Top Ten “To Dos” to Get Ready for Overnight Guests

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Hi All! It’s the end of October…What!? Not sure how that happened but the countdown to all the Holiday goodness has begun at our house.  No matter what holiday you celebrate, if you are like me, there is an anxious excitement that begins to creep in as November arrives.  I typically try to pull together my lists as soon as possible (school parties for kids, client project wrap-ups, decorating for the home and office…you know the drill…) so that I can enjoy the season and all I have to be grateful for (rather than running like a woman with her hair on fire from one thing to the next).  Full Disclosure: I have not mastered this and every year there is a little bit of the latter, despite my best attempts to plan ahead #holidaygoals.

I thought I would share one particular list with you on this November Eve, because it is truly comprised of things you can do now to be sure your house is ready for overnight guests from now until the New Year. Here we go:

Number One: Check your bedding. Is it the right size, is it laundered and ready for use, do you have extra pillows? I always try to have an extra pillow for those who like to read in bed, and an extra throw blanket! Here are some of my fav finds:

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Faux Fur
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Herringbone Throw
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Wool Knit

Number Two: Fresh Towels. I love white towels because I can bleach them and know they are super fresh! However, one particular Thanksgiving we had a lot of family visiting, all sharing one bathroom, all with white towels….so in a pinch I grabbed clips, wrote names on them with a sharpie, and attached them to the individual towels while they dried. Lesson learned. Buy different sets of towels in multiple colors. The Nate Berkus collection at Target has worked well for me- they launder nicely, are budget friendly and come in a ton of colors!

Number Three: Fresh flowers. While this isn’t something you can necessarily purchase ahead, you can prepare your vases and have an idea of what you are going to implement. I like to include a small vase of flowers on the nightstand, as well as in the bathroom.

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Number Four: Toiletries. When I was a kid and would go shopping with my Mom, she would always buy toilet paper, some toothpaste, and hand soap. We still tease her about her epic collection of hand soaps. However, she was always prepared for company, and now even her grandkids check her holiday themed hand soap in the bathroom- what scent, what color etc.  Also, when overnight guests arrive, inevitably someone needs toothpaste and even though my husband is a dentist we too always run out! Sigh. So just stock up now and be.done.with.it.

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Number Five: Throw blankets and floor pillows. Tuck them away, put them in baskets, display them on the couch- whatever your preference, just make sure you have plenty. While we have family staying with us there are many a movie night and having cozy blankets and soft landing spots for all is imperative.

Number Six: When making your Menu and shopping list, think of snacks that are portable. Popcorn for movie night, last night noshing options, “between adventures” small plates.  Often I find we have breakfast and dinner together, but rarely a formal sit down lunch because everyone is involved in different things.  That means snacking moves to the main menu and you want to be prepared. I found this yummy recipe for mini cranberry pecan goat cheese balls that I am going to try:

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Number Seven: The mudroom. Whatever entry guests will be using, make sure it is cleaned out! I have always longed for a bigger mudroom space at our house, so it is really important that we clear out all the stuff we don’t use to eek out every extra inch of the space. We implement a “one pair of shoes stored in the mudroom” policy with the kids this time of year, otherwise they tend to pile up quickly! The same goes for the coat closets.  Make sure you have extra hangers and space for boots and shoes depending upon the time of year.

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Number Eight: Track down and count the cutlery, plates and serving dishes you plan to use.  I was so frustrated with overflowing kitchen cabinets a year ago that I pulled out everything I had not used and took it to the attic. While that did solve my everyday need for more space, I am now at a loss as to where I misplaced cake plates, my bundt pan, my trifle bowl….ugh. SO, I am trying to track things down now, rather than spending anxiety filled moments digging through boxes right before I want to use it!

Number Nine: So while, yes, number 8 above is important, so is number 9. Buy disposable. Yep! Just.do.it. Save yourself and your dishwasher from three meals a day, plus the aforementioned snacks, plus the large can.only.be.handwashed. serving plates….just buy it and thank yourself later. There are amazing disposable options that will enable you to have less time cleaning up and more time with your guests. You can use them for lunches and snacks and save grandma’s china for the main course.

Number Ten: The Bar. Last but certainly NOT least is setting up a “help yourself” bar area.  It can be alcohol (often important when entertaining) or a coffee bar, but regardless of what you are serving it is a huge help to both the host and hostess if this area can function on its own.  It is a huge time savings to create a coffee bar for mornings when everyone is waking up at separate times and can then serve themselves.  I like to add cocoa pods and tea bags to my coffee bar as well.  And for the evening, I typically set out the bar before I make dinner so everyone can help themselves to a beverage at their leisure. Sometimes we try new punch recipes, other times it is fun holiday themed mixers.

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and for coffee and cocoa:

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Good Luck with your own prep this impending holiday season!

Best,

Kelly

 

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Three Season to Four Season Sun Porch Transition

Hi All! Happy Monday!! I have been scheming to transition our sun porch from 3 season to 4 season for some time now.  We have hit the pause button on this project a few times because we are trying to foresee the big “issues” that may arise and impact the timeline and budget. However, I could reaaaaaalllly use a home office- one with a desk…and a door….that doesn’t also have to double as the dining room.  While I contemplate jumping into the project, here are some AMAZING porch pics:

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Have great week and good luck tackling the projects on your list!

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Best,

Kelly

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One Room Challenge Week 3

Morning! Busy little bee over here….this weekend we are having my daughter’s 9th birthday party, and I have been planning a fun celebration with family and friends. As such I made the insane decision to start the actual implementation of my One Room Challenge after this weekend. So it is now a six week challenge in 1/2 the time! Put some coffee on!

So far, I chose a blush wall color, purchased some repositionable wallpaper for a focal wall, and made a plan for the addition of crown and base moldings.

I purchased some lamps (an amazing HomeGoods find):

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And large scale artwork:

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And I fell for this bold rug that will create its own statement:

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I still need to find soft neutral curtains (see inspo pic below) and figure out what type of headboard I am doing. Yikes! But paint is going on the wall next week (and by that I mean I am painting my tushy off)! Woo hoo!

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And you can follow all of the amazing progress from the other guest participants in the One Room Challenge here.

Best,

Kelly

P.S. Mom, if you are reading this can you please come and hang some repositionable wallpaper? Pleeezzzzz!

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The Written Word

Morning All! I am on the hunt for some really pretty personalized stationery. I have always been enamored with all things notepaper- the feel, the print, the font choices, the colors…yep, totally stationery geek.  We took Sara Langley Designs to the Stationery show in NYC when we debuted our former line ages ago, and I was truly a kid in a candy store.

Here are some of my favorites from around the web:

A bold lining is a must for me, and this pink letterpress note hits.it.out.of.the.park!:

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And these happen to coordinate with the design I am doing for my daughter’s room (you can tell I have been sourcing all things blush and black- p.s. they also sell that adorable bamboo pen!):

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and I love the font on these, not to mention the dots!:

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and adorable ginger jars in blue and white:

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and these plaid babies:

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and this watercolor floral:

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and for the holidays…

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Hope you are having a great week all!
Best,

Kelly

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Home Office Eye Candy

Morning All! Happy Monday! This weekend I was successful in getting some of the not so sexy items crossed off the to-do list like “winterizing old windows at the office” (a little caulk, a little spackle, a whole lotta mess….) so I needed a little eye candy this morning as I dream of my someday gorgeous home office.  One with amazing light, fabulous accessories, no clutter of course….and a door. Here are some of my current pinned favs:

Light, Bright and oh so chic

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Have always loved this one because, well, hello! green and pink with an animal print:

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and this totally counts as eye candy…goals!:

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This one is set-up with a view…a prime daydreaming spot:

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and the warmth of this home office makes it so inviting:

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Love this moody paint color, the millwork details, the light fixtures….sigh:

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and for a bold burst of color and fun:

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And because it is Monday, whatever you are working toward…

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Have a great week!

Best,

Kelly

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One Room Challenge- Week Two!

Hi All! Happy Friday! I am struggggggling with this design plan I committed to for the ORC.  You know how you have an idea in your head, but cannot.quite.find. the right pieces? I spent a good many hours searching for things, and finally when my eye started twitching I threw in the towel and went in another direction that is a bit out of my comfort zone.  Unlike my younger daughter who gave me explicit instructions when I did her bedroom for the last ORC, (you can read about it here) my older daughter has not given me any “must haves” except that she likes light pink. Hmmm, so I decided I am going to run with trendy blush colored walls – throw in some sophistication with black and white, and sprinkle in some fun with a  patterned rug and bold wallpaper that I have been itching to use.  Hoping that the sum really is greater than all of its parts because I have ordered all the ingredients and am hoping they will all come together!

I looooove wallpaper and use it whenever possible, however, my realtor friend tells me that if I add more wallpaper to my house it will make her job harder.  When are we moving? No idea, just always keeping options open.  As such, I found this budget friendly repositionable wallpaper that I think is going to give me the look I want but the flexibility to make changes to the room when and if we ever move:

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And adding blush tones on the walls is kind of like choosing the perfect pink (but not too pink) lip gloss.  I am leaning toward:

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And some gold accents including these frames to which I want to personalize with some black and white photos:

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Still debating space planning for the room…do we keep the dresser? Paint it? Trick out the closet and abandon the dresser altogether? Sometimes I have to pull everything out of the room and put things in piece by piece to see what should stay and what should go, or ahem be replaced.

Best,

Kelly

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Five Fab Fall Finds under $50- Decor Edition

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Hi All! Happy hump day! So with warmer than normal temps here I have been slooooow to move into Fall mode.  Last week I wrote a bit about Fall tablescapes and outdoor ideas, but sometimes a little retail therapy goes a long way to get ya jump started…at least this is what I have heard.  Enter “Five Fab Fall Finds under $50” (say that 5 times fast!)  Here are some fun items to update your Fall decor, without busting the budget:

#1. This gold tone candle holder from H&M is $24.99! I am ordering it for my Thanksgiving table decor to pair with green and gold magnolia leaves:

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#2. Fur+ velvet= soft and luxe! This 20″ pillow cover from Pottery Barn ($49.99) combines two classic Fall trends and will cozy up your space well into the New Year. Also comes in Ebony and Mocha (Cherry shown):

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#3. Threshold Feather Wreath at Target, $24.99. I purchased this last week and hung it over a mirror in the living room.

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#4. White and Gold Ceramic Vase from Save on Crafts, $11.99. This vase comes in a myriad of shapes and sizes, and while it definitely does not read exclusively Fall decor, you could add branches to the taller version, or top it with a moss ball for a more modern twist.

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#5.  Thankful Trivot from Crate and Barrel, $19.95. It is in-store only (whyyyyyyy!), but for those of you fortunate enough to have a Crate and Barrel in your neighborhood, I thought this would look adorable propped up against a kitchen backsplash, or as a backdrop for some cute pumpkins.

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And BONUS! because I could not decide, here is the coordinating Thankful platter also from Crate and Barrel, $34.99. P.S. These two beauties paired together would also make a nice gift for the upcoming Holidays!

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Hope these ideas help to get your Fall creativity flowing!

Best,

Kelly

 

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Weekend Round-Up

Hi All! Happy looooong weekend! I had an amazing few days celebrating my birthday by taking in the local sights with hubby, and gathering with my family for a delish turkey dinner made by my Mom- Thanks Mom! While my parents watched the kiddos on Saturday, hubby and I went to the Beak & Skiff Orchard, where thankfully the weather broke long enough to enjoy lunch (and delicious hard cider) outside.

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And then it was off to Patisserie in Skaneateles for caramelized onion and gorgonzola focaccia bread, among other treats!

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Hubby booked us a relaxing afternoon at Mirbeau Spa, after which we headed to one of our favorite restaurants, Arad Evans Inn, for dinner.  We then had to hit Wegmans and get our shop on (I loathe grocery shopping but somehow doing it with hubby, and at Wegmans makes it easier).

Couldn't resist a pic in the the pumpkin patch @wegmans!
Couldn’t resist a pic in the the pumpkin patch @wegmans!

So in sum, we ate and drank our way through the #315! So.much.fun!

My hat is from Drooz and Company in Skaneateles. Stop in and see the amazing selection of adorable gift ideas!
My hat is from Drooz and Company in Skaneateles. Such an amazing selection of adorable gift ideas!

I also received some fabulous gifts from my family, including the beautiful blazer from Talbots that I wore above (very Chanel inspired), this gorg sweater that comes in several colors (love the scalloped details), along with this adorable dress (love the bows!):

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And while the temperatures are far from Fall-like, here are some sales this weekend that may help to motivate me to swap out my Summer wardrobe for chillier Fall days ahead:

Talbots 25% off regular prices

Banana Republic 40% off (some exclusions) and free shipping over $50

Gap 40% off everything and free shipping Code: ForYou

Ann Taylor 50% off everything Code:FALLFAST

J.Crew 30% off Code: GOSHOP

And if you are hunting for something special for your Fall home decor:

World Market 30% almost everything with Code:FAMFRIENDS

PotteryBarn and the entire family of brands (Kids, West Elm, Williams Sonoma Home etc.) 20% off and other perks for card holders Code:Friends

Ballard Designs 20% off Rugs and Holiday and 25% off Wall

Serena and Lily 20% off with Code: HAPPYDAYS

Happy Shopping All!

Best,

Kelly

P.S. All opinions are my own. There was no paid sponsorship or product review in this post. Just thought you would like reading about some fun things I found;)

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One Room Challenge- Week One!

Hi All! Happy Thursday! Today I am so excited to reveal the next room I will be tackling as a guest participant in the One Room Challenge. This event is fearlessly led by Linda at Calling It Home and is partnered with House Beautiful magazine. Each Thursday for six weeks I will be providing updates on the progress of my project (fingers crossed). You can read about the last challenge room I completed in the Spring here.

Onward! So after much debate and late night list-making, I have decided to redo my older daughter’s bedroom. As part of the Spring challenge, in which I completed my younger daughter’s bedroom, I was hoping to have completed updates for my older daughter’s room as well, but “plaster challenges” slowed everything down and I never made it to those updates.  Fast forward to the Fall challenge when we will update her room to suit her age and personality.

This room was last updated right before we moved into our house exactly 8 years ago this month! My daughter was one at the time so it is time for a fresh paint color, new art, updated bedding etc…..and for Mom’s sanity, better storage solutions for her toys, clothing and “in progress” art projects.

Here are the befores:

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BEFORE- I still love the headboard I made, but with the refresh we can bring in art and more personality
BEFORE- I still love the headboard I made, but with the refresh we can bring in art and more personality
BEFORE- "More room for blanket forts and sleepovers Mom!"
BEFORE- “More room for blanket forts and sleepovers Mom!”

Wish me luck and please check back every Thursday for the next six weeks for updates!

Best,

Kelly

 

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BreakRoom Update

Hi All! Hope your week is going well. Today I am tackling some items on the “must get done before the weather changes” list. I have been distracted from said list because I have been focused on the punch list for the long overdue breakroom refresh. Structurally we could not make the room bigger, so I had to work within the existing footprint.  This was a “lipstick on a pig” project in which paint saved the day. To recap- three coats of ceiling paint, 4 coats of paint and primer on the walls, and several trim “touchups.”  Needless to say, I still have work to do on the cabinet area, but the room needed to be put to use pronto so I will be circling back to that when outdoor projects are complete.

Thankfully the custom counter was built and installed quickly, and I stained it using Special Walnut from Minwax and added poly…many coats of poly.

Here are the cringeworthy befores and the ah what paint can accomplish afters:

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BEFORE- counter was worn and way.too.small.

 

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AFTER- Beautiful custom countertop with new stools to double the size of the eating area

 

BEFORE- overhead cabinets made the room feel even more narrow
BEFORE- overhead cabinets made the room feel even more narrow

 

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AFTER- Neutral walls, warm countertop and colorful art

 

BEFORE- Plenty of storage space, things just had to be reoriented.
BEFORE- Plenty of storage space, things just had to be reoriented.

 

AFTER- Custom shelves with a space for each person.
AFTER- Custom shelves with a space for each person.

So, the punch list continues as I still need to paint and trim out the new cabinets. I am also looking for a better light fixture to replace the florescent throw-back.  Lastly, I would like to add a designated phone charging area and better functionality to the Keurig coffee station.  Until then, everyone has their own storage, the coat and boot storage has been relocated, and the seating area has doubled. Mission accomplished.

Next up? Outside projects including: finally finishing the last coat of paint on the garage trim, reglazing storm windows for the office building (so nervous as this is not currently in my DIY repertoire), and winterizing the office (more window projects). Not real “eye candy” type projects, but they need to get done.  Annnnnd stay tuned because I am guest participating in the One Room Challenge again and cannot wait to share with you the room I am taking on!!!

Hope you are having a great week!
Best,

Kelly

P.S. Sources: Levelor shade is from Lowes, metal counter stools and baskets are from Target, art is Fall Leaves photograph by Justin Marriott at Magnolia SoCo.

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