Delight in the Date Night at Home!

No more putting off getting a sitter! 

 Stay home for date night tonight!


 There are plenty of date ideas for staying at home. If you stay creative, you and your loved one can spend some quality time together without  spending a lot of money or ever putting your shoes on .  


Dinner and a movie are a standard date for most couples. However, why not stay in and make dinner together? This way, you can work together to create a festive meal and then enjoy  a movie. The first film you saw together or one that mimics your own relationship often help when making a choice.  My husband and I love to share what we call “Trail Supper”.  A “no cooking night”!  After we put the kids to bed, we enjoy something you might have on a trail:  olives, cheese and crackers or bread, fruit , raw veggies and great beverages!  

Try  fondue to add festivity to your date at home.

This set  prevents the cheese or chocolate from burning and requires no electricity, just candlelight.

If you both enjoy nature but don’t want to leave your home, try doing some home-based gardening. This is a nice way to do something productive and enjoy a project together.

Consequently, think about having a game night at home. Make some delicious snacks, pop in some music, and uncork the wine while the two of you play cards or play a board game. It’s a way to have a light and fun game, assuming no one gets too competitive!

 

  These Celebration Plates, bowls and cups are made from recycled melamine and add a bit of fun and whimsy to the date when it’s meal time!   Embrace your home and enjoy your date, too!


Tell us about a “date night at home” idea  that you have!


Its Time to Swap the Pansies for Impatients

Container gardening is a great way to get a lot of bang for your buck. If you don’t feel you have a green thumb, container gardening can be a way to give you confidence to start gardening.

There are so many different things you can use to make a container garden. Look in the garage or basement or your child’s closet.  Here is a super cute idea. Take a pair of children’s crocs and fill them with dirt and plant for a whimsical garden planter. This is a fun way to get your kids involved in gardening. Featured here is lobelia with chicks and hens. This photo by Kerry Michaels.

If you are on a tight budget, take any container you have, fill it with dirt and buy a pack of nasturtium seeds. You will have edible flowers all summer long. They also make sweet small flower arrangements.

Planting an Endless Summer Hydrangea plant in a container is a wonderful way to have beautiful hydrangeas all summer long. They too make great flower arrangements. The more you cut them the more blooms you have.

 

Planting vegetables in containers can be very fruitful. Not all of us have the perfect sunny garden spot to put in a vegetable garden. Using a large pot with good drainage, high quality organic dirt, and a healthy tomato plant will produce tomatoes in your garden. When I plant or transplant I use Down to Earth All Purpose 4-6-2 fertilizer. I have used this product for several years and it is all natural and is great to use when planting edibles.

When you are deciding what plants to use in containers make sure you know if your container will be in full sun, shade or a combination of the two?  Another idea to consider for a sunny spot is to use succulents in your container. In the south most of the succulent plants are perennial plants.

 

Remember when you are shopping for your plants consider these things. Choose plants that have balance and contrast. A simple rule of thumb is to have 1 tall plant 1 filler and 1 trailing. Mixing different textures and colors will make your container more visually interesting.

 

Herbs are another way to get your feet wet in trying container gardening. Consider planting lavender, thyme and sage together. You wish you had time to do this well if you don’t call Sweet Abode we can help!

Decorating for and Easter Celebration

If you are anything like me, you still do not know what or how you will serve Easter brunch.  The food you will have to figure out on your own, but I am here to help you create a very festive Easter gathering!

 When doing an outdoor table setting, it is so fun to bring some of your chairs and pillows outside for comfort and whimsy.  Decorate the table with a centerpiece of tree branches hanging with painted eggs, some vases of spring blooms and dishes of easter candy.  If you are crafty, you should make banners like the one in this picture from House Beautiful.     

An indoor Easter table setting can be really beautiful and SUPER EASY when you start with a simple white table-cloth and adding a couple of brightly colored ribbons.  Here you don’t even need to use flowers…you can simply use the eggs you have dyed for the big hunt!

Easter is such a symbolic and special time of year!  It is an opportunity to celebrate life and the beauty and bounty that surrounds us in nature and in our loved ones, so enjoy and feast with them.

Easter Basket Extravaganza!

I just love waking up on Easter Sunday to see “what did the Easter bunny bring this year!?!”  It may be that some of you have more creative bunnies than others, so for those of you lacking a creative bunny I have compiled cute basket ideas.

For starters, you don’t have to use a traditional basket for Easter.  You can use a brightly colored gift bag, cut a fun top edge to it, and embellish with ribbons and flowers.  For a really fun idea, you can add a strip of candy buttons to the bag and blow the kids minds!

Another struggle for some is whether to add candy or no candy to the basket! There are a lot of good options and here are a few:

   

Art and craft supplies are a great Easter basket filler. www.modernparentsmessykids.com has some cute ideas!

 Bath and beauty items are always fun for girl’s baskets:  throw in some finger nail polish, bath fizzies, earings and lip gloss.

Etsy has a cute “I Spy” bunny:  http://www.etsy.com/listing/23169840/chocolate-bunny-i-spy-bag-fuzzy-brown 

Finally, what is an Easter basket without Easter eggs.  These are inspiring and beautiful!

Easter is Sweet!

With Easter this Sunday, I thought I would share some inspiration for a fun and whimsical celebration. 

There are so many fun ways to dress up your table for an Easter brunch.  If you are doing an outdoor tablescape, it would look so festive to use pieces of grass as placemats or a runner.  You can even pop some eggs and flowers in for an element of surprise!

 If you are having a large group of kids over for your Easter brunch, a really fun way to decorate is to have a long table with groups of tulips, daffodils, daisies and lilies surrounded by pails and bowls of snacks.

 

If you really want to get the little ones excited, candy topiaries are the way to go!!  They make such an adorable centerpiece and they can go home with your guests to make a fun bedroom decoration.  

All of the easter egg hunting is going to make the kids, and grown-ups thirsty, but don’t just pass out boring water bottles.  Give them adorable BUNNY FACE drinks.  Use a pretty paper, cut out a bunny head shape, get the kids to decorate the faces and tape to any bottle you choose.  Adorable!!

Final inspiration has to be from Martha Stewart.  This is just TOO BEAUTIFUL!!  Make a delicate centerpiece in a pastel palette of tulips, surrounded by glass bowls of jelly beans in matching colors…truly simple and SO inspiring!!

Spring Table Settings

I don’t know about you, but I get so excited about table settings and table linens during the spring!  It must be the warm weather, the beautiful, new blooms and the smell of fresh-cut green grass that brings us back to life and loving the little things.  Here are a few of my favorite “little table things” for this spring. 

How simple and how fun!  A simple bunch of radishes with a bit of raffia placed on a linen napkin is organic (literally) and timeless.

This is why I love flowers!  You can make an incredible statement by going small with a daffodil sprig tied to a napkin or by going big with a trifle dish full of peonies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, here is a little something for the little (and the big) kids that may be at the Easter Brunch table:  http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/holiday-ideas/funny-bunny-folds-instructions

And to top it all off…these two table setting from greenhopengo and twogirlsbeingcrafty at blogspot are just so great!!  What is your favorite? 

 

Savvy Spring Decor!

Spring is not just the time to clean and purge the old, but it is a celebratory time of year:  Graduations, Holiday Brunches, and other celebrations!  So, why not rejuvenate your home?  Welcome spring by checking out these helpful tips and ideas that won’t cost you a bundle.

At Sweet Abode, one of our services is “Room Reshuffle/Redesign”.  Developing a more flexible floor plan by aligning and shifting pieces can often open up the space and create better flow, without buying anything!

Delight in de-cluttering
With the new season comes the inspiration to cleanse and purge items that you no longer need. Replace heavier accent objects, such as ceramics, with lighter pieces, like baskets. Reposition artwork and add mirrors whenever possible as they open up a room and give the illusion of more space. Of course, when in doubt, recycle it out.

Shop and swap
As the focus on sustainability becomes more widespread, so do your options for eco-friendly products that do not deplete the earth or your pocketbook. Some options include swapping with a group of friends to changing out items that no longer fit your space, or shopping in thrift stores and consignment shops. Of course, when those options won’t do, we suggest purchasing eco-friendly, simple selections such as bamboo rugs, organic cotton sheets or recycled glass.

Bring on the colors of nature!  Get rid of the silk and dried flowers and add the beautiful textures and colors of green vegetation. 

Even just new throw pillows can add a fresh look to your home.

http://www.thebeachhousestore.com/wgl1pc1818.html

http://www.thebeachhousestore.com/wgl5sc1818.html

When you lighten the landscape, you lighten the mood!

Lighting is another simple, affordable and eco-friendly way of sprucing up the home. We suggest converting all task lighting to compact fluorescent bulbs. The reduction in energy consumption translates into a lower monthly bill and an overall reduction in your carbon footprint.

http://r.popshops.com/r/b2xyL1FwZzVOeXZZZEtxR25zcStEMDQrM0VrNDR5VzB4aDRTT0RmVk5jaz0K

Let spring bloom inside your home!  With fresh colors and a bit of reshuffling, your home can be ready to welcome your guests for any celebration.

Spring Means Garage Sales!

With spring cleaning and decluttering come garage and yard sales.

While you don’t have to spend big bucks outsourcing your signs to a print shop, we recommend that you always include the following 8 things in a garage sale sign–if you actually want to get people to show up and shop at your sale:

  1. The street address of the sale
  2. The time and date of the sale
  3. Arrows pointing shoppers in the right direction to get to the sale
  4. Big enough lettering so people can read it from far away
  5. Keywords on the sign that are likely to catch someone’s eye, like “Antiques,” “Art” or “Tools”
  6. Bright and bold signs and printing that catch people’s attention
  7. Not too much information that someone driving by can’t read your entire sign at 30 mile per hour
  8. Signs that are waterproof and windproof, in case Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate

You should always create multiple versions of your sign and place them in high-traffic spots on the way to your sale. We also recommend spreading the word by telling your friends, posting information about the sale on neighborhood and community bulletin boards (both online and offline) and, of course, listing your sale for free on Tagsellit.com. (Putting something in Craigslist’s “garage sale” section probably wouldn’t hurt either.)

Time your sale strategically:
Fridays seem to bring the heaviest flow of die-hard garage sale visitors looking for prime merchandise.
Saturday mornings will bring in folks out on errands and ferrying children to various activities. Business tends to slow down after 3:00, and most sales end by 4:00.
Sundays are often not worth the trouble of setting up and tearing down. If there is an event going on in your town that typically brings in people from other areas:  craft shows, garden tours, pancake breakfasts, for example—you might pick up customers you otherwise wouldn’t. 

  • Consider a neighborhood yard sale. These can be great fun and bring in lots of buyers, and expenses for signage and advertising can be shared. Enlist local teens or spouses to help out with parking and traffic control.  
  •  
  •  Finally, always take down your signs as soon as the sale is over so they don’t clutter the neighborhood and become a nuisance and an eye sore.

Send us a picture of a garage sale sign that caught your eye!

A Delightful Deck!

A deck is a lot like a patio, where it is an extension of your indoors out.  We talked about accessories and decorative details to enhance your great outdoors, but what about the essentials:  furniture or even decking material.

This grouping from Summer Classics is a great example of how to maximize a long, narrow deck or patio.  Narrow and long areas make it very easy to create two seating spaces, one for dining and one for lounging.
 
Curranonline.com is a great outdoor furniture source.  Their products range from reinterpreted old styles to timeless, classic pieces  to streamline, modern accents.  It does not take much to add flair to your outdoors, just one conversational piece can make a big difference.
 
The vegetal stackable chair from highbrow furniture is a great option for people who have a tight space and entertain a lot, you pull them out when you need them and make a serious statement! 
  
Keep in mind, outdoor furniture can be made of wood (teak), aluminum, vinyl, metal, wicker, resin, or plastic. Teak, wicker metal, and resin will cost more and weigh more that vinyl or plastic. The added weight will keep them in place on windy days. Vinyl and plastic are easier to clean and will most likely be collapsible for easy indoor storage if desired.
 
For those of you who have a concrete patio and want to make it a bit more cozy, wooden deck tiles are a fabulous solution.  For $125 per 20, decktiles.org is a great source with a variety of styles and stains.   
If you are in the market for a new deck please look below for a helpful guide.
  
Most decks in this area are made with one of the following materials:

  • Pressure treated wood
  • Hardwood
  • Composites
  •  

The chart below will provide you with a quick overview and comparison of each of these three kinds of decks.

 

  Pressure Treated Hardwood Composites
Cost Lowest initial cost Higher initial cost Higher initial cost
Maintenance Requires the most maintenance: staining, sanding, etc. Requires some staining/sealing to retain finish Long-lasting color and texture
Splinters and Cracking Splinters and cracks easily Few splinters Guaranteed not to splinter or split
Investment Good Better Best

 

NOTE: All decks, regardless of materials and construction, should be inspected annually for safety and cleaned with soap and water each year to maintain best appearance.

Patio Paradise

Patio is Spanish for back yard.  It is an extension of your indoors during the warm months of the year and a great place to dine and entertain.  These days there are so many great rugs, furniture, accessories and lighting to choose from that add real style to your outdoors. 

A great way to freshen up your look each year is changing your cushions and umbrellas.  Lighting really makes a difference when entertaining outdoors.  Simple string lights are fun, but check out the Boho bag light from Molo Designs that goes with you wherever and you can hang it wherever…super cool:

The Candela lights from Vessel are a great way to add a candle effect to your tabletop without blowing out in the wind.

Water features add a very soothing sound to your outdoor space.  This is a really beautiful example of a custom tile fountain.

Plants and the way you display them can be the focal point of your patio, by adding color and texture.  You can have groupings of ceramic pots with large plants such as camelias or Japanese maples.  A very cool new trend, especially for apartments are vertical gardens.  Sunset Magazine has a step by step guide to making your own succulent vertical garden.

You can also buy one ready to go from Terrain:

 Hopefully these ideas will inspire you bring a piece of your indoors out.  Send us your patio pictures!