Friday, April 29, 2016

Spring Gardens

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Spring is here at last and now we need to start thinking about what we can do outside to get ready for the warm weather.
Here in Michigan we wait and wait for the snow to melt and then we have to wait and wait for the moisture to dry up in the ground before we can haul all of the summer lawn furniture out.
When all of those things come together, we go outside and put the yard back together.... YAY!!

I can hardly wait to put out all the summer furniture, A few days ago it was sunny and beautiful, now there is a blanket of snow on the ground.    It won't be long and all the spring flowers will be popping up and I will be complaining about the heat....  :)
Every year I like to buy something new for the yard.  I love Benches.  This year I'm looking into buying a new bench.   Bench's are romantic and quant.  You can put then in a garden or on the edge of a landscaped area.  They are beautiful.

This criss cross back garden bench shone here is one I have my eye on.  I love it because it is simple, I like the rich dark brown finish and the criss cross back.  I will put this next to a flower garden that I have.  I can see myself sitting at it on a spring or summer afternoon listening to the birds singing.  I really love spring, where I life we have a lot of wildlife, so I will be able to sit on this bench and watch it all go on around me.
Pillows really add that special something to a piece of furniture. Changing the pillows can change the look of the whole area.  I will wait to buy my pillows until I see the flowers in bloom.
This bench will be perfect for a quiet moment alone or a couple can have a glass of refreshing lemonade in the evening.

 Honey Lemonade

4 1/2 cups  warm water
1/3-1/2 cup  honey
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice - from about 5-7 large lemons

Put warm water and 1/3 cup honey in a  saucepan over low heat. Stir until dissolved, remove from the heat.
Add the lemon juice and stir. Add more honey, if desired.
Chill and serve over ice

Not many ingredients but really delicious....  Make some today and enjoy it on your new criss cross back garden bench from Up north furniture.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

5 Simply Ways to Clean out the Clutter

Spring time is one of my favorite times of the year.  We change our thoughts to cleaning and organizing,  the garage, the basement, closets cupboards etc.......

Get the summer-house ready, Get the cabin ready, the fun is about to begin.
After I clean the upstairs in the garage, I will be moving my current desk to my new office.  I still want something to use in my main house,  I want something small and pretty to tuck in a small area.  Some place where you can sit and write a note or pay a bill.  Nothing to big.  I really like this desk with it's rich color and slim design. See this desk and more at Up North Furniture.
We have this desk and more at UP North Furniture

This year for me is all about cleaning the upstairs in the garage.  I am hoping to clean it out and make an office for myself up there.  It's a great space but right now it is filled with a bunch of junk.....!!

As I'm getting ready to start working on this huge project, I start thinking about what a big job this is and how I can tackle it without totally stressing me out.  Here is the way I cleared out the clutter in my soon to be beautiful office.

Start to make piles 

    1. Things to donate 
    2. Things to save
    3. Things to throw
    4. Things to return
    5. Yard sale items
Once you have the piles, everything starts to make sense.  You might be wise to get someone to help you move things around.  It was really hair to make all the decision to get rid of the things I had to but I thought if I haven't used it in this long, I probably don't need it.  
I called up friends and friends of my children and had them all over to help carry things downstairs.  
It was actually quite amazing how quick it all happened.

  1. Things to donate-  Everyone has things that can be repurposed. You can donate to Good Will, or give to a Church, maybe just give to someone you know.
  2. Things to save-  These are things that you don't know what to do with, maybe you don't use them very often, or they are things that have sentimental value.  Separate these things into subcategories.  Things to store, things to have on hand, and maybe things that need to be reserved.
  3. Things to throw- At my house this is a big category.  I have adult children who have left the house, and ex-husband, and all of my own clutter that just needs to go.  Not to mention all the empty boxes of gifts of years past.  
  4. Things to return-  It seems everyone who has ever lived with you, when they leave, they leave something behind.  This is something that is so irritating to me.  Return these items.  Even if you have to load it yourself.  Just do it. It will feel better not having someone's stuff at your house.
  5. Yard sale items-  I have made a lot of money having a yard sale before.  Put everything in this pile, even stuff you aren't sure will sell.  One man's junk is another man's treasure. Isn't that what they say..  Later on when it gets closer to having a yard sale you can sort again.
After this room was clean I treated everyone to a nice steak dinner and after we all sat down and enjoyed a Mock Shamrock Shake.  Here is the recipe

1 pint vanilla ice cream (2 cups)
1/4 cup peppermint schnapps
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 to 4 drops green liquid food coloring
2 mint sprigs

Blend the ice cream, peppermint schnapps, vanilla and food coloring in a blender until smooth. Pour into two serving glasses and garnish each with a mint sprig.

I got this recipe off Food Network website click here for more info

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Snuggle Up on Valentine Day!!

Valentine Day is fast approaching, I know this time of year i'm thinking what can I do for my loved ones that isn't too cheesy.  Lets face it, some stuff is really cheesy....

I have parents, children and grand children.  Everyone likes a little special treat once in a while. I try not to go overboard but I like to make my loved ones feel special once in a while.

On Valentine Day try to be a little more practical, For the grandkids make them heart shaped chocolate cupcakes.  Spend a little time decorating them.  Kids really appreciate the effort that you put into it.  I like to use frostings and candies to create a special treat for my grand children.  Besides it fun!!

For that special man or woman in you life, You might want to take it to a deeper level,  Jewelry is always nice but after you have done that a time or two.  what other ideas do you have to make that special person feel like you adore them.  I mean that's what it's all about right??

Valentine Day isn't for any other reason but than to appreciate a relationship you have.

black microfiber sectional sofa in black ash
A great idea would be if you got a new piece of furniture, like a fresh new love seat or sectional sofa. Nothing makes you feel better than a new look or a new piece to brighten up a room. 

Can you imagine bringing this sectional sofa home to your wife/husband and putting in a movie and snuggling up for an evening.  I personally would love it.  Make some home made hot cocoa, or open that special bottle of wine.  You find this and others at Up North Furniture.

I have a really good recipe for hot cocoa.  I get so many compliments on it.  Try it and see if you get request for it over and over.  I live in Northern Michigan so in February we drink a lot of hot cocoa!! :)

Hot Cocoa

Make this hot cocoa and make some special memories for years to come... 

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup water
4 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Marshmallows (optional)

Combine first 4 ingredients in a heavy saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Stir in milk, and heat thoroughly (do not boil).  Stir in vanilla.  Serve cocoa immediately with marshmallows, if desired.  
Yield: 4 1/2 cups.  
I have made this recipe for my friends and family for years.  I always get great compliments.. Hope you do too... 
Happy Valentine Day!!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Room In A Bag

A long time ago we were getting ready to completely change our living room.  We really knew nothing about decorating.  We had the most plain living room of anyone we knew.  Of course money was an issue.  We were young and had a young family and were very busy.  
We knew we needed color.  Our walls were a grayish white, and the floor was grey carpet.  
It was a very bland canvas to start with.   Some people might think this would make it easier, but I think it really made it much harder.  

We set out to the store thinking that we would get a new couch.  It seemed like the best place to start.  We looked and looked but nothing stood out.  I found this to be very confusing.  What color should we go with, what style should i go with.  All the choices…….. Grrr….. It was so frustrating…. 
While we were walking around the furniture store, we came upon a rug.  We weren’t looking for a rug but this rug stood out. It was colorful and we liked the design…  
It was a good quality, and very appealing rug to both of us.  We stood looking at it, thinking about it,  we continued to walk around looking for furniture but kept coming back to the same rug..  
Finally we bought the rug…   

We went home put it in our living room,  looked at it,  loved it,  but what now??
we couldn’t take the rug with us, so we took a picture of it.  The next time we went out shopping we took the picture of the rug.   
Next we found a cranberry couch, chair, and ottoman.  The color of the cranberry couch matched one of the colors in the rug.  

We were on our way but had so far to go… We put the arm cloth of the cranberry couch in a gallon zip lock bag along with the picture of the rug.  Out shopping again.  So at this moment we have a colorful rug and a bold cranberry couch.  We knew we needed something special.  
We went to a different furniture store.  We found a stripped club chair,  It had all the colors of the rug but different pattern.  We both really loved the chair, but with the picture being so small we weren't sure if it would go.  So we went home got the rug and brought it into the store, rolled it out and looked at it to see if it would go.  We both loved it.  So we bought it.  
The arm fabric went in the bag.  

Now we need to look for wall color, pictures, and curtains…. 
It was starting to get exciting.. 
We kept the bag in our car and brought it out anytime we went someplace where we might need it.  it really made decorating very easy.  
We picked a color in the rug and made window coverings.  it worked out well.  They looked great.  
The next step we thought should be paint.  So off to the paint store we went and picked a paint color.  It was a very calming green color.  I had heard from a decorator that green is very calming and inviting.  So it is really a good color for a living room.   
The  next things we needed to pick were pictures and end tables.  They were pretty easy to pick out, They almost jumped out at us.  

With this bag idea it was easy to stay focused and finish the job, and it made a hard job simple and enjoyable… 
This idea was a great way to decorate a room.  It really made it easy to complete a job that seemed almost impossible.  
I will be using this idea for years to come…
Hope you will try it yourself.. 

Freshen up your Futon

I love futons- they not only look great,  but also add extra seating and sleeping to a small home on tight budget.

Protect the Mattress

There are lots of ways to protect your futon from showing signs of wear and tear.
By rotating mattress around on a regular basis this will help keep it fluffed and prevent it from having flattened spots from sleeping.  This will give the futon mattress a longer life.

Stain Relief

For stains on the surface of the futon cover, wipe with a damp washcloth or rag.  Use warm water and a mild laundry soap to erase any stains on the surface.  Try to catch a spill as soon as possible,  the quicker you are, the better chances of it not staining permanently.  Use a clean soft damp cloth and blot,  never scrub.  This could result in grinding the stain inward.

Yucky Odors

Futons just like anything else will absorb odors,  thankfully,  there are really easy ways to freshen up your futon.  To make your futon smell clean and free from odors use febreze or baking soda.  To do this open up futon to lay flat,  spray febreze on futon mattress and let dry for about an hour.  Odors should be gone, leaving the futon smelling fresh.
If using baking soda, open flat sprinkle with soda, let set for a couple of hours and vacuum up.  This should have your futon smelling fresh again.
Using the outdoors to freshen up a mattress is easy too,  on a nice summer day, make sure there isn't too much humidity in the air,  open up mattress on the deck and let the fresh air,  air it out.  Just leave outside opened up for a couple of hours and the odors are gone.
Remember, the futon mattress has 2 sides,  make sure to do these on both sides.


Vacuum your futon several times a month and this will keep it from having that stale look and smell.  It will fluff the fibers and remove any dirt or grim that lies on the surface.


Futon covers can be real handy to maintain the over-all health for your futon,  usually they are machine washable and quite affordable.
When buying a futon mattress cover make sure you get a machine washable one.  If it didn't come with one purchase one right away,  a mattress cover will protect it from staining and wear and tear.
Covering a futon with a sheet before sleeping on it will prevent staining from sweating.  Any bed sheet the same size as the futon mattress should fit.


Because futons are so versatile they will tend to get soiled easily and quickly.  Keep them clean for long life of looking good.  Freshen up your futon and you will enjoy it for years to come!!
Come check out this and other futons at Up North Furniture!!

Fresh Beginnings for the New Year

Every year we have a new chance at a new Beginning.  We set goals for a new life, new job, new relationships, new house, etc......

I always try to change something personally.  Usually its my health- eat better, exercise more,  or organization- make a plan, make a list, stick to it... bla bla bla.

Happy New Year

Making resolutions is a great way to make personal changes, but how do we make a resolution that really sticks.  
One way to make them really stick is to be very specific on what it is you are trying to do.  
an example would be : I want to lose weight wouldn't be very specific but I want to lose 10 pounds would.  Then you have to figure out how many calories are in a pound and how many you need to cut out of every day, every meal etc..  to lose weight.  

One of the things I always want to do after the Holiday's is clean out the clutter. It seems like you have your house looking really good and then BAM!! After the Holiday's its a  cluttered up mess. 
 Ridding your house of clutter can become overwhelming, so get a plan and dig in and get it done.  

I like to divide my house into sections-

  • Kitchen
  • Living Room
  • Bathroom

Then I subdivided it even more-

  • a) drawers
  • b) cupboards
  • c) pantry
  • d) spices 
I do this until I have everything listed.  Then I decide when this will happen, I don't try to do it all at once.  It is too overwhelming.  This way I can cross it off my list and see my accomplishments.  It feels good when you can cross it off the list.  
Break it down into 10 to 15 minute jobs so it can be done before and after work with ease.  I just did my pantry.  I combined all the spices that were doubles and alphabetized them.  My family laughs at me when I do this.  But when I go into the pantry the next time, I know right where the cinnamon is because I know my alphabet.  Now these aren't perfectly alphabetized but they good enough for me ot see where they are.  You have to make some exceptions.. 

When you break it down into 10-15 min sessions it's not so overwhelming.  This is also a good time to get new organizational supplies too.  Whether it is a new shelf or bakers rack to hold things in a new decorative way or just something fun like a new wine rack. A wine rack can do two things, it can organize your wine so at a glance you know what you have on hand and it can be decorative too.   Here are some examples of what we have at Up north furniture.   I really like both the top one is great for taking care of wine and glasses but can be hard if space is an issue.  It holds 24 bottles of wine and plenty of space to hold stemware with a table top. Very nice looking!
I really like this option if space is limited.  I love the Wrought Iron look and think it looks really sharp. This sturdy rack is a wall mount and can hold 9 bottles of wine.
So check us out at Up North Furniture

Arranging Your Living Room Furniture

Getting your new furniture in your old place or getting your old furniture in your new place can be a challenge, but spending the time, thought and energy can make all the difference.  

Not every one can have a living room this big, nor does everyone want a living room this big.  But you can make the best of the space you have.
I like to think of it as a blank canvas, I try to leave all OLD idea's at the door, actually outside the door if you will...

This room is empty and now we have to fill it up.

When arranging your furniture you need to figure out the focal point first.
In a living room it might be the area rug, or a fireplace. 
In a kitchen it might be the hand painted art work on the wall or the hand-made solid oak table. 
In the bedroom it's usually the bed. 

Televisions don't have to be the main focal point in the living room, mounting it on a wall will save a ton of space, if space is available. 

The most comfortable distance between the TV and your favorite seat is three times the size of the TV screen. Measure your TV screen diagonally and times by 3. You should have your chair no farther away than that.

You will want to make the focal point the star of the room.

Area rugs should be small enough to see some floor around them but they should come to the edge of the furniture, placing 2 front legs on it.

Couches should have space around them, try not putting them too close to the wall. Even a couple of inches away is a good idea if you have room. That way your curtains won't get all bunched up behind it. A look I have never enjoyed. It sticks out like a sore thumb. 
If you feel your room is too big, you can always use the couch to divide the room in half. Put it in the center of the room facing windows or a fireplace. That would make a nice and comfortable sitting area.

Placing the largest item in the room first can be a big help. When you put the largest item in the room, try placing it facing the focal point. This will be more appealing to the eye. 

To keep conversation flowing and easy, place chairs no more than 8 feet a part. I think between 3 and 6 feet is best. I think this feels more cozy. You don't want to have to yell at the person right next to you. This always reminds me of a formal dinning room where the table is so long that the people are so far away from each other they can't even talk to each other without yelling.. HAHA..... you see that in the movies. 

After you get this far the rest should be easier. You can look around the room and make any necessary changes. 
Walk into the room from different angles or hall ways. How does it feel? Does it go together?

End tables shouldn't be too big or too small for the other furniture. Make sure when you are picking them out they don't overpower the existing furniture. The same goes for the room, make sure the furniture doesn't over power the room.. Actually having furniture that is too small for a big room is just as bad as having furniture too big for a small room. 

It's hard to remember the size of your room when you are at the store picking out furniture. All the oversized furniture looks so appealing but when you bring it home and put it in your tiny living room, You think.... Where did all the space go that was in the living room???