Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods

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Wednesday evening commenced the yearly cabin trip that I take with my friends.  This annual excursion started five years ago after a particularly tough year for me, and we have been doing it ever since.  We go the few days before Easter and it’s something we all look forward to, year after year.  Of course we have our yearly traditions, but it’s always fun to make new memories.  I am so blessed to work with such an amazing group of people, and it’s very rare to find colleagues that I can also call my friends.   We’ve been with each other through thick and thin and I couldn’t be more grateful.

This is our third house since we’ve been going, but it definitely was my favorite for interiors.  It was also the largest by far!  The home included a gorgeous kitchen, large room for entertaining and dining, a double-sided, two-story fireplace, a pool table, movie theater, hot tub, small beach, full-sized shuffle board table and a game room that donned 13 vintage pinball machines.  There were decorated nooks throughout, complete with metal sculptures, a wall of books and pretty antiques.  We spent a good portion of our time around the campfire roasting marshmallows and drinking libations.  Nothing does better for the soul than good food, tasty drinks and awesome conversations!

Enjoy this picture walk through this amazing home in Pocono Pines….xo

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The Perfect Dress for a wedding…..

The Perfect Dress for a wedding…..

Ok, so I’m not a fashion blogger per se and I sometimes feel a little weird posting pictures of myself on here, but these dresses from Amazon are too good not to share.

We were invited to attend the wedding of J’s coworker last night.  Since the bride and the groom are of the Indian culture, I wanted to wear something long and flowing.  I was pretty sure that most of the females would be donned in their traditional Indian dresses, and I was right. I saw amazing dresses in all colors and styles.  They were mostly long and colorful with lots of jewels adorning the fabric.  I also knew that April nights could be a little chilly, so I chose a dress with sleeves as I am ALWAYS cold.

After searching multiple stores and websites with no luck, I thought I would give Amazon a try.  Oh my gosh!  Totally worth it.  I ordered these three dresses and the two I didn’t wear are going back.  But let me preface by saying it was not an easy choice.  It was down to the teal blue and the purple at the last moment.  I liked the fitted top of the blue dress because I thought it would fit well under my moto jacket, but the purple just felt better on.  The first one was pretty and very comfortable, but it was so long that it needed to be hemmed and I’m not a fan of a tie back dress.

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 Kaftan Sleeve with a little bling at the waist

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Vintage V-Neck Gown

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 Batwing Sleeved Belted Long Gown

Best part — each dress was under $50!  Mine was under $25.  Deal!  I ordered a small in each style.  Right now I am a true 4, so the small in each fit perfect.

Shoes — that’s another issue for me.  I have been having a difficult time finding comfortable shoes to wear since my surgery.  Super high heels just don’t make the cut.  After walking around DSW about fifty million times and trying on every neutral strappy sandal, I went a different route with these Vince Camuto snake skin mules.  The actually are quite comfortable and they don’t rub my heel.

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The updated cut of a mule and the unassuming animal print worked well for me and pulled the outfit all together. I am usually between and 8.5/9, but the 8.5 fit perfectly.  And J even coordinated with a purple tie! It was a beautiful night celebrating a beautiful couple.  xo

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Trend: Floral Dress | white sneakers

Trend: Floral Dress | white sneakers

With summer around the corner and spring on the verge of popping, I am forever looking for ways to transition from colder weather to transitioning temps.  You know those days where it could be 35 degrees in the morning and 70 degrees in the afternoon?  Sometimes it’s just a little too chilly to wear open-toed shoes when it’s just above freezing.  That’s where this trend comes in…floral dresses (or any dress) and white sneakers.

I have been loving this look because it screams comfort.  I live in dresses all summer long, so paired with a comfy sneaker…sign me up.

The other day I picked up these Adidas sneakers.  They have clean lines and are not too bulky.  There’s adequate padding and arch support, and the backs of my heels stay in place.  I purchased an 8.5.  Normally I wear a 9 in sneakers because I like lots of toe room, but this size fit me best.  I gathered a few images from Pinterest to showcase what I’m talking about.  We are traveling overseas this summer and I plan to do a LOT of walking, so pieces like these will be taking up the most room in my suitcase.

Thoughts on this trend?

Images via WhoWhatWear

Powder room wallpaper selected (I think!?)

Powder room wallpaper selected (I think!?)

A few weeks ago I posted about my powder room vision boards here on the blog.  To recap the saga, last year I wanted to refresh the powder room and created three boards using three versions of removable wallpaper.  I went back and forth with the patterns and let the samples hang for weeks, but in the end, I just wasn’t sold on any of them.  Regarding design, I never just “do to do.”  Rather than rush into something I didn’t love, I decided to put the project on hold and wait until I found the right paper.

Old designs here:

Fast forward to this winter.  I started to get the itch again to revisit removable wallpapers on the market and ordered three samples on a whim. These are the more recent vision boards I put together…

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Of the three, I am learning towards this version from Etsy.  I love the bold, moody pattern, and the texture of the paper itself is so smooth (almost to the consistency of contact paper).  The colors are phenomenal and rather muted, which will work nicely in this small, but high space.

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I’m thinking of having J’s rockstar uncle work his magic again and install some molding  or shiplap on the lower half of the room.  The ceiling height is super high, so five foot painted molding will assist in the wear and tear of the bathroom and also protect the wallpaper.

Some good inspiration right here

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As far as colors for the molding, what are your thoughts on a mossy green?  Initially I was leaning towards white molding, but I love a rich green.  The right shade will only add to the dramatics of the large florals.

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Possibly shades like this, but I’d really need samples to get a good read of the colors…

I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Are you a bold and bright kind of person, or a perfectly neutral gal?  I’m actually both, but I’m not afraid to go a little crazy in a powder room!  Why not, right? xo

The best piece of anxiety-controlling advice I ever learned

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A friend of mine recently introduced me to Lori Harder’s podcasts.  If you don’t know who she is, look her up.  Her podcasts are definitely worth a listen.  She’s a self made entrepreneur with a background in fitness and body building.  Her story is so motivating and most of her weekly messages are so inspiring.  Plus, I’ve been known to take a page or four of notes in my journal from her podcasts.

Honestly, years of therapy has been great and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I still go.   But for some reason, I really seem to resonate with most of her topics.  Ranging from anxiety to building self confidence to anything in-between, she covers all bases of life issues that real women face.  Her followers are known as her tribe, and she often talks about how we can build our own tribe of diligent, confident, self aware women. Sign me up for that!

During one of her episodes she mentioned this quote by Mooji.  “Feelings are visitors.  Let them come and go.”  It struck me.  It struck HARD.  I wrote it down in my journal and even highlighted it.  And since that day, when things get hard and my feelings out of whack….anxiety heightens, sadness creeps in, I remember that quote.  I say it to myself over and over again.  Feelings are just temporary.  They can be gone within an hour or a day.  They come and go like waves on a beach.  I’ve also learned from this simple quote not to react to situations immediately, but rather sit on them for a while, wait and reflect.  Most times I am thankful I did.

 

 

 

Five Entertaining Tips That I Use all of the time

Five Entertaining Tips That I Use all of the time

Those that know me well know that I LOVE to entertain.  There is something about the whole party planning process that is so satisfying, yet therapeutic for me.  I’m not sure if entertaining allows me to explore my creative side, or if it brings me back to my event planning days in the business world.  But whatever it may be, I mostly enjoy seeing the final product come together and seeing those I love having a good time.  It’s a win-win in my book.

As I thought back to the many dinners and parties I’ve together in the past, there seemed to be common threads among them all.  Because of that, I decided to share my process of how I pull everything together from start to finish.  Also – for this post, I went back into my archives and selected a few of my favorite meals so please excuse the bad lighting on the older pics!

My Top 5 Tips for Entertaining:

1. Plan the menu in advance with simple meals. Usually a week or two before the party, I begin to brainstorm my file of recipes or Pinterest to pull together a menu that fits the crowd that is coming over.  I never serve anything too time consuming to make, I choose dishes I can make in advance, and the menu will always have an appetizer course, a main dish and a dessert.

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2.  Create personalized menus using pretty scrapbooking paper from Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. This is the fun part and has come to be expected among my family.  Once the menu is created and is printed using a graphics package (even Word), use scrapbooking paper to finish the look.

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3. Pull together the menu with chargers, placemats, cloth or pretty paper napkins, and candles.  I love to shop my home for all of these items and find it a challenge to see how many different combinations I can make using existing goods.  If it’s a large crowd or one with lots of kids, I will stop in Home Goods or TJ Maxx to see what their paper napkin supply looks like.  And I always use this gold cocktail napkin holder with pretty napkins for apps and dessert.

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4. Pull it together with a floral arrangement from a discount florist and possibly a favor.  This is my favorite part…the flowers!  The morning of the party (or day before) I head to my discount flower place to see what’s in stock.  Since it’s never the same from week to week, I love the challenge of collecting the flowers that would best compliment my table.  I also like to use items such as mini pumpkins or smaller vases of flowers on the table to add depth and dimension.  Then, once the party is over, I send them home with the guests as favors.

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5. Make as much of the meal ahead of time as possible.  There’s nothing worse than cooking in the kitchen while entertaining, especially after the wine has been flowing.  I try my hardest to have everything done and ready prior to the arrival of my guests.  This includes large pans being washed and put away.  It makes my life so much easier!  Plus, J usually does the dishes, so he appreciates it too. 🙂

Here are a few past parties that I pulled from my archives!  Enjoy!  xo

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Kitchen chairs in progress

Kitchen chairs in progress

Slowly, but surely I’m working on little projects around the house.  J has a pretty, square table with eight chairs in the space that separates the new living room with the kitchen itself.  For a while I’ve been searching for the perfect upholstery fabric that would tie the two spaces together, and I settled on Ballard Design’s Sunbrella fabric by the yard in Zadie Mink.  I LOVE it!

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The chairs were originally done in this red, cream and sage stripe, but I wanted something a little more dramatic, yet neutral.

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So far, my helper and I have three done…five to go.  I can’t wait until they are finished and so far, I am loving the look!  Once the upholstering is complete, I plan on spraying a coat or two of ScotchGuard on the cushions for extra protection against food and spills.

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I think my helper is the BEST!  🙂

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Stay tuned for the final product! xo

A birthday celebration for our dads

A birthday celebration for our dads

Last night we hosted a birthday dinner party for our dads.  They are two very special people in our lives, so they deserved nothing but the best.

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My dad has always been an important part of my life.  He was the reason behind my entrance into running, he is always there to lend a helping hand with my DIY projects, and damn, does he hang a mean gallery wall!  My dad also is there for my daughter.  He willingly drives her to school every morning so she can get to choir practice on time and I can’t thank him enough for that!

Joe’s dad is a saint.  He is the pillar of their family and is an active caretaker for Joe’s mom and grandmother.  I’m not sure how he does it all, but we are all very thankful for all he does.  He is kind and welcoming and considerate always.

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The theme of the table started with the blue and green printed ikat paper I found at Michael’s.  It was a good starting point for the rest of the scape.  I went to my favorite flower place and the combination of green, white and blue flowers pulled it all together.  I also loved how the touch of pink in the miniature roses softened the more masculine genre, and the fun tulips added a whimsical touch.  The smaller vases were sent home with the ladies as a thank you for coming favor.  Plus, they all love flowers too!

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I’m always a sucker for cloth napkins and these were a Home Goods find.  The blue chargers were from an after Christmas sale a few years ago.  Each were a quarter!  I don’t use them often, but they mixed in perfectly here.  Tip: White dinner plates go with everything, and food always pops on the white background.

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It was a fun night.  Lot’s of good food, great conversation, and lots of wine!  xo

 

 

Alice in Wonderland Cast Party

It’s been two weeks since my daughter’s play ended, but I thought I would share a few snapshots of the cast party that followed the four performances that weekend.  The cast party is something that I get involved in as a parent because my schedule doesn’t often allow for me to go to after school rehearsals.  For this year, I went with the Queen of Hearts/red roses/black and white theme.

The students were welcomed with the favor table.  I bought black and white fabric and used it throughout the rooms as a base.  Super fun fact:  The stage parents actually laid black and white vinyl tiles on the stage as a temporary floor and it was amazing!  So I thought this fabric would be the perfect touch.

The tables were set with black tablecloths and the fabric.  I used my own gold chargers and sprinkled red hearts which were found before Valentine’s Day at the dollar store.  I made the centerpieces using playing cards taped inside, and bundled faux red roses, also from the dollar store.  To add height, I ordered mylar balloons.  Thanks to my mom, this was a chore getting them out of the store and into the hall!!

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We had two additional tables set up – one where the kids could write wishes for all of the 8th graders and the other where kids wrote notes to the director and assistant director.  I created the signs using wrapping paper that I already had and Lisa ordered the journals from Etsy.

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My talented friend, Lisa, coordinated most of the party, but her definite claim to fame were her cupcakes.  Look at them!  She made them look like the “Painting the Roses Red” scene from the play!!

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To distinguish the favor table, I used my letter board and placed it on a vintage gold easel found at a flea market a few years ago.  That easel gets more use that I ever thought!

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For favors, each child received an organza bag with their names on it.  Inside was a printed tag from Etsy with a vintage key attached.  The bag also included their personalized note from the director.  Each cast member also got to take a poster signed by everyone in the play.

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Overall, it was a fun night for the kids.  Next year’s show wasn’t announced yet, but I know each child went home with a smile on their face.  And I went home and got into my robe and enjoyed a nice glass of red!

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J’s Family Room – Gold Etagere Bookshelves

J’s Family Room – Gold Etagere Bookshelves

When a room comes together exactly the way I want, I am a happy girl.  I am finally adding the finishing touches to J’s family room refresh, and once all is installed…I will be photographing and sharing the whole space!!!

Bottom line, there is a corner of the room that needed something.  I debated back and forth between a credenza/bar cart or bookshelves, and in the end, the shelves won.  I’ve always been a fan of the pretty gold etagere shelves, and since there is gold in the room, I thought they would look great.

After some searching, I decided to go with this piece from Wayfair.  It came with good reviews and was a great price compared to others on the market.  Since this corner isn’t heavily used or touched, I didn’t think we needed to spend a fortune so this one fit the bill.  Plus, this one came with five shelves rather than four.

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My plan is to mix in some natural elements to balance out the gold, with touches of black.  I also want to incorporate some colors taken from the gallery wall.  I’ve been activity collecting “items” from Home Goods, as well as shopping our homes, and am so excited to put it all together to make that corner of the space extra special!

Here’s a sneak peak of the room and gallery wall during the holidays.

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As I said, once the room is complete, I will be sharing the complete reveal.  By the way, if you missed my vision boards for the powder room, check them out here! xo