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Five Controversial Decor Items (And Why You May Want Them)

20 Jun

Five Controversial Decor Items (And Why You May Want Them)

I found this article on RealSimple and had to repost…

People can be judgy, but don’t let the haters keep you from having what you really want in your home. Here are five infamous items and why you might just want them after all.

1. Wall-to-wall carpet— Carpet may have been on the design outs the past decade or so but it seems to be poised for a bit of a comeback, and more importantly, how much do you think you’ll enjoy those concrete floors during a middle-of-the-night bathroom run in January? Hardwood is hot, but let’s face it, carpet is comfortable.  It’s warm, absorbs sound and even insulates your room.

2. Cowhide rugs— On the outrage spectrum, from full-on fur to a leather boot, a cowhide seems to fall somewhere in the middle for most people, yet is understandably a no-go for some.  My (vegetarian by the way) two-cents take is this: it’s graphic, it’s organic and it’s low-profile. If you aren’t anti-hide, it can be a durable choice – so, if you like it, go for it.

3. Fake plants— For those of us (I’m guilty) who will never keep a houseplant alive for more than a week, fake plants may be the only way we’ll ever get the color and texture of plants into our space. Fakes have come a long way, but use them sparingly and remember, dusty leaves are not your friends.

4. Painted wood— Want your bureau a different color? You can — it belongs to you!  Don’t let fear of the wood-purists keep you from realizing your DIY vision.  Just remember that it’s usually a one-way street. Form a clear plan before taking the plunge because, without miles of sandpaper, there’s no turning back.

5. Reproductions of famous works of art— There’s no rule that says you can only decorate with original art.  If you love Monet (and that pesky museum isstill rejecting your loan request), there’s no reason you have to live without his water lilies in your life. While posters can feel a little dorm-room-depressing, done right, a framed poster or reproduction can look great and remind you of the art you love so much.  Just nix the sticky tack, okay?

What do you think? Which eschewed items do you still love?

(Image: Bethany Nauert / Traci’s Incredible South Pasadena Home)

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How to Set the Perfect Table!

10 May

I’ve always struggled with remembering which side the fork, knife and spoon go on when setting a table. On top of remembering that, which side does the napkin go on AND what about the wine and water glass? I’m not saying I’m one of those people who stresses myself over this kind of stuff, but at the same time, there are occasions where it just might matter… So, I found this cool little chart and a ‘saying’ to live by so that remembering is no longer a problem!

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To follow up, I thought it might be nice to share this diagram. What to do with it all once it’s set (in case you’re like me and always need a refresher)!

Beach Reads

6 May

Let’s start out by saying that I’m not a fan of reading for pleasure. I’m just not one of those people who can sit down with a good book and get lost in the afternoon. But,  I wish I was.  I must have some sort of A.D.D. because I simply can’t stay focused enough to read line after line…Unless of course it’s something like Fifty Shades of Gray, but that’s another story.

Luckily, I like to post things that my reader’s can relate to and enjoy- so this is one of THOSE posts…

Yesterday, on my flight home from Annapolis, I read (yes read) an article on the top beach reads. So, I wanted to share because it looked like there were some interesting books out there that even I might try.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Bestselling author Hosseini returns with an instantly relatable novel that follows generations of a troubled family across the Middle East.

For fans ofNew York: The NovelThe Kite Runner.

No One Could Have Guessed the Weather by Anne-Marie Casey

One woman is forced to surrender her aristocratic lifestyle when her husband loses his job—but the three friends who she finds in Manhattan pick her up one experience at a time.

For fans ofThe Girls’ Guide to Hunting and FishingSex and the City.

Nice is Just a Place in France by The Betches

The creators of Betches Love This tackle life’s difficult challenges (frenemies, boyfriends, hangovers) with a satirical guide about ‘how to win at basically everything.

For fans ofIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)Bossypants.

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

Bestselling author of Prep Curtis Sittenfeld breaks new ground with this supernatural story you won’t be able to put down about twin sisters who can sense the future.

For fans ofHer Fearful SymmetryAmerican Wife.

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

Set in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the 1920s, two typists engage in an unforgettable flapper-era friendship.

For fans ofRules of CivilityThe Great Gatsby.

Freud’s Mistress by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman

A historical novel that introduces—and gets to the bottom of—Sigmund Freud’s intimate and scandalous love life.

For fans ofThe Paris WifeThe Chaperone.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

From debut writer DiSclifani comes a story that would make even Holden Caulfield Blush about teenage Thea Atwell and how she learns to find herself during a summer of sex and secrets.

For fans ofPrepThe Perks of Being a Wallflower.

The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel

Hope, a divorced mother who runs a bakery on Cape Cod, reconnects with her grandmother, whose onset of Alzheimer’s spurs the revelation of a family secret about the Holocaust.

 

Juliet in August by Dianne Warren

The Canadian town Juliet plays the main character in this tale of how a quirky cast of characters handles knowing everyone’s business but not speaking of it.

 

My Summer Must-Haves

26 Apr

Comfy Flip Flops

Vineyard Vines – $45.00 http://www.vineyardvines.com

Patchwork Seersucker Flip Flops

The new Phillip Phillips Album (love!) http://www.target.com

Kiel James Patrick Bracelets

How cute are these!? – $58 https://kieljamespatrick.com/product/936

Light-weight PJ’s

JCrew- $89 http://www.jcrew.com

Vintage short pajama set in stripe

Floral Print iPhone Cases

Lilly Pulitzer – $26.00 http://www.lillypulitzer.com

iPhone 4 Case

Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray – 28$ http://www.sephora.com

(Gives you that “just off the beach” look)

Bright colored/chunky necklaces

Stella and Dot – $228. (out of my $ range, but you get the idea)

Bamboleo Necklace

Mason Jar mugs for cocktails

6 for $30 http://www.poterybarn.com

(There’s nothing better than drinking from a mason jar in the summer)

Floral Prints

Loft Shorts – $44 http://www.loft.com

Ray-Bans in fun colors

Fresh flowers somewhere in your home

Maxi Dresses

JCrew Factory- $84 http://www.jcrewfactory.com

Factory V-neck chevron maxidress

Anything with an Anchor Print…

JCrew Factory- $36 http://www.jcrewfactory.com

Factory 3" printed stretch chino short

A good fake tan, $38 http://www.nordstrom.com

Clarins is my favorite brand of liquid bronze.

Rompers

Loft – $70 http://www.loft.com

5 Reasons to Drink Lemon Water in the AM

9 Apr
 Number 1
It balances pH–Lemon is an acidic food, but once metabolized, it becomes alkaline.  I work very hard at keeping my body alkaline.  Why?
Number 2
It keeps skin clear and glowing!   I have noticed this.  Hydration from drinking lemon water is great for moisturizing our skin from the inside out.  Lemon also contains lots of Vitamin C, which helps with wrinkles and blemishes.
Number 3
It kick starts the digestive system–a big glass of lemon water is a great way to start the day.  It encourages the liver to produce bile which in turn aids in digestion.  It increases urination which helps purify it.  It also helps with heartburn and constipation.
Number 4
It helps with weight loss–I have read that keeping the body in an alkaline state helps people lose weight faster.  Lemons are high in fiber pectin, which helps keep one full, longer.  They also have a diuretic effect, which helps with water weight gain.
Number 5
It helps control the coffee habit–I will drink coffee sometimes, but only if I have had my entire glass of lemon water.  Many days I feel like the lemon water wakes me up more than coffee does…
…which brings me to bonus Number 6:
It helps kick the pop (soda for you East Coast people) habit--I have found that adding lemon to sparkling water and adding a whole lot of ice satisfies any soda craving I might have.

Home Sweet Home

18 Mar

Well, the time has come where my husband and I have decided to pull the trigger and purchase our first home together. The rates are low, the market is getting back on track and it just seems like the right thing to do. Right? Well, little did we know, this would be the most stressful process of our lives.

We started looking back in January when we finally decided that we were sick and tired of paying outrageous $$ for rent and getting nothing in return. And so, the house hunt began. We were completely clueless with the entire process. “What do we do? Who do we call?” I barely even understood what a mortgage was… But, at the end of the day, everything somehow magically came together. BUT, don’t be fooled! From the point where you start and end will be the craziest, most emotional time of your life.

The toughest part for us: Low inventory. There just weren’t any homes available for us to buy!  Homes for sale are becoming scarce in neighborhoods throughout the Boston area and it is creating a “seller’s market” (not necessarily a “buyers market”) . Real estate for sale signs, once common during the recession are now few and far between. I read somewhere that the inventory of single family homes on the market has reached a five year low. So, it was a really tough road for us and there were a lot of let downs along the way. What do I mean by “let downs?” Well, we would put an offer in on a home only to find that there were already five other offers in with two or three of them being over the asking price.  It became a battle with other buyers and let me tell you, it’s not fun.

Luckily, as the process went on, and time passed, we got better at knowing exactly what we  wanted and what we could afford/offer. So, although we paid over asking price, we were competitive. But, we had to be. At the end of the day, that’s what will get you the home you want (in this market). But, we also wanted to make sure we weren’t getting ourselves in a mess. While the shortage of homes on the market is a very competitive place for buyers, we did not want to overpay. Doing so can create problems if the home does not appraise at the sale price because lenders won’t fund loans in excess of the appraised value of the property. We haven’t had our appraisal yet, so we can’t quite cross that off the list. We’re hoping it appraises for what we paid- and I think it will.

I want to also mention that the home buying process is a numbers game. Once we made it through getting our offer accepted, the real fun started. We had an inspection. Ugh. I hated every second of it. Luckily, we got by without too much bad news and they ended up giving $$ back at closing for the things that needed to be done. Its’s all one big negotiation. I’m lucky because I have a husband who has a brilliant mind and he can crunch numbers faster & better than anyone. He really has done such a wonderful job through all of this. Jeff- If you’re reading this- thank you for being so diligent through all of this. Your excel spreadsheets and extensive research have really paid off!!! I love you.

So, here we are. We bought a home and I’m so so glad the tough part is over. We close on June 3rd, and that’s right around the corner. The only question now…will it be worth it? I don’t know the answer to that, but I sure hope so.

Here’s a picture of our new home!

Cherished Memories

13 Dec

This is a special post because I’ve been wanting to share some of my favorite childhood ornaments with you. Every single year, since I was a baby, my mom gave me a special ornament at Christmas. Each one had a specific meaning and would usually symbolize something important that had happened to me that year. I got a piano for the year I started piano lessons, a rocking horse the year my grandpa built me a rocking horse, etc… My grandmother would also give me an ornament each year. The ornaments she would give me were handmade from her dear friend. I just love each and every one of  them because you can really see the time spent in making them. I did not realize how important and special these ornaments would be to me as a grown woman. The first year  that I had a tree of my own, my mom sent me  the box full of the ornaments I had collect all these years. What a wonderful surprise. I had a tree full of ornaments and each one reminded me of a special time in my life. No matter where I am in the world at Christmas, I’ll always be home when I look at my Christmas tree. Luckily, I continue to add to my collection because even though I’m not a kid anymore, they still send me a new ornament each year. I hope they never stop sending them. Thanks mom and gram!

My Home at Christmas

10 Dec

Jeff and I moved to Waltham, MA back in October and have been loving our new place. My family has been asking me to put up pictures, so here you go…

I am all decorated for Christmas and I’m ready for some holiday entertaining (probably wont be saying that in a couple of weeks). I take after my mother who is a very serious holiday decorator/entertainer…Luckily, she has sent me a lot of fun decorating materials to play with. However, Christmas decor is really her thing. Ever since I was a little girl, I remember she would take me shopping on the day after Christmas and would buy GOBS of Christmas stuff ON SALE. *Had to be like 50-75% off or she wouldn’t give it a second look. Her entire attic is full of this stuff and when she goes to get it all out a year later, it’s like a holiday explosion (no joke).

Unfortunately, I have started to see the same trend in myself- eek. Yes, I am my mother’s daughter. Last year, on the day after Christmas, I went shopping and got all of my wrapping paper & ribbon for like ten bucks at the container store (they have beautiful holiday wrapping paper and ribbons FYI). All l I had to do this year was pull out the bin and there it all was, ready for me to use- ahhh. I was happy and so was Jeff because I didn’t have to go and spend any money! Call me crazy, But if you can convince yourself to wake up at the crack of dawn on 12-26, I promise that you’ll be happy you did…

This year, I’ll be at work on 12/26. It’s awful, but maybe I can stop into a Tar-jay before hand. I’ll let you know if that happens.

On a more serious note, Christmas decorations for me are really about a feeling. They are like a warm blanket and a feel-good movie on a cold winter night. They make you happy to be home and with the ones you love. That’s why we all go nuts waiting for the day after Thanksgiving when we can put away the pumpkins and get out the Santa’s! It’s all about a feeling, isn’t it? Enjoy your home this holiday…

OK- Here’s a few pic’s of our new place (mostly pics of our Christmas decorations though- sorry!). Hope you’ll visit sometime.

*Stay tuned for a post (sometime this week) about Christmas ornaments!

Our dog Ralph thinks he owns the place.

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I found these cute little napkins that add a personal touch.
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We now have an awesome wooden coffee table (not pictured here) courtesy of Jeff’s parents.

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Red candles- you MUST have red candles somewhere in your home during the holidays. (just my opinion though)

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 These are snowflake candle holders from my mom. How cute!

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 Our tree. I think this one will probably die right before Christmas. We do not keep trees alive for long. Funny thing is, I never had a real tree growing up because my parents said they were too messy. That is true, but Jeff says we MUST have a real tree, so I guess I’ll give it to him.

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Our Carolers. My mom sent these to me last year- a very special gift. Thanks mom, I love them. image (5)

Poinsettia’s are gorgeous this time of year.

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Oh, how I love natural pine cones. They remind me of the Rocky Mountains.

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Sleigh ride anyone?

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Holiday Tipping Guide

6 Dec

From babysitters to doormen to hairstylists, here’s some rules for proper Christmas tipping etiquette to ensure jolly holidays all around. Remember: for some a gift is great while for others cash is king. See below for guidance.

Babysitter
Budget: One or two nights pay

What to Gift: You can get away with a tip, but try a gift card instead — it’s like giving cash, yet it’s more personal. If you know her favorite interests, you can give a movie lover a Fandango gift certificate, a music lover an iTunes card, or a college-bound sitter a certificate to Target. Still not sure? A girl of any age loves to shop at Sephora. You can also add a special homemade gift from your child, like a drawing or craft project.

Hint: You don’t need to give an occasional sitter a holiday tip. But if she’s really gone above and beyond the call of duty or if you use the same babysitter often during the year, you should reward her for her hard work.

Budget: One week to one month’s pay (based on tenure) for both a personal gift and tip
What to Gift: Buy something your nanny wouldn’t get for herself like a designer handbag — it should be something that’s a special indulgence.
Hint: Avoid kid-oriented presents like a new baby carrier or diaper bag. You want to reward your nanny for her hard work, not add to it!

Day Care Staff
Budget: $25-$70 for each staff member plus a small gift from your child
What to Gift: Cash and gift cards are the best (and easiest) choices. But you should take the extra time to personalize your present with a card or a holiday tokenthat your child picks out.
Hint: If only one person takes care of your child, you should give more generously, but if there’s an entire staff of people, spread the wealth. In this case, it’s okay to give less to each.

Coach, Activity Instructor
Budget: Less than $25
What to Gift: Remember that these are their jobs, not necessarily their only interests. Try something personal from your child, like a personalized framed photo or a drawing of the entire team.
Hint: If you’re not up for giving a gift, a simple handwritten thank-you note from you and your child is a great way to show your appreciation.

Teacher
Budget: $25-$100
What to Gift: A unique house plant is always welcome. But, you could also get the class to chip in for one big gift that’s more personal — like a cooking class or aKindle Fire.
Hint: Check your school’s policy because gift giving might be against the rules. Gifts are usually given when your child has one teacher all day. Don’t feel obligated to buy presents for everyone.

USPS Mail Carrier
Budget: Non-cash gifts with value up to $20 — civil servants are not allowed to receive cash tips
What to Gift: If you want to reward for delivery through snow, sleet and rain, buy a gift card for a coffee shop near your carrier’s route or a cold weather accessoryfor those tough winter days.
Hint: An added non-cash token of your appreciation could be a glowing letter or email to a supervisor — it might even mean more than a present.

Assistant
Budget: $50 or more; take into account your position in the company and how long the assistant has been with you
What to Gift: Ask around for advice on your assistant’s interests like a certificate to dine at a fine restaurant or another experience to an exciting event. A stylish home accent is nice too.
Hint: Avoid gifts that are too personal like clothes or perfume, and avoid anything too practical. They’re practical for you all year round, this gift should give them a break!
And for the rest of the people in your life…
Give them cash!Don’t worry about the wrapping paper and pretty bows.For these people you can show your appreciation with cold hard cash.

Apartment Doorman:
Budget: $10-$100 eachHint: You don’t have to spread the tips equally—those who serve you more should get a bigger tip.

Building Superintendent:
Budget: $10-$100 eachHint: The IRS considers tips income, but most supers don’t want to declare their Christmas gifts so consider tipping in cash. You can also tip less if you tip throughout the year.

Country Club Staff:
Budget: $50 for your regular servers, locker-room personnel, front-desk employees and golf professionals; $100 for head servers or special serviceHint: Cash tips during the holidays are appropriate regardless of the club’s tipping policy.

Dog Walker:
Budget: One to two week’s payHint: A great way to show your walker that you feel her pain? Also include a gift certificate for a pedicure to cure her tired feet.

Garbage Collector:
Budget: $15-$30Hint: Pay attention to who collects your trash. If your garbage man is really a truck driver who operates a mechanical arm that does all the work, there is no need to tip.

Gardener:
Budget: $20-$50Hint: If you use a service that sends a different gardener each week, don’t worry about tipping.

Hairstylist:
Budget: Cost of one haircutHint: If the same person that cuts your hair, styles, and colors it too, you may want to give more.

Housekeeper:
Budget: Up to one week’s payHint: If you use a cleaning service and never know who shows up, don’t tip at all. But if the same housekeeper comes every week and does a great job, tell her with a holiday tip.

Beautician:
Budget: Cost of one sessionHint: If the person who does your nails is the shop’s owner, they might refuse your cash tip. But trust us, either way the gesture will be appreciated.

Newspaper Carrier:
Budget: $10-$30Hint: If you tip your deliverer throughout the year, give a smaller gift at the holidays. Usually they’ll leave an envelope at your door. If they don’t, ask the company to add a tip to your bill.

Package Delivery (UPS/FedEx):
Budget: Less than $75Hint: Each delivery company has their own rules: FedEx doesn’t allow cash or gifts worth more than $75, but UPS doesn’t have a policy. Don’t get them in trouble, do your homework first!

Personal Trainer:
Budget: $60-$100 upon reaching goal, or cost of one sessionHint: If you’re going to add a gift to your tip, stay away from chocolates, candy or anything that’s not health-conscious.

First post on my favorite holiday…Happy Halloween!

31 Oct

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This Halloween has been a special one because my family is here. We spent the entire day on Saturday exploring Salem- just having fun! I love Halloween and all it’s cheesy-ness. There is just something fun and exhilarating about being scared, too. Salem was a blast and I’m so thankful that my family was around to get in the spirit with me. Makes me really miss home and the ability to let loose and be a little goofy. I often forget about how much fun it is to just let go, relax and not care about what anyone else thinks about it…If you’re reading this, do something fun tonight for Halloween. Go trick-or-treating, watch a scary movie, carve a pumpkin or scare some kids!! Just be silly while you’re doing it- I promise it will be fun. :)

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