...because home doesn't happen overnight.

My kids haven’t had a full week of school in over a month. Cabin fever doesn’t even begin to describe the pent up energy and general irritability that we’re experiencing. Saturday the temperature reached 45ºF and it felt like summer. We took two long walks hoping they hold us over until April.

fig tree

Last Tuesday my kids had yet another snow day so I did what any parent with three bored kids would do on a Tuesday. I hit up Ikea for the Kids Eat Free Tuesday ploy. Of course, I ended up buying stuff so it wasn’t all free. I had a small shopping list going in and stuck to it save for one tempting item.

fig tree 1

Meet Mr. Fig. (And, yes, I’m officially a design blogger now.) I have always wanted a fiddle leaf fig but could never justify the money against my consistently black thumb. Fiddle leaf figs love rainforest climates so they aren’t all that common in Ohio and prices usually reflect that contradiction. I’ve seen them from $50-$100+ in local nurseries and home improvement stores.

fig tree 3

But when I spotted this guy for only $12.99 at Ikea, I just had to give him a go. If my black thumb conquers all, I’m only out thirteen bucks and I know not to ever buy another fig. He’s so brave, isn’t he?

Getting him to the car was quite comical and I liken it to taking my first newborn out on a cold winter’s day. “Gotta keep him warm! He will freeze! Protect him! We need more blankets! Is he still breathing? Oh, wait. He’s sweating.”

I left him on a trolley inside the store while the kids and I fetched the car and warmed it up all nice and toasty like. Only then did Mr. Fig leave the building. (In my defense it was 0ºF.) I don’t know much about plants but it seems reasonable that they can suffer frostbite much like a human. That was my thinking anyway. And I wasn’t going to jeopardize the one shot I had at a fig. He survived the car ride and I promptly ran him inside while my kids waited in the car. Figs > kids.

fig tree 4

The planter is vintage (I bought it at our house’s estate sale) and I picked up a cheap stand on wheels so I can move Mr. Fig around easily. When it’s spray-painting season, I’ll probably paint the stand. I haven’t actually transplanted him to the pot yet. Waiting for a warm day?

fig tree 5

I did some reading up on figs and decided my guy would probably do best in front of the french doors in the kitchen. (Ahem, sneak peek of my workspace. Full reveal coming soon!) He should receive plenty of indirect light from the north-facing doors and skylights. The doors lead to our grilling patio and, seeing as how we haven’t grilled anything for nearly three months and probably won’t for another two, we don’t use them right now. When it’s warmer and we’re no longer using the fireplace, I’d like to roll him over to the TV wall (similar to the location of our Christmas tree) but I think he’d shrivel up over there in the winter with all the dry heat. I have a feeling this guy is going to get moved around a lot. So happy he’s on wheels.

The other evening Steve asked, “So, is this thing staying here?”

This thing, I thought. Hmph. Clearly, he has no idea what high stature the fiddle leaf fig has in the design community. Forgive him. He knows not what he sees.

Me: Why? You planning on doing some grilling tonight?

Steve: Well, no. But I might someday.

Me: I’m going to move him over by the TV when it gets warmer but the fireplace would fry him right now.

Steve: Did you just refer to it as “him”?

Me: Maybe.

fig tree 6

So he’s living here for now. So far, so good. These days our house is really dry with the fireplace or furnace running. Before Mr. Fig came to live with us, we were considering the purchase of a humidifier but haven’t acted on the thought yet. I read to water figs thoroughly and allow the soil to dry out in between waterings which has equated to watering every three days over the past week. That will probably vary as the seasons change and it’s going to take some effort and attention on my part but I’m fully committed at this point.

fig tree 2

I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I’ll take any advice or tips you have to offer. I’ve heard occasional showers (in the bathroom) can do wonders for figs. I might be the weird mom throwing her kids in the shower with a tree.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

girl nursery 1

So many times I get asked, “What if Mabrey had been a boy? What would the nursery look like then?” I thought it would be fun to turn my answer into a mood board and share it with you. Here we go. The nursery. Boy edition.

boy nursery

First off, the room’s layout would remain the same. It just works so I wouldn’t mess with it. There are so many items in Mabrey’s nursery that I love and would work well in a baby boy’s room, too. I would definitely keep most of the larger, basic items. The crib, the changing table with baskets & bins, the mirror, the wall shelves, the rocking chair, the trunk under the window, the ceiling light, the rug, the woven shade, the deer head…all that would stay. (For the sake of keeping the mood board simple, I show only a few of these items above but all of them would remain in the room.) The majority of this stuff hails from Ikea. The rocker and woven shade are from Overstock. The trunk was a wedding gift. The rug is from West Elm. The deer head is from White Faux Taxidermy.

I am still head over heels for the wall color. It’s Benjamin Moore dark pewter and I would use it all over again. (That’s saying a lot as I have been known to paint a room three times before I land on the perfect hue.) It’s a deep, moody gray blue with green undertones. It makes the small room feel oh-so-cozy and is conducive to sleeping. And I like sleeping babies – boy or girl. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with boys and pink but I think it would be fun to add red-orange, mustard and green accents against the dark walls along with a lot of white for contrast.

On to the items I would change. The pattern on Mabrey’s curtains is pretty feminine. I would hang these at the window and closet instead. As for the DIY art above the crib, I would probably DIY a gradient wood stain for the same effect but a more masculine look. So it would go from a natural to rich wood tone. But since you guys don’t have this exact empty frame hanging around at your house, I also love the idea of DIYing a big wooden Ohio and painting a small heart or star in the location where my baby boy was born. (The Ohio in the mood board is an ornament but you get the idea.) I would pair all white bedding with a colorful quilt. I really like this vintage kantha. And I would bring in more color and pattern with pillows (here, here, here and here) and scatter them throughout the room in the crib, on the trunk and on the rocker. Two or three green rope baskets (eek! They sold out in between creating the mood board and writing this post but they’re from Target.) would corral toys and sit on the floor below the wall shelves. To bring a little more life to the open shelves, I’d add green boxes and framed nature photography.

All that’s left to add is a bouncing baby boy! Don’t get me wrong, I love my babygirl and her room. But sometimes it’s fun to re-imagine a room for someone else. Or is that just me?

P.S. – A few more shots of M’s room these days…

girl nursery 2

girl nursery 3

girl nursery 4

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

01.30.14 / Made Me Smile

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The things that put a twinkle in my eye…

*The house that isn’t.

*Sequins + pockets. (a.k.a. the dress I wore to Alt.)

*Coming home to this and hearing “we missed you 1,200%!”

*A kitchen in the middle of a room. I love it when people think outside the box.

*My business card on Heather’s blog. Do you spy it?

*Ikea goes glam.

*My new phone case. (I’ve been living precariously without one for the last year.)

*We’re big American Idol fans over here. It’s rubbing off.

Do or make something that makes you smile this weekend! Peace out, friends.

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

01.30.14 / My Thoughts on Alt

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Last week I attended Alt Summit in Salt Lake City. It’s something I have always wanted to experience first hand and this year I finally made it happen. I was nervous and overwhelmed and scared. I felt as if Alt was totally out of my league. It’s where you will find some of the blogging world’s finest and most well-known. I didn’t really feel like I belonged. I basically forced myself to swallow the fear and step outside of my comfort zone.

So, how did it go? Well, I survived and I’ve been mulling it over in my head for several days to avoid any rash conclusions. But, in general (and I realize I may be tarnishing any future Alt-attending reputation I might have but it’s more important for me to be honest), I left feeling slightly underwhelmed. Womp-womp. I know. I went into it feeling completely OVERwhelmed and returned home slightly UNDERwhelmed. It doesn’t even make sense to me. Maybe it’s because I had built it up so big in my mind? Maybe I had too high expectations? I don’t know. I’m not saying it was a bad experience by any means. It’s hard to explain but I’m going to try.

I went to Alt ready to fill a journal full of notes, advice and concrete info. I was ready to learn and was looking forward to coming home with a clearer plan for blogging. That didn’t happen. Personally, I felt the content was lacking. Maybe I didn’t sit in on the right discussions? Maybe it was an “off” year? Maybe it was because my point of view is one where my blog – not pinterest, a separate business or a product – is my priority. I don’t consider myself a pro but I have taken a few online blogging and photography courses and I have been doing this for 4+ years. Much of the info presented, I had already been exposed to in previous e-courses or online OR it just didn’t pertain to me. I would be lying if I said I didn’t learn anything. I just felt that for the money and time spent, I expected to learn more.

HOWEVER, Alt was a wonderful place to meet other bloggers and network. I am not a people-person, per say, so I was quite surprised by how much fun I had talking with other attendees. I’ll admit that the first few conversations were awkward (on my part) but by the end I was initiating conversations with confidence. So maybe I did take away something after all?

alt summit 2014

The best part was meeting a few of my favorite bloggers in person. Lauren was my roomie. We have emailed back and forth a few times over the years about home remodeling projects but had never met in person before Alt. We hit it off right away and it was so easy to be around her. Each night was a late one because we discovered we had a lot in common and couldn’t. stop. talking. Don’t you love friends like that? That pretty much made the week for me.

I also met Nicole, Bonnie, Kristen, Michael and had a brief but inspiring moment with Jenny. I’m happy to report that each of them are in real life as they appear on their blogs. Nicole is lovely and smiley. Bonnie is caring and thoughtful. Kristen is ridiculously funny and smart – a winning combination if you ask me. Michael is completely charming and genuine. Gabrielle complimented me on my mustard-colored cords the first day and I said “thank you” with poise but inside I was all “OMG. DesignMom likes my pants! I can die happy now.”

I have to say the hotel, food and Friday mini parties were excellent. (Um, cheesecake bar…that’s all you need to know.) The scenery was beautiful. Those things along with being kid-free did feel somewhat like a vacation so it was a nice getaway.

All in all, Alt wasn’t the best but it wasn’t the worst. If anything, it taught me that doing scary things can result in a huge confidence boost. And that’s priceless.

images: 1.) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2.) Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit 2014