Sunday, January 30, 2011

Forcing Bulbs

Confession:  About this time of the year I get the winter blues.  I just get so tired of endless cold days and cloudy skies, staying inside and chilly feet.  I get antsy and cranky.  So I look for ways to brighten up the gray in my life.  One of the ways I do that is by forcing bulbs.

Photos Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

 Have you ever forced bulbs for some spring color?  Its not as daunting a task as it sounds.  It is a great way to add color and sweet fragrance to a dreary winter day!

You can buy bulbs at any garden store.  Bulbs that work best for forcing are amaryllis, hyacinths, miniature daffodils, paperwhites and tulips.  The bigger the bulb, the more flowers you get.  You can put them in potting mix and cover them with a light sprinkling of soil, or you can buy special bulb-forcing glasses available at any garden center.

 Bulbs need to be chilled for a specific time period.  You can set them in a cold utility room or garage, or if they are small enough and you have the storage space, the refrigerator is the perfect temperature.  They need between six and eight weeks of chill time, less for smaller bulbs.  So if you start now you can have lovely bulbs just in time for Easter.

A little bit of springtime chases the clouds away!!!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Home trends for 2011

It appears that 2011 is our year!  Pat yourself on the back, Small Homeowners. We are ahead of the curve.   Furniture makers, homebuilders and appliance manufacturers are finally targeting US!!!

"The lagging economy, a slow housing market and still higher than normal unemployment rates all have contributed to what members of the National Association of Home Builders, the American Home Furnishings Alliance and the International Housewares Association have observed as a new frugality among buyers. It applies to everything from house size, to the cost of furnishings and the features of home appliances. The same consumer caution that brought us the “staycations’ of the previous decade will continue to drive many of 2011’s home-related trends." -The Star Ledger

Whatever it means to them, to us it means the Jewel Box® home and lifestyle are finally being recognized as good things. 

Trend #1:  Smaller houses.  No more McMansions!  With the shrinking carbon footprint trend and the smaller budget trend and the seeking simplicity trend, the square footage of the American home is shrinking.  Smaller homes have the appeal of being more energy efficient, more affordable and easier to maintain!

 Kathy's lake house from 
Jewel Box® Friendly Fridays.

Trend #2:  Staying put.  People are remaining in their current homes.  They aren't trading up, they are making improvements to their existing home, making it more livable and more valuable. 

The window seat from my sister's home. Notice
the storage underneath.  She and her family have lived
in this house for over 20 years.

Trend #3:  Colorize!  Even if remodeling isn't in the cards, homeowners are adding punch and pizzazz to their home's decor by adding color to sofas, lamps, pillows, accent pieces and wall color.

Mary's house from 
Jewel Box® Friendly Fridays.

Trend #4:  Get back to basics.  With all the technology running rampant in today's modern world, who would have thought that 2011 would  bring a return to old fashioned ways such as canning, preserving food, gardening and home crafts?  For many this year, remembering our American roots is the path to leading a simpler life.

Dwell magazine

Trend #5:  Time savers!  In the rush to beat the clock, crunch the budget, make the meeting on time, shuttle the kids and pick up the dry cleaning we homeowners are searching for ways to save time.  This creates a renewed reliance on faithful old appliances such as the slow cooker crock pot, the 15 minute cleaning routine and the good old-fashioned calendar!

The 2011 calendar in my kitchen.

Small home living is finally trendy.  I like 2011!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quick and Easy Pound Cake

This cake mix 'Comfort Cake' is just yummy so I had to share it with you!  I cook almost every night, but baking doesn't happen very often.  Anything quick and easy appeals to me and I wanted to make a treat before my son returned to college.  I rarely use cake mixes, because of the trans-fat.  But this mix is trans-fat free.  I saw it on the grocery shelf and had to give it a go.  Just add eggs, oil, butter and bake.  This cake lives up to its name.  Comfort in a box! 

 Here is my 'Comfort Cake', half eaten before I could photograph it.




Thursday, January 13, 2011

Teeny Tiny!

 All Photos Courtesy of Apartment Therapy
This cottage is 350 square feet.  Yes, you heard me.  And you thought your house was small.  Tsk, tsk...that'll teach you to complain about your storage space!

This 1930's bungalow is fortunate for the element of light.  It is bathed in natural light and that gives this small space the feeling of being outdoors, larger, more open.  By keeping the room fresh and white splashes of bold, vibrant color, the homeowner embraces the beach cottage feel and makes it her own.

When asked what the biggest design challenge was for this homeowner, she replied " My greatest challenge has been finding storage that serves the dual function of killer design and smart hiding place."  She repurposes items such as kitchen shelves, armoires, and a media cabinet to house her television and her wet bar.

By hanging curtains at the very top of the ceiling the owner of this small space distracts the eye and draws our attention up creating more space.  She also uses a neutral floor covering to trick our eye.

The next time you feel like complaining about your lack of storage, consider this small space and breathe a little easier knowing you can stretch your legs!


Friday, January 7, 2011

House Tour!

Even Hollywood actors are taking advantage of small home living and downsizing!  Actor Tony Shalhoub, from the television show, Monk, and his wife Brooke Adams spend every summer at Martha's Vineyard in a tiny 1930's cottage with 2,500 square feet of family togetherness.

When remodeling the bungalow to fit their personality, they did minor structural repairs because they wanted to keep the history of the cottage in tact.  They preserved the architecture with the respect of homeowners who truly love their abode.

While this cottage is not how most Americans picture famous Hollywood actors living, it helps to know that even stars need to feel grounded and get back to the basics of life.

Photos Courtesy of Country Living

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 is here! Thank God!!!

The New Year has arrived!  Thank God!  But, I will get to that later.

First, it's time to hang those 2011 calendars.  In small spaces, finding a spot that is practical, where calendars with handwritten notes and reminders don't look 'messy', can be a challenge.  For me, the best solution is behind cabinet doors in the kitchen.  I use Command hangers to keep the calendars in place.  Reminder notes are written or clipped to calendar pages.  There is a fishing calendar for my husband who loves outdoor sports and a school calendar for my son. 


My husband's 'fishing' calendar.  The Command hanger is just visible at the top.

My son's school calendar.  Soon it will be filled with handwritten notes and activity schedules.
I also keep a calendar filled with landscape photos from Tuscany at work near my desk. It's silly, but every month I look forward to seeing the new photo.  I've never been to Tuscany or Italy, but it looks lovely.  The blue sky contrasted with green hills and the shining sun always make me smile.

So why am I thrilled to see 2011 arrive?  Nothing magic or fabulous has happened. My husband continues his job search and the loss of my dear friend Maureen in late April is still painful. But just turning the page on a new year feels as if I am putting distance between the difficult challenges and memories of 2010.  Many of you sent comforting words and encouragement.  Thank you, thank you, thank you! Especially Laney, Judy, Melissa, June, Rue and my sister Kelley, your thoughts and prayers are so appreciated! 

I could not imagine decorating for the holidays this year, so I didn't.  My only decorations were gifts from friends. Jill sent a huge red poinsettia which stood in for our Christmas tree...

Christy sent paperwhite flowers in a stunning silver container ....

And Doreen sent a wreath with a big red beautiful bow.

What wonderful friends!!! 

For the family Christmas Eve get together, I also made my smoked salmon plate with salmon my brother sent from Alaska. That's my son in the striped shirt.

And I shoveled a path for Buddy to take his usual walks around the house.

That was it for Christmas. Surprisingly, it was refreshing.  I certainly didn't miss the usual pressure to 'do-it-all'.

Which brings me to Jewel Box® Home and this blog.  Amber has been the heart and soul of this blog over the past year.  I could not do this without her.  We both look forward to bringing you Jewel Box® tips for your smaller homes and spaces in 2011. 

Happy New Year to everyone!