Thursday, May 22

Outdoor Dining In My Dreams

As Memorial Day weekend quickly approaches, I am in full planning mode! This weekend we have multiple gatherings/parties at our house and most of them will take place outside on our new patio - which we are super excited to use! All of this party planning has got me dreaming of the perfect outdoor dinner. Don't you just love those nights when you sit with friends around a table with a ton of candles and a lot of wine? Well, here is what that looks like in my dreams!

All Pictures from Pinterest
So what do all of these incredible tables have in common? Besides most of them being by water, which is my true dream location, they all have a lot of great light. Whether candles or hanging lights, the glow is essential.  And while I can't actually hear it, I assume all of these have the perfect music playing in the background - something like a Edith Piaf signing La Vie En Rose or Van Morrison's Into The Mystic. Something mellow and great for talking over but perfect for setting a mellow mood.

The trick is to do all the work in advance to create the perfect setting so once the party actually starts, you can just sit back and chill.  And speaking of chill, the outdoor dinner party of my dreams gets a little chilly as the night goes on. How great is this idea…put some snuggly blankets in a box with a cute sign like this for guests to use as the night goes on.


And what would a party be without a little parting gift?  Since my husband makes his own amazing limoncello, I love this idea! And if it is a REALLY good party, everyone will be downing these before they even leave.  Hope this leaves you inspired to head outside and grab a few friends on the way out the door!!!

Wednesday, May 21

Master Bedroom Planning In Progress!

When we moved into our house in December, I swore I wouldn't rush into decorating our entire house too quickly. You know by now that I didn't keep that promise - not even for one second. But now that we have run out of money (ha!) I am forced to stop and take a breath before I dive into designing our master bedroom. Here are a few pictures of how it looks right now - obviously the "temporary" faux-wood blinds will be the first thing to go!

The paint in real live is a little more grey than it looks in these pictures. Here is the color swatch from Sherwin Williams. It is from the Pottery Barn paint collection and is called Rain. 
Below is a picture of a room I fell in love and showed to our architect early on in the process. You can see that I pretty much copied it - down to the window bench. It's by Great Neighborhood Homes and to quote the great Rachel Zoe…I die for it!

I want the room to be really sophisticated and somewhat muted. I have a lot of bold colors all over the house and I'd like this room to stay very calm and serene. Our bed will be big and white and fluffy and I'll bring in just a few pops of color (man…I hate that term). I am going to start by figuring out what kind of bed I want. I am leaning towards a fabric one but I worry a little bit about the wear and tear of the two little monkeys that are constantly jumping on our bed.  I like this one from Restoration Hardware from their Maison collection.

I also like this one from my inspiration room.

I like this one from Urban Home and it's super cheap at $599. I'd have to do some digging to find out about the quality but it looks good. 

This Chesterfield bed from Pottery Barn is pretty too - very inviting!
After we pick the bed (or maybe before!) I will start ordering fabrics to make a window bench cushion and pillows for the bed. I think I will go with some type of solid color for the cushion with some throw pillows like these two in Schumacher prints. I know - they are hardly muted but I love them. What can I say…some things never change!

The furniture - with the exception of the new bed - in the room is a sad mix of things we have had since college and most of it is broken so none of it will make it back into the redecorated space. Which gives us a blank slate to start with. One thing I can't stand is matchy matchy so I will NOT be buying a full bedroom set. It just seems weird to me. I am toying with the idea of a mirrored dresser but worry I will grow tired of that and may stay with more traditional pieces. I really like this Ethan Allen room and it's layered textures and eclectic feel. Notice the metal table next to the chair and the different types of wood - the side tables and the legs on the benches. No matchy matchy here!

Let the dreaming begin!

Friday, May 16

Patio Sneak Peek!

After days of torrential rain, it is the most gorgeous spring day ever! So I thought I'd give you all a quick peek at how the patio is coming along.  We are alllllmost done. Just waiting on the dining table and the chaise lounge to arrive and then I will share the whole thing.  But we are almost ready for the margarita mayhem that we love so much.

We got this wicker loveseat and the matching chair at Target a few years ago on sale. But they carry the replacement cushions on their website now so we ordered them in blue. I found these great accent pillows - the striped ones are also from Target and the chevron pattern are from Home Depot. All sturdy and made of outdoor water resistant fabric - duh.

The patio has one step up that leads to a little stone path to the gate. We are still waiting for them to come and power wash and stain the fence - which apparently you have to schedule in December - so we have to wait on all the plantings. But I couldn't resist a few colorful planters while we wait. 

Because we live on a hill, they created a retaining wall that also serves as extra - if uncomfortable - seating. New brown mulch hand laid by yours truly! Next year that may be added to the list of outsourced projects.

The landscape designer (who we loved and are happy to recommend if you live in the DC area) picked blue flagstones to coordinate with the house. Yep - you read that right...we coordinated our patio to our siding. Gag. Sorry. 

So that's your Friday sneak peek! More to come soon.....

Thursday, May 15

Office Reveal!

A few weeks ago, I shared the very sad tale of how my poor mother tried to wallpaper my office.  In case you didn't catch that post, you can read it now here but be warned, you might need a Kleenex!

Well this week, my very much in demand wallpaper guy finally spared me some time. And (close your eyes Mom!) he was done in about an hour.  No joke! He is amazing.  Drum is the result!!!

Since this is my space and I spent a LOT of time in here, I decided to go all out and girly!!! It's really light and bright. Here is my inspiration board as a reminder and my original post. 

And here are a few of the before shots. 

One of the best parts is this new UBER comfortable chair that I got at Homegoods on a tip from a friend who had seen my first post with a picture of this type of chair. It is so comfortable I can't stand it. Unfortunately when I bought it, I didn't realize it was missing a wheel (details..details!) but I found replacement wheels on Amazon and thanks to Prime they arrived the next day. 

I replaced the desktop with a corner one to maximize space in this small room. And the bulletin board you see in the picture below was black originally. In fact, I had two of them and I tried painting one and it was a disaster. Anyone who tells you that kind of DIY is easy is lying. So I got creative and bought some white duct tape and VOILA new matchy matchy bulletin board! Just don't look too close or you'll see a lot of seams and bubbles. No one is perfect people!

I still need to find some cute window treatment but for now this is it!  Hope you like it. 

Tuesday, May 13

Movin On UP!

Hi everyone!  I am so excited to share with you the re-launch of the blog...TA DA!!!  Do you love it?   It was designed by none other than the immensely talented and fun girls over at Nico and Lala!  They are AH-MAY-ZING and I highly encourage you guys to check out their blog called A Little Slice of Swank. And not only are they super fantastic fabulous....but they are based in Chicago...which is of course my most favorite city ever.

Since, in my next life, I want to come back as an invitation designer/stationery goddess, I immediately fell in love with their playful yet classic styles. Here are a few of my favorite invitations/swag they have done although it is really hard to pick just a few.

How cute is the British/Olympics theme?  I mean...

I love the colors for this wedding and the totes and the welcome packet. It's just too much. If only they existed when I got married (ahem....a long time ago!)

This is actually the first birthday party of a good friend.  It is perfect on so many levels I don't even know where to begin. The monkeys, the colors, the cake.  Perfection!

So hurry to their website and check them out. And while you are there, tell them how much you love my new sparklingly pretty blog!!!

Sunday, May 4

A Birthday Party - Derby Style!

Yesterday I went to the 40th birthday party of one of my best friends Kitty Nix and it was so awesome I thought I'd share some of the details. Every year on Derby Day we have something called Gold Cup, which is a beautiful horse race about an hour from DC. Each year thousands of people trek out to The Plains, VA to watch the races and party. And just like for the Kentucky Derby, hats are a must!

Since the day started early, Kitty had breakfast waiting for everyone when they arrived. First up was a bloody mary bar and some mimosas. How cute are these tiny mason jars with the colorful straws? Guests could write their names on them so they didn't get mixed up. So cute!

The plain white tent was brightened up by lots of pink and green elements including paper lanterns and polka dot table cloths. The flowers included white hydrangeas and pink roses and there were lots of different drinks to be had including lemonade and ice tea. Very southern!!! After a week of heavy rain in the area, the sun was out and the breeze was blowing. It was picture perfect.

The tent - number 132 - was right up against the rail, which meant we had a fantastic view of the horses as they came by, which for the most part was not as fast as you would have thought. In the words of the announcer some of the races were a little less than exciting.  Apparently the horses were enjoying the sunny day too and didn't really worry about who won.  My kind of horses!

Here is the birthday girl standing in the tent before guests arrived. Happy happy happy birthday dear friend! It was a great day and a fabulous way to kick off a decade. I can only hope my party lives up to yours! xoxo

Saturday, May 3

Saturday Morning Musings: George Clooney, Gloucester and Oceanfront Style

I have always been drawn to water….sort of like a horse in that way. I am always happiest when I am at the beach or out on a lake or when I can jump in a pool. It instantly puts me at ease. My love for water is undoubtedly tied to the years I spent in Gloucester, MA where my grandparents lived when I was a kid. My grandfather was the President of Gorton's…you know the fish stick people. I can still hear the jingle in my head but I am not so sure he really does look that trustworthy.

Gloucester itself is one of the best towns in the country (in my humble opinion). It's an incredible mix of fishermen and fabulousness - if you can imagine! It was also the location of a massive storm in 1991 that was written about by Sebastian Junger in the book The Perfect Storm and then made into a movie staring the newly engaged George Clooney.  Probably once a week, I use the line from the movie when Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio screams to George Clooney "Your headed right into the middle of the monster!!!" That seems especially appropriate this week. Poor George. He just had no shot against that giant wave or a pretty British attorney apparently. 

I digress (it's Saturday after all).  My grandparents bought a house in Gloucester on Hesperus Avenue and I will always remember the drive there and how when we got close my Dad would turn off the radio and roll down the windows so we could smell the ocean air and hear the seagulls. Here's a picture of the house from above. 

I have strong memories of climbing down on the rocks with my parents and my siblings, late nights on the screened in porch listening to the sound of the buoys ringing and playing kick the can with the few other kids that lived nearby. It really was an amazing place. Here's a picture of the little island off the coast of their house called Norman's Woe. 
And here's a picture of me and my sister Shannon in living room with Norman's Woe in the background. She's the pretty one btw! Also living in London, but alas not a lawyer. Also, not marrying George Clooney. That may be in part due to the clothes my mother made for us. I am fairly certain this was a tablecloth before it became dresses. 

My grandmother had great style and taste and the house was elegant and formal without being stuffy. It didn't hurt that every room had a gorgeous view of the Atlantic Ocean. They moved to Florida in the 1990s and I have pined for Fiddler's Green (the house had a name!) ever since. It has been sold a few times and one of the owners did fantastic work including a wrap around porch and a garage. I hope it is always taken care of and well loved. 

Someday I hope we will own a waterfront home - not likely in Massachusetts since my husband hates the Red Sox with a passion but maybe somewhere near where we live in Washington, DC.  I spend a lot of time daydreaming about how I would decorate that house.  Here's one house I absolutely drool over. It's by a builder in Cape Cod called Polhemus Savery DeSilva (try saying that 10 times fast). 

There isn't a room in the house that doesn't have stunning views of the ocean. And I love how the decor makes that the focal point in every space. I also really love their use of pastels with just a few spots of bold color here and there. It's pretty much perfect in every way…to quote Mary Poppins. Here's another one from the same builder.

I am pretty sure I'd be a better person if I woke up in that bed every morning. Here's one that I am not sure I can believe. It's Richard Gere's home in Bridgehampton, NY which is on the market for $56 MILLION DOLLARS!  Can' you believe that? I mean it's gorgeous but I am pretty sure you can buy a small country for that amount of money. Heck, you might even be able to buy George for that amount of money. 

Here is one that is currently for sale in Gloucester for $4.8M which, you know, is way way WAY outside the realm of my possibilities, but a steal compared to Richard Gere's place. 

So now you know what I am dreaming of.  Oh…I almost forgot about the one part of Gloucester that was a NIGHTMARE instead of a dream.  This totally bizarre place called Hammond Castle which was like a mile down the road from my grandparents house. It was one FREEEAKY place that I still don't fully understand. Apparently some dude in the 1920s built it as a wedding gift for his wife.  Why? No one will ever know (or maybe they do…but it's still so weird). I know you are going to say that you think it looks pretty but trust me SUPER creepy!

My sister (the pretty one) and I used to lie in our beds at night and tell horrible ghost stories about that weird castle which we could see from our room. Here's a picture of that pretty space that my mom just shared with me. 

Safe to say the ghost stories scarred for life.  I wonder if someone told George Clooney scary wedding stories when he was a kid?  Anyway...the Man At The Wheel told me to go start my day. And I trust him!