Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Butler Pantry for the Season

Butler Pantry Off Our Kitchen
I just got a call from my mother-in-law yesterday letting me know our Butler's Pantry is in the December issue of This Old House magazine!  So fun to see one of the photos from our shoot a couple years ago.  It's a great online article with fun ideas for bars and enteraining, "Built ins that make enteraining easier".

I haven't written in quite some time with lots going on with life.  Our house is having some construction issues from our new addition and it looks like we will be starting a house project again in the near future to fix the issues and damage.  More to come with project details and photos.  In the meantime, I've been having a fun time watching my good friends and neighbors do a large remodel on a 1940's ranch a few doors down.  Come back to visit, will be posting pictures soon.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Historic Ancestoral Home in Pennsylvania

I have an amazing aunt on my dad's side of the family.  My Aunt Diane lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and just recently retired a few years ago from a lifetime of teaching.  She has her PhD and has taken on the project of researching our family history.  She plans to write a narrative and compile our family tree.  Each holiday she sends the kids wonderful stories and pictures of the family.  Since the 4th of July is almost upon us, I thought it would be nice to share the most recent photo she sent me of a family home from the 1700's.  She knows my love of old homes and we share this in common.

My aunt wrote to all the cousins that "this was the home where [our] great-great-great grandparents, Hartman and Salome Leithiser lived and where my great-great grandfather Isaac Leithiser grew up."

Aunt Diane contacted a woman descended from another line of the family- they spell the name Lighthiser (or Lightheiser). This distant relative sent her color pictures of the home and explained that she was told that "the house was originally a log house dating to the early 1700s.  Moreover, she is not decended from Hartman (2) and his wife, Salome who lived in the house. Her grandfather was Hartman's brother or cousin. The house seems characteristic of the early German/Swiss architecture of Pennsylvania..."

She writes that "Salome's maiden name was Rubi later spelled Ruby. Her parents were Heinrich and Catarina (Rathvon) Rubi. The Rubis came to America from Switzerland and settled on the shores of the Susquehanna River in PA. Apparently they were successful farmers and owned quite a bit of land. We are not sure when they bought the property where the house stands. The log cabin may have already been on the property when they arrived in the early 1700s. I don't know. I do know that Salome's family owned other farms in the area. This one, however, is the one in which Hartman and Salome lived. Hartman was not a farmer. He made his living on the river as a canal boatman. (That will be another story)."

This is the story Aunt Diane sent to the kids for President's Day a few years ago about the great-great-great-great grandmother Salome Leithiser.  I hope you enjoy it was much as we did.  Finding stories and old family pictures is a great way to celebrate our nations independence and teach our kids of the sacrifices and great challenges our fore fathers and kins sacrificed for our later generations freedoms and independence.  Happy Fourth of July!

Writtern By: Diane Kerbin to her grand niece and nephew about their great-great-great-great grandmother Salome Leithiser who live in the house in the pictures above. This is the story of her trip to Washington.  Aunt Diane explained that there was "no actual documentation - ie. a diary, letter, or pass from Lincoln.  It was a story passed through the family and printed in a Lancaster newspaper that [she] found at the historical society in York, Pennsylvania."

The Leithiser family has its own special story about Abraham Lincoln.

It’s a story about your great-great-great-great grandmother. Her name was Salome Leithiser. She lived with her husband, Hartman, and her five sons, George, Jacob, Henry, Isaac, and Nathaniel in this old farm house near the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania.

While Abraham Lincoln was president there was a war in the United States. It was called the Civil War. Salome’s husband, Hartman, and her oldest sons were soldiers in that war.

Salome must have missed her husband and sons very much when they were sent away to war.

One day Salome learned that Hartman and her son George were at an army camp in West Virginia. She wanted to visit them.  She knew it would be a long and difficult trip, but she decided to go to the camp. She would not go alone. She would take her young son Nathaniel, called Tan by his brothers, with her. She packed cookies and other food to take on the journey.

She saddled a horse, lifted her young son, Tan, onto the horse with her, and together they rode all the way to West Virginia.

When they reached the army camp where Hartman and George were stationed Salome was very disappointed. The soldiers who stood guard at the entrance to the camp would not let her in the camp. 

Salome was tired from the long horseback ride from Pennsylvania, but she would not take “no” for an answer. She was determined to see her husband and son. She lifted up little Tan and put him in the saddle in front of her again. She turned her horse around and headed for Washington, D.C. where President Lincoln lived. She thought the president could help her because she knew he was commander-in-chief of the army.

When they arrived in Washington, they headed for the White House. Salome and Little Tan went to the president’s office. Salome told the President what had happened when she tried to visit Hartman and George at the army camp in West Virginia. Little Tan stood by the President’s big desk and pulled himself up with his fingers over the edge it. He watched the President write a letter giving his mother and him permission to visit the Union Army Camp in West Virginia.
This time the guards let Salome and little Tan in to visit Hartman and George. They must have been very happy to see each other again. When it was time to leave, Salome and Tan got on their horse and rode back to their home in Pennsylvania.

This is a lovely story that my children still love to hear.  My aunt also wrote in her letter to us about the Civil War that "the West VA assignment took place during Hartman's second enlistment. He actually fought in two earlier battles in which Union troops suffered devastating defeats: Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. His battalion also endured the horrible "mud march". He was discharged just before Gettysburg and re-enlisted late in the war. Perhaps he needed the money, perhaps he wanted to be near his son ,  perhaps he was doing his patriotic duty - or maybe all three.

* Of note, Gen. Stonewall Jackson, Lee's greatest general, was killed at Chancellorsville"

Thanks Aunt Diane for the great stories about our family and US History!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer at the Seaside Kids Bathroom

It's summer and the salt water life is perfect here in Florida.  Lazy breezy days with the family by the shore.  I've taken some time off from blogging to enjoy these special moments with my kids while spending some time at the beach.  Nothing makes me happier than sitting with my toes in the sand watching them laugh and splash in the waves. 

My husband and I both grew up in South Florida surrounded by beautiful water and a healthly outdoor lifestyle.  And even though we live inland now on a lake, our home still has hints of our love of the Florida salt water life.  We have a few sailfish hanging about on our walls, and I couldn't resist decorating the kids bathroom with a hint of ocean theme since they both love the beach.  It just makes them happy and brings smiles to their faces.

Below is the picture of bathroom from when we purchased the home in the original 1920's condition.
Bathroom Before

New Neutral Kids Bathroom

The new design is very similar to the original with white subway tiles, a Kohler Memoir cast iron tub and white beadboard paneling.  We repurposed an original 1920's french door.  I found two naturally woven shower curtains at Tuesday morning and sewed one to be used on the door to provide privacy.  The idea was to indulge their love of the beach with a bathroom designed to take them in to their teen years.  Something they won't quickly outgrow that's classic and timeless.

This bathroom is VERY small with limited space and storage.  We had a custom cabinet built to accomodate the kids toiletries.  The fixtures are an antique brass finish.  The seahorse cabinet hardware was a special order handle from Lowes for about $15.00.

The Seashell mirror was from Pier I for $99.00. 

Kohler Memoir Cast Iron Bathtub approx. $1,200.

The seashell pedestal sink and toilet are St. Thomas special order from Home Depot

Seashore Themed Frame from Home Goods

Kohler Antique Brass Fixtures from Fergusen Supply

A similar seashell mini chandelier is available from Bellacor for $95.00

I love real art. If I can't find a great painting, the next best thing is to blow up a great photo. For this, I absolutely LOVE, This company is great. They cater to their customers and really work with you to make your photo art special. My neighbors have a great vintage black and white photo from Bahia Mar in the 1920's of major league baseball players standing under their fish catches. I covet this picture. It's HUGE and just vintage cool.   I'll have to get a picture to post for you soon. Anyhow, it gave me the idea to blow up some of our photos. This makes a great addition to any home decor.

I already mentioned how little this bathroom is for the kids.  We tried to make as much storage as possible for such a small space.  A nook was added in the shower.  We herringboned the inset to mix up the tile design.

Added Shower Nook for storage

The bathroom turned out perfect for the kids.  I'm still working on adding a few more storage options for towels.  Today I found this DIY project for rustic towels shelves on the This Old House website.  This is our next project for over the toilet, as well as some nautical hooks for the beadboard wall to hang wet towels.  I'll post these as soon as they are installed.  Below you can see the rustic shelves as seen on This Old House.
Rustic DIY Towel Shef from This Old House website

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Terrarium Fairy Garden

School's out for the summer!  I happened to be in charge of my son's end of year class gift and decided to buy terrarium gardens for the teachers.  The local nursery put together adorable gardens in glass containers.  The teachers & kids loved them.  I thought it would be an easy project to do at home this weekend with the kids.  Our family headed to the nursery and picked out our plants and garden decorations for their fairy gardens.

  • Glass Container with or without lid
  • River Rocks
  • Charcoal
  • Moss (dark and light)
  • Potting Soil
  • Mini Plants
  • Garden Fairy Decoration
Step 1:  Add Layer of River River Rock to Glass Container

Step 2: Add Layer of Charcoal

Step 3: Add Layer of Dark Moss

Step 4: Add Potting Soil

Step 5:  Plant Miniatures in Glass Container

Miniature Plants Available at the Nursery

Step 6: Add Layer of Bright Green Moss

Step 7: Add Fairy Garden Decoration

Step 8:  Water and Add Lid

Tip:  Terrarium gardens should be kept indoors and out of direct sunlight.  Water with Spray Mister about every 1-2 Weeks after initial watering.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Breakfast and TV a Winning Combo?

Last week, House Beautiful had an interesting post on Facebook with this fantastic built-in refrigerator from a showcased kitchen on their website.  Interestingly, the magazine noted on the post that most of the comments from readers were discussing the kitchen TV rather than the actual kitchen design.  It seemed the majority thought the TV was pretty bad (though check out the kitchen from this 100 year old Savannah house because it is great).  And several more commented as to how many is too many TVs in a house these days.
Kitchen with TV
Via House Beautiful
Photography by Trevor Tondro
This of course brought my thoughts back to our own kitchen.  During one of the more recent renovation projects a few years back we re-wired our entire house.  During the course of the re-wire we had to decide where to add additional outlets and cable jacks.  Well, let me just share with you that we now have over 40 cable outlets in our house.  I'm a little embarrassed to admit this actually.  We didn't know the total number until the cable installer kindly pointed it out to us.  I then made him a ham sandwich while feeling exceptionally guilty as he explained he couldn't possibly take a lunch break and stay on schedule.  But here's the thing, I want to stay in our house forever...but you never know.  I am a realtor and always considering resale value;  I figured it might be a good idea to add wall mounted cable to every room in our house. In fact, I've sold houses with TVs mounted in bathrooms.   And nowadays there seems to be a flat screen mounted in every room, right?

Photo Courtesy of This Old House magazine
and Photographer Deborah Whitlaw LLewellyn

My husband agreed with this since he typically takes my "expert" advice with no complaints....that is until we got to the kitchen.  He was passionate and determined, he did NOT want a TV in our kitchen.  I on the other hand, being the partner who cooks and washes dishes stood my ground that I must have a mounted TV to watch the Today Show and Food Network.  This discussion went on probably for a month before the jack was installed and my TV went up.  Well, this might be the first time I am going to admit this (and don't tell John), but I was wrong.
Painting and Kitchen Wall Before TV
Cable Outlet on Kitchen Wall for TV
First, the TV looked horrible--much like the readers were commenting on the House Beautiful kitchen.  This is a picture of the jack, but you can visualize the TV in the spot.   Next, I don't really watch TV.  In fact, other than 1 HBO series, I haven't watched a show in 2 years.  My dreams of watching Food Network and cooking fabulous gourmet?  Never happened.  The kids were constantly nagging me to watch it while they ate.  We have a "no TV during the school week" rule in our house.  Needless to say, the TV was a total thorn for our family.  It was never turned on and worst of all looked ugly.  I missed my lovely blue and white porcelain bowl painting. 

Photo Courtesy of This Old House magazine
and Photographer Deborah Whitlaw LLewellyn

As you can see, in the end John won.  And, I am a much happier wife and mom in my kitchen without a TV.  Again looking at my favorite porcelain bowl painting as I cook and enjoy my family time in the kitchen.  My vote, no TV in the kitchen.  What do you think?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Finds -- The Ralph Lauren Home

When it comes to interiors, I am most inspired by Ralph Lauren.  His style is timeless.  I love his mix of traditional vintage mixed with modern lines.   His use of textures with velvets, linen, and natural woven grasses.  Years ago, I saved an article from House Beautiful from November 2004, "How to Get the New Ralph Lauren Look".  I saved the article for six years before I finally used the pictures to design our final renovation project.  It probably wasn't a "new" look by then, but RL never goes out of style.  It's classic.  Unfortunately, I gave my pictures from the article to our contractor to use for our project and they were never returned.  I searched the Internet trying to find it with no luck.  Finally, I went through all my house files yesterday while cleaning out my office and stumbled across one lone page from the article.  Victory!  I had the issue date and a little info to investigate.  I love this article, it's about the Lauren Showhouse in the Hamptons.  The House Beautiful website doesn't have their achived articles back that far, but I found a great blog post from the Bittersweet blog by Margot Klope with the pictures of the article.  Click on the picture below to view his fabulous rooms that inspired our home and read  the Bittersweet blog post about the article.

Here is the dining room porch picture that inspired the new vaulted ceiling in our converted porch dining room and our woven chairs.

Porch Dining from House Beautiful 2004 Via Bittersweet Blog from Margot Klope

Also, the black and white striped Roman Shades inspired me to find black and tan plaid  & houndstooth coordinating fabrics for our new family room.  Most of our home is blues and neutrals, instead I decided to try for a little cozier look the new family room addition.

Nailhead Velvet Chairs from Club Furniture
Lamps Pottery Barn
Asian Ming Side Tables from Nantucket Trading Emporium in Vero Beach
Burlap Storage Ottoman from Ballad Designs

Velvet Striped Wing Chair from Consignment at A & T Antiques in Orlando, FL
Nautical Ship Print from Interiors in Winter Park, FL

Black modern sofa with tufted buttons on back from Robb and Stucky
$5000.00 Retail--bought on sale as floor sample for $2,500.00

There is also a wonderful blog post with more great pictures of Ralph Lauren style.  It's another house in the Hamptons of Vice Presidents of design for RL James and Whitney Fairchild.  Click on the picture to view Michael Penney's Style blog and see fabulous pictures of this home.

Click on cover to view home's interior pictures and read article & post by Michael Penney Style blog

I especially love Ralph Lauren's use of blue and white throughout these Hamptons showplaces. We decided to change our colors to cool blues and neutrals in our living room and master bedroom and incorporate the bamboo, pine and woven sisal flooring.  Our Master Bedroom also has bamboo & diamond woven Ralph Lauren Home nightstands, a 1940's bamboo tray table, zebra rug and vintage nautical paintings.

Ralph Lauren Nightstand
Bamboo Shades Home Depot
Cottage Style Plantation Shutters
Glass Lamp Ethan Allen
Driftwood Sisal Wall to Wall Carpeting
Want to get the Ralph Lauren look in your home?  Horchow just announced yesterday the ir RLH Collection from Ralph Lauren Home.

Ralph Lauren French-Style Hearth Chair
Via Horchow

Ralph Lauren Home Painted Cabinet
Via Horchow

Ralph Lauren Home Blue & White Charger Plate
Via Horchow
1940's Style Plantation Chair
Via Horchow
Ralph Lauren Home Two Apothcary Pots
Via Horchow

Ralph Lauren Home "Farmhouse" Cupboard
Via Horchow

View the entire Ralph Lauren Home Collection avaible at Horchow.

The Ralph Lauren website is also a great source for style ideas for your own home.  My mom and I have spent hours together browsing the site for home ideas and inspiration.  There's a extensive archive available online to view his rooms and collections from years past.  The Ralph Lauren site is also a great place to shop the RL collections and accessories with informative style articles to help achieve his classic style.

Ralph Lauren Rosecliff Bedding Collection
Via Ralph Lauren Home
These are great coffee table books to help with creating a Ralph Lauren Style home:

Ricky Lauren The Hamptons
Via Ralph Lauren Website

A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life.
Via Ralph Lauren Website
Look out for my next post on how to get Ralph Lauren's style on a budget.  In the meantime, you can browse some other websites for great deals by visiting my recent post Steals and Deals.