Two Story Cottage

Potential Floor Lamps that Won’t Break the Bank

Dear Friends,

We are coming up on the one year mark in the city house which has shocked me into action on a few to-do list items.  I’ve wanted more lighting in the family room for awhile now but I can’t do table lamps on my garden stools.  I’ve started searching for the right floor lamp and of course there area a zillion options.

I’ve settled on the bridge or swing arm type to go next to our sofa.  A taller, classic floor lamp could block the TV from the kitchen (gasp).  The other adult in our household would not go for that and besides it wouldn’t work anyway.  The other option- a pharmacy type of lamp- just doesn’t have enough presence for that area.  I tried our old one there just to be sure.

I specifically want an adjustable lamp so that I can get the just-right height which may take some trial and error.   I’m also looking to spend around $200 but anything less than that would be even better.

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I’m sure I want oil rubbed bronze or black for the family room.  Many of the lamps do come in a nickel finish though. I’m stuck on the second lamp right now- the price is right and I like the style.  The last one is pretty fab but I’m not sure it will work.  I really want to make a decision on this instead of browsing all of the options and doing nothing.  I’m really good at spinning my wheels that way.

I’ll keep you posted!



New Kitchen Decor

Dear Friends,

Christmas came in February this year. Back in December, I picked out a couple of marble cutting boards as a gift from my parents.  They ended up backordered and I got them two months post-holiday.  Honestly, what is more fun than a surprise gift that you’ve almost forgotten about?

I don’t actually need cutting boards but I was taken by the design of these.


The cutting boards were on clearance at Wisteria.  I love that catalog.  They have the neatest things and they always have good sales.  Those boards are very heavy and are even better quality than I could have imagined.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them but I knew they had called my name.  I propped them here and there but never found the right spot.  Also, I didn’t want them falling over on anyone’s fingers.


A couple of weeks ago I decided to hang them and I’m sold.  I used gorilla hangers but eventually I might buy some fun little hooks to hang them from.


I’m such a believer in things coming together over time.  Maybe if I wait long enough this kitchen will be just what I envision.  I’m pretty happy with it now though.  It is amazing what a difference a few small changes can make!






This & That Monday: deals, dinner, and a work in progress

Dear Friends,

Happy Monday.  It is unusually exciting here because Mr. C is home after a looong business trip.  We did pretty well for the first several days but by day seven I was in survival mode. Kudos to all of the single moms out there. Or the Moms with husbands who travel on a regular basis.  It didn’t help that spring sports (softball & t-ball!) started this week plus we had a birthday and a time change.  The kids were overtired and alternating between hyper and cranky which was driving me to the brink.


Last week our gas was turned off by mistake.  The gas company mixed up our account with someone else’s and bam, I had a notice on the front door that we had been shut off.  That involved a lot of phone calls and a gas man at my house at 9:30 at night.  All of that stuff seems to happen when Mr. C is not here!  Without gas there is no heat, no range, and no hot water and that is not good.  It did remind me to be thankful for that service although I was cursing them on the inside.

Luckily, peace has returned.  I’m looking ahead on the calendar to spring break in a few weeks! I can’t wait – we are traveling which is highly unusual for us but exciting all the same.  I’m thrilled and nervous because we are going on our very first cruise.  A Disney cruise which is a forever dream of mine.  I say mine and not ours because Mr. C isn’t sure about the whole cruise thing.  He is convinced we will be shipwrecked or get dysentery (Oregon Trail, anyone?).  Don’t forget food poisoning.  We watch a lot of Dateline around here so we are fully prepared.  He is being a good sport though and I know he will love it. He better because this is our vacation for 2015.  Remind me of that this summer when it is 105 degrees.

Any cruise tips for me?  I desperately need some cruise wear in the form of swimsuits or cover-ups or cute little dresses.  Not my favorite shopping to do but I guess a little pre-vacation suffering is in order.


target swimsuits

I got the kiddos a couple of bathing suits from Target. Last week they were buy one, get one half off.  If you missed that, this week they are 10% off with the cartwheel app.  I always have to size down with bathing suits for both of them – they are narrow waisted and we don’t want any hinies shining.

I saw the cutest shower curtain online the other day when I was browsing sales.  Reduced to $18.99 from $68 at Serena & Lily .  Adorable and not needed here but I know someone out there could use it.

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We have been working on a pretty big project that I can’t wait to show you.  Sneak peek for the week and that is Mr. C’s study if you can’t tell from the picture.  He is going to have a true man room.


We had beautiful weather this weekend which gave us spring fever.   It is raining today though and I thought I’d squeeze another soup night in before winter is truly over.  I’m trying sausage corn chowder tonight.  I’ve gotten quite a few recipes from Mix & Match Mama and they have all been yummy.

Cheers to a good week, friends!


Pocket Door Picks

Dear Friends,

Choosing a pocket door for the new office space was a no-brainer for me.  I immediately knew that I wanted an old fashioned five panel door. It was perfectly etched in my mind.   Our contractor assumed we were going to order a door that matches the rest of the doors in the house.  I think he was a little surprised that I wasn’t interested in matching our existing doors. However, I figured a pocket door is different anyway, so why not branch out a little?

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Masonite Anniversary Collection Riverside Smooth Door MSRP $107

We are matching the trim in the foyer so it isn’t as if we are going too far off the map.  Also, I expect the door will often be in its pocket so it won’t even be seen.

I did second guess myself a little but a few minutes of browsing Houzz confirmed my heart’s desire.   Also, the door I like is cheaper anyway.   I have already made the decision but thought you might enjoy looking at pocket doors of all varieties.












I’ll admit, I’m pretty smitten with pocket doors and their practicality.  Of course, I love the trendy barn door but they aren’t always as useful.  I find I’m attracted to painted doors so you never know – maybe I’ll paint the pocket door.  Regardless, I’m excited about the office and I think the whole door thing is going to work out.

A Collection of Pretty Plates

Dear Friends,

If you have followed along for awhile than you know that I have an affinity for plates.  I like to decorate with them.  They are in several spots in our home.  Of course, my favorite activity is eating on them but I’m a tried and true foodie.  In any case, I’m talking plates this month at Houzz and I hope you will hop over and take a look at the fun options.

plates_decorateThis is only a snapshot of the fun plates I’m featuring this month.


I still love the plates over Lacey’s bed.  They might be my favorite.


The dining room plates have been moved around quite a bit but I always go back to them!

I’m tempted by the some of the plates in the round-up.  Maybe I will add to my collection with a spring plate or two.    I don’t have any bunny plates and the egg plates are awfully tempting as well.



Tick Tock Finds

Dear Friends,

Daylight Savings time is this weekend!  Time to spring forward.  I used to dread losing that hour but now I like it.  Having kids changes how you look at everything.  Mine will sleep later once we lose the hour. Of course, going to bed can be harder but it is worth it to have that extra daylight.

Leaving the house in the dark is not fun so lets not talk about that.

Changing clocks is a chore because I always seem to miss one somewhere.  That being said, I’m a clock girl.  I love the old fashioned variety as well as more more modern clocks.  Forget the cell phone, I want a watch or a wall clock.

This month I curated a clock collection for my partnership with Houzz.   I’ve included all kinds of clocks.  Some are whimsical and others are traditional.   Click on the link to head over.


Take a look and don’t forget to move those clocks up.







Beautiful Blues + Free Winter Printables

Dear Friends,

I’ve always had a strong preference for the color blue.   I’m attracted to most shades from teal to turquoise.   As a monthly contributor for Houzz, I curated a collection of fun blue products to consider for your home.  Hop on over and check it out.


Pretty awesome, huh?  Blue is so classic that it will never go out of trend (cough- like the color of the year Pantone Radiant Orchid).

I’m also guest posting at Serenity Now today.  I’ve got two free winter printables to help you cover your bare spaces.  The post Christmas lack of decor is nice but it can feel a little cold sometimes.  Winter decorating will add a little warmth.  Goodness knows we need it here. Single digit temperatures have arrived in the Carolinas which is very unusual.  It is positively frigid for a wimp like me.


Head over to Serenity Now to download a 5 by 7 or 8 by 10 print of either (or both!)

Stay warm!




Gold Dipped Lamp Makeover

Dear Friends,

I’ve entered the trend zone.  I couldn’t resist the recent color-dipped paint fad AND I’m embracing the gold rush.  Buy one get one free on the cool bus today.   FYI, the color-dipping is just what it sounds like- when furniture or accessories look like they have been dipped in paint.  And we all know that gold is the thing now.

I haven’t been feeling warm & fuzzy toward my living room floor lamp so a change was in the cards.  When Modern Masters offered to send paint from their metallic collection, I chose gold and a project was born.  I haven’t done anything in the “study” in ages- I just needed a spark and now the ideas are flowing.  I’d love to paint the room a nice chalky gray.  I’m thinking asap.


I didn’t dislike this lamp but I felt something was lacking.  I’ve had it for years – I was going to change the shade for an update but never got around to it.


I’m glad I waited.  The finish isn’t exactly “gold -dipped” but rather has the color blocking look.  Either way, I like it!  Tomato, TomAto, right?


This project was easily done between loads of laundry and carpool.  I taped off the lamp and painted three coats of metallic paint, waiting 30 minutes between. The Modern Masters Olympic gold covers smoothly and gives a fabulous sheen.  The only gold paint I’ve ever used is craft paint, and this is not even comparable.  Liquid gold, I tell ya!


It practically shimmers, yet it is handsome.  I didn’t sand – the first coated acted as a primer so the second and third went on seamlessly. I used a cheap brush that I had on hand and had zero issues.  It adhered well and I don’t use that lamp often so I didn’t use any kind of polyurethane.


You can see I’ve still got work to do in the room but I’m ready to finish it off.  Paint and a few details will make a world of difference.  It is an out -of-the-box vibe for me and I like it.  I think once the wall color is different, the room will mesh better with the rest of the house.  The study has doors so it doesn’t much matter either way.

I worked with Modern Masters because I am already a customer.  I used their glaze on the front door and beadboard moulding at my old house.  I love working with professional-grade products.  It makes such a difference sometimes!  I might have to further explore their product line – I know there is a metal effects paint that gives the look of aged metal.   I’m tempted to check it out as well.

Have you gotten on board with the gold rush or the color-dipped trends?


I’m linking up with Amanda from Serenity Now!

Adventures (or MisAdventures) in Deck Staining

Hi Everyone,

I’m Erin’s sister, Emily –  I’ve written a few posts before but it’s been a LONG time. Oops! Anyway, there are a lot of perks to being Erin’s  younger sister.  I’ll send her pictures of things I’m thinking of doing in my house to get her feedback. I even had her come over and style a bookshelf once. (I’m too left-brained for that.  My arrangements tend to look too stiff and orderly). As you know, Erin likes to move things around frequently, so I am often the recipient of items she no longer wants.  I’ll take pretty much anything – even if it goes into the garage attic for a future house (why yes, I do have a giant kitchen table and chairs stuffed up there…luckily, it’s a big attic).  There are a few disadvantages too; like being publicly pressured to have children.  Thanks for that.


My husband (Andrew) and I had a great deck installed at the end of the summer last year, and we were planning to stain it early this spring so we could enjoy it all summer long.  When Erin mentioned that Thompson’s offered her deck staining products, I jumped at the chance to use them.  We just needed two free weekends – one to clean the deck and one to stain it.  The only stipulation was that the stain had to have 48 rain-free hours prior to application.  We usually have summer drought problems around here, so no big deal right?

Enter the summer of rain and statistics like “second wettest June since 1895.”


We had one nice weekend in June and cleaned the deck.  We stowed the furniture in the garage and got to work with the Thompson’s WaterSeal 3 in 1 Wood Cleaner.  Since our deck was less than a year old, I wasn’t sure if we really needed a product like this, but Andrew and I were both surprised by the results.  And by how dirty the deck was…oops.

The cleaner was really easy to use.  We poured some into a bucket and rolled it in small, wet sections of the deck with a paint roller.  Then we let it sit for 10 minutes or so and rinsed it away.  Super easy, right?  We had a few spots where we needed to scrub a little bit, but that wasn’t a big deal and the stains either lightened up quite a bit or went away completely.

I was worried about keeping the cleaning solution off of our recently planted beds. By cleaning small areas of the deck at a time it was easy to control, however.  And it turns out I didn’t need to be so careful.  Thanks to Mother Nature, my backyard is basically now a marsh and my new azaleas have officially rotted to death.  Sad.

We were really happy with the final result – it just looked much brighter and new again.


With the deck prepped, we were set to begin staining the next weekend.  Wrong.  The weather forecast slowly changed and it rained.  And rained some more.  For weeks on end. Even if we had a nice Saturday we didn’t have the 48 hours of dryness prior.  So, my nice new deck furniture sat in my garage for two months until we finally had a Saturday in August that worked.

Or was supposed to work.

You see, I was getting desperate at this point.  We had a dry Thursday and Friday, and Saturday was supposed to be dry until the evening.  I figured that we could get up early and get everything done in time to allow the deck to dry for the two hour minimum before the rain started.  Not so much – it started raining at 11:30am.  And not just a light rain, but a pouring rain.  The deck was close, but not quite done at that point.  We had to abandon the project with  just a few boards incomplete, and I was really frustrated at this point.




The next day the rain stopped, the deck dried and we were able to get a good look at the damage.  It looked awful!  There was a small area that was messed up by the rain, but the parts that we did that dried looked bad too. I know now that we were staining the deck the way I would go about painting a room….which is not the way you are supposed to do it.  The correct way is to go section by section and stain small areas at a time.  But, we stained areas along the outer edge of the deck next to the house first and then stained in between the boards and then stained the top.  Apparently stain doesn’t dry all together like paint does.  So, we had a stripey, choppy, ugly deck.  Super…just what I’d been waiting all summer for.  Luckily, Andrew did the bench, sides and legs of the deck all at once, so those looked nice.  It was just the floor of the deck that was questionable.


We got lucky the next weekend with a dry Sunday and re-stained the floor of the deck.  It took an entire day,  but we were really meticulous this time.  Instead of staining a squared-off section at a time, we stained two or three boards and did the entire length of the deck.  One of us rolled the stain on and the other used the paint brush to smooth it out, get in the cracks, etc. It was worth the effort though – the deck looked much better after round 2.  Once we figured out the best way for us to stain, I found that the stain went on easily and we really liked the color.


The stain is Thompson’s Waterseal, waterproofing stain in desert brown.  It is semi-transparent.  It is also an all-in-one product.  No sealing necessary!  I like that it allows the wood grain to show but gives the deck a uniform, tinted look.


The only surprise is that the water seal aspect works ridiculously well.  After it rains, the water beads on top of the deck in some areas.   I’ve found that I can sweep it off if necessary, but I don’t really see myself doing that every time it rains.  I understand that it’s good that the water isn’t soaking into the wood though!  There is no question the product is working.

Now that it is nearing the end of August, the deck is finally back together and ready for use.  I got a couple of new pillows and repainted my flower pots to complete a fresh, new look.   I know Erin has a post planned to show off our deck makeover.  Stay tuned!


This review was in exchange for the product and all opinions are my own.


Dragonfly Design {Fabric Inspired}

Dear Friends,

Thanks for all of your input on the fabric samples!  I’ll keep you posted on the outcome.  I’m also going to track down fabric sources this weekend.   I can tell you the dragonfly pattern was a definite yes the minute I saw it.  I have a little thing for dragonflies.   I have them here and there throughout my house.  I don’t want to be the crazy dragonfly collector lady with an overload of kitschy dragonfly doodads.  My affinity is a little more subtle and I hope to keep it in the realm of normal.  Whatever that means.

I think it might have started because of my love for the Dragonfly Inn on Gilmore Girls.  Can I say best show ever on TV?  Except for Friday Night Lights of course.  Oh, did anyone see the finale of The Office?  Thoughts? #jimandpamforever

ANYWAY, I thought I’d find some dragonfly inspired pics for you to peruse while you drink your dragonfly tea in a dragonfly mug.

Now that would be too much.  Just to clarify, I own neither of those things.

Dragonfly source
I had the bronze version of this door knocker on our old front door!
Not everything is my style but I’m going to show the love to any and all of my fellow dragonfly divas.  This has inspired me to do a treasure hunt and photograph all of my dragonflies. Maybe I am the crazy dragonfly lady after all.
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