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Thursday, September 22, 2016

farewell sweet summer! my favs from summer 2016

It was a busy "house-project" summer around the house!  We got lots done and are still working on a few things which I will share with you next.
I was asked a while back to do a summer favorite post by a reader who liked my winter favorites list.  I love reading "favorite lists" and hope you do too!  Please share your favorites from this summer in the comments :)
Also.... Please note that I have changed my "featured adoptable dog of the week" that I posted this past Monday since one of my readers has sent in an application for little sweet Luther!!!!!  I'm over the moon!!!

This is my late summer mantel and I am going to be sad to change it to fall later today as I have enjoyed it so much.  Vintage coral fans lean against a painting, which leans against the antique French mirror.  Orchid in antique marble urn.  Circa 17th century Italian gilt and gesso candlesticks with a English hallmarked sterling and crystal match strike.

I am loving this chemical free Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby SPF 60 (sample from my dermatologist.)  For my very young readers...  do not listen to the articles that tell you you only need to wear a 30 SPF... you need a 50/plus SPF on a daily basis.  AND... you will want a chemical-free sunscreen for your face.  You can thank me in 20+ years ;)  I say this with first-hand knowledge as I grew up in Texas wearing baby oil (NO SPF) and laying in the sun as early as January.   I am paying for it now.  Do as I say, not as I did ;) !   I've have had 2 V-Beam lasers this summer (I am extremely pleased with the results, btw)  to erase redness from sun damage on my cheeks (telangiectasias.)  With all the media out there on the subject we now know better!  Wear your sun screen every single day!!  And don't neglect your NECK!!!:)  Just sayin'
You really shouldn't put anything on your face that has a fragrance since what you put on your skin is absorbed into your skin.  Why cosmetics companies insist on putting fragrances in beauty products and makeup is beyond me.  Most baby sunscreen products come fragrance-free and have the same ingredients of adult products, so I find them a really good alternative.

While not chemical-free I am still very happy with the Banana Boats KIDS spray-on sunscreen for the body.  Neither Dan nor I like perfumes, and even though a product might say it is "unscented" it often can have a smell.  I find this product to be truly unscented.  I keep it in the basket at the front door, so we can apply it outside as we are going to work in the yard or go for a walk with the girls.
And don't forget SPF for your lips, we us this HERE

I've loved this clam shell orb that I got at HomeGoods at the beginning of summer.

I have been loving Dr. Teal's Body Wash in Lavender and the Dr. Teal's Body Oil.  I use the Body Wash instead of soap in the shower then lightly dry off and apply the oil before going to bed.

 My go-to pedicure color for most of the summer was Essie's Turquoise and Caicos!  My manicure color was O.P.I. Cajun Shrimp, which unfortunately looks to be discontinued.

This summer I have found the magical oil that is Castor oil!   HERE  When I first saw it around the beauty blogosphere I thought... "The stuff that that industries use on machines???"  Well, turns out castor is a natural ingredient from the castor bean and has many natural beauty benefits.  Google it for yourself, but I have had really good results for eyebrow hair growth (eyebrows diminishes with age.)  It is very thick and the smell is similar to peanut/sesame seed oil (both which I personally like) but if you don't (or are allergic to nuts)  it might not be a good product for you.  I also use it on my cuticles every night right before going to bed.

Straw-Ella!  After rolling in our dry grass from months of hot temperatures with little rain!

This is my summer go-to bracelet (actually all-year bracelet)  from Love, Nina Jane -  freshwater pearls and antique medals strung on leather.   I've had my bracelet for three years, or longer, and loved it so much I "wore it to pieces" as Jane of Love, Nina Jane said when I wrote asking if they could restring it!  It is so easy to wear in the summer as it is light and not bulky, but so feminine and pretty.  Mine is the triple wrap bracelet HERE (which you can also wear as a necklace) in the brown leather.   I'll wear the bracelet alone or group with other bracelets.
photo Love, Nina Jane

It also comes in tan leather.

Photo Love, Nina Jane

 I am seriously coveting this 5 wrap bracelet in the tan leather
 photo Love, Nina Jane

I have loved this florist hydrangea that was a gift from Amy and her family who adopted Nanny from the Lytle Animal Control HERE!  It has bloomed ALL summer while changing varying gorgeous colors and has been wonderful on the front porch.  I would never have thought that a florist hydrangea would last all summer, let alone outside!  Next year I am buying one early spring!  I have enjoyed it so much- thank you Amy!   kisses to Nanny!

Amy just sent me this adorable photo of adopted Nanny and her son!  Nanny won the puppy-lottery for sure!!

I love the Ikea battery operated tea lights! HERE  Be sure to buy extra batteries HERE !  Even after a rainstorm and soaking, for hours, in water they still work!  Unlike other battery operated tea lights I have seen these have a very realistic glow.  They also come in candlesticks which I use in the three cow stanchion windows in the barn mud room at Christmas.

I love the Pocket hose HERE!!   I also have several in black with brass connections HERE.  They expand when you turn on the water and then deflate when the water is turned off.  I like how you can tuck them out of view and don't have a huge hose reel to look at.  One key to a longer life for the hose is to always turn the water off when you are not using it.  I have 5 of these at different spigots round the house.

Kimberly Queen ferns take full sun!  I have used them for the last several years and absolutely love them!  They are annuals for me, but grow in really quickly during our spring and summer months.

I love the Royale Peachy Keen verbena  HERE   (This is for you Allison! xxo)   I have used it for several years now and besides LOVING the color (coral is my "happy" color :) I love how it blooms literally all season long!

I love using herbs as container plants.  We will sit in the chairs in the evening and casually run a hand over the rosemary and the scent fills the air!  It is so wonderful and simple!

We are still loving the Balsam Hills lighted boxwood that I first showed you HERE.  What I especially love is that it has a 6-hour timer.  You turn it on one night and then every night after that it comes on automatically for 6 hours at that same time, and then turns itself off.  It is so delightful to walk outside and have it lit without having to turn it on.

Love this battery powered leaf blower to blow off debris on the porches and the terrace.  It has just enough power to get rid of leaves and debris without moving the pea gravel or crushed stone. Word to the wise... be sure to save the box and receipt as these blowers have a tendency to not be long lived and you might need to replace it within one season.

The cutting garden.  As you can see there is still not a white picket fence around the garden.  Since we don't really need one for protection from animals eating the produce we have decided to simply set the garden gate as a "folly gate" using granite posts for support (you can see one laying in front of the gate.)  Hopefully that will get done this fall, but since this has been a 3-year in-the-works project I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you!!!:)
Note the tall cherry tomato plant in the back left corner.  I did not plant that this year!  It came back on it's own which totally shocked and surprised me in our 5a USDA garden zone!

The antique iron urn at the front door is planted with 4 small white on white plants that all work together!  I didn't plan to have 4 containers in the urn, but it just sort of turned out that way and it has worked well and I enjoyed the different foliage textures and tones of green and white.

Southern Luzianne ice tea with mint from the garden!
If I can find Luzianne in New Hampshire I'm thinking you can find it too!  I buy the decaf so I can drink it throughout the day.
I'm sure you all know this, but just in case a novice gardener is reading... ALWAYS plant mint in a pot... not in the ground as it will take over and become a BIG nuisance in your garden/lawn.

And since we are on the subject of drinks;)....  If you like margaritas or tequila straight, you must try Anejo tequila!!!  Anejo tequila is "aged" tequila and is mild and sublime and out-of-this-world wonderful!  Our favorite, for flavor and value, is the Costco Kirkland Tequila which we buy by the case ;) in Massachusetts as New Hampshire's Costco can not sell hard liquor!  Lucky for me there just happens to be a Costco right next door to the Ikea in Massachusetts!!!  Win/Win!
To make our margaritas I use Costco's Margarita Classic Lime Margarita mix which uses cane sugar.  I mix 3 parts lime mix to one part Anejo tequila and one-half part either Cointreau (me) or Grand Marnier (Dan.)  I often will use 1 part Dole Orange Peach Mango Juice and 2 parts lime mix, Dan prefers the straight lime mix.  If I rim the margaritas (I don't always)  I dip my favorite Marta glasses (these are perfect for so many things!) from CB2 HERE in the lime mix then in a mixture of kosher salt and sugar.  If I really want to kick it up a notch I will add a pinch of cayenne pepper into that mix!  Cheers!

I adore the morning glory"flying saucers" on the iron arbor in the courtyard (funny story of the arbor HERE).  My little vines starts that I purchased from a favorite nursery, Walker Farm in Vermont are planted like they are made with pure gold.  The reason is.....

 ... this nasty little hugely destructive varmint called a "vole," (not to be confused with other nasty varmints called "moles.)
I am ready to go all Caddy Shack on them HERE.
Last summer I had two white sweet autumn Clematis planted at the base of each pillar that were growing beautifully only to one day go outside and see every stem coming up out of the ground snipped- it literally looked like someone took clippers to them. I was sooooo mad :(   It took a while to figure out what had happened and what had done the damage.  After reading about the varmits I placed a cone shaped screen (it was actually a wire container that I cut the bottom out of) around the base.  The vine was growing back nicely and then it shriveled up and died.  The damn voles had dug underground and ate the entire root.  UGHHHHHHH.

So this year I bought small scale wire and Dan made two enclosed (sides and bottom) wire planters (planter on the far right) to plant the vines.  Wire planter in the middle of the photo is what it looks like buried, and the wire screen on the far left (open on top and bottom) is the one I place above ground to keep the voles out.  I didn't want to spend another $40 on the clematis, so I tested the wire planters with the morning glories as they were much cheaper since they are annuals and not perennials.  I've liked them so much I will probably do the morning glories again next year!

The morning glories encased in their wire planters.

The system has kept the varmints out, thankfully.  But they have done extensive damage to other beds and to the grass lawn all around the house.  After more research here is what happened and why we have a vole problem.  A couple of years ago Dan decided (after doing many test holes looking for grub worms) to not continue putting grub control out with his fertilizer thinking we didn't have any grub worms.  Wrong.  The next year is when our vole problem started in the winter.  The voles ate the bark off of newly planted trees and made a virtual road map of tunnels under beds and lawn eating and destroying countless plants.
Come to find out... voles love grub worms.  Grub worms turn into a pupa and emerge from the soil as adult Japanese Beetles.  If you fight Japanese beetles (which I did for the first time this summer)  then you have grubs, and if you have grubs you could get voles (or moles) which you do NOT want.  Let's just say we are back to using grub control;)
But, since that will take a while to kill the grub population we have been trying EVERYTHING to eliminate the voles, and nothing works.  I recently bought Organic PlantSkydd  repellant HERE, but havne't put it down yet.  The reviews are very promising however, so fingers crossed.  It also works for deer, rabbit and elk, so if you have any of those issues you might want to try it too.
If you've used PlantSkydd or have any "proven" vole eradication methods please, please leave me a comment before I go all Caddy Shack!!!;)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

my sister's house...

There are a good 15, or so, designers who have had a major influence on my design aesthetic, but none so much as my interior designer sister Patti.  Patti is the middle sister (not to be confused with my "much older sister Susan" :)  Patti is 11 years older than me and Susan is 12.  When I was 6 they were going off to college, so I basically grew up as an only child:)  After getting her teaching degree at the University of Texas at Austin Patti went to Houston to work.  She lived in the most adorable garage apartment in the Montrose area of Houston.  To this day I remember the first time I walked into that apartment (I was in middle school) and I was blown away!  It was the first time she had lived alone and the first time my family saw her incredible decorating talent. I went back to middle school and daydreamed about that apartment for months on end.  I wanted to live there!
After meeting and marrying my amazing/wonderful/hysterically-funny late brother-in-law, Bob, she moved to his hometown of Baton Rouge.  Bob was an architect and between the two of them they created a gorgeous home.  After college I would go visit Patti and Bob, and my nephews and niece, Jenny, and I would stay up every night into the wee hours in the morning sitting in and studying all her rooms like they were a textbook, trying to figure out how and what she did to make them so spectacular.  Everything went together, but nothing was matchy-matchy and that revelation alone changed my world, as it was in the early 80's when matchy-matchy was a b.a.d. common decorating theme.  Patti went on to get her second degree in Interior Design from L.S.U.  She was A.S.I.D. accredited and worked with my brother-in-law, Bob, at his architectural firm until his untimely death in December of 2004.

Last summer when we went to Louisiana to adopt Magnolia and Louise HERE  I took photos of the house she lives in now and wanted to share her gift of design with you.  Patti was the most important influence on who I am as a decorator, and I am grateful for the lessons she taught me through her gift. (I am especially grateful to both my sisters for teaching me that you marry your best friend!)

Welcome to my sister's house!
I really can't express how much I adore her new house and what she has done to it.  It is beautiful, comfortable, soothing and a cool respite in the Louisiana heat and humidity.
The 10-14 foot ceilings are a dream!

The entry.
Like Dan and me, Bob and Patti antiqued and collected together. Bob's antique walking canes/umbrellas collection.  They also collected original antique hand-colored lithographs by John Gould which Patti has hanging in the entry.

The dining room.
Antique chandelier and mirror.
Grouping of original John Gould birds.

Antique buffet filled with silver, Chinese export antiques and fishing floats (it's hereditary!)

The living room.
Love the wall color.  The plantation shutters are a dark wood stain.

Patti & Bob collected a wonderful art collection of contemporary and antique pieces.  I'm always trying to steal a painting, or two, when I visit.

The hallway leads to the master bedroom.  I adore the sconce with the artwork under it.

Again, it's hereditary... we all love birds!  Oh, and stone fruit.... and antique Chinese green oil candle holders;)

So gorgeous.
I came home from seeing her house and found a little brass topped table for the living room, and put a single antique Chinese blue and white dish on it, so you can see I'm still copying her!

Patti and Bob always loved architectural elements like we do.  You can see the iron pieces she added to the top of the doorway to the kitchen on the left.  Patti felt the entry to the formal dining room (on the right) was too large and over-scale and found the amazing antique wood doors from South America then had an iron craftsman work with her to incorporate them into the opening to give it a separation of space.

My grandmother and mother both collected antique Chinese porcelain, which influenced all of us sisters to collect it too.   Love this vignette.

Antique bookcase filled with antique Chinese porcelains.  Door leads to a hallway for the den, the guest bedroom and the guest bath.

The den is beautiful and so comfortable and cozy.

The kitchen.
Antique chandelier and English linen press filled with hotel silver and antique English Majolica.

I love how Patti displays her large art collection.  Quartz counter top and island.  Limestone floors.
Terracotta architectural fragment on the island.

Patti replaced new doors with antiques.  These gorgeous doors lead from the kitchen to the formal dining room, antique English hardware.

The master bedroom.
Again, note the use of antique doors.  Every door you can see is an antique replacement.

So warm and beautiful.

Patti also designed (and physically planted) every inch of the backyard!  It is a small space but big on charm and interest, so feels much bigger than it is.

Patti designed and had the pavilion built.

The shuttered structure is her garage.  I love this.  So much softer than a solid wall frame.

Love how she used reclaimed bricks as her border.

Sitting area.

Great arched double door that leads to the garage.

Patti designed and had the fountain built.

This is her sweet adopted dog "Fancy!"

I was soooo trying to steal this antique gate, or barter for it.  Obviously didn't pan out;)  Isn't it wonderful.

And my "patti pots" that now sit at the bottom of the steps at the front door of the farmhouse!
Thank you Patti! 
I love you.


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