Friday, July 29, 2011

If You Are A Working Mom...

For me, summer is about embracing more time with the kids and enjoying the beautiful outdoors. Sometimes this requires a bit of multitasking to stay on top of issues that arise at work!

Like getting a last minute change from an advertiser in the next issue of House of Fifty, being released on Monday. Yikes. Okay...let's see if I can forward it on to the designer.

And I get busted. Yes, I'm on the phone...just a minute!!

So despite weak coverage, the messages went through and I could continue on with a relaxing day.

How do you handle summers if you are a working mom?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Back To Basics!

{Please welcome Kathysue from Good Life of Design}

Do you ever look at your home and feel like you need to change things? You get out your list of wants, and it seems like it is a mile long! So many of the things on our list aren’t doable right now, and then we start to feel at sorts with the home we live in.

We can get so caught up in what we want that we don’t see what we have right in front of us. When I am starting to feel at sorts with my home, and the projects that need to be done or the furniture that needs to be purchased, I go back to the basics, the simple things.

I get great pleasure out of making my home more comfortable and pretty. I know I am not alone in this desire to nest or play house! After reading the comments on a previous post it was very apparent to me how many of you also like to nest. One reader wrote about putting flowers in her Grandmother’s silver pitcher. She not only had a beautiful container, but she had memories attached to her pitcher of flowers from the yard.

I am sure we all do different things when we nest, but we are all trying to achieve the same goal. We are trying to make our house a home for our family and friends, but it does not have to be a new sofa or a new rug. It can be the simple things.
I discovered in my thirties that is was the simple uncomplicated things in my life that truly made me happy. Guess what it involved? My family, and making my home comfortable and pleasant for them. A simple meal, a clean house and everyone being together. I realized then that it was not big stuff or complicated stuff but simple little pleasures that seemed to make me and my family happy.

When I did the post on “Simple Flowers” I realized that many of you felt the same. I could tell by how you all spoke of bringing in flowers from the yard and putting them in a simple vase. It also made me think about how we go about nesting or playing house as I like to call it.

Sometimes it involves bringing in greenery or a flower from the yard, or filling a bowl with fruit...

Fresh hand towels on the sink...

...and clean sheets that have been sprayed with lavender water.

Spraying down my counters with lavender cleaner and making them shine, or even the fresh scent of citrus will give my kitchen just the right scent.

A special candle with a lovely scent...

...these are only a few of the basic things we can do that virtually cost only a positive attitude and a little bit of effort!

I am sure most of you already do most of the items I have mentioned. I hope you don't mind me reminding myself and YOU about getting back to the basics. How about you? What are some of the basic things that you do when you are nesting?

“Enjoy the Process" of Nesting by doing some of the simple things in life!

{All above images via Pinterest}

Monday, July 25, 2011

Need A Bit Of Inspiration?

Sometimes a well written inspirational quote can say it better than a long collection of sentences and paragraphs. Here are few favorites found at Pinterest.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Deliciousness From The Lovely Cupboard

Please welcome a newbie blogger today, who is off to an inspiring start on her blog The Lovely Cupboard. Here is a delicious summer dish Heather recently posted, and if you get a chance, pay her a visit at her blog!

Summer Tortellini Salad

I call this a "salad". Really, does anything with a pasta base count as a salad? Not hardly. Regardless, this is a quick and refreshing dish for a summer brunch or side for dinner. Add a little oilve oil, and it stores just fine overnight.

*I use organic ingredients for all my recipes. These dishes will still taste delicious even if all the ingredients are not organic. 

1. Make tortellini according to package directions. Rinse and toss with olive or grapeseed oil. Allow to  cool in fridge for 10-20 minutes. (This ensures that the hot pasta will not melt the mozzerella when combining.)
2. Chop a large bunch of fresh basil.
3. Strain and chop one 14 oz. can of artichoke hearts.
4. Drain one or two cans of sliced black olives.
5. Cut fresh mozzerrella balls into slices and then chop into cubes. (You can also slice mozzerella string cheese if fresh mozzerella is not available.)
5. Combine tortellini pasta, one carton of cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped basil, artichoke hearts, cheese, and 2/3 cup of Italian dressing.
6. Salt and pepper to taste.
7. Serve cold and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Busy Working On...Thank Yous!

It certainly wouldn't be much fun working on House of Fifty without the wonderful team of contributors. So this past weekend I was busy wrapping up little thank you gifts.

And what makes the job of gift wrapping a delight? Pretty supplies!

Sweet thank you cards, detailed little envelopes...

...and Tiffany blue paper. 

{all from Target, gotta love that store!}

A big thanks to the House of Fifty fall issue contributors!

Coming August 1st

Monday, July 18, 2011

Kid’s Rooms: Fun & Stylish Storage Solutions

Sarah from Prairie Perch is sharing her best finds for kids rooms storage solutions. Seeing all these great ideas, I'm wishing a kid's room design was on my plate right now! ~ Janell

I have two young children, ages two and one, and am convinced they have everything a child could ever need or want. Or at least that’s what it seems like whenever I try to bring order to it all. Thankfully there are some really great storage solutions out there that are not only functional but creative and stylish. Here are some of my favorites.

Toy Storage: 

I particularly like bins and baskets for corralling the mess. It’s quick and easy to toss and tuck the toys away. And bins on wheels are even better!

(Rose and Grey)

The bins below have been covered in chalkboard paint so each bin can be easily labelled… love it, love it, love it!

(Via Pinterest)

A hat box can be a great storage solution for smaller toys. Stylish, functional and portable! Why not?

(Via Canadian House and Home)

A basket in the corner of the room means toys are easy to access when it’s time to play, but just as easy to put away when it’s time to clean up.


And I have to share one of my all-time favorite toy storage ideas. Check this out…

(Via pinterest)

A circus themed room calls for a ferris wheel, and why not make it a toy sorting ferris wheel! I've hung onto this room inspiration for years now and it still gets me excited.

Book Storage: 

A simple but well-built book shelf would suffice, but lately I’ve been drawn to gallery shelves for book storage. It’s more decorative and space efficient.

(via pinterest)

(Elizabeth Sullivan Design via decorpad)

And just look at this tree shelf. Too cool!

(via designaddictmom)


Opt for a sturdy yet stylish clothes hamper.

(via Canadian House and Home)

Check out these clothes trees by P’kolina. What could be better than having the kids put their own clothes away?
(That might actually happen with one of these in the corner of their room.)

(via p’kolina)

Craft Supplies:

I love the look of stashing craft supplies in jars. Displaying them on a wall shelf above the craft station means you can see the supplies at a quick glance, and they look so neat and tidy.


(via craftastic)

I hope that gets your wheels turning. day I’ll get a ferris wheel turning in my kid’s playroom. That would be delightful!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

7 Steps to Creating a Modern Country Style

{Please welcome Sarah from Modern Country Style today!}

Modern Country Style is more about a way of life than just being a specific look. Not limited by any means to those living the rural idyll. The Modern Country ethos is all about taking the very best of Traditional Country, its warmth, comfort, appreciation of hand-made crafts and combining it with the best of what modern life has to offer.

We moved out of London to an Edwardian house nestled in a small Market Town in the Cotswolds. Our home has needed a huge amount of renovating, but by adding the right pieces and choosing the palette with care, I've been able to create a Modern Country look that I adore. Homely, relaxed and stylish.

Here are my seven steps to Modern Country Style. Of course, there's more to the look than this, but these seven simple steps will get you well on your way.

Step 1: Use of Color

Probably the most prominent marker of the Modern Country look is the delicious yet delicate use of colour. Think of and be inspired by winter seascapes: the gentle grey-blue-greens of a rough sea and the browns, greys and off-whites of smooth stones on a pebble beach sum up this palette beautifully. Yet it needn't look bland. By adding the odd touch of a stronger colour, in my case I've chosen cherry red accents, a surprise element is added.

Just as important is the way in which colour is used. No fussy details are needed. Simple blocks of colour highlighted by the crisp, sharp contrast of soft white woodwork.

Our dining room is a perfect case in point. Painted with Earthborn's 'Gregory's Den', a gentle creamy green-grey, this color provides a serene backdrop to one of our main living areas. Perfect for family tea-times with our four wonderfully energetic children.

Step 2: Robust Elegance

When choosing how to decorate we've tried to create a home that is beautiful to look at, but also practical for daily life. Yes, it's a family home but it needn't be dull because of that. Everything should work beautifully well: both for us aesthetically and for day-to-day living with four young children.

Modern Country Style is a look that can stand up easily to daily living - dogs clambering on the sofas and children rolling on the floor. With four little ones I want a house that looks as good when it's messy as when it's scrupulously tidy. Modern Country Style offers just that in spades: robust yet restful.

Step 3: Texture

Modern Country differs from Traditional Country in its limited use of pattern. But that doesn't mean a lack of visual appeal. Instead, interest comes from building up layers of texture. Simplicity is key.

Here in our Master Bedroom I've used The White Company crisp white bedlinen to create an air of refined luxury. I wanted to create a 'Princess and the Pea' feel to the bed. Remember that fairytale? So an incredibly plumptious chocolate-grey velvet throw was added, which has a silk border. Modern Country Style at its languorous best.

Natural materials work perfectly here: wood, velvet, cotton and linen bring the warmth of the country to prevent this look from ever feeling stark.

At the end of the bed, I've placed an old suitcase of my mothers, which is perfect for storing seasonal bedding.

Step 4: Establishing Home

Creating places for friends and family to gather is an essential part of Modern Country Style. We don't have a table and chairs in our kitchen, so in the dining room I've used a paler version of the paint we used in our kitchen (Farrow and Ball Blue Gray) to bring unity to the two spaces.

This means when our children are sitting at the table doing their homework and our friends are round enjoying a glass of wine (or two), I can be pottering in the kitchen and still enjoy the pleasure of their company.

Step 5: Mixing Old and New

Getting the balance right between old and new is the key to this style. Too much old and the look becomes fusty. Too much new and it loses it's country edge. Soft Industrial is a term I use to describe the adding of artifacts with a slight architectural feel to a living space, which add interest and character. It's important to emphasis here that the look is one of a gentle nod to an industrial past, rather than anything too hard-edged.

In our dining room we've added an antique mahogany clock, which was used in a village school until it was restored by a specialist who was able to take out the old workings and replace them with a modern Quartz inner. That is the essence of Modern Country Style: the best of the old with the best of what's new.

In front of a huge gilt mirror, resting on a radiator cover in the dining room, I have antique printing press letters of my husband's and my initials. These are easy to pick up at vintage fairs or on eBay.

Antique bobbins from an English mill have been given a new lease of life as lamps, complete with new linen lampshades.

Step 6: Displaying Crafts

Enjoying the loveliness of rural crafts is one of the great joys of Modern Country life. There's a deep need in me to step away from mass-produced, churned-out-without-a-thought shop wares, turning instead to lovingly produced handmade treasures that can be passed down from generation to generation.

I love to engage in learning as many country crafts as possible and feel such a sense of pleasure in giving such personal touches a special place in our home.

Decorative cushions and a heart garland demonstrate the warmth that handmade pieces can bring to a room.

Step 7: Focus on architecture

An easy change to make in any house that needs added character is to replace all modern doors with salvaged older versions. When we moved into our house all the original doors had been replaced by ugly flat ones. We bought these from Oxford University as part of restoring the house and had them stripped right back and waxed.

By following these seven steps in your home, it's possible for you to create the relaxed yet stylish feel of Modern Country. If you'd like to learn more about Modern Country Style, or to see more of my home and writing, then come and visit at Modern Country Style.

{text and images by Sarah Plowman of Modern Country Style}
Thanks Sarah!