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May 28, 2018

Summer Smoothies | Taking a real break

They are great to-go for walks or into the car in my Clear Cups & Lids.

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 ; )

May 24, 2018

A Year in the Life of Our Hutch

After living in our rebuilt home for two years, last summer I finally found the last piece of the puzzle for our big open kitchen, dining and hearth area.   I had a budget (that I thought was reasonable) and I was restricted by the size of the wall, so the hunt was a little harder than I had expected.  There was an option at a local antique store that I had had my eye on for 4 years.  It was the perfect size and patina, but it was too expensive (by twice as much as my budget).  As my Aunt advised - if no one else has bought it in 4 years, then it is priced too high.  Another friend thought that it seemed a little too fanciful for our home.  I wasn't so sure, but after looking around and finally finding this hutch that was perfectly in budget and exactly the size and finish that I was hoping for, now I see that the other was not the right one and this one was worth the wait.

Searching for the right furniture for a home can be a little exhausting and seem almost silly.  But we all know, that a well considered and beautiful space can be comforting and soothing for our crazy lives.  While the hutch hasn't changed our lives dramatically, it has become sort of the center of our home.  It is where Emma's artwork is displayed, where she props up found treasures, where we string holiday decorations and display seasonal accents.

This is what the wall looked like before the hutch.  It looks really obviously blank in the photo, but in person it was just sort of forgotten.  When we designed the room, I thought about having a built-in installed that would house china and flatware, but I thought that might feel a little too contrived.  Since everything was going to be brand-new, I thought a piece with a little character might warm up the space a little. 

This was the photo of the hutch on  Because I know you are wondering, and it can be helpful to know what to expect to pay when shopping for antiques, this was $2,000 + $400 freight.  I had seen other similar versions for $4,800-12,000, so as you can imagine, I'm so glad I held out for this one.  I determined that it was a forever piece.  Wherever we end up living, in whatever house, I know I would always find a spot for it.

I love the little hooks - they've been fun to use for displaying and stringing decor.

The Summer Hutch

This is our hutch right now for summer, featuring the new Green Garden Leaf Plates from my Summer Garden Collection in my online store.  I also have Classic Handled Service Trays displayed and some of the platters from my Creamware Platters Set of 6.  My Classic Cream & Sugar Set is holding some little flower sprigs.

I love the hardware on the hutch.  It seems like original brass.

Sprint Hutch

I have the same platters and trays displayed, but this time, just creamware creamers instead of the green garden plates.  I love the mix of the silvery pewter tone with the cream and white.  In the bottom cubby, we have a Match Pewter footed bowl that was a wedding gift.

Early Autumn Hutch

In early Autumn, I took some photos of the hutch style for my fall collection.  I still have my Creamware Platters, but also feature my Spode Woodland China plates to bring in a warmer feel.

As we got further into Fall, I added a pumpkin in the bottom nook, took away the cream platters and added more of the Spode Woodland Plates.

I guess I didn't take any photos of the hutch at Christmas - I remember it being covered in homemade paper "Christmas Lights" and lots of decorations Emma made : )

The Valentine's Day Hutch

For Valentine's Day, Emma made more homemade valentine's and cut out hearts just for the hutch.

Bedazzled Love Bug

Her pride and joy of the season was the pop-out valentine in the center - you can see it best from this vantage.

My favorite part of the Valentine's Day hutch is the barricaded cabinet on the left.

Does it get any better than that?!  I know furniture doesn't make a house a Home, but goodness, this hutch has really been a treat for us this year.

May 17, 2018

The Pillow Guide | Sofa Design Boards

Since we've found our new textile manufacturing partners (Rightfully Sewn), I've been excited to expand my custom pillow options.  I'll continue to add more each season and I look forward to it being a big focus of each collection moving forward.  

I get a lot of questions about what size pillows to use and how to arrange them.  I put together three design boards based on three different color sofa that I think are pretty popular - Cream (like my hearth room), Beige/Oatmeal (like our formal living room) and Grey (which I don't have, but my sister does...).

The most important size for me is the Large 22" Squares that anchor each side of the sofa.  In my (humble, wink) opinion, a 20" squares are too small to be on a sofa by themselves.  They need the larger pillows to fill it out.  I use the 20" as accents with the 22", or use the 20" in a chair by itself.  

In the arrangement above, as seen below in real photos of our Hearth Room, I used two 22" Large Squares on each side, then a 20" Square + a Rectangle as an accent.  To simplify, you could also just do a 20" OR a Rectangle, you don't have to have both.

I use Ikea inserts for all of the Cushion Covers in my store.  So, you can invest in the inserts from Ikea (inexpensive!!) once, and then switch out covers from my store each season like I do.

Ikea 26" Insert  ($9.99) for my 22" Pillow Covers

Ikea 20" Insert ($5.99) for my 20" Pillow Covers

Ikea Rectangle 26x16" Insert ($6.99) for my Rectangle Pillow Cover

This design is based on a grey sofa.  I chose two large 22" to anchor the corners, then a Rectangle Spa Check Pillow in the center.  This arrangement is a more formal, neutral look perfect for those who have a streamlined style.

This sofa is like the one in our more formal living room.  It is an Oatmeal Linen sofa and the walls and trim are Ben Moore Carrington Beige.  It is a very warm feeling room, so adding the blues and touches of green feel country and charming for summer.  As you can see in the hearth room at the beginning of this post, the same colors look brighter and cleaner on the white/cream sofa.

Textile Swatch Collections

I've added a "Shop by Swatch" page to the online store to make it easier to see the textiles unclose and personal.  When you click on a swatch, you can see each item that is available in that print - pillow covers, tea towels, napkins and table runners.  We are also offering physical swatches of my designs.  I'll be adding those to the store next week.  They will include free shipping!

Shop by Swatch Page, here >

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