Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years Eve in NYC

Each year as the kiddos grow older we allow them to stay up late on New Years with their Lola or Tita. This year we decided to take our Tita along with us to our fiestas and at the last minute set up a mini New Years Eve party for the kids.   Our kids will be having a sleepover with friends at our place, and I think they may have more fun then the grown ups.

Monday, December 30, 2013

It is Never to late...

Everyone understands how busy Christmas can be. SO, I say it is never to late to send a belated Christmas gift, plus if you buy your wrapping now you will be able to find beautiful wrap at half the price. 

Here were a few of my favorites...

Ringing in the New Year

I don't know about you, but I have been enjoying all the wonderful post Christmas sales. Anthropology is having mega sales on such beautiful items. There is no excuse to have the perfect dress to wear on New Years. My mom selected just the right thing for me to ring in 2014.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Stay Cozy

Happy Christmas. 
We are three days in and we are enjoying fabulous family time. I hope your staying warm and cozy!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Suppers in New York

Our upcoming week is filling up with my favorite Christmas activities: Gramercy Park caroling, children's pageant, and a midnight service.  I hope your upcoming week is full of joy and shared time with those you love. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Curling Up in Bed for a Few Days

These past few months have turned out to be crazy busy for us, partly for normal reasons (Thanksgiving, wedding travel, pre Christmas insanity), but we have also taken two unexpected trips at the last minute.  Several weeks ago, my sweet 94 year old Grandfather died, so we took a trip to North Carolina to be with friends and family and to celebrate his remarkable life.  Then just this past Friday we got a call that Jady's spunky, wonderful 90 year old Grandmother had also died, so we packed up for a trip down to Louisiana to honor her and grieve with family.  Both of these losses didn't exactly come as a surprise, but we still felt the shock of missing them and gratitude for their love and guidance over all of these years.

This fall/winter has already been such a meaningful, precious time with both sides of our families, and we're so thankful for that.  It has also been pretty grueling with the extra travel and some quick turn arounds, and it's no surprise that Jady, Lindsay and I ALL ended up sick!  I have been totally knocked out by whatever this is, so I'm basically being forced to take it easy and lie around in bed all day (which sounds much more luxurious than it actually is, turns out).  

This lady may have actually had the right idea for airport travel...

Thanks for your patience while I recuperate, and I'll be dreaming up some new projects for us for the new year!



Thursday, December 19, 2013

Homemade Gift Tags

I love anything original and homemade. I think when you bring together the simple details together with love and care the gift you give is so meaningful. I am thrilled my friend Ginger gifted me with homemade gift tags.  Look out for her site in the new year, as you will soon be able to order gifts just like these.....

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Perfect Christmas Gifts

With the business of the Christmas season gift giving can be overwhelming to say the least. I think of all the wonderful people in my life and wish I could send them all a wonderful treat to tell them how much we love them. One thing I know I love most are Christmas cards. Yesterday I opened our mail box and found a dozen new Christmas cards. I was so excited and giddy to be exact. Receiving cards reminded me how special each card is and I can rest assured the cards we sent out touched our loved ones as well.

A few other gifts I love to give are photobooks, and cookbooks. The cookbook on the top of my list is Feast. Our dear friend Sarah wrote a second fabulous cookbook and it is especially for those you love their veggies. If your not a veggie eater you will find recipes to inspire you. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Organization Inspiration: the Garage

Now that Jady, the dog and I have settled back into life in a house, sometimes I forget that we lived for so many years in an apartment. There have been some great benefits to having more space, for sure-- more than one bathroom, a bedroom just for guests-- and I'm still enjoying the luxury of just opening the back door and letting the dog outside. Hey, it's the little things:)

But how is it that after years of paring down our stuff and keeping things (fairly) simple and organized, I already feel like this house is bursting at the seams?  Between the mountains of things we kept in storage at home while we were in Europe (apparently we were hoarders-- seriously, we kept everything!), some additions from our time abroad, and then the normal, daily accumulation of life, sometimes I feel like one of those fish that just keeps growing according to the size pond it lives in.

Slowly and surely I have been tackling the organizational challenges of closets I crammed random boxes into when we first moved in and were working on the house (how long exactly can I claim that we "just moved in"??), and we've been making some satisfying progress.  One area that needs some serious organization still is our garage, which has functioned as a storage unit, lawn care center, power tool workshop, and workout room (that last one's more hypothetical).

Here's the garage at the height of its messy glory:

When I step back and really take in what we've got in there, it's actually not that bad.  The problem is that we have no storage, no shelves or cabinets to help separate the paint cans and power tools from the extra furniture and the treadmill.  For now, I'm dreaming of a garage like one of these:

Good Housekeeping

Hey, a girl can dream, right?



Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Blooms

Hello Monday.
We have made it to the other side of 4 parties. We have one more this weekend and then our own family Christmas festivities. We have had a full month to say the least.  I am sure you all remember we trimmed our house as soon as we cleaned our Thanksgiving dishes. Over the last two weeks we have enjoyed the decor, but I was itching for a little punch in color. So, it is no surprise I picked up a few bunches of pink ranunculus to lift our green party to something a little more special.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Dining Room Design-- Lindsay's Apartment

This week we made some great progress in Lindsay's cute apartment, helping her get everything in her dining room all set up for Christmas.  I am SO thrilled with how well this room turned out for her and especially how little we had to spend.  Putting together a dining room from scratch can blow just about any budget, so I'm especially proud of our bargain victories.

Remember the table as I found it, stashed away in the clearance section of an antique shop for only $65?  I sanded it lightly and gave the whole thing a good scrubbing to remove any grease and then carefully brushed on two coats of Rustoleum's oil base enamel in Smoke Gray.  This stuff covers beautifully and creates a rich, glossy finish that looks like it took many more layers than just two coats.  Because it's oil based, the cleanup is kind of a pain, and you have to wait a full day between coats for it to cure, but the result makes the extra effort totally worth it.

I love the way the gray turned out with the warm neutral walls and the fresh, modern look of the lucite chairs from IKEA.  The cute fish rug is a hand me down from my parents to us, and I'm thrilled Lindsay can use it now.  

Lindsay has always loved the wall series hanging in our dining room, so we planned on using the same layout of 12 calendar prints in black frames for her dining room wall, too.  Since she spent seven happy years in New York City before moving to Louisville, Cavallini & Co.'s calendar of vintage NY posters makes the perfect series to remind Lindsay of her past as she makes a life here in her new place.

While I was at IKEA to get her chairs, I also picked up these cheap black frames, which only set us back $50 for the whole set of them.  So our total for a full wall installation, including the calendar, came to just under $75!

After hanging my own series of 12 pictures, I know firsthand how critical planning is to getting these things straight and properly spaced.  Eyeballing it will definitely leave you with an unsatisfactory result that drives you nuts, so before grabbing the hammer I decided to put in the time to measure everything out and check the hole positions with the level.  Once everything was marked out properly, nailing and hanging was a breeze.

I love how crisp and graphic the series looks all together!  And how dramatic the prints look filling up nearly the whole wall.  Lindsay's place is really coming together.



Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas in Pink

As we prepare for the weekend, I prepare for party number 4! I am particularly excited for this upcoming party. We are hosting the staff and church board members, and together we work so hard we rarely have time to sit and enjoy a meal together. So, when I was thinking up decor for our 4th party, I decided to add a little pink hue to make our party sparkle against our very rustic white pine and magnolia leaves. 

As a side note, I say PREP for any party you are putting on and set up what your able to before hand. Knowing that my table will be set two days in advance cuts out so much stress.  

Here is a sneak peek......

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Simple Cocktail Party Decor

Since we had so many different parties ahead of us last week, I knew I had to keep our decor on the simple side if I was going to get through my to do lists. So, I trimmed my home a week ago and have just refreshed a few areas if my home. One trick I have is to change the color of the my candle sticks throughout the party season. That way each party is festive in its own way. 

I also decided to add wreaths in unexpected areas of our home. I like the element of surprise.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Party Tent: Adding an Extra Room to the House

Each year we like to throw a little Christmas cocktail party at our house as early in December as possible, partly to catch everyone before their schedules fill up, and partly to get on the calendar before they're sick of Christmas parties:)  I knew we'd invited more people than in the past, so cramming them into the house could be a bit of a challenge, which is why we decided to buy this tent for the back deck to add another room to accommodate all of those extra bodies.  I was so excited when it arrived, even though it comes in three huge, super heavy boxes full of about a million parts that looked pretty intimidating at first when we opened everything up.  Actually, assembling this monster turned out to be satisfying and even quick, with the two of us working together.  But who am I kidding?  I love this kind of thing:)

Once the tent itself was in place, we got to work making the space a bit less carport-like and a little more party ready.  Jady's enthusiasm for Christmas decorating is boundless and contagious in the happiest way, and I'm always grateful for his tireless efforts when it comes to hanging lights and schlepping trees around.  I picked up some extra long strands of white lights, which we hung all around the sides and top of the tent.  Then, to soften the look of the lovely vinyl and metal construction, I brought home 20 yards of inexpensive white muslin fabric and hung that over the lights on the ceiling.  The fabric turned out to be such simple addition, and I was really pleased with the difference in the feel of the space.

For this year's party I decided to go super simple with the tree and barely hung any ornaments at all-- and while I'd like to claim it as a minimalist design decision, it actually just knew I wouldn't have time to fuss over it and bumped decorating the tree way down on the priority list.  Better to have a bare tree than hungry guests, right?  I think I made the right choice.

The night of our party the weather turned out to be terrible-- as in heavy snow and icy roads that stranded a bunch of our friends on back roads and up steep driveways.  But tons of people risked life and limb to come party with us anyway!  The day before, to help cozy up the deck area and to try to keep the freezing air out a bit, we laid out some carpet remnant and an extra couple of rugs I had stashed away.  The electric heaters were a critical addition, given the weather, and I have a feeling we're going to use them a ton between now and summertime.

Sadly, with all of this effort and party prepping, I am the WORST at remembering to take pictures of the actual event!  Ugh.  This one is literally one of two photos I snapped at the very beginning of the night.  I seriously need a personal assistant:)



Friday, December 6, 2013

Trimming the Tree

Hello Friday!
Am I happy to see this day. To say this week was full would be an understatement. By the time we get to Sunday we will have hosted 3 holiday parties-- yeah that is right 3!  When I took a look at my schedule a couple weeks ago, I knew we had to be very organized to make it to mid-December in one piece.  My plan of attack was to have Christmas cards complete by Thanksgiving and a floral design for the casa. Thankfully both came together. The day after Thanksgiving I had a bundle of magnolia leaves arrive, 75 feet of white pine, three wreaths, and lots of fun filler.  My little elves helped me get the house together Sunday into the wee hours. 

When it came time to host, I was cool as a cucumber, well for the most part. I think if you feel good about your home's decor then the rest is easy. What guest doesn't easily relax in a cozy home with a cocktail in hand?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Back Yard is Finished!!

Our major landscaping project is complete!!  At least until the spring, when we will add a few more big plants that were unavailable this late in the year.  I am SO excited about how beautiful the yard already looks, and how in just a year or two it will fill out even more and begin to look lush and mature.  What I love about the plans that my Mom gave us to work with is that the bones of the layout give the yard structure and balance throughout the year-- even in the winter, thanks to so many evergreen bushes and trees-- with pretty low maintenance and the flexibility to add in smaller flowering plants and herbs as we like.  Plus there is a great mixture of different hydrangeas and roses to give us tons of cut flowers all summer long.  I've pretty much died and gone to heaven.

The Christmas tree shaped evergreens you can see up against the fence line almost the whole perimeter of the back yard, and these arborvitae get huge.  Eventually, they will fill out so much that they create a wall of green surrounding the whole space, giving the yard a private, secluded feel.

One of the places we're leaving empty until the spring, when the plants we need will arrive, is the area between the main yard and the back "secret garden."  So for now you just have to imagine two tall evergreen tea olive plants that will eventually be trained into an arch to create a doorway into the back garden.

We're also still waiting for a magnolia tree to arrive in the spring for the back right corner where the fence meets the garage.

For the secret garden I'm going to get a bench for the left end and hopefully find a statue for the back side that you'll see as you walk through the archway.  I already have a feeling that this space is going to be my favorite-- with cherry trees, roses, snowball viburnum and hydrangeas, it will be full of summer blooms in peaceful, pastel colors.  I wish winter would hurry up and be over already! :)



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Homemade Stockings

Over the last few years we have made due with our collection of stockings. They are definitely cute, but none of them match each other, so I decided to take a stab at sewing my own. The process was so simple. I took the same yellow velvet fabric I made our tree skirt with and added a dash of color with velvet reds and blues. They were so simple and good looking. 

You simply make a pattern of the left and right side, trace cut and sew. Remember to sew inside out then flip your stocking inside out. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.....

Since I packed away all our Thanksgiving left overs our home has been in full Advent preparation. I sewed stockings, a tree skirt, and trimmed our home. I have loved every minute and the kids have, too. I must say, our approach this year was to be rustic and o'natural. Our tree is trimmed with wool colored balls, beautiful yarn, and white owls. Our home is covered in magnolia leaves, white pine, and box wood. What more could you want. 

Here we go!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Quick & Easy Wall Series

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We are back from a fabulous few days in the mountains of NC with my parents, sister, brother in law and their three fun, adorable children.  So much to be thankful for.

Just before we left town I knocked out a little project in our first floor bathroom that I had been meaning to do, and for whatever reason, in the middle of packing seemed like the best time for it;)  When we bought this house, the only door into the bathroom was from the kitchen, which I didn't love 1) because it limited the counter and cabinet options, and 2) because I prefer a more discreet entrance to a powder room than next to the refrigerator.  So we closed off that old doorway and cut a new one from the little bedroom/office at the back of the house.  I have been so happy with this new layout, but until now I haven't done anything with the lonely, blank wall in the bathroom where the door used to be.  It's not terrible, but with the neutral paint color and tile, the whole space seemed a little bare.

During my trip to IKEA a couple of weeks ago for Lindsay's dining room chairs I swiped four gold frames for us, knowing that I could always find a spot for a series of botanical prints, vintage postcards, or sketches, neatly framed and hung together.  Eventually I might find just the right set of prints, but in order to fill up this empty space and to utilize my new frames now, I simply pulled out four pages of a Cavallini & Co. vintage travel wall calendar, cut them to size, and done.  SO satisfying.

Happy Monday!

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