Front Porch Makeover

Back in September, we started the renovation of our front porch. Our front porch was tired looking and honestly, unstable. If you recall, I shared my inspiration for the exterior of our home in the fall. Here’s another look at that beautiful home.

Photo from Provident Home Design

We decided to start with the front porch due to finances. Ryan tore everything down excluding the supports. For the floor and stairs, we decided to use composite decking by Trex. Composite decking is stronger, easier to clean, and relatively maintenance free. I selected wrought iron balusters for contrast. We used treated wood for the rest of the porch and painted it. We actually widened the stairs in the process of revamping the porch. The stairs are finally the width they really should have been from the start. Wow, it was just too tight before. It took a couple of weekends to complete, but I’m really pleased. Ryan did a great job! The house looks much better! Below are some before and after photos.

House BeforeIMG_4510

I’d eventually like to add skirting around the porch, remove the shutters, and add two new lights next to the front door. Until then, I am painting our front door. I decided to repaint the door a darker color to coordinate with the balusters. I’m not quite finished, but I really like the color. We will replace the storm door in the spring, and I’m hoping to add thicker white trim around the doors. These changes add needed curb appeal. Our garden beds took a beating with the snow, but we’ll be cleaning those up in the spring. I’d actually like to bring a professional in to rework the beds we built. We’ll also add the decorative caps to the porch once I finish painting them.


House Snow

My attempts at garland around the door were a complete failure this year. Since we have vinyl siding and the temperatures have fluctuated, I can’t get it to stay up. Maybe next year! I decided to go natural this year, and I’m glad I did. I’ve never had a real tree and wreath until now. I’ve really enjoyed both on the porch.


As for the décor, let’s take a closer look. I have been decorating with lanterns for years. They were a bargain at IKEA. The luminaries are a new addition from Crate & Barrel. The sled, one of my favorite pieces, was given to me by my mother-in-law. It’s always a must on the front porch!


The front porch is a place we can enjoy now, and I can’t wait to see how the exterior evolves over the next year or so. I think we’re ready for the holidays with this bright and clean front porch. Are you ready for Christmas?

Front Door Paint Color : Sherwin Williams Iron Ore | Porch Paint Color: Benjamin Moore White Dove | Trex Color: Beach Dune



Holiday Recipes

Well we got snowed in all weekend long, which was wonderful! I love snow, and we hardly ever get a good snow in Georgia. I couldn’t believe we got thirteen inches of snow in December. That has got to be a record, right? Just as soon as we thought we were safe, our water stopped working Sunday evening. Apparently something happened up the line, and we are still without water. Not a pleasant problem to have.


In my attempt to distract myself and mask the fact that I didn’t get anything done around the house, I thought I would share some holiday recipes. Who doesn’t love the smell of freshly baked cookies? My favorite part is sampling everything as I make it. I used to go crazy for the holidays, but I’ve learned to keep it pretty simple now. I just don’t have the time I used to. So here are some of my favorites during the holidays.

Appetizer: Bacon-Jalapeno Cheese Ball

This recipe is perfect for a holiday gathering or for munching as you cook your holiday meal. I make it nearly every year, because I haven’t found anyone that doesn’t like it. It’s absolutely delicious and super easy to make. Here is the recipe I use Click Here. One change that I’ve made is that I double the amount of cheddar cheese. You’ve got to try this one!

Dessert: No-Bake Nutella Pie

I didn’t know I liked Nutella until my mother-in-law made this pie! It is my absolute favorite pie now. I make it all the time, but I especially enjoy it during the holidays. It’s a very easy dessert and unexpected. It’s just the right blend of chocolate. Be sure to use name brand cream cheese with this recipe (trust me it makes a difference). Click Here for the recipe.

Beverage: Signature Hot Chocolate

I love hot cocoa! It is my beverage of choice during the fall and winter. Ryan and I like to mimic Panera’s hot cocoa.


Milk, Ghirardelli or Sillycow Farms Cocoa Mix, Marshmallows from Wondermade, Whipped Cream, & Caramel


  • Warm the milk on the stove, be sure not to burn it.
  • While warming, add the appropriate amount of hot cocoa mix. Check the packaging for amounts, typically a couple of tablespoons.
  • Pour the cocoa into a large cups and add whipped cream.
  • Drizzle with caramel and finish with two marshmallows.
Picture from WONDERMADE

Side: Brown Sugar Honey Glazed Carrots

These carrots melt in your mouth. This a simple side item for the holidays. I do add toasted pecans to the carrots for some crunch. My mother-in-law introduced me to this one too. She is such a fabulous cook! Click Here for the recipe.

Cookies: Spritz Cookies

Although this recipe requires more work, these cookies are Ryan’s favorite. They are also super festive and transport well. I like to decorate them with sprinkles for the holidays. They are a great sugar cookie replacement, and children love these cookies. Click Here for the Wilton recipe, but you can find several variations online.

Picture from Wholefully

So these are some of my favorite recipes during the holiday season, and I hope you found one you would like to try. What do you enjoy cooking or baking? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Stay tuned, we got lots more coming your way.





Farmhouse Trim & Cellular Shades

Our house was built with builder basics, and I’ve made it my mission to add some character to our home. One of the easiest ways to do this is by adding trim. Ryan and I started by installing farmhouse style trim around our living room window.  It made a huge impact, and I love it. We’ve slowly been switching out the rest of the window trim  around the house. I thought I’d share a few photos below.

I couldn’t find my ‘before’ photo, but here’s a ‘before’ photo before we switched the blinds, after we installed the trim though. The trim makes a huge difference.


We’ve been using white faux wood and bamboo blinds for many years. These are great if you don’t have cats. Our cats would bite them and even climb them when they were younger. I started looking at plantation shutters a year or so ago for the living room. The goal was to add more light to the space, but I wanted something that also offered some privacy. I absolutely love the look of plantation shutters, but we had a hell of a time trying to order some. I gave up and started looking at alternatives. I found cellular shades in a variety of colors, but I wasn’t sold until I found the top down/bottom up cordless shades. This option allows you to choose which section of your window you want to expose. These were extremely easy to order through Home Depot, and they are even easier to install. The cats also want nothing to do with these shades. We have a kitten right now, and he doesn’t even notice the shades. We just installed the black out version in our guest bedroom. Those are also great, because you can control the light and look.

IMG_4461Living Window

Here are some pictures of the guest room. The photo on the left shows the black out shade, and the right shows the light filtering. Kona wanted to be in the photo!

It’s snowing in Georgia today, which is crazy! It really feels like Christmas now. Ryan and I took Snoopy outside earlier for some photos. I’m catching up on chores and then settling in for some holiday movie watching!! Have a good weekend!



Peanuts Gang Inspired Christmas

Our Peanuts inspired tree is Ryan’s pride and joy. This tree continues to evolve as we collect more Peanuts ornaments and memorabilia. Ryan’s massive collection includes ornaments from Hallmark, Department 56, and Macy’s. Many are interactive, which adds a special touch to this comic inspired tree. We accent the tree with red, green, and blue balls. Since I can’t find the right shade of yellow ornaments, I’ve added yellow ribbon and a scarf. The ladder was a new addition, and I think it’s my favorite.  Snoopy decorating the tree makes me smile. This tree is completely decorated with color changing lights and features a rotating stand. The rotating stand makes it easier to enjoy the entire tree, but you need plenty of space since it’s moving. The tree skirt was made by yours truly. It’s a square instead of a circle, because Lucy likes to call Charlie Brown a blockhead.  I bought the train for Ryan last Christmas, and it circles around all of the neatly wrapped packages. All of these elements make our Peanuts Gang tree a favorite of ours and many friends.


I have so many ideas for this tree, and I try to add at least one or two per year. My hope is to add yellow glass balls, kites, and Snoopy’s food bowl. We’ll get there eventually. Like my other trees, I have collected coordinating gift wrap from Hallmark. I have so many rolls of this stuff. We also have a large collection of Peanuts holiday bags, because neither of us can say ‘no’. That’s part of the fun though, and we can at least reuse the gift bags.



Ryan is also the proud owner of several pieces of the Peanuts Village, a collection by Department 56. He actually leaves it up year-round since these pieces are quite expensive, but we change it up every Christmas. We added a couple of new buildings in a addition to snowy platforms and trees. We are installing new shelving in his office next year so that we can better display his growing village. Do you have a collection in your home that you like to display during the holidays?


Last but not least, we transform the guest room for the holidays using bedding from Pottery Barn Kids & Teen. They’ve had Peanuts inspired bedding the last two or three years, and we buy it up as soon as they release it. The bedding is really cute, and we can easily store the duvets the rest of the year. It’s just another way to add cheer to our home during the holiday season.


I hope your decorating is going well, and I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Feel free to share your favorite holiday characters, decorating ideas, and tree themes. Until next time, have a wonderful December day!