I’m Back….I Promise

After a very busy Christmas season, changes in my job, and surviving a 28 inch blizzard, I’m committed more than ever to share my thoughts, ideas, and general craziness on home design, gardening, and my newest inspiration – Health and WellBeing Coaching. Expect a number of catch up blogs over the next few weeks, including more pictures of my finished Kitchen.. yes the project that was started well over a year ago  – what an adventure. Anyway, looking forward to catching up with everyone soon.
All the best – Michele

Decisions Decisions…

We are at a slow point in the kitchen renovation: the wall between the dining and kitchen has been removed – no small task as it was an exterior wall prior to when the first addition was added by original owners MANY years ago – the DUST, OMG the dust – I am still coughing over it… The “boring” stuff is happening now – lights, drywall, patches etc.  I need to make decisions on flooring color, cabinet design, appliances (Brice) and the big dilemma right now is do I put a fireplace in the kitchen or not???

Flooring color – I think i have landed on a color, luckily I found it through a blog I discovered over Christmas break – www.elementsofstyleblog.com  I think I would be Erin’s best friend if I lived near her – I love her style and ideas.  Here’s a link to her post that describes the floor color she used – an equal mix of minwax jacobean and ebony.


Cabinet design –  I am 80% complete with the cabinet designing that last 20% is the island.  I got some inspiration from the following pictures for the kitchen cabinets.

spice pull outs on either side of the cooktop to keep all those spices/oils Brice uses

I really need a spice cabinet & those pesky skinny spaces would be perfect.

Beverage bar for the morning coffee, cereal, toast and also will do double duty for wine, cocktails etc.

coffee station - except it appears the coffee maker is too tall to fit in its space...

nifty trash on the side of the cooktop with a butcher block pull-out included.

Kitchen idea love!

the overall style I am looking for is simple, clean, classic, timeless… to me that means white cabinetry, simple inset shaker style, with a bit of “bling” in the pulls/faucets (maybe even brussed brass), a mix of soap stone and marble countertops, hardworking lighting – task ligting, “ambiance” lighting, pretty lighting etc., super smart appliances, open shelving…

So so pretty.

kitchen pantry - this is perfect!

There will even be a pull-out for Shamba and Shadow’s dog bowls – can’t forget about my most loyal friends and constant companions…

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Here's a solution for a cramped kitchen. Put your dog's water and food dishes on a shallow drawer that slides out like a tray. This one was mounted in a cabinet's toe-kick. The key to making this arrangement work is to install the tray using high-quality, heavy-duty slides.  FANCY!

Ok, so lastley (for this post anyways) is what to do in the little sitting area or what we would call in the South, the keeping room… I am debating between changing the door to a window or chaning the door to a fireplace… I am leaning towards the latter… inspired by the following…

Kitchen Fireplace Design Ideas, Pictures, Remodel and Decor

I envision having late night conversations with the kids, brice, friends by the fire after enjoying a delicious dinner… it will also be very nice to have a fireplace on those very cold mornings we get in the Winter – um, like tomorrow when it is going to be minus 6 degrees!!  It may even be the place where I have my “quiet space/time”…

And so the very last thing I will say is in re: to the ceiling – drywall or 6” plank…I think the clear answer is 6″plank…

6" Tongue And Groove Ceiling Design Ideas, Pictures, Remodel and Decor

We are doing a LOT in this very hard working space… the goal/plan it to have it completed by May 1st – everything – every last wall painted, picture hung, lightbulb in, and fresh flowers…

I will do my best to show progress as things are coming along and will certainly to a post when all is completed.

The highlight of my day today tho was going to Bikram and seeing a very good friend :)




2015 – it’s going to be a good one!

game time!

Yes, 2015 is game time… it’s a big year – syd graduates in May (and turns 18), we send her off to college in Maine where she will be a polar bear at Bowdoin.  I was born and raised in New England, I think it is pretty cool that my southern born daughter feels drawn to New England for college – what an exciting time for her.  AND an added bonus is that we have lots of family up there that I plan on spending more time visiting during my trips to see Syd!  Stephen will finish is first year as a Freshman and I expect will continue to make us very proud as he goes into his Sophomore year.

Lots on my mind these days – I am having a VERY HARD time getting back onto Eastern timezone after spending almost 2 weeks in Kauai (5 hour time difference), the full moon and the fact that it is the beginning of a new year which always gets my mind on steroids isn’t helping either.  Rather than toss and turn I figured I would blog…but before I do I am sharing a couple of my favorite pictures from our trip.  These pictures were taken at Polihale State Park.  Polihale State Park is a remote wild beach on the western side of the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The park is miles away from the town of Kekaha, and it can only be reached via a poorly marked, dirt sugarcane road, making a four wheel drive vehicle preferable (and the fact that it was a rental was even better). The beach is several miles long, yet only the area known as “Queen’s Pond” offers safe swimming.  We did not swim in Queen’s Pond, we instead swam in the rougher surf – which made boogie boarding that much more fun for Stephen.  NOTE:  I grilled a local surfer about the water conditions before letting Stephen swim – he kindly told me that the water was safe and just re-inforced the instruction that if a rip tide picks Stephen up just “go with it” – which we have been preaching to the kids since they have been swimming at Papa’s beach house in Panama City beach since they were 2!

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New years resolutions… well, I don’t really call them resolutions – but rather plans for the year.  I am an obsessive proficient planner and I LOVE a new calendar year even more than I love the start of a new school year… it’s a blank canvas.  My plans for this year… motivated by how I want to feel (joy, contentment, freedom, abundance, love, laughter) and working very hard to stay open to the plans God has for my year (read as spend more quiet time listening and having the courage to take actions neeeded OR even harder NOT taking actions I THINK I need to take)….

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart… Jerimiah 29:11-13

I’m sharing a few of my plans on my blog so that I can reference back to them and maybe even edit them as my year shapes up…making this year’s plans was even more special as I had the opportunity to re-connect with a long time mentor of mine who is now a health/wellness/life coach who happens to live on the island with her husband 6 months out of the year – she is an incredible woman and I LOVED spending time with her and getting her wisdom and direction during my 2015 planning – if you are interested you can check her out here – she is THE BEST!!!

Relationships/family:  explore and be open to the “new normal” for me and our family as we manage through the transitions upon us – syd going to college, me uncovering what works best for me as I work through the physical, emotional and psychological changes associated with hormonal re-balancing

Heath/creativity:  home projects (kitchen), Bikram Yoga (I think I could possible get addicted to this), financial health, document/journal more frequently either via this blog or in my personal journal… I am motivated by my family a very close friend who is always so kind to comment on my blog posts  – thank you!!

Friends:  visit family in New England, Georgia, VA Beach and out west, spend time building relationships with my friends more frequently

Professional:  explore and invest time in “what’s next” for me professionally

I am utilizing the passion planner/tool which Gayle recommended until she completes her own planner/tool which I will then use :-)

Happy New Year and I’d love to hear your plans for 2015!








Embrace Winter

I have made the choice to embrace Winter this year – with the help of proper foot and snow gear – – <3 my Sorel boots!


We got 14″ of snow on Tuesday (kids were very happy as there was not school Tues or Wed)… we have snow coming down as I type and Syd just told me we they are predicting a possible noreaster on Tues/Wed of next week – – Bring it ON! 

Actually, the snow is absolutely beautiful – as evidenced in a few photos I snapped with my i-phone…


The ride to the barn is pretty anytime of year (click here to see it in the Spring)… Love this barn… there are usually cows and goats grazing in the fields below



The Brandywine River is my favorite, fun for tubing and kayaking in the Summer, I love the sun coming through and the ice pieces floating through it – it was 5 degrees when I snapped these (from inside my car!)



The next couple of pictures are from the Winter garden I planted this Spring – Winterberry, Red Stick Dogwood and Paperbirch – I LOVE the way the red berries and red sticks on the dogwood pop out from the white snow… this is just their first year, I can’t wait to see what they will look like in future years!!

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The last few photos are from various areas in our yard… I am learning that Winter is a time for “stars and distances and silence, Courage of the open spaces, Wisdom of the waiting branches” – This comes from a prayer my mother wrote when I was born, I am not sure where she found it or if it is an original from her, but I was delighted to find it in an old photo album – her prayer was about shaping me like the seasons God created…

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Shamba and Shadow got new Winter coats this year as well… they are never more than a few feet from where I am – inside or outside, 5 degrees or 95 degrees… my loyal companions.  Have a wonderful weekend – I would love to hear how Winter is where you are!!!











HOME is…

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.  – Maya Angelou

As I walked from my mailbox, the following view caught my eye and an overwhelming sense of gratitude came over me… grateful for the warm sunny day we had today, blooming flowers and mostly just simply being HOME


I love coming home, I especially love it when all four of us are home.. the end of June/beginning of July is typically a whirlwind of travel and activity in our house – Brice is typically traveling overseas for work, Stephen has a camp (or two in addition to his very busy baseball game schedule) and Syd is usually playing in a volleyball tournament that requires us to fly.  These are all good things and we enjoy our time away – but I have to admit that I really appreciate and value our time together at home. 

Home for me is where my family is, where there is LOVE, it’s where I experience the fruits of my labor, my safe place to fall… when we moved here from Georgia, I brought a Nikko Blue Hydrangea with us – this is a plant that was passed along from dear neighbors (Steve and Karen Johnson) of my in-laws.  I rooted and grew this Nikko Blue in our home in Georgia when we first moved in.  Despite Brice mowing over this plant many times during the early years, it thrived and grew to be over 8 feet tall!  I took a clipping with me to PA and was deterimed to find a place for it at our new PA home where it could again thrive.   I finally found a place in our yard where it is happy (after 3 tries)….


What are you grateful for today?  What does home mean to you?

thoughts from 3,000 feet in the air…

Syd and I are flying to Dallas for the last volleyball tournament of her club season.  I love watching Syd play volleyball and the 1:1 time we have traveling to her tournaments is the best part!  Last year we were lucky enough to have a tournament at the same venue as my sister and neice (Mary & Brooke)


Brice is in China (hopefully the last 2 week trip for a LONG time) – and that means that Stephen had the option to a) come to Dallas with us (took him 2 seconds to say no to watching 4 days of volleyball) OR b) fly to Florida to see Mimi and Papa (he LOVES Mimi’s chocolate cake and how she spoils him)… Being Stephen he asked if Lindsey (and Brandon) could come up and stay with him for the week.  For those of you who don’t know Lindsey – she is an amazing young woman whom Brice and I have known since she was in 6th grade (we were her youth counselors at JCUMC in Duluth, GA).  She is part of our family.  I called “Linds” up and explained Stephen’s proposition and to my relief (and Stephen’s utter delight) she agreed to make the trip to PA for the week to hang with Stephen… He has the week full of fun plans – – below is a pic of Lindsey, Stephen and Sydney at the beach during the Summer of 2007…I think the expression on Stephen’s face in the picture below pretty much sums up how he was feeling about Lindsey’s visit.  Beach Pics 023

I have a lot on my mind these days… work (what do I want to be when I grow up?!?!), home projects (inside and out), supervising the kids and most importantly reminding myself that JOY is in the present moment… like…

Enjoying salmon and a nice glass (or bottle) of wine with my favorite peeps – those of you who are local, stop in on Friday and Saturday evenings for some “snackerals” and swimming…


 Enjoying being chauffered by my personal “permit driver” :)


 Stopping on the side of the road for cows (belted galloways are still my favorite), wild flowers or a fresh fruit and veggie stand… 162

Sneaking in some reading time by the pool with my loyal companions – Shamba (closest to the pool and Shadow)…Kristin Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane, fly away, was a great read to start off my Summer…



Watching some pretty intense water basketballl and water polo matches…094

 syd and stephen in surfTaking some more photos like this….(Mimi and Papa will remember this photo!)


 Gardening and painting cool old furniture that I have found, bought at a steal or have had forever!  (below is a game table I finished with BM Inner Glow)…



 I love Summer:  the days are long and hot, the sun is bright, I like hearing the sounds of the kids swimming in the pool, the smell of my flowers early in the morning or at dusk, watching a firefly show while Brice and I linger outside into dark… what are you looking forward to this Summer? 

Come for a visit – we have plenty of room and would love to have you!!

Breath of Heaven…

Sharing a few photos of the beauty around me… 


Syd took this picture with her i-phone waiting for the bus – the rising sun awakens my heart from the long Winter we have had reminding me of God’s brilliant light…

The flowers, trees and blue skies reminds me to keep my eyes and ears fully open as I am on my daily journey.  Too often I am so focused on being productive, getting things on my to do list checked off.  I am trying to slow down and focus on the beauty around me and connections I may be missing out on by trying to be so focused on my next task vs. being fully present in the ones that I am in. 


The following pictures capture the beauty we see on our trip to the barn from our house – a short 5 minute drive from PA to DE (all backroads).

THIS is why I LOVE living here, the long, cold, grey days are erased from my memory with just a few frames of Forsythias, weeping cherries, blue skies and bright sunshine!!!  009 010 011








I am still running – the race is just 3 weeks away – almost there!  I feel like I can once again call myself a “runner”.  Below is a picture of my favorite running spot – a 1 mile loop that  has a good variety of flat, up and down hill. 


Finally, I am very excited to share the trees I planted in front of the house – one for Syd and one for Stephen – Snow Fountain Weeping Cherry –

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 The Peach trees I planted are also blooming (off in the distance) – last year we had 1 bowl of peached produced from the trees – I am hoping for at least 2 bowls this year!


My “girls” and a project…

Spring is finally here!!! 

I have so much more energy when the sun is shining and the air is warm ~ I completed a number of projects while I was off last week..

So the week started off with me having very long list of things to do… taking Syd to see Belle was high on the list – check!


There were also a LOT of outside tasks…digging, moving plants, clearing etc. Shadow was on hand with my gardening gloves – she and Shamba are my faithful companions while I work outside. 


 Shamba is a little quieter these days (not chasing after as many tennis balls and more laying in the sun) – she can’t wait until we open the pool!!


 One of the highligts of my week was scoring 30 boxwoods at Costco – – I was hoping they would arrive soon (they are a key element in my driveway landscape plan)… I kept checking our local store – as luck would have it, they were there on Saturday and I managed to fit 20 in my car…


Last few pics for this post is a project I proudly completed… I found a nice solid wood table and 6 chairs for $60 about a year ago with plans to finish them and use them as a casual table in the guest/pool house kitchenette.  Just the right space for morning coffee, card games etc.   


















I used Sunbrella fabric for the chairs – fun, water theme b/c the house gets the most use in the Summer….

Will post more later – can’t wait to take pictures of the completed driveway and new trees, bushes and perrenials…

dreary day, dreary driveway…

It was supposed to be sunny and 55 today – – you can see from the pics below that it was not sunny and I wore my Northface Winter coat today b/c it definitely was NOT 55 degrees!!!  It felt like a dreary, cold, Wintery day – – and the driveway continues to be demolished…

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I feel like our driveway looks today: tired and messy.  I am working out really hard for this 10 mile race and also trying to keep my hips and back strong enough to make it through the race. I am sore and frustrated that my body isn’t responding as quickly as it did – – age, I guess.  Syd did remind me that although I feel crappy and not really proud of how fast I ran today it was still faster than those people who sat on the couch.  She is very encouraging!!!  I also have this awesome trainer (who I also consider a friend, Michelle) – she is many years younger than I, has young children, is in incredible shape and very balanced.  Look what she surprised me with today:


 It was just what I needed.  On my way home, I stopped at Leon’s Garden center looking for a “Betty” Magnolia, although they did not have the magnolia I was looking for, they did have an “Anne” Magnolia… Perfect, it will bloom in about 3 weeks.  I bought it in memory of Brice’s mom, Betty-Anne.  She was an awesome Southern woman who passed away in April, 1997.  When this tree blooms it will be a beautiful reminder of a woman whom I will be forever thankful to for raising such and awesome son who became my husband and incredible father to our children.

I am taking next week off from work and am hoping to finish the landscaping around the new driveway… I love transformation – seeing beauty in the end and even during the process (although, that is harder to see for me)… I don’t always like the pain of the process but know that it is a necessary part and makes the end result that much more gratifying… What are you looking forward to seeing transform in your home or life?



Welcome Spring… (and a little snow)

I woke up this morning (first day of Syd’s Spring break) to about 3 inches of snow and a  steady snow fall… which didn’t stop until about 4pm this afternoon… I snapped a couple of pictures…the first is the view from the driveway

 The second is the view of our pool (which should be opening in 5 weeks – hard to believe with the snow covering it). 

The snow is very pretty, but I am not wanting to look at snow right now, I am ready for Spring, I NEED Spring: warm weather, flowers/trees blooming, warmer and longer days, working outside, hearing the birds chirping in the morning…My redbud blooming (only a month away)!

In the meantime, I am keeping myself busy planning Spring Projects – the first project on the list is the driveway – inspiration photo:

 I have always had an issue with how close our driveway comes to the house…. it doesn’t even line up with the garage doors and doesn’t complement the connection with the guest house (see photo below).  I am thinking that by creating two “green spaces” on either side of a PA bluestone patio (inspiration photos shows crushed stone)  the houses will be much happier. 

 Luckily we have space to pull the driveway away from the house and line it up with the garage doors.  The Driveway Lady comes on Wednesday to tear up the existing driveway and by Saturday we will have the PA bluestone patio in front of the steps complete.  I am planning to plant the boxwoods (crossing my fingers that Costco carries them again this year) and Sargent Crabapples the week of April 1st and complete the project by mid April (fingers crossed). 

I have also been busy training for a 10 mile race that I will be doing in May – The Broad Street Run.  I haven’t run this far since I was pregnant with Syd – I thought it was fitting that I run this 10 mile race Syd’s 16th Birthday.  I have been training hard – my body is holding up pretty good so far and I surprise myself each Saturday when I am able to complete my long runs.  My goal is to finish in less than 2 hours.  I am proud to say that I can legitimately call myself a runner again. 

More posts to come with pics of before and after – I think I will show the guest house kitchenette – try to entice our friends and family to come for a visit (Mary, Suzanne and Ginger – this comment is specifically for you!). 

Brice and I enjoyed a night in downtown Phili on Saturday with some wonderful friends to celebrate Brice’s birthday.  Dinner was awesome – Fond, followed by a visit to XIX – Nineteen, a cafe, bar, restaurant on the 19th floor of the Hyatt – great views.  I felt so “hip”. 

I would love to hear what you have planned for Spring!