Summer Garden Update.

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We did this thing.

And we might have gone a little crazy.

We had to remove a few trees in our yard. We had a birch tree dying in our front yard, and some red tips rotting behind our mailbox. So when we had the arborist out and got a quote to remove them, we started doing this terrible thing where we dreamed about what would look reeeeeeeally good in place of those trees. Which led to dreaming about what shrubs should go around the new trees and which mulch would look best and perhaps adding a few stones here and there to pull everything together... and somehow we had concocted a full front and back yard landscape plan. All from sitting on our front porch and drinking beer and getting mosquito bites.

Stevie and I are extremely different. We plan differently, we execute our days differently, and we often have these ridiculous arguments over whose way is "more right". But this thing about landscape and outdoor beauty, for some reason, combines our forces in a really agreeable way.

So we just pulled the trigger and went for it.

I often hear people talk about how they fixed up their house before they moved, and by the time they finished the projects, they had fixed up their home so well that they didn't want to move anymore. We don't really want to move anytime soon, but we both really love grass and trees and flowers (and birds and bird feeders and bird watching...), so we decided to invest in some long-term perennials this summer that we can enjoy for many years to come. I can't say that we will live here forever (I truly don't know what the future will bring), but I am loving our outdoor space more and more with each season, and I feel really excited about spending this summer outdoors. Now that I'm not knocked up and trying to avoid potentially zika-infested mosquitos :)

What we did:
We added a pink dogwood tree, a white dogwood tree, a Japanese maple tree and a smattering of blueberry bushes and encore azaleas and knockout roses. We threw in some hydrangeas for good measure and camelias because why not and lorapetalum because we NEEDED them and some geraniums because yeah. Stevie rebuilt part of our fence that was falling over and added a stone walkway because he's my hero. We topped everything off with dark mulch and lined the entire yard with flagstones and oh yeah, we threw in a couple of pallets of pansies because he just had to have them. And like I said, it was so much fun agreeing that I couldn't say no to such things.

So here we are. Spending our mornings drinking coffee in our rockers on the front porch, gazing out on our grassy knoll and our evenings grilling burgers on the back porch, gazing at the wonder of our little Eden and it makes me happier than last year's squirrel-infested tomato garden ever could (they ate ALL my tomatoes, those little rascals). We are enjoying the updates of our home without an impending move ahead of us. And we are well on our way to creating my dreamy English cottage garden (which is the master plan). Little by little, it's happening :)

What are some of your favorite perennials? I know it's not very millennial of me to share about landscape-such things here, because it seems like most people my age aren't into landscape, but I just looooove it. If you're a crazy plant lady, tell me what you're dreaming of planting in your yard!

10 (Inexpensive!) Spring Break Staycation Ideas.

It's time for Spring Break! If you don't have any plans that are beckoning you to the beach (although I'm sure we all wish we had those plans...), I've compiled a list of fun, inexpensive things to do for a staycation. Next week is Everett's preschool spring break, and I was getting a little worried that I would feel kind of trapped at home for a week with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Truth be told, we love to travel, and most of the time I would have planned a trip for the week. However, I think it's really important to be able to make fun at home and explore what's right around at home. I think it teaches kids to be creative with what they're given instead of always needing a new toy or exotic trip to create excitement for them. And let's be honest, I should be flexing my mom magic to make everyday things a little bit more magical :)

Amicalola Falls State Park, in all it's glory.

Amicalola Falls State Park, in all it's glory.

1. Explore State and/or National Parks.
This is the perfect time of year to visit a state park in Georgia because it's not too hot yet! Come June, you practically need an IV drip to stay hydrated while you hike around, but in April? The weather is perfect (other than the pollen, but hey, you can't win em all). While admission to the park might cost a few bucks, this is a great way to get outdoors with your family and hike, fly a kite and enjoy a packed lunch. A few of my favorites in this area are Sweetwater Creek State Park (we went glamping here once :), Cloudland Canyon State Park, and Amicalola State Park (we hiked this last summer and it was sooo hard!) Also, I like to follow @exploregeorgia on instagram to get inspired about new places to visit in our great state ;)

2. Take advantage of the Local Library.
This might sound a little lame, but have you been to your local library lately? It's worth exploring, especially if you have little kids. Every library is stocked with resources and classes - I had no idea that our local chapter offered so many art & music classes, story time, language lessons and technology-based learning games. Of course, Everett always makes a beeline straight for the giant stuffed animals and then the kid computer (he likes the headphones), but usually I can pry him away to read a few books and try some other activities.

3. Try Geocaching.
Want to go on a treasure hunt? Did you know there are treasures hidden all around you, called "caches", and they are meant to be found? It's a really fun concept! Download the app and go on a "treasure adventure" with the whole family (it's like the first generation of Pokemon Go). If you want to know more about this little activity, you can watch this 75-second video. It helped me realize this is kind of cool and not at all weird :)

Everett learning to throw a frisbee last summer. He makes me laugh so much.

Everett learning to throw a frisbee last summer. He makes me laugh so much.

4. Play Sports.
This is not rocket science. Get outside and play! We love to go over to our local frisbee golf course on random week nights, because Stevie is a hippie in his heart and he's teaching Everett how to throw. Play a game that the whole family can enjoy, like wiffle ball (or baseball for those of you with big kids) in the back yard, basketball in the cul-de-sac, or soccer at the park. Sometimes the simple stuff can be really wondrous fun.

5. Back Yard Camping.
Camping with little children can be intimidating, but pitching a tent in the back yard is the perfect solution. You can still use the restroom in the house and cook up a big breakfast in the morning! This is actually a great way to "trial run" a camping experience with your kiddos if you've never taken them before, and it gives you the opportunity to pull out all your camping gear and explain it to them.

6. Explore museums.
Most museums have "free days" during certain times of the month - a list can be found here. I personally love going to the High Museum here in Atlanta, but there are tons of others that are worth checking out, like the Coca Cola Museum (a classic), the MLK Museum, Fernbank Museum and of course, the Children's Museum. Ha, just bring hand sanitizer.

7. Host a Family Film Festival.
It's time for blankets, pillows and popcorn! Vote on 2 movies and make it a double feature with pizza in the living room :) It's not like it's all that different than a Saturday night after the kids go to bed (true story, if you're over here in our shoes), but it's a really fun way to cozy up with the whole family together and watch something fun. We recently watched Finding Dory and Everett keeps asking to watch it again and again.

8. Check out local markets/fairs/festivals.
Our local farmer's market is really fun - there is usually live music and locally-made treats (hi, King of Pops!) to be enjoyed. But each community around the Atlanta area also has a slew of characteristic festivals in their area - check out a comprehensive list of Atlanta-area festivals here. So much fun to be had in the springtime here in Georgia!

9. Go fishing & canoeing.
If you live near a body of water, take advantage of it! Post a quick Facebook message and see if one of your friends has some gear you can borrow. Then trek out to the back yard and dig up some worms for bait (if you have little boys, they will love this). Again, ages of your kiddos matter - I won't be taking a newborn on a canoe anytime soon - but as long as everyone has a life vest, this would totally be an adventure.

10. Go biking and have a picnic.
This one sounds so simple, but it's so much fun. We loved when Everett got old enough to ride on the back of Stevie's bike (this bike carrier and this helmet), and he was totally mesmerized by the experience! Since the weather has started to warm up, they've been back on the bike again lately. We have amazing trails throughout our entire city that we can ride on (one of the reasons why we love living here), but there are also some great biking parks to check out, including Callaway Gardens (where I biked and was so sick last year - that's how I knew I was pregnant!), the Chattahoochee River Trail and the Silver Comet Trail. Pack a delicious lunch and bike until hungry. Make sure to pack lots of water and sunscreen, too.

There you have it! 10 ideas to get your juices flowing, outside of the normal activities like going to the zoo or getting ice cream.

Many thanks to my sister-in-law Lauren, who helped me brainstorm these ideas (so that we don't go out of our mind next week!) Any other ideas you have? Please share in the comments - I'd love to hear from you!

Happy Spring Break, everyone! xox

The 3 Plants That Are Killing it in My Summer Garden.

And by killing it, I mean rocking. And by rocking, I mean growing like crazy and producing all over the place. All this Georgia heat has caused a lot of my herbs to bolt and go to flower too quickly (sad day, I know), but there are a few things that are absolutely on fire, in terms of production and growth.

1. Cherry Tomatoes.
These bad boys are so stinkin' cute. Their process of turning from green to red is really striking, and for some reason they have just gone to town, producing so so much. Next year I know to add a few more of these plants (and buy taller stakes for them, because holy cow.)

2. Zinnias.
I added these to the back border of my garden, in hopes of adding a pop of color to the vegetable garden. I wasn't sure how well they would do, since I was planting them from seeds, and I've had very mixed success rates with growing flowers from seeds. But these are popping up in reds, golds, oranges, pinks and yellows! They are so gorgeous and big that I feel like a regular grocery store flower department. I've been cutting these and putting them in tall vases around the house and I feel so farm girl. Sigh. If you come over, I'll send you home with one :)

3. Celebrity Tomatoes.
These are the fattest, juiciest tomatoes ever. I can't believe how satisfying it is to look out my window and see these gigantic tomatoes growing in my own little garden box. It's a strangely wonderful feeling, knowing my soil and water grew such healthy, vigorous tomatoes. And you guys - they taste so good. Stevie has been making these sliced skillet-fried tomatoes coated in a bread crumb/flour situation and they are seriously savory.

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In case you're wondering what my child does while I tend to the garden. I'll be honest, it's turned into a weedy jungle out there, because I've been pregnant and it's been hot. etc., but I am finally feeling energetic and able to get back at it! Everett throws the frisbee at my head every time. It's scary how accurate this kid has gotten with a disk.

My basil should get an honorable mention, because this particular batch is actually doing quite well. I had one purple batch that grew like crazy and then went bitter really early in the season.

And the you have it! Any suggestions for what I should try in my fall garden? Because I am already making lists of new vegetables and flowers I want to plant...

6 Easy Tips for Styling Your Built Ins.

A few weeks ago I shared a peek at our living room and the concept that went into the design. In my opinion, the things that really "make" this room are the high ceilings, the built-in shelves and the natural lighting. None of that really has to do with the decor. But those elements certainly enhance the decor and showcase its best qualities! I am a bargain shopper and don't really have a lofty budget to spend on home decorating. So I've combined a lot of items that were given to me or that I picked up inexpensively (some of them, literally, for free on the street!) Today I want to share my 6 tips for how to style built-in shelves easily and inexpensively.

1. Only Use a Few Items.
You know what you will love the very most about your shelves? How clean they look. It's really important to use less items than you think you need on those shelves. Trust me - this is what will keep them looking fresh and chic. Only use a few items! Between 1-3 for each shelf.

2. Keep the color palette complimentary - and neutral.
Pick a few shades that are represented in the room and stick to those tones. Your eyes will thank me. Because you will have so many different objects to look at, it's best to keep things in the family of neutral, with a hint of a color pop here and there. Use the colors already found in your room. In my case, I used a recurring theme of gold and silver elements, with lots of white space. Then I added a few pops of color, which coordinated with other colors in the room. The black frames coordinated with the black fireplace, the blue pictures coordinated with the main art piece and the rug, and the random pops of color came in the form of my green peacock-inspired plate and the wooden elephant.

3. Use different textures.
Using an array of textures on your built-ins is what makes the uniform palette come to life. Though the colors may play it safe, the types of objects and the different textures create enough intention to keep your eye interested for a while. For this reason, I mixed the elements and included glass, wood, live plants, framed fabric, books, etc. to create dimension on the shelves.

4. Include things you want to look at.
This might seem silly, but its not. So often, we can look at others' homes or flip through books (or watch HGTV) and think that the way someone else does something is the right way. But if we try to replicate that same look, it might not feel natural. It's important to use others' experiences as a launching point for inspiration, but make sure that everything you personally use in your home, especially on your built-in, that you completely love. Because at the end of the day, it's not a designer looking at your shelves everyday, it's you and your family. Make sure you love each of those items and want to look at them.

5. Consider the Scale.
In this case, the scale really matters. If your book shelves are enormous, you are going to want to use larger items to fill that space. Using tiny items in a big space can make the shelves look cluttered, which is the opposite effect you want to have. Make sure to choose varying sizes and shapes of items that fit to the scale of the shelves.

6. Never finish.
The most important (and often most frustrating) part of home decor is the journey: it's always a work in progress. But instead of letting this get you down, treat it like an exciting journey. There is always something inspiring on the horizon! Keep an eye out for items that you want to trade in and out on your built-ins. It will keep the scene fresh and hopefully keep your inspiration hat on. I am often walking books down stair and pictures upstairs, swapping their position in the house and finding where something feels "final". That almost never happens, but I like to put items somewhere on display for three months or so, then move it again, until it finally feels done. Let yourself enjoy the journey!

Thanks for reading! For more information about the items in this room, you can check the Living Room Home Tour post.

Home Tour: Living Room.

I'm so excited to share this space with you today! Since we bought our first home and moved in this past summer, we have been buying, returning and rearranging the furniture in our place to make the space our own. Sometimes it takes a minute. Over Christmas I rearranged everything again and it finally feels like we are using this space for the reasons we like. And it feels so good :) You know, like home.

Goals for this room:
We wanted this space to feel clean, open and uncluttered. I love the built-in shelves and the painted fireplace. We purposely didn't put our TV in this room for a few reasons. First, it's open to the kitchen and I knew I would have it on all the time while I was cooking if I had that option. I love to cook alongside Giada. Second, I really wanted this room to feel like a family space, where we hang out by the fire (when Everett is asleep), where we read, work on our laptops, take naps, and stare at our yard through the french doors. I wanted to enjoy the natural light and the high ceilings. I wanted this space to be kind of dreamy and peaceful. And it really, truly feels that way now.

We all love this room for it's non-TV purposes. Everett has a big bin of toys alongside the love seat (tucked away so it's not an eyesore), so he is constantly dragging them out all over the floor and playing on the big cozy rug (which we got on crazy sale via Rugs USA, you have to check them out!) He also loves to stare out the window at all the birds in the yard. Have I told you about all the birds in my yard? I love birds. I need a bird passport.

Stevie loves to steal a corner of the couch early in the morning to read his bible. Along with a steaming mug of any kind of tea. This is his favorite way to get the work day started, with some peace and quiet and Proverbs.

I love to read in here, too, though I wish I were doing more of it. When I let myself, this is where I will stretch out for a 20-minute snooze.

What you see:
Couches: Bought with the house, and I really can't find a tag to indicate the brand, sorry!
Rug: Rugs USA
Art Print (above the fireplace): Target
Chairs: Home Goods
Pillows: Ross and Target
Blanket: Target
Mirror: IKEA
Lamp: Gifted

On the Built In Shelves:
On the left:
Art Print: Jenny Highsmith
Plant: Winter Cactus
Framed Fabric: Minted
Framed Ship Print: Jay Zinn Art
Carved Elephant from Kenya
Lantern: Home Goods

On the right:
Sailboat Photo: Stevie took in San Francisco
Gold Frame (without picture): Found on the sidewalk in New York. Such a good day to find someone else's trash :)
Peacock Plate: T.J. Maxx
Candlesticks: Gifted
Custom Name Print: One Magnolia Lane
Top Photo: Stevie took in Venice :)

This room makes me so happy. In fact, it's my favorite room in the house (which is why I wanted to share it first). We still have much, much more to do in our home, but who doesn't? It's such a process. Once we actually finish making everything the way we love it, it will probably be time to move again. Happy Monday, friends!