Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I have been finding some AWESOME coupons and rebates in the beer section and I don’t even have to buy the beer. What’s beautiful about rebates is that they only look for the price before coupons making it really easy to hit the seemingly difficult required amounts. They don’t care whether you got the item(s) free or for 10 cents, all they care about is what they're worth.

So far this week, I’ve submitted $50 of rebates using receipts for things I already purchased and it took me an hour (maybe) to fill everything out and look through my old receipts. One rebate was $10 for steak or seafood (paid for some tilapia I bought in May), one was for $15 for soda and snacks (I'm married to Nick remember, so NOT a problem), and another was for $30 of plain old groceries… that’s right, GROCERIES!! Lettuce, tomatoes, milk, whatever!

I heard through the HCW grapevine a while back (before I did rebates) that there was a rebate out for $50 off of your grocery purchases of $150 or more. I really couldn't handle the idea of doing that when I was first starting. I was spending enough time in the stores as it was and I thought VA was excluded from the rebate game. But, now that I've got the hang of it you know I’m going to be perusing the liquor section every time I go to the grocery store looking for free money and if I can't find it, you bet I'm going to trade for it!

Lots of Fresh Ideas

So I went over my ideas with a friend and he had a lot to say about me calling this French Country. Below are his thoughts:

French Country style is a great idea. It definitely fits with lots of stuff you already have. It also can be defined in many different ways. Since you know that France is a very diverse place, French country style can have Eastern, Western, Southern (Spanish, Italian, Provencal), Coastal or more Parisian look. From what I see on your pictures, it seems that you're going for a Provencal/Coastal look. The shade of blue of the curtains is a strong reminder of South of France and also many coastal areas from Brittany down to Nice. The brass candelabra and rural painting with their rich gold and reds have a more inner country feel, which, along with the ornate lace table cloth, gives you a more Parisian feel. The black furniture (table, chairs, etc...) and wall paints on that picture look too modern for me to work with a French country style. The wall paints might work if you settle on South of France look, but I'd choose a more classic, dark brown wood, rather than black for the furniture. So it seems you're in between two very different styles here and you couldn't have all the described pieces work together in the same room. In my opinion, you gotta decide whether you wanna go Southern or Parisian. I, of course, have an opinion on the matter that you can take or leave. From what I've seen of your house (and my memory might fail me), I do feel that the stuff you have breathe more of Paris than Provence. You have that Bistro feel in your kitchen for example. You also live in the woods in an area that could be assimilated to areas in the Loire Valley or around Paris. So I'd say stick with the candelabra and painting, keep the lace table cloth, get dark brown furniture and chairs (you don't need to get dark upholstery, it can be cream colored to have a clean sophisticated contrast with the rest and match the wall. I'd be tempted to paint either just the lower third or the entire walls in rich red, with that white wooden separation going around (very classy). Definitely no blue curtains but more subdued colors. They don't need to be too heavy in weight or color. You don't want the room to be stuffy. Plus the focus needs to be on the table with the candelabras above with the painting as a backdrop. I'd say not to use the blue plates there, even if they have French imagery on it. I'm kinda biased. After going to Holland and seeing all the porcelain there, I can't help but associate these plates with Holland rather than France. If you choose the Southern feel, they would definitely work there.

Below is my edited reply:

I think maybe calling it French is what's wrong? Maybe it's American Country Eclectic with only the suttlest of nods to France? I am sort of tired of red and we have it everywhere in the house and it dominates the living room so I wanted to do something different that would still connect (that would be the yellow that's already there).It's OK to me if it comes from more than one region because I'm an eclectic person and enjoy notes from different areas. I simply can't be true to any one style, especially if most items will be found objects. I enjoy the eco-friendly part of that AND it's great on a budget. I'm done with buying stuff new. New stuff is poorly made and it costs a ton. Most blue plates are English landscapes and that is what I already have. I don't think I'll be traveling anytime soon to pick up limited edition French China. Wish I could, but it's not going to happen soon.

From what I read, plates were an over the door thing in France. I thought centering a gilded piece of landscape art over the buffet would start to be too formal so I thought an informal plate arrangement as the center would be a little less formal and a little more country. Comfort is just as important to me and the perceived formality of the space should be slightly casual.

My furniture is mahogany wood but it's more of a dark brown then a black (it's not painted) and the style is an 1800's Sheraton reproduction with intricate inlaid woodwork. The chairs are 1800's shield backs in mahogany as well, also reproduction. Like the lace tablecloth, the set reminds me of my great-grandmother which is why I was drawn to it. She had a ton of great pieces.

What I really hate and what I want to avoid at all costs is that crap they show on the likes of the Real Housewives... they have a lot of ornate crap for the sake of being showy and over the top that is just spit out by some factory in China. It's over the top and yucko. I hate that stuff. I'm looking for that right balance of ornate, and casual. I'd like to do something fresher than the American Country that was popular in the late 80's and I'm not sure Pottery Barn American Casual fits me either.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dining Room Updates

Nick really hates it when I think up ways to decorate. He'd like it if I left everything as is. Too bad. My dining room is boring and lacks any sort of personality. It does have good bones though. It's got a nice cream color on the walls and a mustard color at the base which I love and I can totally work with (not that it wouldn't be easy to change). I also already have a fairly decent dining room set I got from an antique auction for a ridiculously low price a while back. I bought it for less than most people buy for a single piece of furniture and my guess is that it will outlast most of the newer stuff out there.

For my dining room makeover, I'd like to buy everything used with exception of the curtains and candles. Everything else in the room will be found objects, hopefully, even the chairs. Though I got a great deal on the dining room, the chairs are in need of help. They need to be re-glued and re-padded. I'm not sure whether it will be more cost effective to replace them or if we can find something else used that will work. I'm keeping my eyes peeled at the area auctions.

Above, you can see that I made an idea board. Mind you, it's a quick mock-up and it's not very clean. So, forgive me for that. I'm old school (traditional) and I love old things. Like, really old things. I think it reminds me of my great grandmother. She was a sweet, spunky lady with a lot of class and I admired her greatly. She had a lot of amazing, old ornate pieces. They just don't make like things like that anymore.

I like the French aesthetic having passed some time there. The challenge is keeping it relaxed and informal enough to be comfortable, and that is where the 'country' comes in. I think the real beauty of a lot of French design is the elements of classic simplicity juxtaposed with really ornate pieces. I'm not interior designer. What the heck do I know.

To Nick's demise, I will need the following to complete this look:

Brass candelabras
Lace table cloth (the kind your grandmother has)
Curtains and sheers
8 Chairs
Blue Plates (I have started this one so I have a few)
A classic landscape artwork piece

I hope to complete this look in the next 5 or so years. The best designs, after all, take time to put together. I don't want anything new and it's going to take some digging to find what I envision.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Family Vacation

First, please excuse this poorly and hastily written piece!

We returned from our family vacation today. While I'm sad it's over, I'm also so glad to be home! We left Thursday last week and got into Charleston, SC at 9:30 in the evening. The next day we had my cousin Ryan's wedding so we had only a quick moment to enjoy the town of Charleston before we got the kids to nap and get ready.  The wedding was absolutely gorgeous.

The next day we visited Nick's bro Casey and his family (Rhett, Jessie and Debby). Sadly, Jessie, Nick's niece pointed out that they had never met! How terrible! We will have to make the next visit sooner than later. We had a terrific time and we will definitely plan to do it again in the near future. We spent July 4th together hanging out by the pool and enjoying burgers and hot dogs and of course the obligatory fire works. Below is a pic of Casey's pool. I will have to copy the pics my nieces took from Facebook and attach 'em. Unfortunately, we let the battery die on that day only got the pic of Ladybug being thrown about in the pool. Why have we not done that sooner?

After our day with the B Family Clan, we scooted over to Hilton Head, SC. We spent several nights there on the beach. We spent our days enjoying the ocean, biking, running and just relaxing by the pool. We were going to spend an extra night in Savannah and then maybe even spend another night in Atlanta but the weather turned sour on us and were itching to make sure the dogs made it alive so we headed back.

pics removed

We returned to a bounty of ripe blackberries, way too much squash (overgrown!), a ton of ripe tomatoes and green beans. I spent two hours this evening getting it all picked. This will be good detoxification for all the bad food I've eaten this last week. It's good to be home.

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