A cheerful front porch accessory


There was something about this house that caught my attention. I was on foot, chasing after my little bike riders when we all went flying past this house. The sidewalk we were on seemed really dark at this point because the trees were old and mature and had grown over the path creating a natural shade.

The kids were ahead of me screaming "weeeee" the way they always do when we go through a tunnel. As I passed through this dark "tunnel", the light coming from the entry of this home made me jerk around to see what I had just missed.

It was light, cheery and quaint. And it was for sale!

No, we didn't buy it or even make on offer...but I did take the opportunity to get a little closer and snap a few pictures. I had to get a shot of these adorable birdhouses.

I think this was such a cheerful way to dress up a front porch.  Two adorable birdhouses and an empty wire flower container. Furthermore, since red is opposite of blue on the color wheel, the birdhouses were in perfect contrast. I can't say that it would cross my mind to put birdhouses on my front porch but now it seems like a fantastic idea.

Ironically, the following weekend we strolled past this house again and were lucky enough to be invited inside to view it. It was just as charming on the inside! You can see it here if you like.

Last minute Halloween dessert table!


Are you having a Halloween party? Are you short on ideas and not sure where to begin?

Let me help you with your dessert table. If you want to recreate the display above, I've broken it down into bite-size steps.

Your grocery list for this menu:

Apples, peanut butter, mini marshmellows, cake mix (don't forget eggs and oil), frosting, writing gel or edible pen, candy melts & lollipop sticks (you may need to go to the craft store for these), chocolate pudding, oreos, tombstone shaped cookies, pretzel rods & sprinkles.

Making these desserts is fun and tasty!

I would set aside 2 - 3 hours realistically to make the food because you will have to bake for the cake pops and heat the candy melts. Once you do this it will go pretty quickly. You can find a great tutorial for cake pops and cake balls at Bakerella. If you are feeling really ambitious, you can find an eyeball specific tutorial here.

The "witches wands" will be fast because once you have heated the candy melts for the cake pops, you just dip the pretzel rods, place them on wax paper and sprinkle. Be sure to wait until they dry before trying to move them.

The "goblin kisses" are simply sliced apples (buy the presliced to avoid brown apples) with peanut butter spread to make the mini marshmallows stick. "Chocolate graveyards" are even easier - chocolate pudding topped with crushed Oreos and a cookie tombstone. Use the same gel pen as you did for the "ghost pops".

I hope this easy menu helps save you time and energy so you can enjoy your Halloween!

Magnets trump push pins (in my world)


Without question, push pins and bulletin boards are great. Nobody would disagree. However, I usually end up stepping on fallen push pins and pricking myself over and over when I go to put something up. So I've wised up and moved on to magnet boards. What a relief! My fingertips and feet are thanking me.

Enter, magnets. I went to the store to buy some magnets for my new boards and was so disappointed! Of course I could not find what I was hoping for, but not for lack of options. I realized in hindsight, that what I wanted to find was actually very taste specific...and my expectations may have been a little unrealistic.

My magnets were going to be used for my design boards so I didn't want them to clash with the little bits of inspiration from magazines, cards and fabrics I collect.

The colors and designs were really important and they also needed to be strong - not like the wimpy ones that can barely hold up a business card. I realized quickly that I needed to figure out how to make exactly what I wanted.

So I did. Here is what I came up with and I love them!

My final magnet board is below and you can see that the magnets only compliment the scraps and cards I have kept.

If you would like to make your own, you can find a great tutorial here. Magnet boards I found at IKEA, called the 'spontan' for $12.99.

Coffee station...definitely a necessity


Coffee. I love the smell and I almost always want a cup first thing in the morning (STAT) like many people. Unfortunately in our house there is usually a clatter to find a cup, sometimes a mad search to find the espresso capsule (or tea bag) all while the poor espresso machine is ready and waiting to serve.

Mornings can be unpredictable and unorganized, its simply human nature. Luckily this can be solved pretty easily by creating a station.

I have a friend who also needed this station, so I went to work in her kitchen. She wanted easy access to her espresso capsules, tea bags and instant coffee for days when she was on the run. She also wanted her espresso maker out of the cabinet so that she wouldn't have to set it up everytime she wanted to make a cup.

We started by gathering all of the related items and neatly organizing the surplus in a cabinet beneath the counter space we decided would make the perfect spot for a permanent coffee station. All we needed was a small amount of space that was not dedicated to any other purpose, an electrical outlet and a little creativity so that it would earn form points as well as function.

I looked around at what she had available in her kitchen. I could have used jars or glass containers for the coffee and tea but as a Seattle native I thought I'd grab a few Starbucks coffee cups I saw in the cabinet. They just happened to all match so I filled them up. Then, I lined them up on the counter near the espresso machine.

They all matched in size and shape which was great, but they still needed something.

I dug around in the kitchen and found a long ceramic serving tray that matched the off white coffee cups perfectly.

Voila! The coffee station was born!

Harvest Loaf, a recipe for fall


When I think of the month of October here in the Pacific Northwest, I think of leaves changing colors, foggy mornings that burn off into sunny afternoons and mostly, I think of a warm house filled with the sweet smells of baking.

Heading into the weekend I wanted to share this delicious fall recipe for "Harvest Loaf". The recipe was handed down to my good friend Krista, from her lovely mother-in-law. We made it together this afternoon and I fell in LOVE with it.  After a little convincing, Krista has graciously agreed to share her recipe with all of us. I promise you will love the taste and it will surely fill your home with the scent of fall!

Smart design for smaller homes


Understated elegance is how I choose to describe this home.

Although not grand in size, these homeowners display impeccable taste. By using a neutral color palette, smart landscaping and modestly decorating their petite porch, they have created one of the most well designed houses on their block.

Many people find smaller homes a little more challenging to decorate and landscape. There is less room for error with a smaller space so consequently design choices need to be deliberate and add value whether by adding charm or function, or ideally, both.

The front yard has just the right amount of foliage that includes a perfectly proportioned boxwood hedge, roses and other low lying plants in front of the living room windows.

The hedge is a very important design element as it helps to define the boundaries of the yard. Building a bulky fence could cause this home to look small and uninviting. Keeping the height of the hedge low creates an inviting feeling while still defining the property line.

The single golden pumpkin on the porch of this home is a smart accent because it's glamorous golden shine is in sharp contrast to the traditional elements of brick and the weathered wood porch. It also celebrates the season without taking up too much space or commanding too much attention.

Classic cement pavers offer more style points. They have been set into the grass walkway adding visual interest as well as function to keep our feet dry during the rainy months. These small details and design choices not only express personal taste but add tons of charm to this home.

This house is such a joy to look at and demonstrates a fundamental design lesson that once again, less really is more!

The Party Porch


The party porch. I happened upon this porch by accident. Innocently passing by. I was about to cross the street when the lights hanging from the trellis caught my eye.

Situated on a round-about street corner in Seattle, the trellis, lights and open design were impossible to walk past without snapping a picture.

This party porch was so welcoming because of its corner entrance and hanging lights that I imagined at any second someone would wave me up the steps for a drink!

Enjoy -
by mlekoshi