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Birds, glorious birds!

One of the things I love best about my home lies outside the walls. It’s the abundance of birds that visit my yard. I wish I could say they were here to see me, but they’re just visiting the feeders. Today, they came in droves. Well, I guess “flocks” is a more accurate term.

Whether it was the cooler weather, or light rain, I can’t be sure – but the birds were plentiful.

At one point I looked outside, and saw common sparrows, mourning doves, a pair of Eastern bluebirds, brown-headed cowbirds, grackles, a pair of cardinals and several goldfinches – all sharing among the four tree-hanging feeders at the same time. It was heaven. And I observed them closely with binoculars.

Just moments later, I passed by my front living room and saw wings fly past the window. When I approached I heard the insistent peeping that can only be baby birds. There they were – two small, but well-developed mockingbirds. Their notoriously aggressive parents were flipping about, and when they noticed me at the window, the mama or daddy (I can’t tell them apart) abandoned the babies and took flight. So, I snapped a photo and left the room. I’m happy to report that when I went back an hour later, all were gone.

Here’s those little babies on my front sidewalk:

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And here’s the a photo of the most American Goldfinches I have ever seen in my yard at one time. I counted fourteen in this picture!

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And just as I am sitting here writing this, more wings fluttering past the window caught my eye. (I might be part feline the way birds have a way of getting my attention) When I got up, I was surprised to find a red fox in my yard! I ran to grab the camera, which was connected to my computer. When I got back this was the best photo I could snap as it was running off. Do you see it? I’ve circled his bushy tail. The wings I had seen belonged to the mockingbird parents. They were dive-bombing that fox! I’ve seen them do that to crows before – but this was pretty ballsy!

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In other bird-related excitement, another pair of Eastern Bluebirds are making a nest in our outdoor abode. A pair made a nest in the newspaper section of my mail box both last year and this past Spring. The babies did not hatch in either instance. Last year I could understand – it was extremely hot – with days in the 90’s and above. We assumed the eggs just fried in there. This year I don’t know what happened. One day the pair just stopped coming. I haven’t seen them for weeks. So, today when I saw a male and female popping in and out of my son’s hand-painted birdhouse, I was delighted!

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Other birds that make regular appearances in the winter include woodpeckers, the adorable tufted titmouse, nut-hatch (those gravity-defying birds that literally walk down tree trunks) and black-capped chickadees. Other spring and summer birds include the red-headed little house finch (which I saw on my front porch today – I swear, I’m not lying, this was a good bird-watching day!), and when we’re really lucky – the indigo bunting, the brightest, all-over blue bird I have ever seen.

If you live in Northern Virginia like I do, you can see all of the birds I mentioned in your own backyards, or on this great website, where I go regularly to identify new visitors to my yard: http://www.pwconserve.org/wildlife/birds/index.html.

I love sharing my space with these little feathered creatures, and get so much enjoyment from watching them chase one another, eat, and splash around in the bird-bath. Even Saxon is starting to know their names. Now if I could get the image-capture feature on my binoculars to work, we’d really get some awesome photos!

Happy birding friends!

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My Turquoise & Lime Spring Table-Setting

There’s something about the combination of bright green and robin-egg blue that just says Spring. I love turquoise and when I was at The Lucketts Store the other day, I picked up a few items that inspired me to decorate a Spring table-setting. And setting a fancy table like this, makes me just want to cook!

Believe me, I don’t decorate my table often. My little guy thinks that the eggs and birds are toys, and if left to his own devices (like when I’m in the shower and watchful eyes are turned), they’d be on the floor in itsy-bitsy pieces before too long. But, for special occasions I like to fancy it up. And perhaps when my hubby comes home from his adventures overseas, we’ll have a lunch-date!

The blue ceramic eggs are from The Luckett’s Design House. At $3 each I thought they were a steal! And those little butterfly cups came from there as well – again cheap – just $5.  The glass dome is from inside one of the vendor booths of the Luckett’s Store. I found these beautiful plates inside the gift shop of the St. Michael’s Winery, in St. Michael’s, MD. The white birds are from a Hallmark store, and the nests they are perched atop came from a flower shop in Manassas, VA called The Flower Gallery.  I love that place, and it smells divine inside.

The plates, saucers, napkins, napkin rings, placemats and plastic tumblers were all purchased from my favorite French home goods store – Tar-Get.  (hee hee) Don’t ya just love those twine-wrapped rings? I love the natural material – keeps the look from getting too serious, and like the nests, gives it an earthy, natural feeling.

These little urns and topiaries came from The Luckett’s Design Home too. I decided to make place cards (in case Damon and I can’t figure out which seat is which) from card stock taped to a tooth-pick and plucked down inside the greenery. Almost looks like a garden tag, right?

The antique blue bell jar makes a pretty vase for these lovely daffodils, picked up by my equally-lovely neighbor, Jen, at our local Giant grocery store. Thanks girl! (They’ve brightened an otherwise crappy day. Maybe I’ll share why in a future post.)

The entire table lifts my spirits. Now I just have to work on the appetizer, main course and dessert! Thank goodness sweet potato chips come in a bag!

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Design Inspiration at Lucketts!

As many of you know, my hubby left Saturday morning for a couple of months overseas. He wasn’t scheduled to leave again for another month, so the suddenness, and gravity of where he was going this time, hit me a little harder than usual. And maybe because Easter was the next day and our son’s birthday party is this weekend. Departure day always sucks – but this one was crappier than usual.

As he drove off to the airport, we headed in the opposite direction toward Pennsylvania, to spend the holiday with my in-laws. On the way, I stopped at a place I have been dying to check out – The Lucketts Store, in Lucketts, Virginia. I needed some retail therapy.

And wow, did that place lift my spirits! I mean, seriously, I was feeling happier as soon as I drove onto the grounds. It was absolutely packed with people, and had a festival atmosphere. They were selling food on the grounds, music was playing (I think. Or perhaps all the coolness of the joint made me hear music in my head?), and people were milling about looking at rustic, farm treasures, funky garden urns, and refurbished finds. They even had baby rabbits for sale! You bet your chocolate bunnies that Saxon begged for one of those – but it didn’t happen.

I found a few items I plan to use to decorate a spring table-setting (more on that to come).

But, in the meantime, I wanted to share these photos of things that absolutely whet my design whistle! Oh how I want to redo my whole house!! That’s not going to happen anytime soon either, but a girl can dream.

I want a hutch. I had hoped to find an old girl in need of a makeover someday, like the top photo (obviously this one has already been made over). Then I fell in love with this beauty above. Less country,  more french. I could see one in my dining room, the other in my living room. Oh, how to choose!

On to wall-hangings…

Okay, I find these girls kind of creepy. But, I was still drawn to them. It’s like the ugly sister is glaring at the pretty sister. The more I look at the photos, the more I want to hang these in my house, just for conversation starters!

They had a selection of really large-scale horse paintings/photos/illustrations. This white beauty was stunning! I would love this in an all-white room. This photo does it no justice – they are simply amazing in person.

Proof that not everything inside an antique shop will look like something from your grandma’s house…these completely cool, driftwoody structures add a sense of modern architecture and rustic charm at the same time. Love them!

I was excited to see this shelf, as I found something similar recently (but smaller), at a consignment shop. My piece is actually from Pottery Barn, not antique, but it’s distressed like this. I’m saving it for my powder room makeover.

This selection of old doors and shutters were outside, aging beautifully in the elements. I’ve seen lots of cool-looking projects online for using just these types of reclaimed pieces in your decor. For anyone who’s been in my home, our great room has a huge 2-story wall that I just don’t know what to do with. It’s a big, blank slate, and I would love to put up some kind of funky, old-door installation. But, that’s a project I am not ready to tackle. But, when the time comes, I know where to find fabulous doors!

Above: More furniture that made me drool!

Below: The drooling continued…

Hello pooch!
This would make quite a statement in the front yard, but HOA would have a fit, for sure!
Loved this chandelier! And the design house featured large, brass numbers all over the place. I thought it would be cool to hang those above Saxon’s bedroom door, with his birth date.

This reclaimed wood farm table was beautiful. Notice the foot? I’m not understanding the foot thing. That is one thing you will NOT find in my place. Ever. I don’t care how trendy it may become.

These long plant-holders on the other hand – loved them!

And this mirror was amazing. Perfect for a large wall. I adore them.

And since you know I am all about the birds, both live and in my decor, I just had to snap a pic of these playful little parakeets. How fun to walk into this room and hear these little guys tweeting! Again, another boost to my spirit! I really would love to buy a beautiful cage, and have a couple of colorful finches in my house.
I saw room after room of things that made me smile at The Lucketts Store. And they got my creative juices flowing for my next paint project. Until then, here’s hoping you run into things to make you smile too!