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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!

Tuesday
Feb132018

lydia's window treatment details

Lydia's room is, by far, the happiest in our whole house and, even though I feel a little bit guilyy that I focus so much on her room when Luca still doesn't technically have fully complete quarters of his own, I love that every time I post a shot of her sweet little space or her gorgeous new (vintage) bed that I get a ton of love from you guys!  Every time I post a picture, in fact, the most-asked questions I get are about her curtain panels (with the antique wooden mermaid coming in a close second), so I thought I'd do a blog post with all the details right here for anyone that was interested!  

Curtain Fabric.  Did I make her curtains myself? As much as I would love to take credit for them, the answer is no.  They are custom made, double-lined panels that another designer friend made and gave me as a gift when I was pregnant with Lydia. The fabric is Warsaw Linen in flax with a four inch border on the inside of each panel in coral, all from Gray Line Linen in New York.  I cannot say enough about this company.  The price and color selection is amazing and the customer service cannot be beat; I ordered my fabric at 6 in the evening on a Friday and it was on my porch Monday morning!  The linen is gorgeous and on the heavier side but I still ended up having a double liner sewn in just to give it that extra weight and oomph.  They hang so beautifully!

Curtain rods + finials.  I like to splurge on my curtains and scrimp on my hardware; the rods are actually 1.5 inch unfinished wooden dowel rods from Lowe's that I had cut there and then painted to match her crib (the paint color is Ralph Lauren Champagne Toast).  The finials are Allen and Roth, also from Lowe's, that I painted and screwed into the ends.  I wrote a post all about it here.

Lamp.  I found this gourd lamp at Hobby Lobby when I was pregnant with Lydia, but it had a dark brown wooden base, so I used a gold leaf pen and painted over it!

Wall + ceiling color.  The walls are Benjamin Moore white and the ceiling is Benjamin Moore Teacup Rose.  It's the perfect way to brighten up an all-white room and the ceiling makes the whole room glow at night when the lamp is on - so, so cozy!

Striped pillows.  The coral and pink striped pillows were also custom made; the fabric is actually a discontinued P. Kaufman stripe that I found in a local fabric shop years ago.  I haven't been able to find it online since!

Wednesday
Feb072018

a few things on my radar for spring

I'm walking around like a zombie the last few days, partly because Luca is still not sleeping well but also because the hubby and I have not been able to get the littles to bed fast enough so we can make a cocktail and binge watch as many episodes as possible of Breaking Bad.  I have no idea how we went this long without watching the show, but we are hooked!  So, besides whether Walter is going to get busted or not, I've also got some pretties on my mind lately - in the form of rattan, tortoise and, of course, blue and white goodness.  Perfect for spring(or any other time of the year, really).  Here are a few things giving me heart palpitations lately:

Bamboo serveware / South Seas Coffee Table / Lumbar pillow / Ginger jar / Print / Double old fashioneds

These bamboo serving pieces would be a beautiful addition to my new flatware.

Serena and Lily just made my dreams come true with this rattan coffee table - proof that style and kid-friendly can go hand in hand!

Still on the hunt for a topiary that I can't kill.

Would love a pair of these blue and white lumbar pillows for my living room.

You can never have too many blue and white ginger jars; love the print on this one!

Love this ship print for a powder room or child's room!

My husband gave me a set of these gold-rimmed tortoise double old fashioneds for our anniversary and I'm completely obsessed! 

What are you loving lately?