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Monday, October 23, 2017

Ways to Use Books in Your Decor

The house my grandmother lived in when I was growing up, had a library. A whole wall of books, complete with a library ladder. A real life library ladder. There were many reenactments of Belle, (from Beauty and the Beast, duh.) singing about adventure, a few rungs up on that library ladder.  

My sister and I always played in the library, and now as adults, share a love of the intoxicating smell of books. If you find either of us in a bookstore, book fair, or a library, you will see us smelling the books. 

I'm not sure if it has anything to do with our childhood playtime in our Car Car's library, but I still prefer a book over my kindle. My kindle doesn't smell, or feel like a book. Yes, it has a dictionary, can fit well in my purse, and it can sync with my phone. But it also tells me my location, instead of page number, which doesn't actually help me thank you very much, and it runs out of batteries at the critical part of the story, because I forgot to charge it. Because BOOKS don't need to be charged. 
Call me old fashioned, it's fine. 

Again, maybe it's deep in my subconscious or something, but I also use books a lot in my decor. Here's a few photos, both from our yellow house, as well as some inspiration I've found browsing Pinterest. 

That's my Car Car in the picture inside the bookcase.

This side table is a hodge podge of photo albums, old books and new ones.
If you take the jacket off of a hardcover book, even a new book, it immediately gives it more character. Some of the books in this case were purchased at goodwill, or a thrift shop, and some are books we've personally read, and saved.

If you have books you don't care for the color of, or you don't feel like are decorative/pretty enough, you can just flip them around. I actually like the look of the pages showing here and there. It changes up the textures, which I think looks good. 

This bookshelf is styled beautifully, but only using books with the spines facing backwards. 
Avert your eyes, librarians! 

Visit the blog: Made by Katy.

Or, you can wrap them,
like I did on my fall mantel:

I used plain, thin paper to wrap these, but brown craft paper, or wrapping paper would look great too. (Buffalo checked paper for my Christmas mantel.....It's happening.)

These books were wrapped in linen:

This photo is from Juniper books.

This is from our entry area.

We didn't really have the space for a floor lamp, but we really wanted a lamp that could give light over the back of the sectional. I used these books to give it some height. I wrapped the books on the right in jute to "bring them together", both actually and decoratively. Those three books don't have anything in common really so the jute just makes it work, in my opinion. 

On my sofa table, I used some orange books to compliment the color of the pumpkin I used in my old tool box. Orange isn't a color I really ever use, except for during fall. 

These books are complimentary to the colors used in my pillows, and the slipcover on the sofa. 

Any trip I make to Goodwill, or similar shop, I'm always on the hunt for blue books. 
These books above the TV compliment the rug, and the pillows. 

Blue books. All the blue books. 

Like the sofa table, this lamp just needed some height. I used an old dictionary, and an old seminary textbook since this is the "office" area. (It's actually in the middle of the house.) 

No full wall bookshelves with ladders (yet), but lots of books added here and there. Used practically, to add height, or decoratively to add color. 

I hope this post encourages you to use something you probably already have-books!-in your decor, and maybe spruce up a space or two in your home before the Christmas decorations come out!! 
Too soon? Maybe. I'm getting so excited! 

Have a great week, and thank you so much for reading. XO, Steph

Monday, October 16, 2017

Baked Squash blossoms and Sauteed Sweet Potato leaves!

Hi, my name is Stephanie and I kill plants. Cactuses even?? Why yes, even a cactus will turn black on my watch. It's like a gift. 

But, I live on a ranch now, and did you know that I can put half a sprouted sweet potato in this blessed ground and it will grow like crazy? Did you also know that I could plant seeds from my spaghetti squash and they, would also, grow like crazy? Did you know that I am now an official, bona fide, yet, self declared, "farmer"? Thank you. Thank you. 

Actually, this is all Carolynn's doing. Her precious, little science mind always wants to plant seeds. She brings home seeds from her plum in her lunchbox so we can plant it at home and grow a plum tree. She saves seeds from her apple to grow an apple tree. (Despite us telling her we can't grow apples here. It's ok, dream big girl.)

So, when our sweet potato sprouted, and I opened up a spaghetti squash, seeds everywhere, we planted the seeds and our sliced up potato. Drumroll please....Voila!

This is two squash plants, and one sweet potato (in the middle). We have about 10 squash coming in! I'm not getting my hopes up since the time of year isn't quite right, but it's been fun to watch it grow, so we'll see what happens.

We have a lot of new, season appropriate seeds planted, but due to the weather being unseasonably warm, many of them have already shriveled up. After studying the weather for the rest of the month, we'll be trying a lot of our seeds again next weekend. Hoping to see all the little sprouts popping up (and growing!) soon. 

Recently, we heard that you can eat the leaves from a sweet potato plant. Potato plant leaves are poisonous, but SWEET potato leaves are not. They are nutritious, flavorful and can be cooked like most dark greens. 

First, I boiled them in a little water and for just a few minutes, to remove some of the bitter flavor that naturally accompanies most greens.

Then I put some delicious, filtered bacon fat to my skillet. We use a fine mesh strainer to strain our bacon grease and store it in the fridge.

 I sauteed onions, but you could omit them. 

Last, I added the greens. Much like spinach, the leaves shrunk up a lot once they were sauteed. So pick more than you think. 

To accompany our greens, I also picked some squash blossoms. According to the Internet, which is never wrong (that's sarcasm), it's best to pick the male blossoms since those are the ones that won't grow fruit. I THINK that's what we did. The description of the male vs. female blossoms is helpful until you're actually out picking them. 

"Is this a thin stem?" 
"Does this look like a squash ovary?" 
"Is this one hairier than that one?"

We did our best. 

Rinse them, and check for bugs. Unless you're into that. 

Remove the stamen at the base.

If needed, you can make a small slit to reach in and remove. The next few steps are easier if the top remains twisted shut.

There are recipes out there for fried, or baked squash blossoms. I just put a cube of mozzarella in ours, because that's what we had. 

Coat the stuffed blossom in egg, then breadcrumbs. 

Bake at 350 deg for 15 minutes. 

I put the leaves, and the blossoms over brown rice and served it up for lunch. Y'all, it was good! I heated up some leftovers to have also, but Brian and I both felt perfectly satisfied after this meal. We put the leftovers back in the fridge for another day.
Well, there was also a beer involved. I feel like I should be honest about that. 😉

We each ate several squash blossoms, and the kids each tried one. They did not like them as much, but they did try it, which is all we ever ask. 
Even without fully fruiting plants in our garden, we are harvesting FOOD. It is exciting and gratifying. And yummy. 

Thank you so much for stopping by to read about our adventures! I'll update everyone about our seedlings soon and would love to hear from you about anything. Thanks for reading! 

XO, Steph

Monday, October 2, 2017

Home decor books to pull you out of a slump

Good morning, and welcome to "Monday morning confessions from the Yellow house." I'll be your host, because well, it's my blog, and if you're here (I love you!), you potentially are interested in what I have to share.

I'm in a slump. A dumpy, grumpy, slumpy slump. I've been uninspired and unmotivated. Bleck.

There are weeks where I am full of ideas, good ones even, and I can execute them beautifully. I even photograph them sometimes, blog about them! Aren't I impressive? Puh-lease. I'm even grossed out with that version of myself right now.

BUT, there's grace for that, and everything. Grace and understanding when you feel like a bump on a log when it comes to your long list of to dos.

So, to get me back on my creating, motivated, inspired feet, I checked out some books from the library that I thought might ignite some creativity and spark some inspiration in me. Sure, there's inspiration abundant on Instagram, on HGTV, or DIY network, but there's really just something about a book. To me anyway, it's much more soothing to look at beautiful photos in a book than it is on my phone screen. Which is cracked, so everything looks funky on there anyway. But you know what I mean.

In case you are also seeking advice on honing your style, or just looking for a rope to pull you out of your pit of decorating despair (too much? dramatic, I know.) I wanted to share these books with you, and some others I haven't read, but would love to check out soon.

Here's to feeling creative and inspired!

A Touch of Farmhouse Charm: Easy DIY projects to Add a Warm and Rustic Feel to Any Room
by Liz Fourez

If you are a DIY-er, this book is FOR YOU. If you're not, you will be spurred toward becoming one. It was very inspiring and written so well, as to encourage you that you CAN, as the acronym DIY suggests, "do it yourself".

Restore, Recycle, Repurpose: Create a Beautiful Home by Randy Florke and Nancy J Becker

This book was full of inspiration and written well to boot. (Read about how we turned old bowls into pendant lights) Repurposing projects are my favorite and make your house so special.

The Nesting Place: It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful by Myquillyn Smith

A sweet friend of mine actually gave me this book for my birthday. So, since I own it, it's pages are dog-eared, and marking gems like this: " can't DIY yourself into loving your home. No amount of painted furniture or stenciled pillows will make you more content with what you have."

Girl, preach!

"The imperfections play an important role: they put people at ease."

Myquillyn Smith writes like she's your best friend, and also has a fantastic blog:

Here's some I've got on my list for my next, inevitable slump. Because, it happens.

750 Great Ideas for Decorating on a Budget
The Inspired Room by Melissa Michaels
Flea Market Fabulous: Designing Gorgeous Rooms with Vintage Treasures by Lara Spencer

I know there's TONS more out there, so share with me if you have one that's been tried and true for you! I would love to hear about it.

Thanks for reading, and happy Monday! XO, Steph

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Junk Gypsies Wander Inn

I recently was invited by my sweet friend, Audrey (follow her instagram here, and her blog here) to tag along with her, and three fellow instagrammers, (follow them, too! They all have beautiful, inspirational feeds: Amy, Cindy, and Jill) and bloggers, for a complimentary stay at the not yet open to the public, Wander Inn! It was such an honor and I was pretty much over the moon to be included.

Jolie, me, Amy, Jill, Cindy, Audrey, Amie

The Junk Gypsies have a show on HGTV (Check out their show here), a line at Pottery Barn Kids, a successful, fun and funky store in Round Top, and now, the Wander Inn, which will be featured in the upcoming Christmas issue of Country Living Magazine. (Get yourself a subscription here, so you won't miss it! )

We were invited by Amie, and Jolie, the Junk gypsy gals themselves, and the Virginia Dare Winery (the Pinot Noir was my favorite) to attend a happy hour. Everyone was so lovely, and such gracious hosts.

With all their success', they have remained kind, generous, relatable and down to earth. It was a pleasure to meet them and be treated to a stay at their beautiful Inn. 


Shared living area. Look at that sectional, and that repurposed drum, turned coffee table.

That "speaker" is a mini fridge!

That funky chandelier!

My room! Another fun light fixture.

Staying here was such an absolute treat, and I can hardly believe I had the honor of being included. I HAVE a blog, but these gals are BLOGGERS, and influencers on Instagram.

Find out more about the Junk Gypsy gals and Wander Inn here, go buy their book, Junk Gypsy: Designing a Life at the Crossroads of Wonder and Wander  and go check them out on Instagram. You won't be sorry!!

As always, thank you for reading! Stay tuned for a post about my finds in Round Top and how I'll turn my "trash" treasures to treasure treasure. 😉

XO, Steph

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Fall Decorating Challenge

I've said it before, and here I go again, Summer is my favorite season. (Read why here)

BUT, there is something so refreshing, exciting and beautiful about a new season. I think the opportunity to "start fresh" always appeals to me. Even Mondays have that fresh, hopeful feeling: A new week! Let's do this!

Also, beyond the excitment of the changing seasons, fall is my second favorite season (Winter, you're dead last. Don't even ask.) There's football, and pumpkins and Thanksgiving. It's a good one. We have everything prepped for our fall garden and this one's going to be good. I hope, I mean, it is. it will be.....My confidence about gardening is something I'm working on. As well as remembering to water the garden. (I'll share more about the garden in another post.)

Something I've always loved doing is changing up my decor. I've been doing it since I got my own room in 5th grade. It's just that refreshing feeling of change, I guess.

The challenge I gave myself this season was to use only what I already had to decorate for fall. Last year, we were living at the ranch house and all my fall decor was stored.

I should use only what I have, and make it work if it's not what I want it to be. This challenge was so rewarding! It was exciting to open that box since it had been two years since I'de seen it, but also, I think opening it with the expectation that it was what I had to work with-nothing new-I had the right mindset from the start.

As far as mantel decorating goes, I'm sure there's lots of good blog posts out there about that. But, for me, I just try to find a balance of tall things and shorter things, creating symmetry without it being too matchy matchy. I arrange, step back, adjust, step back....until I feel like it "looks right".

I wanted to use greens (the mirror, rope around my books, and green book), and the traditional oranges of fall. With all the neutrals, I can use colors that don't match exactly since they are displayed here and there, and appear to complement each other.

The large chalkboard was hanging in Carolynn's office (read about that here). I borrowed it from her, painted the trim white and drew that stack of pumpkins. I created that mantel centerpiece/"art" (using that term very loosely here) for free!

To achieve height on the left side, mirroring the height on the right, I used a cake plate (SO many ways to use those!). I wrapped those three books in paper, since they didn't "go" with the color scheme I wanted. I used that green jute to add another touch of green.

To get those stems in my white pitcher to stand straight up, I used a can inside.

For my table, I don't like to do too much. We actually eat there at least once a day, 

I worked with my wood and copper pieces in the kitchen and dining. Confession: I actually did buy those 3 little pumpkins under the cloche this year. $3 spent...I'm only human. 

In our entry area, I switched out a summery, yellow wreath, for this one.

I changed up my sofa table tool box, by adding some fall knick knacks. 

On my sofa (my NEW sofa!!), I covered my floral pillow, and two others, with more fall complementary covers. That pillow cover is very inexpensive, and I you can still find it on Amazon here.

There you go! The weather has even actually been cooler, so it's feeling like fall in and out of this yellow house. Hope y'all enjoyed the tour and as always, thanks for stopping by!!

XO, Steph