September 5, 2014

My Six Hosting Essentials

Since living in a hotel for, ahem, 4 1/2 months, hosting has gone a bit by the wayside.  But, my passion for doing so hasn’t.  So in the absence of actually hosting cocktail parties and bbq’s and intimate dinner parties al fresco, I decided to bring you my six hosting essentials curated by yours truly.  I would say that 95% of the parties and dinners I host, I am equipped with all 6 of these goodies!


1.  I use these slate cheeseboards from Crate & Barrel for so many things.  For a cheese board, of course.  I lean them and use them as welcome signs chalking the guest of honors name, for example.  I use them as a serving tray for all kinds of food.  They are versatile and worth getting!

2.  A welcome cocktail.  If you aren’t in the mood to be creative or you don’t have time to bring out your inner mixologist, just go back to basics.  Serve a glass of champagne or prosecco to get people in the mood.  Done and done!

3.  Cute cloth napkins.  These are from Anthropologie and I love them as they are modern french, reusable and neutral.

4.  Fresh flowers in the guest bathroom.  This example is perfect as it literally is 3 stems in small vase set right on the sink.  Perfect.  You could use a vase or a mason jar or a candle holder that no longer has a candle in it.  And just go to your local grocery store or florist and spend $10 or less on some flowers.  Easy, beautiful and cheap!

5.  A few candles to enhance the ambiance.  I usually light a candle in the bathroom and have 1-2 more in the living/dining space depending on the theme and party type.  This Voluspa candle from Anthropologie is my favorite.  Like I love it to pieces.  The smell is bold and floral and fresh.  I usually light this particular one in the bathroom as it’s pretty fragrant and you don’t want to compete with the smell of food in your living/dining/kitchen area.

6.  Something sweet.  I have a sweet tooth.  I love chocolate and ice cream and cupcakes and brownies and cake and I believe that a party isn’t a party unless something sweet is served.  And when push comes to shove, skip the baking and go to the store or a local bakery and pick up something.  You don’t need to be the hero and unless you are Martha Stewart, spending a few bucks at a bakery or cupcake shop will result in a far prettier dessert, yes?!

September 1, 2014

First Home Improvement Project – Floors!

Hey there! Happy Labor Day.  I am spending mine catching up on work, some house projects and organization to get ready to move into our new house!

Speaking of house…when Rick and I were buying our house, we were all over the board on which kind of house we would settle on, based on what we were seeing in the market.  A house from 1920 that had incredible charm, but all the bathrooms needed a gut rehab.  A new construction with minimal character but pristine appliances and finishings. A house in an amazing location that needed basically an entire gut rehab.

Our deciding factor (in addition to some of the obvious things like price and location) was trying to get a move-in ready abode.  With him still new in his job (and busier than ever), a baby due in November and the 8,000 other life things, we decided move-in ready was the way to go, in an effort to save our marriage and not kill each other during a massive home renovation.

So the little Jurassic Park house is ready for us and we will be moved in next week with only one pre-move-in project that is relatively minor but was a must for me – staining the hardwood floors.  Rick didn’t totally agree with this, but, we came to agreement (and by we, I mean I).  Our previous home, like this new home, had similar floors – an orange-y maple oak.  It was the only thing I would change about the house and thankfully, my loving husband approved.  Truth be told I hate orange-y maple oak floors.  And gosh, so many houses have them!  But given the house, otherwise, was move-in ready and this project was small (only about 35% of the house has these floors), it clearly wasn’t a deal-breaker and the project was manageable for us.

I found a company, got some quotes, made a decision and the work starts on Thursday.  And here we are.  A few days from stain-and-refinish-the-orange-go-time.  My desired outcome is in the family of walnut.  Fingers crossed we can get these bad boys in the family of some of these beauties below!

floors 3 floors 4

floors 2

floors 5 floors

I will send you actual pictures of how the floors turn out and we can see if we got close to any of the above!

August 27, 2014

Decorating With Mirrors

I love me some beautiful mirrors.  They are a design necessity and you can go big, go small, go in multiples and almost never fail.  You can splurge or save on them.  You can buy them new or snag up a perfect antique one at a flea market.  They work well alone and paired with others.  These are just a few reasons I love decorating with mirrors. Not to mention their functional purpose: brightening up spaces, increase the perceived size of a space and giving a space customized lighting, depending on where and how you hang them.

And below are some of my favorite ways to maximize your space in creative ways using mirrors.  What are your favorites?

decorating-with-mirrors decorating-with-mirrors-2 decorating-with-mirrors-3 decorating-with-mirrors-4 decorating-with-mirrors-5 decorating-with-mirrors-6



Sources:  Apartment Therapy // Little Green Notebook // Ana Rosa Tumblr // Country Design Style // I Do, I Don’t Design // Apartment Therapy // Source Unknown

August 25, 2014

Our Flytographer Experience + $250 Giveaway!


A couple months ago I came across this brilliant company, Flytographer, on a blog I follow and 2 minutes later, I was sold.  From the perspective of someone who travels quite frequently, someone who loves photography and someone who loves capturing special moments, this experience was for me!  Plus, when a company gets press from Conde Nast Traveler, The Huffington Post, NBC (to name a few), you know it’s going to be good.

What is Flytographer?  Here is a short snippet from their website that I think brings to life the objectives of their company very well:

Flytographer captures travellers around the globe every day… honeymoons, family vacations, girlfriend getaways, proposals, anniversaries, reunions & more! Capture memories in over 100 cities worldwide with our hand-picked list of professional photographers. It’s like strolling the streets with a local friend who shares insider tips, all the while discretely chronicling unforgettable vacation memories.

How Does it Work?  Very simply!  Choose a city.  Book your shoot.  Meet a friendly, local photographer.  Return with treasured memories.

I booked Flytographer for our babymoon in Vancouver (I wanted to capture some moments of Rick and I before the baby comes and also, get a few bump shots) and the experience was SOOOO worth it.   First off, their concierge, Jen, helps with all the setup details and she’s so helpful and very responsive.  Are there photographers in Vancouver? Where will the photo shoot take place?  How long will it be?  What is the price?  Do I have a choice in the photographer I use?  And so on.  She answers all of your questions and gets you set up for the experience.  Amaze.

Rick and I arrive at Stanley Park, instantly connected with our photographer, Sarah, and about an hour and a half later, we were done.  Admittedly, it was awkward in the beginning.  Exploring Stanley Park with a photographer following you can be, um, uncomfortable.  But literally 5-10 minutes into the session, Sarah had warmed us up and we laughed and talked and basically saw some beautiful sights around the park all while she captured the moments.  It was so much fun!  Here are a few of my favorite shots.

flytographer-ueno-babymoon-9 flytographer-ueno-babymoon-4 flytographer-ueno-babymoon-3

flytographer-ueno-babymoon-7 flytographer-ueno-babymoon-2


I am super excited to offer you a chance to win your own Flytographer experience.  With this prize, you will receive The Short Storyteller experience, valued at $250!  This includes a 30-minute photo shoot, one location and 15 digital photos.  Enter below and good luck!  I will announce the winner on Friday, August 29!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 21, 2014

Labor Day Tablescapes

I can hardly believe summer is coming to a close.  It was definitely a whirlwind for me for so many reasons.  Moving from Chicago to Miami.  Being pregnant and preparing for this little girl to arrive.  Tons and tons of travel.  And I wake up and it’s almost Labor Day!  Life, why are you going by so fast?!  Let’s combat that and host an end-of-summer dinner party, shall we?

Invite some close friends, make it intimate or make it big.  Make it a celebration of friendship and loved ones, just because.  Have everyone bring their favorite summer dish.  Get fresh flowers from your local farmer’s market or even your local grocery store.  Splurge on a nice French rose (the quintessential summer drink). Light some candles.  String some lights on your patio.  Create a theme.  Or don’t.  Bring the indoors outdoors.  And make the last of summer the best of summer by creating memories around a table, with your closest people, during one of the best seasons of the year.

And maybe the below Labor Day tablescapes will inspire you to slow down and enjoy these last few moments of summer we have left.

dining-al-fresco summer-tablescape-2 summer-tablescape-3 summer-tablescape-4

summer-tablescape-6 summer-tablescape-5


Glitter Guide // Ruffled // Marilu // Style Me Pretty // Etsy // Style Me Pretty


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