Sunday, 28 February 2010

Pure Organization Project #8: Tupperware Storage

I have to be honest with you:  I'm fading fast on the organization.  I'm sorry I never got Mr.Linky up last week & especially sorry that I haven't been able to check out everyone's projects. 

Last week was a crazy week for sure, but I'm having trouble seeing how it's going go get any less crazy now that I'm back at work with 2 little ones at home.  SO, in the interest of sanity (my own of course ;)  I'm taking a teensy chill pill about the Pure Organization.  They won't be every week.  (There I said it!)  I just can't make it all happen right now.  There may be 2 in a row and they may be every other week or I may have a good month and get them all in, but I just need to take some pressure off right now.  I hope you can understand & since you're all usually extremely sweet, I'm pretty sure you will ;)

But, I do have one for you this week!  Organize & purge the tupperware.  This one came out of pure necessity.  When all of our tupperware was clean & unused, it got to this:

Eeeeeek!   No joke.  We'd made a bunch of meals & frozen them for when the baby would be born, but when we ate the meals, we had way too much tupperware!  (Add that to the inherited tupperware from family who'd dropped off meals.)  Anyway, here was our drawer before:  lots of the lids and bottoms had no mates...

And here it is now:

Ahhhhh so much better.  I ditched all the mateless pieces (recycled them) and put the inherited stuff in a bag to return, and now it's feeling so much better.  The key is this:

I kept one of the mateless containers and filled it with all of the lids for easy matching up.  Makes it so much easier! Good luck on this one if you join in!!


Friday, 26 February 2010

Days 3, 4 & 5 of the Better Homes & Gardens Shoot

I thought I'd give you a play-by-play of the last 3 days of the BHG Christmas photo shoot at our house...

The photographer, Helen Norman (above), and her assisant Fj Hughes (below) shot the house on Wednesday and Thursday.  They arrived both mornings around 8 AM or so.  (Just having had a baby, it's really hard to get going in the mornings:  getting a shower & getting dressed sometimes feel near-impossible.    Justin was really spit-uppy and I made sure not to carry him over the camera equipment...  eeek )
I had so much fun working with them!  Helen has a great sense of humor (hysterical) and always made sure that we knew what the next meal would be.  (A woman after my own heart!  But she made a really good point that when you're on a job like this it's easy to forget about meals and then people get cranky & sloppy from being hungry.)  Fj has a 3 yr-old daughter and a 3 month old baby girl, so we had a lot in common.   
Below, Fj is holding the coco bead chandelier OUT of the shot.  (how sad for my chandy!  a bit too wild for BHG I think ;)

Jessica Thomas-the stylist- (below) was amazing.  The detail that's put into each & every shot is incredible.  Most shots took an hour plus to shoot (some less, some more.)  You'd be so surprised at how much thought is put into each shot.  And I'm talking about a photo of something as small as a Christmas ornament or a plate of cookies.  They made sure everything was perfect.  No unsightly tree lights or wires showing, etc.  It was awesome to watch.  A very precarious cookie kept falling over in one shot and we all had to stand perfectly still so as not to move the floor at all.  The sunlight kept going in and out of the clouds and Helen had to shoot at just the right time as Fj watched the clouds and let her know what the sky was about to be doing.  Craziness.  Jessica (below) has such an eye.  She made sure that each and every shot had a "story."  It was different than it would have been had we been shooting for a 100% design magazine vs a lifestyle magazine.  The shots weren't about the furniture or the room, they were more about what's going on in the room:  the people, the activities, and Christmas of course.  The room is more the backdrop for the story vs. the focus of the story.  (But of course the rooms had to look perfect in order to help "tell" the story.)

Joanna Linberg (below) is writing the story.   She also assisted Jessica in getting all of the props ready for the shoot and was AMAZING with Christian.  (He will be SO sad when he learns that "Miss Joanna" and "Miss Jessica" / The "Homes & Gardens Ladies" are not coming back tomorrow.  I've been using them to get Christian to do things:  i.e. "Miss Joanna wants you to brush your teeth."  hee hee hee) You know when you meet someone and they just exude goodness?  That's Joanna.  She's so young and has worked so hard to get to where she is. 

We were in a few of the photos and Christian did such a great job.  He was such a good little kid throughout the whole process & really followed directions well.  ("Ok, now go on your knees and giggle." etc..  He had so much fun!) 
Below is a picture of my kitchen shelves being emptied so Jessica could style them.  I LOVE what she did and am sad to see the things go!  She used a combination of my own things, some props from the Meredith prop room and some thigns we found at On a Whim and Lucketts. 

On the last day, at the end, we started running out of daylight.  Daylight is so important, because if you lose it, the photographers have to light the space and the look is totally different.  (not as pretty at all either!)  That crazy cookie kept falling over and then it was time for our family portrait.  Justin was crying and we had to get the shot as quickly as possible before the sun went down.  Definitely felt the pressure but it was so exciting!  Ps-  I think I TOTALLY scared Jessica before we met.  We'd been doing a lot of the prep over the phone/ emails and I told her multiple times how excited I was about the shoot.  (She does this ALL the time and so was not nearly there with me ;)  When some extra Christmas ornaments arrived for the tree, I got teary (give me a break- I just had a baby!) because they were so perfect.  I called Jessica and told her how much I loved them & how excited I was she was like, "Ok,"  (probably like "what is wrong with this girl?????!"  hahah)   Jessica is awesome at what she does& just so much fun and I'm honestly surprised everyone's not this nutty around her. 
On Day 5 (Today) Jessica & Joanna packed up everything from the shoot & put our house back in order.  (FedEx will pick all of the boxes up later this week to send them back to the Meredith Studio and back to the companies they came from.)  Jessica & Joanna also (as they did all week long) helped take care of Christian & Justin, and Jessica even made Christian a peanut butter & jelly sandwich for lunch.  Finally, we said our goodbyes and Christian waved at our new friends from the window. 
Below, here we all are at the end of the shoot.  Everyone was so good to Christian & Justin.  (Helen below, with my little guy.  He loved them all so much. )

I'm really going to miss them all.  It was such a fun crazy week.  ...Such an awesome experience and I just feel so lucky to have gotten the chance to work with such talented, sweet people.  I wish we all lived closer. 

And I can't wait to see the spread next November!!!  (Feels like forever away!!!)

Have a great weekend!!

**update**  I should clarify that they used a lot of our own things:  my urns, cakestands, plates, stemware, silverware, pillows, blankets, ornaments, accessories, etc...  but supplemented them all with some extras & of course more Christmas things  (Our trees & garlands were long dead) and food. Jessica worked really hard to make sure that the items they brought in worked with my style & blended seamlessly with what we already had.   :)  so much fun!!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Better Homes & Gardens Christmas Shoot Days 1 & 2

Well, "Christmas" is finally here again!  (Below, the boxes that have been arriving at our house for the BHG shoot)

 Better Homes & Gardens Assistant Editor Joanna Linberg and stylist Jessica Thomas arrived at our house yesterday!! Joanna is writing the article & assisting Jessica in the set up, and Jessica is running the show.   The first thing we did was walk through the house & answer all the questions Jessica had.  She's incredibly detailed  (She even made sure we had enough chalk to write on the fridge!)  and I am floored by how well she nailed down my style.  (She's insanely talented & I'll be doing a post on her & her work soon!!)

Jessica checked out our wardrobe options and we didn't have what she was looking for :)  Since it's a Christmas shoot, of course we should look super-cozy & wintry but I'm not really fitting into any of my chunky winter sweaters right now and Dave's sweaters aren't so wintry.  So our task was to go shopping last night for winter sweaters. 

But before we did our family clothes shopping, Jessica needed some extra pieces for styling.  So I took Jessica & Joanna to some of my favorite shops:  On a Whim & the Old Lucketts Store.    (When they said they were going shopping I totally invited myself along!! I was way too excited to stay home ;)  Our first stop was On a Whim (below) owned by Donna Troxler who was so kind to let us borrow the items for the shoot free of charge.  We found the most beautiful ironstone pieces to use on the tabletops & to supplement the whiteware in my kitchen.  Donna's store is full of one-of-a-kind treasures & I never leave empty-handed.  Here's a pic of Joanna & Jessica choosing some pretty pieces:

Next up was Old Lucketts Store.  We were greeted by a smiling Lisa (below right) who always makes me feel so welcome.  They told us that during the snowstorms some of the women who worked at Lucketts had a  few-day-long slumber party in the Design House to ride out the storm & get the place shovelled out for customers!  (They had good food & wine & watched movies- how fun is that?!!)  Jessica found more goodies at Lucketts (how could you not?) and it was time to say goodbye.  Heather & Lisa helped check us out & were sweet as can be to let me take a pic with my phone:

When we got home, Joanna & Jessica headed out to run errands:  meeting with the bakery & a trip to Target among other things.  Dave & I headed to the mall on a search for winter sweaters.  It was bleak.  The stores have moved onto Spring clothes.  But we did it!  We found some good winter clothes. 

This morning after getting some of the custom things I'd had made by my workroom, I headed to my mommy work-out class with Christian & Justin.  When we got home at around 10:30, this is what we found: 

Joanna & Jessica had been hard at work & had turned our family room into a prop room!  And my laundry room (below) is now a flower shop!


Oh my goodness!!  Check out all these paperwhites:

And the cabbages:

The cut flowers were delivered locally and the Christmas tree & wreaths and greenery came from North Carolina.  They flew into the airport! ha!

My friend Amy (below) who works as a landscape designer at Merrifield Garden Center has been hard at work...

...  growing these:

Aren't they amazing???

WOW.   So today we pretty much just started setting everything up.  (I saw "we" but I was pretty worthless-  the baby does not want to be put down.)  They've also been incredibly sweet with Christian as he follows them - the "Homes and Gardens Ladies" as he says- around. Jessica let him eat some of the props today (clementines) and I think he's got a new favorite fruit.  (Joanna & Christian below): 

So, for now, the tree is up & decorated and the food is here.  (mm mm mm!) The rest of the things will be set up tomorrow when the photographer arrives.  And I'm ready for bed!!!  I'll keep you posted on the rest of the shoot, and Michele from My Knotting Hill's Guest Blogger Before & After post will be up later on this week!


Monday, 22 February 2010

Pure Organization Project #7: Declutter the Kitchen

Somehow things just accumulate in my kitchen.  We have a little tray that's supposed to be for wallets & cell phones & sunglasses, but it ends up overflowing with coupons and batteries & lightbulbs & screws &chargers and other random annoyances.  Things just come into our house & if we don't stay on top of them, they build up, particularly in the kitchen...  cards, coupons, new (old) purchases, candles, etc...   Sometimes it's just stuff that needs to be put away in another room but remains in the kitchen for weeks.  argggg...  Now my junk drawer is clean, but the rest of the kitchen is starting to feel like a giant junk drawer.  eeek!  

So,  I put every single item that needs to find a home or leave the kitchen on my kitchen island.  Here it is, my junk:

And today there's no "after" because it's still sitting on my island where I'm typing right now. 

So Project #7 is to Declutter the kitchen of everything that doesn't belong.  Find spots for the things that do need to stay and ditch the rest.  (Preferably to a good home in another room instead of making more clutter in another room as I'm tempted to do!)

Good luck & I'll be back on later today to add Mr.Linky!  (I am so strapped for time right now & didn't get a chance to look at all of last week's links but promise I will!!)

The Better Homes & Gardens crew arrives today and will be here all week-long for our Christmas shoot!!  The tree's up & we're getting ready to go.  I'll be posting to let you know how it's going & how it works.  (I'm so curious!!!)


Thursday, 18 February 2010

Say Hello To My Little Friend

This is the first vacuum I've ever purchased.  All the rest have been hand-me-downs.  (Thank you very much family & friends!)  We keep them until they blow.  But THIS one is awesome!!  (Only $60) and it's the perfect green.  I looked it up on Real Simple and it sounded like a good one so we got it.  (It's the Eureka Optima)

I've never loved a vacuum so.  Have you ever seen Overboard?   You know when she's sucking up the mess on the table with the vacuum?  Yep, that was me yesterday sucking rice up with the green machine until I caught myself. 

What fun a good one can be!  ;)
But what I love best about it, is that it puts this poor{colicky} little guy..

... to sleep:

Amen...  We actually burnt a part of the carpet beause it had been running for hours when we all fell asleep.  Oops not smart. 
We've since started using a baby white noise CD.  My favorite's the rain.
Happy  weekend!!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Before & After Guest Blogger: Brooke Giannetti of Velvet & Linen

I'm so excited to be a guest blogger for Lauren!

Lauren mentioned that her readers like "before and after" posts, so I thought I would share my kitchen update with you.

When my husband, Steve and I first built our home, we decided to use simple, classic materials in our kitchen. We selected white subway tiles for the kitchen backsplash and Carerra marble slabs for our kitchen counters. We knew that we would be less likely to get tired of these materials and could always give our kitchen a little freshening up by doing a few cheaper cosmetic changes. Well, it's been almost 8 years since we built our house, and Steve and I felt that it was time for an update.

This is how our kitchen looked for the past 8 years. All of our kitchen accessories were pink and green. Our kitchen island was a minty green that complimented our green glass knobs and plates.

We used two white Holophane lights over the island, and two Pottery Barn barstools for seating.

A Victorian style screen door was used for the pantry.

In the past 8 years our style has gotten a little more neutral and less floral. Steve also wanted our home to feel a bit more masculine. He asked if we could add a few industrial elements into the mix as well. Would it be possible to update our kitchen to reflect our changing style without tearing the whole place apart?

Here's what we did....

1. I replaced my floral curtain under my sink with a natural linen. I used my favorite linen: Hinson's Luxembourg Linen in Natural.

2. I gave my green glass knobs to a friend who was re-doing her kitchen! In their place I purchased these from Restoration Hardware (in satin nickel):

The Ephram is a classic egg shaped knob.

The Ephram Pull is clean and simple without feeling too modern.

3. Potted herbs and my old cutting boards added color and warmth.

4. An old wood sign replaced the floral print above the sink.

5. I put all of my green and pink plates away in my cabinets and brought out my white plates, old trophies and hotel silver for display on my open shelves.

6. To add a bit of an industrial feel, we painted our Holophane lights silver and...

7. We replaced our Pottery Barn stools with these medical stools from here.

8. We painted our island a light Swedish gray. Although it's a custom color it looks like a lighter version of Farrow and Ball's Cornforth.

Steve and I were really pleased. We were able to make a few inexpensive changes to achieve a look that reflected our present design aesthetic. Except for one thing... the pantry door. As several of my blogging friends noted, our pantry door felt a bit out of place now.

So, I started to look for inspiration.

My dream was to ask my friend Greet to design my new pantry door. I wanted a door that looked like the ones in these images from Greet's gorgeous blog:

The natural wood and the simple glass panes would be perfect in my "new" kitchen.

Or what about a smaller version of this one, Greet?

Unfortunately I didn't have the budget to fly Greet here from Belgium! So, I went in search of a less expensive alternative.

I found this door online from Coppa Woodworking. Ok, I know it's not as wonderful as Greet's amazing work, but it was only $159! Because my pantry is so skinny, the door will only have two panes across instead of three.

I ordered the door in pine, but I wanted it to have the finish similar to the old sign above my sink. I'm fortunate to be able to ask my finisher Oscar to make my door look like this...

Oscar was able to give my new pantry door the finish of an antique pine door!

I used simple door hardware from Crown City Hardware. I didn't want it to match the other hardware in the kitchen, so I bought it in polished chrome.

I hope you enjoyed my kitchen update!

Thank you again Lauren for inviting me over for a visit.



I really can't get over this kitchen.  It's insanely beautiful and I just love all of the updates.  It's so fresh & aged at the same time.  The Giannetti's are masters at mixing old & new.  I pretty much freak out over everything they do because they're so good.  Thank you so much to Brooke for sharing your before & after with us!!  I love it!!  Check out Velvet & Linen

ps-  the winner of the giveaway for the Inside Avenue trays is Farrell!!  Farrell, please email me at with your mailing address when you get the chance.   congrats!! :)

Monday, 15 February 2010

Pure Organization Project #6: Reinvent a Beauty (Our Coffee Table Makeover)

So after our crazy weekend of bench-haggling and coffee-table searching (see previous posts) we found "the one!"  We'd searched all day and found everything BUT the coffee table I was looking for & I was about to give up.  For a last-ditch effort, we stopped at the Restoration Hardware outlet.  I sat in the car with Justin while Dave ran in & texted me pictures and prices.  He found this table:

It was beautiful and had the exact lines I was looking for (of the cursed bench to be exact.)   And it was only $188.  But I knew the wood (as gorgeous as it was) would sadly be wrong in our living room:

While I often mix woods, this would be way too much mixing.  The gorgeous grayed barnwood finish just wouldn't work with my warm green sofa or the other woods in the room and was way too close to my rug.  And since Better Homes & Gardens is having me remove my cow hide (they get complaints form readers when they see them in homes) I really needed some white in that area of the room or it would feel too blah.  (above)  So the options I thought of were: white marble (gorgeous, but kind of a costly & kid-unfriendly fix) and white vinyl.   Here it was before (I know it's really beautiful.)

And here it is now:

We went with the faux white leather (vinyl) for $8.  (By the way, that candle on the table smells INSANELY WONDERFUL and it's the Elle DEcor 20th Anniversary candle by Votivo.  I'm now a bit obsessed am am guessing all of their candles are probably this good...  Could be my new additcion.)  Anyway, I coudn't bear to cover up that wood (love it!!) so we went to Home Depot and had a piece of plywood cut 1/4" smaller than the barnwood table top so there would be room for the vinyl to fit around the sides ($17).  (And now we can use the pretty wood somewhere else.)  Here is is layed out ready to be stapled:

Once we wrapped the vinyl around the new piece of wood, Christian "helped" drill the screws in the frame:

I chose the white vinyl because it's cleanable, low-maintenance and super-cheap.  (And I love the look...  it's hard to tell from the photos but it has a great leather grain.  I used to be "meh" about vinyls but they really do have so many gorgeous ones out there.)  So one more view, here it is before:

And here it is now:

Much better for our space!  Clearly I worked a little harder at the styling, but I took the 'before" early in the morning (lazy) and couldn't have my 'before' looking better than the after now could I?  ;)  It's really soft and I love having a larger square table because there's more suraface area for displaying our things.  I keep dirtying it on purpose & testing the clean-up, and so far so good!  (Do you spy lab a lab beaker?? shocker! I found more at that flea market a month or so ago & just tossed in some leaves from my paperwhites that have no bloomed & gone...  No sense wasting green these {freezing} days.

Like I said, I love mixing woods & metals.  I'm  so happy withe the clean modern lines & pure white of the table against the crackled curvier gold antique chair:

So what about my little lucite table??  I don't know!!  I love it too.  We can't decide, but I'm getting a bit sentimentally attached to this one and am thinking of inviting some friends over to chant around it tonight and get the word out that it's "not for sale."  ;)

Also, I do think everything happens for a reason and I have to tell you all that I had such fun this weekend with this whole bench/ table fiasco!!  You all made me feel like you were on my team, feeling my frustrations with me.  It made it all fun & silly and I really appreciate that.  Also, I'm SO over the bench but when I go back (I will go back :)  I'll try to snap a pic of the bench on my phone so you can all see it.  But this one fits the space so much better and it was such a fun, easy inexpensive project vs. having to pay for reupholstery & tufting. 

So anyway, the project this week is to:

 Reinvent or freshen up something in your home that isn't quite right.  {even if it's already beautiful}

This may involve recovering, painting, staining, rearranging, embellishing or even replacing something in your house that isn't perfect for a space.  The coffee table was beautiful before I touched it & I'm sure some people may consider what I did an atrocity, but it wasn't right for the space.  Are there objects like this in your home?  It's time to get critical.  Sometimes we have things in our homes that are beautiful but that just don't do anything for the space.  Getting rid of these things or changing them can be hard to do, especially if we've paid a lot of money for something, but it's like admitting a mistake.  So now's the time to take a piece and customize it to your space.  Make it perfect.  And if there's no way to make it work for your space, consider saying goodbye to it and sending it to a home where it'll be loved.


There were some pretty junk drawers linked up to last week's post and if you missed them you can go back & check them out here.  I'd love to see your "reinvented beauties" so link up if you have a reinvented something to show us all!  Make sure to link to the address of the exact post, not to your whole blog or we won't be able to find it, and type in your name and the subject/ title of the post.  :)  (Also, Please don't link up if your post doesn't pertain to the Pure Organization Project-  thanks I really appreciate it!) 

Also, today's the last day to enter the Inside Avenue Giveaway!!