Happy Thanksgiving!

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As I pause to give thanks today, I wanted each of you to know how very grateful I am that you choose to spend some of your time with me. It's a gift that I treasure each and every day.

To my family and friends, those I've known and those I've yet to meet, thank you, for making my life richer by the gift of your presence. I'm blessed beyond measure.

I wish all of you a day filled with the love and company family and friends; good health, good fortune and many blessings.


How to Make A Christmas Stocking (Free Pattern)

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I've always loved Christmas stockings. Especially when they're home made...and easy!  Don't let these photos fool you.  These stockings are super simple to make and the pattern is really easy to adapt.

Holiday Gift Tag Ideas and Workshop Photos

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Last Sunday, during what may very well go down in history as one of the worst November storms on record in Illinois, I taught my first workshop.  Believe it or not, people still came!

When I arrived at Vintage Charm to set up, it was a blustery, overcast day but the temperatures were in the mid 60's.

Holiday Gift Tags and Bows: Serendipity Refined at Vintage Charm November 17th!

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I'm not sure if I've told you,  but I don't really like public speaking.

I'm that girl at the party who is far more comfortable behind the scenes making things beautiful and ensuring that everyone has enough to eat and drink.
                                                                                     So....I have a favor to ask of you...

DIY Holiday Peppermint Wreath: Dollar Tree Craft

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Nothing quite says, Merry Christmas like a grease spatter screen... truly. When I thought about holiday decorating as I found myself wandering through the Dollar Tree on Monday night, I knew almost immediately that I was going to need a grease spatter screen.

How to Bleach Pinecones

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Have I mentioned that I've developed a wonderful relationship with household bleach since I moved into the farmhouse this summer?

                                                  I have....bleach and I are now best friends.

Pottery Barn Inspired Christmas Countdown Calender Pillow

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Yes, It's November 7th and I'm sharing a Christmas project. Hey, it's not just me!...Pottery Barn's Christmas catalog has been out for a couple of weeks and when I came across their adorable Advent Calender Lumbar Pillow (known in my house as a Christmas Countdown Calender), I knew immediately that I needed one.

Patio and Garden Finds from a French Estate Sale

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Recently, I was allowed to pre-sale shop at an amazing estate sale right here in Illinois. The lady who had owned the house had created the type of home and gardens that I aspire to one day.   From the moment that I walked down the crushed stone drive and through the brick walled gates, I would have sworn that I'd finally made it to France.

There were so many beautiful things that I had a hard time walking away from many of them but these things came home with me for my new yard and gardens before I ever made it to the door of the house or  the coach house!

I fell in love with this 34 inch tall lead pond spitter (above). His base is bent and he'll need some work but he should be able to be repaired by the time that I have a home for him.

This great iron lavabo will surely find a spot in the court yard as will this patio table and chairs.

This tea cart will probably end up on the patio in the rear yard.

and so will this formerly lonely chair...it was the only one of it's kind....trust me, I looked.  I couldn't walk away and leave it all alone after purchasing the rest of the items that were on the patio with it...could I?! Of course NOT!

Even though we'll spend all of next summer under construction, I'm excited to have finally found a few things to add to my yard when I can finally landscape!. Now that the Phase 2 plans are nearing completion, I can begin  collecting the French Farmhouse in earnest but I'm not in any hurry since for me,  the hunt is the best part of the project!  

I've also begun looking into a long overdue trip to France in Summer, 2014! If you have places that you'd suggest that I shop or the name of a host who accommodates private/semi private shopping tours, please message me.

I'll share my finds from inside the estate and coach house soon!

French Farmhouse Renovation Update: Phase 2 Preliminary Drawings

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View from the West looking "through" the arched opening between the garages.
I've had several questions about the exterior of the 1950's red brick ranch that is serving as the starting point for the French Farmhouse.  First of all, let me tell you that this is not a house that sits on acreage out in the country with miles of winding gravel roads and hay fields all around...that will be my next project.  

View from Inside the pea gravel courtyard (with your back to the garage)
This is a "standard" red brick suburban ranch house.  As far as we've been able to determine, it was built some time in the 1950's.  It's got 1950's landscaping, a front sidewalk that has sunk about 4 inches from its original position and 1950's un-insulated windows with semi-permanent storm windows which have been painted and caulked in place...apparently since some time in the 1970's.

It has siding with mildew and window wells that leak into the basement.  At some point, (also in the 1970's from what we can tell), three bedrooms were added on to the south end of the house and the original detached garage was connected by an unheated breezeway which is on a slab and has windows where all of the seals are broken and the glass is, as a result, cloudy all of the time.

Despite all of its little issues (and the not so little ones, too), I fell in love with this house...well...maybe not the house so much as its location....at the top of a hill...on a corner.  It's in a neighborhood where parents walk their children to school, people walk their dogs and deer sometimes walk through my front yard on their way home.

I fell in love with the fact that it has an adorable shed which will, at some point, become a potting shed...or a play house...who knows.

So, now that you have the background, let's talk a little bit about Phase 2 of the renovation.  As of this morning at 11 a.m., after three weeks and five dump trucks full of soil which was hand excavated and carried out in 5 gallon pails from the crawl space which is under the bedrooms,  7 tons of gravel, new drain tile, a new sump pit, and a fungus preventive moisture barrier; they are finally pouring the concrete floor in the crawl space!

Also a part of phase 1: insulation of of the floors above the crawl, sealing of the vents to the outdoors, electricity, pumps and that part of Phase 1 will be complete. There will also be a new sump system installed in the existing basement. I'll continue to show you what we've done to make the house inhabitable until we begin Phase 2.

Phase 2 of this project will involve building two new one-car garages and two bedrooms, changing the roof lines, re-purposing the interior space and replacing windows. This is going to be a significant remodel but we'll be using the exterior walls as well as some of the interior walls.

We're replacing floors and bathrooms...and the kitchen.  Yes, we'll be hiring a builder and professionals to do this as there are building codes that need to be followed and I do still have a full time job and building is not it!

                                                                              ...although I will help as often as they'll  allow it.

As you can imagine given the scope of the project, I'm still working on the placement of some of the rooms and some of the roof lines, but things are taking shape really quickly.

And finally, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you, right up front,  that I'm working with an  incredible architect named Dennis Parsons. I draw in pencil...and Dennis draws in Sharpie marker.

He understands my crazy scribbles and has been patient while I've showed him the Pinterest boards that I've made for this project and waved my arms in the air trying to explain my vision for exposed beams in the dining room.  We are on exactly the same page... and for that, I'm so very thankful.

For me, finding someone who understands what I'm trying to accomplish is critical to the success of this project. I knew that I'd found the right person when, at one of our very first meetings, Dennis said, "you're looking for someone to engineer YOUR vision".   Yep. that's it.

I can't say enough good things about this guy. He's got a great sense of humor, an amazing vision, and enough calm sensibility to keep me reigned in when I need it. Take a look at his business page, Parsons Architects, he's done some beautiful work (nothing like this one, though...until now. *smile*)

Have a great weekend...and happy November!    Wait...what?!