Monday, March 29, 2010

Landscaping with Mom and the Right Side of the Reading Room

As Kevin's band played to a sea of screaming Navy men and women at a naval base in Jacksonville, Florida on Friday night, I was scurrying around the house, dusting and scrubbing as fast as I could before my Mom showed up.
I never notice how dirty the house is until someone says they're coming over!
I had most of the place looking (and smelling) pretty good by the time she pulled into the driveway, but as I sit here and type this, I can still see the smiley face she drew in the dust on our TV screen.
Guess I missed a few spots.

Since she didn't get to our house 'til after dark, we spent our first night together just sipping champagne and talking until we could barely hold our eyes open.
It was fun and refreshing.
We don't have too many visitors, so it felt good to entertain.
(Although my Mom brought the bubbly, and Kevin was out of town- so maybe she was actually entertaining me?)

We said our good nights and retreated to our rooms for the night. As soon as I got into bed I called Kevin. He had just come off stage, so he answered in his usual raspy post-show voice. He told me the show went great, but that he had a migrane.
And to make matters worse, no one had any head ache medicine, and his bands vehicle was blocked in by a bunch of other vehicles so he couldn't get out to get any.
Ahhh, life on the road.
Fortunately, a couple hours later, they finally managed to make their way out, and because the promoter got each band member their own room, (that rarely happens) he was able to escape to total peace and quiet to get some well-deserved R&R.

The next day, while he and the guys drove from Jacksonville back to Prattville, my Mom and I were working the day away in our front yard.

(our landscaping plan)

My Mom works for the University of Florida, and definitely knows what's up when it comes to beautiful yards.

(One side of my Mom's secret garden)

At work, she invents bigger, better flowers (that's how I like to describe what she does anyway), and she was kind enough to bring me a bunch of her "test flowers" to use around our house...






We used some here...


Some by the steps by our front door...


And some by the mailbox...


(PS- We're also going to plant some Loropetalum behind the mailbox.)

Mom says all the flowers will multiply and that our existing plants will bloom soon too, so even though there aren't a whole bunch of flowers now- in about a month, the beds will be covered in color and I can't wait!

We made a trip to Home Depot for a few dwarf yaupon bushes to use around the tree we planted a couple years back...


(PS- We're going to plant some Knock-Out roses, up against the driveway, behind the yaupon bushes.)

We also got five juniper plants that will eventually spread out and cover the ground in front of our crepe myrtles...


(PS- We also plan to plant some juniper under the crepe myrtles.)

Today, the three of us finished planting and spreading pine straw on top of the black plastic (weed barrier) we wrestled to the ground yesterday. (It was very windy, and I'm sure the people driving by our house got a real kick out of us trying to pin down sheets of plastic as big as a parachute!)


Looking at that last photo made me think about the last time she came up and helped us with our front yard...

(Thank you for helping us improve our curb appeal again this year Mom. We love you!)


In other re-do news, we finally got the reading room all together and I was so happy to find my Mom sitting in there with her coffee and our cat this morning. She had the little lamp on, and she was listening for the church bells that ring at the back of our property. I tried to get a picture, but because our cat is afraid of pretty much everything, he moved at the mere mention of me going to get my camera.

I'm going to save the full reveal for another post, but here's a sneak peek at the right side of the room...


We made the shelves from plain, old ordinary pine lumber from Home Depot. We supported them with wood corbels (also from Home Depot) that we cut down a bit because they were too deep when we bought them. They normally jut out 10 inches from the wall, so we just chopped off the front edge so they weren't quite as deep as the shelves...


We used the same kind of corbels underneath the upper cabinets in our kitchen.
This is what they look like before you chop 'em off:


We loved the idea of being able to display some sweet and sentimental stuff on a couple of shelves in the room. It's such an enchanted little space and being surrounded by things that make us smile seemed like a good idea to us.

One of my favorite things is this tiny jar...


I got the "Happily Ever After" charm at an outdoor wedding last year. It previously dangled from a fan the bride and groom gave all of their guests. I saved it because it was not humanly possible for me to throw something that adorable away. It's glued to front of one of the jars I got from White Flower Farmhouse and although I think it looks just fine empty, I'll probably use it as an itty bitty bud vase from time to time too.

We got the plant pot from Ikea last week...


Love the texture!

Next to the plant pot, we used a photo that Kevin shot inside a chippy, old flea market frame I picked up last year for just a few bucks...


Next to Kevin's photography, we used another flea market frame (one of the wood ones I bought a couple weeks ago for $1.00) to display a strand of starfish...


I just tied a piece of jute twine from one side of the frame to another, and used a few little clips I got at Ikea to dangle the starfish from it...


We know this type of "art" might not be for everyone, but for some reason it appeals to us, and because we already had the paint, the starfish and the twine- the whole project cost about $2.50 and took less than five minutes to make.
That's what I'm talkin 'bout Willis!

Using Velcro, we attached a box made out of rulers to the wall above the starfish art...


It holds a bunch of small stones and shells that we've collected on our travels.
I picked up one of the stones on a trip I took with my Mom. It may just look like a rock to most people, but I think about the girls-only trip we took to visit my nephew every time I see it.

I taped a piece of the vintage wallpaper that used to cover the ceiling in this room underneath the bottom shelf to let future owners know what the ceilings used to look like before we uncovered the wood planks...


I wrote them a note on back side of it...


I have this crazy dream of buying an old house and finding things from homeowners past, (much watch too much, "If Walls Could Talk") so I thought I'd hide something for the people who will call our house home in the future.

Up on the top shelf, we used a bunch of other stuff we had around the house too.

A flea market basket I bought last year for around five bucks, filled with a few great books and some rolled up sheet music to inspire Kevin to play his acoustic guitar in here every now and then...


A ceramic jug from HomeGoods, and my Mom's Shellbox...


And so everyone could reach the key that she made to let us know the name of each shell, I set it on top of the ruler box...


Another book and a few more inexpensive treasures that tickle our fancy...


We're loving the new shelves, and look forward to blogging about the changes on the other side of the room soon too.
(Twitter followers be on the lookout for a photo even sooner!)



This week we're going to see if we can successfully seal the new counter top in the kitchen. (Thanks to everyone who gave us tips on that!) Then I guess I'll have to make a decision about the wall above it.
There's nothing like a big, blank wall to create a thousand different design scenarios to choose from.


PS- Thank you for the little French book Diane! We love it!


Check out my e-book!


Sandy said...

Hi Layla,
A very enjoyable post - from sharing your mom's visit to help with your landscaping (and a nice job you all did too) to your tour of your reading room shelving and collections. I love the shelves that Kevin put up. We just recently bought two different lengths of "picture" shelving from IKEA that are even narrower than yours. Hubby is going to put them up in my craft room and I have plans to buy longer ones for our living room. You kids are just adorable and very talented.

Teacup Lane (Sandy)

Jojo said...

If having lots of found rocks and shells aren't enough, the "happy" book is such a wonderful addition to your cozy reading room.

Linda (Nina's Nest) said...

I love all the white things, the textured shells and wicker. You really put things together beautifully. Oh, and the flowers -lucky you with your smart Mom! Linda

Unknown said...

What a beautiful garden! I would have loved to walk there, and see all the gorgeous flowers! Thanks for sharing

Unknown said...

Looking good! I saw the sneak peak on twitter--so nice to get the up close details :)


hbloren said...

I love that almost all the items have a story rather than just a bunch of cute stuff picked up and displayed (hello, my family room). And I think I need your mom to come visit me. I'll happily supply the champagne if she'll help me plan and plant our garden!

Rie said...

I love all the little touches you put into the shelves. The ceiling looks great by the way!

Between You and Me said...

we made shelving for our kitchen with those same what you've done!

mariondee-designs said...

Hi Layla, your garden is looking great, I have all those flowers too! Those purple ones keep coming back after they've died down which is great as I don't ever have to worry about planting them again. Just be careful with the black plastic because even though it's great to keep weeds out it doesn't let rain water in. I know 'cause I've been there done that, and it didn't work for me.
Anyway funny you should mention 'your dream' as when we were tearing down a wall in my home, (a section of it is very old), inside the wall we found.. apart from the mummified rat.. just one page torn out of an old calendar. It really freaked me out as it was of the month and year that I was born! Now is that freaky or what! Love your blog,, take care, Maryann

Janet- OPEN MARKET STYLE said...


Anonymous said...

hey layla! i had to take a peek because we are in the process of redoing our entire front bed! we are going to be using the weed block and we always use pinestraw! i love it! i live here in jacksonville, florida and hope that kevin had a nice little visit! i would of loved to have seen him but we are not military! thanks for doing that for our military! cant wait to come back to read the whole post!

Lynda @ Happenstance Home said...

Hi Layla.

Everything around your yard and reading room looks so welcoming and it is so nice that you got to spend time with your mom. I can't wait until flower time. Here in Michigan it has just been too cold but warm weather is on it's way this week. Yeah! I love all the personality and touches that you have in your reading room. Hope you have a great day!

1 Funky Woman said...

How lucky are you guys to have your mother who is the flower expert come and help with your planting!

I love the collections on your shelves, especially the shells from your mom!

Can't wait to see what you come up with for above the counter!

Grace @ Sense and Simplicity said...

Lovely shelves and gorgeous garden. Thanks for the up-date.

TSL said...

I LOVE your reading room!

Susie from Bienvenue said...

You know you are "old friends" when I can say I remember that post...seems like ages ago when you and your Mom were working on your flower beds. I have to tell ya my heart started beating fast when I saw that ruler know my love of rulers! Glad you had a great time with your Mom and your yard looks wonderful. Will miss you at Round Top...(((hugs))) Susie Bloop~

Julie Johnson said...

Stunning reading room! I love your sweet soulful touches! The starfish hanging on clips and the ruler box are my favorites.
How awesome to have your mom to help with your yard!

Stephenie from Decorating Addiction said...

Layla, I have told you this before, but I'll tell you again: I LOVE reading your posts. I get so happy when I see a new one pop up in my reader. You are such an inspiration and there is just something about your blog that makes me feel GOOD when I read it! Your yard is going to look fabulous when all of those flowers bloom. I cannot wait to see it. Our yard is a mess and is dire need of some landscaping. Any chance your mom wants to take a little trip to Upstate New York? Love the shelving in the reading room. It's quite charming.

Caroline @ The Feminist Housewife said...

Can I live in your reading room? = )


Tulip and Turnip said...

Hi Layla,
I found your blog a few weeks ago, and I am SO happy that I did. I love reading your posts...they are so inspiring. I have three VERY little children (twins that just turned 3 and a 15-month old) so decorating our place has been on hold while we chase after them, but your blog makes me itch to go flea-marketing soon. I can't wait!
You have so much talent and the place is beautiful.
:) Amy

Anonymous said...

I really like that ruler box...what a cool idea. Little things that you can make out of other common items just really seem to "pop".

I may have to steal some of your ideas :)

Shaunna said...


Unknown said...

This post is full of great fun. Except for the migraine of course.

The reading room looks wonderful. I love all the special touches.

And your mom is a Gator! We're Gators too! Even though we have moved from central FL to within miles of 2 other highly respected universities. Grrrrr.

I recognize the New Guinea Impatiens and love them. I am getting ready to go out and buy some new annuals for our NC residence. Can't wait for some color at our front door.

Melissa Lester said...

Layla, I just discovered your blog recently and have loved pouring over all your great decorating projects. And I was delighted to discover that we are practically neighbors! I blog from nearby Wetumpka. So I'm excited to know I can visit some of your favorite shops and flea markets.

I was amused to read your husband's recent comment about how different life would have been if you had a child who had grown into a teenager. This made me giggle because I just turned 37, and although I don't have a teenager, I do have four children (ages 4, 6, 8 and 10). Although our house doesn't always get the attention it could use, I do find lots of creative inspirations in motherhood. In fact, we recently headed to Prattville to carry our one of our favorite springtime traditions. If you would like to see what you might have been doing over the weekend if you had taken a different path, see this post:

I hope you will stop by my blog sometime. I blog about crafts, entertaining, teatime and devotionals. I'm absolutely delighted to discover your blog -- and along with it a creative spirit who lives nearby!

geri said...

Hi Layla.
I just love the way you and your mom are together.
I am as Blessed as your mom is.

I just had to tell you how much I loved the starfish string framed art you did.
You kill me with your creativeness and special "Layla Touches".
I am off to try it. It just so happens that I have an empty white frame.
I just hope mine doesn't look like wash I forgot to hang outside. hehe
Enjoy this beautiful day, rain or shime. geri.

angela | the painted house said...

Ah, Different Strokes it! I hate to say how many times we say that here. :)

Yard looks great--one of my favorite things to do with my family, working in the yard.

I would love to have two hours to read--and if I did, your charming reading room would be perfect. :)

Beth said...

Hi Layla, What a great way to spend time with your Mom in the garden! Your decor is fabulous...thank you for sharing those great tips...hanging the starfish with those clips...brilliant! I love the way you decorated your shelves and thanks for showing us how you made the shelves!!! Great post!

Tammy said...

Layla, your yard looks great and the starfish hanging on the twine is awesome. I think I may have to use that idea somewhere :) I live 30 minutes from UF where your Mom works. Small world isn't it! Love all your ideas!

My Cottage Charm said...

Hey girl, you are very blessed that your mom has a job where she makes bigger and better flowers and brings you the leftovers! :) You guys are so sweet together, I can tell you cherish your mom. :) Lovin' the landscaping that's going on...I worked in the yard ALL DAY Saturday...nothing like being sore all day Sunday from lack of exercise all winter. :) LOL
hope you have a great day!
Oh and tell Kevin thanks for entertaining troops..they deserve it!
Hugs & Blessings

Cottage Dreamers said...

Everything looks great! I really enjoy that kind of yard work and I hope we get to see a picture or two more when everything else is blooming. (I love crape myrtle!)
☺ Celeste

Anonymous said...


It's great that your mom was able to keep you company while Kevin was out of town. She always seems to inspire you, the way you do us! The yard will look wonderful and she's right, the beds will fill in. Just be sure to water. The shelves look fabulous. I especially like your Happily Ever After jar vase. So sweet.

I got your post card today! Hope you received mine.


angela walker jewelry said...

Layla! Lovely post! My mom isn't here anymore and I so wish I had a mother/daughter weekend. You both are very lucky to have each other ( I am sure you already know that!) and that she is able to help landscape your yard!
Love the shelves in the reading room too.... and all the little details!
Have a great week.
Health and happiness!

Aura said...

Everything is so bright and beautiful, Layla! Your style is so different than mine, yet I could still move into your house and feel right at home. How was working outside for a change? I love working in the house, even if it just means moving the couch over a foot and feeling like the world is now in line! But nothing beats a day of yard work. This year we've been putting inside projects aside, and we've started on the outside of our house. Michael is going to try and build a hammock, wish him luck :)

Leslie said...

wow! our landscape is in need of some serious tlc- can your next give away be a week gardening with your mom? :P

so many beautiful details in the reading room!!

Lissie24 said...

The yard looks fantastic! You are so blessed to have a mother like yours! I just received the April Pottery Barn magazine in the mail and I think they're taking design ideas from you!

Robyn said...

I love the relationship you have with your mom. My mom and I are not close at all. We are so very different that it makes things difficult. I do hope that is different with my daughter. She's almost 7. I hope that one day she and I are as close as you and your mom are now.

Lou Cinda @ Tattered Hydrangeas said...

Layla, the yard is looking great!! How lucky to have your mom come and help you with it!
My dad is from Gainsville and attended the University of Florida...Go Gators!

Great post!

Lou Cinda :)

Kristin @ Yellow Bliss Road said...

I LOVE the starfish hanging in the frame!! What a great idea - I have a huge mirror above my fireplace, and I think I'm going to try that out along the top half of the mirror! Thanks for the great ideas!!!

Sjn said...

love the calming neutrals with the beachy accents. Perfect! When can I come over and read my new book?

Sjn said...

love the calming neutrals with the beachy accents. Perfect! When can I come over and read my new book?

Lemonade Makin' Mama said...

I love this because we might be selling our precious little nest and relocating in the near future, and I wanted to make a little book with photos for future owners just sharing all the love and fun and memories that we've made in this house. But then I thought it might be weird. Your little wallpaper scrap just inspired me to do it after all! AND... Love the starfish art, because I am in the middle of making over my bedroom and accentuating the beachy theme I already had in there! I head to Ikea in two weeks, so I will be on the lookout for those sweet clips, and might find a way to use them over a bedroom mirror! Thank you Miss Layla! Just love your blog! :)

Amber said...

I love the star fish in the frame! So simple and sweet. I just wish I could think of an appropriately Colorado-ish item to do it with!

chris said...

That room just makes me want to take a nap or have some quite time. So serene. Thank you for sharing it.

JacciM said...

LOVE the new shelves and all of the personality you put on them! :) That's just such a fantastic room.


Anonymous said...

I so love uncovering letters,old papers, initials in the walls of my old houses, and I always sign my own work when I renovate. I have just stripped drywall and pressed board to reveal wonderful shiplap in my sitting room (used to be an outside porch) and I wonder who will read my message, just as I read 'G.H' scratched in the wood?

See a soulmate:

Callie said...

We are currently remodeling our kitchen, and had to rip down to the studs (UGH). We found a dime from 1959 in the wall during our demo and decided to put it back with a one from 2009 (the year we bought the house).

My husband (a landscaper - to make this comment even more relevant to this post) wrote a little note telling the next owners what we did, and that prompted other family members and friends to pick up the Sharpie and write little notes and bible verses on the studs. Now we can always say that we are surrounded by family, friends, and God!

Seagrass Interiors said...

Layla, What a great post! I love that Mama TLC comes and helps!
Thank you for sharing a few pics of the outside of your cottage - as much as I adore the inside, I sometimes forget that you have an outside! : )


Lindsey said...

i love the shelves! i think i need some in my sewing room. :) and could you spare your mom so she could help me with my landscaping! i need some help and my family is full of black thumbs!!

Roeshel said...

Lucky girl - all of those beautiful flowers! It's going to be gorgeous!

The reading room is looking beautiful. You are so good at accessorizing. I love your little vignettes. Great job. I look forward to seeing the reveal! :)


Sharon@Sharon at Home said...

Your garden is going to be gorgeous when it fills in. Nice to garaden with your Mom.

Anonymous said...

Your yard is looking great! And I am in LOVE with your mom's secret garden. :)

Fancy said...

WOW, I love all of your pictures. That tiny jar is cute!

Come on over to my blog to receive your Beautiful Blogger Award. Hope you can participate!


Voiles Family said...

I recently found your blog, and have been loving it. Thanks for the sharing your awesome ideas. It has opened a whole new realm of possibilities for my family. We move every three years, and I've gotten ideas on how to make every place a home, if only for a short time. Also, please extend your thanks to Kevin for me for playing for our military. My husband is NAVY and used to be stationed at NS Mayport in Jacksonville, FL. Take care!

Red Lipstick said...

I love your post, and blog! It is just lovely. Your mom's secret garden looks amazing!

Morgan//Nuts and Bows said...

WOW! I love your style, this post was so inspiring!!

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I purposely invite company over on a semi-regular basis - just to give me some extra motivation to clean my house :-).

Dorm Bedding said...

Such pretty flowers! Love that first photo :)

RoMiGu said...

Your mom is a GATOR???? I loved your blog before but now its moved to the number one spot. :)

Aimée said...

Hi Layla,
Love your blog. I really like your sign you have on your front porch with the Lettered Cottage on it. My last name is White and so I always think it would be fun to have a sign that says the White House or something like that, but I can't find anything on your site about how you got that. Any tips?

Thanks again!

Unknown said...

Please tell me more about the Happily Ever After tag from the wedding? Does it appear to be stamped or hand stenciled? Do you know if it was purchased in bulk as a wedding favor or were they a scrapbooking tag of some sort? I want to make or buy something like that if you have any info or ideas.


Unknown said...

PS Are you Layla as in Eric Clapton Layla? Have you answered that a thousand times before?;O) I once knew a Maggie Mae as in Rod Stewart namesake.