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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

4th of July

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4th of July "Star-Spangled" Sangria Recipe | Star Apples & Blueberries

Today I've been shooting some more 4th of July inspired recipes that I'll be sharing next week.  To get us all in the mood for a festive 4th, here is a re-post from our Fourth of July in Concord, Ma - one of my favorites. 

Sangria is one of my favorite Summer drinks... wait, is it that obvious?  Yes, this is my second Sangria post of the Summer.  This version was created especially for for our 4th of July DIY Entertaining video.  To see the video, more details and recipes (including a Red, White & Blueberry Ice Cream Cake) from the shoot, click here.


1 bottle of white wine (pinot grigio works great)
1 cup of peach brandy
3 red apples
1 pint of blueberries
1/4 cup of sugar

Cut the slices of the apples off of their cores into 4 large slices from each apple. Using a small star cookie cutter, cut a star out of each apple slice. Place the stars into the bottom of a pitcher. Add blueberries. Pour in the brandy and let the fruit soak in the brandy for at least an hour, and up to four hours. Add white wine to the fruit and brandy mixture. Stir in 1/4 cup of sugar, or more to taste.

Serve chilled or with ice.

I served the Spangled Sangria in Mason Jars with Berry Skewers.  Just thread red and blue berries on a wooden skewer.  Not only just for looks, they work great to keep your drink nice and cold when frozen, too.

Here I have a complete 4th of July Help Yourself Bar (my favorite kind) set up on our patio table... after all, isn't the bar always where everyone gathers?  Might as well make it a comfy place in the center of the party.  I added a navy pillow to my light blue and cream to instantly (and easily) update my patio decor for the holiday.

Another simple way to decorate your patio for the 4th?  I plopped some flags in my flower pots for a festive touch. 

I made the star-shaped apple pieces by slicing apples, then cutting them out with a cookie cutter.

Visit here to see the beautiful video they created and all of the details from the Star-Spangled 4th of July Party.

Monday, June 27, 2016

4th of July House Tour - Last Day for 4th Orders!

Today is the last day for 4th of July orders in my store.  Take advantage of the Summer Sale (15-30% off, details below) to add some festive touches to your home this week.  I thought I'd take you on a little tour of the couple of patriotic details we have going on in our home this morning.  As I posted last week, I'm taking a more casual approach to blogging this summer, so these photos are unstyled, the lighting isn't great - I just grabbed my camera this morning and took photos of our house as is, while avoiding any messes strewn about : )

Left : On our mantle we have annabelle hydrangeas from our yard in a pewter pitcher.  The 18" taper candles are in Privot Berry Blue (on sale for $12) - my staple for the summer months.  The two flags make the entire room feel dressed up for the 4th.

The front of our house is looking very festive, thanks to 10 small flags + 1 big flag.  All of these were leftover from last year.  Emma and I took 15 minutes one evening last week to put them out and it makes me smile every time we pull into the driveway.    

Here is a link to our home decked out for our 4th of July pre-parade party last year.

Here I have 12" Privot Berry Blue tapers ($8.50, on sale) on our dining room with one massive hydrangea bloom.  

My favorite everyday dish towels look sort of patriotic next to a bowl of cherries : )

A little shatto milk bottle filled with small flags makes the kitchen feel festive.

There are a couple of "Emma" decorations around the house, too.  She's got some style : )  She also created a crepe paper display on the mantle but has since deconstructed it.

My annabelles from our yard... these are almost finished and need to be replaced.

So, today is the last day to get items before the weekend!

These Gold Star cups and straws are some of my favorites for all year long, but will be great for our little pre-parade get together for kiddy drinks and to-go Mimosas for the Moms.

Gold Star Party Cups
Gold Star Straws
 These 6" Red Celebration Candles make anything look special for the 4th.  We'll be using them on our donuts!

Shop the 4th of July collection, here >

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Summer Smoothies | Taking a real break

Summer Break

It may be very obvious around here, but I'm taking a little hiatus the Summer.  For me that means making a strong effort to focus on home and family vs. work.  I love sharing here and building my store, but every now and again, I need to regroup.  I need to simplify our routine, simplify our obligations and take it down to basics.  Summer is the perfect time for that.  I feel like this whole idea of beautifying by simplifying is the root of my brand and it really helps me get back to it when I make an effort to truly live it.

Busyness is a problem in this world.  Most of us have to/feel like we should be busy all of the time.  Such the rebel as I am (eh?) I try to reject this as much as possible.  I would like my family's life to be less busy, less obligated, less committed and consequently, more full.  I want Emma's summer to be full of downtime and "her" time so she can be comfortable not running at a full tilt her entire life.  I'm hoping that teaching her to be content with simplicity and content making due with just being (instead of being entertained) that she will spend less of her days chasing what's next, depending on others for her content-ness and more time just enjoying and being responsible for her own joy.

So, this is the first summer (since middle school...?) that I have taken off from work.  Emma is going to camp one morning a week so I can come here and make sure the boat is still afloat.  Thanks to Laurie and my pack/ship team, the store can run without my daily help - yay!  

I've always believed that "work" didn't have to look or even feel like work.  However, with the growth of the store, I've spent way too much time at my desk over the last year and I'm ready to stretch my legs.  I'm also excited to mentally remove myself for a while to re-commit to this dream and lifestyle of simplicity and enjoying.

(I have been taking photos of our dinners, projects and such along the way and will share periodically.  The photos will be a little more casual than usual, as most will just be snapshots before dinner or mid-project.)  

I'm spending free time immersing myself in magazines (the kind you hold in your hands) and cookbooks.  I'm making a real attempt to garden and work in the yard.  I'm doing housework, working on a couple of home projects and trying to pretend just for a couple of months that I don't have a job.

Emma is working on her cartwheels.

She is playing, discovering and being 4.
We cook together, walk to the grocery store together, do chores together and take naps together, but she is in charge of her day - her playing, her boredom, her happiness.

I'm enjoying watching her become more independent, stronger and resilient.

Her last day of school in May.

I know it is not realistic for everyone to quit their job for the summer.  During my busier times that still include work (the rest of the year!), we make an effort to say no to too much, to have some time that is just for being at home.  Even a lazy Saturday morning walk to get donuts can make a week of work melt away.

I hope you are all taking a break of sorts this summer to simplify and redirect.  The sacrifice of whatever you need to give up is worth it.

Summer Smoothies

Each day we take a walk and have a smoothie.  I'm much better at exercising when food is involved.  There is no kale or protein powder in here, just yummy fruit - so yummy and smooth.  When we were in Seaside this spring, I was spending $8 each morning on one of these at a food truck - yikes!  These cost about $0.75/each at home : )

This has become my favorite formula to make :

- Orange Juice with Mango
- Frozen Organic Berries (cheaper that fresh!) : I keep them in my kitchen containers in the freezer for easy access.  I buy mine at Target, about $10 for a giant bag of blueberries and strawberries.
- Banana
- Chia Seeds (recent addition, not pictured) : Bought a huge bag of organic at Costco for $7.  They add iron, omega-3s, etc.  Taste like tiny strawberry seeds.

Plastic Kitchen Containers are restocked.

When we lived with Mike's parents during our reno, I was convinced that I needed a fancy ($$$) blender after using his mom's.  But, when we moved back in, I was more interested in furniture than smoothies so I settled for this $20 one from target.  I have to say - works so good!  I'm glad I didn't spend $500 on a blender just for smoothies.

At the beginning of the week, I fill the large container with strawberries and medium one with blueberries.  My goal is to use up the entire container of each by the end of the week.  Then, I at least know that I had a substantial amount of fruits mixed in my diet.

So far, our summer diet consists of Tomatoes and Mozz salads, BATs (avocado instead of lettuce), waffles or muffins for breakfast and cheeseburgers on the grill for dinner.  And these healthy smoothies... all about balance ; )

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Summertime Fun Collection | Pink, Blue & Aqua

Summertime Fun Collection
Throughout the year I tend to gravitate towards neutrals and classics. Something happens with the sun comes out - all of a sudden I'm buying fun print dresses and swimsuits, selecting bright bunches of flowers and going wild with pink, blue and aqua.
I've put together a little collection with a couple of linens, pot holders, aprons, candles and ribbons that feature this combination of feel good summertime colors. The are the perfect backdrop for your casual (and fun!) summer get togethers.
Shop the Summertime Fun Collection >

Shop the Summertime Fun Collection >

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Summer Favorites are Back! Willow Serving Baskets (3), Hanging Basket, Willow Vase, Flower Buckets

I've just restocked a couple of items that went too quickly and some (like these serving baskets) that weren't available until now!

These baskets have been a favorite of many of you for the last couple of years.  The baskets make nothing look like something special, when grouped together.  Suddenly, plates and napkins look charming when put in a basket, and nuts and pickles become an appetizer : )
For me, Summer Entertaining is all about ease and bounty.  These serving baskets are exactly what I envision when I think about a breezy, easy summer party.  They make anything from appetizers to stacks of plates and linen napkins look inviting and lovely.
I love lining the basket with a nice linen tea towel.  
Set of 3 :  15" Round, 11.5" Round, 10" Round.

Hanging Willow Basket, $38.50

Another favorite is back!   You might remember last year when it was filled with hydrangeas for a Shower we hosted.  I love it with flags added for the 4th of July!
The secret to using fresh branches and blooms in the basket is using floral tubes to keep them fresh.  I've included 10 large clear tubes with each basket. 

This vase gives such an earthy and casual look to anything it contains.  I will use it for flowers and also to put candles in, mixed with the Large Willow Vase with Handle (also available). 
4.5" T x 5.5" W

Garden Bucket Set of 2, $28

I've already found so many uses for these buckets - besides flowers.  Last weekend, I used the large to chill a bottle of rose and the small to hold roll-ups of silverware.  Of course, they look great with flowers, too.  

Large : 8.75" x 8" x 7.75"
Medium : 8" x 7.75" x 7"

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