March 31, 2011

My Favorite Things: I Spy Bags!

Soccer practice, church, the waiting room at the dentist's office, the car, Mom on the phone with a friend for "a really long time" - sound familiar? We've all been there. Most likely, we're there a lot: an environment where we expect our little ones to wait quietly and patiently, sometimes for a really long time! Video games and iPhones and MP3 players are super duper handy for keeping kids occupied, but sometimes I feel like they've had enough technology for one day {or week}, and I'd rather they have something to do that doesn't require batteries. In our house, we've had brilliant luck with I Spy Bags, and we love the ones made by Those Greathouse Women on Etsy.

Greta spies for treasures buried in this sweet cupcake.

Charlie searches inside a rocket for hidden trinkets.

What are I Spy Bags? I Spy Bags are all the fun of the time-honored game of "I Spy" in a soft, handheld bean bag containing all sorts of trinkets to find. The I Spy Bag has a clear vinyl window on one side, allowing users to hunt for the treasures hidden amongst non-toxic polypropylene pellets. The back of the I Spy Bag holds a list of the trinkets to find inside.

All I Spy Bags from Those Greathouse Women are handmade in their studio; the seams of their I Spy Bags are double stitched and glued to keep the bags sealed. I Spy Bags are not recommended for children younger than three.


Perfect for that little {or big!} guy in your life!

A number of shops and sellers make their own versions of I Spy Bags, but I've fallen in love with the attention to detail and absolutely darling products crafted by Those Greathouse Women. With Easter around the corner, these adorable bags could hop right into every Easter basket.

This week, Those Greathouse Women have offered 10% off your order with code "11SpringFever11". Happy shopping!

March 29, 2011

Anything Goes!

I was tickled pink to hear from Tammy at Type A today. She's having an Anything Goes Party and decided to feature W Design and my painted wallpaper project!

Hop on over to Type A and take a look at the other fantastic bloggers she's featured. There's some amazing talent going on out there in Blog Land, and I'm having a blast checking out everyone's incredible work. Thanks Tammy!

March 25, 2011

Does This Belong To You?

Excuse me, does this belong to you?


Did you hang this on your wall in 2001 and promptly forget about it? Did you hang it up with the intention to leave it there until you move to a new home {and you have no intention to move to a new home}? Maybe you dust it once in a while, but do you really love it? {How do you dust one of these, anyways?} Does it make you smile when you walk by? Does it have a real, purposeful place in your home?

If you love it, it can stay. If you don't, take it down. Remember this? Too often, we are guilty both of putting too much on display and displaying items that we do not love.

Have you been fighting the clutter in your home? I have. I've removed this physical clutter and more that took up valuable space in my home, and I've been amazed at the mental clarity that simple task brought. How have you decluttered in an effort to love where you live?

March 23, 2011

Right There in Black and White

We've been painting nonstop around here for the past couple of months - upstairs, downstairs, trim, doors, cabinets, and almost every wall in the house. The railings and spindles of our split level entryway staircases were no exception. At one time, they were painted the same cream color that the rest of the upstairs trim used to be. Obviously, that wasn't going to fly with Crazy Paint Girl me, and the railings and spindles were treated to two coats of Behr's Swiss Coffee.

In the middle of Project Paint. Dave was just about to tackle
the high seas with his high ladder {and by "high seas" I mean high walls}.

Pretty, clean, and certainly a brighter white, but something was missing. The railings lacked character, and I thought they could bring more charm to the space. I wanted the staircase to really pop, to be an eye-catching detail that demands your attention as soon as you walk through the front door, but in a classy way. It had to be classy and elegant, not all flashy and loud and crazy. I thought for a bit about the best color, the classiest compliment to white, and the obvious answer was black. What's more natural than black paired with white? The combination is timeless but still fresh. If you've been reading about the bathroom and bookcases, you might be able to guess that I was about to go down a path I'd traveled before, one leading me into a Dark Cavern - Dark Cavern by Behr, that is.

It took three painstaking coats of Dark Cavern to fully erase any trace of Swiss Coffee on the railings. Painstaking because the slightest slip with the brush and the world can see where you screwed up and painted black where it wasn't supposed to be painted. Despite careful taping, there were lots of Swiss Coffee touch ups to be done where Dark Cavern didn't belong.

Finally {finally}, the railings and the spindles were painted and touched up in their rightful colors, and the staircase was finished.

Even the small hand rail leading to the
basement got the Dark Cavern treatment.

Character and charm are no longer missing from the staircase; the crisp white against the soft black adds dimension and energy to the space. Want in on an added bonus to black railings? No more wiping away countless fingerprints, smudges, and smears from all who use the stairs. They're still there, of course, but I can't see them anymore, so they really don't count. We're happy with the staircase now. In fact, I think it's safe to say we love it.

A strand of pearls with your little black dress; the dark sharps and flats against the piano's white keys; little bits of starlight in an inky black sky. It's bread and butter, jam and bread. They go together.

And there you have it, folks. It's right there in black and white. Well, I guess since Dave and I still can't agree that the color is black and not dark brown, I guess we'll say that it's right there for you in Dark Cavern and white.

March 22, 2011

Bookcase Before and After

You already know that my father-in-law is a ninja. He's a ninja in his shop, making beautiful creations out of wood. The bar in our downstairs living room, our entertainment center {exact replica of the Pottery Barn Logan Media Suite}, and the kids' bunk beds are just a few of the projects he's worked on for Dave and me. Dave's younger brother, Jon, inherited some of their father's skills and has proved himself pretty handy in the woodshop, too.

When Dave and I got married, Jon's gift to us was a set of beautiful tall bookcases. They lived in our first apartment, and they moved with us into our first home where they've served us well in at least four rooms. Our brilliant children have found uses for the bookcases that I never would have thought of, including bunk beds.

Looks like cramped quarters.

The latest move for the boockases was to the upstairs living room where I wanted them to hold books, pictures, and an assortment of other pretty items.

Fabulous, but I thought they could be jazzed up just a bit. Since the big bathroom makeover, I've fallen in love with black wood, especially black wood contrasted with a bright white. I had a whole lot of Behr's Dark Cavern left over from the bathroom project and didn't waste any time running Operation Bookcase Transformation by Dave. He loves Dark Cavern as much as I do and couldn't wait to see the end result.

Three coats of Dark Cavern later, and presto chango! These bookcases have gone from ordinary to extraordinary.

I love the contrast they bring against Grant Beige and Swiss Coffee residing on the walls. I've adorned their shelves with some of our favorite books and pictures.

If you look closely, you'll notice the bottom two shelves of both bookcases are bare. I think I might use that space for baskets to store the kids' favorite artwork and projects, but until I get a chance to shop for the perfect containers, I've elected to keep them empty. Why? There's a certain someone who takes great pleasure in ripping down anything placed on the shelves, and that little darling is vicious.

What have you transformed lately?

Side note: There is an ongoing "discussion" in the house about Dark Cavern by Behr. Dave calls it dark brown, and I say it's a soft charcoal black. So when I brought up the idea to paint the bookcases black like the bathroom cabinets, he said, "You mean dark brown?" Every guest in our home gets grilled: "What do you think? Do you think this color is black? Or would you call it brown? It's black, right?" For now, we've agreed to refer to the color by its name, Dark Cavern, to avoid any further discussions. But since I am the sole author of this blog, I will call Dark Cavern black, and if you're at The Home Depot and want to check it out for yourself, please do. But if you agree with my husband, kindly keep it to yourself. I could be ahead in this race and don't want anything to jeopardize my standings. That is all.

March 21, 2011

The Judges' Save

Is it cause for alarm if your family room goes from looking like this:

to looking like this?

Not if it turns out like this:

Dave and I spent a couple nights extending Berkshire Beige from the hallway leading into our basement to the wall behind our bar and Texas Leather to the other three walls of our lower level family room while watching American Idol. A couple hours on a couple nights gave us a whole new look for our space. We painted. And we listened to future rock stars jiving to their favorite songs. And we created a better flow to our home by bringing the upstair's color palette into our downstairs living area. And we debated whether Pia or James or Casey or Paul would be the next American Idol. If we were judging something, we would have used the Judges' Save to rescue the downstairs. But those throw pillows might not make the cut. Rock on.

March 17, 2011

My Favorite {GREEN} Things

St. Patrick's Day! It makes me think of spring and fun and tricky leprechauns and, of course, green! What better excuse to share some of my favorite green things?

St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes

Greta and I decided to treat her friends and classmates to a sweet St. Patrick's Day treat. Green cupcakes + a strip of AirHeads Candy = Yum {and sugared-up kids}.

Green Bags

I am a handbag freak. They are a bit of an obsession with me. Here are a couple of my favorite green ones.

The Linea Pelle Dylan Tote in Leaf

Hayden-Harnett Olive Biblio

The LP bag screams spring. The Biblio makes me think of fall, but I'm loving it with neutral colors this spring, too.

The Peacock Gypsy Tote from Serena and Lily

I don't have this yet, but I think I need it. I love bags, and I love peacocks {strange, I know}. Here they are together in perfection.

Shop for it here.

 The Green Bay Packers

My hubby wouldn't let me off the hook without mentioning these guys. Wisconsinites born and raised, we love our Green Bay Packers!

Image via

Munchkin Sprout Drying Rack

I have loved this drying rack for Louisa's bottles as much as it's humanly possible to love a bottle drying rack. It spins. It holds tons of bottles. It has places for bottles, nipples, caps, and more. And it doesn't take up much space on my kitchen counter.

Shop for it here.

Green Baby Items from Truly Bella

This Etsy seller makes beautiful baby items, including Louisa's favorite green blanket.

Visit Truly Bella and shop for her items here.

Baby Dinosaur

What three-year-old girly girl would be complete without a stuffed dinosaur? Baby Dinosaur's eyes flash and head spins while making a menacing growl. Frankie adores her. It's true love.

Baby Dinosaur doesn't leave Frankie's side. Ever.

Greta and Charlie show their love for Baby Dinosaur with artwork.

And since Louisa is our St. Patrick's Day baby, I had to include a picture of her.

Happy Birthday Lou Lou!

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! I hope you're enjoying some of your favorite green things today!

March 14, 2011

Bathroom Reveal

Remember way back when I got the itch to redo our main bathroom upstairs? It's the bathroom our kids use to take baths and our guests use when they visit. It's decent enough in size, but it was lacking - majorly - in style. This is what the bathroom looked like after we painted the cabinets white years ago:

White cabinets, white towels, white tile, and white shower curtain, if I remember correctly. It was one of those projects that I had started, said "Good enough," and left alone, never coming back to reassess. Then {Oh happy day!!} I received a catalog from Restoration Hardware with a stunning bathroom. The pages beckoned to me, calling out "Come in. Relax. Pamper yourself." Luxury! Do you remember?

Image taken from here.
It didn't take more than the spread on pages 22-23 of the Restoration Hardware Annual Bath Event catalog to inspire me to find the perfect dark brown-black paint and get started on my own bathroom transformation.

First, Dave removed the ugly tile backsplash and strange small counter over the toilet.

A couple coats of Behr's Dark Cavern to the cabinets, and we were well on our way to a bathroom redo.

In the whole Project Paint the Upstairs ordeal, the bathroom was repainted with Berkshire Beige right before Dave and his dad were about to install a new granate countertop.

Berkshire Beige took its place on the walls.

The new counter and sink waited impatiently
to be installed. Or maybe it was me who was impatient?

Just when we thought it was smooth sailing with the counter installation, we ran into a hurdle. The cabinets in the bathroom had been custom made, and they weren't a standard size. Rather than having to order a custom sized granate counter {and pay extra money galore}, we bought a standard sized counter and a new standard sized cabinet base to fit the counter. We weren't counting on the added expense of the new cabinet base, but the new counter would have been too wide and too deep for the old one. Add that to water damage to the inside of our existing cabinet from a crack in the old sink, and it was a pretty easy decision to go ahead and purchase a new cabinet base. The new base got a couple coats of Dark Cavern before Dave and his dad put it in place.

Watching Dark Cavern dry....

With the installation of the new cabinet, counter, and faucet, the bathroom was almost complete.

My favorite bit of bathroom decor went back up on the walls as soon as the paint dried....

Each baby's butt, only appropriate for the bathroom.

While I waited for the counter and cabinet to be installed, I had time to hunt for a new rug and shower curtain to match all this bathroom newness and found something perfect at Target. A shower curtain with subtle clean stripes and a fluffly, taupe rug rounded out the makeover.

I'm in love with the new shower curtain.

One last finishing touch: notice the panes in the window?

I adore the unique octagon shape of the bathroom window, but I wasn't in love with the cutesy panes. Lucky for me they're an insert that is simply set in the window. Removing the insert couldn't be easier, and it updated the look for free.

New tile is still on the agenda but not too high on our priority list. Dave and I don't dislike the white tile as much as we used to, and we're willing to live with it for now.

One last before and after:

Notice the fluffy new rug?

I'm so happy that Restoration Hardware catalog came in the mail. The bathroom went from "EEK!" to "Chic!". Have you stopped to think about changes you could make to love where you live lately?

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