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What are YOU doing this summer...

I got this great idea from a favorite blog.

Our family has always had a less formal list of what we wanted to do over summer vacation. When I saw that Meg had posted her kids' summer list on the family chalkboard, I knew that this year we would do the same.

Most of the year, this chalkboard (in our mudroom) lists each of my girls' chores. Needless to say, they were thrilled to be able to erase the chore list and replace it with all the fun things they want to do this summer.

I will return next week with pictures from the Cottagewood 4th of July celebration! Have a wonderful weekend everyone.


Independence Day....................

I love the Fourth of July. Little did I know when we moved into our neighborhood that the neighborhood 4th of July celebration dates back decades. Many people who grew up in this neighborhood now bring their children to spend the day in Cottagewood (yes, that is coincidently what my neighborhood is called - that alone sold me on the house!).

The morning begins with a bike/pet/make-shift float parade. The parade is followed by the reading of the Declaration of Independence where upon it's conclusion signals the start of the "carnival" - really all sorts of old fashioned games in our neighborhood park - complete with a dunk tank! Our neighborhood general store grills hamburgers and hot dogs, parents socialize, kids eat too much sugar, get all sweaty from running around so much (probably have a couple of meltdowns)....a good time is had by all!

We are kicking off the weekend on Friday by hosting a good old fashioned barbeque in our backyard with some friends and lots of kids.

Nothing gets a backyard in shape like the prospect of hosting a party in the near future. My husband can attest to this, his "honey-do" list was particularly long this weekend.

How do you plan to spend this weekend? Join me in remembering the brave men and women who have served and are currently serving in our military - to them we owe our independence....


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Help Wanted: A beautiful and functional laundry room, Please Inquire Within.

We have owned nine homes since we have been married and our current cottage has just about the nicest (and most spacious) laundry room of 'em all. Unfortunately I haven't done a darn thing with it.


I think I am paralyzed by my desire to create the "laundry room of my dreams" - whatever that means.

Needing a kick in the (dirty) pants, so to speak, I looked to the net for inspiration.

What I know for sure:

1. I will paint the existing cabinets creamy white and change the hardware.
2. I will remove the cabinet doors below the sink and add a skirted bottom instead.
3. I will add storage, perhaps shelving.

What I am thinking about:

1. Beadboard paneling?
2. Paint colors?
3. Goovy wall mounted drying rack from Ballard Designs or find a vintage one (I know I have seen them!)
4. iPod docking station - makes folding go faster.

Below are some laundry rooms that might make this dreaded chore enjoyable, or at least tolerable.

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....I'm a neutral kind of gal......

Not long ago I never met a color I did not like - and the decor in my home spoke to this. I would contemplate what color to paint each individual room - usually choosing bold colors such as red, yellow and green.

Not so much anymore. The predominant color used in our cottage is "Gentle Cream" by Benjamin Moore with a bit of "Hazy Skies" thrown in for good measure.

I love the serenity of a white/cream/tan-toned home. Of course I use color, but only in accessories, pillows, drapes and things that are more easily changed than paint.

To prevent my neutral palette from looking flat, I use lots of textures and sparkle. Sisal rugs, linen, glass, baskets, burlap, organic/natural items such as shells, rocks, flowers all provide a needed balance against white walls and furnishings.

I loved this cottage featured on - it speaks to my love of a serene neutral home. Notice how much texture is incorporated into the design!

Have a lovely day!

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Accessories, you can never have enough!

Remember this photo of my loot from the Farm Chicks Antiques Show?

Back when I posted this picture, I promised to show you how I incorporated these new treasures into my home.

First, let me share one of my main philosophies on decorating your home - and let me remind you I am not a professional. This is just my "girlfriend-next-door", "works for me" philosophy (I think many fancy-shmancy decoraters would disagree with me).

Here it goes....the accessories you put in your home provide the all important personalization that makes your home your own. Collections, photos, mementos from travels, kids art, grandma's tea cup, found items from nature etc...meaningful items for YOU make your home personal and relevant to only you.

I am always surprised at how many people fret over what sofa or chair they will put in a room but never use personal accessories after the sofa and chair have been delivered! The accessories you "decorate" with absolutely make the spaces in you home feel cozy and homey.

What does Oprah say? "Your home should rise up to greet you". I truly believe this. My home has many collections. Nothing is in my home "just because", every item has meaning to me and my family.

***Remember I am not a professional - I will most likely not be the Next Design Star with this philosophy, but I am just saying.....

There was a wonderful vendor at the show who made these adorable nests. She had nests of every size, I chose this one to add to my ever growing collection.

The coffee sack pillow I purchased from Barn House is a favorite purchase and now sits happily on my slipcovered rocker in my living room (sorry for the bad picture, I am playing with my camera!).

This architectural piece was not pictured above in the loot photo (it came home and immediately was set on top of my front door - I love it!

I managed to purchase and bring home three pillows from the show. Two of the pillows - a wonderful old ticking stripe and a old linen piece with an "H" monogrammed on it have found a home on our bed.

I love the subtle layer the new pillows provide against my all white Shabby Chic linens and white antique euro linens.

And finally, while not purchased at the Farm Chicks show, I wanted to show you this sweet little pine piece I bought locally and placed on top of my secretary. I love the little drawers to keep notecards and extra cords in (my laptop is stationed in the secretary). I found this piece at a wonderful store called Style Minneapolis. It's owner was nice enough to open the store for me and an out of town friend to shop on a day when she is normally closed. I hope to return with my camera and share with you some photos of this beautiful shop.

Want to transform, change your home - either for good or seasonally? Add some accessories that YOU love....

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....... Pillow love ....

Remember when I blogged about my admiration (followed by willpower, after I walked out of the store without purchasing) for this pillow at Anthropologie???

Well, here is the pillow resting comfortably on my living room couch. The pillow is happy there, as happy as I am to have it there. Shopping at Farm Chicks has caused a massive rearrangement in my home and "required" a new pillow arrangement. Am I the only one that does this? Please say no so I don't feel like a big wierdo.

Have a wonderful summer weekend everyone!

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I'm a copy cat..

I loved the Barn House space at the Farm Chicks show for many reasons. I found myself going back to the space many times over because there was just so much to take in.

I especially loved the buckets (pictured above) that were placed on top of a cabinet - what another fun use for chalkboard paint! Plus, I am a sucker for using words....

Well, guess what?

I had just so happened to have purchased a few galvanized buckets in Minnesota a couple weeks before the Farm Chicks show. I knew that I would copy this terrific idea - thanks Jermonne and Joe!

Here is my version as it sits on my front porch!

All I did was use painters tape and taped off a rectangle (mine is not even straight!) and slapped a few coats of chalkboard paint on, peeled the tape off and ta-dah! Mine says, "Welcome" but you could also write your house number, last name or personal messages for visiting guests.

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Occasional Sales

Occasional sales, flea markets, junk markets, call them what you want, it seems that sales of vintage goods that take place only certain days of the month are all the rage these days. The concept seems to make sense....smaller overhead for sellers, an opportunity to collect vintage finds and create buzz about upcoming sales. Works for me!

Country Living magazine ran a story about the growing popularity of occasional sales in the July issue, my new friend Kasey's sale (Lola B's) is highlighted! I can't imagine that these types of sales won't be popping up all over the country.

For me, I really became aware of occasional sales when I moved to Minnesota over a year ago. They are quite popular here. I managed to find some great sales in the town of Carver. My favorite "Mustard Moon" is open just 4 days a month (Thursday - Sunday). The line of shoppers is always quite long right before the Thursday morning opening. You just can't beat the prices and unique treasures you just don't find at the big box stores. I often see shop owners from Minneapolis in Carver. They often buy up all the best goods quickly. I know that they will be in their stores for double the price within days.

How about where you live? Do you shop occasional sales, garage sales, flea markets? Are you thinking of starting to host your own occasional sale?

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@House Beautiful...

If you are one of the 10 people (and that includes my friends and my mom) who have been reading my blog you know how much I miss my decorating shelter mags, especially Cottage Living. My mailbox is woefully empty these days.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by the July 2009 issue of House Beautiful. House Beautiful, while perfectly lovely to look at, the homes featured usually feel overly designed and decorated to me.

Because they are featuring small spaces this month I think the whole issue just felt more accessible. They even speak to my love of all things cottage, particulary "Small and Rugged" (oh, I just looked and the "house" is actually a guest cottage - oops, I suppose it is accessible if you are staying with the people who live in the fancy schmancy BIG house).

I also love the quaint but oh so glamorous "Small and Flirty" city townhouse featured. Check out the gorgeous hot pink french chairs at their game table! Love how the designer mixed hot pink with the blue and white Asian porcelain pieces!

Also check out the fabulous memo board in the kitchen. And no, I don't have any pictures to post of these rooms - I can't scan and the pictures are not on the website yet.

Just go check out the mag and enjoy....

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My loot....and another great sale to check out!

As promised, here is a picture of most of the great loot I scored at the Farm Chicks sale. Turns out I bought three pillows! And see those great baskets? I intend to make those into pendants lights for over my kitchen island... I promise to show you how I incorporate all these great items into my home.

Now, I know the blogs are buzzing (including this one) about the great time had by all at the Farm Chicks sale. And I know many of you were not able to just drop everything and run off to Spokane for the weekend.

There are many great sales around this wonderful country of ours and one of them happens to be right here in Minnesota.

Ki Nassauer of Junk Market fame will host her 4th annual "Junk Bonanza" on September 17-19th right here in the good old center of the country. I went to the show last year and it was great, very similar to the Farm Chicks as the dealers come with their very best stuff. This year promises to be even better with a move to a bigger venue.

I will be junking at the Bonanza....think about joining me!

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Friends Make it Fun!

My slight obsession with all things related to "feathering my nest", including hunting for vintage treasures and unique decorative items makes me, me. It is part of who I am and I am pretty sure it always has been - beginning long ago when I painted white clouds on my bedroom walls and then would arrange and rearrange the furniture and accessories.

But, as you know, our family has moved around a bit.

And in addition to my children making new friends, I have had to make them too.

And while I always manage to meet perfectly nice, smart, funny, talented women, I find it hard to find many that share my "obsession".

These new friends always ooh and ahh when they come into my house (well many, some just don't "get" it) - most have absolutely no desire to pick through old barns, antique store etc...looking for that perfect chippy corbel or galvanized metal bucket I find so wonderful!

So this past weekend was a treat. Not only was I in the company of long-time friends (and some new friends too) but friends who can appreciate a great find - who have fabulous taste and can spot the perfect decorative item a mile away! These women are great moms (who each were braver than me and had 4 children each) who I know feel that feathering their nests is not only part of expressing their love for their family but also a opportunity to express their creativity.

By the way, that's me on the far left side of the picture, with my girlfriends and my Barn House friends, celebrating Farm Chicks style!

Pictures of my "finds" and how I incorporated them into my home coming soon....

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Check out this Giveaway

Check out this super-duper giveaway at Sa-Sea Boutique. In honor of her 100th post she is giving away a $100 gift certificate to my new friend Kasey's (Lola B's) online boutique.

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Farm Chicks

Some photos taken with my iPhone - more to come later.....I just could not wait to share...

Call me biased, I am a fan of Barn House. Joe and Jermonne are creative talents who have a bright future ahead...Their booth at Farm Chicks did not disappoint. The booth itself felt like a small boutique filled with crazy fun vintage finds, from coffee sack pillows, displayed in a gigantic galvanized steel tub to shell topped bottles, topiaries, cabinets, and lanterns. The party the Barn House boys threw for 150 of their closest friends/customers wasn't too bad either!

I have always wanted an old laundry tub like this to use as a cooler for a summer outdoor party - too bad I was limited to a carry-on and one huge suitcase.

All in all the Farm Chicks offered something for everyone. While not all the booths were what I would call "my style", I could certainly appreciate that the dealers were bringing their best. Often that is not the case when out "hunting" local sales. Most likely the best part of going to a show like the Farm Chicks or any other larger national show is to be in the company of creative, like-minded people (mostly women). In our world of instant gratification, mass-produced, consumerism it is refreshing to see there are more creative alternatives to feathering our nests.

I left truly inspired...more to come.

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An Ending.....A Beginning......

Today is the last day of school (sigh)...

Next time I put my girls on the school bus, one will be beginning her last year of elementary school and my "baby" will be a second grader (sigh)....

I am panic stricken. Normally,I have planned a schedule of camps, classes, activities, but not this year.

This year we are wingin' it.

I am committed to use the phrase "go out and play" over and over, just like my mom did. Do you think it will work?

Or will I be calling and begging my way into camps and classes that were filled months ago.

So begins our summer....

As if you did not already know, I was at Farm Chicks this past weekend. I had such a great time with my friends Carrie, Meg and Carrie Lynn. I met some new friends too, talented women who I had admired in blogland. I was inspired by my friends Joe and Jermonne (Barn House) and Cindy (Tarte) - both their spaces were AMAZING, their creativity and energy are endless.

I promise to post pictures this week (while the kids are playing outside).

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I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane.....

It is only Tuesday but I can hardly stand it...I am heading to the Farm Chicks Antiques Show in Spokane Washington on Friday! I am really looking forward to meeting up with friends (I still hope that Fairy Godmother shows up for you Allie) and looking for some great vintage finds!

I was last at Farm Chicks three years ago and I expect this year will be very different with the move to the fairgrounds, not to mention all the great publicity the show has had during the last 3 years. I think Teri and Serena have some great plans for the new venue.

If you are going too, please leave me a comment on this post. I would love the opportunity to meet up with some of you!

I will be sure to post on my trip when I return!

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