Thursday, January 19, 2017

Year 2017

I feel like just the mention of New Years resolutions evokes one of two responses- the eye roll or  an eager "me too!". As a goal oriented person, I fall in the latter group. Like every year, I quickly came up with a list of things I want to do this year and skills I want to improve on. But, there were a couple of different things that I have been wrestling with over the past few months, that finally made their way to paper, and I thought I would share them with you:

1. Read 1 book/month. Reading for me is the quickest thing to be dropped when life gets crazy, but I think this is a manageable goal. I'm almost finished with this months book and couldn't recommend it more.

2. Learn calligraphy and/or hand lettering.

3. Choose peace over the to-do list. I'm one of those people who loves lists. I love checking things off and that feeling of accomplishment after a long day of work. It's a gift (oh hey, hard worker), but it also has a negative side. I have a tendency to not ask for help when I should, and push myself (and my sanity) to get things done. This needs to stop. I'd rather be a person at peace with life than a frazzled one who has accomplished everything on her list. When I'm exhausted and I need to recharge and there's a messy room begging for my attention- I'm hoping I'll start choosing to close the door to that room.... and then make some tea and find a clean corner to recharge (because who can recharge in a messy one?).

4. Check social media no more than once a day, then LOG OUT.  Ok, so I really wrestled with this one. On one hand as a blogger/interior stylist, I feel like instagram is more than a hobby. I use it to get a feel for what's current in the design world, to get inspiration, and as a creative art form.
  But, I've noticed this tendency to check it when I shouldn't, to glance down at my phone when I get a notification rather than making eye contact with my daughters or Connor, and I don't like it. I've been thinking about what those seemingly small actions say to my family/friends, and how I want my girls to use social media as they grow up.
  I've also been thinking about time, and how I want to use the precious time I have. It seems to me that we all have a choice with how we use our time. How much time am I willing to give to social media?
  I listened to this ted talk recently, and it really got me thinking about how social media (instagram mainly) can both spur on creativity and kill it. When we don't allow silence in our lives, when we don't live in the moment, when we don't allow our minds to wander, we will not only miss out on connections with people, but we will also miss out on ideas and creative endeavors.

5. Add a new DIY series for the blog.  In this day of being bombarded with wish-lists and must-have lists in our inboxes and popping up on instagram, it's easy to feel that good design automatically comes with a hefty price tag. I'd like to get back to the basics, and create beautiful things that are more about creativity than money.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Blackout Liners- 5 months in review

If getting more sleep was one of your New Years resolutions, I hear you. We bought blackout liners for the girls room about five months ago because we needed a solution for the bright light that kept interrupting the girls sleep (in other words-ours).  Since we had linen curtains from our Indiana house, I wanted to see if I could make them work by just adding a liner. After reading all the mixed reviews, we bought these liners and have not looked back. The room gets exceptionally dark and I am happy that I get to continue using our linen curtains.

If you look closely you can see one of the many silver hooks we used to pin the liner to the curtains. 
Here you get an idea of how opaque these things are.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hallstatt- celebrating 10 years

One of the reasons I'm just now getting around to sharing pictures from our Germany/Austria trip with you is that we have had an unusually busy fall. The other (and probably more honest)reason, is that part of me felt like pictures could not do these beautiful places particular, I worried my pictures would not do Hallstatt justice. In each of our trips, Connor & I usually come away with one or two spots that hold a special place in our hearts and that we talk about revisiting someday. Hallstatt was that place for us on this trip. There were moments I felt like we were walking through a storybook, it just did not feel real. As such, I've decided to dedicate a post just to Hallstatt, and will be sharing other pictures from our trip in a few weeks.

We splurged during our stay in Hallstatt to get a place on the water, and I'm so glad we did. Not only was it a beautiful view in the morning, but I was drooling over the design inside our apartment.

The town center of Hallstatt:
We ate our first night's dinner at this little beer garden. After ordering Schnitzel, Connor asked if there were any local brews to which he was told they only had local brews. Of course.
That white house in the town center with all the ivy mixed with red flowers was my absolute favorite.
Another peek at where we stayed in Hallstatt. How beautiful is that chandelier?

This picture below looks like a Thomas Kinkade painting to me.
Another shot of the town centerL

This house was everything to me- the door, the flowers, the windows, the green shutters....I could go on and on!
Celebrating ten years with my favorite person. It really could have been anywhere (we just loved having some uninterrupted time together), but Austria made it all the sweeter.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

On simplifying

I know what you're thinking- she blogs! Yes, I took a break- a longer one than intended, but a necessary one. Our fall was incredibly busy with trips to Virginia, Germany & Austria (more on that soon), Maine, and Colorado.....and in the middle of all that we hosted six rounds of company (we love hosting!) and two rounds of sickness (the company being way more fun than the other).  I like to think I've come to terms with my inability to juggle everything really well, so at any point I feel myself starting to slip, I reassess and drop things and say "no" as needed. My family, friends, and health/fitness were "yes" and this blog had to be a "no" this fall. I'm grateful that I can always pick up where I left off though, like an old friend. 
There's something about coming out of a busy season of life that makes you want to simplify everything. Coming from Indiana, we had more furniture than will probably ever fit in a Boston house (in our price range), so we have been looking at each piece that we own with a critical eye. It all appeals to the minimal part of me that wants to own less, but really love what we own. Enter our new coffee table. We sold our old coffee table and console table that we bought when we were first married and used that money to buy this one- no money lost, just less "things". In some ways, I was sentimental about them- after all they went with us from Virginia to Oklahoma to Seattle to Oklahoma to New York to Indiana to Boston. But the truth is that it had been a long time since I had loved them. This new coffee table is better suited for the smaller Boston rooms, it's bright and modern in contrast to the period home we are living in (and will probably live in the future), and I love it. In the coming year what areas of your life are you trying to simplify? Whatever it is, I hope it leaves more room for the people/things you love. Merry Christmas and see you in the New Year!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

12 Tips to help you be a good host over the holidays

Because we have moved around so much (thanks mainly to Connor's years in the army), we have really close friends scattered all over the country. I count myself blessed that some of them regularly visit us each year- in fact it's those treasured visits and phone calls that have helped us transition with each of our (nine) out of state moves. As such, it's extremely important to me that they know how grateful I am that they spend money and vacation time on us. Hospitality is something I love and am always striving to improve on, and with the holidays approaching, I've compiled some ideas for making your guests feel welcome and at home.

1. If nothing else happens besides a clean house and grocery shopping, I always try to make sure that I at least have clean towels set on their bed. Guests may feel awkward going through your linen closet, and it's nice if they don't have to ask.

2. I love the idea of a carafe filled with fresh water to greet guests (such as the vintage one above that I used in my in-laws bedroom). I have yet to implement this, but I normally try to set aside a bottle of water next to their towels.

3. My mother-in-law bought bathrobes for visitors that she keeps hanging in the guest closet. This touch makes guests feel like they are not just visiting friends, but on a mini get away.

4. I'm the first to use our guest room closets for storage and we even had a nursery/guest room in Indy (seen below) for those of you who cannot spare a bedroom for guests, but I try to make the room as decluttered and minimal as possible. It's hard to relax if there is nowhere to put your suitcase!

5. It's nice to have something home baked goodies in the can be bread, granola, or paleo cookies if you want a healthier option.

6. I always try to consider diet restrictions of guests ahead of time- what do they typically eat at home? As someone who really appreciates when hosts serve a healthy option for dinner, I want to make that available to them. I also realize not everyone stays away from carbs. So, when I host dinner guests, I will often have a tortilla/bread option and a healthier option. I want everyone to enjoy themselves.

7. Fresh flowers in the house are always welcoming.

8. Another thing I try to put next to the towels and water bottles, is a small snack like a Kind bar, and a small gift like a bar of soap. Ive been known to raid Anthropologies clearance closet for soaps for guests.

9. I always keep an extra hair dryer in the guest room and shampoo/conditioner in the guest bathroom, just in case they were short on space in their suitcase.

10. A decent pillow goes a long way- throw out the ones you've had for twenty years, and get a cheap one at Costco or Ikea for $15. I guarantee you it's better.

11. Make sure there is a fan and blanket accessible.

12. The most important thing is to not be stressed. All of these ideas are nice, but if the host is so stressed about everything being perfect, guests will not feel at ease. People over perfection.

What are some of your favorite ways to make a guest feel at home?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Black & White- ten years and going strong

Ten years ago, Connor and I were newlyweds in a small one bedroom apartment. Because I was still figuring out my style, I decided to decorate with black and white- black furniture and white couches. I eventually added red to the mix in the way of red throw pillows, a red tea kettle, a couple red candles, and a red outdoor rug that we used under the newly black painted dining set(my first DIY).  When I think of that first apartment, I can't help but smile. It was a simple apartment, but our hearts were exploding with pride and happiness to have a home together. Though my design taste has changed (and grown), I don't look back on those early decorating years with dismay. Yes, the matching red candles/tea kettle/throw pillows ensemble is long gone.....but I think design is more about how well designed a room is, I think it's also about how it makes you feel. Ten years later and I still love the calmness of black and white interiors.