Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Floral Arrangements

We have arrived to Thanksgiving EVE. Can you believe it?  I have been telling friends that, at this point, Thanksgiving is basically functioning as a speed bump to Christmas. Believe me, I need the speed bump. That being said, when I was thinking of what to choose for my Thanksgiving decor, I cheated a bit. I am going with a decor that will easily crossover to Advent. 

While in the market I have been eyeing a few new white vases. They come in a variety of sizes and add texture to any setting. I must resist buying every lovely vase I see, but this time I thought we are heading into the perfect occasion for these beauties.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Party Deck in Freezing Temperatures

I can't believe that Thanksgiving is in only two days!  We are going to be with my family for a few days this week, which I'm so excited about.  During all of those years in Europe we came home a lot to visit, but this is the first major holiday we have celebrated together with my whole family in years.

 It just hit me, though, that if Thanksgiving is here already, that also means that December is right around the corner!  In just a couple of weeks we'll be hosting a Christmas party at our house, so the minute the Turkey is eaten and we all say goodbye, it's time for me to get in gear and prepare for this Christmas crowd.

I'm expecting this year's party to be pretty big, and while our house can handle a decent number of people, I kept thinking how much better it would be if we could spill out onto the deck like we could in the warmer months.  Which, of course, led to some serious online research into how to make that possible.  It occurred to me: why not use a tent on the deck and incorporate the space into the house for the party?  

After digging around and comparing prices to rent a tent for the night, I quickly realized that buying one is much more economical, especially since we'll be able to use it in the future, either on the deck or in the yard.  (Yes, my husband thinks I'm a little crazy at this point.)  There are some crazy cheap options out there if you are flexible on size, but I wanted the dimensions of the tent to fill the area of the deck as closely as possible to maximize the space, so I ended up paying a little more.  Still, this beast, which covers 13' x 26' only cost me $349, new with free shipping from eBay.

Since the weather here will most definitely be freezing the night of the party, I immediately thought of using space heaters like at wedding receptions under tents (again, I know I sound insane:)).  Unless you keep the sides open for the air to circulate, you can't use propane heaters, but electric ones will do the job in an enclosed tent like ours will be.  A local place here will rent them for $60 a night per heater, but I found these on eBay new for $77 each including shipping, and an extra $17 per heater to own them and use them again seemed totally worth it.

Everything arrived last week, so now all we have to do is assemble it all (yikes)!  I'm so excited about adding a whole "room" to the house for this party, and I'll be sure to post an update on how everything turned out.



Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas Gift Ideas...

Hello Monday!!! 
Remember this post re:Prinstagram? Well, my order arrived in the mail and I could not be more pleased with the quality of the pics. I was so pleased I hung them or should I say taped them up right away. I ordered three different sizes and love everyone of them. Shhh.... these photos are going to make great personal gifts and will also be using them for a Christmas party. I love the holidays!!

So, where did I decide to put our family pics, the kitchen corner. This area was pretty bleak and needed a personal lift and was perfectly imperfect. My first idea was to paint magnet paint by Martha Stewart then use my mod magnets from Target to have our pics up. I followed the directions then repainted the door. Sadly, the magnet from the paint is not strong enough to hold up the pics, so I turned to the next best solution, washi tape. I think the tape looks better and is gentle on the pics. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Reads

Hello Friday!
 The weather is a bit on the gloomy side here in NYC, so it is the perfect day to take in a little cap from Maialino's and work on the Mockingbird Conference.  So, I am so excited to be teaming up with Nia J Kiesow on this one. She is brilliant and full of wonderful design ideas. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Perfect Gift

A dear friend is having a little girl come this Christmas. What a perfect gift! As our friend anticipates the arrival of her little one, we too are anxiously awaiting alongside her.  In the meanwhile our Sunday School team collected gift money to buy Miss. H a little something.
 Of course, I was happy to do the shopping and hit my favorite stores to find just the perfect treat....

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Blackout: Painting Doors and Windows

Black painted windows and doors aren't exactly a new trend, but they've been on my mind for a while now as something I'd like to try. I love traditional decor, but I also always like to mix in some element of modern, casual, or quirky design to keep things interesting, so I love the idea of the graphic contrast of black paint against white trim.

At the Martha Stewart Omnimedia Center in NYC

House & Home via Bryn Alexandra

Architectural Digest via Cobi Style

The Shade Shop

Stylish Livable Spaces

Jenny from LGN recently painted the insides of her doors black, too, and I was able to steal her color choice and entirely skip that whole anxiety ridden selection process!  The paint she went with is Benjamin Moore's Onyx, and I could tell from the photos that I would love that soft black, too, so I had the paint department at Home Depot mix the BM shade in a Behr paint.


Here's the before photo.  Once I had finished installing the cornice board or valance, I kept feeling like the whole look was just kind of blah-- and the same with the inside of our front door, too.

Before applying the black, I made sure to wipe down the wood to clean off any grease or dust that would prevent the paint from adhering properly.  Also, to give the paint better grip on stained wood like this, I used an oil based Kilz primer, which I had tinted to as dark a gray as they could make it.  That darker layer is SO much easier to cover with the paint than a basic white primer!  



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Holiday Survival

Hello Tuesday!! 
The weather is GLORIOUS here in NYC. We are just soaking up every beautiful minute of it. I do appreciate this great weather, and just the right climate can help me get much done on my long to do list. I don't know about you, but the holidays can be overwhelming, so EVERY year I have come up with a few check off items pre-Thanksgiving. 

Uno: Take Christmas photos & order Christmas cards
Dos: Make photo books for the abuelos
Tres: Plan out Christmas decor

So far we are on track. This year was especially important to stay focused because as of today are hosting 5 Christmas parties- YIKES.  I continually tell myself SI SE PUEDE!!! I am sure when this saying was made famous, Christmas parties were not at the core. 

One site I wanted to share with you all today is Prinstagram. I am OBSESSED!!!! I can not wait to receive my packages, I know they will be tough to part with, which is a sure sign of an awesome gift. Just check out their amazing look, and who doesn't love printed photos in our digital age? Last year a friend printed one photo for me and I have it hanging up like a small treasure. Needless to say, get ready for cool pics from the Smiths.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Some Finishing Touches on the Deck

With all of this exciting work going on in the back yard recently, I knew the time had come to get myself motivated to finish the deck.  The next step toward being 100% done with this monster project is to build and install lattice screens for the base, which will help the whole thing look more polished (and it will hide the mounds of dirt that we never smoothed out underneath). Once all of the beds are cut and the bushes planted, it will be much more challenging to get the lattice panels into position, so this landscaping project was just the thing to get me back to the saw:)

I decided to set my sections of lattice back inside of the support posts so that they would be flush with the outside edges of the deck rather than stick out beyond, which I think would look tacked on.  I first drilled sections of spare lumber-- 2x4s or 2x6s) two inches back from the edge of each post to provide a backing for the panels and something to drill into.

Then I measured each opening carefully, taking into account the fact that the lattice should clear the ground by an inch or two.  Of course each opening was a totally different size (great planning on my part:)), so each panel was measured and created separately.  I created a simple frame out of pressure treated 1x4 boards, connected by galvanized angle brackets for stability.  Once I had double checked that the frame would fit correctly inside the opening, then I cut each section of lattice with a jigsaw and screwed it onto the back of the frame.

The trickiest section was the little angle pieces for under the stairs, but thankfully my angle tool came to the rescue.  Otherwise it would have taken ages to get those angles right!  In one day I managed to finish seven panels... but now I need to motivate for the last few:)  Still, progress is progress, and I'm pleased.

Happy Monday!


Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Details

I am currently working on a floral website on, which I am looking forward to sharing very soon. While working on my site, I realized I had a few more details I had not yet shared from the October wedding.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Will Travel for Deals

I'm excited, since today I have such a fun day planned!!  For ages I have been wanting to take a trip to IKEA and the Ballard Designs Outlet, which are right around the corner from each other just outside of Cincinnati-- so less than two hours away from Louisville.  It's a far enough drive that I don't ever go unless there's something I know I want that I can only get the best deal on at one of those two places.  In fact, our living room rug came from the Ballard Designs Outlet, and the 1/2 off of the retail price we got it for made the trip absolutely worth it.

The reason I'm going this week is that Lindsay's dining room table is painted and ready to be used-- but she's missing chairs still!  After playing around with different directions we could go with the space, we decided that the clean, modern and youthful vibe of lucite chairs would add just the right mix to her apartment, which already has some more traditional elements.

You can spend a fortune on lucite if you want, but we needed a deal, especially since Lindsay needs six chairs, which adds up fast.  No surprise here: IKEA
's TOBIAS chairs turned out to be wildly less expensive than every other option and are a steal at $79 each.  Don't you think these are going to look so cool with her more traditional, glossy gray dining room table?  I can't wait to show you the reveal soon!

Of course while I'm there I'll be sure to check out both IKEA and Ballard Designs to see what all I can't live without and just didn't realize I needed:)



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fall Gala

Each Fall I arrange flowers for several fundraisers, and this year was no different. I love the varieties available in the fall. There is so much to choose from, and I tend to love to integrate a variety of texture and species. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Making Progress in the Back Yard

Over the past couple of days our back yard has started its makeover!  Our team of guys have already torn out and haul away the huge grasses that were in the way (so glad they're gone!), cut the beds for the new trees and bushes, and delivered our first installment of plants.  

Since the weather these past couple of days has been gorgeous-- sunny, crisp and even warm-- I decided it's probably time for me to refocus my attention on actually finishing this deck.  Since we got it ready enough to use for a party back in September I haven't lifted a finger to try to finish it, but now's the time!  The freezing temperatures that the weather man is predicting are motivating me to pick up that drill.  First up: I'll tackle the lattice panels that will cover up the base of the deck.

Happy Monday!


Friday, November 8, 2013

Be our Guest

Do you have some fun weekend plans? Here at Casa Smith we are full to the brim with activity. We are hosting friends this weekend, I have a flower gig, and our regular Sunday activities. As I was preparing for the weekend I realized I have not given you a glimpse into our guest room. The layout is very simple and understated. We ran over budget and weren't able to get the bedrooms exactly how we want them, but for now clean and organized will do. 

P.S. You cannot beat the view!!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Landscaping Overhaul

When we first looked at this house we were thrilled that it has a wider lot (almost 1 1/2 sized) than most of the other homes in this area, which is full of 100 year old houses build quite close together.   And the other bit of good news was that it's mostly a blank slate-- other than those enormous grasses and a few trees, there wasn't much to love or hate about the back yard, and the openness made it easy to imagine what we might want to do with the space.

Both of my parents are knowledgable and enthusiastic gardeners, and they have worked together for 30 years in their own yard.  The result is probably the most breathtaking, special, happiest garden I've ever seen at someone's home, and my sweet parents use their outdoor haven constantly for parties, luncheons, dinners, etc. to honor friends and family.  Their graciousness in hosting, both indoors and out, is one of their loveliest shared traits.

With all of this gardening expertise in the family, I naturally asked my Mom for some help designing our new back yard.  She and her landscape architect in NC came up with an amazing plan for us that shields the yard from the neighbors (priority one), provides a clean, tidy structure and good bones to the layout, and creates a beautiful retreat of a yard without requiring too much maintenance (since, let's be honest, I'll be distracted by some other project when it's time to prune:)).

Here's our yard now (the first photo is pre-deck):

And here are the plans for the radical transformation of our whole back yard.  The first image is the whole overview, and then each section is broken down into more specifics.  

Once the holly hedge grows and fills in, this back square section of the yard next to the garage will be tucked away, with just a hint of it showing through the "doorway" in the hedge.  We'll have benches in there and tons of pale pink and white flowers... Doesn't it sound fabulous??  I'm already planning on spending the summer back there, so you'll know where to find me:)

Today is a big day, since this afternoon we will have tons of trees and plants delivered to the house, and things will be officially underway!

I woke up feeling like it's Christmas morning!


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