Monday, July 8, 2013

Tips for traveling with children

We took our first family vacation recently and it was heavenly. I have to admit that the day to day has certainly become a lot more stressful since we added a little one to our family and I wasn't so sure a vacation would even be fun with a ten month old but I'm proud to report that it was amazing and far exceeded my expectations. It was relaxing and fun and really bonding for the three of us. There were a lot of things that we did to plan and prepare that I feel added to our fun and stress free time. I wanted to share what our family found the most helpful in navigating air and car travel with a little one in tow.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Bar shelving

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we went to a salvage shop and bought some gorgeous oak planks to make shelving for above the bar in our dining room.  After a lot of preparing and then deliberating, we decided not to use the oak planks.  At the end of the day, they just really competed too much with the bar.  

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned the bar or the epic deal we got on it from a thrift store a few years ago.  It's this amazing vintage piece that was priced for $190 at a nearby Salvation Army.  It was well worth the price tag, absolutely gorgeous with inlaid wood. It did have some damage to the back but nothing that affected the integrity of the piece.  I wanted it so badly when we spotted it but at the time we couldn't justify the price.  A couple of weeks later it showed up at our local Salvation Army with no price tag.  I asked the cashier how much they wanted for it, he looked over it and said, $15.  Are you kidding?!?  I could hardly contain my surprise and excitement and bought it on the spot.  

Here's a quick (unstyled & maybe slightly out of focus) shot of the bar and the shelving we chose to go with.  You can also see the finished walls with the gorgeous Hale Navy color (so happy with our color choice).  Unfortunately, you can also spot the anchors from the previous placement of one of the shelves, oops!  That's what happens when you are chasing a baby around and trying to instruct your husband on where you think the proper height of said shelf should be.  Our painter will be coming back to patch that little mistake soon.  

We went with a simple stainless steel shelf from Ikea.  The bar is such an amazing piece and we didn't want anything competing with it.  I'm still in love with the idea of reclaimed wooden shelving so we are going to head back to the salvage shop to find something bigger to hang on the other side of the dining room above our white credenza.  We tested it with the planks we got and it looked amazing, a really nice offset to the modern look of the credenza.  It instantly warmed the space up and looked so good on the dark navy walls.  I think the stainless shelves are a great stand in for now.  In my vintage and thrift shopping I'm hoping to come across a great vintage medical cabinet that we could hang to store glassware, etc.  For now, these do the trick and look great, thanks Ikea for always coming through!  

Photo: The Design Boards

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Pardon our dust...

I'm making a few layout & design changes to the blog so things will look a little off for a day or so while I make adjustments so bear with me.   Thanks!

Gift Ideas for New Parents

Now that I've been a mom for 10 months (holy crap!), I feel qualified to discuss some mom-type things here on the blog!  We have several friends who are expecting right now and that always makes me think back to my first weeks home with the new baby and all the lovely gifts we received.   Here are some great gift ideas that go beyond cute outfits. 

1. The baby gets so many new things it's also nice to shower the parents with a couple of special items.  One of my closest friends knew how much I missed some of my favorite foods while I was pregnant (salami, sangria, good unpasteurized cheeses) so she made me a basket of all my favorite couldn't-have-while-I-was-pregnant foods.  Just be conscious if your friend is breast feeding because that brings on an entirely new set of food no-no's.

2. Speaking of food, another amazing gift for new parents is a home cooked meal, or even take out from a nice restaurant (fast food doesn't count!)  Mike's co-workers took turns bringing us meals for 4 weeks!  It was such a wonderful gesture and it was so nice to not have to worry about what to cook for dinner and to get a home cooked was so hectic post-baby that we honestly didn't cook a meal in our kitchen for almost two months!

3. A basket of favorite magazines, movies, and snacks.  New parents spend a lot of time in the house, especially breast feeding moms (I can vividly remember those 40+ minute nursing marathons at the beginning) so reading materials and fun things to watch are a much needed sanity escape!

4. Children's books are a definite must on my gift giving list. I like to give a collection of favorites with an inscription to the baby. 

5. A Baby Brezza or other similar cooking tool for baby.  Since L has started eating solids this has been an amazing gift....I can find so many uses for it after she's done with it makes baby food making a cinch.

6. Your babysitting services.  Being a new parent is such a wonderful and amazing experience, but it's also emotional, tiring, draining, and overwhelming to say the least....every parent needs a break at some point and while they might not take you up on your offer now, at some point they will want to hand over that little bundle of joy and enjoy a night out or even just a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A birthday list...

My birthday came and went, quietly again, like last year.  I guess that's what birthdays do as you get older.  Of course, no birthday of mine is complete without a list of lofty goals and ambitions for the coming year. 

I make a list every year and I feel like I tend to add things that are maybe just a tad bit unobtainable, maybe I'm too optimistic about the future and what I can realistically get done with my current schedule.  Last year was a total fluke because I had no idea what life was going to be life after having a baby and seemed to think maternity leave would allow for all kinds of free time...ha!  This year I have tried to set extremely realistic expectations for myself and have even come close to obtaining several items on the list already...yay!

1. Work out and get into shape
        - Getting there, almost all the baby weight is gone and now I'm working on getting my stomach flat again
2. Create a photobook of L's first year
        - Hoping to have this complete for her birthday party
3. Take a trip with Mike sans baby
        - Scheduled for the end of next month!
4. Pay down a good portion of our debt
5. Set up a short term and long term savings account
6. Go on a hike
        - We are visiting Vermont soon and hoping to get in a couple of hikes with the baby!
7. Visit Morocco
         - This is tentatively set for March
8. Plan a trip to Paris with my mom
9. Spend a couple of days hanging out in London
         - Hoping to do this en route to Morocco in March
10. Create a cute holiday card this year
11. Implement my new business plan
12. Hang up all the artwork in the house
13. Create a family wall and hang more pictures of us
14. Bathroom renovation
15. Refinance our mortgage
        - This is in the works now
16. Make plans to attend Brimfield
17. Invest in the stock market again
18. Stop eating out so much
19. Put more time and focus into the vintage shop
20. Finish the wall of cabinets in the kitchen
21. Make/sew something
22. Make a photo/coffee table book of our best travel photos
23. Start taking family videos
        - We shot 3 this weekend!
24. Meditate at least once a week
25. Completely finish decorating a room
26. Make more time for myself
         - I'm scheduling a day to myself sometime in the fall
27. Clean and organize garage and keep it that way
28. Work on an outdoor/backyard project
29. Drink more water
30. Have people over to the house and entertain more, spend more time with our friends. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Reclaimed wood shelving

I've become obsessed with a new (to me) design show on DIY Network called A Bryk at a Time.  Have you heard of it?  It features Danielle Bryk, a stay-at-home mom who is going back into the interior design business after spending the last 15 years at home with her kids.  It's super cute and feels more like a reality show then a design show as it features her kids, her actor husband Greg and other various family and friends.  It reminds me of the Novogratz family but with less kids. 

I've been getting a bunch of ideas for my own house from things I've seen in the show.  The one thing I'm obsessing over are these beautiful reclaimed wood shelves.  I first spotted them in her kitchen, then I saw her make something similar for a client's bathroom.  I've been looking for a shelving option for above our bar.  If you can believe it, we still haven't unpacked everything from our renovation last year.  This means that all of our bar ware is hanging out in boxes in our second bathroom when it should be hanging out on really beautiful reclaimed wood shelving, don't you think?

This weekend we went to an architectural salvage store and picked up some old oak planks from a Kentucky horse farm and we plan to build some shelves soon.  We're sort of stuck on brackets right now.  I really like the floating shelf look but that really limited us in terms of wood thickness.  The hardware for a floating mount requires a certain thickness that we were having trouble finding when shopping for wood.  I also believe that you are limited to how much weight a shelf can bear when it isn't supported by brackets.  Not really an issue for glasses and bar ware but I didn't want it to be a concern down the road. 

I really love this option.  It's more ornate than most but it adds some interest to the shelves and I think you can get away with something like this when you are using a really beautiful aged piece of wood because it draws attention to the shelf and also gives it a more modern feeling. 

I like these brackets for their simplicity.  Their functional and don't draw a lot of attention to themselves allowing the shelving to really stand out.  With our navy paint color, the brackets would probably blend right into the wall.

Here is the floating shelf option from Danielle Bryk's house.  The picture really doesn't do it justice - it's absolutely beautiful.  She has mounted some wine glass hanging racks to one side of the shelf which you can't see here. 

These brackets actually look like a very simple track system that you might find in a closet.  Not something I would ever gravitate towards for open shelving but I really like the way it looks here. 

I actually love this bracket but Mike isn't a fan.  I think it gives the shelves a modern, industrial look.  These are probably totally out of the running but I thought I would share it anyway, you know, for posterity's sake. 

So those are my choices.  Anyone want to weigh in?  I'll keep you posted on what we finally decide on.  Ikea has a lot of great bracket options so I'll be checking in with them to see if anything stands out as a must have. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Choosing artwork for a child's room

As soon as we found out we were having a baby I started daydreaming about nursery decor.  Mike and I knew from the start that we wanted to create an art collection for our little one and hopefully pass on our love of art to our future babe.  

When curating a collection for little ones, think about what role you want the art to play in the room.
We wanted a collection that would complement the decor in the nursery and that the baby wouldn't outgrow.  There are a lot of really sweet and playful options out there for children - alphabets and fairy tale images are cute but will they have staying power in a few years when your child no longer wants a "baby" room?  We wanted to make an investment in pieces that would grow with L.  My intention was to choose pieces that a 6 year old or a 16 year old could enjoy.  With every piece we chose for her room, I thought to myself - would I hang this in my living room?

Here are some tips and guidelines for choosing artwork for a child's room.

Watercolors - Watercolor is a great medium for a children's room.  The subject matter tends to be less serious, and there is an overall softness and sense of playfulness to watercolor. 

Inspiring words or quotes - Looking at a quote every day for years can be a great source of motivation and inspiration for your child. As lovers of travel and adventure, we chose a print quoted with the words "Adventure Lives Outside your Tent" If you have some hand lettering skills you could even create your own inspiring words on canvas.

Maps - We are avid map collectors and tend to pick up vintage maps on our travels. Maps are a great choice for a child's room. They tend to be bright and colorful and can be a great tool for invoking a sense of wonder and curiosity in your little one.

Handmade art by parents or family and friends - What's more special than a few pieces of art that you've made yourself? If you're a photographer, frame some of your favorite pieces to hang over the crib. We have a mild obsession with England so we painted a Union Jack on a small canvas to sit on a shelf in Linden's room. As a fun weekend project right before the baby was born, we also created silhouettes of ourselves (and the dog!) using photoshop.

Animals - If you're trying to keep with an animal theme, of course there are lots of nursery themed animal prints available, but try to choose something with a more sophisticated flair that your little one can grow into. 

Abstracts - Abstracts are a fun option for children.  Options can be bright and bold and you can easily find something that pulls from the color palette in the room.

Photography - Photography is one of my favorite mediums.  I especially like it for a child's room because you can easily choose a subject matter that is relevant to and has meaning to your family.

In general you should probably avoid extremely expensive or priceless works of art and anything on canvas that isn't protected behind glass.  Kids are messy and at some point one of said messes will end up on the wall, potentially ruining a treasured piece of art.  I also suggest keeping your art budget small, don't go overboard on any one piece because one day that child of yours is going to haven an opinion of their own and it might not be the same as yours (remember when you were 16!) so either love the art enough to hang elsewhere in the house, or be ok with getting rid of it.  Parting ways with a $50 print will be a lot easier than parting with a $5000 work of art, this logic works well with the mess part too.

Stay tuned for a nursery tour where I will be sharing the artwork we chose for L's room.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sorry for the quietness

Wow, sorry it's been so quiet in this space for a little while.  We sort of hit a brick wall after we painted our dining room and haven't been doing much creatively or otherwise.  As I look back on my last posts they almost exactly coincide with when our little one became  Seriously.  When parents tell you things like that, you think yeah right but it's no joke...she's into everything! 

Of course, we're starting to get the itch again (to decorate, not to have more kids) and I'm buzzing with house projects, honey-do lists, and tons of inspiration and ideas.  We're still recovering from the financial shock of last year's renovation projects so everything we have in mind is budget (and kid) friendly.  If you can believe it, the nursery never did get finished and while it is awfully cute, it still needs a few last minute touches - before L is able to start telling me what she wants in there!

Here's my current project list:

* finish wall of cabinets/desk area in kitchen

* curtains for dining room

* find cabinet/storage solution for glassware over our bar

* find a shelving option for dining room above credenza

* blackout shades/curtains for L's room

* finish organizing L's closet

* find shelving for L's room

* new pillows & bedding for our bed

* refinish chair & mirror in our bedroom

* style our new nightstands

* curtains for our room

* finish painting bookcase in living room / add backing / style

* make coffee table book of our travel photos for the living room

* artwork - framing projects, L's room, dining room, family photos

* buy white frames for family photos to hang throughout the house

* clean & organize garage

* work on backyard & patio

We are still a bit of a way off from our kitchen renovation but I'm collecting tons of inspiration.  I can't wait to rip out our upper cabinets and create beautiful open shelving like this...

Friday, March 1, 2013

Fabric options & dining room updates

I pulled a few John Robshaw fabric samples from his line with Duralee (and a couple for L's room - I'm already thinking about how I want to make it more girly!)  I'm thinking of taking some simple, ready made curtains and adding a band around them in one of his darker, indigo fabrics.  I'm also considering making some cushions for our Bertoia chairs.  I love the look of them but they aren't the most comfortable chairs to sit in and I'm not a fan of the pads that come with the chairs.  I do like the simplicity of them and would definitely mimic the style, I just think it would be better in a different fabric other than vinyl.  I want them to blend into the chairs and not stand out so I like one of these white options.

Oh, and I found a settee I love from Ballard Designs.  It's kinda pricey so I'm saving my pennies because it is perfect and exactly what I had in mind.  It's also customizable in one of their fabrics or my own.  It would look pretty amazing in one of the lighter fabrics, don't you think?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Dining Room makeover

We are in the process of giving our dining room a little face lift.  If you've been reading for a while, you might recall that it has looked like this for the better part of three years.  Ok, it hasn't exactly looked that bad but after Mike removed the cheap 70's wall paneling, we tried covering those liquid glue squiggly lines with every kind of paint you can imagine but it bled through...EVERY.TIME.  Our painter at some point suggested using an oil based primer so we gave in and let him have his way with the walls. 

We also got crazy and told him we wanted navy blue walls.  This has been a decision I've been contemplating for months but ever since the words flew out of my mouth, I've been in sheer panic mode.  I've asked Mike like a hundred times if we are making the right decision (he thinks we are).  I've told everyone I know about my plans seeking some kind of desperate paint color approval, I even showed our pest control tech my inspiration pics....clearly I'm panicked! 

While he performs his paint magic and turns my dining room into what might be the best or worst design move I've ever made, I've been busy putting together all kinds of design ideas in my head.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentine's Day Finds

Valentine's Day is a holiday I usually tend to skip over...Mike and I don't do much more than cook a nice meal at home with a bottle of wine and I think it's one of those holidays that's just a bit over commercialized. Blame it on the new babe, but this year I'm kind of getting into it. I imagine in future years I will even go as far as decorating the house a bit but this year I just created a roundup with some of my favorite finds from around the web.

I'm curious, is this a holiday you tend to skip over as well or do you make a big to-do about it?

Sources: 1. Heartfelt Garland via Terrain / 2. Heart mugs via West Elm / 3. Hello Heart by Darling Clementine via Blissful B / 4. Mini Valentine Packages via In Honor of Design  / 5. Love ring via Fabulous Wire / 6. Heart Hole Punch via Lark / 7. Growing Hearts Pillow Cover via Classic by Nature / 8. Waterwave Throw via Beyond Half / 9. Helena Cutout Bra via Journelle / 10. 'Come to Bed' Nail Lacquer via Butter London / 11. Pucker Up Lipstick via Nordstrom / 12. Martha Stewart's Valentine's Sorbet Sandwiches via Blissful B / 13. Veuve Cliquot Champagne via InStyle / 14. Simplicity Flute via Cb2 / 15. Lace Insert Drape Dress via Miss Selfridge

Friday, February 1, 2013

Why I love West Elm

I can remember years ago, in my college days, when West Elm first arrived on the scene.  Its catalog arriving on a semi frequent basis, filled with things college students love - small, space-appropriate, boxy and modern furniture at reasonable prices. 

Over the years their look and product base has changed and today, the company has become a source to be reckoned with.  Pairing up with designers and artisans from around the world, West Elm brings an eclectic and unique mix of thoughtfully produced goods that wouldn't have been accessible to the masses before.  Because of the wide range of goods you can easily fill your home with several pieces and still not be left feeling like you decorated from a big box store. Instead, you will find yourself with a beautifully curated space designed with intention rather than a stale mix of generic goods.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Stylish & Functional Household Essentials

It seems that many of the common household necessities we all keep on hand are just so...unattractive.  Things like sewing kits, pencil sharpeners, and others of the like are a 'must have' but also a 'must keep hidden' because of their boring, ugly and utilitarian nature. 

First spotting this gorgeous, dare I even say sexy looking fire extinguisher on Pinterest a while back had me thinking that there must be other beauties out there like it - other common household goods that we all tend to keep stashed away in a junk drawer or storage closet but that had been made beautiful by like minded, style obsessed people

So I started searching - looking around my house for inspiration and finding that there were so many things that I consider a necessity and that had been made pretty - pretty enough to keep out on display, all the time if I had to.  Things like this French press, which to give credit, aren't bad to look at on their own but wrap it in gold and it's suddenly a stunning conversation piece on the kitchen counter.  Extension cords are another cringe worthy necessity - bright orange, tangled contraptions usually come to mind but these cloth covered beauties might even be better than the bedside lamp they are connected to. 

I'm curious, do you have any household items that you can't live without but must keep hidden in the confines of a cabinet or closet because they are just too ugly to look at or have you found a beautiful counterpart to it like the ones below?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy 2013!

Happy New Year! How is 2013 treating you so far?  I know there has been major radio silence around here for months but they really mean it when they say having a baby is hard work!  I won't say that I am completely adjusted to life with baby but I'm getting there and I'm starting to find more time for myself which means more time to do things I am passionate about again - like blogging. 

Every year I create a list of lofty goals and resolutions that seem reachable because I can put them off for some date in the future and what really ends up happening is I forget about them or ignore them. This year I thought I'd do something a little different and create a monthly goal list - a small list of totally obtainable things I want to accomplish before the month is over. 

Yoga classes, daily walks and weights
Start blogging again
Ask painter about finishing paint and trim work in dining room
Create a photobook using Artifact Uprising
Use the Fuji Instax
Finish decorating Linden's room
Give my wardrobe a makeover
Get quotes on having the concrete patio poured
Choose pillows for living room
Begin 365 day photo project - take a picture everyday of our family life
Cook more at home, especially on the weekends
Begin designing and budgeting our guest bathroom reno

What's on your list of new year resolutions?  

Photo: via Pinterest