...because home doesn't happen overnight.

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

Congrats to Amanda who would play JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound along with some Wilco. So good!

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You know how much I loathe the appearance of TVs, surround sound speakers and subwoofers, right? You also know how much my husband enjoys these audio / visual components. We make it work by compromising. Steve gets his cinema toys but we try to disguise them somewhat so they aren’t the eyesores I think they are. The TV is recessed above the fireplace. Media components are stored out of sight in a modest cabinet. Shelves camouflage wall speakers. A plywood box covers the subwoofer. (I’m still giving the boob speakers the side eye.)

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Well, FINALLY, there is one media component that we both approve of as-is. It’s going to save a lot of marriages ;) Introducing Aether Cone! Have you heard of it? It’s a well-designed, thinking music player. The simple yet striking appearance reminds me of a phonograph, but the portability and learning capabilities bring it into the 21st century. The more you use Cone, the better it gets at selecting songs you love.

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Cone features voice command. You simply touch the button in the center of the player and ask out loud for a radio station, artist or song. It’s so easy my kids were placing requests on their own within a few minutes of setting up the player (which was surprisingly easy as well). Curses! I’m so sick of The Gummy Bear Song. And in case you were wondering, yes, the songs “I Like Potato Chips” and “I Love Pizza” do exist. Unfortunately.

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To jump to a similar song, turn the dial a little. To play something completely different (no more Gummy Bear!), turn the dial a lot. There isn’t a single screen to read. Pretty cool, huh?

rdio vs rdio unlimitedCone gives you free access to over 30 million songs via Rdio. For additional features, you can sign up for a $10 monthly subscription to Rdio Unlimited. They offer a free 30-day trial period if you’re interested, too.

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There’s roughly a 30-minute window between the time Mabrey goes down for her afternoon nap and the time Everett gets off the school bus. That’s when I get Cone all to myself. I listen to The Avett Brothers, Nickel Creek or really bad good 80s and 90s music. Sometimes, I let Cone do the choosing for me.

We’ve used Cone as background music for dinner, the deejay for family dance parties and the radio for morning NPR listening. You can even listen to podcasts. It’s so versatile. I can’t wait to take it outside on the deck next summer. Come on summer! Until then, Cone is helping us survive cabin fever.

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Does Cone sound like something you and your family would enjoy? Aether is offering up one Cone to one lucky House*Tweaking reader! See entry details below.

PRIZE: one black & copper Aether Cone ($399 retail value)

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) within the U.S. One entry per email address.

TO ENTER: Follow Aether on instagram here. Then leave a comment on this post proclaiming “CONE ME!”

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Monday, January 19th. One random winner will be chosen and announced Tuesday, January 20th.

WHILE YOU’RE AT IT: Share which favorite song, album or artist you would request Cone to play.

Good luck!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

Congrats to Stacey who likes the idea of a wood accent on the stairway wall in her living room.

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I’ve had a hard time with the boys’ room. Especially the recessed wall that the boys’ beds are pushed up against. It’s the perfect spot for the bunk but I’ve always felt like it needed something. After I brought in the vintage dresser, I was pretty sure that something should be a warm-toned wood wall. But I didn’t want it to feel rustic. I just wanted it to balance out the wood tones on the other side of the room.

After a lot of searching, I came across Stikwood. (Btw, this post is NOT sponsored but I did ask Stikwood if they would be interested in doing a giveaway for you guys. Spoiler alert: They said yes!) Have you heard of it? Essentially, it’s peel-and-stick solid wood planks meant to be used on walls. There’s no nailing, no finish work. You simply measure, cut, peel, stick. I ordered a bunch of samples and quickly settled on the caramelized bamboo. It had the same warm tones as the dresser. I measured the wall (roughly 8′ x 8′) and ordered accordingly.

Even though the wood planks are VOC free, upon arrival the boxes had a smell to them. I sat them in the garage for several weeks to off-gas since we were in no rush to install them.

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Once the smell had dissipated, I brought the boxes into the boys’ room to acclimate. Can you see them under the dresser? Last weekend we finally got around to installation.

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We pulled the beds into the center of the room and unloaded the wall. Steve used painter’s tape on the black wall to note the placement of the sconces and shelves. He took a few measurements and wrote them on the tape for reference later.

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We decided that Steve would be the measurer and installer; I would be the cutter. I hooked up our Ryobi flooring saw (the same one we used to cut and install all the flooring in the house) to the vacuum to keep the sawdust mess to a minimum.

stikwood collage

You can read how-to instructions and see a video here but I wanted to share a few in-progress shots of our own.

1 – It was important to us that there be a full plank at the ceiling (since it would be visible) so we worked from the top of the wall to the bottom. The first plank we installed was actually one row down in the middle of the wall. There are three peel-and-stick adhesive strips that run the length of each plank on the back. To install a measured and cut-to-size plank, you simply peel away two of the protectors, fold over a short section of the third protector, place and level the plank, then remove the remaining third protector with the plank in place. This allows some room for adjustment when placing the planks. We didn’t use any of the fancy installation tools that Stikwood offers but we did find a rubber mallet to be helpful to achieve a snug fit.

2 – Once the first plank was in place, things moved along swiftly. We were careful to vary the lengths and seam placement. It was the most uneventful project we’ve completed in a while. That might make for a boring blog post but it was super nice not having any unexpected problems arise.

3 – We had the wall knocked out (figuratively speaking) in one afternoon. Instant gratification! We lucked out and ended up with a full plank at the baseboard so I didn’t have to make any cuts length-wise and we only had to work around one outlet. The most difficult part of the entire project was rehanging the sconces and shelves but even that wasn’t too bad. We were worried that we might have to put up some type of trim in the corners but I brought my A-game to the flooring saw and made precise cuts so no trim!

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Everyone LOVES the wood wall. Steve thinks it makes the room look bigger. He says you can now tell that the wall is set back from the rest of the room. The boys say it feels like they’re sleeping in a cabin when the bed curtains are drawn at night. I heard the word “cozy” come out of Layne’s mouth. I think the wall is the perfect balance to the large wood dresser on the other side of the room. And I like the contrast between the warm wood and white beds. There’s probably some rule against two accent walls in one room but it’s a kids’ room. Who cares.

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I don’t know if it’s our age or the sheer exhaustion from being in (what has felt like) perpetual renovation mode for the last 2+ years or what, but Steve and I are slowly warming up to products that promise quick and easy results – even if they cost more. Stikwood is definitely quick & easy. It’s also made in the USA, high quality and eco-friendly. The only drawback is the cost, but you get what you pay for. To help ease the sticker shock, Stikwood is kindly offering up a gift card today. See entry details below.

PRIZE: one $280 gift card to Stikwood plus a complimentary samples set

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) within the U.S. One entry per email address.

TO ENTER: Sign up for Stikwood’s newsletter here then leave a comment on this post sharing which plank you would use and where. (The entire time we were installing the planks, I kept telling Steve “Wouldn’t this be great for a TV wall? Just picture it with a flatscreen and floating console.)

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, December 18th. One random winner will be announced Friday, December 19th.

Good luck!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

12.01.14 / Holiday Card Idea

3-in-1 holiday card

We love our candid family photo books from Artifact Uprising so much I knew I would turn to them for our holiday cards, too. (The kids flip through the photo books on a regular basis…still!) What I wasn’t expecting was the clever 3-in-1 card design that the company introduced a few weeks ago.

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The 100% recycled 3-in-1 photo card comes as a single flat card with a photo of your choice. You can choose from more than a dozen unique designs. Each card includes a kraft envelope. I went with the “May Joy” design in red watercolor and added a photo of the kids from our recent vacation.

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Each card is perforated and can be used as a greeting card, photo print and / or gift tag. Recipients can tear off the photo square and display it on their fridge. Likewise, the watercolor font can be torn off and repurposed as a gift tag. It’s the greeting card that keeps on giving! If you have extras, use the photos and tags on gifts you’re giving this season.

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I’m keeping the gift wrap pretty simple this year. The plaid and black kraft papers are leftover from last year but I saw them at JoAnn’s a few weeks ago so they should still be available. The burlap ribbon is from JoAnn’s, too. I always have jute string on hand. I use it for everything. I can’t tie a bow to save my life so I usually resort to bow alternatives. Last year it was DIY poms; this year it’s rosemary. I had to empty the planter at the front door due to the frost but salvaged the rosemary and added fragrant sprigs to the presents for a natural touch.

Also, I really want the Australian word “pressies” (meaning presents) to catch on here in the U.S. It’s adorable. PRESSIES. You can’t say it without smiling.

*BONUS* - Enter below to win a 25-pack of Artifact Uprising’s 3-in-1 photo cards. Giveaway ends 12/8/14. Best of luck!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking