December 27, 2015

A Very Special Christmas Present

Hello friends!  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!!  I am enjoying this week unplugged with my family but I just had to pop on to share a few pictures of a special present that showed up under our Christmas tree this year.
Golden Retriever puppy sleeping in log basket under Christmas tree -

December 22, 2015

A Christmas Weekend at the Cabin

It's beginning to look a lot like....April?  We spent last weekend at our family's cabin in the mountains and the weather was balmy and not at all winter-like.  If there is anything this year has taught me, it is not to get upset about things outside of my control.  So we went with it and enjoyed the spring-like weather.  But that didn't stop us from adding a few holiday touches to the house.
Natural rustic and affordable holiday decor in a mountain cabin -

December 17, 2015

Our Outdoor Christmas Spaces

Window with fresh wreath and black board and batten shutters -
Today I am sharing a few of our outdoor areas decorated for Christmas.  First, we decided to use fresh wreaths from Costco on all of our front windows.  I have always loved the look of fresh wreaths on windows, but never wanted to spend the money.  The great thing about Costco is that their wreaths are so affordable at $15.99 per wreath.  The smaller wreaths on the 2 smaller windows are from Trader Joes's ($5.99 each).  We decided not to put a wreath on our large front window because the Christmas tree in our living room can be seen from there.

December 9, 2015

A Book Lover's Christmas Tree

First and foremost, thank you all so much for all the love on our Holiday Home Tour.  I took so very many pictures, many more than could fit in that one post, so I will be sharing a bit more in the coming days.  In our home tour last week, I referred to the flocked tree in our living room as a "tree of my own". Christmas has always been about our kids, as I think it should be.  But, this year, in addition to the tree in the family room with all of our collected ornaments, I decorated the tree in our living room with some of my favorite things.  I try not to follow too many trends in home decor.  Rather, I like think about things to add to our home that reflect who we are.  So, with that in mind, I thought about one of my favorite things, books.
Flocked Christmas tree decorated with small books, black and white accents and mercury glass ornaments -

December 4, 2015

Holiday House Walk 2015

Welcome!  I am so excited to be included in Jennifer Rizzo's Holiday House Walk this year!!  Since even before I started my own blog, Jen's House Walk has been my absolute favorite week of the year as a blog reader.  Yours, too?  I am thrilled to have found others who are as crazy passionate about holiday decor as I am.  I love getting to peek inside so many amazing homes, especially when they are all decked out for the holidays.  Speaking of amazing homes, if you're following the tour, you just arrived from Stop 28, My Sweet Savannah's beautiful home, always a favorite of mine.

December 2, 2015

Target Dollar Spot Kitchen Paper Dispenser

I think the Target Dollar Spot has a new name, but I will just keep referring to it as the Dollar Spot anyway :)  Many, actually most, of the items now cost more than $1, but there are usually great values to be found in that little gem of a spot.  It's my favorite part of the whole Target shopping experience.
Target Dollar Spot paper holder with kraft paper -

November 30, 2015

Easy Plaid Ornaments & Our Family Room Christmas Tree

It's the most wonderful week of the blogging year!  Jennifer Rizzo's Holiday House Walk is always amazing and it starts today!!  I have been busy decorating our home for the last couple of weeks and I can't wait to share our Holiday Tour on Friday.  Today, I am sharing how I made some plaid ornaments for our family room tree and you just may get a few glimpses of our mantel too!
Easy Plaid Christmas ornament

November 27, 2015

Winterizing Our Gallery Wall

'Tis the season to change our gallery wall back to holiday/winter theme.  When we added the planking to this wall in our family room last year, I had a winter theme in mind and this is still my favorite season to decorate this space.  I think the loveliest gallery walls are those that reflect the interests of the people who live in the home.  We enjoy spending time in the mountains, especially in the winter, and I love how this wall reflects our lifestyle.  

November 25, 2015

Holiday Gift Ideas With JCPenney

Have you started your holiday shopping yet?  I like to start early in the season so I can put some thought into each gift, but not too early that I am not yet in the holiday spirit. I enjoy shopping when the stores are decorated and the holiday music is playing.   JCPenney challenged me to create a few gift ideas for some of my favorite people. I was happy to learn that I could buy a few of our most trusted brands at great prices.

November 23, 2015

The Smells of the Holiday Season & A Giveaway

*I am teaming up with Air Wick® for this sponsored post.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

Even though it isn't quite Thanksgiving yet, we are in full holiday decorating mode in our house this week.  I look forward to this season all year long and I have been planning our decor for weeks.  Even before we bring that first box of holiday stuff from the attic, I begin adding scents to our home with holiday candles and wax melts.  Nothing gets me into the holiday spirit quite like the smells of the season do.

November 21, 2015

Our New Sofa {Birch Lane Montgomery Slipcovered Sofa}

I had planned to wait until after the holidays to post my review of our new sofa, but a few people have asked if I could give my opinion sooner.  So here it is!  It is the Montgomery Slipcovered Sofa from Birch Lane.  We absolutely love it.  It is always a bit scary to order a big ticket item like a sofa without actually sitting on it.  I have learned that the most important thing to do when ordering online is research.  I read all of the reviews, ordered fabric swatches ahead of time and measured.  I also exchanged a few e-mails with Birch Lane gathering more information regarding care of the fabric choices.  Then I placed the order and crossed my fingers.
Birch Lane Montgomery slipcovered sofa review -

November 18, 2015

If Planking Walls Is Wrong, I Don't Want to Be Right

Thank you all so much for your kind thoughts & words about the loss of our dog, Forrest.  It has been a tough year and although many of you started visiting here for home decor posts, you have all been so supportive of our family.  I really do hope to get on with more home ideas now!

So we've been adding a couple of walls of planks to our house because apparently it is my latest addiction.  I keep telling myself that someday a nice young couple will be cursing us out as they remove all of these planks, saying to each other, "what were they thinking?" much like we did as we removed panelling and wall paper from the 70s and 80s in our 3 fixer uppers :)  But I just can't help myself.  I love planks and the character they add.  Plus, they are super affordable and a relatively easy way to update a space.  
Planked gallery wall -
Last week, I shared the planks we added to our dining area.  We also added planks to 2 walls in the living room - the one pictured above and the front wall where the big window is.  The big shared wall in our living/dining room is still painted Behr's Castle Path.  It will be staying that way - for a while at least.  My boys staged an intervention and made me promise to leave that wall alone.
Wall planking shiplap added to living room -
And of course adding planks means taking everything off the walls and starting fresh.  Our living room definitely needed a refresh.  I like to keep things very rustic and traditional down in our family room, but I like to have a bit more fun with this level of our house.  I switched out the bold striped drapes for these Aztec panels I found at Target.
Ikea Billy bookshelf with trim added in front of plank wall with Target Aztec drapery panels -
The entryway chalkboard is wiped clean right now but it will soon have some new chalk art for the holidays.
Wall planking in split level home -
I also took everything down from the gallery wall that goes up our stairs and re-did it, keeping some pictures and adding some new ones too.  I actually think this wall looks naked without planks.  The struggle is real. :)
Gallery wall up the stairs -
While I was at it, I added some numbers to these stairs on a whim.  I actually took the time to measure out the center of the stairs.  But I apparently shifted that measurement somewhere between the 3rd & 4th stairs.  Oops!!  I need to repaint each stair back (which really needed to be done in the first place anyway) and re-do the #s but my kids have been having a good time making fun of my mistake.  They walk up the first 3 stairs on the left and then cross over to the right.  Perhaps I will just leave them.  Their imperfection has brought us more laughs than perfectly numbered stairs ever could.
Numbered stairs and plank wall -
  And that's what we're up to around here this week.  Are you excited for holiday decor?  I am in full holiday decorating mode so I am ready to share holiday posts just after Thanksgiving.  

November 11, 2015

Sweet Forrest

He held on for as long as he could, but we had to say goodbye to our sweet Forrest.  Our hearts are broken.  And filled with gratitude for 10 years of companionship & love.  So much love.  Just love...

November 9, 2015

Picking A New Sofa

I finally pulled the trigger and placed an order for a new sofa for our upstairs living room.  We have needed to replace the old Ikea sofa that is currently in here for years.  I know it doesn't look terrible in most of the pictures on this blog, but believe me when I say that that is just magical blog photography smoke & mirrors.  Here is what I can get it to look like after adjusting ALL of the pillows and then giving it a bit of help in Photoshop.
Living room with Ikea sofa and

November 4, 2015

November Changes

I don't know what it is about late October & early November,  but it sparks lots of projects around here every year.  Last year, we added a some planking to a wall in our family room.  And this year we are adding some more to the kitchen level of our split level home.  We love how much character it adds instantly.
DIY planking and painted sign in farmhouse style dining room -

October 22, 2015

Living & Loving Fall

I came across this poem recently and it spoke to me so I thought I would share it here along with a few more foliage pictures.  The colors are so beautiful up in the mountains this year and we have gotten to enjoy some gorgeous days.   

October 7, 2015

A Fall Weekend in the Adirondacks

Fall tree in the
We spent this past weekend in Upstate NY, more because we had to than because we wanted to.  There was lots of rain and a possible hurricane in the weather forecast, but we were running out of time to get our boat our of the water for the season.  Lately, going away just hasn't been as appealing to me.  I am reluctant to be further away from my mom.  But, upstate we went, and, surprisingly enough, we were rewarded with a wonderful fall weekend.

October 5, 2015

A Few Fall Favorites & Finds

The mountains are calling throw pillow with fall foliage -
Last week, I found myself in Marshalls with the intention of looking at shoes. I was on the hunt for new boots for fall.  On the way into the store, I told myself that I should not/would not go near the home stuff because I DO NOT need another throw pillow.  Or mug.  And yet I somehow ended up at the register with this pillow in my cart.  And no boots.  I spotted the pillow out of the corner of my eye and it was just so perfect that it had to come home with me.  Plus, it cost significantly less than the boots I considered.   And throw pillows just make me happier than shoes.  I am weird that way.  And that very same day, I also brought home yet another mug from Target.  I love the "warm and cozy sentiment".

October 1, 2015

Caramel Apples (and a giveaway!)

Fall is our family's favorite time of year and since our boys have been little, we have started a few traditions that we look forward to every year.  One of these traditions is making Caramel Apples when we bring back loads of apples from the pick-your-own apple orchard that we visit every year.  I love that this tradition has stayed, even as my boys have grown older.  It is an activity we all enjoy.  One of my concerns, as a mom, is what exactly all that ooey gooey caramel is doing to all of our teeth!  Fortunately, brushing with Aquafresh® toothpaste twice a day can put my mind at rest to allow us all to enjoy sweet treats in moderation, especially on Halloween.

September 30, 2015

Fall Front Door & An Update

 I added a few fall touches to our front entry.  This is our first fall with the black door and I am loving it.  Our fall wreath really pops against it.  Golden retriever in front of fall front

September 23, 2015

Fall Home Tour Part 2 {Kitchen and Living Room}

Happy first official day of Autumn!  Today, we are upstairs in our open floor plan kitchen/living/dining space.  I lightened up the look in here with some color.  I brought in lots of yellow to cheer up the space this year.
Tray from HomeGoods on Ikea Hemnes coffee table with planked top and Target Southwest throw

September 21, 2015

Fall Home Tour Part One {Family Room & Entryway}

Fall is always my favorite season and our family room is my favorite spot to decorate for fall each year.  Welcome!
Fall mantel decor on stone fireplace with Birch Lane antler pillow and vintage paint by

September 10, 2015

Our New Normal

I always look forward to a fresh start in September.  A new school year brings new routines and cooler weather and new decor.  I am not sure I have ever craved a new season as much as I am this year after the summer we experienced.  Our boys are all back in school and we are all desperately trying to establish our new normal.

August 26, 2015

Pond House

Way back in the beginning of the summer, we rented a cabin on a private pond in the Adirondacks.  We were excited for a week of kayaking, fishing, and relaxing by the pond.

August 19, 2015

Our Summer Kitchen

I am really trying to get back in the swing of things here on the blog, and I just realized that I never published this post of our summer kitchen.  I realize that everyone is focused on back to school and fall, but I thought I would share these summer kitchen pictures anyway.  Better late than never?

August 10, 2015

Thank You & an Update

I owe each and every one of you a huge thank you for all the love and support you showed me in regards to my mom’s stroke. Your comments and e-mails wrapped me in a hug when I needed it most. I will never again just think of this blog as a place to share home decor ideas. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

As for my mom, she has spent the last 3 weeks in an acute rehab hospital (Kessler). Slowly, she is making steps towards recovery. She is struggling to regain her speech. As a result of her stroke, she has developed expressive aphasia. This means she understands everything going on around her, and she certainly has a lot to say, but she just can’t get it out. My mom is a major communicator and this is, by far, the most frustrating thing for her. And all of us who love her. She is also working on trying to walk in physical therapy and learning to take care of her own needs in occupational therapy. She is so very motivated to get better and she is an inspiration to us all. It will be a long, slow process but she is definitely making progress.

Although we have stumbled along the way, we are learning new ways to communicate. Even before she started saying words, she was smiling and occasionally laughing, as well as crying and shaking her fist to show her frustration. I was able to sit in on a speech therapy session the other day and was thrilled to hear my mom say, “I love you” as well as all of my kids’ names. My new heroes are the therapists that are working with her. Kelly, her speech therapist, was the the first person who was able to give me hope a few days after mom arrived at rehab. She told me she thought my mom would say a word by the end of the week. And she was right. Until that time, no one was able to give us any indication of when- or even if- mom would recover. There were many dark and scary days when all we could do was put one foot in front of the other. I can’t imagine how I would have gotten through those days without my husband, Billy, or my brother and sister-in-law. It has been a roller coaster of emotions and I am sure it will continue to be in the months to come.

My mom re-married a couple of years ago and I have been so very grateful to her husband, Ray, for the wonderful life she has enjoyed with him. However, watching him take care of my mother these past few weeks has taken that appreciation to a whole new level. Ray also has 3 daughters who love my mom dearly. At Kessler, they keep telling us that family support is a huge factor in a stroke patient’s recovery. I sure hope they are right because my mom has a lot of support!

The next step in her journey will be spending a few weeks in a sub-acute rehab facility before returning home and continuing outpatient rehab. I will post more about her recovery as we go. And I hope to get back to somewhat regular posting about home decor soon. Fall is just around the corner and it is my favorite season for decorating! Thank you all again.

August 4, 2015

Keeping Teens Energized with HORMEL® REV® Wraps & A Giveaway!

It seems like my 3 boys are always on the go.  Especially as they get older, they pass through the house on their way from one activity to another.  Each of my boys is active in different ways, including sports, motocross, part-time jobs, etc.  The thing that they share in common is that they are all always HUNGRY!  I need ways to provide them with portable snacks that will sustain them without filling them up with empty calories.  HORMEL® REV® Wraps are the perfect portable go to snack for my on-the-go teens. Made with real meat, real cheese and real protein,  REV® Wraps were created to give moms and teens more real options for snacking.  For Those Who are Hungry™.

Each REV® Wrap contains at least 12 grams of protein and they can be eaten hot or cold.  With 14 different varieties of REV® Wraps, and 4 varieties of REV® AM Wraps, there is sure to be one your kids love.  You can find the whole list of varieties here.  My oldest (17) prefers the bacon club flavor, right out of the fridge on his way right out the door.  REV® Wraps are a great alternative to empty calories snacks.

July 22, 2015

Life Changes in an Instant

Hello friends. I have tried to write this post many times in my mind, but today I hope I find the strength to type it out and actually hit publish. On July 4, we celebrated my mom's 70th birthday with a bbq at my brother's lake house. She was feeling great and I remarked to her that I hope I could jump in & out of a boat with as much ease as she could when I turn 70. Two days later, while spending time at the Jersey Shore with friends, she suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke. Just like that, our whole world tilted.

She was in the hospital for 3 days in ICU followed by 5 days in a step down unit. She is currently in a rehab center working very hard to regain her life. She still remains paralyzed on her right side and she cannot speak at all. I am struggling to find balance between being there for my mom and being a mom to my 3 boys. We are taking things one day at a time. It is hard.

I hope to have life return to some sort of a new normal soon. Until then, I will be taking a break from blogging, other than a couple of things I was previously committed to. If you can spare a few thoughts & prayers for my mom, they would be greatly appreciated. xo Courtney

June 23, 2015

Summer Changes in our Living Room & Entryway

My boys will finally be beginning their summer vacation tomorrow.  Thanks to a rough winter, there were several days tacked on to the end of the school year and they have definitely not been happy about that.    
Living Room with striped drapes and Ikea

June 18, 2015

Summer Cottage Garden Party: Pool & Patio Ideas

Today, I am joining in with a Summer Cottage Garden Party, hosted by Brenda at Cozy Little House. I am going to share some pictures of the most used area of our yard during the summer months, our pool area.  We always start by power washing this entire patio right after we open the pool.  It is crazy how much dirt collects over the winter and it all looks so much better after the washing.  

June 10, 2015

Summer Changes in our Family Room

I recently changed things up in our family room for summer and added some cabin style decor to remind us of our favorite place to be in the summer, the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate NY.  I like to spread the furniture out in this room when we aren't spending as much time around the fireplace.  It isn't quite as cozy, but this room always feels so much larger arranged this way.Family room with stone fireplace and cabin style

June 8, 2015

Mixing Colors and Patterns in the Bedroom with JCPenney & A Giveaway!

When it comes to home decor, mixing colors and patterns is just about my favorite way to add personality and my own unique stamp to a room.  This week, our master bedroom got a whole new look.  Lately, I have been loving the color combination of deep blue mixed with a bit of orange and I decided to make that the inspiration for our new bedding.  When I spotted the Adana bedding from The Eva Longoria home™ collection at JCPenney, I knew it would be the perfect starting point.

June 2, 2015

Outdoor Patio Ideas

Our family loves spending time on our outdoor patio.  It is a covered space so there is shade from the hot sun and a fan to provide a cool breeze.  

May 22, 2015

Life 'Round Here - Lilacs, Allergies & A Few New Gray Hairs

Hello!  It feels like it has been so long since I blogged.  I wasn't planning a break but life just seemed to get in the way.  I have been battling a terrible spring cold that I am still not quite over.  A spring or summer cold always seems more offensive than a winter cold to me.  In winter, it seems almost expected but when the weather is warm there are so many more things to be DONE!

May 21, 2015

Making the Most of Summer with Kellogg's & $100 Walmart Gift Card Giveaway

Summer is an exciting time filled with vacations, staycations, trips to the pool, and loads of fun!  It lasts just a few months, but the memories made will last a lifetime.
Kelloggs cereal in a

May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

My mother and I spent a lovely day together in Clinton, NJ this week to celebrate Mother's Day.
Red mill Clinton

May 4, 2015

Taking a Moment with Pepperidge Farm® Milano® Cookies & $100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway!

I am all about the simple little pleasures in life that make a huge difference in my day.  As the mom of 3 growing boys, and wife to a police officer husband whose work schedule changes from day to day, I have learned to carve out a few minutes to myself during the day to re-charge.  Because life sometimes gets overwhelming.  And we deserve a break, right?  Simple things like fresh flowers, a good book and a sweet treat can go a long way in reducing stress. Taking a little break just makes the whole day better.

May 2, 2015


I am not sure I remember ever enjoying a spring as much as we are this year.
After the long winter, we are just so happy to get outside.  We have been enjoying our evening walks in the woods.  I often take pictures when we are in Upstate NY, but I am trying to appreciate more of the beauty right here in NJ so I have been bringing my camera along.

April 23, 2015

Revisiting the Master Bathroom & Our 2 Year Blogiversary

It's hard to believe that our DIY master bathroom is now two years old.  I count the day that I posted pictures of our bathroom reveal as the official start of this blog, so today marks two years of Golden Boys & Me as well.  Phew, that went fast!

April 21, 2015

Living with Ikea Chairs (Real Life Review)

Honest review of Ikea chairs in a house full of kids and
I think it's probably clear from our many references to Ikea on this blog that we are huge fans of the store.  We love that we can customize their items to give them our own personal touch (Kitchen Island, Mudroom, Coffee Table), all while staying within our limited home design budget.  Today I want to talk about something I get asked about frequently, the Ikea chairs we have in our home.  Our very first Ikea chair purchase was the Ektorp chair, about 8 years ago.  Truth be told, we didn't have high expectations for the chair.  We had just moved into our current house and we needed an affordable chair for our small family room.

April 17, 2015

Adding Curb Appeal with New Shutters

We are so excited about the new facelift our house has gotten just in time for spring!  After we painted our front door a few weeks ago, the rest of the house was looking a bit shabby.  As with so many of our home improvement projects over the years, we fix one thing and that leads to many more projects.  When The Tapco Group contacted us about working together on a project, it could not have come at a better time.  Discosure: The Tapco Group sent us the shutters for this post. We received no other compensation and we always give our honest opinion.

April 15, 2015

Connecting Families with HomeTeam™ & A Giveaway!

Growing up, my grandmother lived just upstairs from me, in the same house as my family.  I have such wonderful memories of the time spent with my grandma.  Whether we were playing card games, board games or reading a story together, it seemed that my grandma always had time for me.  I am positive that I wouldn't be the avid reader I am today if it weren't for her.  But times have changed.  Even though my kids' grandparents live a little over an hour away, I want them to have the same sort of relationship that I had with my grandma.  Thanks to the wonderful technology available today, my kids keep in touch with their grandparents mainly through texting.  Which is why I am so excited about Panasonic's new app, called HomeTeam™.

April 9, 2015

Spring Master Bedroom

Spring master bedroom with mint and coral
We lightened up our bedding for spring in our master bedroom.  It felt so good to pack away the flannel sheets and we look forward to sleeping with the windows open soon.

April 4, 2015

Happy Easter!

Signs of spring are finally everywhere.  We have been excitedly preparing for Easter Sunday.  Our Easter preparations always include a trip to the neighborhood near where I grew up.  I received a chocolate Easter bunny from Genevieve's Home Made Chocolates in Garfield, NJ every year and now my kids do too.  It's a holiday tradition for us and I hope this store never closes.  The chocolate is, by far, the best I have ever tasted.  Godiva?  No thanks.  For us, it's always been about Genevieve's and I love supporting a small family business.  The shop is always filled with customers from miles and miles around who, like us, return to the old neighborhood for their holiday chocolate.

April 2, 2015

Kitchen Dish Towels Turned Kitchen Curtains

Turn kitchen dish towels into curtains.  Easy & affordable
I have mentioned {quite frequently} my love of kitchen towels.  I love that they are usually affordable and they add style to the kitchen.  And they are useful.