...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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There’s a short hall that connects our mudroom / dining room and great room. (You can see the original man door to the garage that we still need to trim out and paint. Sometimes the littlest projects take the longest. Grrrr.) It’s so short that I’m not sure it even qualifies as a hall. But we refer to it as a “hall” nonetheless.

Way back when I painted the mudroom (for the third time), I had the inclination to DIY a magnetic display wall in this deficient hall. I thought it would be fun to display the kids’ creations and give the pass-through something. I rolled on four coats of Rustoleum magnetic primer and two coats of paint on top of that to match the rest of the room. Then I hung the kids’ works of art…with one major snafu. The wall was barely magnetic. No magnets would stay on the wall, let alone a magnet plus a piece of paper. I followed the directions to a T and even added an extra coat or two but the magnetic property of the wall was weak at best. I’m not sure what went wrong.

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So the kids’ art was moved to the quintessential home gallery – the side of the refrigerator – and my magnetic wall was forgotten. I added word magnets to the fridge when Everett was learning to read and quite liked the messy display of brightly colored rainbows and jumbled words. If you ask me, every family needs at least one vertical surface on their fridge smothered in rainbows, stick people and barely legible love notes.

At some point, someone (I think it was Steve) had the idea to leave funny messages on the magnetic wall using the word magnets. They stuck! The magnetic force wasn’t super strong but the words stayed on the wall and that’s all that mattered.

My magnetic wall wasn’t a lost cause after all! I just needed magnets with a decent magnetic surface area.

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Enter StickyGram. (This is not a sponsored post, btw.) You’ve probably heard of this before but if not StickyGram allows you to turn your instagram photos into 2″ x 2″ magnets. They are a little pricey ($14.99 + free shipping for a sheet of nine) so I waited until they were running a sale earlier this year to order several sheets.

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For Valentine’s Day I thought it would be fun to create a heart-shaped display using my StickyGrams and barely magnetic wall. The little magnets stick! There are a few duplicates that will eventually make their way to Steve’s file cabinet at work. Can you spot them?

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The heart could stand to be larger but I think it will be fun to add more StickyGrams over time. My goal is to cover the entire wall someday.

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For fun, I added “love always” with our magnetic words. You could go crazy and add all kinds of phrases if you wanted.

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I love how the colorful images look against the dark wall. The magnets read as one display from a distance but then you get closer and the individual images draw you in.

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This is definitely a cutesy V-day idea that could hang around all year long. Instalove!

BONUS – Use the code “FRIENDKU0H” (that’s a zero, not the letter “O”) to score $2 off your first purchase.

Find and follow me on instagram @housetweaking.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Yesterday you caught a glimpse of what caught my eye on a recent antiquing adventure. Today I’m sharing what made it home with me. The bad news is I didn’t find what I was looking for. (More on that in a future post.) The good news is I did find a few things that didn’t break the bank.

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First up is a vintage wool blanket ($35) in a color palette that had me at hello. Immediately, I thought it would be a fun color burst at the foot of our bed during this cold, cold winter.

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The red-orange, deep coral and heathered brown color scheme ties in to other pieces in the room. Namely, the striped duvet, the embroidered pillow on the bed and the kilim pillow on the chair. It’s difficult to see in the pictures but there are thin mint / seafoam stripes in the blanket, too, that pick up on the wall color. The scraggly poms on the corners sealed the deal for me.

The blanket is HEAVY and warm. Steve asked why I bought a horse blanket. (He thinks he’s hilarious.) But guess who is pulling said horse blanket up over their down comforter when it’s, like, 0ºF at night and they’re shivering in the fetal position? Yeah, the funny guy.

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Stripes on stripes are a-okay in my book. Gimme all the stripes!

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Most likely, I will remove the wool blanket from our bed come summer when we don’t need extra layers to stay warm at night. But for now this brightly striped find is a welcome addition at the foot of our bed.

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There are more new old things in our bedroom, too. I’ve been on the hunt for a porcelain glove mold for a while. They always look so pretty draped with necklaces and bracelets. I came across a few glove molds at the Heart of Ohio Antique Center but couldn’t justify the $45-$80 price tags. Imagine how happy I was when I found one at the Springfield Antique Center for just $12! I politely asked for a cash discount and ended up scoring it for $10. Bam. Mine.

It needs a good Magic Eraser cleaning session and I’ve yet to untangle my necklaces and put them on display but that should be a quick and easy styling project one day when boredom strikes.

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The wooden spools came from the Springfield Antique Center as well. There was a booth full of them and I was drawn to all the different shapes, sizes and wood tones. At $1-$3 a pop, I thought they would make for some great inexpensive, kid-friendly tabletop decor. Seriously, my kids can’t hurt these. They’re cheap and they create a fun little vignette bunched up together. I feel a collecting habit coming on. Buddha heads and wooden spools are my jam?

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The Heart of Ohio Antique Center had bins upon bins of vintage hardware. Knobs, handles, hinges, door knockers, etc. You name it, they had it. From the minute we switched up the media cabinet, I’ve been wanting to dress it up with a pair of knobs or handles. I dug through dozens of knobs and was able to find a matching pair of mid century brass knobs ($1 each) that ended up being the perfect jewelry for the cabinet. They’re like little gold stud earrings! I love how they tie in to the gold task lamp and gold frame in this corner of our living room.

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The threading on them ended up being metric which threw us for a loop. But (I know I’ve mentioned this before) we could run a well-stocked hardware store from our garage. Wouldn’t you know Steve had metric screws on hand? Don’t ask.

The knobs show some patina and wear which I like. They give the new media cabinet some personality and life. Adding the knobs instantly upgraded the cabinet. Gotta love $2, 5-minute upgrades.

There you have it. The fruits of my cabin fever antiquing which rang in under $60 total. What have you been doing to curb cabin fever? (I’ve found chocolate no-bake cookies mighty comforting, too.)

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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

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The Christmas eagle has landed. We completed the TV wall in the St. Nick of time to decorate for Christmas. I have always envisioned a live tree next to the hearth and this year we were able to bring that vision to life.

Growing up, my family had an annual tradition of going down to the local firehouse and picking out a live tree two weeks before Christmas. My mom liked decorating in general but when it came to Christmas she was always good about letting us kids {there were four of us} have our way with the tree. It’s a tradition that HH and I are trying to carry on with our own children.

This year we found our 8-footer in the parking lot of a Halloween costume store for $40. Classy, I know. The story of how we found our tree isn’t all that sentimental but it’s the most beautiful tree we’ve ever had and the minute we got it home we started feeling sad about having to take it down after the holidays.

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The tree is tall enough not to look dwarfed beneath the vaulted ceiling yet slim enough not to impede traffic flow. The size and shape are exactly what we were looking for. Just because of the sheer size of the tree, HH and I strung the lights and ribbon then let the kids hang the ornaments. I like the look of themed and carefully styled trees but they aren’t for us. We use the same bulb ornaments and tree topper that HH and I bought for our first Christmas together. Gifted ornaments from family & friends and ornaments handmade by our kids are scattered throughout. It isn’t too perfect and we prefer it that way.

Fun fact: There are seven strands of lights on our tree! Three regular strands that we normally use to light our tree + four strands of outdoor globe lights that we used on our dining patio this past summer. I love the mix. Also, an extension cord runs under the rug to power the lights. …because these are the things I think about when I see other people’s trees.

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I don’t go too crazy with holiday decor. A few festive touches are all we need to get us in the Christmas spirit. A gold candelabra {Nate Berkus for Target} and a wood bowl filled with vintage silver bells dress up the coffee table. When Mabrey’s awake, the candelabra is moved out of toddler reach and the bells become LOUD toys. {!}

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Next year I might add something above the TV but this year I’m just happy to have a legit mantel to decorate. I bought a live 25′ garland from Home Depot for $7 on sale. We have a stocking for every member of our family. It’s a first! I hung the garland and stockings with 3M Command hooks. The center stocking was HH’s as a child. The ivory velvet stockings are the boys’ and I bought them a few years ago. The outermost stockings are from Target this year. We remove the three centermost stockings when the fireplace is on. You know, to avoid fires and stuff.

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The store bought stockings were feeling a little too generic so I embellished them with some pom action. I made large ivory poms for the herringbone tweed stockings and tied them around the stocking loops. They remind me of Santa’s hat. Maybe it’s just me. I found black pom trim at JoAnn’s and hot glued it to the ivory stockings for contrast. I glued the trim onto the back side of the foldover for a simple peek-a-boo look. So, there you go. Two super easy, no-sew ways to customize meh store bought stockings.

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I may or may not have taken the pom thing too far. My gift wrapping motto this year? PUT A POM ON IT. Seriously. They are so easy to DIY and you don’t have to worry about them getting smashed or falling off. I loosely followed this video for the making of my poms but traced the bottom of a bowl and tea light to DIY my own cardboard disc. If a present adorned with a gray pom ends up under your tree this year, chances are it’s from me. The plaid and red wrapping paper is from JoAnn’s on clearance for a $1 / roll.

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The boys helped me paint the paper maché letters that made an appearance in our holiday cards. I bought the “JOY” letters from JoAnn’s several years ago. They come as cardboard brown but I painted them a light lavender the first Christmas I displayed them. This year the boys and I gave them a few coats of cheerful red and placed them on the windowsill above the kitchen sink. Aren’t they the happiest lil’ things?!

Needless to say, the kids are stoked for Christmas. The first thing they do every morning is turn on the Christmas tree lights. At night, I like nothing more than lighting candles and staring into the Christmas tree abyss. Is it insane to want a Christmas tree in one’s house all year long?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking