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Heavy Lifting

flagstone patio DIY

We spend the better part of this weekend working on our back patio.  With a winter storm moving in (really?) it was a race to get as much settled as possible before the snow started to fall.  I can’t say that I’ve done that much hard labor in a long time.  Most of my more intense projects are manned by my husband, Matt, while I take care of the stylistic part of things (painting, sanding, cleaning, etc).  In this case, since the puzzle that is a flagstone patio had a lot to do with an eye for fitting the stones together, I really had to be involved.  It was nice to get outside for a bit after a long winter and I learned a lot in the process.

flagstone how-to

patio progress 1

Last weekend, Matt had rented a bobcat to dismantle our previous patio, which I posted photos of on Instagram (@houseofearnest), and dug out the four inch foundation.  Gravel and sand were delivered and spread and my dad (an engineer) came over to help with the all important task of leveling.  Saturday morning we were ready for the exciting part – the flagstone!  I ordered sandstone because it had a very smooth and somewhat sparkly surface while other varieties were a little more rough and matte.

We finished by shoveling more of the sand over top of the stone and sweeping it in all of the cracks.  As more and more settling occurs over the next couple days, we’ll sweep more sand into the cracks to ensure that everything is snug!

I confess, this is just a tiny sneak peek of the finished patio – obviously before any landscaping. I am participating in the Home Depot Patio Style Challenge this year and will debut the finished patio next month for the challenge! Are you excited? I am.

My back, arms, and legs are definitely feeling the effects of a weekend filled with hard work (some of the stones were over 75 pounds!) so I might be a bit slower getting around these next few days, but it’s a good thing that doesn’t affect my typing fingers!

I hope you got some good things done this weekend! Isn’t it so satisfying?


Friday Faves 3.22

Friday Faves 3.22

ONE Land of Nod hampers are simple and sturdy ($79) and the floral liner is one sale for $6! TWO These wooden egg cups double as really cute mini planters.  $29 for a set of four from Wind and Willow Home. THREE Vintage ceramic ‘Spring’ push pins are so cute and remind you of what’s coming.  $12 from shavingkitsupplies on Etsy. FOUR I must have a thing for office supplies this week!  These floral covered tacks keep the office area bright. $8 for a set of 25 from Urban Outfitters. FIVE timeless bentwood, with a modern colorful spin, this bench from Crate in Barrel looks like it would go awesome in an entry or at one side of a dining table, $499. SIX an easy and impactful flower arrangement isn’t hard, especially with a quirky modern bud vase like this one from A+R store $95.

Although I have organization and spring cleaning on my mind, this weekend will be spend outdoors working out our flagstone patio!  The flagstone was delivered today, the foundation is all set and we’re getting things started!

Aside from working on the patio, I am going to try to get a little spring cleaning done so that I can welcome the warmer weather appropriately (maybe that’s why it hasn’t come yet?!).

What is on your agenda this first weekend in spring?


Holiday vs. Everyday

holiday - everday - easter


I can never bring myself to buy something that doesn’t have more than one use.  I’m not sure if it’s a space thing (old homes have no storage) or just an efficiency thing.  Some of my best ideas have come from brainstorming more ways to use something than the intended, or obvious way, and it’s the same when it comes to holiday decor.

I loved these tiny birds nests which were styled up on an Easter table setting at one of my local shops.  I am not a huge fan of decorating for Easter, so I initially wrote them off, but then as I strolled through the store, I got to thinking about other ways to use the little guys.  I took them home and immediately thought that it was a really pretty and spring-esque object to put under my (usually empty) cloches.

How would you style them for Easter or for everyday?



Beginner Blooms: Lesson Two

beginner blooms 1

Here we are with the second in a spring series of flower arranging.  We started just two weeks ago with flowering branches, and will progress today to a flower that is similar to arrange, but offers a couple of extra considerations that will help build a good foundation.

Lilies are similar to branches in that they’re a sturdy, straight stem with multiple branching flowers on each stem.  You don’t need too many stems to make an impactful bouquet, which is great for beginners to play with shape and design.  Start with four stems for this arrangement.  Similar to last week, we’re using a vase that is wider at the bottom, with a smaller opening.  This sphere is a little more difficult to use than the carafe we used in the branches.

beginner blooms lilies 2

beginner blooms workflow - lilies

ONE remember what we learned last week.  Stems should be around 1.5 to 2 times the height of the vase (or width if that is greater).  For these lilies, I started on the longer side and thought they were too spread out and didn’t consume the space well, so I went back and trimmed them down to 1.5.  TWO remove all leaves that will fall below the neck of the case.  This will keep bacteria from growing in your water. THREE using a sharp knife, cut away from your body in one swift motion.  Using scissors on floral stems crushes the plant cells and inhibits the flower from getting enough water.  A knife cut helps the flower live longer by helping it get more water. FOUR arrange like you did with the branches, first in an ‘X’ then go back and make an ‘X’ in the alternate direction.

beginner blooms lilies 3

beginner blooms lilies 1

Look at your arrangement from all angles.  The flowers should be even distance from the center of the arrangement from side to side and to the top.  Make sure that a primary bloom sticks straight up and creates a gradual dome shape to the side flowers.  You don’t want all of the blooms to fall to the sides, creating a hole in the center.

Try it a few times, I might take some trial an error on the lengths of the stems and positioning the flowers, but since you’re only working with four stems, it’s a good place to start practicing!

Let me know how it goes!


Hand Made: Dipped Baskets

dipped basket 1

I hesitated to post another ‘dipped’ thing since it’s been so overdone, but when I shared these pretty dipped baskets on my Friday Faves a couple of weeks ago, I just couldn’t stop thinking about how the paint looked a little translucent.  It wasn’t as obvious of a dip project as some I’d seen, so I wanted to try and see if I could get a smokier look to the dip, allowing more of the basket color and texture to show through.

I picked up these little water hyacinth baskets from Pier 1 for just three bucks each and tried a few various trials using paint thinner, acetone, etc, etc.  As it turns out, the best version was the one that used the good old fashioned ‘universal solvent’ – water.

dipped basket 2

dipped basket diptych

Aside from figuring out the proper ratios, I found a pretty good way to dip them which is clean, easy, and only uses a pint of paint!  If you’re interested in all of the details – keep reading for more the step by step!
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A New Use for Wine Corks

wine cork uses

I don’t know if I’d say that I was a ‘wine-o’ per se, but I drink a lot of wine.  I like what I like, mostly red, and I love trying new varieties. This results in a (maybe embarrassing) amount of wine corks that collect in my bar area.  I have a large cylinder vase that I put them all in, and with that vase being close to full, I’ve been thinking about other things to do with the corks.

I had a length of ribbon that I wrapped around a cork out of pure convenience and, after sticking a straight pin into the end, realized that it wasn’t just a quick solution, but a really good all-of-the-time solution as well.

ribbon corks 2

cork spook diptych

I have so many pieces of ribbon, lace, or twine that I pull off of gifts and packages that usually goes untamed into a drawer or bin and this is the perfect solution.

I’m not going to say that it will encourage me to drink more wine, but, I mean, it won’t hurt!

I hope your Monday is full of solutions!


Friday Faves 3.15

Friday Faves 3.15


ONE letterpress cards from Bears Eat Berries are as cute as they come.  They’re cool, minimal, and right down my alley. $15 for a set of six thank you cards. TWO These accordion sconces from West Elm are just what I need above my headboard. $179 each. THREE make cereal in the morning a tad more stylish with these geo patterned bowls from Urban Nester, $30 for the set of four. FOUR start your garden growing this year with an indoor herb kit that is a pretty as they come, $45 from The Growers Exchange (and for other gardening picks, see my March column on Houzz). FIVE as if you didn’t love shopping before… these shopping list notebooks from ARMINHO are so fun and a great price at $10 for the set of three. SIX Add some stunning greek beauty to your home with the Athena side table from Society Social, $395.


Happy Friday, everyone!  I am happy that it’s the end of the week and I can have some downtime to play a little bit.  My social calendar is booked with dinners and drinks, we’re breaking ground on our flagstone patio, I’ve got some housekeeping to do, and I’m excited for it all!

Are you all celebrating this weekend?  Whether it’s for St. Patricks day, the onslaught of spring, or just because it’s the weekend and you survived?


Practice and Patience

practice makes perfect

To say that I’m ambitious would be an understatement.  I might even be ambitious to a fault.  Unlike a lot of people, it’s not with material things that I have the greatest need for accomplishment, it’s with knowledge.  I want to know everything and I want to know it now.  I’ve taught myself everything from basic HTML to basic German. At the risk of sounding like Veruca Salt from the chocolate factory, I have a need to be good at lots of things…and instantly, but as we all know, that doesn’t always happen. If something doesn’t come naturally to me, I often discard it and find something else.  This has resulted in me being a jack of a lot of trades and a master at very little (like the aforementioned basic HTML and basic German, but not advanced in either). My problem isn’t with the desire to learn, it’s with patience to learn.

When it came to calligraphy, I’d always kind of dabbled, and wasn’t great at it, but my desire to be good overcame the initial failures. I was able to move past being uncomfortable without instant success and actually practice.  I met with Tara from Swallowtail Calligraphy and learned some of the basics in an age-old art and, although I am improving, it will take a lot more meetings for me to feel confident.

All of this to say that as adults, is our emphasis on patience and practice lacking? Are we too comfortable in what we’re good at or what we already do well that we don’t put the effort towards learning new things that don’t come natural?

Today, I’m committing to being patient with my practice of calligraphy and being more open to the joy of the learning curve.

Are you learning anything new?  How is the practice going?



Handmade: Gold Foil Tumblers

gold leaf, tumblers, flutes, gold dot

It’s no secret that I love gold, and you know I could use a good cocktail on a Wednesday. I made these little gold confetti tumblers after seeing so many similar versions in the market. These aren’t too intense, but are pretty easy and are oh-so-cute!

Fill them up with a little pomegranate juice, some Zonin prosecco, and basil and you’ve got yourself a perfect mid-week treat.

confetti cups diptych

confetti cups 2

confetti cups workflow

ONE tape off the bottom of a glass with blue painters tape and stick some dots onto the bottom, more concentrated at the top and less concentrated toward the bottom. TWO cover the top of the glass with a sandwich bag and tape it down on the same tapeline as before. THREE spray paint the bottom of the glass with a bright gold spray paint. FOUR using a gold leaf pen, carry the dot motif up onto the top of the glass.  More concentrated at the bottom and sparse toward the top.

I think they’re so fun and sure do look festive for spring, right?  Grab just a few ingredients, have a cocktail and happy hump day!


**Update!  For those of you who asked, I am now selling these glasses in my shop!  They are a little different, but they’re made to withstand washing (top rack)!!**

So, as a disclaimer, I am using spray paint on food and beverage item which isn’t recommended for food contact.  I felt like being on the outside of the glass I was comfortable with that, but if you’re not, please use your discretion. 


Splurge & Save: Boho Chic

green sofa, gooseneck lamp, pharmacy lamp, colorful rug, glass coffee table iron coffee table

Unveiling the new concept for a column that’s been a reader favorite, but I felt could use a new twist.  Instead of featuring the same type item on the Splurge & Save, I want to feature a collection that all works together.  Similar to how you would in an outfit with a handbag, you can have one statement piece that is a bit of a splurge while saving on the supporting items.

Today, I’d totally splurge on this emerald settee with clean lines and tufted sides from Anthropologie while saving on some still fabulous pieces like this colorful, but leaning toward classic, rug from World Market, a sleek iron and glass coffee table from Ikea which would look awesome with some stacked books underneath, and lastly a bronze pharmacy lamp from Target.

Do you like the assortment?  How about the revamp of the column?