around the house

Happy 2013! I hope each and every one of you had lovely holidays. We had my parents and sister down for a few days over Christmas and had a great time (though a bit squished with five adults and a large dog in our tiny house!). I’m very excited about 2013 and was not in the least bit sad to see 2012 close. Last year was so full of various downs (SH’s 11th hour deployment, Maverick being so ill right after we adopted him, my mom’s cancer diagnosis, and feeling plagued by things breaking down all year…), but I’m hopeful for this year. Especially since Miss Blueberry will make her debut in less than 3 months!

I have been fascinated by Fiestaware since I was about 8 or 10. I don’t remember where I first saw it: whether it was in a collectables magazine or at an antique store (one of our favorite rainy-day activities when I was growing up was to go to the local antiques mall. I was a lucky child! lol.). But the bright colors and vintage shapes caught my eye even at that young age! I don’t know why I didn’t have the foresight to start requesting place settings as gifts years ago, or even to have it on the wedding registry when SH and I got married (I was going through a weird, “I want to be modern” phase and we ended up with square plates that I think are ugly at this point–not to mention don’t fit in any microwave we’ve ever owned!). But our everyday dinnerware is starting to chip (I am not happy with that after only four years of use!), and we needed to start thinking about replacement. (Especially before I “accidentally” break another piece… Oops!)

Which has brought me back to Fiestaware! I’ve been scheming over colors for the past week, after I got a little Christmas spending money that was burning a hole in my pocket. hehe! I’m sticking to brand new pieces, since not only are the real-deal vintage pieces collectable (and therefore pricy), but there is also the issue of various colors being radioactive. The newer line (reintroduced in 1986) is of course devoid of the glaze problems and is also lead-free, and even a 5-piece place setting isn’t hugely unreasonable. After some consultation with my decorating-partner-in-crime (aka my mom!), I decided to go with two settings in Peacock (a bright blue) and two in Sunflower (a gorgeous yellow). (If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I originally purchased the Scarlet colorway instead of Sunflower, but decided after seeing everything in my kitchen that I liked the yellow better!)

The best prices I found online were either directly through Homer Laughlin’s website (I only wish their factory store in West Virginia was a closer drive!) or various department stores hosting after-Christmas sales (I ended up going with the department store option because I wouldn’t have to pay shipping). But the Homer Laughlin site has some great deals that I’m going to keep my eye on. Because now I need some serving pieces, salt and pepper shakers, and of course the iconic pitcher. I can’t wait to reshuffled my cabinets, say goodbye to the old (square and chipping) dinnerware, and add some Fiesta color to my kitchen!

I’m sure there are lots of other Fiestaware admirers and collectors who read this blog! I’d love to know what your favorite colors are; do you stick to just one or collect whatever catches you eye? (I have a feeling I’m going to end up in the latter category… hehe!)

January 2, 2013 · 99 lovely thoughts
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05.18.12 | pillow diy

Happy Friday, friends! I’m excited I finally have a little DIY for you (hopefully soon there will be some garment sewing DIYs coming…) Remember my pep talk post recently about decorating and getting started on covering up those ugly, beige accent pillows? I finally did just that! I’ll show you the fruit of my labors first and then there is a mini how-to further down for those who might be curious about the process. (Apologies in advance about the rumpled slip cover; it only stays un-rumpled so long with SH and the puppy!)

05.18.12 | pillow diy
05.18.12 | pillow diy

A nice little perk-up, no? I originally had grand plans for making plain pillow covers and stitching vintage hankies on, but SH deemed that idea a little too girly. (And since it’s his sofa too, I figure he gets say!) So I scaled it back a bit from the pinks, reds and exuberant florals I had wanted to use, and used an old tablecloth instead. Now, before my fellow vintage lovers want to bop me over the head for cutting up a vintage tablecloth: this one had some serious stains that would not come out despite my valiant efforts. So it had officially been banished to the “cutter” pile. I ended up using the four corners to avoid the worst stained portions, and like the effect of the oversized print and minimal color scheme.

The back of each pillow is a simple overlap style made out of an inexpensive canvas dropcloth from the hardware store, and embellished with a button from my stash. For days SH can’t take the vintage-pretty florals any longer, we can flip the pillows around to reveal the button placket backs. Clever, no? Now I just need to use the couple of smaller pillow forms my mom gave me during the winter and make some smaller accent pillows… It’s all about breaking up the massive size of this sofa!

05.17.12 | pillow diy

If you’d like to know how I made these (they’re super easy–I made all four in about the space of an evening!), be sure to click through the post-break below.

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May 18, 2012 · 17 lovely thoughts
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Before we moved here I was excited: a new home to decorate! How fun! Except once I realized how much stuff our little family had (both of us have hobbies, sports equipment, my clothes, his uniforms, rabbit stuff and now the puppy accouterments), and how little space we had since we had to downsize, I got discouraged. I knew logically things wouldn’t go in as seamlessly as they had into our Florida apartment because it was a different layout (much less open), but in my heart I was having a hard time with getting into the spirit of making this place our home. Which means that nearly six months after we moved in there are still pictures to be hung, the dining room set needs to be painted (cream and robin’s egg blue), and the sofa still needs accent pillows. The reason you’ve only seen the mantel area in the house? Besides the kitchen, that is the only spot I really feel is worth showing to the outside world–everything else is still a bit blah and unfinished.

Then I realized the other day why things were still in a half-finished state. I had fallen into that trap one can when renting: “we don’t own it, so why bother?” or “we’re only going to move eventually, so why put in the time/effort/money?”. I think this is especially easy if you live with a sense of impermanence due to a spouse’s job. But this is our home now despite it’s quirks, lack of storage and “cozy” layout. Our bedroom furniture may not fit well into our new master bedroom, the coat closet may be sorely lacking in size, or the dining room may have to share space with the dog’s crate, but it’s still home for right now. Not ideal, not the sort of place I’d buy if that’s what we were doing, but considering what else we could have ended up with it does for now! It needs a bit of personality though…

Which means that I have to get creative in a thrifty way to perk things up around here. I made a teeny list of spots I want to redo or add a bit of flair to. It makes it more tangible and–dare I say–exciting. I want to make this place a bit less “cramped-cozy” and more “homey-cozy”. The sort of place people don’t notice the wonky walls (bad past repair jobs) or the fact that our sofa is really too big for the space. Welcoming and comfortable, colorful and yet calming, a bit quirky too (anyone noticed the Captain America action figure on the mantle yet?).

I think this is a little pep-talk to myself. I get in ruts from time to time and get discouraged easily. This move and first six months have not been a shining moment in my life; and I feel bad that SH has had to come home from super-long days at work and deployments/training exercises to a house that still doesn’t feel like home. I know for him, it’s important to have that sense of calm and stability in his life since his work is so often the opposite. So here’s my little goal for the next six months: work on small ways to make everything fit (it’s like a jigsaw puzzle!), add some more color, finish those lingering projects, and for gosh sakes get the rest of the artwork on the walls (and maybe buy a few new prints on Etsy…)! lol.

First up: covering those ugly accent pillows on the sofa. The slipcover has been done for months, but the pillows remain uncovered. Yes, I’m showing you a picture of my rumpled, dog-slobbered sofa, topped with a quilt that has seen better days. That’s life right now with all it’s little warts and quirks. (See–I don’t have a Perfect Blogger Life by any means! lol.) I have a cute and wallet-friendly idea up my sleeve for those pillows though! (Aren’t they ugly??? Augh!) Stay tuned!

April 25, 2012 · 35 lovely thoughts
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09.16.11 | tearoom china

Tuesday I met a friend for a “farewell” outing (she is moving shortly). Now, our usual outings consist of thrifting, antiquing, knitting, geeking out about sewing or vintage fashion, and finding a good tea room for lunch. Usually a combination of the above. On this particular day, we were short on time, so a quick trip to the thrift shop down the street and lunch at a new-to-me tearoom was in order.

09.16.11 | tearoom china

One of our favorite spots to rummage at the thrift shop is the stacks of china. I, of course, am always secretly hoping to hit it “big” with a complete set of a pretty china pattern. I only have what I’d call practical dishware—no real pretty pieces to use for the occasional gatherings (or elaborate dinner parties I dream up but never host…). But of course finding the mythical set of china (in appealing—not boring—colors!), is proving a bit harder than I anticipated. So while sorting through the piles of cute, but mismatched china and lamenting the fact that I can’t find my dream set, my friend said I should just start amassing all the pretty odds and ends I find. Sort of a “tearoom china” set. I’m sure if you visited a number of tearooms you’ve run across the one with the charmingly mismatched antique and vintage china. Those are usually my favorites sorts of places, so I thought: why hadn’t this occurred to me sooner?!

09.16.11 | tearoom china

Later that day I spent some time digging out a small stack of vintage saucers I had thrifted last year and used a few here and there for holding things (but never for their intended use). I also added a couple of pretty tea cups I found that day at the thrift store. So here’s to the beginning of my “tearoom china” set! (So far all had for the princely sum of a little less than $5.) I’m seeing it the sort that I shan’t be afraid to use on a regular basis, and supplementing with standard white china plates and such as needed. Now just to find a place to store this…

Do you find the idea of mismatched vintage china sets endearingly charming? Or does it make you want to run from the room screaming? What is your favorite set of china (even just a dream set!)?

September 16, 2011 · 55 lovely thoughts
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I’ve talked about my aspirations to garden off and on in the past. My biggest obsticals are space and more importantly my inability to keep anything alive! Somehow all my good intentions to garden are usually not enough to avert disaster when it comes to planting seeds and keeping them going.

05.13.11 | small gardens

The past several weeks though, I have been faithfully tending to a little trio of herbs that I planted. My sister inspired me to give growing plants another go, and if all goes well (the worst enemy at this point in the year is the sunshine that tends to bake plants!), hopefully in a couple months I’ll be harvesting some fresh herbs to use in my cooking. I planted chives, basil and cilantro. The latter two I’m most excited about, as I use both a lot every week. Certainly this is a very humble start for me, but I’m being optomistic about keeping these going! Now I’m contemplating perhaps buying a few small potted flowers to keep around as well… Hope springs eternal!

My question to you is this: do you garden (large or small)? What are your favorite things to grow? Have any tips for a gardening novice? My dad (who is rather good at the whole gardening thing–I obviousy missed out on that gene!) and I talk weekly about his “natural” gardening adventures, as he’s been exploring ways to cultivate the soil without using chemicals. Which has piqued my interest as well (though on such a small scale, I doubt I can really partake of more “green” versions of gardening). I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips on gardening!

May 13, 2011 · 63 lovely thoughts
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