Friday, June 29, 2012

Do You Know VRBO?


You guys know that we've just been on our summer vacation, and today I wanted to share a handy website that I've used a couple of times in planning our trips. Have you heard of Vacation Rentals by Owner? It's a site where you can search privately owned properties when looking for a great place to stay.

With some of the listings, you deal directly with the owner, but the majority are run by management companies. Sometimes you may be staying in a personal residence that is being rented out, or it may be a company-owned property.

We have used VRBO twice in the last few years, and always check it out when we're headed somewhere new that we're not familiar with. The first time we booked with VRBO was on our 15th Anniversary trip to New York City. We decided the general area of town we wanted to stay in, and then searched for nearby listings.



We were able to stay in a flat in a neighborhood near Times Square. It was a 1 bedroom with bath and full kitchen and living area. The rate was much less than we would have had for a tiny hotel room elsewhere. The kitchen was a major benefit (although we ate out more than we planned to!), and we really felt like locals when walking through the neighborhood up to the flat, rather than tourists heading towards the hotels.



Our place was not lavishlike a fancy hotel, but comfortable,
and I guess spacious in NYC terms!

We also used VRBO for our beach vacation last week. Once again, we were able to get a 2 bed, 1 ½ bath condo with a full kitchen, washer & dryer in the room, and balcony overlooking the ocean, right on the beach, for less than we could have rented a standard hotel room for. We made 1 trip to the store for quick fix, easy meals and saved money by only eating out one time. I also really appreciate the washer and dryer-I love coming home from a trip with all of the laundry already done! 



Nothing super fancy, but perfect for our needs and budget. 


Best of all, this was our balcony.  Right on the sand!


My only caution is to always make sure you know what's included and not included...parking? towels? paper goods? etc.  Usually the listing is very upfront but the owner or contact person is very helpful
if you have any questions and need to contact them. 

VRBO is the first site we check when planning a trip. Have you ever used it?
Hmmm, maybe I need to check to see if VRBO is in Hawaii...

I think this is my last vacation post-I promise to get back to house projects next week!


Thursday, June 28, 2012

New Orleans Homes

 
We have returned from vacation...through 6 states and back in 8 days! Whew! Longer road trips are getting to be more fun now that the kids are getting older. The dvd and ipods help, too, although we frequently turned everything off and said “Look around, we don't get to see this stuff every day!” And, we discovered that a boogie board makes a great lap desk for playing cards or Farkle in the car!

In my last post I shared some highlights from New Orleans, but I couldn't move on without showing you some of the lovely homes that I saw. We didn't go to any special area in particular, I just photographed wherever we happened to be the homes that caught my eye for one reason or another.

I'll just add a few comments here and there and let you enjoy the home tour! 

  
This was one of my favorites.  We really liked the brick, 
the fence, and the fabulous big front porch.


 I'm not sure what this building was for, but it was pretty!  Barely caught it, 
taken while riding the trolley.


It was nice to see all of the real, functioning shutters.  Around my area, 
they're just for looks!



Pretty shutters and landscaping-

I believe I could live very happily in this little garage apartment 
around the back of this house-

I liked the intricate railing on this one.


This one was my very favorite-the color scheme, the architectural details, the design, the landscaping, & those red doors!  Perfection!


Friday, June 22, 2012

Toto, We're Not in Kansas Anymore! {New Orleans Trip Report}


We've been away for our summer vacation.  It's a two in one this year.
This week has been the annual nation meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, which has been held in New Orleans this year.  In the past, Ray and I have always attended by ourselves, but now that the kids are older we're using it for an opportunity to travel together to some different cities.

Today I'm sharing a few sights around town, as well as some suggestions of places to visit.  We tried to make budget and kid-friendly entertainment choices, as well as experiencing some of the rich history that New Orleans has to offer.  

Riverwalk-There is a giant mall that runs beside the river that provides a nice break from the elements outside.  In addition, there is a trail that runs alongside the river for quite a ways that is a great spot for strolling, recreation, restaurants, snack stands, or just pausing to watch the boats coming and going.  Periodically a cruise ship will also float by.


Steamboat Dinner Cruise-What a fun evening!  I believe this might be a pricey excursion if you're on your own, but some of our fabulous Oklahoma Baptist entities subsidized most of the cost for our large group.  If you can do it, it's a great opportunity to see the city from a different perspective, with a delicious buffet dinner thrown in to boot!  Thanks to the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Baptist University, and the Baptist Foundation for such a lovely evening and fun with so many friends!


How's that for some chippy paint?  Took this one just for you guys, my bloggy friends!




 My brother-in-law and nephew were also along for the ride.
The kids loved having Graeson around!

French Quarter-The French Quarter has quite a reputation, but can be (mostly) family friendly if you navigate it carefully.  We stayed closer to the Jackson Square side, which is surrounded with shops of all kinds, restaurants, and live entertainment everywhere you look... some cool, some really strange.




However, especially with kids, I would recommend staying away from Bourbon Street and surrounding streets. No sugar coating...it's just nasty, stinky and gross.  There's plenty more of the French Quarter to enjoy without going there.

Cafe du Monde-French Beignets (or fancy doughnuts as the kids called them!) covered with more powdered sugar than you can believe!  Perfect spot for a little snack, coffee, and conversation.  A must do!


Preservation Hall-I've been to New Orleans twice before, but this is the first time we've done Preservation Hall.  It's a tiny little room with wooden benches and floor cushions to sit on, but then the musicians come in and you hear about 45 minutes of fantastic jazz up close and personal.  So awesome, the kids loved it too, and worth every penny.

Hansen's Sno Bliz-This place has been here forever, and there's nothing fancy about it.  It's a slow process, but you've never had a sno-cone like this one!  Choose from a zillion flavors, add ice cream, sweetened condensed milk, candy bar toppings...whatever makes your mouth happy!


St. Charles Street Car-Ride for miles through the city along this historic street 
full of stately old homes.  


Audubon Park-Walking and biking trails, fountains, ponds, golf, and a zoo.


Magazine Street-6 miles of quaint restaurants and shops.


Lunch at Regenelli's-we were starving after a morning full of walking!


And, the best souvenirs ever...Penny Presses!

 Have you been to New Orleans?  What are your favorite haunts?  Next time I'll show you some of the charming homes that I admired.  Have a great weekend, we've moved on to part two of our vacation-more on that next week!




Monday, June 11, 2012

Cane Wingbacks Update


Thank you all for your sweet comments after my last post.  You all are so encouraging and it's nice to know you'll hang around even if I'm slowing down a bit for the summer.  But, I couldn't stay away for long!

It's been a few months since I've posted about my chairs for the dining room.  And for good reason...NO progress!  I've still been undecided on the fabric, so I've just waited.  But, things are close to coming together.  My friend Pam at Simple Details and I are in the same boat working on our dining room chairs, and she threw out some fabric options last week which encouraged me to follow suit.

Back in January I showed you several black and white options I was considering, and was planning to paint the frame black.  Well, here are my thoughts now.

I'm painting the frame gold, and I can't wait.  I just about abandoned the black and white fabric idea because I feel like I'm getting too much of that combo everywhere else, and it's already on the curtains.  So, I was almost 100% resolved to upholster the entire chair with dropcloth fabric, which blends together nicely with the tufted side chairs I've already purchased.

Then I remembered this:

                                                                                     Source: countryliving.com via Jennifer on Pinterest


And saw this:

                                   Source: thehuntedinterior.blogspot.com via Jennifer on Pinterest

And this:

                                              Source: lynnchalk.com via Jennifer on Pinterest


And this: (see it peeking out on back of the white sofa?)

                                             Source: sunset.com via Jennifer on Pinterest


Incidentally, I was browsing some blogs the other day and came across this photo-

                                     Source: elementsofstyleblog.com via Jennifer on Pinterest


Ha!  I KNEW those chairs were good! Erin's have yet to be recovered, but they look pretty great in that color anyway.

I've loved that first photo of the big wing chair ever since it graced the cover of Country Living.  So, I thought maybe a bright floral is what I need, but just for the back panel of the chair.  And what could be better than Chiang Mai Dragon?  Actually, I love the Chiang Mai but not so much the dragon part, but maybe he'll grow on me.  I had never heard of this fabric before I started reading design blogs, so many designers think it's overdone, but that's ok with me.

However, it's VERY expensive.  Like BIG splurge.  I only need a little over a yard, so I'm searching for a good source if I decide to purchase this.  I've never seen it in person, so it makes me a little nervous to spend that much money and not be 10000% sure that it's what I want.  I've searced high and low for some good alternatives, but nothing quite measures up to the bold scale and bright colors.

Sooo, all of that long back story to show you where I might be headed.  Here are some options.  This is a really rough mock-up but it helps me to see things together, and you can see the houndstooth curtains in the background.  The plan is to add a painted (green!) china cabinet and artwork on that blank wall, and the table I'll be using in here will have a much darker stain than this one.  

I'm still considering a black and white pattern since it will only be on the backs of the chairs.  Maybe the zebra, maybe not, but I had it on hand so I did a sample just to live with it for a while.



I am also considering this fabric for the backs, love it and must use it somewhere in my home:

                                                  Source: fabric.com via Jennifer on Pinterest


(Told you this was a very rough mock-up...use your imagination!)


Here's a scrap of a bright floral that I had, just to get a vague idea of what something multi-colored, possibly the Chiang Mai, would look like.


Or maybe some black and white welting on the back?


And, I also have this fun bumpy textured fabric that matches the front but gives a little surprise on the back to consider.  It reminds me of a vintage chenille bedspread.  I like the texture but it may be a little too blah.


Thoughts?  Anyone know of where I can get 40" of Chiang Mai Dragon for a steal?  
I'm ready to get these chairs D-O-N-E!