{Day 23} Sights and Sounds of Home

Sights and Sounds of Home

I have found 7 simple tips for making my house feel like a home.

1.  Create a Warm and Cozy Atmosphere

I adore the soft flickering of tea light candles and the warm heat from the flames in a fireplace.  Flames from candles, or the fireplace, bring a sense of warmth and peace that are not easily matched.  Place candles on the mantle or light candles when sitting down to supper.  Figuratively and literally, keep the home fires burning by lighting a candle on your kitchen counter.  I often use my candles as a reminder to say a prayer when I notice it, or to remember a loved one.

2.  Create a Family Library

The shelves are also filled with books, inviting people to pick them up and get lost in a good story.  When I was a child, I created a library around the walls of the attic of our home.  I felt pride and satisfaction in my collection of books.  I still enjoy having stacks or shelves of books and sharing throughout my home.  I love watching my children get swallowed up in a novel and filling their minds with knowledge and adventures.

3.  Keep Blankets and Pillows Throughout the Home

Throw pillows and blankets are placed throughout the house, within easy reach to snuggle in for watching t.v. or reading.  Throws, blankets, wraps, and quilts stacked or draped make a home feel inviting.  Extra pillows are ready to pile up and lean on, or even lean against to soothe an achy back.  They add a little touch of whimsy with a mixture of patterns, textures, colors, and designs.

4.  Be Liberal with Color in Your Space

Every room is filled with color…bright cranberry reds, and soft teals, burnt and bright oranges, and sage greens.  My shelves are filled with colorful pottery.  They are simple and decorative, and as easy on the eyes as they are utilitarian.  There are so many different ways to bring color into the home.  A beautiful bouquet of flowers is a great way to brighten any room with color!

5.  Share Memories

The hallway is filled with photographs of my children growing up.  It makes me smile to think back and remember all those special moments.  Get pictures out of the box and into view!  Memories are meant to be shared and enjoyed, not keep tucked away forgotten.

6.  Bring More Life into Every Room

Houseplants bring a little bit of life into nearly every room in the house.  They can be as small as an African Violet, or even a tall and majestic tropical plant, filling a whole corner…but adding something living into every room of the house makes the space feel welcoming and renews the spirit.

7.  Soothe the Soul with Music

Music is uplifting and creates a sense of calm and serenity that is so welcoming.  I really enjoy country music and gospel music…both remind me of my mama!  My favorite sounds fill the room with the beautiful and enchanting cello or soft melodies from a piano.

Often, though, the living room is filled with the sounds of Mickey Mouse and the Disney channel to keep our puppy Georgia entertained while I work. 

In my home, a very favorite album that we play often is Porcelain by Helen Jane Long.  It is so relaxing and the sounds wash the stress of the day away.  I could listen to this on repeat all day, every day…but then again, I am a big fan of routine and predictability…but still, I highly recommend this album if you want to hear some beautiful compositions. We even leave this on for the puppy (when she isn’t watching Disney channel) and we are not home.

Porcelain by Helen Jane Long (via Amazon)

Certainly, I have a ways to go for sprucing things up and organizing the space, but our home is a welcoming place that I love to share with our family and friends.  The sights and sounds within my home are intimate, relaxing, and inviting.  Even among the noisy dog and video games, and despite a sink with dishes from breakfast, it is a place of relaxation and rejuvenation.

What makes you feel comfortable at home?  Do you have a favorite album that is the soundtrack for your home?

{Day 22} Rainy Day Comforts

Well if you are just stopping by, I am on the tail end of a 31 day series on Making My Home a Haven.  This week I am focused on creating comfort in the home.  

All last night and throughout the day today, it rained and rained, and rained some more.  You think we’d be ready for the rain in Washington by October 22nd, but sometimes the combination of rain, wind, and gray skies, just need some brightening up.  Since fall is just getting started and winter is on the way, it is up to me to keep my family comfortable whatever the weather.

My most favorite rainy day activity is quilting!  I bet you would never have guessed that!

However, there are a few other things here and there throughout my house that make rainy days much more bearable.

Books, books, books, and more books.

I am a book junkie and I have a hard time NOT buying more books.

I have the first two Ken Follett books in this series (notice how I said have, not I’ve read…).  This fall and winter, I would like to get through the two books I have and purchase this one when it comes out in paperback.  I really like Ken Follett novels because it is fun to picture the historical settings while reading!

My son just finished reading this one…and I am just beginning it:

I am intrigued with this book and have it in my Amazon wishlist:

Crossword puzzles

…and my son likes the analytical puzzle magazines, so I grab those at the store every once and a while.  By no means am I good at crossword puzzles, but they definitely keep me occupied.


I have a seemingly endless supply of herbal teas to sip on.  Often it is nice to just sit back and have a cuppa.  My current favorites for fall:

Harney & Sons:

Peppermint; African Autumn; Pumpkin Spice; and, Chamomile Herbal


Wild Sweet Orange; Rest; and, Calm

(I also really love to have Tazo Refresh (not pictured) stashed away for a quick pick-me-up on a gloomy day)

Soups, Stews, Curries, and Casseroles

My fella added that a rainy day comforts list can’t be complete without including stew (but in our house, anything whipped up in a Dutch oven is perfect for a rainy day).  There are some great recipes in these cookbooks:

We joke about cooking our way through all 660 curry recipes…I don’t think that would be a bad thing, but it might take a long time!

This cookbook has some of my favorite go-to recipes…my copy is well-loved!

***And I’ve also been reminded that there is no more perfect meal on a rainy day than a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup.

…of course, I have a rainy day wishlist of things that I would like to buy someday.

I have a Pendleton saddle blanket that I absolutely love…but I am smitten with this one, and might buy it for a Christmas present for my fella! I think that he would love the colors in this one. This is the Pendleton Parfleche Saddle Blanket in olive.

These are the things that my family loves on a rainy day.  They all make staying inside and watching puddles form much more enjoyable.  Add in watching football or Netflix (and some of the family likes to play video games), and it rounds out our rainy season!

What are your rainy day routines?  Do you have things that make rainy days more tolerable?

P.S. My son said that the only thing missing from this list is a requirement for a bottomless stack of quilting magazines…he knows me so well!


Style Me Pretty Fall Challenge-Week 2

Wow, getting a late start on posting this.  Today has been a challenge in and of itself.  The weather here wreaked havoc on traffic throughout the morning, so it took me a while to get home from work and get this posted.  I guess I should have scheduled it last night!


I am having a lot of fun with Alison’s Fall Challenge!  The weather is certainly cooperating in my neck of the woods…except for those days that I would really like to wear some suede booties!  I should have just nixed that purchase and went with some wedge rain booties instead…I might have to add that to my wishlist.

So anyhow, here are days 4 through 10.

Day 4:

Today was a fancy sweatshirt, boyfriend jeans, and leopard flats.  I added an olive drab jacket and a statement necklace.

OOTD day 4

Day 5:

Alison’s recommendation for today was booties, grey jeans, a cardigan, plaid scarf, and a long-sleeved shirt.  It was rainy and icky, so I didn’t dare wear my suede wedge booties outside…wore my favorite new pair of Old Gringo boots that my fella bought for me!  They are my new favorite pair of boots!


Day 6:

Today was cold and rainy.  Outfit for today recommended by Alison was a neutral sweater and plaid scarf, paired with skinny jeans and boots.  I added a vest and swapped out the plaid for a solid infinity scarf.


Day 7:

We had a break in the weather today.  It was nice to get out and see a bit of sunshine…outfit today was striped shirt, gray jeans, bright cardigan, and leopard flats.  I added my tassel necklace and some earrings.  I was very comfortable today!


Day 8:

Today, the outfit of the day was a plaid shirt, military-style jacket, boyfriend jeans, and wedge booties.  I added a statement necklace and a long-sleeved shirt.

10655440_10204324066203963_1099376186142186924_oday 8 necklace

Day 9:

Alison’s recommendation for day 9 was leggings, leopard flats, a fancy sweatshirt, and a striped shirt.  I wasn’t too keen on the leggings, but they are perfect for working from home and for sewing.  I wore my cardigan instead of my sweatshirt because I could see the stripes through my ivory sweatshirt…I did hop in a pair of jeans for a trip to the grocery store though!  I wasn’t sure I wanted to go too far from home wearing leggings!  They were probably all covered in shiny green thread from the quilt I was working on, anyhow. 

1489273_10204329984031905_3828480938676952531_nfall challenge day 9 leggings

Day 10:

Today was cold, wet, windy, and rainy in Washington.  Perfect day for a warmer sweater.  Alison’s recommendation for the day was Oxford shoes, boyfriend jeans, a plaid scarf, a cardigan, and a neutral long-sleeved top.

fall challenge day 10

I am definitely not the most stylish gal on the planet, but I am loving this fall challenge!

Have you found a great plaid scarf?  I am still on the hunt for one I love, so I’d like to hear about any suggestions!

Make sure you stop by and visit these lovely ladies that I am linking up with this week, and throughout the Style Me Pretty Challenge!  They had some great outfits this week!


Deena | Christy | Jordan | Carrie C. | Shaunacey | Danielle | Beth | Joy | Sarah |
Leslie | Katie | Jennifer | Carrie M. | Lisa | Sheila | Lana | Lauren | Anna | Alison




{Day 21} Snuggled Up in Cozy Bedding

There is nothing in the house that I like more than a comfortable bed, made up with lovely linens, and just calling to me when I am ready and waiting for a good night’s sleep.

On our to do list is updating the master bedroom and purchasing new linens for my son’s room.  Right now he has a twin long comforter to cover his long legs, but his bed is full-sized.  Since winter is sneaking up quickly, I have been browsing online for new linens for both rooms.

I thought this bedding set would be wonderful for the master bedroom because it is masculine and the colors are soothing.  The  Tommy Bahama Portside King Comforter Set is a set that my fella and I would both choose to make our master bedroom have a more spa-like feel.  It might also be that there is no puppy, kitty, or dirty laundry in this picture that makes it look really appealing.  

Tommy Bahama Bedding Set via Amazon

Now if I was just picking out something that appealed to me, the set I would choose would be Nygard Home Tess Duvet Cover Set in King (7pc)I often say that my favorite color is gray.  Gray and roses are perfectly beautiful and relaxing in my book.

Nygard Home via Amazon

I found a few options for my son’s room that I think he would like…I don’t think that he cares what it looks like, just that it is comfortable and warm.

Ink+Ivy Maddox 2-Piece Quilt Set, Full/Queen, Blue


Ink+Ivy via Amazon

Eddie Bauer Ravena Plaid 3-Piece Cotton Reversible Quilt Set, Full/Queen


Eddie Bauer via Amazon

Field and Stream Foster Plaid Quilt and Sham Set Full/Queen

Field and Stream via Amazon

So now you know two things…I like window shopping…and that I am leaning toward buying my son a plaid bedding set.

Does fall and winter make you start thinking about updating your bedding?

{Make it! Monday} Bright Sky Quilt Along Progress

I’ve been a little neglectful of keeping up with my Bright Sky quilt progress for this month’s quilt along. So today, I will show you my inner star and outer star and tell you a little bit about my plan for the upcoming week.

This project can be a bit of a challenge due to bias stretching, but it pieces together quickly and is a lot of fun.

Week one-Inner Star:

inner star bright sky quilt

Week two-Outer Star:

I miscalculated my background fabric by just a smidgen, so there was a little bit of piecing scraps together to make enough to cut my final background pieces.  It actually worked out well.

I also had very poor sleep for nearly a week…reading rulers and paying attention to measurements was not a strong skill set for me this week.  Lesson of the week: quilting requires sleep.  Sleep deprivation opens up a world of possibilities for cutting fabric more than once.

bright sky inner and outer star

bright sky

Week three-Quilt Top and Backing:

I am thinking about adding a border to make this quilt top a little larger. (It is for my brother and he is quite tall.)  I have some lighter gray fabric that I think would make a lovely border, and maybe add corner squares with more of the logo fabric to balance out the center star a bit.

I haven’t purchased fabric for the backing or binding yet (someone was kind enough to hack my checking account, so the quilty funds were lacking this last week).  I definitely need to get to the quilt shop and purchase some backing fabric to keep this project on track for the quilt along.  I do have some bamboo-blend batting that I love working with that I think will create the perfect weight.

So the plan for this week…buy backing fabric and binding fabric, and probably some Floriani thread for quilting the top.

Are you doing the Bright Sky quilt along?  If so, how’s the progress on your quilt top?

{Day 20} Do Your Homework!

homework station header

Creating comfort in the home means having work spaces that work for all family members.  Creating a homework area is a project that has been on my to-do list for a while.  While I was going to school, I either worked in my home office, on my bed, or camped out on the sofa.  My son does his homework at the dining room table.  I often think he rushes to get done so that he can move on to watching t.v. or playing video games…or because it is time for dinner.

There are plenty of Pinterest boards with ideas for creating homework stations.

  • Ashley Sexton Townsend’s Homework Stations board has a lot of great ideas.
  • Jennifer Wheeler offers over 70 great homework station ideas on her board: Homework Station.
  • Nicole Hedge’s Homework Station board is also filled with great organization ideas.

For even more ideas, This Old House has 27 great homework station ideas that are pretty great.  These require a bit of planning; however, today my son and I were talking about the pros and cons of continuing to do homework at the dining table, but creating an efficient way to organize and corral office and school supplies.

I wanted to share this video from At Work With Nikki.  At first, I didn’t think that I would need an “office in a box” because my office already takes up an entire room on the main floor of my house.  After watching the video, I thought creating an “office in a box” was a great idea.  After spending upwards of 50+ hours per week in my office, it would be nice to be a little more mobile (maybe sit in front of t.v. and get things done). This is also much more attractive than the Craftsman tool box that I keep filled with office supplies and haul back and forth from work for my in-office work days.

I really would also like to create a homework “office in a box” for my son. It would be very helpful for him to easily find the supplies he needs without having to get them from my home office while I am working.  He could also quickly tidy up the dining room table after he completes his homework.  I think making one of these boxes and tucking it away in an easily accessible space in the dining room would be really helpful.

This is now definitely on my to-do list of projects.

Do you have a homework station or an area set aside just for kids to complete their homework and study?  Have you ever tried to have an office in a box?

{Day 19} Slow Cooking Comfort Food

When you enjoy cooking and baking, one of the greatest things about making a home a haven can be creating comfort through food.  Today I wanted to share a few cookbooks that have comfort foods that my family enjoys.

One of the best ways to get food on the table quickly is by using a slow cooker.  I really like being able to use my slow cooker and I have collected several cookbooks specifically focused on slow cooking.  Here are a few of my favorites!

1.  America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution contains 200 great recipes that your family will love.  One of the great secrets they share is “blooming” onions, garlic, and spices in the microwave before adding to the slow cooker.  This is a tiny trick that makes a big difference in the finished meals.

2.  Michele Scicolone’s book The Italian Slow Cooker is a great resource for preparing Italian foods and sauces.  The recipes go together quickly and easily, and taste wonderful.

3.  This is a book that I have mentioned before, and I am including it here again…my copy is well-loved.  Deborah Schneider’s The Mexican Slow Cooker: Recipes for Mole, Enchiladas, Carnitas, Chile Verde Pork, and More Favorites is a great resource for slow cooking!

4.  Another of Michele Scicolone’s cookbooks that is great to add to your slow cooking cookbook stash is The French Slow Cooker.

5.  Andrew Schloss shares 80 great slow cooking recipes in his cookbook Art of the Slow Cooker: 80 Exciting New Recipes

6. One of my very favorite cookbooks for slow cooking is 150 Best Indian, Thai, Vietnamese and More Slow Cooker Recipes.  If you like curry, this book is wonderful!

7.  Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Slow Cooking: Recipes and Techniques for Delicious Slow-Cooked Meals has lots of great recipes that your family will love!

The great thing about slow cooking is that the possibilities are endless.  You can make traditional comfort food dishes, or even ethnic dishes when you crave Mexican food, Thai food, Indian food, French food, and Italian food.  I have several slow cooking cookbooks, but these 7 are my favorite, go-to books that I find myself browsing, flagging, and highlighting, again and again.

Do you have a favorite cookbook that is focused on slow cooking?  I’d love to hear your suggestions!

{Day 18} Creating Comfort at Home

Cozy Living Room

This week, we are going to focus on creating comfort in our homes.  Today, I included a Polyvore set that I created for a sample living room.

I have a very small collection of glassybaby tealight candle holders…a collection of 3, to be exact (not that I wouldn’t love to have plenty more!).

I have a bright yellow one that is very uplifting and cheerful:

via glassybaby

I also have this great set:

via glassybaby

The Polyvore set above is built around our Seahawks-style glassybaby candle holders.  It might seem silly to decorate around a pair of candle holders, but the set is built around a sofa that is similar to the one we already own (minus the layer of dog hair and the gray sheet we keep on our current sofa…a very lived in look at our house!).  We are definitely Seahawks fans in my household, so the colors are a fun way to acknowledge that sports are important to my fella.  I am also a fan of gray.  I find the color very relaxing and calming, so I added in touches of gray.  The other elements are a bit rustic and slightly industrial, which is a style that my family really likes.

Creating comfort in my home means that I am not only thinking about what I would like to have and wishing I had something nicer, better, newer.  It is acknowledging that comfort isn’t about having a perfectly matched living room or bedroom set.

Creating comfort is making everyone in the house feel at home in their surroundings.

When I think about creating comfort, I also try to incorporate several elements into my home.  I like to have some form of living plant in each room, and I like to have candles and nice lighting.  This is often easier said than done, but it is something that I think really creates a sense of peace, rest, and rejuvenation within the home.

Creating a Polyvore set allows me to have a simple snapshot of the elements that I want to bring into the room.  Ultimately, the room might not have all of these items, but I am able to keep a design board page in my home notebook.  (With our dog and cat, I would be very reluctant to put my lovely glassybaby candle holders on a coffee table, because I would be sweeping up green and blue shards of glass shortly after doing so!)  However, creating a design board helps me when I want to make a purchase for the room that I am working in.

I can also show the design board to my fella what I would like to do and it helps him visualize what I am rambling on about, as well as offer his suggestions on what he wants to do, or reel me back in from my crazy ideas!

Do you create design boards for the rooms in your home?

{Day 17} Window-Shopping: 10 Lovely Aprons

10 Lovely Aprons

I hate to break the news to you, but more dust always settles, the dishes have to get washed again, and the laundry will need to be washed, dried, folded, and put away.  These tasks are routine, and can be mundane, but only if you let them.

Here are some really fun aprons to make homemaking and homekeeping even more fun!

1.  I love this flocked purple half apron from Jessie Steele.  It may or may not be on my Christmas list, or wish list, or posted on the front of the refrigerator as a big hint that I would like one.  Okay, so the printer is out of ink and paper…so it isn’t on the front of the fridge (YET!)

Flocked Purple Bouquet Damask June Half Apron

Flocked Purple Bouquet Damask June Half Apron via Jessie Steele

2.  IceMilk Aprons are so beautiful.  This apron is simple and glamorous.  This is a full-wrap apron and is very chic.

IceMilk Full Apron Rollings of Cinnamon Personalized via Layla Grayce

3.  I am a big fan of the Villa Apron from Anthropologie.  The floral fabric with the solid green accents look like they would hide a multitude of spills.

  • Villa Apron via Anthropologie

4.  This one is definitely the most expensive of all the aprons included here (and at $250, it is really out of my price range), but is absolutely gorgeous so I have to share it with you!  This is the Lizette Apron from Haute Hostess Aprons.  If I ever bought this one, I would wear it all the time and feel like a million bucks.  Can I just say one more time..GORGEOUS!

Lizette Photo

via Haute Hostess Aprons-Lizette

5.  Here is another Jessie Steele apron.  This one is a full apron featuring diamonds and cherries in a sweet print.  But the best thing about this apron…the wide ric-rac.  I am a pushover for ric-rac since the 1970’s. 

Diamond Cherries Bombshell Apron

Diamond Cherries Bombshell Apron via Jessie Steele

6.  Here is another Haute Hostess Apron…the Felicity.  I am in love with the gold dots and the red ribbon embellishment.  Anyone want to feel like a princess for a day?

via Haute Hostess Aprons-Felicity

7.  Sometimes simplicity speaks for itself.  That is the case with the Brushed Chambray apron from Anthropologie.

  • Brushed Chambray Apron via Anthropologie

8.  Valcooks makes a very colorful and vibrant apron that is so much fun!  Here is the Lollipop.  Tell me that wouldn’t make you smile just a little bit, even if you were washing dishes!!

Lollipop via Valcooks!

9.  Hen House Linens makes a 20 x 26 cocktail apron with many options for the fabric.  I really am keen on this orange cocktail apron.  But at this point, I think you and I would both agree that I have said that I am in love with nearly all of these lovely aprons.  This one is definitely one of my absolute favorites of the whole bunch.

Cocktail Apron via Hen House Linens

10.  Last but not least, the Cuisine Couture Apron from Anthropologie.  Anthropologie certainly has a lot of great aprons available.

Cuisine Couture Apron via Anthropologie

Just for fun, here is a Wall Street Journal article about how aprons have inspired some fashion trends – here.

Do you like to wear an apron while you are keeping house or cooking?

{Day 16} Creating a Cleaning Routine

Creating a Cleaning Routine…Well this isn’t very colorful or engaging, but all of my images are uploading with errors this evening.  I will update the post when I figure out what on earth is going on.  However, I committed to 31 days of writing, so I am not going to let a bunch of images slow me down this evening!


So really I have a disclaimer…I am not a great housekeeper…I would really rather be quilting than scrubbing grime out of every nook and cranny in my home.  In lieu of deep cleaning, I find myself having to stop quilting (or reading…or hanging out on Pinterest) long enough to get the work that needs to be done completed as quickly as possible.

I used to have a really great homekeeping routine in place.  I was notorious for checking off tasks, like making sure that Tuesday mornings all the houseplants were watered.  (I was obsessed with checking off tasks!)

Oh boy, I absolutely LOVED my morning, afternoon, evening, daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly to-do lists!

Then, one day, I had this harebrained scheme to go to graduate school.  Those tasks started piling up, because every spare minute I was trying to catch up on my reading, or studying for upcoming exams.  Fast forward two years that it took to complete my degree, and suddenly I realized that the dust piled up, the spray bottles went untouched, the broom probably had cobwebs in the corner, and I was lucky everyone had clean sheets and underwear.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t as drastic as it sounds, but my routines essentially imploded.  There was not time to tend to every item on my carefully crafted list.  There would be no setting the table with cloth napkins, lighting candles, and putting on soft music in the afternoon.

In fact, the cloth napkins seem to have walked away…I think they felt abandoned because we traded them for whatever paper counterpart was in the fast food bag each evening.  I think there are some poinsettia holdouts waiting for their holiday debut, but the rest, they completely disappeared never to return again.  (Not very eco-friendly or nutritious options were common there for a while...)

So my list is quite extensive, and after breaking from routine, it doesn’t seem very manageable anymore.  I have been working on crafting a new cleaning routine for my home.

I know that everyone’s home and schedule is different, but really we all have the same tasks that need to be completed to keep our home’s clean.

I started my list by looking at a flyer that was mailed to me for a cleaning service.  Most of these chores were items that I categorized for weekly, monthly, or seasonal completion.  Here is an example of a maid service checklist…and one more just for fun, here.

I put all my routines in page protectors that I could mark off with a dry erase marker.  At the end of the night, I would wipe the pages clean with a bit of window cleaner and a rag or a paper towel.  It is very easy to keep these in a homekeeping binder.

While drafting this post, I was also trying to upload a copy of my cleaning routine, but ended up having a few issues with the file.  Isn’t that how things seem to go?  No problems at all, until you are cutting it close on a deadline…I will update this page with a link to the file as soon as I muster up some technology skills!

Until then, check out some other resources for creating a cleaning routine:

  • A great post on creating cleaning routines can be found here.  Ruth Soukup, of Living Well Spending Less, shares several great ways to create a cleaning routine that works for your and your home!
  • Flylady has some great resources for creating control journals for managing your home.
  • Clean Mama is ALWAYS a fantastic resource.  (Hint:  I really like the Modern Day Homekeeping Kit.)
  • A Bowl Full of Lemons has great ideas…and this month, you can follow along with a purge to declutter your home.  (P.S. Toni has the most wonderful pictures on her site.)

Now that I have sent you on a wild goose chase for all sorts of ways to create a cleaning routine, how do you organize your household chores and tasks?  Do you have daily routines, or do you just wing it and work on whatever needs cleaning at the moment?