November 21, 2014

I'm so glad it's a Before & After Friday.  We all need
a little renovation inspiration by the end of the week.

Specifically - some kitchen inspiration!

This dated kitchen was screaming for an update:

Apparently screaming pays off.

Removing a 'pass through' kitchen divider . . . .

. . . . . completely opened up this kitchen.

Overhead fluorescent lighting was an 80s thing:

Welcome to 2014.

The former owners of this home tried to update their 1960s pantry:

The new owners replaced the pantry
with more sophisticates cabinets.

A small condo kitchen was renovated quite successfully:

Yes, this renovation is amazing but I'm not a fan of the
baseboard lighting and that tile floor is a little much:

Another example of how a tiny kitchen
can be given a big personality:
Before                 After

Some say that knotty pine is making a comeback:

But this renovation refutes that theory.

The only things the owners left intact
were the windows and the sink:

From Traditional:
To ultra modern.

This was an average size kitchen but it was too busy:
So calm and sleek now.

Actually, this kitchen was nice:

 Now, to quote Joey on Friends, "Niiiiice."

Big dated kitchen:

 Big updated kitchen.

Wallpaper borders debuted in the 90s and they were awesome:

But this contemporary makeover is awesome-er.
(Mom, I know that awesome-er is not a word.)

From a Blah kitchen:

To a Bold kitchen:

Isn't it intriguing that this kitchen retained its
original layout but everything else was replaced:

Gotta say, this 'before' kitchen is quite nice:

But I have to admit - the 'after' kitchen is pretty amazing:

A very traditional kitchen:

was transformed into an uber contemporary classic.

From ordinary to extraordinary:

The cabinets were kept but just about everything
else in this kitchen was replaced or redesigned:

Here's another example of  how removing overhead cabinets
completely changes the dynamics of a kitchen.  Great job. 

Before we close today I want you to check out this last transformation.

A dining room that was used as a play room:

. . . was turned back into a sophisticated dining room.

Thanks for dropping by to share these
phenomenal projects.  Have a great weekend!

November 20, 2014

Another week, another post on how to avoid

Panic Shopping Syndrome
(Running around like a crazy person on Dec. 24th buying inappropriate, over-priced gifts.)

So, have you had a chance to compose a Happy List Notebook for this year's holiday gift-giving season?  For a refresher, click here.

There are exactly 5 weeks 'til Christmas - yikes! - but we've still got plenty of time to shop wisely and save money.   You might find today's suggestions a little unusual (okay, maybe they're a lot unusual) but give them some serious consideration.

1.  Shop in your own house.  What?!  Is there something you already own that someone on your list likes or wants?  Why not give it to them?  A purse, an item of art, a new (slightly read) book, a piece from your own collection?  

A few years ago a sweet, elderly friend decided to give a few of her beautiful, treasured antiques to family members who she knew appreciated them.  It made my friend happy to know that her loved ones were enjoying family heirlooms and they were thrilled to receive them.

The Kennedy Wives
2.  Ask family and/or friends if they would be interested in a theme gift exchange and set a spending limit of $20 or less.  Books, dvds, restaurant gift cards, board games, a piece of cookware - the theme possibilities are endless.  And they're usually practical.

Even if you don't participate in a theme gift exchange that doesn't have to stop you from giving everyone on your list the same type of gift.  Tailor your choices to their interests - books on history, hobbies, cooking, architecture, etc.

3.  Almost new cookbooks can be found at thrift shops at very reasonable prices and thousands of new publications can be found on Amazon for under $20.  Buy a cookbook, look up an interesting but simple recipe, buy the ingredients and wrap them up with the book.  Ingenious! 

4.  Give your knowledge and skills.  Do you have an aunt who is interested in genealogy?  Buy her a month's membership at Ancestry and help her research the family.  Do you know how to knit?  Buy needles and yarn, call the nieces (and nephews!) together and give them a knitting lesson.  You might just ignite a new generation of crafters.  Share what you know.

Handheld Scanner
5.  Are you familiar with a handheld scanner?  They're incredibly easy to use and excellent for copying old family photos onto a cd or memory card.  The one I bought was under $50 and it's made archiving old photos and documents a snap.   Mine has a tiny memory card that holds over 800 photos!  Buy one then offer to scan family's and friends' old film photos.  Who wouldn't love to receive a stack of cds that hold preserved, precious memories?

6.  School and church craft fairs and bazaars are gold mines of inexpensive handcrafted treasures.  Custom jewelry, ornaments, dolls, toys, crocheted items, baked goods - you'll be amazed at the variety of high quality items you'll find.  Call your local Senior Citizens Center and ask if they're holding a holiday craft fair.  They're open to the public, offer wonderful crafted gifts, and a portion of what you spend will go to the Center.  Win, win, win!

Did any of these suggestions strike your fancy?  At least I hope today's post inspires you to think outside the box when considering gift giving.  The thought of breaking your budget on a gift that won't be used is just sad.  Thoughtful planning will make this holiday season fun and satisfying.

November 19, 2014

There is little in the architecture of a city that
is more beautifully designed than a tree.
-- Jaime Lerner --

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that many in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
-- Joyce Kilmer, 1913

Consider giving live Christmas trees as gifts early this holiday
season.  Then, after the first of the year, help the recipient plant it.
Every time they look at the tree they'll think of you.