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


August 20, 2014

Say Goodbye to Stretch Marks!

As I am well into my third trimester, I have definitely had my go at all kinds of stretch mark lotions and oils and butters and creams to prevent those buggers from making their way into my life.  And listen, I am not some naive consumer who thinks spending loads of my hard-earned cash on tummy rubs will prevent stretch marks.  Often times, they are hereditary.  And other times, they make their appearance because we take the whole “eating for two” far too literally and next thing you know, we have gained 20 lbs in our first trimester.  Ouch.

For me, I actually already have stretch marks from years ago when I decided to put on the Freshman 20 (yes, 20, not 15).  But they aren’t horrendous.  And, I wouldn’t trade that bagel or giants bowls (plural) of pasta I ate every single day or beers or pizza at 2am for anything.  I just wouldn’t.

Okay, back to the point here.  Because I do have a bit of stretch marks, when I got pregnant, I did want to do my best to prevent them from getting worse, prevent new ones and keep my skin hydrated (can someone say itch relief?!).  That first had to start with me not “eating for two” and going crazy with food.  And second, I had to try out a few different brands to see which worked for me.  Below is the list of all of them I tried (sources also noted).  Yes, I tried all six.  And I uncovered two things:

1.  My top two favorites are Basq and Mama Mio.  I love Basq.  LOVE it.  I love the smell, the texture and a little goes a long way!  I use their exfoliation in the shower, the oil after that and then their creams and butters.  And I am diligent about it. Mama Mio is also very good for the same reasons above.  I just happened to receive their travel set gift months ago so I use that on the road.  They are a close tie in my book.

2.  I plan on using these products post pregnancy.  They are filled with great vitamins and nutrients and do wonders on my skin.  So, they aren’t just for mama’s-to-be.  I recommend for any gal who wants a nourishing, daily body moisturizer.

I will end with this.  These things are very personal.  Smell alone could deter a first trimester mom-to-be from some of the products below.  So you do have to test and learn on your own.  But, if this list could be a start for you and could help a bit, I have done my job!  Happy moisturizing!  Oh, one more thing.  I still have about 9-10 weeks to go, but, so far, no new stretch marks.  Thank you, Basq and Mama Mio!


House and Host Pre Natal Stretch Mark Lotion and Oil-2

Mama Mio // Burt’s Bees // Basq NYC // Palmer’s // Mustela // Bio Oil // Mederma

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