Monday, June 30, 2014

Out of Darkness Comes Light

Our son Ben, is in Israel and shot this photo on Monday in Tel Aviv after the horrible news of the three murdered Israeli teenagers.
We join all of Israel, in mourning Eyal, Naftali and Gilad.
May their memories be a blessing to all people of goodwill.
המקום ינחם אותך בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים
May God comfort the families among all the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Curb Appeal

Okay, so we've lived here for over eighteen months and I planned on painting the front door over a year ago. (You can read about it here.) It was one of those things that went on the back burner...until now. It's finally done and it's amazing how a bit of color can transform the curb appeal to a home.
Here's a peak of the door taken last spring...
The storm door was replaced with a full length one that shows more of the wood door.
After much trial and error I finally picked Covington blue. It's a beautiful soft color, somewhere between a green and blue.
I have a pet peeve about storm doors that are not painted the same color as the door. People: do not leave your storm door white! It should be the same color as your door to get the most impact and have a layered, saturated color look.
This iron bird knocker was only $12.00 and adds so much character to the door.
Now the house numbers look really sad next to the freshly painted door so that's next on the to-do list!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Ten Great Havdalah Spice Boxes

Just as we proclaim the entrance of Shabbat by making Kiddush, we mark the exit with Havdalah which is held after nightfall on Saturday evening. We use three items during the ceremony...a cup of wine, a double wicked candle and spices.
During Shabbat, we each receive an extra soul, or extra spiritual sensitivity. So, as Shabbat goes away, so does the extra soul, causing us to feel faint. For this reason we smell some spices to comfort our soul at the loss of Shabbat. 

Cloves are generally used, but any pleasant-smelling spice or plant will do. Many households have a specially designed spice box to hold the Havdalah spices. Here are some of my favorites.
Beaded spice box on Etsy
Havdalah at Home on Etsy
 Besamim Spice Box
Pomegranate design spice box
 Echinacea Havdalah Spice Box
 Make your own spice box from an empty tin like this one.
Individual spice bags are perfect for a party.
In our own home, we use this stainless container I found at Whole Foods. I love the simplicity and sleekness and because it's air tight the spices stay fresh for a long time.

Have a great weekend and Shabbat Shalom! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dreaming of a Sukkah

Even though Sukkot comes late this year (mid October) I plan on having our carpenter build ours over the summer. It will be a pergola that is a permanent structure that will change over to a sukkah come October. Here are my rough plans and some inspiration photos via Pinterest...
Lonny magazine
Is it too circus looking? I think it looks more beach cabana. Anyway, we'll see how it progresses this summer!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Wish List

When my six-year-old granddaughter, Moussia has had her fill of two slices of chocolate babka and she wants a third, her parents tell her no, she's had enough. The babka is usually sitting on the table and her response is always "But I see it with my eyes!" 

I'm the same way—but I don't want chocolate babka. Here's what I "see with my eyes" and want now...the list is always changing!
1. I have the perfect spot for this beautiful poster and it will look great in a white frame I already have. The poster is from Help Ink and a percentage of the sale goes to a charity that you choose.
2. The shape of this lamp is traditional but the graphic stripes make it so modern and fun.
3. I love the Marin line of dishes at Crate and Barrel. The ceramic shapes are glazed a soft sky blue and the free-form rims make it look hand made.
4. Why are most ritual hand washing cups so unattractive? These are handmade and feel so organic.
5. The patio is stained and so is the picnic table. Now I'm ready for these Urban chairs from Ikea. They'll be great for squeezing people around the table and they stack when summer's over.

Friday, June 20, 2014

This & That

Whew...I spent the majority of my week in Amherst helping to unpack boxes, babysit and help get settled into the new house.
1. Boxes galore!   2. My favorite part of the house is the front porch. It keeps so cool on a warm day.   3. The pantry looked like it has not been touched since the 1800's when the house was built—who'd want to put food there?   4. The family gathered around the sold sign.    5. White paint and bright contact paper does wonders for the pantry.   
6. Moussia graduated from kindergarten! (That's her with the principal of her school.)

Have a great weekend and Shabbat!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A New Old House

Monday was moving day for my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. They moved into a Classic Queen Anne Victorian home in Amherst, Massachusetts.  This house will not only be the family's home but it will also serve as their Chabad house for four of the five colleges in the Amherst area. (That explains the six bedrooms(!)—many of the students who do not drive on Shabbat and high holidays and live too far to walk, will be sleeping over.)
Below is the entrance from the sidewalk to the front door.
Imagine it trimed to look like an English garden hedge with a gate added in the center.

The house is a five minute walk to downtown Amherst...a charming small college town.

It needs a lot of TLC and I'll be helping them with the decorating (for the next few years!) but it also has some incredible features that you rarely see in homes today, like...
this kitchen window...
a huge front porch. (see the peeling paint on the wicker and icky cushion? I told you it needs work!)
This is the door knob on the front door—you don't see anything like this now-a-days.
Gorgeous spindles on the large staircase and...
incredible hand craved details.
Not one but two butler's pantry.
According to an age-old Jewish custom, the first items brought into a new home are bread and salt. It is also recommended to bring some Jewish books and a charity box into the home even before the movers bring in the rest of the boxes. This establishes the Jewish flavor of the home; a home which will hopefully be a haven of study and kindness.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Store Crush: Stonewall Kitchen

When I walk though a store and I'm inspired to buy something I know it will go on my list of favorites. Stonewall Kitchen is one of those stores. Based in York, Maine they now have 11 retail stores on the east coast and this one is not far from where I live.
Although they are famous for their jams and other foods, most are not certified kosher so I don't buy them :(. But, there is so much more that inspires me every time I visit.

When you enter the store, up front is a table that changes with the seasons. Since it's summer right now they have a beautiful display of nautical items...perfect for entertaining for a summer bar-b-Que or party.
One side of the store are sale items that are either discontinued or out of season.
Do I need some moss?
Maybe some bowls or beautiful glassware?
These S'mores in a bag are such a cute idea for Shalach Manos!
Even the store decor has some great inspiration for decorating ideas.
There are always interesting plantings happening in the garden out back that gives me ideas for my own garden. 

Happy Shopping!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Painting a Door & A Summer Blog Party

When I finished stenciling the wall in our front hall a few weeks ago I thought I was done. But, the front door, which used to be white looked so flat and boring with the new decorative wall. (You can read about the stenciling here.)
Here is a peak of the door before I got my hands on it...
I picked up a quart of Sherwin Williams All Surface latex enamel and got to work. The color is Seal's a beautiful dark gray with warm undertones. (I also painted the door a coat of  gray primer I had leftover from another paint job before painting the final color.)
Just a small change but the door looks so much richer and gives the entry more presence.

And.....if you love  Jewish lifestyle blogs get ready for a Very Jewish Summer!
Starting on July 20, I will be participating in a week long blogging party along with four other bloggers; Dena from Chai and Home, Sara Rivka from Creative Jewish Mom, Chanie from Busy in Brooklyn, and Shaindy from Happily Hectic.
Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Round Mirror Round-Up

For the last six months I've been working with a great family, designing their living room. It's a large room with good proportions and I hope to share the finished room with you by the end of the summer. The major pieces have been purchased (rug, sofa and chairs) and they just decided not to put a flat screened TV above the mantel. I'm thrilled because a large knock-out mirror will look so much better than a flat screen TV!

We'll hang artwork above the sofa so a round mirror will look perfect over the mantle. These are all around 2 1/2 feet in diameter and any of them would make a statement and look great in the room. They are also priced well between $170 and $300 dollars.

Any favorites jump out at you? We'll see which one is the winner!

Monday, June 9, 2014

An Updated Coffee Table

I found this table at an estate sale in my neighborhood over a year ago—I think I paid $35 for it! The style is post modern, probably from the 1950's and it works perfectly in our ranch house.

Now that the weather is warm I'm able to work outdoors (sanding is messy!) It's finally done and I loved how it turned out.

Let's take a look last winter when I bought it home...
The shape and size were perfect but the reddish-brown color was not working for me. It also made the table look dated.

Although the table top was going to be sanded, who wants to sand those legs and bars on the bottom shelf?
Instead of sanding, I sprayed the entire bottom half oil-rubbed bronze.

The legs got a dipped look with gold paint from the craft store.

That little touch of gold added so much to the legs.
After sanding the top with my electric sander with coarse sandpaper to remove the old stain, I sanded with some fine sand paper to give it a nice smooth finish.
Next I brushed on two coats of gray stain. I love how some of the brown from the teak wood shows though so the final color is a mixture of gray and brown.
After it dried for 24 hours it was wiped with some steel wool...
and sealed a clear coat of water-based varnish in a satin finish.
Honestly, I wasn't sure how this would turn out...I kind of play with the stain and brush on  more or less as I go, but I'm thrilled with the results!

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