Spring Cleaning

Here on the east coast, spring has sprung very early (as in, we’re about a month ahead of our regular bloom time). I keep thinking there might be another snow storm around the corner, but as we inch closer and closer to April, I am beginning to relax more into the permanence of this delightfully warm weather.

Usually, spring inspires us to fling open our windows, and deep clean our closets, right? Well, this year, because of all the attention we’ve been giving to the interior of our house, the exterior has been very neglected. I didn’t get the bulbs in that I’d hoped to last fall, the beds need cleaning and mulching, the hydrangeas need pruning, the dead stalks from last summers blooms need to be cut down, I need to stake my roses, my beloved swing under the ironwood has rusted through and needs to be replaced.- The list is a mile long!

So, I decided to start with a very small bite, and clean out one of our whiskey barrels:

(just imagine this x100 and that’s what our yard looks like…yikes)

So, I cleaned out the dead stuff, trimmed up the perennial, and added a few happy pansies. Much better:

The pooches are enjoying the warm weather too! They watched me from the porch while I was working:

(it was a little breezy that day, can you tell?!)

Now, what to tackle next…I have no idea. But that little spot of calm and color in the midst of the chaos that is the rest of our yard, makes me smile.

And it got me thinking: isn’t our life generally one big ball of chaos? What can we do to create little spots of calm and color in our days? A little can go a long way…

Coffee with a friend? A catnap with the spring breezes blowing in? A hand written note? Being still and breathing deeply? Walking through your garden and cutting some flowers to bring inside?

What do you do for those moments of calm and color?

Tips for Flying Part 2

Here are a few more plane travel tips for you today!

*Tummy feeling a little motion sick? Besides Dramamine, try ginger ale, or tonic water with a squeeze of fresh lime when the beverage service comes around. Peppermints also help.

*Do your ears hurt when taking off or landing? Chewing or sucking can help clear them. Try gum, gummy snacks, hard candy, or a lollipop.

*Bring an audio book to listen to on your ipod, or portable CD player. Having your own earphones also comes in handy if you’re on a flight with a movie – then you don’t have to pay for theirs to listen to it!

*Airplanes can get quite chilly,  so ask for a complimentary blanket first thing – before they run out (even if you don’t need it yet)!

*Bring things to do that you love, but usually don’t make the time for at home. I consider flight time my “bonus” time on a trip. I bring my magazines, nail buffer/file/clippers, stationary/thank you notes to write letters to friends, laptop with photo editing software (why not have fun playing around with your pictures while you fly?!), books (of course), hand-craft projects like knitting, crocheting, or cross-stitch, card games (if you’ve got a traveling buddy).

*Check to see if your credit card carries travel protection. Many do – and they offer reimbursement for necessary purchases should your luggage not arrive at your destination the same time you do!

*Make sure you’re signed up for a frequent-flyer program, no matter what airline you choose – and if you don’t mind the extra time, always look for the longest flight route to rack up those miles. For example, when we’re flying west, we try to fly up through Detroit, and when we’re flying north, we try to fly down through Atlanta first. A little back-track is ok if it means more miles :-). – We also have a check card that earns us miles through our everyday purchases and bill paying.

****For some fabulous tips on airplane etiquette, check out Karla’s article HERE.

Happy Traveling!

Do you have any travel tips to share with us all? Please do so in the comments below!


Tips for Flying Part 1

Hello Readers! I’ve missed you this past week, but the break was nice – and necessary. A million things hit our home last weekend, right before we were scheduled to take to the skies, bound for Texas. – So as you can imagine, pre-scheduling blog posts got quickly shoved to the bottom of the list.

Whether traveling is in your blood (like me), or you’re getting ready to hop aboard your very first flight, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tips:

*Pre-flight: check in online before you even get to the airport if your airline offers this option, and print your boarding passes from home. Saves so much time!

*Mid-afternoon generally seems to be a GREAT time to travel. The lines are low, security quick, and the airports are so much easier to navigate without the crowd. Worst time? First thing in the morning!

*For a smooth security experience: Have your quart-sized liquid bags easily accessible on the top of your luggage (make it the last thing you pack). Have your boarding pass and license/ID in your pants pocket or outside suitcase pocket before you get to the airport, so you can grab it in a hurry. I actually carry them in a small lanyard around my neck. Have a pair of socks in an outside pocket too, so you can slip them on quickly when required to take your shoes off for scanning.

*Bring your own food – if you’re flying over mealtimes, it’s so easy to pack a meal from home to bring: a sandwich, wrap, burrito, or even a pasta salad can all travel well and be delicious cold. Airport food can be ridiculously expensive, and when you’re in a hurry to catch a connecting flight, this will save you the hassle of waiting in line for nourishment. Just remember not to bring anything liquid (it won’t make it through security)!

*For a return trip, if you have access to a grocery store, I love the combo of dried fruit, crackers, cheese sticks, nuts, tuna or chicken, and hummus. You can get a delicious meal for 2 for less than $7

*While we’re talking about food, when I’m ready to eat on the plane, I often want to clean my hands. Hand-sanitizer will be safely stowed away in your allotted quart-sized bag, and so a more convenient (non-liquid) option that you can keep right in your purse or lunch bag is a travel package of handi-wipes.

*My favorite on-board dessert/snack? Bring a banana from home and eat it with the free in-flight biscotti cookies. Tastes just like banana pudding. Yummolicious!

More tips to come!

Do you have a plane trip coming up soon? Business or pleasure?


Spring Break

As the beauty of spring has settled upon us here on the east coast, so have a debilitating pile of stressful circumstances. As such, I feel I must cut what I can from my life this week in order to breathe deeply and try to regroup. Blogging falls into that “non-essential” category, and so, dear readers, I bid you goodbye – until next week. I’ll miss you! *10 points if you can name the flower below!*(there might even be a little prize next week if you guessed right!) #justsayin

The Great Bed Reveal of 2012

At last! The moment you’ve all been waiting for! Well, maybe 2 or 3 of you have been holding your breath ;-)! I give you (drum roll please….)

Our Bed:

So let’s start the breakdown at the all-important: Duvet
For months I had my heart set on a lovely duvet cover from Restoration Hardware called “Italian Paisley”. I ordered the swatch and fell even more deeply in love! Meanwhile though, the room had taken a turn for the brighter (we were originally planning on gray and cream, but once the gray was up on the walls, we decided to go for the high contrast gray and white), and that put a slight damper on my duvet plans which had a definite bent toward the softer cream side.- I should mention that my dreams were also full of a beautiful hand tufted gray silk coverlet (also from RH). That came with a hefty $400 price tag. Ouch. Yes, I know you spend a 1/3 of your life in bed and should surround yourself with luxury and all that, but we have animals. With fur. And claws. And they don’t care if you’ve spent $400 on a coverlet. – So out the window with those dreams!

Now enter: serendipity. I was wandering around Marshalls one day, not even looking for bedding, when what should catch my eye??? THIS:

Note the RH sample swatch on the left, and then the Marshalls find on the right. It was such a similar pattern and feel – but with gray and WHITE instead! Plus, it was not just a duvet cover, it was a complete fluffy comforter set, with shams and accent pillows to boot! Which, as you might guess, was less than 1/2 the price of the RH object of my affections. I was squealing right there in the aisle. And I don’t squeal.

So home it came, and in place of the hand tufted silk coverlet, I found a very soft and serviceable down-alternative blanket from Target. And they were so affordable, I bought a second (for when the first one gets all picked up from said pets).

Now, onto the pillows:

Because of the magnitude of the headboard, euro pillows were a must. They’re great for reading in bed too btw. I decided to go very simple with both the shams and the bed skirt since there was already so much pattern going on with the duvet and wall behind the bed. The euro inserts were from TJ Maxx, and the shams were from Target. Very affordable and easy to wash. Our memory foam sleeping pillows get hidden behind, and plump feather pillows get the paisley shams.-

The bed skirt is plain white with a single pleat on all sides:

Good grief. I DID iron that thing. Thoroughly. How does something get wrinkled just hanging there???

Then there’s the end of the bed, which is still in progress. The goal is to have two upholstered chairs and a small table. These chairs are stand ins for now, but you can at least get the idea of what we’re going for.

As for bringing color to this heavily monochromatic room, we’re waiting to find the perfect artwork for the wall space next to the window in the photo above. When we do, we’ll draw some color from that into the room in the form of throw pillows (the red is just a placeholder), a blanket, and maybe the chairs/table.

So are you ready for a before and after?

Wow! Goodbye honey oak country days, and hello classic sophistication!

For more on how we made our mantel headboard, CLICK HERE.

Thanks for visiting Vignettes today. I hope you’ll stick around for more of our home renovating process – along with delicious recipes, fun fashion, and food for thought. You can follow Vignettes on Facebook, Twitter, or via RSS or E-mail. To see what we’ve done so far, CLICK HERE.

Linking up to the Thrifty Decor Chick’s April Before and After Party