Thursday, December 30, 2010

Let's get out the "big girl" dishes.

A popular toy for little girls is a plastic tea set. I think I had a couple. Strawberry Shortcake or Smurfs patterns, if I had to guess. I served many a pretend meals on these. It was never tea, though. I grew up in the country. We didn't do tea time. It probably was green beans. That was my favorite food when I was little.

Since we've lived in our house, I've hosted an early Christmas dinner and exchanged presents with my dad and brother on the 23rd. Christmas Eve Eve, if you will.

The first year, I did a take on Feast of the Seven Fishes. I think last year, I made one of my dad's favorite pasta dishes. It's never turkey and the fixins'. We get enough of that on the days that follow. This year, I made one of Jeremy's recent favorite dishes, Stout Braised Short Ribs. They did not disappoint, I can assure you. Read more about the recipe here.

Before everyone arrived, I was setting the table with my regular Fiestaware, and thought I should break out the fine china I got for my wedding. I've never used it. What a shame to have it and to have never used it, I thought. But I didn't stop there. I put out the nice glasses and even cloth napkins.

For a centerpiece, I usually use paperwhites that I force bloom. I LOVE LOVE LOVE paperwhites. There's something so elegant to the pale delicate blooms in your house around the holidays. I always put them in clear vases with glass pebbles instead of the dirt the bulb kits always come with. The last few years, I've bought the Smith & Hawken kit at Target. But this year, I didn't get them in time, and didn't get them started in time for Christmas. So, I dumped a container of plastic ornaments in a bowl and called it a day. The ornaments perfectly match the bowl and the cool blues and greens scheme in my dining room. Easy-peasy!

In the background is my aluminum tree. I love that thing.

And, we are having some friends over for New Year's Eve. So, even though my paperwhites didn't make it to the Christmas party, looks like someone besides me will get to enjoy them tomorrow before they die.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Aluminum or evergreen?

or both?

I FINALLY got my trees decorated. To my credit, the trees were up for a week but I just hadn't decorated them. We always get a real tree. My husband's a forester, so it's kinda a given. Plus, it's just tradition. Growing up, we always had a real tree, and half the fun was going to pick it out.

This year's tree is... well... a little small. But it was FREE. Like it was crowding my father-in-law's fruit trees, so he wanted it outta there. And there's two more that are smaller than this one. So, I guess we've got our trees lined up for the next couple years.  According to the hubs it's a Norway Spruce. Really short needles, and nice flexible branches, so it's easy to get ornaments placed just where you want.

The other one is in my dining room. It's an antique aluminum tree that I bought last year from The Purple Moon. I LOVE it. When I was in third grade, our teacher brought a tree like this in from home and we decorated it. I'll bet my grandparents had one at some point. Apparently, they fell out of favor when "A Charlie Brown Christmas" came out because they kinda knock aluminum trees and how Christmas became so commercialized. Now they're collector's items. All the decoration they really need are some simple bulbs.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Evolution of a dining room.

Decorating seems like a never-ending project.
Dining room during our walk-through when we bought the house--June 2007.

Dining room right after we bought furniture--April 2009.

I bought the light fixture after we painted. We had different furniture picked out that was wood. About the color of the light fixture. When we brought home this furniture, I realized the light fixture stuck out like a sore thumb. So, I began looking for something else. Only problem is, I'm picky. And I didn't want to pay $800 for a light fixture.

I especially like the vintage saucers on the wall. They are Fiestaware, Luray, Harlequin and Franciscan Starburst.

Dining room with new light fixture and curtains, and more plates on the wall--November 2010.

This summer, I was in the West Elm store in Columbus, Ohio. I spotted this light fixture and knew it was exactly what I was looking for. Drum pendant. White or neutral. And best of all, less than $100.

I picked up the new plates last weekend when I was at the Fiestaware outlet in Flatwoods. I wanted to get vintage, but it's expensive in the bigger pieces. These are seconds, so they were about the same price--or cheaper, as the vintage saucers.

Next on the list is a rug and a china cabinet. I have my china displayed in a nice cabinet that my Mom gave me  when she redid her kitchen/dining room. It just doesn't match. One of these days, maybe I will be "finished." Probably just in time to start thinking about a new paint color...

It's all about the details around here.

Earlier this year, Jeremy and I undertook a huge project at our house. We had been wanting to install solid hardwood floors since we moved in four years ago, and after watching prices for a few months, found some flooring we liked at a rock bottom-price.

So  of course,we bought it.

And it sat in our house for about a month.

Then, Jeremy started ripping up carpet and putting the flooring down.
It really is beautiful. So much better than the white carpet.

He finished it up in a few weeks. Kinda.

Fast forward to October. I had been watching interest rates for a few months. You see, we needed to refinance sometime in the next few years because we were in an adjustable rate mortgage. I figured it was as good a time as any. And I couldn't have been more right. In October, interest rates hit record lows. The lowest since anyone had been keeping track of them in the early 70s. So, we pulled the trigger on the re-fi.

What does this have to do with the floors???

Well. You know how I operate. Nothing like a looming deadline to get me motivated to do some home improvement. Since Jeremy finished the floors in June, we had been enjoying them without baseboards. And with the hideous white carpet still on the stairs. I was getting to the point that I didn't even notice anymore. But  I knew an appraiser certainly would.

So with our application pending, we went on a home improvement and Home Depot consumer credit card blitz. We ripped the carpet off the stairs and completely replaced the them with beautiful oak stairs. We also finally got around to putting down baseboards. They look SO nice!
And, while we're on the subject of baseboards, you'll notice they're white. We obsessed a little bit about what color we should put down. Oak would match the floors, but is wildly expensive. We could have gotten pine and stained them to match the oak, but I wasn't sure what that would look like. The other non-oak option was pine painted white. But white baseboards meant the trim around the doors wouldn't match. An added expense would be replacing all the trim around the doors. And the doors. But, in the end, I decided I'd try painting the trim around the doors and the doors. And, I couldn't be happier. It lightened up the hallway immeasurably.
There are only a few little odds and ends left to do. Hopefully it doesn't take another six months to complete the project 100%.