Archive for the ‘Home Sweet Home’ Category

decorating our walls

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

I recently had art that the kids made at summer camp professionally framed. Each print was put in a 16 by 20 frame, and I’ve got three of them, which means I need a large amount of wall space to nicely display the pieces. I think we’re going to end up relocating some of our current art and picture frames in order to make the space, and it got me thinking about decorating the rest of our empty walls.

A few months ago, I bought a piece of absolutely gorgeous metal wall art that hangs over the love seat in our family room. It’s a candle holder, and with the black and white pictures of the kids I put underneath – well, it wows me every time I look at it! The trouble is, when you shop at the mall or local home decor stores for that kind of thing, you end up with a very limited selection. I shopped around for a long time before I found the piece I wanted. BY shopping online, you’ll not only find a lot of unique pieces, but you’ll be able to save money by not paying inflated mall prices. A good place to start is at – they have all sorts of metal wall art, including some pieces crafted out of iron. And while your local stores may only carry one of two styles, this site has all types of metal wall art, from traditional looking pieces, to contemporary pieces. I even found metal wall art with an Asian and African theme to it. It’s a nice switch from just having framed art in your home.

gonna die without my dvr

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

I’m all out of sorts today.

Two nights ago, we had a killer storm roll through, and by roll though, I mean that I expected lighting to hit my house. It was that close! The power went off and on several times, the dogs paced and barked, and the kids freaked out. It ended relatively quickly, and we went to bed. The next morning (uhh, that would be yesterday) I went to the garage to drive off to work and the garage door wouldn’t open.


I looked at the breaker box (conveniently located in the garage) and realized one of the breakers must have tripped during the storm. I tripped it and pulled out of the garage, but then my garage door clicky thing on my visor wouldn’t work, so I sent my oldest in to close the garage door with the button in the garage, and then she exited out the front door.

When Jim got home, his clicky thing worked, but he noticed the breaker was tripped again. He put it back into place and noticed the switch on the same wall (which controls a light on the outside of the house) was popping and smoking. And yes, our warranty on the house JUST ended in May. Perfect timing, right?

We figured no big deal – we can open and close the garage door manually, so it’s just a matter of getting an electrician out sometime this week, right? Well, until we realized that our family room is also on that breaker, and with it off, we can’t watch that TV. With the power off to the cable box, my DVR is off, and not recording. Basically, no TV on my schedule like I’m used to. I’m lost!

I put a call into a family friend who knows his way around an electrical panel, and you can imagine how anxiously I’m awaiting his call. This could be a sign that I watch too much TV, but I’m trying not to read too much into things.

turn a photo into a oil painting or watercolor!

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

I like art, and I love to decorate my home. After reading that statement, you’re probably thinking that my walls are covered in wall decor and art. Nope!

The reason that I don’t have more art in my house is that my husband and I argue constantly about the meaning of the word “art”. He defines art (for the home) as putting a Monet reproduction on the wall. I’d much rather have a piece of art that means something to ME. One of my very favorite framed pieces is a pencil drawing of my oldest daughter when she was about 2. We’ve got a print of our favorite Disney hotel in our dining room, and across the room is a framed picture of the falls at Niagara, and next to that is a drawing of a church we bought from a street vendor in Montreal. I just dropped off an order for some custom framing on water color prints the kids made in camp this summer.

When I look at this things, I’m happy. I’m reminded of the places we’ve been, the things that we’ve seen, and the people that we love. A reproduction of Water Lilies by Monet just wouldn’t inspire the same feeling in me at all!

That’s why I like the idea of a site like so much. They can take any photograph and turn it into art, worthy of being framed and hung in your home. I can have pet paintings made of Bailey and Lola, or have the family picture I took on my birthday turned into an oil painting or a watercolor. What makes PaintYourLife really unique is that everything is HAND painted. Anyone with the right program can scan you picture and give it the look of a painting, but PaintYourLife employs artists to craft a one of a kind, real painting for you. This also gives you a ton of customization options – because a real person is hand painting the art, you can combine 2 photos together, remove backgrounds, or even turn a black and white picture into a color painting. Think of all of the options that customization gives you. I could have a picture created of my dachshunds – the one I had back in 1993, and the one I have currently – even though the 2 dogs weren’t in my life at the same time. And as a mom, I know how difficult it is to get a great picture of the family where everyone is smiling. With PaintYourLife, I can send in 5 different pictures and have them combine it into the perfect family portrait. How about a composite of my 3 kids, as each looked on the day they made their 1st Communion? Or perhaps you had a parent pass away before your children were born…you can have a painting of your parents with their newborn grandchild.

Whatever you decide to do, you’ve definitely got options. You can have a charcoal drawing or pencil drawing done, or a watercolor, or even a rich looking oil painting. Take a look at the site (linked above) and see how neat these portraits are! This isn’t just something I’d like for myself, but it’s a great gift for grandparents, too! Instead of trying to get those grandkids who are scattered across the country in one location for a portrait, you can have them painted on a canvas. Here’s a cute little commercial to inspire you on your gift giving!

wholesale furniture broker

Monday, August 13th, 2007

I was watching an episode of Moving Up this weekend and one of the new homeowners bought a houseful of new furniture. I’ll admit to being a teeny bit jealous. We’ve still got hand me down furniture in 2 of the kids rooms, and I can’t wait to find something I love so that I can replace it. That’s the whole reason we haven’t bought anything yet – I haven’t found something I loved. We’ve made multiple trips to the chains around here and haven’t found anything yet. I checked out this wholesale furniture store online and was pretty impressed by the prices. When we last shopped children’s bedroom furniture, the cheapest grouping (bed, dresser, nightstand, desk, chair) was $1000. And most nice sets were closer to $2000! Of course, I wanted to know why could offer name brand furniture for so much cheaper than say, Rooms To Go or American Signature. Here’s why:

Our furniture brokers bring you near wholesale prices by eliminating unnecessary costs that retail stores must compensate for by charging higher prices. Retailers pay $7 – $50 per square foot a month depending on their location. That translates into 270% – 1000% markups. Our warehouse locations cost $.35 – $.70 per square foot a month and since they are only open to the public by appointment, utilities are low too. With expenses at a fraction of retailers’, our brokers deliver better value. The price you pay is for the actual items, not extravagant displays and expenses.

gowfbMake sense, doesn’t it? The modern bedroom furniture isn’t my style or taste at all, but I can still recognize that it’s something you won’t find in local chain stores, most of which offer 2 or 3 “modern” sets for you to pick from. Most reasonably priced furniture stores don’t carry so many name brand sets and pieces, either. If you’re leery of buying furniture you haven’t seen in person, you can contact to find the location of their nearest warehouse, so you can view the pieces in person. (They’ve got about 55 locations across the USA – including one in Tampa.)

Those of you who are long time readers will remember the many shopping trips we made last year to find dining room furniture for our home. We found that most furniture chain stores only carry a few pieces in each style – contemporary, traditional, etc. So at the most, we found 2 or 3 sets per store that would work for us. makes shopping for dining rooms a lot easier with the huge selection on their site – they’ve got 64 traditional tables on their site! I love how each product page has all of the measurements for the table, chairs, and other pieces in the set, as well as pictures of each piece – even close ups of the details on chairs, or the marble top on another piece. The product page also lists what each piece is made out of – most are hardwood solids and hardwood veneers.

If you’re ready to buy furniture online, the people behind this site is willing to bend over backward to make it as easy and pleasant as possible, to ensure that you’ll be thrilled with your new furniture.

home improvements

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

After our issues with Bailey last month and wondering if she was one sick puppy, I found myself wishing we had installed hardwood floors upstairs, if only to make it easier to clean up when the dogs are sick! The builder who did our home wanted entirely too much money to run the hardwood up the stairs and into the landing, so we decided to carpet that area, since the bedrooms upstairs were also carpeted. A year and one sick dog later, and I regret it. It’s definitely a project I’d like to do down the road, and it’s certainly not anything Jim can tackle on his own. Laminate – yes. Hardwood – no! That’s one of those home improvements best left to the experts. And having just moved to the town we live in last year, I don’t know who the local experts are. Those of you in the UK are able to turn to a reliable company like Anglian – they’ve been around for 40 years! Whether you’re interested in upgrading to double glazing to keep your home warm and cozy this window, or converting your garage into another bedroom, Anglian has impressed scores of UK homeowners over the years. They provide a 10 year guarantee on their work – more than most new homebuilders here!

cedar furniture

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

When I was a little girl, I remember 2 things about our yard. We had a big hammock, and a big cedar picnic table. I’m not quite sure what happened to either, but I guess that’s why I think, to this day, that the perfect back yard should have a hammock and cedar furniture. This outdoor patio furniture website has all cedar furniture, and a picnic table just like we used to have! How cute are these little cedar dog houses? The great thing about cedar, especially in Florida, is that it will stand up to the weather. And the western red cedar, which is used to craft those dog houses, can keep away fleas and ticks naturally. Again, in Florida, and living near the woods like we do, that’s a huge plus! The cedar also tends to stay cooler on hot sunny days, meaning your dog or cat can stay protected from the elements inside their pet house, all year long. And it smells good too – we had a cedar closet in our first house and was always so nice and cozy, and it kept the moths away too.

oriental rugs

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

My grandmother, now deceased, was the first one to introduce me to the concept of a rug versus wall to wall carpet. She had beautiful slate and parquet floors in her New Jersey home, and a different Oriental rug in each room. The living room and hallway had a beautiful rug with a deep red design, and her sewing room was a sweet, soft pink tone. I would have loved to have gotten one of those rugs aftr she passed away, not only because it was something from her home, but because I really did love the way they looked.

I think that’s what is missing in our house. Our entire downstairs is hardwood floors, and we don’t have any area rugs down. In part, because my dogs destroyed my last rug…HA! But I really do think that a rug warms up a room and defines your living space, and can change the entire look of a room, and anchor it. If only I could be sure the dogs wouldn’t uh…abuse the rug. LOL!

mortgage mart

Monday, July 16th, 2007

With the real estate market in a big slump here in Florida, I’d imagine that there’s quite a bit of competition between lenders and mortgage brokers for the folks that are buying new homes, or refinancing their current residences. is one of the online mortgage brokers trying to make a name for their site at this time,despite the slow sales in certain parts of the country. For most of us, buying a house is a trying time – not only are you attempting to find the perfect house, possibly sell your current home, navigate home inspections, worry about taxes – do you want to try to negotiate a mortgage on top of that? Of course not – you want a broker you trust to give you sound advice on the best mortgage for your needs. For some, it might be an interest only loan, and for others, an adjustable rate loan. A good lender will listen to what you need – more money in your pocket now? Are you only planning to stay in the home a few years? Should you put 20% down? After hearing what you need, the lender, like the people at Mortgage Mart, will tell you the best mortgage loan for your needs.

As their site points out, interest rates are lower than they were in the 90′s. And given that it’s a buyers market in many areas, this is a great time to own a house. Don’t think you can afford to buy? Find out for sure with a home loan quote from Mortgage Mart – you may just be surprised at what you can afford to buy.

This is a sponsored review.

moving up

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

I was watching Moving Up this week (love that show) and one of the couples was making the move from renting to buying. You could see how thrilled they were to finally be homeowners in the final reveal, when they showed off their RED living room walls and purple bedroom. Guess they were happy to finally be able to paint over white walls!

And honestly, why rent when you can own? We’ve rented a house only once, and that was when we had sold our last home and we were waiting for our new one to finish construction. Even then, knowing that we were spending $1000 a month and it was going into someone else’s pocket – well, it turned my stomach a little. Sure, you’ve got to have insurance and you’ve got to pay taxes and maintain your home and property, but building equity makes it all worth it. And I’m not saying renting is a bad thing – if you gotta do it, you gotta do it. But if you CAN buy, and the timing is right, you should!

Right now, the market is hot for Asheville real estate. Lots of Floridians who are sick of hot summers and hurricanes are moving to the Asheville area and enjoying lower taxes, cheaper insurance, and a better resale market than Florida can offer right now. If the time is right for you, you can compare mortgage rates online to find a deal. I think North Carolina will continue to grow as people discover the mild winters and cooler summers…so why not capitalize on that future growth by getting into the market now?

faux lawn

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

Dude. It is HOT!

It’s summer in Florida, you say. What did I expect? It just never ceases to amaze me how stinking hot it gets outside. Add the 60% humidity to the 90 degree temperatures, and it’s amazing that our grass is still green. Even more amazing is that certain home owners associations (not mine, thankfully) are writing up homeowners for having dead grass and bare spots. Kind of silly that in a drought (one extreme enough for there to be a fireworks ban this year!) people are concerned with green grass, isn’t it? I remember a big stink here in Florida a few years back where one smart homeowner put artificial grass in his front yard. Much to my dismay, his neighborhood association made him remove it, because it wasn’t real. Uhh…isn’t that the point?

Personally, I think fake grass is a great idea! It looks real, it doesn’t need to be watered, it stays green all year long, and you never need to mow it. What’s not to love about that? If it’s good enough for the NFL, it’s good enough for me!

Ok, ok, so you don’t get the fresh cut grass smell, because fake grass doesn’t smell and you’re not mowing it, but I dunno, doesn’t Yankee Candle have a fresh cut grass scent?