Fall Home Tour 2015

It's still 90 degrees outside here in north Texas, and it doesn't feel like autumn at all. I'm hoping that by decorating my house for the season, I'm somehow ushering in some cooler temperatures!

Every year I use the pretty much the same fake pumpkins and try them in different spots. I'm a big fan of faux pumpkins because I can't stomach the idea of buying real pumpkins (those things aren't cheap!) only to have them rot weeks later! Every single pumpkin you spy in these photos is fake, but from various sources: Michael's, Walmart, HomeGoods. I've accumulated a decent collection over the years.

I do have dried gourds as well, but I'm not sure if those count as fake or not. I'm going to count them as fake since they are preserved and I use them every year.

Here's my general philosophy when decorating for the fall season: focus on a couple of key areas (in this case, the dining room and fireplace) and then casually place little pumpkins and gourds throughout the rest of the house. I don't spend too much time on it and I definitely don't overthink it, but those small touches make the house feel homey and warm.

The dining room is the first room you see when you come in the house, so I did a full autumn tablescape. This is actually practical for us because we don't use this table unless it's a special occasion, so these place settings can stay out as long as I want. Heck, it may look just like this for Thanksgiving dinner.

Pumpkins, gourds and chartreuse pillows (stolen from my mom's pillow stash) add some small touches of fall to the formal living room. 

One of my favorite fall decorating touches is to stash a tiny pumpkin under a glass dome. It's just so darn cute.

I kept the mantel pretty simple, but I did buy myself that copper stag head at Target because I just couldn't resist. Target's fall line is to-die-for! I wanted everything. The fact that I walked away with only this is a small miracle.

I had one small gold pumpkin left, so I stashed it in the guest bathroom. Because, why not?

Now that my house is all cozy, can we please have some cooler temperatures? I'm dying to wear my boots and sweaters!

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My Mom's New House!

After two months of being crammed into our guest rooms, my mom and her dogs have moved into a beautiful new home about 10 minutes up the road!

The home search began in earnest during the second part of July, but the market here is very competitive. The first home she put an offer on ending up receiving 20+ offers! Needless to say, she didn't get that one despite her above-asking offer.

Then she found another one she liked, and she put in a full price offer. The homeowners came back to her and said, "You're the only offer, but we were really hoping to get _____ (which was $5k over the asking price)." So basically they counter-offered at $5k above what my mom offered (which was stinking FULL PRICE)! Would you be offended? We definitely were! The nerve of those people. My mom actually sent them another offer for $5k BELOW her original offer, and we never heard from them again. At least we got the last laugh!

The third house was the charm, though. And I know my mom truly loves her new house, so that makes me feel really good about it. We've missed out on multiple homes before buying our first two houses, and in both situations the house we ended up with was much better than the others. It always works out in the end!

Anyway, I wanted to show you some photos of her new home. She had a lot of work done before she moved in, including removing all of the popcorn texture from the ceilings, painting the kitchen cabinets, removing wallpaper and repainting the master bathroom and laying new laminate floors in place of the peachy-colored carpet.

Her new home has a lot of curb appeal. She really wanted something that felt like a cottage, and I think she got that vibe with the pitched roof lines and pristine landscaping.

When you walk in the front door, the formal living and dining room are directly to the right. These are some photos from the original listing:

This house has a lot of beautiful moulding and trim work. It's very elegant. We're not a fan of those brown boxes on the wall, so those will soon be painted to match the rest of the wall color.

When you look straight ahead, you can see all the way to the back of the house, where the kitchen and great room are located. That hallway to the left contains the three guest bedrooms, two baths and the laundry room. The master bedroom is split to the back of the house, which is really nice.

And here's the kitchen and great room, where I'm sure we'll spend a lot of time hanging out.

Right off the great room is the master bedroom, which features some huge windows looking into the backyard.

And here's the master bathroom, with its dated wallpaper, carpeted floors and shiny gold finishes.

That's how the house looked when she bought it, but my mom started fixing it up right away. I went to visit a few days into the process and grabbed these quick snapshots on my phone. The tile was ripped up in the entryway, along with the carpet in the formals, great room and master. She replaced that with a nice laminate floor.

She didn't want the house to feel too formal - and it leans that way because of all the fancy woodwork and trim - so she picked a floor with a lot of color variation that warmed the spaced up a little bit.

One of the other big changes was in the kitchen. She didn't like the medium brown color of the cabinets, so she painted them Sailcloth by Benjamin Moore. Such an amazing difference! She also painted the walls in the kitchen my go-to color, Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore.

I mean, look at how different this room feels already! It's amazing what some paint can do. We both hated the back splash originally, but now it's actually bearable. It's all about the color combos and how they work together.

She still has a lot of work to do, but she's just getting started. She's unpacking and rearranging and tinkering and doing all of that fun stuff she loves to do. She has big plans, so I promise to share her makeovers with you as we go!

Thank you for all of your thoughts, prayers and well-wishes as we have been navigating these tough couple of months after my dad passed away. I'm so proud of my mom's resilience and strength. It hasn't been easy, but this house feels like a new era for her and our entire family. When tragedy strikes, we have no choice but to do the best we can to put our lives back together. A house is just one piece of the puzzle, but it's a big piece. And it's a great start.

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Seeing Summer Better

Did you know that I'm legally blind? My vision has been bad since I was a little girl (thanks, Dad), and I truly can't function if I'm not wearing glasses or contacts. 

I wear contacts for about 95% of my waking hours, putting them in first thing and taking them out when I go to sleep. I got my first pair of contacts when I was in 6th grade because I played catcher for my softball team, and you can't wear glasses with the catching mask. I was only supposed to wear them for sports, but I was hooked. Once you realize how much you've been missing out on because you couldn't see, it's hard to go back! I remember coming home from the eye doctor with my contacts in and marveling at all of the individual leaves on the oak tree in front of our house. Before, all I had seen was a big green blob that I knew was a tree, but it was a whole new experience to see the details on the individual leaves.

While I do just fine with contacts, I've always struggled to find glasses that I like. I have a long, narrow face, and most frames stick out far to wide on my face. And since I have such a strong prescription, the lenses end up distorting the shape of my face in the areas where the glasses are too wide. It's not a good look! Couple that with the fact that I have a nose with a big bump on the bridge (the result of a few broken noses during my childhood sports career), let's just say it's really hard for me to find glasses - either prescription or sunglasses - that I like.

Anyway, when Warby Parker reached out to me about their #SeeSummerBetter campaign, I thought it was a great opportunity to see the latest in eyewear and see if I could actually find some glasses and/or sunglasses that are presentable. Plus my best friend has glasses from Warby Parker that look super cute on her so I've been dying to try some myself!

First I picked out my favorites based on our summer destinations with a little fantasy online shopping, and then I actually tried some on using the Home Try On program. Also, I realized I am painfully awkward at taking selfies. (More on that later.)

First up, I needed some shades for our Boston trip. Boston is hip and trendy but retains its classic, historical vibe, so I thought the Barkley shades were the right fit.

While we were in Boston, we made a day trip to the picturesque city of Newport, Rhode Island. That city is all about the grandeur of the Gilded Age, so I chose the June shades, which definitely have a glamorous, vintage feel.

Next we ferried over to Martha's Vineyard, which is basically where preppy clothing was invented. I thought the Madison shades suited the Vineyard quite nicely.

Lastly, we went to Nashville to visit family. Nashville is an all-American city with Southern charm, yet it has a bit of a rock star edge. I thought the Crossfield shades captured that ecclectic mix.

By this time I was itching to actually try some Warby Parker shades myself. I can only do so much online window shopping before I pull the trigger! The company's Home Try On program is a game changer because you can order up to 5 different frames, both sunglasses and eye glasses, and you have five days to try them out for free before deciding which you want. It's really very smart, and it makes choosing your favorite pair much easier when you can show them to your friends and family and get honest opinions.

My favorite part of the Warby Parker shopping experience is the fact that you can filter your options by width. I was able to select "narrow" and see which options might best fit my face. Granted, it eliminated a lot of the cutest options, but it was so much better than trying on 5 pairs and having every single one be too wide for my darn face!

And here is when I began taking awkward selfies. Ugh. It's embarrassing to post these photos, but I will do it for the sake of demonstration. I actually took these photos so I could try out the #WarbyHomeTryOn feature where you post it to social media with that hashtag and Warby Parker folks actually weigh in on which frames they think look best. For the record, they preferred the June and Stockton.

And lastly, Oliver

I even got some of the men's sunglasses for the husband to try on, but he refused to let me post his picture on the blog. Psssh. The mens' sunglasses were cool as well, but I guess you'll have to take my word for it. What a party pooper.

So I'm wondering, does anyone else have the same issues with glasses as me? Have you ever tried Warby Parker, or do you prefer the traditional route where you go in the store and try them on? 

Do you feel as silly as I do when you take selfies? Do you ever take a selfie and think, "Darn, that's what I actually look like?" Just me?

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