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Friday, March 25, 2011

House Plants and Indoor Air Quality

After reading a post on A Country Farmhouse where Trina shares this little note from her mother...

we checked this book out of the library:
It was very informative and I was amazed and inspired when I read about how fantastic plants are at filtering the air in your home or office and removing airborne pollutants! The book covers 50 houseplants, describing their preferred conditions, transpiration pace, and rates their effectiveness at clearing chemicals from the home. I can definitely see myself checking this book out periodically to review the ratings and add some plants to our home.

(That I hopefully will not kill.)

With so many causes of indoor air pollution being attributed to home improvement materials (paint, caulk, polyurethane!) and new purchases for the home (area rugs, furniture!), we definitely felt it would be a good idea to start adding some green life into the house and picked up some house plants...

*Like our Ponytail Palm*

*And Dracaena-a top scorer when it comes to air purification*
We also have a Ficus that is waiting to be repotted.
(TJMaxx & Homegoods have been failing us lately and we haven't found a good pot yet!)

And we have these guys also making a temporary contribution...

*The impatiens, after its annual haircut*

*And lastly, a poinsettia that somehow has survived since November--
mine are usually a-goner by early February...*
We hope to keep adding to the herd as we finish more rooms--these guys are all doing double duty as decoration and purifiers. What more can we ask for?

If you're interested in learning more about how houseplants can improve the air quality in your home, you can check out the simple guidebook described above or take a peek at this quick guide to 10 Magical Air Cleaning Plants that I thought was pretty good.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Foyer Before & Afters

The foyer may just constitute my favorite Before & After so far, which is pretty funny considering it is the least used room in the whole downstairs (whole house?). But saying goodbye to all of that ambery-orange shellac was sure to result in a truly striking transformation.
(If I do say so myself...and I do. ;)

Carpets out, wallpaper stripped, walls and ceiling replastered, oak floors refinished...
Shellac post and railing stripped and then stained (can you say ELBOW GREASE!?)...
Treads sanded and stained "Jacobean"...
Plenty of white paint to go around and Oyster Pearl by Valspar on the walls...
Sheesh, I'm exhausted just looking at the pictures! And Steven really did most of the hard stuff (particularly stripping/staining the newel post and railing), so I didn't even have it that bad. Anyways, I can't believe how different this room looks!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Garden Wish List: New Plants!

Yesterday I spotted hyacinths and daffodils that have broken through in the yard! Yay! This of course led to fantasies of warmer weather and all of the life that bursts forward with it.

Here are a few perennials that I would love to add to the yard this year:

1. Lots of lavender.
(Preferably the 'Grosso' cultivar, a highly fragrant hybrid with deep purple flowers)

2. Pom Pom Poppies
Bonus if I can find a beautiful salmon color like this:

3. Purple Hydrangea

4. Snowball Viburnum
Pretty sure I've been loving these for years but mistakenly assuming they're hydrangeas.

5. Purple Allium

6. Pale Pink Peonies
We have medium pink, white, and even a deep magenta...but I'm loving this delicate pale pink.

*Sigh*...aren't they all beautiful? I'd settle for 3 out of 6 this summer. And... uhhh...finally getting last summer's roses in the ground. ;-)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Banana Bread Meets a Heavy Dose of Chocolate

Few recipes carry the banner of resource management as effectively as banana bread. I'm always shocked when I peel those completely unappealing brown bananas and find still-perfect banana flesh. And to think I almost threw you away.

I used this banana bread recipe, which is a complete deviation from the banana bread (or more often, zucchini bread) that I grew up with. No cinnamon or related spices, no nuts, no vanilla...but featuring lots of chocolate chips.
So it's basically chocolate chip bread with mashed bananas.
Nothing groundbreaking here, but a great way to transform those past-their-prime bananas into something you WANT to eat. This loaf didn't even last a whole day in our house...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Inspiration: Master Bedroom

Steven and I are finally starting to think about the master bedroom renovation and we're searching for inspiration pics. I was surprised to see that we are both gravitating towards all white/off-white/creamy bedrooms.

It seems like something that's really hard to get right...creating warm, light, inviting room of "whites" as opposed to a stark, sterile, unfinished looking room of white. So here are some pics that caught my eye, and I'm essentially studying them to try and figure out exactly what it is that I like about the image and what the secret is. I think the key might be using multiple warm off-white shades and lots of different textures to keep it warm and cozy looking, and not like a hospital ward.

*Okay, so I know this is not exactly a white room, but there's some quality about it that seems very neutral and appeals to me*

*I've posted this one before, and I still love it. It's a very light room, but if you look, the wall does seem to be covered in a creamy off white wallpaper with a white floral print. Maybe it's just the crisp linens that catch my eye?*

*So it's not a bedroom, and it IS really white...and yet I love it. It seems to have multiple shades & textures despite being so monochromatic. And I think something about the light finish of the settee grabs me.*

*Another non-bedroom shot, and a little too French for me...but look at all of those neutral and off-white shades combined into one space. Perhaps a little too much beige, too...but there's definitely a lesson to be learned from this pic.*

*And just for illustration...this is a "NOT IT" picture. Nice in its own way, but too white and too bleak to be what we're looking for.*
*So far, this image comes closest to capturing the white/off-white, neutral bedroom colors that we're drawn to. There's a lot of texture in there between the draperies, linens, upholstered skirted bench, the jute looking rug, and the rustic looking headboard...perhaps therein lies the key?*
Well, I'm certainly going to keep looking for more inspiration pics...and hopefully soon I'll find the one that captures the exact look we think we want. If anyone happens to come across any good images of dreamy creamy bedrooms, please do send them my way!