Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Apple Picking

I love living in northern Virginia because the proximity to DC and Baltimore is close enough for a day trip. I also love that being out in the country affords us a nice 30-45 minute drive to incredible farmers markets, fall festivals, wineries and orchards with pick your own fruits and veggies.

Gurgle came in on Friday and we decided to do an apple picking trip. I really feel like we've started a tradition that must be repeated next year as well and will probably include some baking of apple pies, dumplings, crisps or whatever else strikes us.

Unfortunately this year Shaun and I had box seats to the longest MLB playoff game in history so we didn't get to bake together but I think next season we will start early and do all manners of berries as well as peaches in the late summer.

I didn't bring Bear and mistakenly thought it would be muddy after the rain we had the day before but it turned out to be the most gorgeous day for being up on a mountainside climbing around in trees picking fruit.  Next year I shall bring Bear as well as a picnic because it seems they are the only 2 things that could've made this day any dreamier!

I was going to feed this moo cow an apple, but then I read online that it could possibly give her bloat and make her very sick or die. I definitely didn't want to kill the poor fluffy thing so I apologized and told her she was still on a grass diet for now. 

she wasn't pleased about her lack of dessert.

I pretty quickly realized that climbing apple trees was one of my new favorite activities. Apple trees also being my new official favorite tree! 

gorgeous blue skies for miles and the crispest, sweetest apples ever. 

not to mention some sweet company!

Definitely one of the loveliest of days. In fact, I had to apologize for repeatedly saying "gosh this is such a perfect day!". But really, it was. With all of this anticipation for fall, after seeing the spent peach trees, I can't wait until next summer for picnicking under the trees with some ripe, juicy peach and a Gurgle and a Bear. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Apartment Makeover: Luda's relaxed bohemian pad

It's been a little hectic here over the past couple weeks, community yard sales, large cupcake orders, trips to North Carolina and this weekend Bears little cousin, Goliath is staying with us. Blogging has sort of taken a backseat to life and cleaning and packing and driving so I wanted to get this in before I forgot.

You may remember my lovely gal pal, Luda from my white sangria post. Luda is the type of person who you instantly gain cool points for just being around her. She has this awesome creative and alternative style that I love and only wish I could express more!

Luda recently got a new apartment down the way in Fairfax and she has so graciously asked me to help he decorate her pad! I am beyond flattered that she asked me and I cannot wait to show you what we are working with!

I am totally in love with the space she is working with:

This is the view when you walk in right at the front door, straight ahead to the left leads to the door out to the patio as well as the dining room. To the right is the kitchen with an awesomely huge breakfast bar as well as a coat closet and the 2nd bedroom.

view from the doorway of the 2nd bedroom

view from the kitchen 

What I absolutely love about this space are a few things.

1.  I love the big wood-burning fireplace. First of all, you can never find a wood-burning fireplace in places anymore because of all the stupid codes so this was a gorgeous option.

2. The engineered wood floors are wide planked, rustic and absolutely stunning!

3. The large windows with low sills overlooking a green space is such a wonderful detail that most apartments don't have.

4. Modern updates-the whole apartment is updated quite nicely with granite and new fixtures. This is great because you only have so much decorating freedom with an apartment. It's not like we could rip out the counter or paint the cabinets but everything that is in place is already beautiful!

Luda wants to go with a meditative, peaceful, rustic vibe with a slight moroccan/bohemian inspired style. So I came up with this design board to channel some of the bohemian/eclectic vibes she was looking for:

The few absolutes that we are working with here are the gorgeous floors, the incredible rug and the sofa that she fell in love with. Other than that I'm thinking cozy blankets, some warm leather accessories, lanterns and candles with plants and blankets galore. That fireplace just screams cozy don't you think? 

I cannot wait to finish up the living room in Luda's place and show everyone! Apparently we are anticipating a cold, wet winter so I am happy she will have the perfect place to snuggle up, drink hot tea and maybe watch the snow fall! 


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Adventures in Slipcovering Part 1

Let me start this off by stating clearly that I love my couch. It was a battle getting Shaun to agree on something for the living room that looked nice and we both liked. Shaun is NOT a fan of button tufting, patterns or really anything that isn't leather. I love leather sofas as well but we already have the leather seating in the basement theater area and I just had my heart set on a cloth sofa.

This is our ZGallerie Prague Sofa, they no longer sell it but have similar options on their website.

and this is Bear wondering why I removed all of his favorite pillows and am now photographing his sofa.

Again, we love the look of it and it is super comfortable but it does have a couple things going against it.

The things that Shaun doesn't like is that since the fabric is such a thick weave, it pills very easily and the main areas we sit down on look worn out and older after a year of use.  It also collects Bears white fur very easily and shows up because it's a deep charcoal color.

The thing that I don't like about it is that it's such a large piece and so dark, it really makes the space look less light and bright, which is what I love about being surrounded by windows and doors. We get pretty good natural light throughout the entire house but the giant dark grey sofa just absorbs the light  and works like a black hole.

My first (and I thought most obvious) idea was to slipcover! I had looked at slipcovers online for a while and none got very good reviews. I wanted something with a linen material in a light tan or grey that would fix all of the aforementioned issues. So one day in Target we were walking down the aisle and I came across the perfect linen slipcover. After some quiet battling with Shaun, we ended up taking it home and I finally got to covering it a day later.

Just as when I change the sheets or make the bed, Bear immediately jumped onto it to test the waters and make sure everything was cool.

What I didn't like initially was the wrinkles in the fabric and the way it pulled together at the back and around the bottoms. 

I tossed it in the dryer for a few minutes on the steam setting and it took out the majority of the wrinkles.  This is what it looked like after wrestling with tucking it in under the cushions and tying it around tightly.

Apparently Shaun is not the only one unsure of the slipcovered sofa...

You can see the un-slipcovered chair (Bears chair) and the difference that the brightness makes in the room. Unfortunately even after leaving it for a few days in hopes that it would grow on Shaun, it didn't and now all of my cushion wrangling and steaming is for nothing. What do you think? Are you a fan or do you like the original? We will probably end up getting a light cognac colored square sofa for this space instead, but at least I tried! 

Fall Mantle Envy

So even though it isn't officially fall yet, the weather has been dipping into the upper 60s at night and that has pretty much given me the go ahead to decorate for fall to my hearts content.

I typically browse blogs and pinterest to get inspiration before I plunge into some form of decorating and holy moly did I develop some serious fall mantle envy!

My absolute favorite and the main inspiration for my current mantle was this amazing light, bright, and fall foliage inspired mantle from The Frugal Homemaker from last year.

Although I could never cover up the floor in front of the fireplace as it's one of Bears favorite napping spots! 

I also love this simple, chic mantle scattered with fall leaves and faux pumpkins and acorns from Adventures in Decorating in 2012. 

I've also been crushing hard on this thanksgiving/fall inspired mantle on my houzz page since 2010. I love how earthy and natural all of the elements are. You can see the details at It's the little things that make a house a home.

All of these gorgeous bloggers welcoming spaces made me yearn to officially decorate (since the last time was just a half hearted rapid-fire decorate before Shaun comes home and asks me what I'm doing type of styling.

Joann Fabrics has a store nearby that is closing and almost all of their fabric is 50% off with fall decor and other miscellaneous things being 33% off. I decided to swing by after having lunch nearby with a friend to see if I could snag some great fabric for my chairs I'm planning on reupholstering as well as some discounted fall flare to spice up my home. When I arrived, this was the sad state the store was in:

The entire place looked like a crime scene (and some of it smelled like one too). It looked like a scene from a post apocalyptic zombie movie. I half expected a filthy teenager cowing behind a rack of tattered vinyl to jump out at me with a crowbar. Thus the reason I never got a cart (you gotta be fast on your feet during the zombie apocalypse)

Even though the place was a sad mess, I still found some nice fall things to help with my decorating urges and although I found a fabric I liked for the chairs, I'm hoping that it will be discounted again in the future as even being 50% off you have to buy the entire bolt.

So this is what I ended up with when I got home. I will admit that I didn't straighten up the mantle before I snapped these pictures as I had already steadied myself on a wobbly stool (not smart kids, don't do that) to snap the pictures before I realized the decorative spray was a little wonky. But you get the gist, right? The thing is, out mantle is pretty large, it's taller than me by a few inches and is about 8 feet across. Thus why I always end up shoving a bunch of large bulky items up there to counter mass of the thing. Shaun hates bulky stuff. In fact, he hates decor stuff in general. Did I tell you when we first started dating he didn't even have a coffee table? Just a sofa, the chair that came with the sofa and a tv. He was perfectly content with that, so you see my struggle with decorating the house.

I would have preferred to have a few leaf garlands sprawling all over the top of the mantle but for Shaun;s sake I kept it simple and just had the two hanging over the ends. They were both originally $7.99 and were 33% off so I managed to snag both for around $9. 

The pitcher I typically use for sweet tea, but since I have another one, this one would sit in the back of a cabinet hiding away from everyone and I thought that was just a shame. I threw a dollar tree leaf garland around it and shoved some brownish wheat type stuff I got last year inside of it to give it some height.  The wine bottles are, well, wine bottles that I spray painted white and wrapped with some leftover burlap and brown sack ribbon I had from my front door wreath. I got the red berry spray from AC Moore who is converting to an outlet so it ended up costing me $.50 each. 

The grapevine balls were another thing I snagged at Joannes at $5 for both. The wreath is leftover from a few years ago and I threw another dollar store garland around it to get my fall foliage fix in. I made the fall banner with some chevron striped burlap I got at Joannes for $1. 

The pumpkin bin was from AC moore and I think I got it for $4, the one above it lights up with little twinkly lights and it's from last year.

So I guess you could say I got to decorate the mantle for around $20 this year with the use of some older stuff I had, up cycling some old wine bottles and getting a few things on sale. I'm pretty happy with my $20 mantle, although Shaun still insists it's too much.  I can't wait to have a fire in the fireplace, sipping hot cocoa and being snuggled up under a blanket on the sofa. So what do you think? Too much stuff? Should I tone it down for Christmas? (yeah right, like that's gonna happen)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Baked Cinnamon Apple Raisin Oatmeal

As you know, I've already decorated the house and taken to wearing sweaters in the morning in hopes that I can will the fall season and it's weather into early fruition. I think some of hat wishing and willing and pretending is starting to work because we've had some glorious 50 and 60 degree nights here in Virginia these past few weeks.

 The morning coolness lingers until about 9AM when the sun has had enough time to come up and start heating things up. It's lovely to take an early morning walk with Bear through the woods, come back and relax on the deck before the heat starts to drive us indoors.  This also allows me more of an excuse to bake warm things. Obviously the cake and cupcake baking never really stops, no matter the weather but this recipe also came out of necessity because every single morning Shaun worked he would stop at McDonalds on the way and get breakfast there.Unacceptable.

So after speaking with Steph about his terrible dietary habits, she recommended baked oatmeal. Something she makes once and lasts as a hearty breakfast throughout the week. I decided to make this recipe based on what I had lying around or what I picked up at the farmers market. The other great thing about this recipe is exact measurements are not really needed. I kind of eyeballed the oats, vanilla and mixing until I liked what I saw.


and here is how you can make it yourself:

3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 tsps cinnamon
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 stick of melted butter
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1 granny smith apple cut into chunks

Step 1. Grab all of your ingredients and butter up a baking dish and preheat your oven to 350


I typically use even less bowls than this but I wanted to try to make it pretty for blogland.  Looks like I still have some work to do.

Step 2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix the oats, baking powder, brown sugar and cinnamon together until the brown sugar is incorporated and thoroughly mixed through.

Step 3. Add the vanilla, milk, eggs and melted butter and mix thoroughly until everything is incorporated

Step 4. Add your diced apple, almonds, raisins or whatever else you would like to at this point and mix until everything is evenly distributed.

Step 5. Butter your baking dish and pour your oatmeal into it. 

Step 6. I added a little cinnamon sugar to the top for a bit of crunch and extra cinnamon sweetness but you can leave this out if you're not in love with cinnamon like me! 

Step 7. Bake for about 35 minutes. I like a little bit of crunch left in my apples so I typically bake mine for 30-35 but if you like yours more the consistency of apple pie bake closer to 40-45

Step 8. Take a picture of your dog sleeping sweetly like a little angel

Step 9. Enjoy!

After you have this oatmeal you will never ever go back to those dry little packets you microwave with water. The freshness and texture are just lacking with those and even if you add nuts and fruit it still has more of a sticky/goopy texture that I just can't get past. With the apples, raisins and almonds in this oatmeal the texture is perfect a perfect crunch, chew and that wonderful texture of a baked good.

I like to eat my oatmeal with a little bit of drizzled local honey and some fresh heavy cream. But if you like yours less sweet or dryer you can leave those out. Obviously you can also tweak the ingredients to your liking as I did with this one. I also picked up some local peaches and nectarines lately and I'm thinking a peach/raspberry/almond combination would be delish.