How I’m Trying to Keep My Holiday Stress in Check (and it’s not easy)

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The holidays.  It’s my favorite time of year.

Tree lights, Hallmark movies, festive decorations and family traditions.  I love it all!  But sometimes getting everything done and making things extra special takes a lot of work, and most definitely takes a toll on me.

However this year is a little different.  I will be getting foot surgery on December 18th and will be completely off my feet for a while.  Yes…that in itself is freaking me out!  No driving, no cooking, no nothing.  That said, my goal for the next few weeks is to have all of my presents bought and wrapped, cookies baked, decorations up and cards out all by December 16th.

To get all of this done, I thought I would share a few things I’ve been doing to take a little stress off of me in this race to the finish deadline.

Shop Early.  Honestly, I’ve been shopping since mid-October and I’m loving it!  Not only am I getting gifts I love, I am choosing things that could be personalized for that extra special touch.  Plus, I’ve been keeping an eye out and waiting for sales just because I have the time.

Set Mini Timeline Goals and Plan. Each weekend I am doing a little more to get everything done.  I’ve planned everything out and made sure that each item on my list gets the time needed to be completed.

Create a Gift Spreadsheet or Tracker.  For years I’ve been documenting my gifts on a plain Excel spreadsheet.  In the beginning of the season I type each person’ name and spread them out on the document.  Each time I purchase a gift, I add it under the person’s name.  This totally takes the guessing game out of who still needs a gift and who doesn’t.

Simple is Better.  This year my daughter gave me the ok not to put all of our decorations out.  One, it will be impossible for me to take them down in January with a cast and scooter.  And two, we will be spending most of the holidays at J’s house, so what’s the point?

Roll With It.  Easier said than done and I have glimpses of complete anxiety, but I am REALLY trying to go with the flow and enjoy every moment.  Last weekend we took an impromptu weekend trip after Thanksgiving.  Normally all of my decorations would have been up, but since I was away, it didn’t happen.  It STILL hasn’t happened and it’s driving me a little nuts.  But the time away and hours spent with J far outweigh a tree up a few days earlier.

I know these tips aren’t groundbreaking or monumental, but they are helping me manage the hustle and bustle of an already crazy month. What are you doing to make your December a little more calm and bright?

 

 

 

A Teenage Birthday Dinner

A Teenage Birthday Dinner

Happy Thanksgiving Week!  We are now officially entering into my favorite time of year.  It’s that time that runs from Thanksgiving all the way through the new year and I love every minute of it!

I know it’s been a bit since I posted, but I have been crazy busy.  Between school, finalizing the details on the family room, and getting all my shopping done before my surgery in a few weeks, I feel like I’ve been a little overwhelmed.

By the way…I did order a coffee table but I chose one that was completely different from the rest and I LOVE it!  I went with this one from World Market.  It is has a live edge on top, but it isn’t overly woodsy or rustic.  The table is long and narrow and has a very slim design.  Just what I needed.  Plus, World Market is still offering 40% all furniture.

On to the post…my daughter turned 14 a few weeks ago but we had her family party yesterday.  It was the only day that seemed to work for everyone and I’m glad we waited.  It gave me a little more time to plan.  Right now she is into pinks, blushes and golds.  We just redid her room in those same colors and I have to admit, I’m a fan too.  I started with the peachy pink napkins and the gold cacti as a jumping point and everything came together from there.

Each kid got to take home a cactus with their name on it as a favor.  Funny thing, even the boys were digging them!  As always, I created a menu of her favorite items, and the mom of a former student made these amazing cookies for everyone.  How great are they?

So take a few moments and have a look.  It weighs on the side of picture overload, but I couldn’t help it with the flowers.  They were my favorite part.  Have a great day! xo

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Note the paint samples in the background!

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Coffee Table Struggles

Coffee Table Struggles

There is something about Halloween that brings out pure craziness in kids.  Seriously! I’m in store for a hectic day at school today, complete with costumes, a parade and a party.  With twenty five 4th graders.  Wish me luck!

But the one thing that calms me down is creating a cozy, comfy, kid-friendly family room for us to enjoy.  I posted the vision board a few weeks ago and things are progressing. I also posted an update on Monday about all of the little details and how things are coming together.  So far, the couches and rug are ordered.  The end tables were an awesome find on Craigslist and I began sanding them last weekend. And my fabulous chairs are already with us.  Paint color was chosen and the painter is secured.  Plus, Joe’s uncle is onboard for the board and batten garage entryway/faux mudroom.

The one major item I have yet to find is a coffee table.  After measuring and laying out where the couches will go using painters tape, we realized that we need a narrow coffee table so the room won’t feel overcrowded.  My search has been thorough and I have been scouring websites and catalogs and came up with a few ideas…but I’d really like to hear what you think.  Here are a few choices…

{Choice 1} This pretty one is probably my favorite.  It’s 28 inch width is ideal, and I LOVE the legs.  I think the detail is so pretty and I have yet to see another table like it.  It also comes in two shades of brown and is rather long – coming in at 52 inches.

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{Choice 2} This one has more of an industrial vibe, which I like.  I love a room with good balance – rustic, glam, industrial and a little mixed metal.

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{Choice 3} Due to how large to couches are, this one would really open up the space.  I always admired the look of a good lucite table and in the right place, they are perfect.  I’m just not sure how this one would withstand the abuse of a large family and five kids.

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{Choice 4} This is another one that I would totally love in the space.  It would be perfect for an adult-only home or in a room that doesn’t get a lot of use.  You can never go wrong with glass and brass.  Such a classy and glamorous look.

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{Choices 5 and 6} The next two are very similar.  One has four baluster post legs, and one is a pedestal table.  Both are super sturdy and solid looking, and both come in the narrow width I am looking for.  But, I am wondering if they will look too dark and bulky in the space.

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For reference, here is the vision board again.  I originally thought a lighter table would fit the space, but now my thoughts are all over the place!!

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Help!  I’d love to hear which one is your favorite!

Family Room Update: Rug, Paint and Couches

Family Room Update: Rug, Paint and Couches

I thought I’d pop in with another little family room update.  I posted my vision board for this room a little while back and I’ve been slowly doing my research and ordering things as I see them.  We made some progress on choosing some big items and I am super excited to see it coming together.  In my opinion, I think it’s so important to take your time when creating a room, especially one that is a primary living space.  Choosing things that you LOVE and will cherish is so important when creating the perfect area.  This room is one that gets the most wear and tear by our kids and families and for that reason, I’m being extra mindful when choosing elements that not only reflect our personal style, but would be durable and withstand everyday life.

My first thought was to lighten up the room as it can be quite dark.  Even with windows, the light streaming in seems to be at a minimum.  I also wanted two couches that are kid-proof.  Finally, J really wanted the  TV hung over the fireplace, which would be located at the top of this picture (not shown).

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To start, I researched a TON of durable couches, that also came in a long length.  After going to a few stores and checking them out, we finally settled on Crate and Barrel’s Axis ii Grande couches in Camel.  Their length of 105 inches will accommodate the many people who are often in this room.  Plus, the clean lines and neutral color will work well in refreshes in years to come.  We made a trip to Philly to view the couch in real, and I knew right away it was the one.  TIP:  Purchase a 15% off C&B coupon from eBay for about ten bucks.  It will save you tons!  But make sure to read the fine print before hitting “Place Order.”

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They won’t be delivered until close to Christmas, but I think it’s worth the wait.

We also purchased two of these chairs from World Market on a great Columbus Day sale. I still stop and stare at them every time I go by.  The rich, velvety shade of bluish-green, the shape, and the gold legs make this chair a winner.  Today my parents stopped by and I could tell my mom wasn’t too sure what to make of them.  That is, until she sat down.  They are so comfy!  Win-win in my book.  Comfortable and full of style!

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My rug search was ongoing, and I saw a few that I liked online (Wayfair, Joss & Main, Overstock, etc) but I wanted to make sure the colors were just right.  Don’t you agree that it’s sooo hard to choose rugs that you can’t see in real?  After posting a carpet recs post on Facebook, we were able to visit a local store and they had tons!  Best part — they let us bring two home to make sure!  Who does that?!?  That said, I am so glad we did because I ended up choosing the rug that I didn’t originally think I would choose.

My wish was to find a large Persian rug (10×13) that was distressed.  I wanted the base to be ivory, scattered with tans and taupes.  A touch of grey would be fine, but J’s kitchen doesn’t have any grey and I want both rooms to coordinate.  And….I found this one!  It may appear grayish in the picture, but in person it’s not.  We do need to order the larger size with a three week delivery timeline, but we aren’t in a rush.

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The actual rug looks more like the one in the picture below.

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I also posted about my end tables that I found on Craigslist.  $40 bucks for the pair!  Nobody in my world can see my vision, but that’s ok.  I know they will be great!  🙂  My plan is to paint them a glossy white and add some new, chic gold hardware.  I love the lines in the front, and the extra storage they will provide will be beneficial.

It was a little chilly today, but I started sanding them down with an electric sander.  Next step is to clean them with mineral spirits and then paint when it’s a nice and warm(er) fall day.

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Let’s talk about paint.  I’ve had these six samples up on the wall for about two weeks and J still can’t tell the difference.  But I can.  I finally decided on Benjamin Moore’s Linen White (top middle) for it’s creamy color.

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In addition to paint, J’s rockstar uncle is going to help me put up board and batten in the entrance/small hallway off the garage.  This will serve as a “faux” mudroom.  Since the painting swings around to that area, I thought it would be best to do it all at one time.  Here’s an inspo picture I have posted on Pinterest, and I can’t wait to see it finished.  I think it will add a nice dimension and separating point between that area and the family room.  This is another reason for choosing a creamier white.  I wanted a bit of contrast between the glossy white of the lower wall with the creaminess of the upper wall.

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I’m constantly popping into my local Home Goods because you never know what they are going to have.  Two accent pieces I picked up along the way were these framed geodes for the gallery wall and this magazine holder.

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Last, I know I’m getting ahead of myself but when deals strike, you must jump.  I really wanted to get matching Christmas stockings for all of us that would coordinate with the new room.  I was looking all over, but kept coming back to the fur stockings from Pottery Barn.  As luck would have it, J and I stopped by Pottery Barn to look at coffee tables and guess what they had???  Stockings! And they were on a killer sale.  I purchased seven on the spot.  I love how they are all different, but they all have the same cream-colored  velvet top.  I also found an embroiderer and she is going to embroider our names in a chocolate brown.  I LOVE them!  My plan is to wrap them up and have the kids open them on the day we get and decorate the tree.

 

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So that’s about it for now.  I’ve been very busy coordinating this room and it makes me so giddy to see it come together.  J sometimes can’t believe how excited I get over rugs and end tables.  As I said, we are not in a rush, but the timeline is working out perfectly.

Coffee table – Still looking for a narrow, long table.  I don’t want anything too bulky or dark.  I’ll keep you updated!

Rug – three week delivery time

Board and Batten – November, done by Thanksgiving

Paint – first week of December

End tables – will get done by me

Couches – we could have them for Christmas, but I’m not worried if they don’t come.

By the new year, it will be almost done.  I am waiting until after everything is installed before I finish the gallery wall and add other accent pieces.

So, what do you think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts! Enjoy!  xo

 

A Special Birthday Tablescape

A Special Birthday Tablescape

I love Mondays (when there is no school)!  There’s something so relaxing and comforting about not having to jump into the swing of things until Tuesday.  And I especially love Mondays off when I entertain the night before.

Last night I had a special birthday dinner for my mom and my aunt.  They are sisters, both born on October 5th, and they are five years apart.  Try trying to explain that to a bunch of 4th graders.  It was blowing their minds!  So in honor of them, I made a nice dinner and created a fall tablescape perfect for the occasion.

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I went with my gold placements again.  I love these!  They are perfect when you don’t want to use a charger, and the detail and size is right for our large, square table.  I had a menu full of new recipes I wanted to try.  I highly recommend the Creamy Apple Cider Vinaigrette and the Philly Cheese Steak Casserole.  When making a dinner for thirteen people, I choose recipes that can be made before and just heated in the oven.  I also like to have a clean kitchen when my guests arrive.  Plus, I went with pretty paper napkins to eliminate the need to wash and iron thirteen cloth ones.

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For a favor/place card, I made candy with saltines, chocolate and brown sugar to create a heavenly sweet and salty treat.  Each person got few pieces with their name attached.  The kids were chomping at the bit all weekend to eat them!

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The centerpieces were actually candle holders from Michaels.  I found them in fall clearance section and they came to about $2 a piece!  Score!  The tops come off and I used them as vases.  My mom, aunt and Joe’s mom each got to take one home, along with the candle insert that they can use at another time.

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As one of the appetizers, I tried this baked ricotta cheese dip.  It was good, but I can’t say it was excellent.

Overall, it was a special night filled with fun conversations, the same stories told again and again, and two special ladies being able to blow their candles out together.

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Enjoy your Monday! xo

My Vision for J’s Family Room

My Vision for J’s Family Room

It’s been a hot minute since I last posted on here, but I have a new few post ideas in line for the next week. If you missed my last one, I showcased my fall decor around the house, as well as an anniversary tablescape.

Fast forward to today….J and I have been talking a lot about his family room.  The furniture is older, the lighting needs some work, and there is just soooo much brown.  Since it’s hard for him to visualize what I am thinking, so I like to create a vision board with my ideas.  They also help me quite a bit when pulling all of the details together.

My three words for this room would be LIGHT. FUNCTIONAL. TEXTURE.

Here’s what I came up with….

NOTE:  A fireplace flanked with two windows are located in the room at the top of the board.

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It all started with these chairs.

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Holy cow!  I am in love with them.  They are from World Market and the reviews are good.  One gal even said her child spilled yogurt on them and it cleaned right up.  Plus, the majority of reviewers said this chair is super comfortable.   The color is to die for and the style has me swooning.

There is one element, well two, that I want to remain neutral and that would be the two sofas that will line both sides of the room.  After a little bit of searching for kid friendly, longer length couches, I found this one from Crate and Barrel.  Next weekend we are planning to take a ride down to the store in Philly to take a look. It received good reviews and they have a few neutral fabric color choices to choose from.

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I’m also planning some sort of gallery wall above one of the couches and extra lighting in the form of floor lamps and table lamps.  Plus, I’m on the fence about style and color of end tables, but I’m loving the look of a white Campaign-style with drawers for storage.

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For the rest of the room, I plan on keeping everything fairly neutral and light, including the carpet, with durable finishes to withstand the wear and tear of family life.  I would also like to add a few black touches such as a black bar cart in the unseen corner or black books on the coffee table.

What are your thoughts?  I’d love to hear!

Snapshots of Fall Around the House and an Anniversary Tablescape

Snapshots of Fall Around the House and an Anniversary Tablescape

Gosh, it’s been a month since I last posted on this little site of mine.  It’s not that I don’t love it here, but school has begun.  That means my days are filled at school and my evenings revolve around homework for Payton, schoolwork for me, activities and meetings, dinnertime, and relaxing a bit after a long day.  Once the weekend hits, I just want to hang with J and all the kids, relax, cook a little and plan for the upcoming week.

This weekend, however, I will be having a dinner to celebrate my parents’ 48th wedding anniversary.  Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without my parents.  I pretty much talk to my mom on a daily basis, just to fill her in on what’s going on or to ask for her advice.  I have been told that I am turning into my mother on many levels, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. My dad has been a pillar of strength throughout my life.  He was my biggest running supporter, and was once my high school coach.  He makes sure that Payton gets to where she needs to be in the mornings before school, after I have left for work.  And he is my partner in crime around my home, helping me with every project or crazy idea I have.

Because they are so special, I like commemorate their day by preparing a hearty meal with a pretty tablescape, which usually revolves around the season.  This year, my table is anchored with a warm centerpiece using the vase I just confiscated from J’s parents’ garage sale last week.  I pulled out the new gold placements I bought which remind me of the gold chargers I have at my house and set a white plate in the middle.  I found the white pumpkins at my beloved produce store and attached tags with names on the back of each pumpkin.  J’s parents are coming too, so everyone will get to take the pumpkin home.  I was going to use fabric napkins, but these pretty fall ones were a last minute Home Goods find and I thought they went well with the table.

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For the meal, I am trying a new slow cooker Beef Stroganoff recipe found on Pinterest.  We have a few soccer games, so I wanted something easy, yet delicious. Dessert will be an apple pie bought from Wegman’s.  I usually make my desserts, but two weeks ago they were handing out samples of this same pie and it was amazing!  Couldn’t resist.

In addition to the tablescape, here are a few snapshots from around the home.  I used a combination of new autumn items I picked up for J’s house, along with some things that he already had.

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And if you missed my Instagram or Facebook post from this weekend, I posted the mantle all dressed for fall.  I couldn’t resist this cable knit pumpkin pillow from Home Goods.  I picked it up yesterday and everyone around the store either commented how cute it was or wanted to know where I got it.  J missed it at first, but then quickly realized he had a HUGE orange pumpkin in his living room.  It was a funny moment.

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What are your thoughts? Is it too early to decorate for fall?  In my opinion, once school starts, summer is over and autumn is upon us.  Enjoy! xo

 

 

 

Currently Reading: Summer Edition

Reading goes in spurts for me and I have no trouble losing myself in a really good book.   This summer I totally upped my reading game and have finished quite a few. Some were recommendations from others, while some I came across by searching my Kindle store.  I know my taste in book genre may not be for everyone (I’m looking at you, rom coms and good relationship stories), but I’m sharing my top 9 recs for this summer.

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/1/ The Perfect Couple by Elin Hildebrand – I’ve mentioned this one before, but it was one of her best. A little murder mystery/beach read is the perfect combination.

/2/ When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger – This tells the story of Emily from A Devil Loves Prada, post Miranda.

/3/ The Idea of You: A Novel by Robinne Lee -Juicy and steamy, just right for summer.

/4/ Bright Side by Kim Holden – LOVED this one.  Warning – it’s a tear jerker, but so well done.

/5/ The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – This one was recommended by a friend, and I couldn’t put it down.  In my opinion, it feels like it could be loosely based on the life of Elizabeth Taylor.  Also, there’s a twist at the end that you won’t see coming.

/6/ All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin – I’ve been a long time fan of Giffin, and this one was right up with my favorites written by her.  I fell in love with the heroine.  She was strong and stood her ground throughout, despite the challenges that faced her.

/7/ Falling by Jane Green – Another easy read by Green.

/8/ White Lilies by Samantha Christy – This book came across as a “Borrow for Free” novel on my Kindle so I took advantage.  One in a series of three books based on the Mitchell sisters, the story was ok, the characters were likable, and I kind of want to read the other two as well.

Currently Reading:

/9/ It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover – Coming with stellar reviews, I just began this book yesterday so I’ll let you know what I think…

What are you reading?  I’d love to know!

A few things

A few things

Summer weeks are a blur.  They fly by so fast and I have a hard time fitting in everything I want to accomplish.  Yesterday I finally was able to clean my garage out.  It wasn’t terrible – but it definitely was in need of some major organizing.  This weekend we have a fun trip to Boston to visit recently engaged friends.  I’m so excited to see the city again and have a girls afternoon, complete with a massage, while the guys golf.

Here are a few things I’m loving and coveting lately…

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Favorite New Purchase. I received my Kindle Paperwhite e-Reader yesterday which I bought on a killer Prime Day sale.  I can’t wait to download a few books just in time for our upcoming beach trip!  I ordered this case too, which was also on sale.

 

What I’m Reading. These two books are pure beach reads.  I zoomed through Lauren Weisberger’s When Life Gives You Lululemons, and I am about half way through The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand.  Fun fact: Hildebrand mentions my area (streets, landmarks, cities) throughout the book and it’s so fun when they pop up.  She definitely did her research!

 

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Basil Pesto. The other night I made a fresh pesto using the huge basil on our deck.  This year, the leaves seem to be massive!  I tell J that they really must love the spot they are in and he just shakes his head.  The pesto contained only a few ingredients blended together in my food processor: basil, salt, pepper, garlic, toasted (slivered) almonds, parmesan cheese and olive oil.  Pretty basic.  I used brown rice pasta as the base rather than white pasta.  I also added chicken for protein and corn off the cob for a little sweetness and crunch.  It was delish!  Tip:  Reserve some pasta water to thin out the pesto.  Sometimes it gets too thick to mix in with the pasta.

 

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Air Plant and Cute Pot.  During one of my many trips to Lowe’s I spotted her.  It was love at first sight and I just knew she needed to come home with me.  My daughter thinks she’s totally creepy, but I think she’s fun.  She goes perfectly with my decor.  Plus, she’s a discussion piece to boot.  Best part – so easy to care for!

 

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Julie Vos Jewelry.  J gave me this bangle for Christmas and this pendant for my birthday.  At first I wasn’t sure about the pendant since I had my heart set on a lariat, but when I visited the store, I was so blown away by all of her designs.  Needless to say, I kept the pendant and have already worn it several times.  I also now have a wishlist of other items that are totally necessary for me to have! 😉

Enjoy your weekend!

Front Entrance Reveal

Front Entrance Reveal

The other night I was thinking about this blog and decided it was high time to start posting the projects I’ve done since school’s been out.  Last month I posted my Summer Bucket List for J’s house and I have to say, I got quite a bit done.  I did have a trip to Vegas in there, lots of postponed doctor appointments, physical therapy for my ongoing neck issue and time with J and my gang, so I’m finally happy to show off my work for J’s front entrance.

Before the makeover, the door and shutters were a faded green and they were in desperate need of a little sprucing.  While green is nice, I LOVE a good, glossy black door.  There’s just something about it that remains classy and versatile.  In addition, I sprayed the shutters a glossy black too.

Besides the painting, J’s lawn guy came and cut back all of the bushes as far as he could go.  I was looking for a cleaner, more manicured look and I didn’t want the shrubs to be a visual obstacle blocking the entrance.  We decided that some of the shrubs and bushes (i.e the big ones right in front) will most likely come out next spring, but for now, they are staying.  We also had his power washing guy come out and power wash the whole house, deck and sidewalk.  The only thing that is missing is some new mulch!

Before pictures: Sun-faded hunter green door and shutters with overgrown bushes.  The black planters are new and were just planted in this picture below.

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Note the (un)power-washed sidewalk, overgrown bushes.

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The reveal!  Glossy black doors, painted inside and out. (Inside foyer reveal coming soon!) New boxwood wreaths and welcome mat, trimmed trees and washed sidewalk, and the plants in the planters grew tremendously!

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I’m in love with the way it turned out.  The look will transition well into the other seasons of the year – I’m thinking fall wreaths, mums in the planters, pumpkins and gourds, etc.  And for the holidays, simple greens stuck in the planters with holiday wreaths on the door!

In addition to the front entrance, I placed two new planters on the deck with these potted flowers.  They are a type of Mandevilla and they are gorgeous!  They love the sun and come in a variety of colors.  I chose white to blend in to the other colors going on within the deck decor.  (More on that soon too!)

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Again, if you missed my summer bucket list, you can check it out here.  Enjoy!