June 8, 2017

Hello & A Bit of Summer Decor

Farmhouse style summer home tour with Ikea hack coffee table and Birch Lane Montgomery sofa
Hello friends! How are you? I can't believe how quickly summer is approaching. My kids finish school next week and I am looking forward to the slower pace that will bring. It's also hard to believe that we still haven't swam in our pool yet this year. It has been chilly and summer is taking its sweet time arriving here in NJ. I do see some warmer temperatures in the forecast which I am looking forward to. Time to turn that pool heater on. I have a stack of summer books just waiting to be read by the pool.
Summer kitchen window with farmhouse sink
There have been a few life events that are ongoing and have been keeping me busy and away from blogging. My mom's husband fell and broke his newly replaced hip. They live a little over an hour away from us so there has been lots of traveling to help them out. Since my mom's stroke, she no longer drives. His recovery will be a long road to say the least. We also had to say goodbye to a beloved family member, Billy's grandmother. May was a trying month to say the least.
Peonies in summer home tour
I always find that when life gets tough, it is best to focus on the small things. Like the blooming peonies that fill my home with their beautiful scent. Something about their smell reminds me of my own grandmother and a time gone by. Most flowers don't seem to smell like they used to, especially the store bought varieties. But the peonies never disappoint.
Peonies in summer home tour
Billy and I took a drive to upstate NY to escape the craziness on a quiet Tuesday. We visited the town of Hudson, NY specifically to check out a store called Les Indiennes. I had spotted a throw pillow I loved in Holly Mathis' home in Country Living magazine and when I checked out the source, it turned out there was an outlet right in Hudson.
Downtown Hudson, NY
It was a delightful shop and I picked up a few pillow covers. I love the prints and the details like the side ties. I will definitely be stopping back at that store again.
Les Indiennes throw pillow in summer home tour
Les Indiennes throw pillow in summer home tour
Summer kitchen with Les Indiennes throw pillows and Birch Lane Montgomery Sofa
Farmhouse style summer home tour with Ikea hack coffee table and Birch Lane Montgomery sofa
Famhouse sink in summer home tour
There is nothing like time with my boys to feed my soul. Here we are all together on Mother's Day.
We also spent Mother's Day with my mom. We enjoyed brunch at my brother's house and then visited her husband in the hospital. I love this picture of her and my youngest. They are planning to visit Paris someday together. :)
May is also a big birthday month in our house. Dax tried to steal some of my birthday cake before we could even cut it. I think that this picture is a very accurate representation of my life at 43.
And my oldest turned 19. Wow, 19!!!
And finally, a cute picture of a freckled Dax, wet from a very chilly dip in the pool.
I hope your summer is off to a great start!

May 8, 2017

Dining Room Update {New Light}

Millennium Lighting 5 light pendant in famhouse style dining room
Hello and Happy Monday! Today I am excited to share a recent change we made at our house. We decided to give our dining room a bit of an update with a new light to bring things more up to date. Our old chandelier was small for this room and it began to bother me more and more. We had chosen it when our rooms were set up differently. You might remember that we switched our dining area and living room area around last fall. Now that we have decided that having the bigger table for eating works much better for our family, we decided to make a more permanent change. After much debate, we decided on the  (affiliate link) 5 light  pendant by Millennium Lighting.
Millennium Lighting 5 light pendant in famhouse style dining room
We also added a new chalkboard (from Hobby Lobby). My original plan was to put the chalkboard on the mantel. But because I had a "duh" moment, I never actually measured to see if it would fit. So on the wall next to the fireplace it went!
Dining room chalkboard with shiplap wall
Millennium Lighting 5 light pendant in farmhouse style dining room
DIY faux fireplace with stacked wood and tobacco basket mantel decor
I am so excited to have my first bouquet of peonies for the season. Their scent fills the room so beautifully,
Fresh peonies from the garden in chicken wire basket in farmhouse style dining room
Millennium Lighting 5 light pendant in farmhouse style dining room
Chalk painted farmhouse style hutch in dining room with dairy sign
Rae Dunn bowls in farmhouse style dining room
DIY faux fireplace with stacked wood in farmhouse style dining room
Millennium Lighting 5 light pendant in famhouse style dining room
It always amazes me how one change in a room can change the whole feel of the space. Have you made any changes that made a bigger impact than you thought?

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!

Click here to learn more about how STAINMASTER® PetProtect® supports all of the adventures that you and your pet have in your home.

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.