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One Small Tree, Two Cute Options


I can't resist anymore.  Normally, I wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate, but with the Thanksgiving holiday falling so late, and the snow that's on the ground, I say it's a game changer.

So, I lit my Balsam candle from Bath & Body Works, and I'm getting to work!  I have been picking up things here and there for the holidays, and it's fun putting them to use.

I am digging on different kinds of Christmas trees this year - both big and small.  But mostly small.

I started with a couple of lemon cyprus trees like this one from Lowes (for the sake of discussion, pretend there are no lights on it).

I added lights to them (surprise!).  I found these amazing little lights at Lowes, that are perfect for so many holiday uses - mini-tree decorating included.  They're battery powered, so you don't have to worry about the dreaded cord issue.

They remind me of these much more expensive ones from Restoration Hardware.

I put the tree in a bucket I had on hand - let there be light.  Already an improvement.

I added a chalkboard label that I cut out from a roll of chalkboard vinyl from Hobby Lobby.  A much more cost effective means of incorporating chalkboard goodies into your décor!

Option #2:  It's a Wrap

Same tree, different look.  I bought some festive red burlap at Hobby Lobby and wrapped up the tree the same way I did here for a hostess gift.

I had some "Chalkstock" cards that I tied to the trees with twine.  Cute, yes?

Great to display in your home, or to give as a gift!

So, have you started decorating yet?


A (Big) Stone Fireplace Update!


Are you gearing up for Thanksgiving this week?  I'm feeling significantly less stressed, since I'm not hosting this year, but I do secretly love the chaos that comes with being the Thanksgiving hostess.  I'm an adrenaline junkie like that.

I'm beyond excited to share the serious progress that has been made with the fireplace.  I'm sure you're probably sick of hearing about it, but I promise the end is in sight!  This was by far, the biggest DIY task I have ever tackled, and I told my husband the other night that I would rather paint our cabinets two or three times before I take on a masonry project again. 

However - I am really proud at how it's turning out, and I love being able to tell people, "Yes, I did that stone work myself!" :-)  The satisfaction that comes with DIYing, is what keeps me coming back for more!

Again, it's not done - I still have to grout and we need to finish the mantel - but this is the first time that I can really see my vision coming to life!  I have found myself sitting down and just staring at it, even in its unfinished state.

The dog in the house is anxiously awaiting its completion as well.  It's getting cold out, and I think he's anticipating a fire in that fireplace.  Soon.

I loooooove it!  Seriously, love it.

What do you think in terms of grout?  We could grout it the same color as the mortar that I used to put up the stone (which you can kind of see in between the stone now).  Or do I continue with my plan to grout it like what I saw (and loved) in the brochure? 
I'm kind of torn, because I do like the color that I used to install the stone, which kind of surprised me.  I'm leaning towards the grayish grout.  I'm figuring it will be a wise choice since I have a lot of mortar overage that squeezed out from behind the stones when I installed them.  It might get kind of tricky to cover it with the lighter grout.

My floors are finally coming back to life again.  Never underestimate the power of cement dust.  It. was. everywhere.

And it doesn't go quietly into that goodnight, either.  I think I scrubbed the floors about seven times before I felt satisfied that the film on the floors was gone.

Let's take a look at how this evolution has progressed over the past, um, year.

This photo was taken before our hardwood floors were installed, but you get an idea of where we began (and how arduous this process has been).  The tile felt cold and just wasn't our style, and the niche made decorating a challenge as well.

However, we didn't fully commit to taking down the tile and thought we could keep it in tact, while still updating the look (in case we changed our minds about the tile feeling cold and uninviting).  We drywalled the top and attempted to redo the mantel.

We added trim to the top portion of the mantel and used Airstone on the bottom.  But I just wasn't loving the way it was shaping up with stone on the front and our attempt to put wood on the sides.

So, we decided to go all in, and start over.

We did keep the tile in tact on top, just because it was easier to frame over it and eliminate the niche altogether.

We installed a metal lath (rhymes with bath, not bathe).

After mudding this fireplace, I hope to never see mortar again.  Ever.

And how about a side by side before and after for where we are now?  MUCH improved, I'd say!

I can't wait to finish it up completely so I can share the true "Before" and "After" photos.  But, it's a process, right?

I'm already envisioning how I want to decorate it for the holidays (and in general for that matter!).  Lots of options for this new look!  A big wreath in the center, or maybe a beautiful mirror with a wreath hanging over top?  And stockings and garland of course...  Oh, I can't wait!

Thanks for hanging in there with me on this one.  It's been a roller coaster for sure.

Linking up:
Between Naps on the Porch - Metamorphosis Monday


12 Days of Christmas: Tour of Homes


I am so excited to announce the "12 Days of Christmas" Blogger Tour of Homes.  I am teaming up with a fabulous group of talented bloggers, with daily tours of their homes, starting here on December 9th.  On the 12th day, I'm hosting a link party so you can share yours

Here is the line-up!

I have already been hoarding picking up some fun holiday items, and am gearing up for getting my home all festivized. ;-)

So, get ready to crank the Christmas music, sit back, and enjoy some holiday home goodness! 


Sneak Peek

Hello friends!

I have been hard at work (and have the aching back to prove it), but I wanted to give you a sneak peek at the progress that is being made.  I think the fact that my house is a complete and utter disaster is certainly helping me plug along!

The staining continues - almost done with both sides of the front doors - can't wait to share the finished project!

I don't even want to talk about how long it took me to get this stone up on the walls, but it's there.  Those darn YouTube videos make all of this look way too easy.  Starting at the top was good though - I finally started to get into a rhythm in terms of the stone layout.

Perhaps we're wrong unorthodox in waiting to do the mantel until the end, but given that I'm stepping and standing on it through all of this, we're waiting until the stone is complete before we I tell my husband how to finish it.

I did spend an inordinate amount of time in my stone layout planning though, which is helpful to a point.  It never turns out as you plan once you get it on the wall.

So, there you have it.  Progress, people. :-)


Mortarfied: Despair in DIY


Do you ever feel like you've had one of those weeks where you were really busy, but don't have nearly as much to show for it as you think you should?  That's my week.

We are continuing to trudge through this Never Ending Fireplace Makeover, but quite frankly, I'm tired.  Tired of my family room being a disaster zone of wood, tools, dust, nails and masonry supplies.  Tired of having a giant eyesore in full view the moment you walk into my home.  Tired of taking a step forward in progress, only to take two steps back.  Tired of my kids saying, "Mom, are you guys ever going to finish that fireplace?"

Have you ever had a project like that?  It wears you down.

Take the mortar issues I've been battling here.  We finally got the fireplace framed and the cement board up, and the next task was to mortar the joints - almost like taping drywall joints - simple enough, right? 


I pulled out the mortar mix and decided to knock out this next task on the punch list.  I followed the directions, but it just was a total mess - mortar everywhere, not sticking the way it should - I think more ended up on me than on the fireplace.  It just wasn't right, leaving me, you guessed it, mortarfied.

So, I ended up taking it all down (and crying on the inside).  But setbacks like this take a hit on your DIY self-confidence and plant those seeds of doubt.  Had we taken on more than we could chew with this project?  What if we totally mess it up?

I did end up getting the joints done (with a premade mix), and decided to put off the mortar mixing task until later - with the scratch coat.

But, before the scratch coat, we had to install the metal lath (that keeps the stone from sliding down the wall).  Again, one of those tasks that takes infinitely longer than you expect.  My husband did most of it, but I finished it today.

And, I faced my mortar-fear by trying the mortar mixing again.  I used a big plastic tub instead of a five gallon bucket, and that seemed to do the trick.  I completed the scratch coat on the bottom portion of the fireplace (to aid in successful stone adhesion), and have made progress even since I took this photo (and subsequently ran out of mortar).  A stone mason, I am not.  This stuff is messy.  But, it's progress.

So, I guess there is a teeny tiny light at the end of the tunnel, because once the scratch coat is done, I will be able to get to the fun (hopefully) part - putting up the stone.  However, I'm sure that will present its own set of unforeseen challenges and lunatic rantings.

Sorry for the downer tone here - I do try to keep it light, but I also try to keep it real.  And I'm ready for this fireplace to be done.  For real.

Here is what I'm holding out for at the end of the day.  This is what I'm really hoping the fireplace will look like when it's complete.  It's images like this that keep me moving forward. 

I'm really looking forward to hanging stockings on this new fireplace too.  Fingers crossed. 

Yes, I'm starting to lose my mind a bit. ;-)  Back to work!

Have a great weekend!


Epic Outlet of Amazing-ness

Hello friends!

I hope you had a great weekend!  I have to admit, the highlight of mine was visiting a new outlet of buried treasures - Bargains and Buyouts.  Seriously, I almost needed a treasure map just to find this place, as it's definitely off the beaten path.  But those are always the best places, right?  In the same way that a beaten up old diner oftentimes has the best food.

A sneak peek at one of my scores.

I was informed of this epic destination ala Andrea, of Oak Ridge Revival, who read about it at Go Haus Go.  Actually, we were supposed to meet up and go there together.  But, she's been under the weather, and once I told my husband about it, he wanted to go.  So, off we went.  (Andrea, I promise we will meet up and shop soon). :-)

Now, I've been to a lot of outlets in my time, but this one was not your typical outlet.  First off, the outside:

It's huge.  This is just one part of it.

There was another section that had rugs, barstools, chairs and other design goodies.

I spotted a lamp similar to my Pottery Barn knock-off.

I know Andrea has been looking for some Bentwood chairs, and I saw this set while I was there (how did I not notice that rug too, until just now?).

This pretty table and chairs caught my eye.

And the price, you ask?

I know.  Shut. UP. 

I loved this organization-filled cabinet.

And these mirrored tables!  All three for $95!!  My husband put the kibosh on them though since 1) they're mirrored and 2) we have three children.

A fantastic selection of desks.  Love this black desk with the cup pulls - $249.

This little beauty was on $89.  Love the legs on this one.

And this lantern, which is really similar to the Hundi lantern that is sold at Pottery Barn was a mere $99. 
Except the Pottery Barn version is $299.
 A pretty dresser - $499.

And if there had been two of these chairs, I think I would have snapped them up.  Even just the one was tempting, at $129.
These industrial shelves were uber-cool, and totally reasonable - $199.

A lovely dresser (or nightstand), but a little more expensive - $275.

A mirrored console for $349.

A sweet bedside table (or even a side table for the right place in a family room) - $54 (and they did have two of these!).

Yellow houndstooth chair anyone?  Only $109...

When I saw this console table, I was smitten.  And at $69, how could you not be, right?  She had to be mine, and I had a perfect spot in mind.

As I was getting ready to check out, I saw this and did a double-take.  Say WHAT?

So, these lovelies in the middle went home with me - $30 for both of them.

So, just over $100 for three really great pieces.  The console table was getting a new home in the basement.  Pretty, yes?

This area under the tv was in need of some help.  That console table has been with us for years, and had gotten a coat of paint a few years ago.  But, I have a new home in mind for this piece too.

Much better.

And I like that it works with the wallpaper and décor in this area (and yes, those stools have a place behind the bar now). :-)

Add some pictures and accessories, and we're done!

The exciting news is that another Bargains and Buyouts store just opened and according to the guy who worked there, it's even BIGGER.  So, yes, I will be paying it a visit.  Soon.

The details on these locations:

Bargains and Buyouts:
7600 Colerain Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45239
(513) 823-4021

Newest location:
2290 Dixie Highway
Hamilton, OH 45015