Monday, February 28, 2011

I Have a Follower Who is Not Related To Me!!!

Typical of me, I started this blog less than a week ago and am already obsessing over stats (the tracking of how many visitors my page has had, where they've come from, etc.). Not a good thing to focus on, especially at this stage of the game, but I was so psyched last night to discover that I have a follower who is not my sister (not that I don't appreciate you following me, Mrs. Beasley)!!

My first non-obligated follower is South Bel from Southern Style. She lives in Charleston, coincidentally one of my favorite cities and where my husband and I honeymooned! Small world, huh? I was also STUNNED to discover that she had awarded me a Stylish Blogger Award! How sweet is that?! Be sure and check out her blog, but be will instantly be seized be the desire to move to Charleston.

The rules of the award say that I must share seven things about myself. Since this is only me second post, I guess this is good timing!

1. I live in Central Pennsylvania but will always consider California my home, even though I left there with my then five year old daughter 14 years ago.

2. I have been a stay-at-home mom since 2001. I gave notice at my job on Sept 10, 2001, and the horrible events of the next day drove home what a good choice that was.

3. I have the two best step-parents in the history of the world, and am on a quest to find a better title for these unsung heroes of today's families.

4. I feel confident that my 19 year old would also say she has the two best step-parents in the history of the world. And that makes me so happy.

5. I turned 40 in July of 2010. Oy.

6. I have two sisters, one older and one younger, and two brothers who are five years old. Yep, my dad and step-mom took the plunge and we all got doubly lucky with identical twins Alec and Evan. The best part is that I don't have to be the messed up middle kid anymore...that responsibility passed to my younger sister, the aforementioned Mrs. Beasley, who is one of my favorite people ever and not messed up at all, darn her. ; )

7. I have been married for 9 1/2 years to the greatest guy. I wonder every day what in the world I did to deserve him. Despite my best efforts, I appear to have done something really, really right.

And now I get to award the Stylish Blogger Award to seven more blogs! You should check these out, they are awesome!

de tout, derien

Stylish Blogger Award Rules

-Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.

-Share seven things about yourself.

-Award seven recently discovered new blogs.

-Contact these bloggers and let them know they've received the award.

Thanks again, South Bel! This was a great boost as I start this journey.

Tune in later today (or maybe tonight, depends on whether my baby naps...I know you feel me) for the rest of our Before pics. Then I can start showing you all what we have done so far in the house. It's so exciting!

And in the meantime...anyone have ideas on what to do with a HUGEMONGOUS fireplace during the spring and summer months? It is 4 feet tall by 5 feet wide and is not helping with the darkness issue in the family room, being the gigantic black hole that it is.

Have a great day everyone!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Hi there! You are reading my very first post on my new blog! My name is Valarie, and I am a stay-at-home mom to three kids ages 19, 6, and 3 (I know!). Blogging is something I have always wanted to do. I've actually started a couple, only to lose interest after a week or two. I realized that I needed to figure out what I was passionate about (other than my family, of course) and write about that. I also put some thought into what draws me into a blog and keeps me visiting, I think the aesthetics of the blog really make a difference in what I read. I want this site to be one that people want to visit, and one that I want to "spend time in"...kind of like a house! Thanks to the amazing Jessica at Very Designs, I think I have a great looking blog...don't you? If you are looking for someone to help you with blog design, check her out. She is super talented and also super duper nice!

My husband and I recently bought a new home. It is an older house, built in the early 70s, and it is a classic Colonial (and honestly, I only know that because that is what they tell me). We looked at it last summer when we had our home on the market. We fell in love, but knew that we couldn't move forward until our house sold. We finally did get an offer around Thanksgiving, and thankfully this house was still available! We closed on January 31 and since then have been falling in love with this place more and more every day.

My design/decor sense (if you can call it that) has really evolved over the past several years, to the point where I think I really know what my taste is. I am determined to make the most of this clean slate and decorate this house deliberately. I feel like in the past I haven't been careful with my choices and have ended up with color schemes and furniture that didn't really fit with what I wanted. Don't get me wrong, I don't want a home that looks "decorated," and I don't want to be so careful and deliberate that it isn't any fun. I just want to take the time to identify what I want, and have the patience to put that together even if it takes a little time.

So, this blog will document that process in our new home. I'm sure by the time I feel it is "done" I will be re-thinking elements and re-visiting them. I am so excited to take on that evolutionary process and share it with you. Without further ado, here are some "Before" photos of Our Sequestered Nook!

Above is (obviously) the exterior of the house. It sits up high on a hill; we have almost 2 acres.

Here is a more head on view. One of the concerns we have, especially after moving from a home with 7 flat, mowed acres, is not having a conventional yard for the kids to play in. They can play on the property and my husband has grand plans for a tree house, but we aren't sure we have enough level land out back to put in a swingset. Looking around our neighborhood it looks like several people have had a portion of their property graded and we may do that in the future.

This is the porch on the left side of the house as you face it. We think this door will be used 90% of the time by visitors, while we will mostly come in through the garage. I love this space. It is screened in (a plus with a very bug phobic husband and daughter!), and has a ceiling fan which will be so awesome in the summer. The double doors open into our family room, and it will be so great in a few months to open both doors and let the fresh air in. Plus, being able to open those doors will really increase our family room space, a big plus for entertaining.

This is the family room, looking at the doors leading in from the screened porch. This is the room in the house that gives me the most pause; really, the only one that makes me uneasy. It is much smaller than the 600 square foot family room we had in the last house, and boy was that hard to give up. But, when I look at it realistically, it is more than big enough for our family. Other than the size, I struggle with the paneled walls. They are a super rough barn board and while I like the rustic look, they really darken the room. Because of the deep porch, we don't get a lot of natural light in here anyway. To be honest, we already have three color swatches painted in here, and hope to have the barn board painted soon. My husband is skeptical about whether this will work; he is afraid that it will look too rough and "weird" painted out, but I think it will look great. Anybody out there ever done something like this before?

Above are two more shots of the family room. The cabinets on either side of the fireplace I loooove. They are made to house electronics, and our tv is in the lower left cabinet. Once we get the barn board painted, I may consider painting the cabinets a great bright color. I am an addict of the tv show Sarah's House, and I am inspired by the mudroom in her farmhouse. I will show some pics of that and show you what I mean in a later post.

This is the hallway leading from the family room to the front of the house; the front door is at the end of the hall. I love this hallway. You can't tell from this picture, but is really wide, about 1.5 x the regular width of a hallway I would guess. I want to put a console table in this hall, and cover the walls in family photos.

Here we have the breakfast nook, which is off the family room. (Sorry for the horrible picture, one of my blogging-related goals is to become a better photographer.) The mud/laundry room is off this space so it is sort of our entry way. Not much I want to change in here, other than maybe adding window coverings to warm and liven it up a bit.

The kitchen! I'll admit, this room gave me some concerns in the beginning, but after being in it for a while I really love it. I was mostly worried about the layout, with the sink in the middle and that big island kind of cutting things in half. But, I've learned to work in it with no trouble, and it gives us a ton more usable space than our last kitchen. It also has a really big walk in pantry, which we loooove after years of a teeny little narrow cupboard that was always in disarray. Like the crazy people we are, my husband and I have been talking a little about painting the cabinets one day. I want to find out what the traditional kitchen "should" look like in a home of this style and go with that. And if I find out that white cabinets, subway tile and all butcher block countertops are period appropriate, I will do a cartwheel.

The dining room. Shaping up to be my favorite room in the whole house (thanks to Sarah Richardson!). I had a vision of what I wanted this room to be waaay before we moved in, and I am getting really close! Again, I found what I wanted in Sarah's farm house and I'm trying to almost replicate that. Sarah used $79 Ikea chairs in her dining room, and I had those chairs purchased before we even moved in! Added to a Craig's List $100 dining table, they look amazing. I am already so pleased with this room and spend hours standing in the doorway, sipping my coffee and staring with a really ridiculous look on my face.

This is the living room, and is across the front foyer from the dining room. I like to call this Mom's Room. So peaceful and serene. I bought the sectional from the previous owner and am doing all I can to keep my grubby kids out of here! My goal in this room is to keep it as simple, uncluttered and calming as possible. I have visions of reading in here, or listening to music and watching the fire with my husband after the kids go to bed, although that hasn't happened yet. Someday, I tell you!

Finishing up the first floor is the den. We have our desk and computer in here and it has the potential of getting very, very cluttered. I am determined not to let that happen! I want this to be another kid-free zone where we can escape once in a while, even if only for the thrill of paying bills.

So, that is it for today's tour! Next I will cover the second floor, and then start showing some of what I have done. Please, feel free to leave any comments or suggestions you may have! I need all the help I can get!