My 2015 Word of the Year

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Sometimes, my word of the year finds me.  Last year's word, INSPIRE has been a life-long goal of mine and I decided to finally make it my focus in 2014.  How did I do? Well, I'll leave that up to each of you to decide but from the messages, comments, and sweet notes that I received over the last 365 days;  I think that I did okay.  

When it came time to choose my word for 2015, the quote above kept appearing in different places. The word showed up again and again....


It's a word that often has negative connotations, especially as it relates to women. It's a word that provokes thought and sparks conversation. To me,  fierce is a good thing. It's strong and passionate; smart, but not too serious. It takes a special kind of grace to be fierce.It takes compassion and a desire to serve others. Being fierce is hard work...and I'm not afraid of that 

Sure, I'm already fierce in some ways: fiercely independent, fiercely protective of, and loyal to, my family and friends. Fiercely honest and passionate...
                                                                                                        about everything.  

I have a fierce desire to learn, to share new things, and to help others. I have a fierce need to create beauty and to make my little piece of the world a better place. 

In 2015, I have a fierce conviction to continue to learn, to share and to (hopefully) Inspire (I'm not forgetting 2014 altogether). I also have a fierce determination to move Phase 2 of the renovation at the farmhouse forward in the coming year. I've got a contractor and subs lined up, the plans are finalized and we're approved for permit...except for an issue with the courtyard.  

could  have had a permit in October if I had simply given up and paved the courtyard. I could be three months closer to having windows that open and a kitchen with a working oven if I would have only acquiesced.

Instead, I've had meetings with the zoning board, community development people, village engineer and water management people in an attempt to explain that what I'm proposing is more ecologically friendly and will prevent potential issues for the neighbors who live down the hill from me when it rains in the spring. I'm determined  to do the right thing.  Fiercely determined.

I think that fierce will be a great word for me in 2015, don't you?  Do you have a word for 2015? If so, what is it?

Happy New Year! A Look Back and Ahead

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2014 was an amazing year and truly, I can't believe that we're only a few hours away from 2015 so let's take a quick look back at some of my favorite moments and projects of the past year here at the French farmhouse.

Merry Christmas

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"The magic of Christmas never ends  and its greatest gifts are 
family and friends."

To each of you from all of us here at the French farmhouse, may your Christmas be filled with love, peace, and just a little magic. 

Frosty Pastel Dining Room {Christmas Home Tour Part 3}

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Welcome to the third and final  part of my 2014 Christmas home tour, the dining room.  This year, I kept the colors in this room frosty and pastel and I really like the wintry look that resulted.  That's a really good thing because it's less than a week until Christmas and I'm just finishing my decorating so it's not like there's really time to change my mind.

Christmas Home Tour Part 2 {Home for the Holidays}

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Today I'm sharing what I've lovingly come to refer to as PART 2 of my holiday decorating: our front porch and my college son's bedroom.  Why do I call it "Part 2" you ask?  Well...let me explain.

Candy Cane Stripe Christmas Kitchen - Welcome Home Tour

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Welcome to Christmas in my farmhouse kitchen! My philosophy this year is inexpensive...and easy.  Ninety percent of this red and white striped candy cane kitchen was created using items that I already had on hand. 

Happy Thanksgiving and My Thanks to YOU!

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I'm off to spend a few days with my extended family but I wanted to take a moment to say, Thank you! 

As I count my blessings this year and take time to reflect on the amazing people with whom I share my life both physically and virtually, I hope that you know that if you are reading this, you are included in my long list of blessings. 

Thank you, each of you, for reading this blog.  For taking your time to follow along on this page or on the Facebook fan page. For purchasing the items that I've sold at markets and at the store in Downers Grove. For taking the time to read, to comment, to share my posts with your family and your friends.  These things mean more to me than I can ever possibly express. I'm so very grateful.

I continue to work, each and every day, to inspire you in some way.  Whether it's giving you the courage to try new things or to be there for you if you have a question or need help with a project. No question is unimportant.  From creating a craft, to painting furniture, to decorating your home or entertaining family and friends, helping you is why I am here.  

No matter how you spend your day, I hope that you enjoy each moment 
and know that I appreciate YOU! 

Snowy Forest Glitter Ball Ornament {Ornament Day 12}

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On the 12th Day of DIY Christmas Ornaments, I give to you, one  snowy forest glittered ball ornament.  Sure, I considered stars, wise men and angels.  To tell you the truth, I had an entirely different ornament complete but it was challenging and I wanted this final day to be an ornament that anyone can and more importantly will make.

Clothespin Snowman {Ornament Day 11}

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Happy Day 11 of the 12 days of DIY Christmas Ornaments! Is anyone still reading?!  Today we're making a  sweet clothespin snowman dressed in felt and carrying a pipe cleaner candy cane.

Mason Jar Ring Recycled Card Shadowbox {Ornament Day 10}

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Today's ornament can be made from things that you probably already have on hand: a mason canning jar lid ring and an old Christmas card.  Okay, there are a couple of other items but the majority of this project is those two things.

Bleached Pinecone Woodland Gnome {Ornament Day 9}

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Today we're making a cute little woodland gnome ornament using one of the pinecones that I bleached last year.  I had seen something similar on Pinterest last year ago but you know how that goes sometimes....

                                                                                                                    it... and forget it.

Simple Popsicle Stick Sled {Ornament Day 8}

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Have you ever made a sled out of Popsicle sticks? If you haven't, I hope that you do now.  This ornament is a great DIY to share with your children.  Adults should cut the sticks and drill the holes but grade school aged children should be able to do the assembly.

Polar Express Bell Quote Ornament {Ornament Day 7}

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When my oldest was in first grade, his favorite bedtime story book at Christmas time was, "The Polar Express."  For those of you who may not know the story, it's about a young boy who boards a magical train to the north pole on Christmas Eve. In the illustrations of the story, the young boy is wearing a plaid flannel bathrobe over his pajamas.

No Sew Felt Horse Head Candy Cane Cover {Ornament Day 6}

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Today we're making a replica of one of my favorite ornaments from my childhood: this felt horse head candy cane cover. Let me answer one question before we start: Why does it say "No Sew: when the photo shows stitching?  The answer: I chose to stitch mine.  The original was made using glue. It was lime green, a red rick rack "mane" and a gold rick rack harness.  I've updated mine just slightly so that it better matches my style.

Vintage Style Glitter Star {Ornament Day 5}

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Today, I'm continuing with a vintage vibe for this wood star ornament that features a pipe cleaner edge and a vintage sheet music rosette in addition to a simple white, silver and gold color scheme.
This ornament looks much harder to create than it actually is. The beauty is in the details!

Vintage Style Bottle Brush Tree {Ornament Day 4}

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Today I'm going to show you how to make a vintage style bottle brush Christmas tree ornament using a thread spool for the base. This gold and white miniature tree is reminiscent of ornaments from the 1940's and 1950's. It's not difficult to make but does require a bit of patience (and bright light and a good pair of tweezers!)

Gold and White Monogram Glass Ball {Ornament Day 3}

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I started things out pretty easy on days one and two of this series but today, we're going to take things up a notch. Today, we're creating a gold and white monogrammed glass ball ornament using spray paint and yes, more glitter!

Easy Gold Jingle Bell Wreath {Ornament Day 2}

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Today's gold jingle bell wreath ornament is a great easy ornament to make with children. All they need a little help from an adult to bend the wire. This adorable wreath would also make a cute napkin ring for your holiday table or a darling package tie-on for an extra special gift!

Gold Reindeer Head {Ornament Day1}

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Over the next twelve days, I'll be sharing twelve different gold and white themed, DIY Christmas ornaments. Some of them, like this gold mounted reindeer head ornament will be super simple.

                                                                 Others, well, notsomuch. (But we'll save that for next week.)

Rustic Gray and White (and Pink) Thanksgiving Table Decor

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This year, my Thanksgiving table decor is pastel. Well, not really pastel. It's gray and white and metallic, too.  I knew that I wanted something a little different this year even though I'll be setting the table and baking pies at my mom and dad's home again this year because I don't really have a working kitchen.

Super Easy Twig Place Card Holders

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I'm finishing up my Thanksgiving tablescape this week. When I got to the place card holders, I had just a few criteria:  1) quick  2) easy  3) rustic...and, as an added bonus, 4) FREE!  I gathered some fallen twigs from my yard, found my pruners, a couple of sheets of card stock, some twine, hot glue, and a little seeded eucalyptus that I had left over from my Thanksgiving centerpiece (pieces of pine, spruce or juniper would also work as would fall leaves). 

Locally Handmade Market Ticket Giveaway Winner!

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Linda Zurheide Braden
you are the winner of 
two VIP Tickets to the
at Vintage Fresh!

I'll contact you today with details!

Thanks to everyone who entered!

Handmade Holiday Market and A Give Away

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Just a quick "hello" from my crazy-busy, messy, glitter and paint covered life! 

Ever wonder what Santa's workshop looks like on the day before Halloween?  At this moment, I'm imagining that it looks like a much more high tech version of every room at the farmhouse....

                                                                                                .....minus several hundred elves!!!

Canvas and Ticking Home State Pillow

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This week I've finally had the opportunity to sit down and make the prototypes for new pillow designs that have been in my mind for months.  One of them is this canvas and ticking stripe state silhouette pillow.

Rusty Lantern and Bittersweet Simple Fall Table Centerpiece

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Have you ever driven around your village early in the morning on trash day?  I do it. In fact, I did it one day this spring when it was raining. On that day, I found two perfectly good rusty metal lanterns that someone had carefully placed next to their trash bin.  It was like they had left a gift especially for me.

Nellie's Barn Sale Fall 2014 Pop Up Show...and a keeper

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As you may know if you follow Serendipity Refined on Facebook, last weekend I helped my friend Ann with her semi-annual barn sale which has now become a 40+ vendor vintage pop up show held in Roscoe, IL.  To say that it was amazing would be an understatement.

DIY Fall Wheat Bundle Table Decoration

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Do you need a fall table centerpiece?  Do you have five minutes? If you answered "Yes" to those two questions and have access to just a couple of simple supplies, you can make this DIY wheat bundle table decoration. 

French Country Fall Mantel: Neutrals, Naturals and Metallics

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This year, I decided to keep my fall mantel decorating neutral and to combine elements from nature like pine cones, oak leaves, grape vine and white pumpkins (both real and faux) with spray painted metallic pumpkins for accents.

Easy Fall DIY Craft: Rustic Oak Leaf Wreath

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The title of this post pretty much sums up the project. It's a super simple, free (if you have grapevine on hand) DIY wreath that I made from oak leaves that fell in my yard. It's a little rustic but it's perfect for the farmhouse.

Hand Painted Vintage Snow Shovels

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I'm interrupting fall to bring you a little... winter.  Don't be angry, I'm not actually bringing winter...just a little winter themed decorating and truly, when it comes right down to it, it's not just me; it's also my friend Ann from Nellie's barn sale.

Fall Harvest Porch Decor with Reclaimed Wood Sign

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In the middle of the renovation, I'm still decorating for fall.  In fact, all decorating is in full swing here at the farmhouse. The porch is dressed with mums and pumpkins and a sign that I made from reclaimed paneling that I removed when renovated the fireplace in the dining room. If you cup your hands around your eyes and look only at my front entry (ignoring the fact that there's no other landscaping at all because it has been cut down for construction) you might be tempted to think that the outside of my house is nice.....

                                                                                                        ....don't believe it. It's all a mirage.

How To Make New Bushel Baskets Look Old

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Today I'm going to show you a fast, easy way to age new bushel baskets (and any other light colored basket made from natural materials) using  tea, white vinegar and steel wool. In about twenty minutes, you can make brand new baskets look like they've been around for years!

Gold and Orange Fall Pumpkin Urn Planter

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Since tomorrow is the first official day of autumn (and since the sun finally decided to pay a visit after about a week long vacation), I snapped a few quick photos of  my fall harvest themed urn planter.

French Replica - Limestone Fireplace Mantel Surround

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Once upon a time, what seems like a very long time ago (actually, just about nine months ago), I embarked upon the conversion of the ranch house living room to the farm house dining room.  To say that there have been a few twists and turns along this road would be an understatement. Thankfully, I had planned for most of them.

Choosing Kitchen and Bathroom Tile

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Shower display at Floor & Decor
Choosing tile for the kitchen and bathrooms at the farmhouse has proven to be one of the easiest selections that I've made to date.  For me, the wide range of materials that's out there has made the job easier rather than more difficult. Like I did last week, today I'm sharing my choices and showing you what I found at Floor & Decor. 

When I began designing the farmhouse, I chose to make the color palette for the floors, tile, counter tops and cabinets completely neutral. Since I tend to like redecorate about every fifteen minutes often, keeping the more permanent parts of my home neutral allows me to introduce color through paint and fabric.

I know myself well enough to know that this is the best way for me to decorate. I also know that I like to use natural materials whenever possible but if the price is right and the quality is good, porcelain that looks like natural stone is a cost effective alternative for some areas of my home.

Since I'll be using hexagonal terracotta tile in the stable hall and the hall to my studio,  I feel that it's a good idea to use that same hexagonal shape on the floor of the master bath or in the shower,  for continuity. I've found that using larger tiles with just a few accent pieces saves on installation as well as tile cost.

First, let's talk about my new kitchen. It will be a combination of shades of gray and white with dark wood flooring, a natural wood island and open shelves. The the style of my new kitchen is French country farmhouse (with the emphasis on farmhouse, of course!)  I'll be using rustic finishes like painted cabinets and honed counter tops. I'm considering poured concrete or soapstone for part of the counter tops but will have Vermont Imperial marble on the island.  My kitchen cabinets and shelves will be similar in color and feel to the fabulous kitchen above from Our Vintage Home.

Source: Kvanum Kitchens
The only area that will have back splash tile is the space between the cook top and the exhaust hood.  This is because the wall where the sink is located has four windows that extend to just above the counter top and those windows are flanked by cabinets with glass doors that sit on the counter top. Similar in layout to the photo above but, with four windows instead of two:

Photo: Home of Colette of La Brocanteuse
I've chosen over-sized subway tile in white for my kitchen. I think that it will blend well with my gray cabinets and  gray and white counter tops. Installing oversized the tile will provide a updated feel and proper scale while giving me the traditional feel that I'm trying to achieve. 

I think that the tile on the bottom of the display below would work nicely as a kitchen back splash, don't you?   Of course, it would be pretty spectacular in the shower i the upstairs bath, too!

There are two and one half baths in our home. The half bath is tiny and  is located on the main floor near the family room. The floor in this room will probably be a natural stone like travertine because it's rustic enough to blend well with the dark hardwood that will be in the rooms around it and still sturdy enough to hold up to traffic. I'm adding character to my little bathroom by using a vintage chest as a sink base with a vessel sink and wall mounted faucet similar to this one: 

There are so many elements of this bathroom that I love; from the wall mounted faucet to the mirror ad the architectural salvage above the shower curtain...but I digress....

                                                                                                 Where was I?  Oh yeah, vessel sinks.

I was really pleased to find that Floor & Decor carries what I consider to be a pretty substantial selection of vessel sinks. I'm sure that I'll be find something that will be perfect.

There are two full bathrooms in our home, one in the hall of the second floor and one is a master ensuite. Both will have gray and white tile, both will likely have gray cabinets, both will have white fixtures. Color wise, that may seem boring, but using an interesting tile layout and things like mosaic accents or carved pieces like this one that I found will help to make them simple but beautiful.

I haven't made final selections yet... but I'm close. I've still got to find a cabinet for the powder room but then, I'm going to sit down with a F&D designer to choose a sink for the powder room and lay out the patterns for the tile in the bathrooms.  I'm still drawn to the mosaic border in this photo...
                                                                                             and that harlequin....maybe just a little?!

However, before I do any of that, either today or tomorrow (September 12th and 13th), I'm going to the Grand opening of the new Floor & Decor at 3300 Oakton in Skokie, IL to check them out! You know that I love to shop and I want to make sure to check out all of the latest options before I purchase.

If you're in the area, here's what's going on at the store this weekend. Maybe I'll see you there.

Friday, Sept 12
9:00 – 11:00    Ribbon cutting
10:00 – 6:00    NASCAR Simulator
11:00 – 2:00    Ice Cream Truck – free to the first 200 customers
  Chicago Mix popcorn available

Saturday, Sept 13
Chicago Mix popcorn available
10:00 – 6:00    NASCAR Simulator
11:00 – 2:00    Hot Dog Cart – free to the first 200 customers
11:00 – 3:00    Face Painter/ Balloon Artist
11:00 – 3:00    Inflatable Sports Challenge
12:00 – 2:00    $250,000 Dice Roll Challenge

Yeah...that $250,000 dice roll got my attention. But to be honest, so did the Chicago Mix Popcorn (for those of you who don't know what that is, it's a 50/50 mix of caramel corn and cheese popcorn...I know, it sounds odd but trust me, it's amazing!) 

Disclosure: I was compensated for writing this post. However, my account of my experience with Floor and Decor as well as my opinion of them  is my own.  I only write about products and services that I use personally in my own home and it is my policy and promise to you, the reader, that all reviews are genuine, 100% honest, and reflect my experience with the product or service being reviewed.