Friday, December 30, 2011

Until the New Year

2011 has been spectacular.

Etsy seller UUPP

The biggest lesson I learned this year is to stop waiting for your dreams to come true. Do whatever it takes to make those dreams happen. And do whatever it is that makes you truly happy. Now.

Etsy seller UUPP

It's been a fun, fun year. Thank you for your support of West Pear Avenue. I am really excited about 2012. A very Happy New Year to each of you!

UUPP is a new Etsy shop that I found while browsing. I was not paid or endorsed to show their artwork. I just liked their work and thought their quotes were very timely. And I love finding new Etsy artisans.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Favorite Post of 2011

Looking back on 2011, I'm reminded of how much I have learned here in the blogging community. Blogging has been a huge stepping stone for me and has given me the confidence to try new things. One of my favorite posts from this year was presenting my very first design board as part of Mood Board Monday.

I experienced so many emotions leading up to this post. I was both excited and nervous to showcase my very first design board. I worked so hard on this board and wanted to be proud of my project (and I am). I wanted some constructive criticism and I got it. And I was really thrilled to be able to mingle with other bloggers and see what creative route each of the participants decided to take with this challenge. The camaraderie I experienced with this post was exhilarating.

I've also learned a few tips and tricks with creating a design board, so I've done a few edit tweaks to this board from my previous post.

This design board was the first of many that I presented this year, and I hope to keep showing you my creations in 2012.

I'm sharing this post over at Suzy's end-of-year House Party.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Wall of Treasures

Today is my last day off of the year and it's been quite enjoyable. Sheila slept until about 7:15 so I got some extra sleep which was glorious. We did lots of playing and some shopping, and now I have time for a mid-day blog post while Sheila is napping - I could get used to this!

A few weeks ago, I had posted about the gallery wall that is in the works in our living room. I've decided to refer to it as the wall of treasures, since every item that I plan to include is going to be in some way meaningful to our family. 

Makes sense, doesn't it? There are some beautiful gallery walls out there, in fact a few that I am able to visualize right now as I'm writing this, but the neat thing about the wall of treasures is that it is and should be unique to each home.

I'm a strong believer in making your home personal and surrounding yourself with treasures, photos, art, accessories that are meaningful to you and your family. I know it's not rocket science, but it's really the personal touches that make home.

A few weeks before Christmas, we ventured up to my Mom's house for a visit. I had asked my Mom if it was okay if I dug through an old box of photographs and letters that my grandfather had written to my grandmother during the war. There were so many interesting letters, photos, and momentos. A few of which my Mom told me I could take with me. Isn't it funny as you get older how much more meaningful items like this are? Anyway, I came across this photo of my grandfather and thought it was so neat. And a perfect addition for the wall of treasures...

That's my grandfather on the right, looking handsome I must say. And how about his cool travel bag? And I'm sure you can't miss the fish being held by the man on the left. I don't think this man had any connection to my grandfather. I think he just wanted his picture taken with a native. I'll show you some of the writing on the back of the photograph...

He sent this photo to my grandmother when he was away in North Africa. Look at the date, January 27th, 1943. Pretty amazing. And how cute that he called her "Honey Chile".

This is a testament to the power of the written word, the art of letter writing, and documenting important dates and people on your photographs. I'm so glad I have this special photo to be able to display and share in our home. I hope to have more photos to share with you in the future. My Mom is very good at saving important things such as this.

Another quick snap...this time I sat the photo on top of a box of matches I had picked up at Bucks Country Dry Goods in Doylestown. Loved the map of New York on the box.

I'll be getting this photo framed up soon and will show you the finished product once it's all complete.
I've got a few other items in need of framing too - another item for my 2012 to-do list.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A New Addition to the Dining Room

I wanted to show you the newest addition to our dining room bench...

The colors and pattern got my attention immediately. It was a had to have it/would have regretted not taking it home with me type of pillow moment. This pillow could really go into a number of rooms but for now it will hang out on our dining room bench. 


It's reversible! Double the fun (and value). I picked this up at Home Goods a week or two before Christmas for $19.99 and I had store credit so it actually came to be less than that.

I was really excited by the inventory on this trip. They had a lot of great rugs and accessories. I wasn't looking to purchase anything for our home, but I couldn't walk away from this pretty pillow.

It's just the added boost that was needed in our dining room, which I'm hoping to do some more updating to very soon. If you've been reading along for a little while you may remember my dilemma wall in our dining area, but I've got a few ideas brewing.

Have you treated yourself to anything recently?

~Hoping everyone had a wonderful wonderful holiday - I know we did. Now we're just trying to soak up all of our vacation time and enjoy it as much as possible. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Christmas Wish...

My Christmas wish for all of you is lots of hugs and laughs with those that you love (including all of the adorable pets I see all the time too).

I'll be doing lots of cuddling with this little cutie-pie...and I can't wait.

A quick thank you to each and every one of you who stop by, browse, comment, offer advice and all make blogging so much fun and for that I am appreciative. 

I wish you and your loved ones a very wonderful holiday and I look forward to joining you again after Christmas! ENJOY!!

3 Questions

#1 - What are some of your favorite Christmas items? With the exception of my ornaments, I've rounded up a few of my items here...
I had gotten this pillow at a gift shop in my hometown maybe ten years ago while I was still living at home. It's such a pretty pillow and I love breaking it out each year for Christmas.

My hubby got me this a few years ago. We are both fortunate to live not too far from a majority of our immediate family (with the exception of my husband's oldest brother whose family lives in Massachusetts).

And I picked up this copper bird bell at Robertson's in Chestnut Hill the other day at lunch. Right now I just have it sitting on our table, but it can also double as an ornament. The towel underneath the bird was purchased at Home Goods a few years ago and I love them (set of 2 towels).

It's not easy to just pick a few items - I'm sure you can relate. 

#2 - I know all of you have some really crafty creative juices flowing through you (yes, even this time of year when energy levels are all over the place). Ok, so we have this white ceramic crock that sits on top of our kitchen cabinets and holds our wine corks. It's white. It's boring. My question to you is, what would you do to spice up this crock? I've been thinking about ways to jazz it up, monogram it, paint it, but I'd love to hear what you would do with it.

#3 - What is one of your all-time favorite Christmas songs? I've got a Gene Autry mix going on Pandora and I can't get enough. I'm really into the old school crooners, but I can also appreciate new renditions of old classics too. One of my favorites is "Caroling, Caroling" sung by Nat King Cole.  And who doesn't love "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year..." - just want to belt it out (and I do) in the car. Sheila loves it. I also keep hearing "This Christmas" and think it's pretty catchy - especially love the Donny Hathaway version.

PS - I've already started my 2012 goals list. I had to do it. I was starting to think about all types of goals: personal, business, family, blog. I had to start writing them all down or I would forget. Don't worry - I'm still focused on Christmas, but when I start thinking goals I need to put them on paper.

Have a great day - looking forward to hearing your responses on #2 and #3.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Few Etsy Favorites

There are certain Etsy favorites that I have saved that I can't get out of my head...let's just say I might be making quite a few post-holiday purchases. Although I'm such a wimp when it comes to hitting that checkout button. Also, I finally downloaded the Etsy app on my iPhone and it's awesome! I think I love it more than browsing on our actual computer.

Ever since I laid eyes on Bubblegum Betty I've wanted the print - I don't even have a definite place for her yet but I'll make one. I wasn't sure if she'd go in Sheila's room right now or wait for Sheila's big girl room some day.

I'm sort of obsessed with this pillow. I've determined I need some black in our house.

In other news...I also got started on painting the drawers of this beast, which is the main dresser in our master bedroom. You can read more about it in my previous post about my plans for the master.

I'm still playing around with some ideas and fabrics to be used for draperies.

Hopefully my head will be clear in a few weeks. For now, I'm enjoying the holiday season with my family - I can't get enough. The music, the sparkle of the lights at night, the anticipation - I love it.

Have you been able to tackle any projects amidst the holiday hustle and bustle?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Tidbits

I've got lots of tidbits for you today friends...stick with me here. But before we get started, can I get a hooray for Friday?  Oh how I love Friday's...without further ado, my tidbits for you...

~Today I am sharing my favorite holiday tradition over at The Mustard Ceiling. Elizabeth kindly invited me to participate in her Holiday Tradition series. For anyone visiting from The Mustard Ceiling, welcome! And to any visitors or newer readers, I owe my pretty blog design all to Elizabeth. She is one talented gal and was a dream to work with for my blog design, so I'm forever grateful to her for her assistance. 

A big thank you to Elizabeth for having me over today. I hope you'll head over and check out my favorite holiday tradition post as well as the other guest posts by some fantastic bloggers.

~ In other fun and exciting news, I won a very generous giveaway from Marianne at Style for Living/Marianne Simon Design! On a recent trip to Anthropologie, Marianne spied a few items that she thought her readers might enjoy - one of which was this sweet bird dish that I won!

If you are not familiar with Marianne or her blog, you need to head over and see how talented she is. She has a beautiful home and killer classic style. I'm in love with her kitchen and her office that she recently updated. Not to mention her holiday decor - she knows her pretty details. Here is a sneak peek of Marianne's office...but you'll have to head over to see the rest.

~ A few of you had inquired about Instagram, so I'll show you a before and after. Yesterday at lunch I took a ride up to Chestnut Hill, which is in the northwest corner of Philadelphia. It's only about 10 minutes from my office. The weather was beautiful and I had a few Christmas gifts left to pick-up so I took a ride. Chestnut Hill is a great neighborhood with lots of quaint, locally owned shops. One of my favorite shops is Robertson's Flowers. Not only are they a great florist but their gift shop is always styled so beautifully. Their holiday decor is really really gorgeous. Here is a photo of an arrangement at the front of their shop:

And here is the same photo shown in Instagram:

Do you see how the Instagram photo sort of has an aged look to it? Here's another Instagram photo of Sheila a week or two ago...trying on her Minnie ears. 

If any of you decide to join Instagram, let me know and I'll follow along.

~Are you familiar with interior decorator, Elissa Cullman of Cullman & Kravis? When I was up at my Mom's a few weeks ago, I picked up a few older Oprah at Home magazines to take with me. One of which was an issue that included a tour of her home in Hawaii from 2009. Oprah called on Elissa Cullman and a team of architects and contractors to help renovate and decorate her home. 

Oprah's home is of course amazing, but you really need to check out Elissa Cullman's portfolio - particularly this Upper Eastside Townhouse. HOLY MOLY is it beautiful.

~ I realize now that I've got a lot of tidbits to share with you, so I might try to do this weekly - we'll see.

At any rate, I hope this post finds you enjoying this fun time leading up to the holidays. Enjoy the weekend - I hope to get lots accomplished.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Building Vignettes

Tonight was my last interior design class. And it's a little bittersweet. I really looked forward to my Tuesday nights and class, so I'm not going to know what to do with this free time! Well I do but it was a fun adventure while it lasted. Anyway, I'll have another post up soon about my thoughts and reflections on my classes, but for now I wanted to show you just a couple of vignette photos from tonight.

We were all to bring a bunch of objects to use as an accessories store. Doesn't that sound fun? I know between you, me, and all of us we would have a lot of really great accessories to play with. My friend Sharon who I've gotten to know in class brought some great stuff too, and unfortunately I didn't take any photos of her stuff or the vignettes that we built. But here are a few photos of the objects I brought to class...

Is anyone on Instagram? The photo above is one of my Instagram photos. I'm having so much fun with the Instagram app. It's allowing me to see the beauty in things I otherwise probably wouldn't photograph - and it's quick and easy - BIG plus.

My objects are some you may be familiar with and some that you may have seen here on my blog. The big stand-out is probably the Domino book that I absolutely love. And then from left to right:

- A ceramic pear by a local artisan that I bought at the Manayunk Arts Festival before my husband and I were married. You can't see in the photo, but it says "Joy" on it.
- That little dark blob is a wooden turtle that my boss had brought back for me from a vacation. I thought he was cute so I threw him in my box of vignette objects for class.
- The 3rd and Spruce growler is my husband's. He had gotten that pre-us and I thought it was a fun object. It's from a bar/restaurant/brewery in Reading, PA.
- The framed artwork is a watercolor painting done by my Mom's best friend's Mom (got that?). She was a painter and had gifted my Mom a few pieces of artwork. I really love the frame that was chosen for the painting.
- The small cup I had picked up at a consignment store a few months ago.
- Lastly, the book "A Year in Provence" - have you read the book? It's really a fun culinary/cultural read if you're interested in picking it up. My Mom had won the book in a drawing and I gladly accepted it when she told me it was all mine.

Looking back now at the photograph of the objects I chose, I think it's a true reflection of my design style - a nice mix of old and new.

The photo below was just me playing around with my turquoise objects. I played with these for a little while after class just to take a few photos for you guys. I'm always thinking of my readers and friends, and knew you'd be interested in seeing some of these photos.

There are a few electives in the spring that I'll probably take, but for now my classes are over and I've got lots to think about heading into 2012.

I'll leave you with a few of my other Instagram photos I've taken in the past week - maybe they will inspire...

Our evergreen out front of the house. My hubby did a wonderful job with the lights.

Afternoon sun and artwork in my office at work.

Do you see the neat vintage effect in these photos? I'm hooked!

My thought for you today is to find something you may otherwise pass over, and appreciate the beauty in that object. And let me know if you're on Instagram!

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's the Holiday Season!

I've got a lot of Christmas songs in my head so I knew I would title this post with a line from a song.

I wanted to show you some of the holiday spirit we have around our house. We decorated our Christmas tree this past weekend. Notice anything about the tree? Our little munchkin is very curious about the tree and the ornaments, so we've moved most of the ornaments to the top half of the tree and left a few at the bottom that Sheila can look at and remove if she likes.

Our railing to the second floor gets a Christmas update...

Here is a glimpse of our front porch decor. Have you heard of a Sno-ler? I added the holly and the bow. 

Holiday decor is so pretty in the home (and outside too). If I had a good photo of our outdoor lights I'd show you that too but it didn't come out so well. But speaking of outdoors, we took a walk around town the other day and I snapped a photo of my favorite door (tell me you have a favorite front door somewhere too if not your own?).

Isn't it so pretty? It looks nice year round, but I really love the holiday look.

I'll post a few more photos in the next week or so. I've got my very last interior design class tomorrow night - it's gone so fast. I'll have a full recap for you. I hope you had a great weekend!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Guest Post

Hope you are enjoying your weekend.

Lindsey from Recreated asked me about my favorite piece of furniture for her Pieces of You Series.

Isn't her header cool? Lindsey blogs about furniture and her reupholstering that she does, decor, fashion, and just beautiful things that inspire her. She is a lot of fun and I always look forward to reading about her adventures.

Stop on over to say hi to Lindsey and see what my favorite piece of furniture is!

Also, for those of you with a Mid Century crush...check out this light fixture Lindsey scored recently...

Photo courtesy of Recreated

A big thank you to Lindsey for inviting me over - thanks Lindsey!!

I'll see you on Monday - have a great weekend!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Tidbits

It's Friday!! Time for a few tidbits that I've come across this week...good reads, good finds, just some good stuff I thought you might find interesting too.

This article about holiday decor e-design by Elizabeth Garone for the Wall Street Journal is so interesting. Interesting to compare the feedback and information she got, the price range, and the overall feeling on the experience. You know my thoughts on my e-design experience, so very interesting and timely to come across this article. Did I ever tell you that I shared a little bit about my e-design with my class and they looked at me like I had 5 heads?

And thanks to Pam for giving the heads up on this article by Deborah Needleman, "10 Odd, Yet Essential, Elements of Style" also in the Wall Street Journal back in October. Her new book The Perfectly Imperfect Home is on my Christmas list. And now that I realize it, her article in the Wall Street Journal was a little preview of the book. I'm just realizing that now looking at the two side-by-side. Regardless, I think you would probably enjoy both.

Pam also throws a mean Christmas all started with this invitation...

Pam and her friends have a theme each year, and this year it was Words. How fun! (hence the invite)
Then Pam worked her magic with the decor. These....

Turned into this...

Stop by Pam's blog, Simple Details, to check out the rest of the details on the party...especially the menu!

I'm coming up on my last design class this upcoming week. We're wrapping up with lighting and accessories. I'll have an update on this last class for you soon.

Have a great weekend and thanks as always for following along with me!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Checking In

Well, my little Sheila is under the weather so we've been spending lots of quality time together, which is wonderful although I wish it weren't under such circumstances. She's got the fever, nose, ear infection, etc, etc...just not her pleasant self, so hoping she'll be back to 100% soon.

Just thought I'd say hello and show you another quick photo of our living room. We had to move a few things around to accommodate for the good ol' Christmas tree. I just swapped out a chair and moved the chair over to the opposite wall in the living room.

Not the ideal set-up but we were low on options. I do love the mix of the print of the chair next to the zig zag fabric of the draperies. (Side note: I also really like the way wall color reads in this photo too - sort of a green/grey color - it changes so frequently depending on the light). You'll also notice the start to my gallery wall. A sweet photo of my little one at two days old on the left and then a print by The Wheatfield which includes all the colors that I love and a great saying "Live In Awe" - something important for people of all ages to keep in mind, don't you think? I've got a few more things to add here and hope to have them up soon. 

I know I'm not the only one with unfinished projects galore - especially this time of year. We should have some sort of finish your projects contest or something - maybe I'll just add them all to my 2012 goals list. Have you started a list of goals/house projects/etc for 2012?

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Nursery Idea Board

Whew, I don't know about you but I need a weekend from the weekend. We got our tree yesterday and my husband got the outside lights up, so it's beginning to feel and smell like Christmas around our house. The weather has been so great - we had another nice mild weekend especially for December.

So here we are back to Monday...I've got a design board for you today.

A dear friend of mine is just about half-way through her pregnancy. They are not finding out what they are having so it's gender neutral all the way for this one. My friend has great style and has already picked out a few items for the room. Since I got a sneak peek at a few of the fabrics and accessories she chose, I thought I'd play around a little bit and put together a board for the room.

I ended up using the Poang rocker from IKEA that I had used on the gender neutral board from a few weeks ago. I think it's a great value and a great look. (Does anyone have one of these rockers in their home? I'd love to know what you think of it as a rocker. I've sat in the chair but never the rocker).

My friend selected the following:
Owl fabric -
Green polka dot fabric -
Owl lamp - Target
She also picked out a very cute owl/tree decal from Etsy that they'll be using on one of the walls.

Great jumping off points, aren't they? I brought in the LUSY BLOM rug from IKEA because there were so many additional accent colors you could pull from it depending upon whether they have a boy or a girl and I liked the additional element of whimsy it brought to the room as well.

Here are the rest of my sources:
Zig zag multi-color fabric -
Crib - Wayfair
Storage container - The Container Store
Stuffed dog animal - Land of Nod
Numbers print - Etsy seller Trendy Peas
Yellow side table - Urban Outfitters
3-drawer dresser - IKEA
Play gym - IKEA

There are lots of fun ways you can go with this room. Hopefully I'll be showing you some photos as my friend is close to completion of the room. Nursery design boards are so much fun to put together, but the gender neutral ones can be tough depending upon how neutral you want to stay before baby arrives. In Sheila's room, we added curtains, additional artwork, and a name decal after she arrived.

Do you have any friends or family who have done a gender neutral nursery? I'd love to hear the color combos or jumping off points they used for the room.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Friday, December 2, 2011

My Living Room E-Design Story

When we bought our house, we knew there were a LOT of updates we would need to do. Removing wallpaper, pulling up carpet, painting, blasting out half the wall between the dining room and kitchen to open that space up, and of course remodeling the kitchen entirely. It was a big undertaking but we were excited about it and excited to make it our own. A photo reminder below of where we started...that area to the right with the floor to ceiling mirror is our living room...true story.

I'm going to be honest here. I had no direction or inspiration when we chose our paint colors two and a half years ago. We just chose whatever color our little hearts desired and I want to repaint the entire house now. Boy, have I learned a lot since that time.

With the exception of our kitchen remodeling project, we hadn't really bought anything new for our house. We were newlyweds and we were (and still are) savers, so we didn't want to go out and buy everything under the sun just to furnish our home. We wanted to live in our house and chip away at projects while creating our home.

So rewind back to February of this year. Sheila was about 6 months old. I was back to work full-time. We had gotten a lot of snow and it was cold. Needless to say we were spending a lot of quality time indoors in our living room. Here is what our living room looked like in February:

This room was a true marriage. The tan couch was mine from my rental days. The coffee table and floor lamp in the corner were also mine. The pleather couch and awful halogen lamp were my husband's. You can't see in these photos but the TV stand was my husband's. So there were lots of items we both had and kept them because we didn't have anything else.

You know I really like all of you or else I wouldn't be showing you any of these photos.

Oh my gosh how did we live with this room for so long...

And that was the problem. We were living with the room and I finally wanted to do something about it.
But I needed help. I wanted help. I wanted an extra, third set of honest eyes that would give me the rundown and some opinions on what the heck I should do here.

I had been reading a lot of Mom blogs since I had had Sheila and at some point I came across Kirsten's blog, 6th Street Design School, and saw that she offered an e-design service. Mmmm...I thought that was an interesting concept. I could fill out some information about the living room and the goals I had, budget, items to stay/items to go, and Kirsten would help me come up with a plan to give us a new look. I'm not one to push go quickly, but I did. And I'm so glad I did.

Items to stay: tan couch and TV
Items to go: pleather couch, floor lamps, rug, coffee table, TV stand

Here are the after photos...

These after photos make me so happy!

There are still areas of this room that I'm working on but I know they will take time. To the right of the couch I've started a gallery wall. I want to find a credenza second hand to use as a TV/media cabinet, but  I haven't found the right piece, and I also want to replace the floor lamp in the corner. I'd love to repaint the room but that would mean losing the stripes that I worked so hard on, and I really don't want to repaint at this point. Maybe in a year. I will keep you posted as the updates occur.

I learned so much through this e-design process. Kirsten was patient, accessible, hard-working, and passionate about this project. She wanted to make sure that the decisions I made about pieces for the room were items that I love. She knew when I was wavering about something...she'd reply to my e-mail and say, "but do you love it?" That is so important with design. The client should love everything that surrounds them in a space. And I love the new look of our living room. It's a pretty, colorful, functional space for me and my family to enjoy - that was the goal I wanted to achieve.

It took me a while to get to a point where the room was three quarters of the way done, but I did it.

Morale of the story...if you've been living with a room for a while and you're just not sure what to do or where to go with it...hire a designer whether it's someone local or an e-design service. There are many, many resources available - you just need to do some searching and find something that works for you and your budget.

I was so inspired by this project that a month or two after I worked with Kirsten, I decided to start writing West Pear Avenue. And here I am today!

I look forward to sharing more about our living room with you as it gets updated further.

Have a great weekend!!