Before & After, Summer Edition:: Our Second Year

At long last, the B&A Party is finally up and running!

Welcome to the summer Before and After party! 

The idea behind the B&A parties here is that you get motivated to start a project by linking up your idea at the beginning of the month (or in this case, the summer), and then coming back to share how it came out.  Anything goes - house projects, quitting smoking, starting a business, taking up running, learning to cook.  

However, you are NOT required to have linked up a "before" to contribute to this after party today!
Share what you've accomplished, whatever it may be, and celebrate getting stuff done!!
Find some motivation, inspire and get inspired - that's what these Before & After parties are all about!

My main goal for the summer was to put the house projects that I've been working on for the past two years on hold for a while and make some memories with our kids.  I feel like their childhoods are passing us by at a frantic pace, and I really, really don't want to look back someday and think, I wish I had spent more time listening, talking, and intentionally having fun with my kids while they were under my roof.  I needed to take a break from photographing home projects, turn the camera on my family and enjoy the ages they are at right now.

So while we didn't do anything remarkable this summer, we did manage to have tons of good old fashioned fun, and I will never regret not having made much progress with my house over the last few months!

what fun would this big end-of-summer before and after party be without some before and afters???

This month marks two years in our present abode, a house that had great bones but needed a bit of a facelift.  The first year of ownership was filled with dramatic before and afters as I painted nearly every wall and trimwork, totally changing the feel of the house.  

The second year, though, has been  s l o w - g o i n g,
as I tried to use what we had in a new way, to create a comfy,  casual, layered, interesting and easy-going home for my family of five.  

Creating a home that you really love just takes time, and when I start to lose patience about how it never feels done, it's good to look back at where we started.  I can honestly say the only room that is DONE is Hannah's room, but then again what would I do if I didn't have carpentry ideas, painting projects, furniture makeovers and the like on the horizon??

Truly, despite moving at a turtle's pace, I feel so lucky to be able to renovate this house - it's a dream I have harbored for years!!  And so, in celebration of spending two happy years fixing up our new home,  I present to you some of the progress of our house and the tweakings that Year Two brought.

The total game-changer for this house:  our finished basement.
Our last house was much bigger and had a finished basement so adapting to the space in this house was  a bit challenging.  We knew before buying the house that finishing the basement as a space for the kids and their friends, and movie nights with the family, was an absolute must for us.

While I am a big fan of DIY, we had this room professionally finished by a builder last winter.  It is still completely devoid of any decor, but the kids don't care and LIVE down there with their friends.  Mark envisions the big open area as the perfect spot for a pool table but the kids love it for playing knee hockey!  This is hands down the best improvement we could have made to our house.

This year I added board and batten to the foyer and the stairs.  The tile grout got a coat of paint until we rip it all out and add hardwood to match the other rooms.  When we had our basement finished I also changed out the solid door in the foyer with a French door, which turned out to be one of my favorite changes to this space, making the basement feel like a real part of our home.  The mirror is from our master bedroom and I love it's large scale, and ultimately would like something woody and warm here, but the finish on this piece is not what I had in mind.  To be continued!

This room served as a TV room (dare I say "playroom" for my teen/tweens?) until our basement was finished.  I painted the walls, refinished and relocated the table and chairs and also relocated our lantern light from the kitchen, and made drop cloth curtains.
{Next up:  a natural rug to finish it off (and disguise the sorely distressed floors!)}

One of the first things I did when we moved here was paint and decorate the kids' rooms.  Since the above after photos were taken, Hannah has rearranged her furniture approximately 7,429 times.  

The big change I made in the past year was to redo her closet by taking the doors off and making the space really functional and fun.  Believe it or not, this open closet concept and organization has worked great for her!  

The master bathroom was long overdue for some attention.  Someday we hope to enlarge this space, but in the meantime I really wanted to just work with what we had.  I striped the walls with a pearly paint, hung the shell mirror and jewelry board in here and built shelves for towels and storage.

The reason I wanted to share some of these before and afters is to tell you:
sometimes making your plans come to life takes
Time to have money in the bank to afford renovating and decorating.
Time to dream about what you want your home to feel like.
Time to make decisions.
Time, because if you're a do-it-yourselfer, there is only so much TIME in the day!

Throughout this whole journey of fixing up this house, like raising my children, I constantly remind myself to 
enjoy the process.
Renovating and decorating my house is something I love to do, but it's not exactly necessary to living and breathing, so I can't take it all that seriously, and I hope you don't either!

Enjoy the process.  
Enjoy the dreaming, and enjoy making your dreams for your home a reality, even if it takes time.

Okay enough about me - let's see what you've got!  Link up your before and afters of any kind to share, inspire and celebrate getting something accomplished!


Come Join The Before and After Party Tomorrow!

Have you completed any projects this summer???

Written the first word of a novel, trained for a 5K, or painted your living room?  Perhaps you finally organized your pantry, or refinished a piece of furniture, or organized all your photos.

Whatever you managed to accomplish over the past few months, link it up tomorrow in the Before & After Summer Edition.  Inspire and be inspired!

See you then, lovelies!!


Inspirations For Bay Window Dressing

Every apartment or house poses a unique set of decorating challenges.  Are bay windows one of yours?

One of the things Mark & I loved about this house was all the natural light from the two bay windows in the dining room and a third in the adjoining living room.  Bay windows bring great light into a room and can make it feel larger.  However, while our windows flood the house with light, all our bays have window ledges (and in one case, a cabinet) built into them like a window seat.  Also, in the dining room one bay protrudes from the wall, and the other one is part of the floor plan - see the difference at the ceiling?

The one on the left could easily be dressed with a rod and panels, but the window on the right has six angles to wrap a rod around.  Six!!

Since I was intent on hanging panels on my windows, as opposed to roman shades or not dressing them at all, I scoured magazines, Pinterest and Houzz for eons, looking for inspiration on how to work around my obstacles.

There are so many ways to dress a bay window beautifully.  From placing panels between each window, hanging a rod across the top of the window or having it wrap with the window bay, or adding bamboo shades - there are lots of options to choose from.
{eileen k boyd/lonny mag}


{canadian house and home}


I love, love, love bamboo shades and white curtains!!




I really wanted to hang panels on rods, but considering all the angles of my back window, in the end I opted for the unorthodox route of hanging my dining room curtains on retrofitted cabinet knobs.  I don't have that continuity of the rod wrapping the window, but at least I was able to flank the windows with panels.  

Sometimes you've got to work with what you've got!

Having curtains in our dining room has really changed the whole feel of the room - even the feel of the house.  As soon as you walk into our house from our garage (unfortunately, the entrance that everyone seems to use the most) the view extends through the kitchen into the dining room, and something about having the windows dressed in here just makes our still-in-progress house feel a bit more "done".  

By the way, have you ever wondered what the difference is between a bay and bow window?  
A bow is just a variation of the bay….. the next time your busybody neighbor that talks too much and thinks he knows everything brings the subject up, you can shut him right down with the cold hard facts!

For more window dressing ideas, visit my Pinterest board!


Mangia Mondays:: August Features

Welcome to Mangia Mondays, the weekly blog hop I co-host with Kristin of Delightfully Dowling!
This week I'm sharing some highlights of the inspiring recipes linked up this month.

Through this recipe for a Summer Vegetable Tart I was so happy to find the blog The Alchemist - be sure to check it out.  This tart features homemade spinach-basil pesto, strips of zucchini, corn, tomatoes and mozzarella, all on a puff pastry crust.  Yum!

Speaking of zucchini, The Single Nester's Stuffed Zucchini sounds deee-lish too!

Patricia at ButterYum shows us how to make Homemade Gnocchi….how good does this look with a brown butter and sage sauce?

I love this easy recipe for Shrimp en Papillote (cooked in parchment paper) from Home Cooking that has a bit of an Asian flair and is cooked with veggies.

How about these Banana Split Wraps from Heather's French Press?  I could justify eating one of these for dessert every night!

For a special occasion (a birthday - an anniversary - a Monday??) I have to try Acasarella's beautiful Brownie Raspberry Cake based on a boxed brownie mix!  Love the presentation!

Chocolate, Chocolate and More linked up Birthday Cake Milkshakes that in my house might be renamed Back-To-School Milkshakes!

Thank you to everyone who linked up recipes and food posts in the month of August!
If you've been featured you're welcome to post a button on your blog.
Shine Your Light
If you'd like to be featured in the future please include a Mangia Mondays button (found in "buttons" under my header) or a link back to either Shine Your Light or Delightfully Dowling in the posts that you link up.  Thanks so much!

Happy Monday and week ahead my friends!


Sweet Summertime:: The Last Week!

It's hard to believe but in a week's time my kids are heading back to school.  In these final days of summer we've crossed a few things off the summer list.

This week we went to an indoor trampoline park where the kids can literally bounce off the walls!

We also took a roadtrip down to Providence, RI to visit Mr. Lemon, a frozen lemonade stand on the outskirts of Providence College, where my partner in crime B went once upon a time.
 It's worth the 25 minute ride - the frozen ices are that good!!  B is a teacher, so this outing was a last hurrah for the whole crowd.

After Mr. Lemon, we pushed our luck and took the kids to lunch (it's all about the food for the big guys).  My boys acted like complete hooligans and I cursed myself for saying out loud what a great summer it's been.  NEVER SAY THESE THINGS OUT LOUD!!!  What was I thinking?

This summer we didn't go on any big family trip or do anything major.  My kids occasionally acted like a bunch of punks, their mother occasionally lost her temper, and we didn't cross everything off our big summer bucket list.  But Mark was around a lot (the silver lining to searching for a new job!) and we managed to get in some good old fashioned fun between days at the beach, a couple of weekends at Lake Winnipesaukee, summer sports and playing in the neighborhood.   I hope when my kids look back on summers like this, they will remember the simple pleasures and good times we had with family and friends fondly.

 Thank you to everyone who joined me this summer - it was so much fun reading about your adventures and amusements!   Link up a post if you'd like to share and celebrate sweet summertime this final week!

 Next Friday is the Summer Before & After party and I'd love for you to join me to share anything you've accomplished recently - any kind of project will do!  

Read more about the Before & After parties here.  I hope you'll join!  I haven't decided if I'm going to continue the B&A series in the fall, but I have some other fun linky party ideas in mind if not.  In the meantime get your before and afters ready to share next Friday, August 31!

Now go on and enjoy these days of summer, lovelies!
Cheers, to enjoying the little things in life!