Thankful Tree: A Schmitt House Interpetation

I think the blogosphere pretty well covered this project last year, but the my house did not get around to it then. This year, however, I’m happy to report The Schmitt House has incorporated a new tradition into the month of November. A thankful tree!

If you’ve never heard of a thankful tree, the premise is simple; You begin with a bare ‘tree’ and add ‘leaves’. On each leaf is a little note about what you (or whoever) is thankful for.

Every day, I force  everyone takes a minute and tries to think of one thing they are grateful for. No repeating allowed (my rule).It’s really cute to ask Kennedy what she’s thankful for, she started out with answers like “Tinkerbelle” and “Fruit snacks” but recently she’s shifted her responses to be more people-oriented, like “Papa.” It seems even the two-year-old is getting something out of our new tradition! By the way-, she has yet to say she is thankful for Mommy, but I didn’t really expect it, anyway. I’m have another twenty years before she feels any gratitude toward me.)

As for the construction, it was super easy. I went outside, gathered a bunch of sticks and tied one end together with a ribbon. Then I poured some coffee beans in a vase and stuck my stick bouquet in. For the leaves, I used a circle punch and a hole punch on some left over fall-ish colored card stock. Then I grabbed a bunch of sharpies (also fall-ish themed) and stuck them in the coffee beans too. Easy peasy.

I’m so proud of myself for doing this! Every year I say I’m going to go all out, and really make the house magical for the holidays. And every year it seems we barely get our tree up in time for Christmas Eve, much less set up a mantle, or hang mistletoe… Heck, we are lucky get the all Christmas presents wrapped in time! So this my friends is a new beginning for the holiday season!

It’s a great tradition! (I’ll be sad to see it go!) What holiday traditions have you started? Did you do a thankful tree? Or are there any traditions you’ve been meaning to start, but haven’t gotten around to it? Can you believe turkey day is only about a week away? Where did the time go?


Reader Vote: What looks best?

When this little blog started there was a corner of my living room that I am ashamed to say it looked this:

Now I am pleased to say it looks like this:

It’s not fabulous (yet!), but this little corner has definitely (finally!) graduated out of eyesore category. We’ve painted and paired down and cleaned up. We’ve also pulled some furniture switcheroos  (That dresser lived in our bedroom until last Saturday.)  It’s time to add a little pizzazz!. A little art to fill the space above the electronics. Nothing too flashy, after all, it can’t compete with the TV  or the new gallery on the staircase (will be posting about that soon!)

Another current. Full frontal this time.

Now here’s where I need your help. I’ve scoured the web for inspiration. And I’ve got a bunch of ideas. Problem is, I’m having trouble picking a direction. I played around in Photoshop to see what looks best. (Please excuse my mediocre Photoshop skills.) What do you think?

Option 1: Graphic Art

I love the idea of a pretty little message to remind me of the little things that are really important. This one comes from

Option 2: Abstract Art

I’m not sure, but I think the abstract art might be my favorite. A pop of color. This brilliant piece was found at

Option 3: Wood Poster

I like this option because of the amazing texture combined with the personalized silhouettes. This idea comes from, along with a tutorial!

So, tell me, which one, if any, makes your spine tingle?

Option 1: Graphic Art.

Option 2: Abstract Art

Option 3: Wood Poster

Feel free to offer any other suggestions too! And thanks for your help! I can’t wait to see the results!

Huzzah!! I Built A Giant Purple Ottoman

I have been working on this project for ages(, I began my Ottoman scheming way back in January!)  I’ve sat down to write about it about a billion times, but either out of eagerness or frustration… the posts never got written. But now, finally, I’m relieved to say, it’s done! And I am so beyond happy to share it!

You may remember from this post that I was looking for a way to hide better way to store our DVD’s and electronic accessories. This mess was just not working for me.

The ottoman seemed to be the best solution. It would store the clutter and, bonus, act as a much needed coffee table. But the ottoman couldn’t be just any ottoman, it had to be large enough to balance out our enormous couch and be durable enough to stand up to two dogs and a toddler. And be pretty.That seriously limited the options. Bring in the family-of-three-living-on-a-grad-student’s-salary budget factor and the options were virtually eliminated. Just as I was going back to square one, I stumbled across the old old bones of a kitchen cabinet (,we pulled it down when we first moved in,) collecting dust in the corner of the garage. I pulled it into the living room and.. perfection! It was like it was meant to be.

When Devin got home I proposed my plan to him. He told me that I needed to get my head checked. But, like a good husband, he pulled his tools  dutifully got to work when the weekend came. Eventually, it came transformed into this:

(I think the dog preferred it at this stage.)

Complete with wheels, two of which have locking mechanisms.

Then came a layer of half inch foam and two layers of half inch batting. This baby is plush! Then the fabric. For the top, I used three inch foam and two layer of half inch batting. This was my first upholstering project. It was daunting. I think I used over (no joke) 3,000 staples. I kind of wish I’d started with something more practical, like the seat of a chair. But that’s not my style. Go big or go home, right? It took a little while, but (after the first 1000 staples) I got the hang of it.

If you are looking into building your own ottoman, here’s a few links I found very helpful:

I also watched a ton of Youtube videos.

The top didn’t go as planned. I had my heart set on diamond tufting. It was too much for a novice like me. I think the problem started when the three inch foam didn’t properly adhere to the plywood (I used spray adhesive.) It made it impossible to properly measure and align things. Then I got frustrated. It only went downhill from there. Objects were thrown. There may or may not have been some shouting. By the time I gave up, the foam was pock marked with holes. It looked pretty hopeless. I should have taken a picture for you, but I was just too mad.

I thought about going out and buying a fresh piece of foam… but those things are expensive. Even with a coupon, the first one cost 40 big ones. At this point I wasn’t sure my dream ottoman would come to fruition, and I wasn’t will to invest any more in the project. So here’s my dirty little secret: I used the holey foam. And with two layers of batting and a layer of tightly pulled fabric, my secret is safe. The whole top feels perfectly even. No indication of my failure.

While we are on the subject of trials and tribulations…. It’s not over yet. Our first hinge attempt = total failure. I picked up a cheap piano hinge from Lowes. We spent two hours one Sunday night attaching it. When we stood back and surveyed our work, it was obvious that the top wasn’t completely square to the bottom. Devin suggest that we apply a little pressure and bend the metal (it was just a smidge!) I’m sure you can see were this is going. A little “pressure” bent the hinged and pulled the screws out from the ottoman top. So learn from our mistakes, (as obvious as they seems now,) and make sure your hinge is sturdy and your screws are long enough. Otherwise bad words get said and more objects get thrown.

But enough of the negative. Let’s look at some pretty ‘after’ pictures.

A close up of the ‘folding and tucking’

And with a little foot action:

The Munchkin loves her some giant purple ottoman too!

I don’t think I ever told you how actually big it is….somewhere around 38″x50″. Monstrous. Baby girl likes to spread out take naps on it. (By ‘naps’, I mean pretend naps… If only it were that easy…)

So that’s our Ottoman building adventure.

Truth be told… It’s not truly finished yet. The inside still needs some polishing. But, in the meantime, I am so excited to put down the staple gun and put my feet up. And I can’t wait to put those DVD’s inside. It’s going to be amazing.

So what about you? Have you tried any crazy DIY’s lately? Anyone else ever experience upholstering obstacles? Or used a crazy number of staples? Any one else having trouble finishing projects in a decent length of time?

A Little Piece of Paradise

This weekend we took advantage of this amazing weather. It wasn’t all play though…. we spent the better part of Sunday mowing, weeding, planting and digging up roots. I want to say the yard looks great, but I guess that’s a relative term. A truer statement is that it looks better than it has in a long time.

We’ve never really taken advantage of the backyard, (other than letting the pups run wild back there,) Now that I am the larger half of a Mommy- Munchkin duo that spends 80% of our time at home, I’m ready to transform it to a little bit of paradise. Luckily, Kennedy’s paradise involves sunshine and a little bit of water… and my paradise primarily involves sitting back and watching her splash around. With a floppy hat. No vision of paradise is properly complete without a floppy hat. I also see a few wildflowers and maybe even a small eating area.

Nothing too complicated.

Instead of writing about a plan of action, I thought I’d show you.

The first step is already complete. Remember the seeds Little Lady and I planted?(Here) Well they’ve grown into a 4’x4′ raised vegetable garden. In fact, we had to build a second bed because there wasn’t enough room for all the plants. (FYI<,The beds are beds were built from 8 foot 1×8’s that were cut in half at the store. Devin put three nails in each corner to secure it. We dug out an area, placed the box, covered the inside area with newspaper, then filled it with the recommended amount of soil. Easy peasy.)

If you scroll back up to the first picture you’ll probably be able to guess why the second bed has no plants. We noticed some suspiciously three leafed plants growing along that back fence. A quick check with google confirmed that it’s poison oak.  Yikes! Again. This morning I bought a spray bottle that’s supposed to eliminate the stuff. Just waiting on the hubby to come home and spray it. I’ll let you know how it works. Once it’s gone, Keneddy and I will go play in the dirt, and plant some green beans.

I also bought some wildflower seeds this morning. Once all those various things leaned up against the fence are gone. I’ll spread them along the border. Hopefully it will create a sea of color that requires little or no maintenance.

This is where we spend all our time right now (far, far away from anything with three leaves.) I call it “the nook.”

I’d like to add those wildflowers and maybe a stone pathway. (Currently it’s a dirt pathway. Courtesy of our fourlegged family members.)  It may also be a good place for a small bistro table, but I haven’t really decided yet….

And finally, the heart of my paradise to be.

I’d love to DIY a canopy( a la this one from Prudent Baby). And then plop a small pool and comfy chair down. And enjoy.

And that’s it. I know it’s simple to the extreme, but my green thumb has a tinge of brown. And we’ll be moving in a year or so, so I  can’t see it being more worth my while to build a grand gazebo or carve out an intricate stone path.

What about you? Do you use your backyard? What’s your idea of paradise?

Flower Power, an Easter Tradition?

New Year’s Resolution # 5- Decorate the house for every holiday.

Ok, confession, I lost the list. I’m not sure what number it was but I know the resolution was on there. And so far I’ve failed miserably at it. I really, really want to get into the spirit of every holiday for the munchkin’s sake. I want her childhood to be nothing short of magical, and holidays are like a shortcut to magic. But it takes time… and planning. I better start prepping for the 4th now.

While we managed to squeeze in  something like 5 separate Easter Egg Hunts, we didn’t hang a single Easter decoration. It was mainly because I arrived home (after 5 weeks away) three days before Easter. No time to get creative and I wasn’t about to spend a ton of cash on something that would be marked 50 percent off with in a fortnight. It’s a pale substitution, but here’s what we did instead:

Bright yellow flowers. (They are zinnias, maybe?)

And bright purple tulips.

They may not spell out Happy Easter, and can’t be draped across the mantle, but they are most certainly the very definition of spring. And fresh flowers make everyone a little happier. (I’d be willing to bet there is a study out there that proves this!) And in total it cost about 6.00 dollars. I am still determined to one day hang an Easter wreath on my door (and perhaps display an Easter Bunny in every room), but perhaps this year is the first year of of a new Schmitt House tradition, the tradition of Easter Flowers (although maybe we could tweak the tradition so they are purchased by a very thoughtful husband… ahem.. that’s a hint my dear. You know we never get anything perfect the first time.)

So what are your traditions? And how did they come about? Tell me all about them! Obviously, I need some ideas! And how are your resolutions coming along? Am I the only one still thinking (from time to time) about them?

An Epiphany

On Tuesday I revealed my latest obsession, clocks. The obsession took root a few weeks into my trip to Chicago. I spent hours pouring over online, trying to plot a plan of action… which clock to buy, where to hang it…. maybe even how to make it. Then suddenly I realized. I had an amazing antique clock that had been sitting in storage for years. It wasn’t just an antique clock, it was a clock built by my Great-Grandfather. It was handed down to me years ago… and I treasured it. The problem was, I treasured it so much that I could never find a place worthy of hanging it. Eventually, I completely forgot about it. For years, It’s sat at the bottom of a closet.

But no more. The day after I got home we brought it out and hung it up.

It may not be quite the style I had planned on for the living room (you can read about that here) but I absolutely love it. Words can’t describe just how much. It looks like it was destined to be hung there next to the fireplace.

It makes takes the whole room to that next level, gives it whimsy and a wonderful sense of home.

And the clock itself – I love it. Now that it’s out for the world to see, keeping it hidden in the closet feels like it should be a criminal offense. I love all the details. I love that it keeps track of the date, because I can never remember. Growing up, my parents had a grandfather’s clock, So did my grandparents. I love hearing the pendulum tick tock tick tock tick tock. I love hearing the chimes that it makes every half hour. Sounds weird, but hearing those sounds makes me feel all grown up. (Anyone else ever have a hard time remembering they are in their mid-twenties?)

The story doesn’t end there. After all, I haven’t mentioned any epiphany, and what good is a title like “An Epiphany” without an epiphany?

Finally having the clock up on the wall got me thinking. What other treasures did I have that were sitting in the back of some closet? Things that I could never find quite the right place for? I don’t think of myself as a hoarder, but after only a few minutes I could think of atleast half a dozen of things. All with serious potential. That’s when I realized these objects need to come out. I was given/ purchased/ kept these objects for a particular reason. And they were all waiting for the perfect place to be (in most cases) hung. And (in most cases) the perfect place was never found. What good are any of these items sitting in a dark corner collecting dust? It makes no sense, what am I waiting for? I have a ton of blank walls, it’s time to start filling them up.

Plans are good… But not without action. So I dug these delicious red frames out of another dark corner. I bought them on super clearance at Dillard’s when I was planning Kennedy’s nursery. When color didn’t work, and they were forgotten.

The photos are from a family outing to the State Fair last fall.

The pair now lives in the living room. And just like the clock- it looks meant to be.

I feel so silly for not hanging them earlier.

Here’s a group shot of my recent accomplishments. It’s funny how hanging each thing just took a couple minutes to hang (and didn’t costa dime!) but the room has so much more personality. It’s so gratifying!

So, tell me, am I the only one that let’s beautiful things sit in storage, going to waste? Do you have any objects, patiently waiting to shine? Or perhaps you have some new addition to your walls, something that makes your home that much more complete? Tell me, tell me! I’d love to hear your stories!

A post about clocks

I have a new obsession. Clocks. Not exactly new to the market, but suddenly I can’t get enough of them. They are the best of both worlds; functional and decorative. And there are so many options, you can find any style, any shape, any size. And, if somehow you can’t find what you want, it’s so amazingly easy to go buy a clock kit and DIY a clock. (Atleast I’m guessing it is, I’m haven’t actually diyed a clock… yet)  Gallery wall of clocks…. admit it; reading those words you were just hit with a sense of wonder followed by a touch of giddyness at the possibilities that flew through your mind. I’m going to go ahead and call it; clocks are the next big trend.

It was hard to narrow down my favorites to a reasonable enough number to share, but here’s few of the clocks that make make me burn with envy.

Let’s start this thing off in proper Schmitt House style, with a pop of color. I can imagine this clock on almost any of the wall in my house. I adore it. To bad I can’t figure out where it’s from (any one know?) (The image is from here)


This white ceramic alarm clock from West Elm is nothing short of amazing!

white ceramic clock

Gotta love a good retro clock, like this one from Target:


What about this vintage beauty, from Restoration Hardware:


I think my favorite has to be gear clocks.Something about inner workings exposed just gets me ticking. (Pun intended!) Like this one, from World Market:

Gear Wall Art with Clock | World Market

A few more clocks, in well styled context.

Tivoli Console Table - Tuscan Chestnut stain

Via Pottery Barn

November 2011 114 1_thumb

Via 320 Sycamore

wall of clocks!

Via RH Baby and Child

Oh, I’m in love.

Is anyone else obsessed with clocks? Or is it just me? Or is there some other genius piece of decor that makes your heart skip a beat?