April 24, 2017

Spring Patio Refresh

Spring covered patio refresh with porch swing and potted ferns
When the first warm days of spring arrive, I can't wait to get outside and prepare a space to enjoy all of that fresh air I have been craving. I usually begin with our covered patio. When BJ's® Wholesale Club asked if I would like to use some of their items to refresh my space for spring, I jumped at the opportunity.
Shopping at BJ's for spring patio refresh
My husband and I headed to our local BJ's and had fun perusing the outdoor decor/furniture aisles. We appreciate shopping in stores where we can grab some new outdoor decor AND pick up the milk and orange juice that we always seem to need with 3 growing boys in our house. I was especially glad to have him along because he helped me haul the big new rug that we selected. We decided to start our refresh with an outdoor rug. Our old concrete patio has acquired a few cracks and this rug really helps to camouflage that.
Spring covered patio refresh with porch swing, outdoor rug and potted ferns
I like the texture it adds with the natural colors. I enjoy how it really dresses up the space and makes it feel more cozy - more like an outdoor room than a patio. I think our sweet pup, Dax, agrees and has found a new outdoor napping spot. :)
Golden retriever on patio with indoor/outdoor rug
We also picked up some new planters. I love the look of the stone on these planters.
Potted fern in faux stone planter in Spring Patio Refresh
They add such great color and texture to this area. I added a couple of potted ferns by simply plopping them into the new planters. So easy! The beige "knitted" look planter is also a new find from BJ's. It reminds me of a cozy knit sweater. Just perfect to help cozy up our patio.
Potted fern in faux stone planter in Spring Patio Refresh
Potted fern in faux stone planter in Spring Patio Refresh
I also grabbed the striped bag to add another pattern to the space. We are always on-the-go at time of year so this bag will certainly be put to good use this spring.
Spring patio refresh with porch swing and covered patio
I kept a majority of the area open and uncluttered because with 3 boys and 2 dogs, there is a great deal of activity happening in this space each day.
Spring gardening tools for potting
I love to garden so new clippers are a must each year. These are such a pretty mint green color and they came in a package all together. I am so looking forward to peony season and cutting my own bouquets to bring indoors. And let's not forget about the lilacs. I think I can smell them already.
White Adirondack chairs with spring items under covered patio
Golden retriever on patio with indoor/outdoor rug
There is nothing quite like the new beginnings that spring always brings. And now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to head on out to our "new" covered patio and relax for a few minutes with the pups. Happy spring!

Disclosure: BJ's® Wholesale Club provided items for this post, but all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

April 19, 2017

Our Pets - Our Everyday Heroes

Don't you just love watching the stories on social media and news that depict animals saving people’s lives and performing heroic acts? I know I certainly do. Our pets love us so fiercely and it is both inspiring and heartwarming to see those captivating images and videos. As I look up from my laptop at my sleepy dogs snoring away on the sofa next to me, I can’t help but wonder if they would be capable of helping out in an emergency if the situation ever arose. I’m pretty sure they would.

Within our home, our dogs truly are our everyday heroes. They lead our adventures here at home everyday. Our family includes five children: 3 boys and 2 dogs that are big, hairy golden retrievers named Keeper and Dax. They fill our lives with equal parts of fun, dog hair and unconditional love. They are absolutely considered full fledged members of our family. In fact, it would probably be more accurate to say that our family revolves around them!

Because our dogs are so integrated into our daily life, we choose to fully share our home with them. Our dogs are welcome in all areas of our house, including on furniture. We want them to go wherever we go and be as comfortable as we are. Yup, they are spoiled. But we wouldn't have it any other way. As a home design blogger, some of the most common questions that I get asked include how I deal  with pet hair and pet messes. I always answer that I take my pets into account for every finish I choose for our home. STAINMASTER PetProtect® is a pet-friendly carpet that resists most difficult stains and easily releases pet hair. It is the perfect choice for a home like ours with pets. So much of life happens right on the carpet. We don’t want to let a little issue, like worrying about a stain, stop our fun adventures with our pets.

It doesn’t take an extraordinarily heroic act for a pet to be a hero to a child. My youngest son has a particularly strong bond with our dogs. He struggles with his schoolwork, not because he is lazy, but because there are a couple of subjects that simply don’t come easy to him. He comes home from school mentally exhausted and rushes to the dogs for a hug. I can literally see the stress of the day melt away into our dog's soft fur.
Later, he gets frustrated with homework and there are often tears included in the process. However, we have learned that if he completes his reading assignment by reading aloud to Keeper, who is the older and calmer dog in our family, the whole process goes much smoother. His confidence in reading has grown tremendously since he started reading to Keeper. And so has Keeper’s vocabulary. :)  Which makes Keeper a true hero in this mom's eyes.
If you're like me and enjoy reading about heroic and adventurous pets, check out the amazing stories featured on the STAINMASTER® PetProtect #UnleashYourSidekick website!

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This blog post is sponsored by STAINMASTER PetProtect®.

April 17, 2017

Easter and Spring Break Recap


Hello and Happy Monday! It's been a whirlwind of events around here but I am not complaining. This past winter felt incredibly long and s-l-o-w to me so I am glad to be surrounded by the flurry of activity that spring has brought our way. We spent a few days in the mountains last week while the kids were off for spring break. There was still some snow around but it was melting fast. Temperatures reached into the 80s while we were there. It was a pleasant reminder that summer is just around the corner.

As you can imagine, all of that sunshine led to rapidly melting snow. It was the height of mud season. The picture below is at the entrance to our family's property. We had to park there, put on our mud boots and walk trudge to the house.
Our friends were all posting pictures on Instagram of fabulous beach vacations and here we were in the mud. I had to laugh at the difference. I took a picture of my feet submerged in the mud. See, I told you those Hunter boots weren't just blog props. They definitely get put to good use!
Here's a picture of Dax basking in the spring sunshine on the melting snow.
Anytime we can be all together is a good time to me. We visited a nearby waterfall which was rushing with spring overflow. The sound was magnificent.
Our youngest son is obsessed with skateboarding so we always work in a couple of visits to skateparks wherever we go. We headed to Burlington, VT on a gorgeous spring day. 
We strolled down Church St, had lunch and stopped in a couple of shops, including this book store.
We parked by the library so of course I had to take a picture of that.
The skate park is right on the Lake Champlain waterfront overlooking the Adirondack Mts. We spent a couple of hours watching him there and everyone seemed to be so happy that spring had finally arrived.
Then we came home and had to wash away all of that mud in time to attend a wedding. We don't get dressed up like this very often so I had to take a picture to document it.
Then it was time to get ready for Easter. Which meant obligatory bunny ears for the pups. They happily cooperated...for a treat! Well, as usual, Dax was a bit happier than Keeper.
We spent the day at my brother's house on the lake. The weather was warm, the food was delicious and we had a great time. As usual, I took no pictures. Except this one, which sums it all up perfectly :)
Now I am off to get some mulch and plants for our back patio. We have been working on refreshing this space for spring and I will be sharing that soon.  I hope you had a wonderful and blessed Easter.

April 7, 2017

Colorful Spring Dining Room & Entryway

On Monday, I shared our spring kitchen and today I am sharing the rest of this level of our home. Sometimes I struggle with what to call this space. It is our dining, living, entry and "whatever else you would like to call" it space. We live a very casual and hectic life and this arrangement works well for us.
Plank wall, shiplap, in dining room and entryway with gallery wall
For the table. started with a green and white striped throw from Target as a tablecloth and added a few new melamine bunny plates from HomeGoods. An old chippy tool caddy serves as the centerpiece and adds a bit of rustic charm.
Easter spring casual table setting with striped throw used as tablecloth
I added a clearance picture from Target to the plank wall with hooks. I like how it adds a touch of spring and lightens up the whole look of the gallery wall.
Entryway with planked gallery wall and numbered stairs
Gallery wall with hooks and wire basket
DIY wooden shelves in dining room
Atop the mantel, I added a colorful Chinese Checkers board from HomeGoods. The paper flower garland is from the Dollar Spot at Target.
Colorful spring mantel decor with wood checkers board
I am a sucker for these little Rae Dunn bowels and I keep adding to my collection. They are the perfect size for so many snacks. And cereal too.
Rae Dunn bowls in spring dining room
Colorful spring mantel decor with wood checkers board

Spring table setting with striped throw used as tablecloth
I like to add a few fun items to the table for the kids and young at heart. I made a small bouquet with chocolate flower lollipops from Target.
Spring decor with flower lollipops chocolate bouquet

Farmhouse style entry with planked shiplap walls and DIY chalkboard
The wire basket on the side of our island is still going strong. I still keep paper plates, lunch bags and napkins here.
Wire baskets as storage solution hung on side of kitchen island
Spring dining room with buffalo check curtains
Gallery wall with wire basket and hooks in spring entry
Finally, a "Happy Spring" smile from Dax! Have a wonderful weekend.

April 3, 2017

Hello Spring - Colorful Spring Kitchen

Lots of pops of color for spring in kitchen with farmhouse sink and flour sack curtains
I finally got out the spring decor this week in our kitchen. We are still waiting for spring weather to arrive for more than a day or two here in NJ, but adding some fresh flowers definitely helps. And lots of color.
Flowers in wire basket on stool in farmhouse style kitchen
The green Le Creuset pot on the stove is my new favorite kitchen item. I use it almost every night to cook dinner and then I can serve right in the same pot. I just leave it out on the stove because I like the pretty green color and there is no sense in putting it away when I will be using it again soon.
Spring kitchen with farmhouse style and pops of color
 The "Hello Spring" dish towel is new from HomeGoods.
Farmhouse sink in spring kitchen with caged light pendant over sink
I think the radishes on the curtains add a nice touch of spring whimsy. They are made with flour sack towels from Target.
Farmhouse sink in spring kitchen with flour sack curtains
Farmhouse sink in spring kitchen with flour sack curtains
Tiered stand in colorful spring kitchen
Farmhouse style basket with flowers in kitchen
Cookbooks in spring kitchen with Anthropologie mug
Ikea hack kitchen island with wire baskets for storage
Small boxwood wreath on side of DIY kitchen island with bead board and butcher block
I think I might have gone a bit overboard with the spring flowers from Trader Joes, but with so many cold and dreary days I considered them a necessity. Cheaper than therapy, right?
Spring flowers and apples in kitchen seating area
Next up, some spring decor on the dining room side of this space.