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Thursday
May032018

a stunning, nautical-inspired wedding in new england

   

After one of the longest, coldest winters in history, we are finally basking in the heat and humidity again, so to celebrate, I thought I'd share one of the most stunning nautical-inspired weddings I've ever seen in person, since warm weather makes me want to break out ALLLLLLL the nautical everything!  You guys might remember that three weeks after having Luca, the hubby and I packed up the littles and drove north - way north - to Newport, Rhode Island, for my cousin's wedding.  Lydia was the flower girl, Daddy walked her down the aisle and I squeezed my post-partum body into a gown as matron of honor (thank the Lord it was navy blue and forgiving!)  My aunt and uncle have a beautiful home in Newport, which served as a gorgeous spot for pictures before heading to the always enchanting Castle Hill Inn for the wedding ceremony and reception, where the sea provided the most amazing backdrop.  My cousin wanted a nautical-inspired reception that reflected her and her now-husband's love of the sea as well as the town they now call home and they got it in spades with a navy and white color palette, gold accents and pale pink, white and peach flowers.  I kid my aunt all the time that she should go into even design because she didn't miss a single detail when planning this wedding; it was seriously magazine-worthy.  From my cousin's incredible, vintage-inspired gown and the crystal chandeliers and twinkle lights that lit the tent for the reception to the hand-engraved dessert forks and antique cake topper, it was truly one of the most magical evenings that we are all still talking about, a year and a half later!  I couldn't be more proud - of my beautiful cousin for finding such an amazing guy and for my aunt for an unforgettable, truly magical night!

The flower girl and the bride-to-be:

The detailing on her dress was breathtaking:

The flowers were absolutely INCREDIBLE!  These pictures just don't do them justice; cabbage roses, hydrangea, dahlia, anemones as far as the eye could see:

A peek at the bridesmaid's bouquets (and the cutest little flower girl I ever did see!):

The beautiful couple and another shot of the gorgeous lace and beading on the back of her gown:

Crystal chandeliers, twinkle lights and candlelight in the tent:

Baby's breath garland and simple navy and white striped grosgrain ribbon on the bride and groom's chairs:

Hand engraved dessert forks for the bride and groom:

Tuesday
May012018

mother's day table + gift ideas

Mother's Day is right around the corner and this year, I'm ahead of the game for the first time in forever with gifts for my own momma and some of my closest friends already wrapped and ready to be given!  I'll be spending the day this year with my mom and my aunt, which is enough of a gift for me in itself, but if I could imagine the perfect present for them, I'd love to host a brunch with a beautiful table setting, lots of yummy food and a bloody Mary or mimosa (or two)!  There's such a bevy of beautiful accessories for the table out right now (I'm especially loving the entire new entertaining collection by Aerin at Williams Sonoma!) and the best part is that almost every one of the items I picked would make for a great gift idea, as well!  Here are some of my current favorites:

These blue and white floral napkins would be an amazing pop of color, paired with bamboo flatware and rattan chargers!

I need another white pitcher like I need a hole in the head, but this basketweave beauty is speaking right to my texture loving heart!

This blue and white swirl taper vase is so simple but so stunning.  Would be a show stopping centerpiece with white hydrangea.

Myrtle topiary are my obsession but they are next to impossible to find anywhere in North or South Carolina (Believe me, I've tried).  Here are a few sizes to choose from, if you want to try having one shipped; I think there's nothing more chic than a staggering of a few different sizes in the middle of the table!

I love my $4 water hyacinth chargers from Ikea, but I've got to say, I think the texture and design of these rattan chargers from Serena and Lily are definitely worth the splurge!

Mixing up drinkware is one of my favorite tricks when setting a table; these French wine glasses and woven tumblers (mine are from Home Goods) are a staple in my house and would make a great gift idea for the friend or momma who loves to entertain (or just set a beautiful table).

My oversize clam shell is one of my most favorite home decorative accessories ever; it would be a simple but beautiful centerpiece, filled with citrus.

It's no secret I love all things bamboo and this serving set just adds that little something extra special to the table (and would make for a fantastic gift!

Friday
Mar302018

easter table 

One of my favorite parts of any holiday is going all out with my table setting; it's one of the things my family has grown used to anticipating whenever it's my turn to host and I love it!  I always loved helping my mother set out dining table growing up and now I am thrilled to do the same with Lydia - she loves to put the flatware out and pick which kind of flowers and napkins we will use!  With Easter only two days away, I'm still finalizing what I'm actually going to be serving but, after a little run through a few days ago, I know exactly what my table will look like. I'm sticking with my favorite basics that I use all year round - water hyacinth chargers, my beloved bamboo flatware and woven tumblers and dress them up a bit with a gorgeous linen runner, a handful of hydrangeas in my favorite woven vase and a navy and white color scheme in honor of this glorious weather we've been having lately!  Blue and white and green is so fresh for spring and my favorite color combination; and, let's face it, stripes are always a good idea! When you have beautiful basics as your foundation, you can elevate your every day table setting so easily with some flowers and table linens!

Water hyacinth chargers / Bamboo flatware / French wine glasses / Navy linen runner

Plates, napkins, woven tumblers, vase all from TJMaxx and HomeGoods.

Happy Easter! 

Monday
Mar262018

5 easy + inexpensive ways to make a big decorating impact

I'm a firm believer that you don't have to spend a fortune to make a big decorating impact in your home.  Some of my favorite ways to do so not only happen to be some of the most budget-friendly but also pretty easy to incorporate.  I'm usually working on pretty tight budgets with clients so I've gotten pretty good at finding less expensive decorating options so that we can splurge on big ticket items.  Here are a few of my favorite ways to make a pretty big impact without breaking the bank, all of which I've used in my own home:

PAINT THE CEILING.  I never painted a ceiling before we lived in this house and now I'll never live in another home without one!  This is a great way to create a custom feel, to draw the eye upward and, most importantly, to warm up white walls. In our entryway, we added board and batten to the walls and then painted it all Sherwin Williams Extra White.  To warm it up a little, I painted the ceiling the same color as the walls in the rest of the living area, ICI Newcastle Gray.  It's so subtle but it makes a huge difference!

ADD AN OVERSIZE MIRROR.  I personally think that bigger is always better when it comes to mirrors; they bounce light around beautifully and make a small space feel so much bigger.  The first thing you see when you walk into our living room is our fireplace/mantle and because we have vaulted ceilings in here, I needed something hefty.  A 40 inch starburst mirror makes quite a dramatic first impression when you walk in!  The same goes for our foyer; I found another 40 inch round mirror at HomeGoods; it had a yellowed frame but I gave a zinc paint treatment and it looks so much crisper against the white walls!

ADD A HOUSEPLANT.  Plants are, hands down, the quickest and easiest way to add a little drama to your space and are always the first thing I run out for when I want to change things up at home or just add some freshness and a pop of color.  Some of my favorites are philodendron, prayer plants and basic palms, all of which I can get for less than $20 at Lowe's, Home Depot or even Walmart.  I like to keep them in water hyacinth baskets (surprise, surprise) for a little added texture!

DON'T FORGET THE WINDOW TREATMENTS.  I don't think any room is complete without window treatments.  For me, it's like leaving the house for a night out without any makeup or jewelry; it's just that finishing touch that adds incomparable softness and texture.  There are so many inexpensive options out there that will do the trick but my absolute favorite is a two pack of Merete grommet curtain panels from Ikea.  They come in packs of two panels that are 118 inches long for something ridiculous like $40; you can't buy fabric by the yard for that price!  For a more custom look, cut the grommets off and add some rings!

ADD A POP OF BLACK.  I think every space can benefit from a pop of black to anchor everything together - a gallery wall in simple black frames, a small piece of accent furniture or even a black and white piece of artwork are a few ways to incorporate a dose of bold black to add a little drama.

What are some of your favorite ways to add a little drama on a budget?

Wednesday
Feb142018

bird seed hearts for valentine's day

Valentine's Day has never really been that big of a deal in our house, but now that we have littles, it's become one of my favorite holidays to celebrate with the kids.  After all, what could be better than celebrating love?  This is Lydia's first year in preschool, so when it came to Valentine's for her classmates, the learning curve was a little steep.  I wanted to do something other than give out candy and when I saw heart shaped bird seed feeders on Pinterest, I thought it was perfect, since we already had about 300 pounds of seed in the garage (we like to feed our birds). 

The first recipe I tried called for corn syrup and flour and did not turn out well at all. I couldn't get the bird seed to stay together, so I ended up coming up with my own thing and they turned out great!  After having made panna cotta for years, I knew that unflavored gelatin would harden enough to get the bird seed to stay together and they were so, SO cute! Lydia even helped mix everything together and then poke the holes with a chopstick!  Here is the recipe and the steps for how I did it:

What you'll need:

4 cups bird seed

3 packages unflavored gelatin

1 cup cold water, divided in half

chopstick (or pencil, to poke a hole in the top for string)

baker's twine or ribbon

heart-shaped cookie cutter

How to make:

1.  Sprinkle three packets of gelatin over 1/2 cup very cold water in a mixing bowl.  Let sit for ten minutes until it firms up.

2.  In a sauce pan, heat another 1/2 cup of water until it comes to a boil.  Add the gelatin mixture and mix until it dissolves.

3.  Add gelatin mixture to a large bowl of the bird seed and mix well.

4.  Let the bird seed mixture firm up and cool off a little before making your hearts. (I stuck ours in the fridge for a half hour).

5.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place your cookie cutter on top.  Spoon the mixture inside and gently push down to make sure it's really packed in. 

6.  With a chopstick or pencil, poke a hole in the top, then carefully remove the cookie cutter.

7.  Once you've finished all your hearts, I put the baking sheet in the fridge to let them firm up overnight.  The next morning, I used a paring knife to cut away the excess birdseed around the hearts and then tied ribbon through and put them in bags with Valentine's tags.  So easy and SO CUTE!!

Definitely chill the mixture before trying to fill the cookie cutters with it; it's so much easier to handle and it doesn't get all over the place!  Also, you can poke the chopstick in again the next morning if it didn't go all the way through when it was in the cutter.  These turned out so stinking cute, that I would definitely consider doing them for favors or even on a rainy day (we love to spread peanut butter on pinecones and roll them in peanut butter, too!).  Hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day!