Monday, June 29, 2015

Adding Artwork to Office: Minted



I'm so close to being done with decorating my office.  The last thing remaining is putting up artwork on the bare walls.  Minted, which is a marketplace of independent artists, has such a great collection of abstract, graphic, drawing, mix media prints that come in many different sizes.  I am looking to do an art gallery on one of the walls, so Minted is a great one-stop resource.


When shopping online, sometimes it's hard to picture how random art pieces would go together.  What is great is if you sign up on Minted, you can create gallery boards to help you see the big picture.  I really like to mix art pieces of abstract with font sayings and then lifelike pieces like Float Wall.  

And since this seems to be a year of weddings for me to attend, check out Minted's newest collection of save-the-date cards.  How gorgeous are these?!  Save-the-date cards are essential and a great way to give your guests the heads-up.  



Thank you Minted for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.  


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Backyard Landscaping Revealed

stone patio, backyard landscaping, renovation, before and after

We have undergone a massive backyard landscaping project--going from a dirt hill to a beautiful flagstone patio.  To see our vision come to life has been very exciting!  Latham Landscape was wonderful to work with and was able to see the big picture, when all it was was just a pile of dirt and low shrubs.  They worked with our designs and made it happen!  Our house was built on a hill, so the "no" backyard was the problem child to the property and was on our major "to-do" list.  Although we had many challenges to overcome, we were able to see that there was potential and could be a great investment.  Our property backs up to a historical river and walking trails so we love how private and secluded it feels, especially now that we can go outside and enjoy it!

Resources are listed below.

Here are some of BEFORE pictures:




As you tell from the BEFORE pictures, we had quite the height and hill drop!  Not really a place to hang out and not to mention all the bugs, critters and snakes back there!  So our goal was to create a way to get from the driveway to the backyard, and to fix the erosion problems we started to have.  We knew we wanted a patio to hang out, a stone fire pit and a little grass section where the kids could run and play.  We have a small natural spring head that begins in our backyard, so we decided to play it up and make it into a pretty stream.

white sectional, black and white outdoor, stone patio, fire pit, backyard landscaping



As you can see we had to build a few big retaining walls because of the grade.  We planted tea oils behind the 7' retaining walls so in a few years it will be covered in white flower bushes.  We have some tall trees right behind our house, which creates a lot of shade so we planted hostas, rhododendrons, hydrangea, tea oils, mondo grass.  For the grass we used Bermuda sod. 

stone patio table and chairs, black and white outdoor, plants, backyard, landscaping




We wanted to match the style of our southern home to the patio, so using the same flagstone from our front porch was very important.



The patio receives quite a bit of sun so we planted roses, peonies, gardenias, a miniature magnolia tree, daylilies.



Potted lavender, hydrangea and hyacinth plants line the patio.  We also placed lanterns for lighting and citronella candles to ward off mosquitos.  Our landscaper did low-voltage lighting all around the backyard, spotlighting trees and on the stone steps so we can enjoy the patio at night.  I highly recommend lighting when doing a backyard renovation.  Since the patio is right below a hill, our landscaper also made sure proper drainage was installed so there are no puddles.  




All photography (except before pictures) by Tucker Photography.

Sources List:

All design plans by me and my husband
Landscape execution: Latham Landscape (GA)
Flagstone, steps, rocks and most rock materials available at Home Depot
Many of the plants used available at Home Depot
Low-voltage lights: Home Depot
Ground-covering: Home Depot

Patio Furniture List:
Lounge Furniture: Solano Sectional World Market (on sale!) 
Green Pillows and Flower Pillows: World Market
Black and White Striped Sunbrella Pillows and Cushions: Ballard Designs 
White Sunbrella Umbrella: Ballard Designs 
Patio Table: Target
Patio Chairs: Target
Lanterns, white candle holders: Target

Outfit:
Black and White Knit Dress: Anthropologie
Bar Necklace: Darleen Meier Jewelry
Turquoise Earrings: Darleen Meier Jewelry

If you have any questions, let me know!




Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fourth of July Shaved Ice


Red, white and blue shaved ice is a perfect frozen treat to share at your Fourth of July barbecue this year. I am sharing homemade fruit syrups to smother all over your snowball.  Check out my post over at How Does She.  All the recipes are found over there.  And of course I made it with natural sweeteners.  Yum!






Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Summer Sale


Summer Sale happening over at my shop.  Many pieces have been marked down.  Take advantage of the discount while supplies last.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Healthy Strawberry Jam

strawberry jam, homemade, recipe, healthy

It's a rule in our house: when you pick strawberries, you have to make grandma's homemade strawberry jam.  Because every bite is just so good.  On toast, ice cream, bagels, pB&J, right off the spoon.  So, here's the problem.  At least for me, who really pays attention what I eat, the recipe is packed with sugar and corn syrup.  And sugar and corn syrup doesn't look good on me and also I don't really want all that sugar in my kids.  So, I had to tell my mom that her family recipe was going to get hacked into a healthy recipe...at least by me.


For the sugar substitute, I've been using SteviaLeaf's Sweetleaf, which is stevia mixed with raw cane sugar.  Raw sugar is healthier than refined sugar because it hasn't been processed with additives and easier for body to digest. If you are familiar with the taste of stevia, it usually leaves an aftertaste but I haven't noticed that with Sweetleaf.  I like how I can use it for baking.  

After you make this yummy, healthy jam, don't forget to print up the labels.



Freezer Strawberry Jam

6 3/4 cups crushed strawberries (I like to blend mine)
1/2 cup frozen organic white grape juice or apple juice concentrate
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup of SweetLeaf (or another natural sweetener like honey, coconut sugar.  Adjust for taste)
Fruit pectin (follow recipe)

Instructions 
Combine crushed strawberries, juice concentrate, water, lemon juice and sugar until it dissolves.  Slowly heat medium on stove and add fruit pectin.  Follow the instructions for pectin. Pour into prepared jars.  Leave 1/3 space if you plan to freeze so jam can expand.  Refrigerate until cool.  Label, then freeze.  





Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Mother Daughter Tea Party

tea party, mother daughter party, brunch tea
Tea Set: Home Goods

This past weekend we held a mother daughter tea party at our house for our activity days--a young girls group at our church.  We served the finest and largest variety of herbal teas around.  A couple of sugar cubes did the trick and made it sweet so the girls would drink their tea.  The girls came dressed in southern-style dresses with their mothers dressed in heels and red lipstick.  Brunch was served with sweet cinnamon rolls, banana bread, fresh fruit, tea sandwiches and deviled eggs.  The mothers were able to take home tiny flower bouquets in white doily-like vases and sweet notes from their daughter(s).  If only we could have tea time every day how lovely that would be!








Homemade Blueberry Gelato


Berry season is here!  So to celebrate, I posted a yummy recipe over at How Does She making homemade gelato and using fresh blueberries.  This recipe make a creamy and rich frozen treat.  I also put down healthy substitutes to make the recipe still full of flavor, but lower in calorie and sugar free.  This is a perfect summer treat!



Friday, May 22, 2015

Fashion Post: White Midi Skirt + Watercolor Heels

white midi skirt, fashion post, watercolor pumps, kate spade, summer style
Shirt: HM || White Midi Skirt: HM (similar) || Watercolor Shoes: Kate Spade (similar) || 
Pink suede bag: Vintage
Cuff bracelet: Darleen Meier Jewelry (similar

If you need a little freshening up for your spring/summer wardrobe, pick up a white midi skirt. This simple, modest piece goes with so many tops.  I've worn mine with a denim button-up shirt tied at the bottom, graphic t-shirt tucked in, or a simple black top.   The watercolor bow-tie heels from Kate Spade add the perfect touch of elegance.  Or for a casual style, wear with espadrilles or Van sneakers.  I styled the rest of the outfit with a vintage suede hot pink hobo bag that I've had for many years and love when I get the opportunity to use.  The cuff bracelet is from my shop.  But sometime my pieces sell before getting them on the site, so the Indigo bracelet is similar.  Midi skirts are comfy and they show the skinniest part of our legs.  Even better.






Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Life as Mom Lately



Happy Mother's Day to all mothers, grandmothers, nannies, role models, and all women who play important roles in children and adult lives!  I had a beautiful Mother's Day this year.  Nothing too special, but just a day I got to fully spend with my family.  I love the little things my children did for me that they knew would bring a smile to my face.  I haven't been very personal on my blog in a long time and have change the tone and direction of the posts on my blog.  But I do want to say that I love my most important role in life and that is being a mother to my children.  They are my pride and joy!  They make my life complete and are my everything.  I have learned so much from them.  Mostly, how I can be a better person and the weaknesses I have and need to make stronger.  Also, how I can be a better mother, sister, friend and overall better person.




Honestly, life as Mom as been a difficult balancing act for me this year.  I feel like I am coming to an end of the baby years and entering the pre-teenage years.  While at the same time for me, I'm grappling with the thoughts of what am I going to do next since I'm not going to be pregnant, nursing or chasing a toddler anymore.  My last child is coming out of the baby stage and requests more independence while still needing a lot of attention.  And my oldest is entering middle school and processing the rapidly-changing world around her while still having quite a bit of innocence in her.  Each one of my children have different strengths and emotions, and each need to be loved and discipled different from each other.  I feel like daily I need to constantly be paying attention to those signals in my children so I don't miss an opportunity to teach and love.  I want to protect and be their guardian from dangers of the world; however, I know that is not possible so I just want to do my best, teach them properly, love them unconditionally and give all of me to them...and I hope I don't screw up along the way. 







I will say that I do a lot of praying to God about each one my children--asking for guidance, wisdom and direction, ways to handle different situations and lots of forgiveness...because many times I screw up.  Anyway, motherhood has been a huge learning process and continues to be so.  But it is also one of the greatest gifts I cherish.



You can see some of my past mother's day posts:

Coral for Mother's Day
I am a Mom

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