HGTV Smart Home 2014

HGTV Smart Home 2014 Credit: Eric Perry © 2014, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights ReservedCredit: Eric Perry © 2014, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

I was giddy to be invited to tour the new HGTV Smart Home here in Nashville and it was a great day out! Looking through my photos, I wish I had been able to get more snaps, but there was always someone else in the room, and as much as we tried to get out of each other’s shots, I found myself focusing on details I was drawn to, rather than trying to get the whole room shot….BUT… HGTV took care of that on their site! To see the whole gallery of photos go HERE.

What makes it a Smart Home?  “HGTV’s Smart Home boasts the latest in home technology coupled with eco-friendly features and energy-efficient design. Located in the Duncanwood Reserve neighborhood, this English cottage-style residence consists of three bedrooms and four and a half baths and features technology to connect the home’s appliances and devices, giving the homeowner better control over energy use, security, interior climate and lighting.” More details on the technology can be found HERE.

It also has a huge TV in the dining room, which I found odd, but I guess that’s what all the cool kids are doing!?

The home is designed by P. Shea Design, built by Carbine and Associates and the interior design is by Linda Woodrum of TS Hudson Interiors. The HGTV House Planner for both Smart Homes and Dream Homes is Jack Thomasson.

I think all of us took this EXACT same shot…what a cute laundry/dog area! Otto would dig this.

HGTV Smart Home 2014 Modfrugal

I like the drama the black tile gives to the upstairs bath.

HGTV Smart Home 2014 Modfrugal

My favorite room was the upstairs den.  Throughout the house, there are touches of Sherwin Williams Indigo Batik, but this room went all in, and I LOVED it.

HGTV Smart Home 2014 ModfrugalThe color is washed out in my photo below, but it was much more like above, rich and bright.

HGTV Smart Home 2014 Modfrugal

HGTV Smart Home 2014 Modfrugal HGTV Smart Home 2014 Modfrugal HGTV Smart Home 2014 Modfrugal   HGTV Smart Home 2014 Modfrugal

One of my favorite pieces of furniture was this shagreen chest being used as a bedside table.

HGTV Smart Home 2014 ModfrugalHGTV Smart Home 2014 Modfrugal  IMG_1048

My favorite piece of art was James Richardson’s “Twin Giants” from York Art.

HGTV Smart Home 2014 Modfrugal

I love getting to tour houses of ANY kind, from estate sales to open houses, so this was a much needed treat! Thanks for having me!

BTW, in case you didn’t know, you can enter to WIN this home beginning April 15! Details are HERE.


Once upon a time, I lived in Colorado where skiing and other outdoor activities are the predominant lifestyle rather than the anomaly. I’ve always missed the mountain life, so when we moved from flatlands to Nashville, I felt like I was getting a wee tiny bit of that lifestyle back. While not in the mountains, Nashville has some beautiful undulation in its landscape. Tall wooded hills to hike and get your blood pumping, great parks within the metropolitan area, all make me want to be outside more than in and it feels soooo good. But the best perk is we’re now only a few hours away from the Smoky Mountains, and we camp and explore the mountains at least once a year during the warmer months.

I wanted my kids to learn to ski fairly early, so when Thing 2 was about 5, we packed up and headed to Colorado and did the whole thing.  At this point, I hadn’t skiied in about 15 years and OH, I had forgotten how much I loved it… and to my relief and delight, the rest of the family loved it too. Problem is, we don’t live out there, and it’s EXPENSIVE to get us all out there and skiing. We needed to find a way to get our winter sports on in between the big trips out West. We were overdue for a winter Smokies trip.

We headed East to Maggie Valley, North Carolina so we could ski Cataloochee over the Thanksgiving weekend. I’d always read very mixed (leaning toward negative) reviews about North Carolina skiing, and I did my best to prepare everyone that their expectations needed to drop considerably from the skiing we had done out West.


Modfrugal Maggie Valley/Cataloochee

Modfrugal Maggie Valley/Cataloochee

Modfrugal Maggie Valley/Cataloochee


Much to our delight – it all worked. Was the snow light and fluffy? No, but it was skiing! Only 4 hours from where we live, for a fraction of the cost. The whole place is a little rustic, and could use a bit of love and attention, but they make their snow every night and we were A-OK with it. This changes EVERYTHING.


Modfrugal Maggie Valley/Cataloochee

Modfrugal Maggie Valley/Cataloochee

The town is a little odd. It looks like it was in its heyday in the 60’s, Lots of motels with motor courts, and my best guess is the boom of neighboring Waynesville has caused Maggie Valley to suffer. I saw so many shuttered up businesses right on the main road that leads straight into Cherokee. I couldn’t figure out why they couldn’t make a business work there? With skiing in the winter and fishing and hiking in the summer, (and gambling all year) it would seem ideal for setting up shop. But we saw a LOT of this.

Modfrugal Maggie Valley/Cataloochee
I became a little fixated on this building above. We drove past it every day on the way to and from our cabin.

Formerly “The Viewpoint” this place just made me so sad and I feel like it could be so great again…just someone with the cash and ambition to save it.
Modfrugal Maggie Valley/Cataloochee

Starvin’ Marvin got tired of starvin’ I guess and closed it all down…..

But there was the cutest little A-Frame development we drove through, some for rent and some for sale, so maybe next time we come we can try and rent one.

Modfrugal Maggie Valley/Cataloochee

Modfrugal Maggie Valley/Cataloochee

Modfrugal Maggie Valley/Cataloochee

We rented a tiny cabin and I tried to make Thanksgiving festive. Not knowing if the cabin would be equipped with spices or anything, (it had nothing) I precooked most everything so all we had to do was roast our chicken and warm up the rest. I was grateful for minimal effort after a long day on the mountain.

Modfrugal Modfrugal Maggie Valley/Cataloochee

At the weekend, we decided to ski half day and we drove into Cherokee for a little exploring. I kept seeing signs for Santa’s Land, so we thought the kids might get into the holiday spirit if we went to check it out. Apparently NOT. How silly of us to assume Santa’s Land would be open in the Christmas Holidays!!

Modfrugal Maggie Valley/Cataloochee

Despite all the quirks, this trip was a great revelation of what was available under our noses for the past 5 years we’ve lived here. We’ll be back to enjoy that mountain again, and would love to make it an annual Thanksgiving tradition. There were no lift lines on Thanksgiving day, and we were able to get Thing 2 snowboard lessons for a song compared to other places. We’ll be back, sooner rather than later, that’s for sure.

Do Over

The family felt cheated after our washed out camping trip at Fall Creek Falls this summer, so we decided to go back over the school break for a “do over”. There were several trails we hadn’t gotten to explore, and we had unfinished business.

Instead of camping, we rented one of the lakeside cabins for a little trip insurance. The day we drove up, it was raining, and we were starting to think that things were not going to look good for the trip (again), but the skies cleared and we had postcard perfect weather every day. We were able to fish off the deck and enjoy the stillness of the lake. There are no motorized boats allowed on this lake, which makes it an amazingly peaceful waterfront. I loved watching the kayaks silently gliding through the mist in the early mornings. I wanted to be in one of them…next time!

Modfrugal-Fall Creek Falls

Modfrugal-Fall Creek Falls

Modfrugal-Fall Creek Falls


A Copperhead came to visit at the waters edge of our cabin….


Modfrugal-Copperhead Fall Creek Falls

Modfrugal-Fall Creek Falls

Modfrugal-Fall Creek Falls

Modfrugal-Fall Creek Falls

Modfrugal-Fall Creek Falls

Modfrugal-Fall Creek Falls

While in the park, we really wanted to hike the trail to the bottom of the falls (treacherous and totally worth it) and to explore the mountain bike trails. We went on the 7 mile loop trail near the stables and saw NO ONE. I think that may be the park’s best kept secret, as we had to get help at the information center to even find the trails. They are not mapped on any of the main park maps, but the link above takes you to a hand drawn PDF.

We stopped at Burgess Falls on the way to FCF, this part of the state is so full of natural beauty and waterfalls, it’s hard to see every one.  FCF has 3 falls in the park (Fall Creek, Caney Fork and Piney Falls).

modfrugal-Burgess Falls

We went to Cummins Falls on our way back home, only to find the park closed for roadwork. It’s only an hour or so from Nashville, so we could do it in a day trip sometime down the line when it’s swimming weather. So many waterfalls, so little time….


How We Camp (Glamp)

Over the years, we have gotten lots of questions about how we camp as a family, and what we bring etc.. so I decided it was high time to show you. For one, we aren’t really camping, we’re glamping. Car camping is a different beast than proper backwoods camping, so I would like to get that clarification out of the way.

We bring too much stuff.

We have a great time.

It takes a lot of planning.

Modfrugal glamping

This is how the dining room looks before every trip.

Modfrugal glamping

Modfrugal glamping

Modfrugal glamping

Modfrugal glamping

Modfrugal glamping


As you can see…a lot of gear. Some campsites have great spots at the bath houses for washing dishes, others, notsomuch, so we usually take biodegradable plates and utensils so we only have to wash up the cutting board and cutlery. More and more campsites are offering recycling now, so call ahead and ask.


Modfrugal glamping

I also enjoy using baskets and liners since it creates less waste, and things like hot dogs won’t roll off the plate into the dirt.

Modfrugal glamping

We pack a battery powered air pump (shown in the 3rd photo) which not only gets the mattresses filled, but is the PERFECT campfire ember resurrection tool. No more sticking your face in the smoke to blow the embers!! You just point your pump, turn it on for a few seconds and your flames will be back without self asphyxiation – everyone wins!


modfrugal glamping

The blue tent below is our 15+ year old tent we replaced this year since it was threadbare, but it was the BEST. I called it the McMansion tent, since it was a little OTT and large, but again, this is glamping, so go big, or go home.


modfrugal glamping

modfrugal glamping

Our new tent had a smaller footprint, which we wanted in order to be more accommodating to the different sized pads at various campsites. Turns out, if it leaks, it’s not worth it. The McMansion had seen plenty of wet action over the years and never leaked, so we’ll be looking for another tent this fall.

modfrugal glamping

modfrugal glamping

The other FAQ we get is WHAT DO WE EAT? The answer is a lot of things, as long as you plan it out ahead of time. Simple steps, like making the pancake batter and packing it ready to squirt in an industrial squeeze bottle, will make meal prep easier.

Most campsites come with an adjustable grate over the fire ring, so we just bring the giant cast iron skillet and some foil, and cook pretty much everything in them. We cook a big breakfast, but lunch is on the go since we are usually out exploring, hiking, biking, fishing, whatever, so we just snack on granola bars or something to hold us over until dinner.

We have a BIG cooler, with wheels, and it’s always heaving when we leave.

Modfrugal glamping

Modfrugal glamping

Modfrugal glamping


IMG_6620  IMG_3373

I should also note that I like to pack smushables, like tomatoes and grapes, in hard sided containers. They are great to use for leftovers later and they keep everything round and plump.

Modfrugal glamping

Modfrugal glamping

Depending on where you camp, you have to be really careful about food.

Modfrugal glamping


This means packing up the box of food and your cooler and putting it back in the car after meals. Even if you are not in bear territory, squirrels and raccoons can eat through a plastic trug in a very short period of time.

We also take a tarp and extra tent stakes in case it rains while we are making a meal.


modfrugal glamping

modfrugal glamping

Our list of items varies depending on where we camp, but this is pretty much what we take most trips:

plates, cups, bowls, baskets/liners
knives/cutting board
oven mitts
paper towels
antibacterial counter wipes
serving spoon/spatula/tongs
s’mores forks
aluminum foil
garbage bags
tray (round metal)
coffee + coffee pot
olive oil
salt and pepper
water jug
wet wipes
hand soap
cast iron skillet
washing up tub/brush/bowls/dishwashing soap
mystic fire
first aid kit
sleeping bags/air mattresses/pump
masking/duct tape
rain protection
handshadows book/constellations book
bungee cords
swiss army knives
walking sticks
picnic blankets
glow bracelets
fishing rods/tackle

Yeah, I KNOW. It’s ridiculous, but there it is.

All this camping talk is making me want to start researching parks for our next trip….

Summer Recap

I know it has been ages since I’ve been here, but better late than never I say. I humbly submit a photo recap of our summer.

As always, I tend to be on Instagram when I’m too busy to be here, so a few of these were posted in real time. I will do a detailed post on camping, and a new DIY around here later this week.

The kitchen pantry has been untouched all summer, so don’t hold your breath for a reveal yet, but I will continue to push for that to get finished once and for all. When we got back from our last trip, I declared this fall to be the season of “tying up loose ends”. That would be nice, no? Gal’s gotta have goals.

We took two camping trips, one to Land Between the Lakes, and one to an old favorite of ours, Fall Creek Falls, which was cut short by excessive rain and a leaking tent. I KNOW. Brand new tent too! You’ll get a more in depth ranting on that little gem later.

We also spent some time in the mountains of NC (the CC and I went ziplining!) and are settling back into a routine since school started back August 1st. My volunteer work has not lessened, as I had hoped by resigning one position, but has only increased, and necessitated a LOT of work over the summer. It is more or less full time right now, (can you say SUCKER!?) but once the school year settles in, the workload should ease off and I hope I can get back to some sense of normalcy.

otto butterflied

Clarksville TN

williamson county fair

fawn love

sliding rock cashiers, NC

Sculpture garden cashier, NC

NC mountains clouds

lake glenville NC

Whiteside Mountain Trail NC

ziplining Highlands NC

ziplining Highlands, NC

ziplining Highlands, NC

Whiteside Mountain Trail NC


BEFORE the rains…

fall creek falls-before the rain


and AFTER….

fall creek falls-after the rain

camoing guide book

tent that leaked

view from the tent

summer swimming

fawn love

peach bluberry cobbler

spoiled otto

homemade blackberry ice cream


kentucky lake

bison at land between the lakes


nutella s'mores

Sparklers by the fire

otto's pool

Southern Living Idea House

Hey there! I know I haven’t been here much, but I do have a fun outing to share!

I was lucky enough to get invited to a sneak peek of the Southern Living Idea House in Nashville, and I have to say, I was surprised! Me? Sure, I’ll come look at architecture and interiors anytime!

Reed Brown for Southern Living Idea Housephoto by Reed Brown for Southern Living

The interior design was all done by Phoebe Howard, who was on hand, along with SL editor Lindsay Bierman to give us the grand tour. No photos were allowed inside except for the dining room, since the house will be a feature of their August issue.

For locals, the house opens to the public June 29th until the end of the year, with a portion of the proceeds going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Bierman, Howard at Southern Living Idea House: Modfrugal

The concept was  “modern farmhouse”  and I think they did a pretty great job, especially given the time frame they pulled it together: 7 months! I can’t seem to finish my kitchen renovation in that much time, so, well done team.

Southern Living Idea House:Modfrugal

Isn’t that door detail great? There is another one lined up exactly across the house on the other porch from it so you can open it up for dogtrot style breezes. I snapped a few shots for Instagram while there, so you get a mixed bag.

Southern Living Idea House: Modfrugal

While my tastes obviously lie pretty far from traditional, there was a lot to like about this house. The finishes were very well done and the horizontal wood paneling inside and out gave it a rustic, yet refined vibe that could work for a more modern homeowner. The SLIH is actually a series of several houses, like a mini-compound. After the tours are finished, the property will become a boutique hotel type B & B concept on the Fontanel property.

The mix of modern pieces with Howard’s furniture from her line made the space less fussy and thankfully, not at all folksy. That’s always the danger when dabbling in “country” territory. Not a lot of heavy florals and clutter in here. Very little peeling paint too!

My favorite pieces in the entire house are these nesting tables by Madegoods. They are planks of wood encased in resin and they are fabulous in person.

Madegoods Kas nesting tables

The lighting choices were farmhouse appropriate without being overly fussy. This sconce on the porch was a favorite of mine.

Southern Living Idea House: Modfrugal

I guess you can’t have 2800 square feet of porch space without a swing. I sat in it, and it was actually ridiculously uncomfortable. No seat cushion and too many pillows on the sides and back, BUT in the press kit, the photos of the swing show a nice white tailored seat cushion with less throw pillows, so maybe they removed it in case dirty blogger butts messed it up before the press event that evening. You know how filthy we can be.

Southern Living Idea House:modfrugal

The dining room was actually my least favorite space, but the only room we were allowed to photograph. The one thing I liked in that room was the framed kudzu, presented as though it were a coveted biological specimen. Look! It’s Pueraria lobata! It’s nice to see Mrs. Howard has a sense of humor.

Southern Living Idea House: Modfrugal

Things I really liked, but can’t show you…look for them when you visit, or see them in the August issue:

* The 3 bowl farmhouse stainless steel sink that has been bead blasted to give it a matte finish. Great custom piece to meet the codes for a B & B.

* The painting over the fireplace by Shawn Dulaney is a much needed modern statement that makes the room.

* The bathrooms are all classic white marble in various tile size applications with Ann Sacks Andy Fleishman’s Neo Terrazzo floors in the master. The master bath cabinetry is also very well done. Modern and timeless.

* The overall architecture and finishes used. Metal roof, deep porches, solid doors, cable railings on the porches. Nicely built by Castle Homes and designed by Historical Concepts, who were inspired by a 150 year old Leipers Fork farmhouse.

Southern Living’s Pinterest page has a few more photos of the inside, so go there for more sneak peeks!

Don’t worry, my 70’s modern thing is still going strong, but it’s always nice to see other styles done really well.