August 25, 2015

Quick Fig Update

That didn’t take long…


August 20, 2015

Pruning My Fig

You may have noticed in my previous post how tall my Fiddle Leaf Fig has gotten. In the two years that I have had it, it has grown at least a foot. That seems slow, but I haven’t exactly taken the best care of it. Unfortunately, the height increase of the tree hasn’t quite had the affect one would hope. Instead of a full, lush tree, I had a tall, lanky one. The lankiness was further exaggerated by the ‘Y’ shape of the tree: the taller the tree got, the wider the ‘Y’ spread.

Our Living Room, March 2013

I searched for options for how I might make my tree look fuller and less lanky. Could I stake a branch, or somehow bind the branches to lessen the spread? Those options seemed like it could only hurt the plant. So I started doing some research and found that I could prune the tree, actually lop off the top, to force new growth further down the branch.

Our Living Room, February 2015

But taking shears to my (sort of) lovely tree made me nervous. Where exactly should the cut be made? Should the cut be treated with something? Can I fertilize after I cut? So many questions that I couldn’t really find answers to online. I thought, surely there’s someone I can talk to who can walk me through this. On a whim, I called a local company, Calvert’s, which provides plants to commercial facilities and also maintains them. The woman who answered the phone was able to answer all of my questions in a way that made it sound like she had actually done it before. I was filled with confidence. So here’s what I did…

I made sure my shears were clean and sanitized, and then identified where I wanted to make the cut.


One branch was slightly longer than the other, so I wanted to even that out a bit. I could have pruned both branches, but I was nervous about stressing the plant out too much in one go.


Once I lopped off the top, the entire branch bounced back from the lost weight. I should end up with two separate branches extending from this cut. I’ve heard that you can also nick the bark above an existing leaf to encourage additional branching.

What’s fun about this next step is, in the end, I may end up with another tree! I took the piece of branch that I just lopped off, dipped the cut end into rooting hormone, and stuck it in a vase with water. It’s been just about 2 weeks and the beginnings of roots are starting to emerge. I’ll let these babies become a web of roots before I set this propagated plant into soil.



Let’s get back to the tree. A word of caution: when cut, the Fiddle Leaf Fig will leak sap that is mildly caustic, so be prepared to dab it up once you have made your cut. I was caught off-guard by just how quickly the sap came out. Picture me frantically running around my living room looking for a napkin while balancing a teaspoon’s worth of sap on an upside-down Fig branch. Once pruned, the tree side of the cut doesn’t need to be treated anything and will actually heal on its own.

Right after, I fertilized the tree and plan to continue to do so monthly until the end of time. Why? because it seems like every time I fertilize, the plant goes wild. Here’s evidence:


This new leaf didn’t come from the pruned branch, but I’m still excited about it because that means the pruning I did didn’t cause any stress to the plant. I consider that a success!

Have you had any good or bad experiences pruning plants? Have you been able to do any propagating? I’d love to hear about it!

June 21, 2015

All Grown Up

Our living room is looking all grown up lately. You may remember how excited I was to share the updated Mood Board I created back in September. Well, we received the new sectional in February and I am still so very excited. But before I share the most beautiful After pictures you have ever seen in your life, let’s take a look at how the living room looked Before.

Not too shabby, right? I was really happy with this space aside from the too small sofa that started to seem like it could only seat one person comfortably. And if I’m being honest, the rug was too small, as well. Ready for the After?

Oh yes.

The new sectional is from the Rowe Dorset collection. I replaced the too small area rug with carpet tiles, which increased the coverage area from 8’x10′ to 10’x14′. Similarly, our sofa size increased from 87″ to 104″. This really makes us feel like we’re actually using the whole living room, and not just a corner of it. Of course, it looks better, too.

Rowe Dorset Chaise Sectional

That chaise lounge? That’s my spot. Well, my spot that I share with the kitties.

The best picture of all.

January 24, 2015

One and Done

I’m hop-skipping around the different assignments from Apartment Therapy’s January Cure. Last weekend, I was able to strike off assignment #5, “Pick a Project” and assignment #9, “Hey! It’s Time to (Fill in the Blank)“, by completing one of the more inconsequential projects on my list, “Hang new drapes in master bedroom closet”.

If there is any reality of our home that I hide from the blog, it is my closet. If you look back through my posts on the master bedroom, you’ll notice that I never include an angle that shows my closet. The closet is the traditional 6 foot wide, 2 foot deep space with bifold doors. It’s nothing special to look at when the bifold doors are closed. Unfortunately, the reality is that we’re not allowed to close the doors.

Cats are interesting creatures…

If we close the closet doors, like most normal folks do, our beloved Jin would paw and meow at the door and otherwise cause an annoying ruckus, most often while we’re trying to sleep. So the doors were left open, giving us the wonderful view of my entire wardrobe, which, to everyone’s surprise, is not arranged by style, color, and sleeve-length. Sorry.

I hated it. I always felt like my garments were on display and like our bedroom was more chaotic than it should be. For years, I had the idea that I would add drapes to the closet and I was finally able to pick up my favorite Aina drapes on a recent trip to IKEA. Normally, I buy Cambria drapery hardware from Bed Bath and Beyond, but since I knew the hardware would be installed inside the closet and wouldn’t be seen, I decided I’d rather spend less money on more basic hardware. I opted to use IKEA’s Racka drapery rod with Syrlig curtain rings and clips. Using curtain rings, rather than the hidden tabs on the back of the Aina drapes, would allow for faster, smoother opening and closing of the drapes. In other words, I would be more likely to create a habit of closing the drapes when I’m done in my closet.

I was going to include a ‘Before’ photo of my closet with the doors wide open, but realized it exposed just a bit too much of my wardrobe to include on the blog. So you’re missing out on the nitty-gritty, but here’s a pretty picture instead. I present to you, a never-before-seen corner of the house on Penny Lane complete with the culprit that caused all of the aforementioned events.


 Have you completed a January Cure project? Tell me about it!

January 11, 2015

Punch List

The second assignment from Apartment Therapy’s January Cure is “Make a List of Projects“. The idea is to tour your home and take note of any areas requiring attention. Putting the items in list-form is meant to encourage focus on each item, rather than overwhelm.

My list consists mostly of prospective or incomplete projects. Interestingly, I found many projects that spanned multiple rooms, which should help me feel like the tasks are being completed faster. I typed up my list and colored like-items to help me focus. Thankfully, the list isn’t meant to be completed in January, but over the course of the year.

Here’s a peek at my list.

Punch List copy


Obviously, I’m a bit behind on my assignments. Since this it my first time attempting the Cure, and since it’s been an unusually busy January already, I’ll probably pick and choose which assignments I do based on their benefits. I really liked this assignment because it helped me very clearly identify the things I’ve been wanting to do around the house.

Has anyone else been participating in the Cure? Tell me about your experience so far in the comments.

January 6, 2015

Happy 2015!

Happy New Year, folks! I can’t believe it’s been a year already since my 2013 year-end review (just 6 posts ago!) I really don’t think I created enough blog content in order to warrant a review of 2014, so if you don’t mind, I’m going to break tradition and look forward instead of backward!

Since Christmas (read: those weeks that I spent ankle-deep in wrapping paper), I’ve been really itching to get organized. The house on Penny Lane may look nice and tidy, but it’s hiding a doozy of messes. I’ve done a few clean-outs here and there, but I decided that 2015 would be the year that I take on the January Cure from Apartment Therapy.

We’re already 3 assignments in, and I’m only behind on one of them. If I can keep up, I’ll be blogging about my process.

Let’s start with the first assignment: Flowers & Floors. this was a bit of an easy one for me and I’ll be honest why: Rob cleans the floors. He’ll thank me when he finds out that I didn’t make him do a thorough scrub down. I will give him credit though, since he did clean them just a day or so before this assignment. The main goal of the floor cleaning, I must say, is to get better acquainted with your home and what projects may need working on.

Fortunately/unfortunately, I can pretty much list of these projects from memory without even going into their respective rooms. I will be doing that, however, since that is assignment #2, Make a List of Projects. I’ll report back with my list in the next few days, but for now, I’ll leave you with the pretty picture I took after “completing” my first assignment.

December 26, 2014

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…

Ok, so technically, Christmas is over, but I’m never one to blog on time, right? This year, family photos were taken in front of our tree, so I had a really good excuse to out-do myself with tree decorations. This year, I went a bit nuts with silver and gold ornaments as well as bows and icicles.

I’m just tickled with how it turned out.

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Merry Christmas, Friends!

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November 29, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday full of family, friends, and food. Here’s this year’s Thanksgiving tablescape.

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Every year I try to change/add/improve something about the table. This year, I added gold chargers from Target. I had hoped to add a table runner made from Hmong indigo Batik fabric like these:

find on Esty


find on Etsy

And blueprinted Asian rice bowls like these:

But they were too expensive/unavailable/hard to get, etc, etc. So I did what I usually do: I made myself a runner. Using this tutorial, I cut, tied, and dyed a length of cotton duck cloth.

After all of this indigo dying, and blue printed dishes, I’m beginning to realize how much I really like the color indigo. I’m going to have to start keeping an eye out for this color.

Oh, and just in case you haven’t had enough of Thanksgiving food, here are some snapshots of the dishes I made for the holiday.

turkey brine

apple cider

broccoli salad


Happy Thanksgiving!

September 19, 2014

Exciting Things

There’s something very exciting coming up for the House on Penny Lane. Are you excited? No? Not yet? Well, I can be excited for the rest of us.

At the end of this year, we’re getting a new sofa! A sectional to be exact…

Our IKEA sofa has served us well during the last seven years. It was our first big purchase together and, for each of us, our first real grown up sofa. But lately, we have begun to outgrow it. We’re hosting more and more get-togethers at our house while also spending more and more time stretched out/cuddled up just the two of us. And we just need more room.

And lucky for us, our living room can handle it. It’s kind of huge. Check out my sweet rendering. It’s like looking at my house through a Simpson’s episode.


And I never miss a chance for a mood board. This thing makes me giddy. Especially because the majority of the items pictured are ones I already own. This, by the way, is an update to a mood board from way back in 2010. We were just young chicks then, so it’s interesting to see how our tastes have grown in the last few years.



1.     Our wonderful wood floors. I still dig the high contrast between them and our walls.

2.     With the addition of a larger sofa, we will also need a larger area rug. Our current rug is a $170 8’x10′ shag rug we found at Home Depot. Such a steal and hides stains amazingly well. The new rug is actually made up of carpet tiles, so if one gets stained, I can just remove and replace it with a fresh tile. I’ve also heard the tiles are way easier to clean than a regular rug, so let’s hope any stains that do pop up can be taken care of quickly.

3.     My $30 a piece Craigslist chairs. I recovered them just last year, so they’re not going anywhere any time soon.

4.     Our 70s coffee table. Another awesome Craigslist find.

5.     THE SOFA. I am so excited by this. Pretend this picture is of a sectional with a chaise instead of an ‘L’ shaped sofa. I chose a fitted back to avoid the inevitable slouchy back cushions. The fabric will be a microfiber velvet in a very dark, almost black, charcoal.

6.     Our sofa table. It came from CB2, but is unfortunately no longer available.

7.     Our favorite IKEA Besta media cabinet.

8.     Our vintage walnut lamps. I am so glad these are not glass or ceramic. They would have been broken a long time ago. *Cough* cats *cough*

9.    My Valentine’s Day Fiddle Leaf Fig.

10.   Our current accent pillows, throw, and our Franco Albini Ottoman.

11.    With the new sofa, I should be receiving some throw pillows in the fabric of my choosing. So here’s my choosing! Kind of an Ikat print with cream, charcoal, linen, plum, and cranberry colors. It’s super pretty and this pic doesn’t do it justice.

12.   Think I can talk Rob into some light colored faux fur throw pillows? I hope so. We’ve got a lot of sofa to cover.

13.   I think a nicely colored Persian style rug would be beautiful layered over our future area rug. This will take some obsessing, hunting, and deliberation, so don’t expect to see this placeholder filled for some time.


So what’s been a recent exciting addition to your home? Tell me about it in the comments below!

September 14, 2014


One of the hardest things for me to do is pull together a great vignette. So when I do manage it, I have to take a million pictures to document my success.


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The first is our coffee table vignette. I had searched far and wide for a tray that would fit our large, octagonal coffee table. I was looking for something that would both fit my style and either be circular or square. Not an easy feat. There are lots of rectangular trays out there, but the unusual shape of my coffee table begged for something more symmetrical.

It was during a normal grocery shopping trip that I found myself at our local Asian supermarket. This supermarket has a large section dedicated to housewares. I had never perused this section before and I was quite surprised to find so many beautiful items at low prices. I found the bamboo tray among stacks of woven baskets for a measly $6. Compare that to the $50 tray I had my eye on at West Elm.

All of the other items in this vignette I already owned, including the gorgeous white vase. I have no clue why that thing has been sitting in a cabinet wasting all of its loveliness to the darkness. Actually, I do. Cats.


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The second is our Master Bathroom vignette. This space is teeny tiny and hasn’t changed a lick since the vanity was installed. This vignette is still not done, but the minor additions have made my time in the space much more enjoyable. I bought the faux orchid for $10 at TJ Maxx. I’ve had the Matisse print for a while. It lived in our Master Bedroom for a time before I decided it just wasn’t right for the space. It has since been living in a closet. Again, I have no clue why.

So. Fun stuff. Things that make me smile.