Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Easy Halloweeny - Part 3

Party punch is the way to go for festive get-togethers. For Halloween, cider is my favorite, but I typically drink it hot. This recipe would be good either way!

1 gal. apple cider
6 oz. caramel syrup
1/2 Tbsp. pumpkin spice
apple slices and cinnamon sticks for garnish

If you fancy it cold, combine everything in a pitcher including some of the apple slices and a couple cinnamon sticks. Use the rest to dress your glasses how you like. For a hot drink, I like to put mine in the crockpot for one hour on high prior to the party, then put it on warm. Double or triple the recipe as needed.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Tailgate Season

We interrupt the regularly scheduled "Easy Halloweeny" series to provide tailgate fashion because that's how sports work in my life - always interrupting the fun things I have planned. But I'm married to a sports fanatic so we compromise. And I make sports fun by planning cute outfits and making yummy treats. Since Homecoming is coming up for us, and probably many others, today I'm sharing my tailgate style board. It's all about keeping warm in the cold air and keeping casual yet put together. Also, do you spy the repeat offenders in this board? Love making basics work in every outfit!

scarf | earrings | sweatshirt | jeans | boots | polish | lipstick

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Easy Halloweeny - Part 2

Where's Waldo is an absolute classic. One year I want to have a Where's Waldo theme party and require everyone to dress like Waldo. Doesn't that sound amazing?! (just me? ok, humor me then.) Anyway, this is a super simple costume you could probably pull together with some things already in your closet. If you have the jeans and boots, you're basically halfway there. The beanie you could probably get anywhere during the fall, the glasses you can find at any party store or accessories shop. As for the sweater, I love this one because the elbows actually have hearts on them and would work well for Christmas and Valentines Day. How versatile!

sweater | hat | jeans | boots | glasses

Friday, October 6, 2017

Easy Halloweeny - Part 1

Adding googly eyes to your already awesome home decor is probably one of my favorite ways to subtly decorate for Halloween. One of my favorites that I've done multiple times is my tube of toothpaste. For some reason adding eyes just above the dispensing part is hilarious to me. I have also been known to add eyes to inanimate objects at friends houses - just to make them giggle whenever they find it.

Also, I'm loving black, white, and mixed metals lately. Anyone else?

pendant | clock | plant stand | geometric vases | perfume | mirror | bookends

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

go F O L L O W

Sonaksha Iyengar is an artist and writer currently sharing 365 days of art on her instagram page. Please go give her a follow. This simple act of support will assist in raising awareness.

Friday, September 29, 2017

feeling F E S T I V E

The festival bug has bitten! This past weekend I experienced my first music festival and now, I'm obsessed. GIMME ALL THE FESTIVALS!!! The live music, the artists, the food trucks - this is the best life!!! Ok, it was a little hot (90 degrees) and there was very little shade and somewhat long lines for water. Ok, I nearly passed out twice from heat exhaustion. BUT I LOVED IT!!!! Hubby surprised me with tickets to Pilgrimage Fest down in Franklin Tennessee. We made the most of the weekend by taking a few extra days off work to really live it up, explore downtown Franklin, and enjoy our mini vacation.

Have you ever been to a music festival? Which one? Did you fall in love like I did? If you've never been, I highly recommend you find one with music genres you love and treat yourself.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Road tripping this fall? Make sure you enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Make yourself comfortable and be sure to play a game to help pass the time. I love to play endless rounds of Heads Up with my hubby (who doesn't love it quite as long as I do), me giving him all the clues so he can still drive.
water bottle | socks | sunnies | blanket

Friday, September 22, 2017


There is no shame in a mental health day, time to rejuvenate - that's what I say. So sleep in, take a break, and drink some coffee, but make no mistake: this is your day off, no need to hustle! Relax with a bath, and don't move a muscle. PJ's all day is the best way to live. A mental health day is transformative!

eye mask | earrings | pajamas | slippers | coffee mug | pillow | blanket

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Christmas Planning: Tips + Free Printables!

The holiday season is upon us! I mean, Hobby Lobby has Christmas decor out, so it has to be close, right?! Oh wait, holiday decor is out in June... I guess that's not a good frame of reference. Regardless, for those of us organizational nuts out there, we have already started our holiday planning, gift lists, etc. So it's the perfect time to get yourself in the holiday mood, and I'm here to help you.

Today I'm sharing a Christmas planner, or to be more specific, Christmas inserts for your personal planner. To help you plan, scheme, and enjoy the rest of the year, these inserts will be your new best friend. I'm also going to share some of my favorite ways to beat the crowd yet also relax and absorb the season. First, let's go through the inserts. There are three different style to choose from to meet your decor style: Christmas Cheer, Merry Modern, and Glitzen.

The Activities sheet is for collecting a list of community events and outings that you want on a wish list. For example, my city has a luminary walk at our cultural center, so you can absorb some city history while everything is decorated for the holidays. There's a place to put the date, the cost, and the what the activity is. You could also add things like gingerbread making or gift wrapping, if you want to make an event out of those things.

Speaking of events, for those that typically host around the holidays, there is an Event Planner sheet for organizing the party. It includes a guest list, food list, shopping list and to-do list. I don't normally host anything this time of year, but my hubby's birthday is two weeks before Christmas, so this year I'm going to host something to really celebrate him.

For those that are invited to lots of things, the Social sheet can help you keep track of all of those parties. The most important part is remembering what gifts to take to what event. I somehow always end up with a small pile of gifts for the people I saw early on in the month, but didn't think about bringing their gift to the party. It's also fun to figure out your holiday outfits, so there's a place to jot those down, too. Be sure to check what out the food situation prior for day-of planning; nothing worse than thinking your going to a dinner party when it's actually a happy hour and feeling starved the entire time.

Food around the holidays is always a treat, but I can never remember what I'm taking where or what I need to pick up at the grocery that week. The Food sheets will help because you can include where the dish is going, all the ingredients and the grocery list in one spot. While it may be a little repetitive from the Event Planner and the Social sheets, it will be helpful to have all the food in one spot.

There's nothing better in December than Christmas movies. Make a list of your favs, when they come on TV (if you're watching via cable) or where you can find it when you're ready (Netflix? Amazon?). Then when you sit down to wrap presents, you can check your list to see what you still need to watch and you won't miss out on your favorites.

Possibly the most important page is the Gifting sheet. Use it to help you with ideas, budgeting, and tracking the status. That way, when you're preparing for a party, you can check to make sure you have the gifts you need and they are wrapped for delivery. I've used a gifting insert in my planner for the past couple of years, and it's wonderful for a peace of mind.

Lastly, but maybe the most important, is your Card Tracker. I realize that not everyone sends holiday cards, but they are so fun and everyone loves to get some happy mail. So make out a list and get started on them early. I especially love to sit down the weekend after Thanksgiving and work on addressing envelopes while watching my first holiday movie of the season.

In fact, watching a movie while doing other Christmas tasks is probably my favorite way to spend the season. The movie helps me to relax and puts me in a great mood. Then whatever task I'm working on seems a little less stressful and a lot more fun. Not a movie person? Turn on a holiday playlist on Spotify or Pandora. There are so many great holiday tunes you're bound to find something to lift your spirits.

For a lot of people, shopping is the most stressful part of the holidays. Even if you have great ideas, the daunting task of battling the crowds, parking, and cold weather can sometimes be overwhelming. I have two tips: if you are specifically looking for ideas, head to the store knowing you don't have to buy anything. Let yourself just window shop, sip on a warm drink, and just enjoy the energy. Gather your ideas, then head home - skipping the checkout lines, worrying about where you stuck receipts, etc. Then when you get home, jump online and order the gift you decided on. Most stores offer free shipping around the holidays, so search for a promo code if it's not already listed on the site. Set a deadline for ordering gifts a couple weeks before Christmas, so that there are no concerns about items getting to you in time. Then once your packages arrive, you can breathe easy and work on the most fun part in my opinion - wrapping! Also, keep a digital folder of all order confirmations/receipts so that you can print it out and include it in the box or bag when wrapping. That way it's convenient for the receiver to exchange sizes, etc. without having to ask you for it later.

I hope these tips help you to enjoy the holiday season. Honestly I've found that the more organized I am, the more I can relax. With built-in down time and fun activities, it makes it enjoyable and fun.

Download all three versions of the Personal Christmas Planner here. Please share how you use the inserts on Insta using #splendidactuallyxmas. I can't wait to see how you use them!

Friday, September 8, 2017


Fall has arrived! Well, I guess according to the calendar it's not official, but Starbucks has rolled out the fall flavors, so that's close enough for me! Unfortunately, these delicious drinks are full of sugar, which I've cut back on drastically since June. After playing around I came up with an at-home version without sugar! Plus you can make a batch for the week to keep in the fridge and brew your coffee each day to make things faster in the morning. Here's what you need:

1/2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk (swap for coconut milk if you prefer)
1/2 tbsp pumpkin puree
2 tsp Stevia or your favorite sweetener (this amount you may always want to play with to get your desired sweetness)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp pumpkin spice + a dash for garnish
1/2 c brewed coffee
1/2 c heavy whipping cream

Heat the milk, pumpkin puree, 1 tsp of sweetener, vanilla, and the pumpkin spice in a sauce pan over low-medium heat. Once the mixture is thoroughly heated and the pumpkin puree evenly mixed throughout the liquid, remove from heat. Use a frother to add some air into the milk. I don't like a lot of foam, so I skip this step.

For the topping, whisk the heavy whipping cream and the remainder of the sweetener until it peaks. This can take forever, so be prepared for an arm work out. My favorite tip for making whipped cream: stick your mixing bowl in the freezer for 20 minutes before starting. This makes the cream colder and form faster. This will get you a little extra whipped cream than you need for your drink, but there's no such thing as too much whipped cream. Top your drink and garnish with a dash of pumpkin spice.

Not a pumpkin spice fan? What's your fall drink of choice? I'm huge fan of chai tea lattes, so maybe that will be my next experiment!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Hubby and I love to sit down and binge a couple different shows. We are both massive Survivor fans, so we decided to watch the consecutive seasons starting with the original. So we just finished that one and will be starting on the second one soon. Madam Secretary has become one of my all time favorites and we also just finished the third season of it. Right now we have about three episodes of Blue Bloods to finish. I would like to find a good sitcom to watch when working around the house, but I haven't had much luck finding something I like. Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, and Friends I have worked my way through from top to bottom, so feel free to suggest your favorite.

The past couple of months have been pretty low-key in the travel area, but I did just pop up to Grand Rapids last week for work. I really adore it there, as it's very clean and safe feeling for a decent sized city. Stay at the Amway if you go and stop in to eat at Leo's if you want a date night dinner spot. We also did a fun camping trip over July 4th weekend to northern Indiana that was a blast.

My Jack Rogers flip flops have been my go to this summer. I have the black and white version so they go with everything and I can even pull them off at work if I want to be a bit more casual. They are super comfortable and super summery.

Back in June I mentioned that KJB and I started a low-carb diet. We did that as a three month trial, so it just wrapped up last weekend. It was a very eye-opening experience to see how much sugar is in almost everything we eat. While we aren't being super strict on ourselves now, I am making much more conscience decisions than I used to. I also discovered that it's super easy to make my own low-carb biscuits and english muffins. They taste pretty good and there's no reason not to make the effort more often than not.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is my current read. I get so caught up in the story that it makes me feel a little eerie. I'm about halfway through and I'm super drawn in to the storyline at this point. I have a feeling a binge reading sesh will happen soon because I won't be able to put it down.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Resolution Update

2017 has been flying by, so today I thought it might be fun to catch up on some of the resolutions I shared back in January. Specifically, for today, I want to talk about the products I've tried when it comes to hair and body care. Let's get right to it.

Brazen Honey is a wonderful face mask. It was hydrating and left my skin feeling fresh. This was my first time trying a "fresh" face mask so I had never applied one that was wet. It felt strange at first but nice. It is a little difficult to apply because it is thick and it did stiffen over time in my fridge. This is definitely one to use well within the use-by date, but I've purchased it several times because I'm a major fan.

I cannot report on Herbalism because I have not yet tried it. I'm working on a face cleanser now and once that is used up, I'll give it a go.

The Avacado Co-wash is straight up not for me. I think my hair is just too thick for it because I cannot seem to get it to make a difference in my scalp. For now, I'll stick with liquid shampoos and conditioners. Speaking of, I've been using Kenra for the past several months (talked about it in this post) and I love it.

The Pumice Power is amazing. It's not super harsh like pumice stones can be, so it is no issue to use it in the shower every day. It also smells amazing.

Softy is neutral for me because I wasn't wowed by it. It was a nice moisturizer, but I've used others I like just as much. I prefer a thick body butter or something like that for my feet.

I've tried both of these deodorants and neither worked for me. They smelled nice, especially T'eo, but I could smell myself mid-morning and would need to reapply. While that seems like it's not an issue, I just don't have time during the work day to be worrying about it. I'll be looking for something stronger.

While I haven't necessarily found great products for some of these categories, I'm happy with my efforts and it's been fun (and interesting!) to try some new things!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Sweatshirt Season

Sweatshirt season is upon us, ya'll. For some reason I get real Southern in the Fall. Anyone else? In order to prepare I did some browsing on Society6, one of the best places to find unique art in a wide variety of mediums and placed on a wide variety of products. This year, I found some really good ones, so I thought I would share my favorites with you. Once I got started creating the collection, I realized I have a major theme going on here - mostly white, mostly pink, and mostly #basic status. What can I say, I like what I like. That being said, these are still really different from each other and a person can never have too many cozy sweatshirts. Now I just need more weekends to wear them. MOVING ON to the content!

In the fall I like to pair my sweatshirts and hoodies with cut-off jeans, leggings, or distressed black denim. These footwear options cover a wide variety of styles but I still think they all could go with any of the bottoms. I'll link to all of these items below as well.

Pink Gold Pineapple | Woman with Butterfly | Craneo de Vaca | Damsal | Go West | Zelda Fitzgerald | FLaMINGoS

Black denim | Cut off shorts | Leggings | Adidas sneakers | Leopard platform sneakers | Studded slides

Friday, August 25, 2017

Feeling Cozy

Most of you probably don't know that I work my day job for a university. This time of year is always fun because campus comes to life, populated with new students who remind me of my age, which by the way, I had the realization that I've been out of college for NINE years. How does time seem to go so fast once you're out of school??? Anyway, I digress. With all the students coming into town, our shopping destinations (composed of Target and Walmart), has filled up with "dorm room essentials". They offer super inexpensive items marketed towards college students, some of which are great, some I would pass on. However, I noticed that while they had great price points, nothing really seemed homey and cozy - which is a huge miss on their part.

For entering freshman especially, that have never lived away from home, creating a sense of home in the dorm room could be so crucial. Whether sharing a space with a stranger or a friend, it could be awkward and discomforting - and definitely take some getting used to. The key aspect to making the space comfortable is bringing in aspects that remind you of home. For example, if your parents house always smelled of delicious baked goods, find a *room spray or an essential oil combination that resembles that scent. If you loved the family gallery wall, create your own on a bulletin board. Recreating the ambiance of your previous comfortable environment will help you as you settle into your new space.

Below I've rounded up some things that I would choose to make a temporary space feel like home. While you may not love the exact items I've selected, I hope it inspires you to make a list of the things you loved about your old home. And while I've geared this to a dorm room, these tips could help in any new home - whether a new apartment in a new city, a relocation for work, or even a new house.

A couple of things about the items I chose...

+ Opt for a cozy, neutral duvet or comforter so you can change out pillow covers easily for the season.
+ This photo holder doubles as a night light. The clips are attached to string lights to give a little glow wherever it hangs. Put it above your bed or your desk.
+ A lightweight throw blanket is perfect to add to your bed when your cold, or to carry with you to a friends room or common space for movie night.
+ Slippers and a high pile rug can go a long way in creating a cozy feel.
+ Lavender is a good year-round season. Not overly floral but slightly fresh smelling. Plus Mrs. Meyer's has a natural product with very few ingredients. *Please check with your roommate before spraying anything, as some people are sensitive to sprays in general or may have difficulty with asthma.

duvet / cushion covers / throw /  room scentphoto holder /  rug / slippers

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Midwest Fall Fashion

You know the line in Gilmore Girls, "Wait. Close your eyes and breathe. I smell snow."? Well thankfully I'm not smelling snow, but I am smelling fall. The time of year the world goes pumpkin spice crazy, pulls out their riding boots, and starts preparing for holidays. However, if you're located in the Midwest like me, the weather tends to be a little less predictable. You can start out the morning feeling chilled, be sweating on your lunch break or afternoon errands, then be freezing again by evening. It's very difficult to dress for this sort of weather. In an attempt to help, I've pulled together two outfits that should help you and it involves a key aspect: layering. Thin layers that you can remove or add as necessary to match the current temperature. 

Wear to work has always been difficult for me for some reason. Lightweight, sleeveless sweaters seem like a good option because they aren't overwhelming and bulky. A cropped pant is an easy summer transition and I love the idea of white with a pair of beige booties. A gold choker and a statement cuff keep the look trendy yet classic. After the sun goes down, add a pea coat to keep your arms warm and opt for a bright color to make a statement. Pea coats tend to be pretty nice looking and they are thin but incredibly warm.

choker / cuff / pants / top / shoes / coat

Weekend wear is probably my favorite because I live for a good pair of jeans. While the rest of the world is on the legging train, which I ride occasionally I might add, I'm over here feeling good about my denim. And while I love skinny jeans, there's something good about a flare leg in the fall. They work well with boots, add some curve to your silhouette, and just feel right with a leather belt. I always make sure to wear a shoe with some height to help elongate the look and keep your jeans from overwhelming your frame - very important for a shorty like me. So that's what I went with here - dark wash flares with a slouchy v-neck. This mustard color has fall written all over it and will pair so well with army green when you throw on a military jacket in the evenings. If you don't own one yet - go for one with some kind of interesting detail like patches or embroidery. It will immediately up the visual interest. Add a lightweight scarf for some pattern.

belt / denim / tshirt / shoes / jacket / scarf

Friday, August 18, 2017

July Favorites

l'Occitane Almond Hand Cream - If this is only item on this list you read, it may be ok (no, please don't stop reading, I have lots of goodies!) because this one is by far my most used item of the month. For an unknown reason, my hands have been incredibly dry and I just can't get enough hand cream on them. I love the scent of this one plus it feels like such a treat to apply because it leaves my hands feeling so soft and smooth. If you aren't willing to splurge, at least put it on your Christmas wish list for your stocking.

Rosamunde Pilcher Novels - I read two this month (The Shell Seekers & Winter Solstice) and I'm completely adoring Ms. Pilcher's writing style. She is a British writer as since I'm obsessed with all things European, they were both right up my alley. The novels are fairly easy reads but truly entertaining because of the cultural references. I thoroughly enjoyed both stories and look forward to reading more; my mom claims to have loads of them in her book collection.

Yogi Egyptian Licorice Mint Tea - Maybe it's the British novels, but I've found myself loving a cup of tea in the evening. I'll cozy up on the patio (unless the humidity is unbearable) with my novel and a cup of tea as a way to unwind for the evening. There's something slightly sweet yet fresh about the taste and I find that it doesn't need cream or sugar, which is an added bonus.

Lucy Wyndham Read fitness videos - This gal makes it easy for anyone to add in a quick workout. From her 4 minute HIIT routines to the walk-at-home options to the total body toning workouts, every video I've ever watched has made me sweat. She encourages and explains things easily, plus she offers alternate moves when you need to make things a little bit easier. A bonus for me is that I've also become extremely more aware of my posture - I find myself pulling my shoulders back and holding my head a little higher. Oh, and did I mention she's British? I'm sensing a theme here.

Mirage Chandelier Earrings - If I put these on once, I put them on a dozen times in July. With a sundress and sandals for dinner out, ponte pants and blouses for the office, or cut offs and graphic tees for running weekend errands, they enhanced any outfit. The gold and white finish just seemed to go with everything, plus they are so lightweight it makes them easy to wear.

(image via @styledbymann)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Planner Covers - Free Printables!

My planner goes everywhere with me. It is always in my purse and I refer to it all the time. Because it's always on me, I want it to look good and match the season. Unfortunately, buying a bunch of different covers isn't in my budget (because I buy so many stickers *see no evil emoji). So I thought I would share some free printables that will get your planner through the rest of the year. When I make my own covers, I print out my cover (make sure to print them full size and not fit to page, unless you you're wanting a different size all together) and take it to Staples where they can be laminated in 10 mil laminating plastic. I've found it's worth it to have them do it then to purchase the laminating paper and machine to do it myself. 

If you need help with how to make your covers, here is the tutorial I use!

The holiday choices include Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I love that I can swap these out every couple weeks to match the holidays. Those three months just go so fast!

I also included some non-holiday options that are good year-round!

Click here to download the style or styles you want.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Creating Cohesion, Part 5

As a designer, I tend to play with my home decor quite a bit. My husband jokes that he can't leave me at home for more than a couple of hours or our house will not look the same by the time he gets home. Which, even though it's a joke, it does have a whole lot of truth to it. Furniture swapping, walls being painted, a new project - I'm not afraid to give something a go and even try something unconventional. So today's post is here to inspire you to play around in your home decor.

What exactly does this mean? It means that your old nightstand could work really well between your armchairs in your living room. It means the mirror above your fireplace could be stunning in your bathroom. And it means the dining room wall that's starting to look a little plain could look great with a bold new paint color. Trying something unconventional may stress you type A personalities, however, starting off slowly, like swapping around furniture, is the best way to start. It's immediately reversible if you hate it and it hasn't done any damage. This little step pushes your comfort zone and could make you realize your furniture/decor/style is more flexible than you think.

Once you've become more comfortable with switching things around, start thinking about your walls. There are lots of wall treatments out there that can bring the style of your home to the next level. A few of my favorite concepts are below. All of these are great options for getting comfortable playing around with your style in your home.

Adding wood planks to a wall in small areas do a couple of things. First it makes it gives the appearance of being thought out - because it was. When you intentionally add features like this it immediately upgrades the feel of the room. There are lots of different ways to do this, including using paneling (inexpensive and sometimes can be inexpensive looking), installing wood flooring (somewhat easy to install and fairly simple since it could already be finished), and using standard planks of wood (more labor intensive but always worth it).

Another wall option is to choose an area to add a chalkboard finish. Keep the square footage small as not to look messy. Use this area to write inspiring quotes and write reminders. The key to this looking finished is to make sure it's trimmed out in a way that matches your home. Adding a light fixture at the top of the wall really makes it a feature.

A lot of people cringe when they think about wallpaper. I understand - there is some bad looking stuff that came out of the 90's and for those of you who have been lucky enough to remove it (or even wallpaper border which is worse looking in my opinion), please hear me out! Not all wallpaper looks bad. And there are some great removable options on the market now. Adding a pattern to your walls, whether subtle or bold, it can dramatically change the atmosphere of the room. Make sure you buy samples and look at them in the lighting of the room where it will hang. Tape it up on the wall for a bit if you're uncertain.

I really hope these ideas inspired you to get creative in your home. Make sure to click here to check out all the other parts of Creating Cohesion in your home!

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Back to School

Because the beginning of the school year, no matter how old I get, brings along the smell of a fresh start. It means buckling down and getting organized. It reminds me of fresh, clean notebooks and tidy lockers. Another chance to do better than the last year, experience something new, meet new people, and learn new things.

Yes, I'm one of those adults who loves the back-to-school season. The supply aisle in Target is my favorite place to wander. In fact, I had to make myself not purchase all the unicorn and Boston Terrier folders - because what in the world do I need folders for? Unfortunately, not a thing. But that's not to say that I can't use this time to pack a new bag full of new supplies I can use. I've rounded up a few great things to cure my desire for back to school shopping.

1 | Nothing like a new planner to give yourself a fresh start. Erin Condren planners have become my favorite and this year they came out with a great size to carry in your bag. It's a hard bound planner with a horizontal layout. There are four color options, each with a different interior pattern.

2 | Being the bookworm I am, I like to carry some kind of book with me. If you commute to work, that's a great time to read. This book, Bloom by Estee Lalonde, is a combo autobiography and self help book that explores navigating life and discovering your own bloom story.

3 | Notebooks are my biggest weakness in the stationery world. May Designs is my all-time favorite because of their brilliant designs and personalization. You pick and choose from tons of options, from monogramming the cover to what type of paper you want inside, making each notebook unique. They have three sizes to choose from and the paper cover makes it lightweight to carry around.

4 | You can't talk stationery without mentioning PenGems. They are adorable pens with a gemstone on the top and crystals packed into the barrel. The grip is a coordinating or matching color and the metal comes in gold or silver - depending on the collection. Not only do they look really fun, you can also swap out the ink cartridge to different colors, ink types, and weights you desire.

5 | As a planner girl, I use Post-It notes all the time. Ask anyone who has seen my desk. I saw these coffee cup ones while perusing Target, and they come with a second pack that looks like donuts. Sold!

6 | Headphones have become nearly a necessity in this technology-driven world. This pair by Jaybird are a great option for the woman on the go. They are wireless and bluetooth, making them super convenient. The battery life is 8 hours and it only takes 15 minutes to charge. They are designed for working out, so they can withstand sweat and jarred movement without the concern of them slipping out while you move. Four color options are available.

7 | bkr glass water bottles have recently become a very trendy item - and for good reason. Covered in silicone, they are easy to hold and drink from. While you would expect them to be heavy since they are glass, surprisingly this size is under 1 lb., making it easy to carry with you. Each season a variety of fashionable colors are released, so you can always coordinate to your other accessories. Also, the best part in my opinion, no concerns about BPA and dishwasher safe!

8 | Keep yourself organized but filling your bag with pouches. One for your chargers and headphones, one for your makeup touch-ups, one for your pens, etc., etc. My new favorite is this black, faux leather embroidered with eyelashes. You can't tell me that's not the cutest little pouch!

9 | It wouldn't be much fun if you didn't have a new backpack tote bag to carry around all your goodies. The Watson Lane Maya by Kate Spade is perfect - a cleanable surface both inside and out, large enough for everything but not super heavy, and available in four great colors perfect for all seasons. I absolutely love the nylon fabric because it's so durable.

What is your must-have back to school accessory? And have you already jumped on the bkr water bottle bandwagon? Tell me what you love about yours.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Creating Cohesion, Part 4

When you first move into a new home, usually you're facing a lot of empty walls and empty spaces. Our first instinct is to fill them with whatever we can find first. We purchase place-holders or put up things we don't really like. When we make sacrifices like this and use items that have very little meaning or purpose, it has a negative impact on the space. So, I'm going to advise you to leave a little empty in your home.

The idea sounds crazy because often the trend is to throw stuff up on the walls just to cover the walls. Pinterest is flooded with gallery wall encouragement - and I'm a fan of gallery walls, don't get me wrong. But choose what you display carefully and don't feel the need to hang something because something should go there. Embrace your minimalist side for a bit. And give yourself time to collect.

I've said this before on the blog, a space should feel collected - not decorated. Pick things up when you see them and love them. Know where it's home will be before you buy it. Choose things that remind you of places and people. Quality over quantity.

One thing that really helps the minimalist look work is texture - mixing your wood, metal, fabrics, and, most importantly, your plants (see last weeks post all about plants!).

To encourage your minimalist side, here are some of my favorite simple and beautiful rooms I've found online.

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Click here to read all five parts!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

New Home Must-Haves

Moving into a new home can be SO. OVERWHELMING. With all the people you need to contact to update your address - utilities, post office, cleaners, doctor's offices, family and friends, there's always something to do to keep you busy. Not to mention unpacking boxes! Confession: we moved into our home four years ago and I just unpacked our last box when we made over our guest room this spring. I know it's ridiculous; I have no excuse.

Today, with my friends over at Casper, I wanted to share six things to put on your shopping list to make settling into your new home much more relaxing. After all that work, you deserve to enjoy yourself a little! Not only did we make this handy list, I have curated a few of my favorites for you below, complete with links to make your life easier.

1 | A fresh new rug can feel so good on your tired feet. A floor covering can add some personality to a room, help with acoustics, and just make a room feel lived in. I love this choice from Lulu & Georgia because it's very reasonably priced and neutral enough to go with any decor style and your existing furniture. If you have little ones, maybe go for something highly patterned and brightly colored, to help hide staining.

2 | Artwork is a great way to add color and personality to a new room. If you are new to the town, I highly recommend visiting an art show to purchase your new piece. Not only will you have something beautiful for your walls, you'll also be supporting local artists and have an opportunity to socialize with your new neighbors. This beauty I'm showing above is by a local painter and former framer I've worked with quite a bit. I love the series he created inspired by the turtles in the river in our city.

3 | There is nothing better than slipping onto fresh sheets and pillows at the end of the day. When we moved into our home we bumped our existing mattress over to the guest room and picked up a new one for our bed. Immediately the bedroom felt like luxury escape, amidst the clutter of boxes around the house. Create a sanctuary in your bedroom so at the end of the day you can't be bothered by the to-do list and you can get some much needed zzz's. Casper also makes it super easy on you - no need to schedule a delivery time or haul the mattress yourself. Your new one shows up in a neat box right on your doorstep.

4 | Recently I've loved using my essential oils in a diffuser. You can easily create fresh or calming scents just by adding a couple drops of your favorite blend to a diffuser. My personal favorite is lemon, peppermint, and lavender because it's clean and refreshing. If you're wanting something a little more relaxing, try lavender and eucalyptus.

5 | New home, new life. Adding some greenery to your living spaces really breathes new life into a space. While a real plant is preferred, a good ol' artificial one can do the trick for you black thumbs. I may be speaking from experience on this one; I have actually killed air plants and cacti. No sense in risking it if you're anything like me.

6 | Possibly the easiest must-have, a new doormat can do wonders for making you feel good about walking into your new house. There are millions of styles out there, just choose one that represents you and your family. I love the classic look of this one but there's nothing wrong with a bold colorful pattern either.

What are some things you would encourage someone to pick up for their new home? Whether it's practical or for comfort, leave your ideas in the comments to inspire others. If you have anyone in your life getting ready to move, or just recently moved, be sure to share this page with them!

p.s. If you are ready to purchase from Casper, I would love for you to use my referral link! It saves you money and also puts something back in my pocket. xoxo

Friday, July 28, 2017

Creating Cohesion, Part 3

Over the past year and a half I've discovered how much of a difference plants bring to a space. They add a necessary life to your home. A glance of green leaves just seems to bring a vibrancy to a room that can't be captured otherwise. There are also lots of positive health affects of having living plants in your home. Some can help purify the air, they release moisture into the air helping with humidity, and some can provide a lovely scent. The internet is littered with articles about plants improving human life, so if you're really interested in the benefits, give it a good ol' Google search.

In the first two parts of this series (here and here), we managed to clear things out and determine a color palette. Now that you have a great base settled, adding the natural element will dramatically enhance your space. First, it shows that you are a responsible adult and can take care of something that's somewhat high maintenance (*ahem, see the exception below). Also, plants are a little unexpected. While you may be used to seeing a vase of fresh flowers, or the unfortunate elaborate silk floral arrangements that seem to hang around well after their lifespan and collect dust, plants tend to be a little more unique and free-flowing.

While doing some research for this post, I came across a great article on Lauren Conrad's site. It goes into how to plant for interiors, how to deal with dead roots, and other basic information for beginners. She also had this pretty illustration of the best plants to keep alive.

*Now, I say all of this with a grain of salt - I'm the worst of the worst when it comes to keeping plants alive. Throughout the past three years, I've killed about 15 plants. Finally I've come to terms with this fact and switched to faux plants, but it was really rough going there for awhile. That being said, I cannot give you any good advice for keeping your plants alive - you'll have to do your own research on that.

If you fail like I have (eventually I'll climb back on the horse for another go, but it's just too soon), find yourself some good looking faux plants. I suggest you stay away from ordering online, unless you have seen them in person first. Do your research. It's easy to find bad-looking fake plants. To help you get started, I am including a couple of resources that I've found.

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

The first three are from Ikea. They have decent faux plants at great prices. Make sure you look for good ones, sometimes they have been picked through pretty well. "Replant" them into a nice pot and you're good to go. The second three are from Pottery Barn. They are little more expensive but look really good in person.

Now, to further inspire you and prove why you need plants in your life, a little selection of some of my favorite rooms.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Patio Mini Makeover

Back in May I shared a few things I wanted to do to our patio to really take it up a notch. Instead of following my plan for a simple makeover, which included about three new things, I basically scratched the plan and went for something completely different. Make sure you check out that post after this one so you can laugh at my well-laid plans.

Enough laughing, let's move on to the good stuff. Next summer I'm hoping to gut our existing patio and have a new one poured or install pavers, all depending on our budget for the year. So this mini makeover consisted of some new furniture pieces and some plants. Of course I have no before photos because I'm mega lame, but the only thing on our patio at the beginning of summer was our small swing, an old coffee table, and a gorgeous mosaic top table I had made. Here is the after.

We picked up this gorgeous dining table from Ikea, along with a couple matching chairs and from there my simple project was thrown out the window. Then I discovered this great lounge set on Wayfair for a steal so I figured I may as well go all in. Now when we install our new patio next year, theoretically, I won't need to buy a single piece of furniture for it. Theoretically.

The sign was a DIY project by yours truly. I was inspired by my friend who offered me the piece of metal. I loved the color and knew it would go great against the house - just barely contrasting, but the perfect background color to add some teal and green.

The dining table is made of pretty acacia wood in a warm tone that goes well with the brick. To keep the wood from really overwhelming the space, I opted for metal chairs in the middle. The best part about the table is that the ends can drop down and take up a much smaller footprint, which is how we will leave it most of the time for the two of us. When my order from Wayfair arrived, I was really happy to discover the color matched my dining chairs almost perfectly. The loveseat is also the perfect length for my short self to stretch my legs out while reading and sipping on iced tea.

Since our house is this pretty shade of rusty brick, I wanted to really pump up the color by adding complimentary shades of blues. My outdoor mats really set the tone and it was so easy to find various shades of blue and green to add in with the accessories.

Since I didn't want to plant anything permanent until next summer, a couple of potted plants were the way to go. The yellow and orange added a fun bright look. Now I just need to keep them alive; yikes. Our dear little swing still fits perfectly with all these new pieces, which is great because we can now seat so many people.

The only thing still missing is some kind of storage. I still really love the wooden storage container from Ikea, but I think it would be too small now, considering I doubled my number of cushions. If you have a great cushion storage container please leave me a link in the comments!

If you're wondering about my darling mosaic table, she actually got moved out to our fire pit along with the blue metal chairs. She's the perfect size for KJB and I to eat at while roasting over the fire. I also spray painted our existing metal chairs blue so they all match. I may share that set up in a separate post later if you're interested! I've listed all my sources below in case you are needing patio furniture of your own. The best part about buying now is nearly everything is on sale!

Dining table | Wood chairs | Metal dining chairs | Lounge furniture set | Table runner | Cloth napkins | Lumbar pillow (similar) | Square pillow (kinda similar, great source regardless) | Throw blanket | Tuorquoise floor mat | Blue and green floor mat (similar color) (similar pattern here, but more of a rug instead of a mat)