Atop the Desk

I know it's popular to display scales like this one in kitchens, but I thought it fit in perfectly right here. Love the scalloped base and metal green hand. Aside from Poppy, it's my favorite new addition to the desk space.

Some plain white index cards sit on top and serve as convenient notepads. We can never have enough of those. Same goes for pens... they disappear as fast as socks do around our house. I stock up on cheap clear Bic pens from Target. I like them all matching.

The stone dog wears my watches like a fancy schmansy collar. He looks downright puffed up about it too.

Mr. Man can be found in a variety of unusual poses throughout the day. He's actually a fun accessory to have around.

I borrowed the #7 crock from my kitchen to display a single Clematis bloom. And underneath it sits a box with blooms all it's own.

And these are a few of my favorite desk things.

April's Bird(s)

Can you spot any changes to my office below? One of them is standing on the edge of my desk.

Meet Poppy.

He's only been with us for a couple of weeks,

and already he thinks this desk belongs to him.

Remember my bird calendar? This month's parakeet is strikingly beautiful.

And, well, poor Poppy is a wee bit jealous...

and tries to vie for April's slot.

The Untouchable Basket

There are very few things the children can't touch in our home. One of the reasons I was drawn to the vintage/farmhouse/cottage style in the first place is because it is so relaxed and family friendly.

There is one piece in our home however, that is totally off limits to everyone but myself. You see that basket under the table below? That would be it.

It's protected at least a little by the table it sits under. I love how it fits snugly. Just right.

The minute I saw it I fell in love with the way the wicker is woven so uniquely. I loved the canvas liner and turned to its side, the charmer even shows off sweet little bows.

I also loved the brushed-on subtle blue stain. It's as if the person creating it knew it was perfect for my home, for this table, for our family room. But they must have missed the part about us having six children.

You see it remains off limits not because it's worth a lot in value. I picked it up for $12 at TJ Maxx. It's untouchable because it could fall apart with the slightest push or tug. It's poorly made is what it is.

I almost didn't buy it because I knew it wouldn't last a week in our house before falling apart into a thousand teensy weensy wicker pieces that would likely get strewn all over the living room.

But I bought it and decided to threaten everyone instead. If anyone touches my precious basket, they owe me $20. $12 to cover the cost and $8 for pain and suffering. It's true... you can ask my children. No one has touched it, and it's been over a year.

My Favorite Designer

Carrie Raphael has probably been the most influential to me in my own design aesthetic. Her work has appeared time and time again in my favorite magazines, and her images are the ones I go back to for fresh inspiration.

To see more of her work, you can click here to go to her website.

Happy Friday and enjoy swooning...

All images courtesy of

Creating a House with Built-In Character (of a different kind)

"So how do you do it all?" I get this question all the time. Truth is, I don't do it all. We all do. Above is a picture of our children's chore boards. Morning and evening, every day, the little people are busy at work. I've been promoted to manager and supervisor. A position that comes with great benefits (i.e. an orderly house).

I've included some old photos of when a few of our children were young. I snapped these as they were going about their chores. Note: the following photos contain backgrounds of different house interiors while in the process of renovating. Not pretty.

Above: Evelyn (as a preschooler) putting the plates away. We always keep them on a low shelf so that the little ones can have a useful job.

So when should children start chores? In our experience, if you start when the children are toddling around, they will learn that doing their share is a part of everyday life. They will never have known the alternative. We have found that little children love to help, and their only hindrance is us not letting them!

Above: Haley (as a preschooler) loading the dishwasher

The young child finds work more satisfying than play because it gives them a sense of self-worth and purpose. If taught slowly and deliberately by a patient teacher, they can accomplish a great deal more than we give them credit for.

Beyond the goal of independence, we want our children to learn that a quality life is about serving others.

And that it does not revolve themselves and their own interests.

Above: Gavin (age 4) making the morning's coffee and loving it!

Our family has benefited greatly by reading a book called "Managers of Their Chores" by Steve and Terri Maxwell. Our chore boards (in first picture above) were adapted from their book. It's excellent, and we highly recommend it.

"How can one family affect anything? One person battling away to put selfish interests aside, to put other people before herself or himself, even for a fraction of the time, day by day, how could that help? ... One family and the children of that family can do marvelous things to affect the world or devastating things to destroy it."
Edith Schaefer, What is a Family

Our Coastal Home

We almost missed the opportunity to buy our current home. As I was scrolling through house listings a few years ago, I happened upon the picture above. And even though it said "NC" right beside it, I was sure the listing realtor made a mistake and really meant Oregon or Washington. After all, the area we were looking in was at least two hours from the ocean. And even then... "our" ocean didn't look like the above ocean with the glorious coastal rock formation.

Washington Coast:

Photo above by Rick Pawl

Oregon Coast:

Image above found here

I was convinced this house sat on the Pacific Coast. Curiosity got the better of me thank goodness, and I finally clicked to find out more info.

Pictures can be deceiving. The photo above was taken from across the lake. The rock is granite, left over from when the lake was a quarry. Not an ocean. A quarry.

But for some reason "Our Quarry Home" doesn't have as nice of a ring.


A Complete Set

In one of my earlier posts, I described the dramatic tale of how I acquired two of my dream Rachel Ashwell dining chairs via Craigslist. Turns out the person who bought the other chairs from the salon was an antique store owner. She bought them to resell, so I got her number and we worked out a deal.

She was kind enough to allow me to buy them on a layaway plan. In addition, she bought an upholstered bench from the salon which she also resold to me. When I saw it, I knew it would be just the touch to complete the set.

It's lovely on its own, isn't it?

But even lovelier sitting amoungst friends.

So much for the illusion

I've admired these bluish vintage looking jars at Anthropologie for some time now. I just happened to visit there today to return something and much to my delight they had two jars left in their sale room for 50% off! Not only that, but they were just about the same price as the item I was returning, so it's kinda like I got them for free. ;)

Just perfect for our new fireplace mantel, don't you think? My daughter cut some honeysuckle vines for one of the jars.

And sitting in the other jar? Yes, that would be chalk. You see... my grand plan of creating an illusion of a real fireplace insert went by the wayside today, as soon as my kids got a hold of the chalk. I bought the chalk with the intention of roughing up the black a bit to make it look a little more like slate. But they had better ideas. They spent a good part of the afternoon creating artwork on our very fancy antique chalkboard.

But you know what? I don't mind it. I decided to display the chalk right on top for whenever the urge might strike.

Don't forget that my give-away ends tonight at midnight (EST). Click here to see how to enter. I'm so excited to see who wins these adorable glasses!

Warmth in the Living Room

So this is our new project half completed. Come Autumn, we'll insert an opening with a gas fireplace. My parents bought us this beautiful antique mantel from an antique shop. It was originally intended for our new house.

But we decided to install it in our current home because 1.what would be do with ourselves without another project? and 2.we can enjoy it for the few years we have left here and will add value to the home once the market improves. But the last two reasons are really just excuses for #1. ;)

It originally came from a hotel filled with French antiques. The hotel had a fire, and this mantel survived, but barely. The fire is what created the incredibly gorgeous crackle finish you see below. Which we would have kept as is if it wasn't for the very pink hue it was sporting. It looks white in these following pictures, but trust me, it was pink, pink, pink.

Our boys tackled the project of sanding the monster. House projects are family affairs around here.

Builds character. And muscles.

I know a lot of people will likely scold me for this... but we actually scraped two decorative motifs off of the mantel. You can see the outline of one of them in the above picture. I know. I KNOW. It's a really pretty shape, right? But I just felt the mantel had enough detail going on, and it really didn't need so much... going on. I'm sure some will think we ruined it, but we prefer a more simple design. We still kept the wreath motifs at the top. Love those.

Like I said, we'll be adding a real firebox in the opening in the fall (when the cooler weather arrives), but until then we painted the "opening" with chalkboard paint. I got the idea to do this from Lauren at the Pure Style blog. I felt it gave the illusion of a real opening.

I still need to figure out what to put on the mantel. And my biggest quandary? Should I keep it pristine white or distress it up a bit?

Oh, and remember my post about our piano? This is where it sat before:

The fireplace is now the first thing we see when we walk in our front door. It's in a spot we can see from both the living area, kitchen and dining nook. We think the mantel makes a good substitute to take the stage.

We're so looking forward to a cozy fire come Fall, and so is Penny.
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