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February 21, 2019

Pre-Spring Around Our Home


I've been in a pre-spring slump this past week.  We had an unexpected 6 days off due to snow - in a row.  While I usually love snow days, they've sort of sucked my momentum for completing any real projects.  When school's out we make plans with friends, are lazy and lounge around, we head out to the country to piddle... all fine, but I've got stuff to do!   I enjoyed being lazy post holidays, and some time in January, but now I'm itching to get moving on somethings and just can't seem to get any time to get them done.  I'm done hibernating.  I'm ready to work, darn it : )

Yesterday, Emma helped me check somethings off of my list.  It felt good to actually be productive on a snow day instead of just being its victim.  I might be being a little dramatic.


Then after we cleaned and freshened, I told her to go watch a show and I took out my camera and had an entire 45 minutes of quiet, creative time.   I walked around the house and took pretty pictures.  Sometimes we just need to get back to work to feel like ourselves again.


These pretty 'nantucket-style' baskets will be part of the spring collection launching at the end of next week.  See?  I've got stuff to get ready for!

If you need a touch of spring in your life go buy a hyacinth - it is perfuming our entire house!  


I restocked some of my Home Keeping Essentials yesterday.  I love these twill classic kitchen towels.  I keep a big stack of them in the drawer to the left.  I add/replace a couple each season to keep them fresh.  Life is too short for stinky, dingy dish towels.


I also added this new Kitchen Brush.  It is a little more contemporary in design that I've had in the past - I love how fresh it feels.  Sometimes a little modern touch does wonders for our classic home.


We get lots of messages about our barstools - they are from Ballard.  I actually went through a phase last summer when I wanted to replace them, but glad I resisted.  I think I was just itching for a change.



I potted these daffodils after Christmas after taking down all of the holiday decor, I needed to add a little life to our home.  After the holiday things come down, I'm always happy to have fresh and clean again, but something always feels like it is missing.  Adding more plants and flowers inside always does the trick for me. 


It has been so fun to watch these sprout and develop over the last 6 weeks.  Perfectly timed for spring photos next week.


We also restocked all of our Clear Bottles and Tablets for those of you are also in the mood for a refresh.




These are the roses Mike gave Emma and me for Valentine's Day.  After a little education a couple of years ago, he's gotten really good at buying flowers.  I always politely 'advise' him to buy stems (vs. an arrangement) since I like to put them in my own pitchers and vessels : )


He did very good this year with these garden roses.



I just got back the first Nantucket Painting from the framer.  Isn't just the most darling little jewel?  Love the thick gold frame.  This one is actually heading to my friend's house, but I had to take a photo of it first.


More Valentine's flowers from Mike - sweet peas.  These are so fragrant and very sweet smelling.


Now, what to do with these Harry Potter Legos that have been on "display" since Christmas... ideas?!?!

Happy Pre-Spring, friends.  I hope you are finding a way to keep yourself busy before we can busy ourselves in the garden : )


February 20, 2019

Spring Cleaning Worksheets


I love spring cleaning.  I'm sure that sounds nutty, but I do.  Remember when we moved out of our house for our new addition?  I said, "I love packing."  And again when we moved back in, I said, "I love moving and unpacking."  It is all in the same vein for me - that fresh start, new project feeling.  Cleaning up and cleaning out.  I just love the feeling I get of physically working and cleaning, not to mention the lightness it brings to our house.

Our home works very hard for us - entertaining, family time, play dates, nightly dinners, big and little holidays - so keeping it in good order helps us to live fully.  We've all had those issues in our home that make us feel like "we can't have anyone over until..." or "we can't enjoy the backyard until..."  I never want any of those reasons to keep us from fully living and enjoying - having friends for dinner, family time in the backyard, relaxing on the porch with wine in the evening, coffee in the morning, and our time in the kitchen.  If your home is not serving your life in a productive and positive way, it will make you feel so much better to take some time to tackle those "if, only, when" barriers.  

Above : These are my favorite Tablets to stay organized.  You can purchase these in my store, or you can download some cleaning worksheets I've put together below.




Spring Cleaning Worksheets - Download

You can download all of the spring worksheets here.  I have blank sheets, as well my own list, in case you need inspiration.  They are in PDF, Excel,Numbers and JPeg formats.



I am the first to admit, I'm not great at keeping things neat and tidy all of the time on a daily (hourly?) basis (at all), so having this regular re-organize and deep-clean schedule keeps everything relatively nice feeling... even with my day-to-day messes.  For this spring, I made a list of the spots in our home that need the most attention.  Most of these items need to happen every season - which keeps it manageable.  I also make sure I have "fun" projects, too, like adding fresh pillows and throws.  As you can see, I did the "fun" thing first - only thing checked off so far!  Normally, I would wait until everything else was checked off, but those pillows from the spring collection were too good to resist.

The first item on my Inside list is the Freezer and Refrigerator.  I have been meaning to do this since January.  Oops!  I'll be doing that today and stocking it with healthy options fresh for spring (like favorite smoothie ingredients... and frozen cookie dough).  I'll walk you through everything that I'll keep stocked next week.


Here is the freezer inventory list I made to keep on the inside of my cabinet.  I always forget what I have in there!  I used to do this when we lived in Concord when Emma was a baby since we relied on the freezer so much.  I would be stumped for a dinner idea, then go to this list and remember that I had frozen parmesan chicken or soup in the freezer.  Every year we get a freezer full of beef from my family's farm.  This list will help me remember that I have 2 briskets, 8 ribeyes, 20 packs of hamburger and 3 chuck roasts still in the freezer.  I'll be implementing this again this spring.




I am so glad it is almost time to get our hands in the dirt again.  Since I end up working at my computer for a big chunk of the day, I really look forward to nice weather so Emma and I can spend our after school time in the backyard.  We've done the cleaning out, now the fun starts with mulch, seeding and some little gardens we're planning.  I'll share more details on those in the next week.  

We woke up to our first daffodils blooming inside this morning - so fun!  


Shop my organizing essentials in my store >




February 15, 2019

Our Weekend at Blackberry Farm


Last week, Mike and I stayed at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee.  It's been on my list for a couple of years, but we've had a hard time finding the right time to go.  The weather in the midwest is the best in the Fall and the Spring, so I usually don't like to travel during those months.  In the summer, I really prefer going to locations that are cooler than home to get a relief from the heat.  I wasn't sure if winter was the ideal time to retreat to Tennessee, after all, the weather is pretty similar to what we have at home.  However, the more I looked at photos of the property and imagined us cozied up in a cottage with a wood fire roaring, putting our boots on and exploring the grounds in their dormant state and treating ourselves to special dinners each night, I decided that maybe the winter was just the perfect time for us to go.


To our delight, the weather was a gorgeous 65 degrees for the three days and two nights we were there - a peak of spring.  There were crocus and ferns pushing up from the ground and buds on the shrubbery - about a month from where we are at home.

We walked, we explored, we went fly fishing, we drank, we ate, and we relaxed.  It was a wonderful escape from the real world in a place that felt very much like home.  


The property is spread out with features at far corners, so you have to venture out to various spots during the day.  This is The Barn where dinner is served and the white farmhouse is a guest house.

The cornerstone of the entire experience is the hospitality.  Every single staff member was so gracious and warm.  There were little touches all over the property that made it so special - like a fresh pile of lavender buds and sea salt by the bath each night, a black towel in your golf cart (how you get around at night!) to dry the seat and/or your boots, boxed lunches packed for you to take on picnics or activities, a fire built for you while you are at dinner so you come back to a cozy cottage with a roaring fire.  All of these things left us feeling completely pampered and spoiled at the end of our stay.  



This boat house was one of our favorite spots.  We decided that while the Smokey Mountains were an excellent backdrop, we could create our own version of this at home on a farm - near our future farmhouse (of our dreams).  





Fresh seasonal florals everywhere - even outside in the winter.  The attention to detail was apparent in every nook of the property.






On the other side of the property there were a cluster of cottages that served as check-in (the Main Inn House was under renovation), a spot for coffee and wine and guest cottages.


I took lots of photos just for my own memory of many of the details.  This carriage house was a favorite.


I gathered inspiration from everywhere, like this simple winter arrangement.  I think it is gorgeous.  Rhododendron greens (I think?) as the base with some blooming Quince.  I have an oblong basket in which I'd like to make something similar. 




Guest Cottages



This barn is The Wellhouse where the Spa and Fitness facilities are.



Taking notes of pea gravel, granite curbs and big boxwoods.  Also the stone foundations everywhere.  Love.



This was our cottage, a Singing Brook Cottage.  


Our room was so elegant and comfortably appointed.


The TV was behind those botanical panels - two folding panels that folded open when you wanted the TV.  Genius.


If you go to look at reservations, you might be shocked by the prices (as many of you messaged me on Instagram).  It is expensive.  However, the meals are all included - fine dining each night (wine is additional), breakfast and lunch.  We've been holding back on the splurge for a couple of years, but decided to do 2 nights (instead of 3 like we would at another destination), and with an inexpensive flight from KC, we made it fit within our budget.


It was so worth it for me to just set eyes on the place.  I got so much inspiration for the store, for our home and our future dream farm.  



We went fly fishing on morning after breakfast.  I loved it.  It was much more interesting and active than 'normal' fishing.  It was so nice to just be standing in the moving water and watching the ripples and the current.  I loved looking down at the rocks below.


I loved getting out of our daily routine and experiencing everything.  But, since we do spend a lot of time in the country, we felt at home, too.  It gave me so many ideas of activities we can incorporate into our time at the School House and my family's farms.



To be 100% honest, catching the actual fish wasn't my favorite part.  I loved being out in the stream with the water flowing and the casting is quite fun, but I didn't really love the game part of the fishing.  Next time I'll let Mike do most of the fishing and I'll just walk around and wade through the water.





Signs of spring.



Each night we went to The Barn for dinner.


It is a fine dining experience with multiple courses, all locally sourced.  It was such a treat every night to be pampered like this after a day spent outside exploring.





When we woke up each morning, we tried to get outside early enough to catch the blue smoke hovering over the mountains.  It was ethereal. 


Another lovely winter arrangement out of simple flowers.  I think my grocery store carries all of these - but how nice do they look arranged this way together.




This was one of my favorite buildings - no surprise, an old school house originally.


Thank you for the wonderful weekend, Blackberry Farm, we won't soon forget our time there.

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