it could this year.

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Lavender and its blue foliage.

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The Walker’s Low has grown the most of the new plants.

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And this Coneflower gives me such a thrill with its vibrant orange petals.

May 12, 2013

Fiddle Leaf Fig

Did I ever post about my Fiddle Leaf Fig? No? It was probably because I thought even looking in its general direction would kill it.

Rob let me cart it home as a Valentine’s Day gift and I have loved it ever since. It made an informal debut in this post about my newly upholstered living room chairs.

And there is actual visual evidence of why I hesitated to share my new love – a yellow leaf. I had three of those yellow leaves. Not long after they turn yellow, they fall off completely. Talk about devastation. After doing some online research, I came to the conclusion that I was either under-watering or over-watering. Since I have only known myself to successfully grow succulents, which require very little water, I figured it was likely the former. So, at the advice of an online forum, I planted live moss on top of the existing soil to help retain moisture and doubled my watering efforts. And guess what?!

New growth!

May 3, 2013

April Showers…

… Only seem to bring more May showers. Supposedly, it’s springtime. But 34 degrees and raining doesn’t really feel like spring. So my week old plants are covered for protection against the freezing wind…

Covered Plants

What’s that? A new garden bed? OK, let’s take a few steps back. You may remember this landscape plan that I drew up for my front yard.

 

I created this plan almost a year ago after ripping out the shrubs in front of our picture window. My main objective with this change was to remove the overgrown grass that was impossible to cut and choking out pretty daylilies. Oh, and, ya know, to look nice.

Front Yard Before

But once I started really thinking about it, I realized I wanted to go BIGGER. And I came up with this plan.

Yeah. And I wasn’t scared AT ALL. So two weeks and two freezes ago, I started building a new garden in my front yard. The first day I spent laying out the shape of the bed, which took all of 15 minutes, and digging out 5 square feet of grass, which took 2 hours. It was not happening and I was in over my head. Luckily, there are things called Home Depots and they let you rent large pieces of equipment like sod cutters to help in times like these.

Here I am with the sod cutter whipping around my front yard for another pass at ripping out some grass. I look swift, don’t I? I was not, not at all, swift. I am walking at a speed of about .000000025 miles per hour in this picture. This sod cutter was a beast. The next day, and for 3 days after that, I felt like I had been rowing myself around the Atlantic Ocean. But the majority of the grass was out.

That’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears right there. But the fun part was coming…

Plants!

There was so much fun to be had that Rob even got into the spirit of things.

He rigged up a time lapse session to document the less labor intensive bit of this whole project.

Enjoy!

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