$100 At Home Giftcard Giveaway

After revealing my Staircase “Moment,”  I’ve been in an out of At Home several times.  I stopped in to check out some patio chair options for a Father’s Day gift.  The kids and I grabbed a couple of pots for some of our houseplants.  And yesterday, I picked up a couple of these little guys for a project that I’ll be showing you soon.

Win a $100 giftcard to At Home

Fun, right?  Or scary?  You know I definitely have my own sense of style, so stay tuned for more on that project.

But regardless of your style, At Home has so many great items that will keep you going back for more. I’m lucky that there is one just a few miles from my house, which makes it way to easy to just swing in for a peek.

To get you started on my newest obsession, At Home is offering a $100 giftcard to one of my readers!

Win a $100 giftcard to At Home

Happy Little Cacti

The overarching goal for my home has always been one thing: fun.  I want my family to feel happy, energized and in good spirits the second they walk in the door.  I accomplish that through crazy wall treatments, boldly colored furniture and generally unexpected little touches.

And thanks to my latest find, I can do that through my plants, too.

Colorful cacti

Taking On the World though Destination Imagination {Part II}

If you missed Part 1 of this series, please read it here.

When we last left our team of creative kids and their fearless (and tired) leaders, they had just won 1st place in the Capital Region Destination Imagination tournament and advanced to the Texas state competition.  We had been so ready for DI to be over for the year, but that win completely excited the kids (and us) into getting ready for the state competition.

Destination Imagination - why I think you and your child should get involved

The kids had a little over a month to prepare for State.  We immediately knew that we would go in as one of the top teams to beat.  The Capital region is the largest region in the state, so we essentially had to beat the most other teams to qualify.  The kids knew that they were now “kinda a big deal,” so they starting talking about going to Globals (the competition after state), They just knew they were going to go.  As managers, we kept encouraging them to produce “Globals ready” work for the State competition, but it was more a ploy on our part to teach them that they can do really hard things if they are persistent.  They upgraded their costumes, props and backdrop and made a new structure to take to competition.

We are really lucky to live in a school district that is supportive of DI.  The district paid for our entry fee into the tournament, hotel accommodations for the kids and even gave them a stipend for food while we were gone.  We rented a U-haul trailer (their backdrop was huge) and made our way to the state tournament in Dallas.

The State tournament was a completely different experience for us than our experience at Regionals. NOTHING seemed to go our way.  The tournament site was pretty hectic and disorganized.  The team performing before us had some kind of rules violation and ran like 30 minutes long, so our kids were standing in the sun in their costumes getting more and more anxious about what was going on.  We saw other team managers repairing their team’s props and helping put on costumes (which is a HUGE no-no in DI).  When we were trying to check-in, another team manager brought his team up behind us and they were singing and clapping so that our kids couldn’t hear instructions (I mean, c’mon).  So many other teams were in the audience of our performance room that there wasn’t room for Tom and I to even sit down.

And then there was the performance itself.

Our team did just okay.  Their performance was fine, but some little things went wrong.  A sign was upside down.  Zack’s hat was itching him, so he kept taking it off and throwing it on the floor.  Our structure creaked and cracked like it was going to come crashing down.  And our prop that was supposed to transform (I talked about that in Part I) just flat out didn’t work.

We came out of it feeling pretty bummed.  The kids had worked so hard, but at this level, little mistakes are costly.  They did very well in the Instant Challenge part of the competition, but we didn’t think they had done well enough to make up for the mistakes.

At the awards ceremony, we told them that we hoped they received a medal, but that we just didn’t think it was in the cards.  We told them that win or lose, we were so proud at how much they had learned and accomplished.  We told them that we couldn’t have asked any more from them and they gave it our all.  We told them that they were bright and funny and we knew that they would accomplish big things.  And we took one last team photo for the year.

Destination Imagination - why I think you and your child should get involved

My Staircase Moment

I don’t know about you, but I used to love watching The Rachel Zoe Project on Bravo.  As a celebrity stylist, Rachel is the perfect mix of witty and ridiculously un-self aware.  I don’t have a fashion bone in my body, but I always loved how she referred to a great outfit as a “moment.”

I think about areas in my home as “moments,” too.  When I am working on different spaces, I think about how they may look from other parts of my home since we have a fairly open floor plan.  Recently, my staircase moment wasn’t working for me as I viewed it from my living room sofa, and I just couldn’t take it any longer.

Here’s what it looked like.

Staircase landing makeover #AtHomeFinds

Now, let’s be clear.  The vast majority of this picture is my EVERYTHING.  I literally sit on my sofa and swoon at it – the feature walls, the built in desk, the rug on the wall, the red bar cart, the drum light, the Elvis painting.  But, my problem was the accessories on the green wall.  They were just too much going on right there and it needed to go away.

Luckily for me, an At Home has opened up just a few miles from my house.  This is dangerous, I tell you! At Home is a store about the size of a Target, but it only sells home decor items – furniture, rugs, lamps, pillows, bedding, accessories, patio stuff, and more.  It is literally a store I can spend 2 hours in and not see everything.  I absolutely love it.  They have many different styles – cottage, coastal, modern, industrial, traditional, etc. – so there is always something that I can use.

At the same time that I was “over” my staircase “moment,” At Home asked me if I’d like to head into their store and pick up a few things on them to rework a space in my home.  Um, yes!  So this week, I literally spent about 4 hours going up and down the aisles of my local store.  Between some of the incredible items I found and a few things I already had at home, I transformed this area into one that I truly love.

The first thing I did was take down the stuff that was on the green wall and patch/re-paint the holes. Then, I went on a recon mission to At Home.  I intentionally left my gift card at home so that I wouldn’t let myself buy the first thing that I saw.  I took pictures of everything that I loved so that I could go home and look at the pictures and look at the space and back and forth and back and forth until I decided what I wanted.  It’s super scientific.

Staircase landing makeover #AtHomeFinds

A Tour of the 2015 HGTV Smart Home {Part 2}

I’m back with Part 2 of the 2015 HGTV Smart Home photo tour!  It wouldn’t be lying to say that I like the second floor even more than the first floor.  If you missed Part 1, be sure to check it out here first.

Family Room

As you head up the staircase, you are greeted with more of the natural wood trim that we saw downstairs.

A Visit to the 2015 HGTV Smart Home in Austin, Texas

That focal wall continues into the family room.  I love that!

A Visit to the 2015 HGTV Smart Home in Austin, Texas

Also in the family room, there are a pair of curtained reading nooks.  What a fun way to seclude yourself from the rest of the world.

A Visit to the 2015 HGTV Smart Home in Austin, Texas

A Visit to the 2015 HGTV Smart Home in Austin, Texas

Master Bedroom

The crown jewel of the home (in my opinion) is the master bedroom.  The pictures really speak for themselves.

A Visit to the 2015 HGTV Smart Home in Austin, Texas

A Tour of the 2015 HGTV Smart Home {Part 1}

Have you ever started drooling while you are watching HGTV when they show off their Smart Home of the year?  Imagined yourself living in it and enjoying all of the beautiful furnishings and crazy technology that it holds?  Entered the sweepstakes every day in hopes that it would one day be yours?  Me, too.

So imagine my delight when I actually got to take a tour of the 2015 HGTV Smart Home.  Y’all, I tried to hide in a closet so that I could just stay forever, but they found me.

This year’s smart home is in the Zilker Park neighborhood in Austin – a little bit of the new Austin nestled in between a lot of the old Austin.  The style of the house and furnishings is considered “Modern Austin Farmhouse” (remember when I said to mesh three styles together for a good eclectic mix?).

Shaw Floors has been a HGTV Smart Home partner since the beginning, and they invited me to go on a tour of the home a few weeks ago.  And so of course, I’m going to share some of the home with you!  It was a dreary, rainy day (like every other day in Austin for the last month – what’s up with that?), so please excuse any of my pictures that seem dark!

And speaking of pictures, this post will be really picture heavy (and I even narrowed them down!), so get ready for that.  You’ll also see some other tour participants in some of the shots; I got to tour the home with some of Shaw’s largest Texas retailers, so it was fun to see the house through their eyes, too.

Front of the Home

The front of the home is a funky mix of modern and farmhouse.  As I mentioned, it was raining when I toured it, so a giant tent was set up over the entry and driveway so that we wouldn’t track water and mud into the house.  I could only get a good shot of the front door and amazing neon street numbers.

A Visit to the 2015 HGTV Smart Home in Austin, Texas

But, here’s what the whole exterior looks like via professional shots from HGTV:

A Visit to the 2015 HGTV Smart Home in Austin, Texas

A Visit to the 2015 HGTV Smart Home in Austin, Texas

My favorite parts of the exterior are the neon house numbers and the walls of glass by the front door.  I love the feel of floor to ceiling windows that meet in a corner like that.

There will eventually be other homes built all around it which will all share the same driveway, so it doesn’t take up as much land in this valuable part of Austin as it looks like it would.

Living Room

When you walk into the front door, you are greeted by an open living room/dining room/kitchen floor plan.  The living room definitely has a Texas vibe.

A Visit to the 2015 HGTV Smart Home in Austin, Texas

I love the black wall adorned with the window pane mirror.  And do you notice the natural color wood trim?  You’ll see that repeated throughout the house.  I think its a great way to tie the exterior into the interior.  Of course, the living room is styled beautifully, too.

Dining Room