Our christmas porch

Our christmas porch

I’m definitely in full-on holiday spirit mode over here!  The house is done, minus the tree, and now our front porch is ready too.  A few weeks ago I posted about my DIY gold hydrangeas.  They look amazing, but we are about to have a major snowstorm so I’m anxious to see how they hold up.  I also added these red amaryllis wreaths this year.  The bright red against the black doors really pops and I loved them even more when I saw them hanging.  They were a Home Goods find last month.  So without further ado, take a look…

The planters before the greens…

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The final result…

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Have a great week! xo

Christmas around our house

Christmas around our house

My favorite time of year is finally here!  I love cozy days (and nights) unwrapping my decorations and moving them around the house.  It’s so relaxing for me to see what I have and remember special Christmases of the past.  This year is the first year that I won’t be decorating my house, so all of our decor is combined.  In keeping with the light and bright theme I have all year through, I stayed with the soft neutrals, texture, with pops of pink, red and green.

We bought this tree ornament a few weeks ago in Quebec and I knew I wanted to display it separately, away from my other ornaments.  This stand from Amazon did the trick!  Note: I did cut the twine string to shorten the ornament to fit on the stand.

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This white and gold tree dish was my grandmothers.

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Even our faux puppy (Coco) got all decked out in greens!

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We don’t use this room often, but it makes me happy to have a pretty, set table.  I also picked up the candle rings in Quebec.

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Last year I purchased these wooden nesting doll ornaments as a nod to my Ukrainian heritage.  I also adore the different, brightly colored paint they used.

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Our foyer remained relatively simple.  My vintage light-up ceramic tree that my dad picked up a few years back is always a favorite thing, and bits of pink and gold complimented the rest of the decor.

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The last part is the tree…which will be coming this week!  xo

Christmas Sights around Quebec City

Christmas Sights around Quebec City

Last weekend J and I escaped up north to Quebec City, Canada for a long weekend getaway.  While looking at the weather the week before, we quickly realized that it was going to be FREEZING and that changed our clothing prep big time.

Before I get into the exquisiteness of the city, I have to tell you about my boots.  I wanted something stylish, yet extremely warm, and after some research I realized that these JCrew boots were the winner.  I normally don’t do well with online shoe orders, but pulled the trigger anyway.  I was hoping they would work…and they did.  So the moral of the story is: if you need warm winter boots, these are amazing.  I wore them the entire weekend from day to night.  And I just checked, the entire site is 40% off with the code WHYWAIT.  They also come with red laces if you need a change of pace.  For reference…I am usually an 8.5 or 9, but I ordered a 10 so I could wear thick socks.  They worked perfectly!

Onto Quebec City – we stayed at the Marriott in old city just on the other side of the St. Jean’s Gate.  It was the perfect location and centrally located to walk around the city.  Our hotel window overlooked this little square called Place D’Youville on Rue Saint-Jean with an ice skating rink in the middle of it.  Can you imagine? A constant rotation of people would just gather with their skates and go for a little spin on the ice.  There were no ticket sales or snack bars…just the simplicity of an old fashioned rink.  I spent many, many minutes just watching the skaters from our room up above, and they ranged anywhere from young children to older adults.  I fell in love with everything about this scene and when I happened upon a little painting of the area at a quant art store in town, I bought it immediately and brought it home with us.  I am so looking forward to displaying it all winter long to serve as a constant reminder of our special time away.

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The rest of this post consists of pictures of holiday displays all around town.  The whole city was decked out for Christmas, and my jaw continued to drop (again and again) when turning every corner.  I was so sad to find out that we were a week too soon for the holiday festivities and the authentic European outdoor holiday market that was all set up and ready to go.

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The best little Christmas store…

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Other random gorgeous displays that caught my eye…

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The picturesque Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac….beautiful inside and out.

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Inside they had a gorgeous display of Christmas trees decorated by local businesses.  Each one was prettier than the next!

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More prettiness…

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We totally loved this weekend and want to go back soon.  The cold didn’t stop us one bit from exploring the city by foot.  On my next post I will talk about the cool food tour we tried and what we sampled along the way!  xo

This year’s advent calendar

This year’s advent calendar

For as long as I can remember, I created some sort of Advent calendar for my daughter to open throughout the month of December.  When I met J, the tradition continued on to all the kids, so now they look forward to some sort of daily Advent activity that leads them right up to December 24th.

Some examples of my past ideas include a “book a day” calendar where I found twenty four beautiful holiday children’s books and wrapped/numbered them for each day of the month.  I remember Payton loving this idea and looking forward to the story each night.

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I also found this wooden tree at Target a few years back and filled it with questions about the holiday season.  Each morning, Payton had to open the slip of paper and answer the question or talk about the prompt before she got her Hershey kiss.

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Last year I created these tags and had them numbered in a pretty bowl.  The kids opened one each day and answered (often times we discussed it at dinner), and they also got a piece of chocolate for the day.  Here is a sample of the tags:

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This year I decided to focus our Advent conversations on GRATITUDE.  We all have so much to be thankful for and often times life gets in the way of that.  Looking at the glass half empty can sometimes be the easier way to live, but being gracious and having gratitude for all we have is something special.

I found these gratitude conversation starters on www.creativefamilyfun.net and I instantly fell in love.  Not only do they cover gratitude, they are a way for kids to think about what they have.  The prompts guide them to providing a thoughtful answer.  I can’t wait to hear the kids’ answers!  Note:  I had to create a few extra on my own to have a total of 24.

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I created simple tags with numbers and cut them out so they are ready to go.

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To assemble, I decided to use the strung picture frame that I created for J’s birthday party and place each slip of paper in a burlap sack.  I ordered these from Amazon and I liked the grey color as a change to the normal tan.

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I tucked each slip in a sack with five kisses and tied them up with a tag.

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To hang them, I used chunky clothespins I fould at Michaels and I love how it turned out! We don’t have a specific space for this, so I just leaned it on the corner cabinet in the kitchen for all to see.  It can be easily moved if we need to get in the doors.  Take a look…

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I’m really in to the conversation, and I do think the kids enjoy that part. But – I also am not naive to the fact that they have an excuse to eat chocolate in the morning!  xo

 

First Home? Where to start…

First Home? Where to start…

A friend of mine recently secured her first apartment where she will be living completely on her own.  She is super excited and can’t wait to have a space where everything is chosen by her alone with no outside influence.  For years, she has been dreaming about this moment…collecting ideas, figuring out her style (what she likes and doesn’t like), scouring Wayfair, and pinning too many pictures to count.

The other day over lunch we were talking about all of the things she will need for her new digs, on a budget of course.  She told me that I needed to write a blog post, or three, of where to start when someone is starting new.  Now I’m not a designer, but I do know what I like, and I also know what I have learned along the way when I was in her same situation.  So here are my tips for anyone who is starting fresh in a new place and is on a budget.

1. Don’t purchase everything at once (or before you move in).

I am a HUGE believer in living in a space for a while before pulling the trigger on pricier items.  If your grandmother’s old kitchen set will do before buying one of your preference, do it.  Live in the space to get a feeling for the flow of life.

2. Scour places like flea markets, thrift stores, and online sources like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.

I can’t say enough about this one.  There are soooooo many pieces out there that are dying to be brought back to life.  I found two Broyhill Brasilia dressers (one with a mirror) at a thrift store a few years back.  I bought both immediately.  The one is in my bedroom and the other is a credenza for the TV.  If you search them up on eBay, they are going for hundreds more that I paid for them.  They are such good, solid pieces of Mid Century Modern furniture.  Here is a photo of my exact piece taken from the site:

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These end tables were a Craigslist find.  I loved the storage they had available and the textured front. I sanded them down, painted them white and added cool knobs for our family room.

This table is from my mom’s Aunt Helen.  It is ancient, but I still love the lines.  Now that I look at it, I need to change out those knobs!

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My glass coffee table was a thrift store find.  A little gold spray paint brought it to life and it has served as a perfect anchor for many wine glasses!  I especially love the bottom shelf for books!

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3.  Buy a tool box with a few tools and a picture hanging kit.

I don’t need to say too much about this one, except mine are pink and I use them all of time.

4.  Floor coverings – Do I need area rugs?

I’ve done really well getting area rugs at Home Goods and Target, as well as the online site Rugsusa.com.

5. Go neutral with the basics.

Neutral pieces are so versatile.  Whether its a soft tan sectional or glossy black dining chairs, the idea of a neutral base allows for endless decorating possibilities.  I especially love changing out pillows and throws depending on the time of year.

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6. DIY a few items to personalize.

I love to DIY furniture when I have the time, especially in the summer.  My favorite DIY ever was the reupholstering of two chairs I found while running.  The lines were perfect, but the rest was not.  So, I stripped them down, painted them a glossy black, and added a fun leopard pattern to the seat.  To this day, I LOVE them!  Leopard is a neutral, after all, and they will be going with me forever.

7. Splurge Some | Save Some.

I am a big proponent of high/low design and fashion.  I carry a designer bag, but have no issue donning a pair of shoes from Target.  Same goes for the home.  I was lusting after the replica Wegner wishbone chairs for my dining room a few years back.  To offset their cost, I went with a more affordable dining table from Ashley’s Furniture and ordered the chairs to satisfy my craving.  I still love them today.  Maybe you want the comfiest couch out there? Do it, but downsize or go less in another area of the home.

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8. Don’t forget organizing necessities.

Whether you need a few good clothing racks or closet bins, leave room in your budget for these items.

9. Good lighting is a must.

So maybe it took me a few years to get a chandelier in the dining room, but I still stick with my theory that proper lighting is key to a space.  J’s family room used to be very dark- dark walls, dark furniture and very few lights.  We all agreed that it felt like a cave.  When it was time to design the new layout, I brightened up the walls and furniture and added 4 new lamps spread throughout!

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10.  Purchase these MUST HAVE household items.

It might sound strange to suggest a foldable card table and chairs, but I have used mine way more times than I can count.  The chairs serve for extra seating, the table has served as a dessert table, a bar or even an extra dining space.  My aunt gave me a folding step ladder when I moved into my first condo and I still have it and use it all of the time.  Finally, things like brooms, a vacuum and cleaning supplies are not fun to spend money on, but such is life.

The biggest compliment my friend could tell me was that she is finally seeing things (design-wise) the way I do.  This is a huge and exciting time in her life, and I can’t wait to help her!  Having a space to call your own is the greatest feeling in the world.  Fill it with all things that you love and make it the perfect place you deserve.  xo

 

 

Our Faux Mud Room

Our Faux Mud Room

Ok — so it’s only taken a year, but I FINALLY had the chance to finish this space.  Everything came together after I had my friend (Trish) take some headshot of the kids.  When we did the family room makeover last December, I also had J’s rockstar uncle install board and batten molding to the area just inside the garage.  This is area is a huge traffic zone, as most people enter and exit the house through this door.  That said, I wanted to make sure everything about the area was functional and durable.

My inspiration for this area came from Shanty Chic’s post found here.  I love the way she used the finials for knobs, but for me, I went with more of a clean look.  I also went a little more decorative with the molding since I wanted a second level of hooks for the book bags.

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For the floor, I chose the LLBean Everyplace Recycled Waterdog runner in camel.  It has a similar look and feel to sisal, but way more durable.  Plus, it takes up the entire hallway and doesn’t move an inch.  Win-win.  Every once in a while LLBean runs a sale, so be sure to watch out for that one if you need a rug like this.

I can’t remember exactly, but I am pretty sure the hooks are from Amazon and the frames are from Wayfair.

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Just so you know….I prettied up the space so you could see the details, but with five kids total, this wall is usually covered with coats, sweatshirts and backpacks.  It definitely is used tremendously and well worth the time to create it.

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I am a firm believer that even the tiniest of spaces can be transformed into something useful.  See the evidence above!  Also, to check out more of Trish’s work, you can visit her website at: Jack and Noodle Photography. She’s amazing!

DIY: Etched Wine Glasses

DIY: Etched Wine Glasses

A week or so ago I posted about a friend’s birthday celebration and I mentioned that I created DIY etched wineglasses with each guest’s initial.  Well, they were a definite hit!  Not only did I have enough glasses for everyone, each glass served as the favor for them to take home.

A former student’s parent was gracious enough to use her Cricut machine to make the stencils for me.  (THANK YOU, Kelly!) She gave me both the stencil and the transfer paper.  I also bought wine glasses at the dollar store to use for this project.

For the process, I followed Jennifer Maker’s YouTube tutorial.  Watch this whole video until the end because she really does a great job explaining the process in a simple way.

Jennifer Maker – DIY Etched Wine Glasses

The product she recommended was Armour Etch, which was available on Amazon.  I am sure local craft stores have it as well.  Note: make sure to use disposable gloves too!

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Here’s the process in pictures, but as I said, I strongly recommend watching Jennifer’s video for all of the details.

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For me, the trickiest part of the whole process was getting the stencil to lay flat around the letter.  Jennifer gives a few tips for this part in the video.

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I added organza ribbon to the bottom of the glasses to jazz them up a bit.  They also served as indicators since we did have multiples of the same letter.

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Super easy and much loved by my friends! xo

15th birthday celebration

15th birthday celebration

Last weekend we had a little birthday dinner for my girl – who turned 15 yesterday!  How can that be??  She will be eligible for her driver’s license in less than a year, and that scares the living day light out of me.  While mom is worried, she is super excited for what lies ahead.  I guess that’s life….

Anyway, she is a pink and gold girl, just like her mom…so I went on that theme with the table decor.  It was very simple, yet elegant. Take a look…

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One of her favorite snacks is cheese on a Ritz cracker with a dollop of jelly, so that was one of the apps.

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And this past summer, I made this dish in a pinch…Ricotta Pasta with Lemon, Peas and Corn.  The kids went crazy, so that’s what she wanted as her dish.  So easy and yummy.  I just added some grilled chicken on top for some protein.

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Finally, she always asks for a classic dirt cake with cool whip, pudding and Oreos.  I layered mine in a trifle dish and added these birthday flags and some fresh flowers to fit in with the theme.  The flags were from Old Navy from a few years back.

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The birthday girl! xoxo

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DIY: gold sprayed hydrangeas for the holidays

DIY: gold sprayed hydrangeas for the holidays

Last December when we were in New York, I happened upon a cute little stand in Washington Square Park that was selling Christmas greens.  This was the same place that I purchased the magnolia leaves that I carried all over the city just to bring home and add to my porch planters.

It was at that same stand where I saw dried hydrangea flowers that were sprayed gold and added to wreaths, garlands and greenery.  I knew right then and there that I was going to file away the idea for this year.

So this past weekend after doing some yard work, I carefully cut my drying hydrangeas and put them aside.  My mom came up with the brilliant idea of sticking them in the ground and spraying them that way.  It was genius.  The paint covered all angles of the flowers and they dried perfectly in the breeze.  Now all I need to do is preserve them in my garage and pull them out when I do my front porch planters!  Take a look…

The before picture…

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And after…

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My inspiration:

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 Via: Martha Stewart Weddings

Now all I need is for Christmas to come soon!  Enjoy! xo

Birthday Party Shenanigans

Birthday Party Shenanigans

This past weekend I held a 50th birthday party/wine party for my friend, Amy.  It was a big birthday for her this year and she was adamant that she didn’t want any attention made to her.  Well.  That didn’t hold out.  Not only did our coworkers know, but we brought it to the attention of our 125 fourth graders!  In the end, I know for a fact that she had a great day!

Here are some peaks of the party shenanigans and the decor, complete with DIY initial wine glasses for all of the guests.  This tutorial will be coming to the blog this week!

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I printed out these cards courtesy of Etsy.  Since each guest brought a bottle of white and a bottle of red, we had plenty of wine to sample.  This little card gave them the opportunity to keep track of their tastings and what they thought of each.

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Besides wine, we had tons of snacks!

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Honey Drizzled Apples with Gouda and Bacon

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My girls!  Love.

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And thank you to this guy for helping me bring the night together!

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My team just couldn’t get it together for a photo!

A little blurry….but here’s the whole gang!!

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And here’s to wishing the birthday girl a wonderful, happy and healthy year ahead!  xoxo

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