All of the rooms in our new house could use a little more love, but the basement is still a total disaster — which is unfortunate because it’s supposed to be Levi and Asa’s playroom. And my home office. And the guest room… READ MORE!
An easy way to decorate a store-bought cake
July is a big month for birthdays in our family. Two weeks ago, Levi celebrated his 4th birthday with a backyard adventure party, and today’s my husband’s special day! In honor of his birthday, I thought I’d share an easy way to decorate a store-bought cake because — let’s be real — some of us don’t have the time, interest, or culinary skills to bake a homemade cake… READ MORE!
Shopping for monthly calendars
When I was growing up, my mom kept track of meetings, appointments, and birthdays in a slender datebook (always secured with rubber band), plus a monthly calendar mounted inside a kitchen cabinet.
My mom now relies on her iPhone calendar when she’s out and about, but she still transcribes everything onto a master monthly calendar hanging in the kitchen. Quickly, she can see when my grandmother’s next doctor appointment is scheduled, when my dad is headed out of town on business, or when she needs to babysit my nephew in New York City.
I log my own appointments, as well important dates and times for Levi and Asa, in my iPhone calendar, but our lives are starting to get hectic enough that I think we’d benefit a monthly calendar hanging in our kitchen, too.
I’d like a wall calendar large enough to record everything — birthday parties, doctor appointments, play dates, school functions, vacations, etc. Since I don’t always remember to look ahead in my iPhone calendar to see what’s coming up, a paper calendar would easily allow me take in the whole month at a glance.
Last week, I popped into PaperSource to check out their selection of “academic calendars” — calendars that begin in August and end in December the following year. Below are a few of my favorites from their selection of 2015-2016 monthly calendars. Which one do you like the best?
1. Brush Script Calendar 2. Chalkboard Calendar 3. Great Big Calendar 4. Paint Chip Calendar 5. Gold Foil Watercolor Calendar 6. Gold Foil Blotter Calendar
How do you keep track of your family’s daily schedules? Are you a digital- or paper-calendar person?
PS – That time I tried keeping a Bullet Journal.
(top image via Domino)
Living room inspiration: Clear acrylic coffee tables
Shortly after we moved into our Omaha house — so back in 2008 — Jordan and I drove up to Minneapolis for the day. We didn’t head into the city or even the Mall of America. The sole purpose of our trip was to stock up on furniture and decor at IKEA.
Among the bookcases and the dressers and the bar stools we brought home that day was a large white coffee table with metal legs. The rectangular piece was the perfect height for us to rest our feet while relaxing on the sofa, and its shelf offered storage for random magazines and (let’s be honest) clutter.
The IKEA coffee table anchored our living room for almost four years, until its sharp corners seemed a safety hazard when Levi was first learning how to walk. So we replaced it with an oversize leather ottoman that, truthfully, I hated. Although it was described as “ivory” online, it was definitely a yellowy beige in person and didn’t offer enough of contrast with our wheat-colored couches. There was nothing modern-looking about the combination at all.
For whatever reason, however, we couldn’t return the leather ottoman (and didn’t want to buy a new coffee table), so I lived with it. Besides, it was the safer choice for Levi. But when we sold our Omaha house and the new owners expressed interest in the ottoman, I jumped at the chance to sell it!
That old rectangular coffee table, which had been previously relegated to the basement playroom, has reclaimed its rightful spot in the center of our Washington, DC living room. Unfortunately, the table is simply too large for our now-smaller sitting area.
To replace it, I’m considering a clear acrylic coffee table. I love that this type of table, known as a waterfall table, has kid-friendly rounded edges and a see-through design that’ll take up much less visual real estate — perfect for a small space like ours.
Oh, and the old IKEA table? It’ll head back to the basement, which — at some point — will become a guest room/office/play room.
Where do you fall on the coffee table continuum: Standard table, pouf/ottoman, or nothing at all?
PS: A tour of Levi’s nursery and his big boy bedroom.
Impressive secondhand makeover projects for BHG.com
When it comes to decorating my house, I’m more of a buyer and less of a DIY-er. Writing this article on secondhand makeover projects, however, has left me feeling inspired to try my hand at restoring and repurposing vintage furniture… READ MORE!
Candles that give back and a giveaway!
I love that it’s getting easier and easier to find companies that give back. Of course there are TOMS and Warby Parker, who both participate in buy a pair, give a pair programs. There’s also Yoobi, a colorful line of school supplies, that donates to a classroom in need for every one of their products purchased.
Bridgewater Candle Company gives back in a slightly different way. Rather than providing a candle for every candle sold, Bridgewater makes a donation to Rice Bowls, a non-profit whose mission is to feed orphaned children worldwide. Each donation provides three meals for a child in an orphanage in one of eight countries around the world.
To mark the 5th anniversary of their Light a Candle • Feed a Child™ program (LACFAC), Bridgewater Candles is hosting “Party with a Purpose,” a week of virtual celebrations. Since its inception, the LACFAC program has provided more than 4.5 million meals, and Bridgewater’s goal is to hit 5 million by the end of the year.
Wanna help out? Head over to Bridgewater Candle Company and pick up some of their LACFAC products for yourself or as hostess gifts for all the summer BBQs and parties you’ll be attending. Choose from large or small jar candles, Inspirations for Life candles, and Mingle tin candles. (The Mingle candles in Sweet Grace and Tickled Pink are my favorites.)
Giveaway! (now closed)
And because this is a party, I have a present for you! Bridgewater is giving away three (3) Light a Candle • Feed a Child™ candles to one lucky reader. The winner gets to pick the candles!
To enter, simply visit Bridgewater Candle Company and leave a comment telling me which candle you’d choose. For a bonus entry, sign up for my up-and-coming newsletter and leave a second comment with the email address you used to join.
All entries must be posted by Friday, June 5th at 11:59pm EST. One winner will be picked at random and contacted by email. Soon after, the winner will also be announced at the bottom of this post.
Update: Congratulations to Lindsay – Shrimp Salad Circus! Her entry, number 4, was selected by Random.org.
11 kitchen essentials (beyond the basics)
With our move to DC rapidly approaching, I can’t stop thinking about how to organize and decorate our new place. Although trying to determine how to fit the content of a two-story house inside a townhouse is stressful, the upside is that I’ll have a lot of home-related content to share with you as I figure it all out! Which brings me to today’s topic: kitchen essentials.
The kids and I aren’t moving until Levi’s preschool ends in June, but Jordan and I would like the house to be as close to finished beforehand. So I went down yesterday to start setting up the kitchen. It’s not that I don’t trust Jordan to figure out where to put everything (well, not entirely); he’s just really busy with his new job.
Our kitchen is significantly smaller than our Omaha kitchen, but it doesn’t feel cramped because of its floor-to-ceiling windows and the over-the-sink cut-out looking into the dining room. The upper cabinets extend to the ceiling, which is nice, but there are fewer lower cabinets in which to store pots and pans, small appliances, and bakeware.
Oh, and there’s no pantry.
After spending several hours in the kitchen yesterday, I came up with an updated list of kitchen essentials we’ll need to help make the space work for us. For example, our new fridge doesn’t have a water dispenser!
Obviously, that’s not the worst thing in the world, but since we haven’t used a water filter pitcher in almost six years, we need to get a new one. Any Brita would suffice, but I love the modern look of this Soma water pitcher (1).
Because of the lack of storage, some food items may have to live on the counter. I’m a sucker for typographic kitchen canisters (2) like this set from West Elm.
We also don’t have a ton of extra drawer space for all of our cooking utensils, so some will have to go in a crock next to the stove. This vintage-looking utensil holder (9) would be a fun contrast to the kitchen’s super contemporary look.
Instead of replacing the Keurig machine that died just before we left Omaha, Jordan and I would like to try making French press (5) coffee instead. That means we’ll also need a coffee grinder (4) because freshly ground beans taste the best. And although it’s not necessary, we’ve been enjoying my parents’ milk frother (6) and now
can’t don’t want to drink coffee without warm frothed milk.
We were hoping to add a hot water dispenser to the kitchen sink to help speed up the manual coffee-making process , but it doesn’t look like that’s possible. Instead we’ll need either an electric kettle (3) or a whistling tea kettle (8) that we can leave out on the counter.
With a growing list of kitchen tools that’ll need to be accessible, we’d benefit from some extra storage. The kitchen could fit a bistro table, but a kitchen cart (11) with shelves or a classic baker’s rack would be a better use of that space.
Believe it or not, Jordan is the primary cook in our family. (Ok, if you know me in real life, you can probably believe it.) I’ve just never been interested in cooking. However, his new commute means he won’t be home early enough to make dinner.
I’m kind of freaking out about having to cook every night, but I’ve heard that using a slow cooker (10) is basically life-changing so now I must have one.
Finally, our collection of dish towels is just old and sad. Half are from Jordan’s bachelor days (!) and the rest are just well-worn from years of use. I’d love to start fresh with a set of modern screen printed linen tea towels (7).
Besides ladles and peelers and colanders, what are some of your essential kitchen tools? What couldn’t you live without in your kitchen?
PS – Some ideas for the townhouse’s backyard patio.
Patio inspiration for small spaces
Have I mentioned that we’ll be downsizing when we move to DC? In Omaha, we had a two-story house on almost a half-acre of land. Our new place is a townhouse with a shared backyard resembling a college campus quad.
Before the grass begins, however, is a small private patio. It’s not quite big enough for outdoor dinner parties, but it’s just the right size for sitting in lounge chairs while watching the boys play in the yard. Or for drinking a glass of rosé while reading the book I didn’t get to finish on our vacation.
Despite having such a large backyard in Omaha, we didn’t own any patio furniture. There was a cobblestone patio where we kept our grill, but it wasn’t level enough for a table and chairs. Since we knew we weren’t in our forever home, we didn’t want to invest the money in fixing it.
If we wanted to sit outside to watch the dog run around or Levi play with his water table, we’d bring up our folding lawn chairs from the basement. You know, the kind you bring to outdoor concerts with general admission or to plays in the park. When we had backyard parties, we’d create sitting areas on the grass with large blankets or ask our friends to BYOLC (“bring your own lawn chairs”).
Ideally, I’d like to decorate our new patio with at least two lounge chairs, a small table, and possibly an outdoor rug. Because we’ll be starting from scratch (apart from those utilitarian lawn chairs), I’ve been spending a lot of time browsing Pinterest for patio inspiration and Wayfair for patio furniture. Here are some ideas I’m currently tossing around for our townhouse patio:
Patio Inspiration for Small Spaces
Adirondack chair / outdoor rug / faux sheep skin
chair / outdoor rug / throw pillow / drum table
chairs / table / patio umbrella
Which of these three patio ideas do you like best? I think I’m leaning towards #2, but I wonder if those Acapulco chairs are actually comfortable. Does anybody know?
(inspiration photo #1 by Tara Marie Donne via Domino, inspiration photo #2 via Lonny, inspiration photo #3 and top image by Brittany Ambridge via Domino)
Thanks to Wayfair for sponsoring today’s post! I received compensation to share my patio inspiration with you. You can see even more of my furniture and decor picks on my Patio Dreams idea board at Wayfair.com. As always, all ideas are my own.
Try this green smoothie with banana and spinach
After an exhausting afternoon this past weekend shopping for the boys, I treated myself to one of my favorite smoothies at the outlet mall. Made with strawberries, a banana, and vanilla frozen yogurt, it’s not particularly healthy, but man, is it tasty.
While I was paying, I noticed a small sign advertising a green smoothie and took note of the ingredients: vanilla frozen yogurt, spinach, banana, and a touch of honey. I’ve tossed some frozen kale into Levi’s homemade berry smoothies, but I never tried blending a full-on green smoothie before.
My version had spinach, (frozen) bananas and honey, but I swapped the frozen yogurt for unsweetened almond milk and unflavored organic whey protein powder. I also added a couple of ice cubes and then a splash of water because the mixture was too thick for the blender.
I’m happy to report that my first attempt a green smoothie was a success. That is, it tasted mostly like bananas and not at all like spinach. However, adding a handful of this and pouring a bit of that yielded way too much smoothie for just one person, and I’ve yet to find a way to best save smoothie leftovers. Any ideas?
When I determine the exact amount of each ingredient, I’ll be sure to share them with you. For now, however, you can guesstimate how much you need to whip up your own green smoothie. And if you figure out the proper measurements for a single serving, let me know!
Also, if you have a different favorite green smoothie, please leave the recipe in the comments below. I see myself mixing up a lot of breakfast smoothies this summer!