Kelly Christakos Stivers
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Monday
Aug292016

39 weeks + a few pics from my mother/daughter maternity session

Happy Monday!  Taking a tiny break from all things interior decor and design this morning to gush over a couple of the maternity photos I got a little sneak peek of over the weekend!  I didn't do a session when I was pregnant with Lydia, which is crazy now that I think back on it, because we'd had such an incredibly difficult time getting pregnant with her, so this time around, I really wanted to capture a few images of these last few days of it just being me and my girl.  Of course, I waited until the eleventh hour and ended up having them taken the day before I hit 38 weeks, so they are even more special because we are so close now!

There were only a few images I had in mind that I really, really wanted; at the top of my list was a black and white silhouette from the side, something soft and ethereal.  Not only was my photographer amazing, but she blew me away with the few photos I've gotten to see so far; they are above and beyond what I ever could have expected!  If any of you have ever tried to have professional photos taken with a toddler, you know it can be a harrowing experience, so we opted to have an in-home session and let Lydia change into her favorite princess dress (once we got the goods in her real outfit). It totally worked out in our favor because she was so focused on being a "ballerina" that the shots my photographer ended up getting of her dancing are just as amazing as the maternity ones!

Choosing what to wear was easy, as I knew I'd need something snug/form fitting in order to get the silhouette shot, but I also wanted to be super comfy, too.  I wore my favorite Michael Stars maxi skirt and a white maternity tank top from Old Navy, both of which have been staples in my pregnancy wardrobe this summer.  I've been told a million times by photographers never to wear white, but I've always chosen it for photo sessions - white is gorgeous, and with the help of a little self tanner, I've never had any issue with looking washed out.  And Lydia just looks too heavenly in white eyelet to not dress her in it every chance I can get!

We didn't want to leave Daddy out, so we got some shots of baby girl and her main squeeze, dancing...you can see my little princess ballerina takes it very seriously! This is exactly what it looks like around here after dinner these days....Lydia changing into one of her many princess dresses and getting Daddy to twirl and bow her all over the living room:

Of all the photo sessions we've done, these are some of my favorite pictures yet because they not only capture my complete adoration for my little miss, but also the love Lydia has for her daddy, and it also is a great reminder of a fabulous summer and the last few weeks of us being a family of three. My heart is so full already, that it's hard to believe how much more it will inevitably expand here shortly when baby bear makes his debut!  I hit 39 weeks on Saturday; we are in the final stretch! 

Happy Monday, everyone!

Friday
Aug262016

newport this fall

(From our first trip to the Waves in Newport, RI, 2006)

Our first trip as a family of four is right around the corner, as my cousin is getting married in Newport, Rhode Island, at the end of September and we are all in it!  Rhode Island is one of my favorite states to visit, especially in the Fall months, and also because my bestie lives nearby in Providence, but I have to admit, I'm slightly anxious about  a twelve plus hour drive with a toddler and a newborn.  Here's to hoping the boob will keep one content and an entire wing of FAO Schwartz will occupy the other! Have any of you made a long car trip with a toddler and a newborn?  Any advice, tips or suggestions?

Newport is, for me, the quintessential coastal New England town; my aunt and uncle live right by the water and I would give my right arm to live in the guest quarters!  For me, I'd be happy with a teeny, tiny little cottage with even the slightest peek of the sea.  Here are my picks for how I would decorate it - lots of natural texture and, of course, blue and white everything with pops of black and fabulous lighting:

Pillow / Clam shell bowl / Jamie Young rope chandelier / Dining table / Striped throw blanket

Framed racing boat / Blue willow dinner plate / Anchor door knocker / Hicks pendant light

Vendome double sconce / Bamboo credenza

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday
Aug252016

my favorite, budget-friendly entertaining must-haves 

I really thought I'd be sent to labor and delivery yesterday morning after my 38 week checkup, but instead I'm going on week three at 2 cm and 50% effaced, so it's back to regularly scheduled programming for a little while longer.  I don't know if it's my nesting urge or the fact that I haven't been able to actually "nest" with a renovation going on, but I'm seriously in entertaining mode lately.  I'm all about setting a gorgeous dinner table for leftovers or takeout for me, the hubby and baby girl and playing around with fresh flowers for centerpieces.  Because a pretty presentation just makes food taste better, right??

Over the past few years I've accumulated quite a few entertaining staples that have made it super easy to throw together a stylish little get together, whether it be at the last minute or just to dress up a fancy table for the hubby and I on a Friday night after little miss has gone to bed.  I've come to rely on basics like simple white dinnerware and serving platters, French-inspired wine glasses, textured chargers and loads of vessels for flowers and candles, leaving me free to go crazy with floral arrangements and fun accessories for color and fun! 

Here are a few basics I use time and time again; the best part is that they are all relatively inexpensive, but none of your guests would guess that!

Simple white dinnerware and serveware.  Such a simple, neutral base for a classic table setting!  Mine came from TJMaxx and they've held up well over the years, but I love these both for the price and the look.  I also love to mix them with a patterned salad plate for a little color (these are a favorite).  You can never go wrong with large white platters from TJMaxx and HomeGoods for serving, either - I never pay more than $10 for mine and I always try to mix different shapes and sizes for interest.

Water hyacinth chargers.  The Soare chargers from Ikea are $4 a piece but what they add in texture and interest to a table setting is immeasurable!  Since they're so budget-friendly, I don't worry when marinara sauce or red wine end up on one of them!

French wine glasses from Crate and Barrel.  A set of twelve of these glasses will run you less than $50!  I use mine for water, wine or holding small arrangements of flowers; their shape is so pretty, I absolutely love them!

Glass candle holders in various shapes and sizes.  Michael's has the best short, squat vases on sale for 50% off all the time and they're the perfect base for floral arrangements because they aren't too tall to not be able to see the person sitting across from you (I hate that!) but I also love to stick unscented, white candles from the dollar store in them and spread them out along my table and around the kitchen when I have company for a little ambience.  This pack of 72 white glass votives is another great deal and make a lovely presentation down the center of a table!

Trays for cocktails.  I'm probably one of the few people left in blogland that doesn't own a bar cart but I manage to make do just fine, thanks to a pretty impulsive collection of rattan trays! I have quite a few from Target, TJMaxx and HomeGoods, but I love this marble and brass beauty, too!  I set one on my kitcen counter and corral tumblers, liquor, limes, ice and mixers so guests can easily help themselves.

Chic ice bucket.  I'm still as obsessed with my tortoise ice bucket from Furbish as I was when I got it for Christmas.  It always adds just a little sophistication to even the most casual get togethers and it doubles often as a vessel for flowers!

Bread board.  Occasionally, I like to mix it up from serving appetizers on white platters or trays, and an oversize bread board is my go-to lately, especially when it's large enough to put everything on it at once!

Bamboo flatware.  I'm obsessed with this set of 20 piece Bamboo flatware from Horchow!  It just adds another layer of interest and texture to my table and the price just can't be beat.  Many have asked how they have held up since I bought them back in May and they're great! 

What are some of your favorite entertaining must-haves?

Monday
Aug222016

sarah bartholomew in southern living

When I first read that the home of Nashville-based interior decorator Sarah Bartholomew would be featured in the September issue of Southern Living, I started making extra trips to the mailbox to see when it would finally land in mine.  I've been a huge fan of Bartholomew's classic, all-American style, not to mention her love of blue and white as well as how effortlessly she mixes traditional and antique pieces with modern art and treasures so, it's no surprise I've been pouring over the issue since I got my paws on it over the weekend!  Equally impressive is the fact that she is momma to FOUR littles! Her beautiful home is testament to the fact that you don't have to sacrifice personal style when you have children!  From her blue and white color palette with pops of green, lots of texture, beautiful antiques, artwork and fabric, Monday morning eye candy doesn't get much better than this:


Here are my picks for getting a similar look:

Bamboo mirror / Beachcomber basket / Ginger jar / Woven Malawi chair / Leopard lumbar pillow

Topiary / Resin coral / Throw pillow / Soare charger / Embroidered napkin

Gourd lamp / Blake raffia coffee table / Bamboo flatware / Striped vase

Hope you're all off to a great start this weekend!

Friday
Aug192016

fab (blue + white) finds $50 or less

Our guest suite reno/addition is in full swing upstairs, which means that the rest of my house is completely upended to accommodate all the construction going on.  Since I'm heavy into nesting mode right now and can't really do anything about it, I've resorted to what any other 38 week pregnant woman would do when her pregnancy-induced insomnia strikes - SHOP!  Budget-friendly finds are always at the top of my list but especially now when I still have to finish the upstairs and then complete a nursery afterward, so each and every one of my finds in today's roundup is not only fabulous, but each is less than $50!  I also, rather subconsciously, rounded up every blue and white and natural textured decorative item I could find, so you're welcome! 

This gorgeous blue and white striped Turkish towel is an end-of-summer staple and would make for a great transition into fall as a picnic blanket!

This porcelain sea urchin is the perfect addition to a coffee table, bookshelf or a stack of books.

I have this rope tassel brass bottle opener and love it!  It adds just the right nautical touch to a summer barbeque and looks equally fabulous perched on a bar cart!

A set of three blue and white porcelain bud vases are such an easy way to add color and interest to a table setting - these are lovely.

Capri Blue Volcano is one of my all-time favorite candle scents and the pop of blue from the jar is just as beautiful!

I'm obsessed with this textured glass pitcher with gold rim detailing and matching glasses - and the price will make you do a double take!

I got my hubby the larger size of this handmade ghost ship kite for his birthday and it's so pretty in person, it's more like a work of art!

This batik-inspired boho throw pillow is gorgeous - and so soft!  The price is so good, too!

A straw tote is the quintessential summer staple - they are perfect for running errands or toting towels and magazines to the pool or beach - but, I have to say, they look just as amazing hanging on a door during summer months, too!

I love tortoise shell as much as I love bamboo and rafia and this little beauty of a catchall is so chic and would make for a lovely hostess gift!

How chic are these navy tassel rafia placemats??  Perfect for end-of-summer get togethers!

The only thing I may love more than a beautiful brass door knocker is a monogrammed one!  These initial knockers are not only gorgeous, but would make a wonderful house warming gift!

Who doesn't love blue and white ginger jars?  This petite version is only $18!

How ADORABLE is this blue and white creamer set

My love for all things pineapple is a close second to my love for all things blue and white....these matches would be a lovely compliment to a candle as a gift and would look just as beautiful sitting on a coffee table or sink!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!