Summer is almost here. The weather is staying more consistent so at least we know what to wear now. We’ve been working in the yard every weekend to prepare the backyard for summer. I love this time of year because I can style my backyard as an extension of the house. Here are my top 5 things you can do to transform your yard from winter to summer in no time.
Five Tips To Get Your Backyard Summer Ready
Trim back your hedges and put down mulch. Nothing looks better than newly trimmed hedges and fresh mulch. You will want to go through and spray the weeds a couple days before you put down the mulch. If you’re pressed for time source this out and work on the other details since this is such a big job.
Plant flowers in pots and the flowerbeds. This is what makes your yard really come together. It is also a great way to bring color into your yard. Think about what accent colors you’re going for and utilize flowers to accomplish that goal. Consult a landscaper if you’re doing a big yard for the first time so you make sure you’re creating an uniform look. Also a landscaper has knowledge about what plants do well in shade and sunny areas as well as how big they grow.
Spray wash pollen off everything. The Hampton Roads area is one of the worst for seasonal allergies. I always wait until at least mid May and then we go through with our power washer and spray off all that yellow pollen. It just gets everywhere. I want to make sure it’s gone before I put out my cushions, pillows, and other decor.
Set up to open the pool. If you use a company to do your pool opening call them in early April and set it up for a late May opening. If your company is like ours, they start getting booked come April. I don’t like to open it until all the pollen is gone. We did that once and had a big mess on our hands. Also, we like to have our mulch down before we open our pool. We made the mistake of opening the pool one time before we put mulch down and there was mulch floating for weeks. Coordinate all your dates and it will go a lot smoother.
Style your backyard with the pretty stuff. This is my favorite part. Styling the furniture is what I’ve been waiting to do. Doing the hard parts make it all worth while when I get to put out my cushions, pillows, rugs, towels, linens, and outdoor dishes. These accessories really pull in the colors you used in flowers and make your look complete. Remember to try to coordinate all your accessories so you have a complete look.
If you planned well, your outdoor living will be an extension of your indoor spaces. Think of all that extra square footage. We love entertaining and being in our outdoor spaces. I hope these tips were helpful. My big outdoor kitchen reveal and summer home tours are coming in early June so come back for those. Please leave a comment below telling me how you prepare your yard for the summer. Maybe you have a garden or a she shed that you prepare this time of year. Also, follow me on social media so we can stay caught up. I post frequently on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.
We’re getting ready to head to Grand Cayman for my husband’s work. We’ve been there 4 times, but always with our kids. This time we’re going by ourselves. We know the area well and know some of the fun things to do there. We are excited to be going back to a place we’re so familiar. We’re hoping for a little rest and relaxation and also to see things we may have missed on other trips. I’m going to show you a couple things I’m packing so if you have a a trip coming up this summer you can get some ideas of what you should pack for a beach vacation.
Packing for A Beach Vacation
Clothes- Clothing is probably the first thing you start with and how you determine the vibe of the trip. You have to think is this going to be casual and a resort feel or a more formal and business like attire and then go from there. For us, we will have several dinners we have to attend so I know I have to dress up for those. The rest of the trip I will mainly dress in resort, casual attire since it is a resort type atmosphere. Don’t over pack. Pack only what you need and maybe an outfit or 2 more for emergencies. Remember, you have to carry all of this, wash it, and put it away when you get home. Take only what is necessary. You will thank me the day you return.
If you’re not sure what the dress code is for dinners, look online or call the hotel ahead of time. They are glad to tell you the dress code. They want your business. It is better to be prepared then to get there and have the wrong clothing.
Toiletries– I try to pack the least amount as possible. I pack the bare minimum in make up, hair supplies, and skin care as possible. Remember the hotel will have things like hair dryers, shampoos, and lotions. This will save space if you can eliminate having to take those items. However, you MUST have sunscreen. Even take more than you think you will need. It is very expensive at the hotel. If you are going out of the country the sun’s rays are coming in directly instead of at an angle like we’re used to in the United States. You will get way more sun than you’re used to and at a quicker rate. We’ve run out before and I would never be unprepared again. We can only use one type of sunscreen with our sensitive skin and they didn’t have it so we broke out on top of also getting a sunburn. NOT a fun rest of the trip.
Miscellaneous– You will want to take things like jewelry, your computer, kindle, and, camera. Just remember that if you put these things in your carry on it will become super heavy. One time my carry on and purse together weighed 25 plus pounds. I stopped taking my big computer and just took my iPad so it wasn’t as heavy. That way I could use that as my computer, music source and kindle app. Total space saver. Think smart when you travel. You don’t want to put things like medicine, jewelry, or a camera in your luggage so you must put them in your carry on. Remember your chargers for all your devices you take and even extra chargers if you have them.
- Make a list of items you’re taking a couple days before you leave so you can leisurely prepare.
- Write your list starting from your morning routine all the way to what you do each night. That way you won’t miss any important items to take. ie medicines, inhaler, epipen, supplies).
- Put your shoes in a shower cap or travel bag so they don’t get the rest of your clothes dirty.
- Make sure you know travel rules before you leave. Be aware if a passport is needed and what you can carry on a plane.
- We like to check in at least an hour and a half early for domestic flights and 2 hours for international flights. To be safe, ask each airport what their guidelines are.
- Check the night before to make sure there haven’t been any delays or changes with your flight. Do this again in the morning.
- Print out all hotel confirmations so they are easy to produce if there is a problem at the hotel.
- Give each person in the group a little money in case the head person on your trip loses their wallet or unfortunately gets robbed. That way you will have a little emergency cash from the others in your group.
Are you going on any fun trips this summer with your family or friends? I would love to hear about your travel plans and some of your tips as well. Any Grand Cayman fans? Would love to know the things you enjoy doing there as well.
I don’t know about other areas, but in Virginia this yellow pollen started in March and is still around. It is definitely hanging around longer this year. Last year was my daughter’s senior year and she had her prom pictures at our house. I remember we had already opened our pool by this time to have everything looking beautiful for her pictures. We do not open our pool until this stuff is gone. We made that mistake one time before and we will never do that again. I thought it might be helpful to talk about a couple things we’re doing to keep the pollen out of our home. My son and I have asthma and horrible allergies so we have found these things to work in our household.
Ways to keep the pollen out of the home
Wipe off the dog’s feet when they come in. We started doing this when our dog was little just because she is white. However, I know this helps greatly when dealing with pollen. Dogs carry all kinds of stuff in the house on their feet and then jump on the furniture which transfers it to you and your stuff.
Vacuum frequently. Pollen comes in on your shoes, purses, clothing, and of course pets so vacuuming can help if done frequently enough.
Change your clothes after you work outside. It is always a smart idea to take a shower and change your clothing if you have been outside for a while and especially if you have been working out in the yard.
Keep the windows closed. The weather might be starting to feel like summer, but keep the windows closed. Pollen can blow in through the screens and cause you to have horrible allergy trouble. No one wants to be sneezing and coughing all the time.
I hope these tips will help you in finishing out this spring season and send you into the summer without any trouble with your allergies. Do you have any other tips or ideas that could save us from this problematic yellow pollen? Leave a comment below and let us know what helps in your household. Have a great week.
Since Mother’s Day is right around the corner I asked some special moms to answer some questions for me about their families. Before I share those, I wanted to tell you a couple things that I have learned from my mom.
Christ is the center of everything I do. Life is not always fair and everyday is not going to go exactly the way I want it to, but putting God first gives me such hope and makes me think of the world in a brighter light. Have a positive attitude. You will definitely encounter negativity, but others are looking to us to put our best foot forward as an example. Our children are always watching and picking up everything we do. Of course we will make mistakes, but having positive people in our life gives us a better chance of being put in positive situations. Don’t break a promise. Keeping your word is very important. If you tell someone you will show up for something or you won’t tell anyone their deepest, darkest secret then you need to keep your word. Integrity is so important. Encourage each other and build each other up, 1 Thessalonians 5:11. This was my mom’s favorite bible verse when we were growing up. You don’t have to bring someone else down to make yourself look better. There is enough space for everyone to have a time to shine.
Let’s see how these moms answered some Mother’s Day questions. Also, get a look at some of these great pics from past and present.
What are you proud of your kids for? I’m Proud of my kids for the outstanding successful adults they have become. Both own their businesses and are extremely hardworking. Each family has given us two wonderful grandchildren of whom I am equally proud. God has so graciously blessed each member of our family and for that I am eternally thankful. I am happiest when we are all together as a family. – Barbara Ely (Darin’s mom)
What are you proud of your kids for? I’m proud of my kids because of the outstanding parents that they have become. I loved raising my girls. Best job I ever had. If you raise your kids right it takes a lot of time, effort and sometimes a few tears. But seeing the parents that they have become truly makes it all worth it. I have to say though that my girls were a pleasure to raise. We had wonderful years together and amazing memories. Again, best job I ever had!! Love my girls!
-Pat Waters (my mom)
What do you like to do on your family vacations? When we go on vacation I look forward to all of us completely unplugging and doing whatever we want whenever we want to do it. When we plan our family vacations we rarely have places we HAVE to go or things we HAVE to see. We like to research our destination upon arriving, talk about the area, find it on a map, etc. We like to explore new cities, we like to hike, see really cool landmarks, go out to eat and do whatever moves us! We always try new things that we would typically not do or try in our “real” life. We also stay up later than normal and sleep in as much as we can. We also play hard so family naps are always fun in the middle of the day 🙂 – Kathryn Kiel (My sister)
Lexington with her mom, Kathryn
Hudson with his mom, Kathryn
What is your favorite activity you do with your kids? My favorite thing to do with my kids is just hang. I love when we’re all together eating dinner or just hanging together and sharing about our day. I feel like that is the time we are most “real” with each other. We can talk about anything and it doesn’t feel scripted or forced. Of course I love vacations and traveling as a family too. As the kids get older I will treasure any time we get to spend together.
Me and my babies.
Get in tons of pictures with your kids. Stop waiting to be ten pounds lighter, your hair to be longer, or the summer so you’re tanner. There is never going to be a perfect moment so jump in there with your kids and start making some memories. Have a great Mother’s Day.
As we all gear up for Mother’s Day, I started reminiscing about the ways my sister and I tried to honor our mom on this special day. We would make her breakfast in bed and try to get her anything she wanted. I’m sure all she really wanted was to sleep in and just chill or spend the day alone at a spa. However, if you are hosting your mom and grandma this year, here is a beautiful, pink brunch for Mother’s Day.
I asked you guys on Facebook how you spend your Mother’s Day. Lots of you based your gift around flowers. Planting flowers, trees, and fixing up flower beds for your mother was a reoccurring trend. Also there were other family traditions like strawberry picking and going to the beach that made that day extra special. No matter how you spend your day, being with your mom and spending the day as a family is the key. Here is a pink Mother’s Day table that works for this day, but can be used for any special day or party.
You know I love black and white, but when I throw in an accent color it is usually blush pink. When I use pink, rose gold is just a perfect metallic to compliment that color. I also used that color combo one Christmas. You can check that out here if you missed it. I got my inspiration for this table from Monique Lhuillier’s Pottery Barn collection. I already had the Emma dinner collection plates from Pottery Barn. I love them. Having a classic set of white dishes allows you to accent your place setting with any color when you’re hosting a dinner party.
The pink floral salad plates are from Target’s Opal House line. I will be using these plates in my outdoor kitchen reveal in a couple of weeks. I am so excited to share that post with you. You won’t want to miss that one!
The wine glasses and the gorgeous blush Linen Hemstitch Napkins are both from Pottery Barn.
If you are a Mother, I wish you a very happy Mother’s Day. I hope you get a little rest and relaxation on Sunday. Have a great day doing whatever traditions your family does to honor you on this special day.
My daughter has just finished her first year of college and I’m reminiscing about her graduation party as I post these pictures. I wanted to do this last year, but if you are going through this now, you know how busy and stressful senior year and everything that goes along with it can be. I will warn you that I was VERY emotional for about 4 months prior to the graduation. I guess the preparing and anticipation really got to me. Going through old pictures, hearing the songs that would play, and buying things for college just really made me a mess. However, I did not cry on graduation. So there is hope for those of you that are feeling very weepy out there. Get it all out now so you can enjoy that day and share it with your family and friends. That day was truly special and I felt I was present in the important moments of the day. I hope these tips will help you have a great experience too.
Tips for Throwing A Grad Party
- Listen to your child. They know what kind of celebration best suits them. I am very over the top when I throw a party and my daughter is the exact opposite. She would be happy putting out a Chick-fil-A tray and having a couple friends over. I wanted to be able to mingle with everyone so I did have it catered, but I did do it low key like she asked. We didn’t do a DJ or other party extras that I would normally do. We had close friends and family and I think she was a lot happier.
- Don’t have it on the same day as graudation. One of the best things we did was have it the next day. Some people even had it the weekend before, but we had lots of family in from out of town so this didn’t work for us. Graduation day was so busy and hectic that we wanted to enjoy that and my daughter wanted to attend her friend’s parties too. This also gave me the day to pick up flowers, balloons and other last minute items.
- Delegate if you can. People really do like to help. If you can and feel comfortable, designate people to pick up the cake, balloons, and flowers. This will really save you time while you are doing last minute things at the house.
- Set up the party in an Open House format. This type of get together allows people to come and stay as long or as little as they want. We knew Saturdays in June were valuable family time so we wanted there to be little pressure. A lot more people popped since we had this type of party. I know at least five people that came by and stayed about 15 minutes to let her know they cared and brought her a gift. However, they had other parties they had to attend or their child had games that day.
- Do the extra pictures you want several days before. I don’t know about you guys or how your graduations are held, but our city does them all in one location at the local college. They give you time for one high school and then get yours out and the next high school is literally scheduled right behind you. You know all the cute pictures you see on Pinterest that you noted that you wanted to do like throwing up your cap or of you and your family doing something staged? I suggest you stage these at your house a couple days before. Do your hair and make up and get a couple good ones knocked out that you really want. Then you will have time to actually look at them and see if you got some good ones. Then do other ones quickly on the real day and that’s all you will need.
I hope this day is all that you and your child imagined. It can be a really good experience if everyone keeps their cool. The more you plan in advance the better it will turn out. Remember it is a day for all of you, but you want it to be special for your child. I hope it turns out wonderful!
I really enjoy fashion as a hobby. I have found several fashion bloggers that I just love to follow. They really wear some beautiful clothing and know all the latest trends. Since fashion and decor are so closely related, I wanted to share my favorite fashion bloggers with you so you could be up to date on all the latest spring fashions.
Leanne Barlow from elleapparelblog.com has the best style, but seems like the girl next door that could be your best friend. She has three little boys that are the cutest and she dresses them to the nines. She does something I haven’t seen anyone else do. She makes these fabulous dresses in the dress of the month series. You can see them on her Instagram or her blog. They are so amazing. I’ve never seen anyone take a hard skill and make it look so effortless. She is definitely one you want to check out. Check out her Instagram as well.
Emily from thesweetestthingblog.com is beautiful, has gorgeous hair, and an amazing wardrobe that we would all love to have. However, she seems so down to earth and loves to spend time with her family and connect with her followers. If you want hair tips, fashion reviews, and some travel sprinkled in; than Emily’s blog and Instragram are great places to check out some amazing content.
Rachel Parcell from pinkpeonies was one of the first blogs I ever read. Her site is such a glamorous place to find fashion and decor ideas. I was instantly hooked and am still one of her loyal followers. I Also have purchased some of her apparel so check out her site for her clothing line. Her sister and sister- in-law also have very popular blogs. Her home decor and Christmas posts are just as popular as her fashion posts. She is building a house right now and of course everyone can’t wait to see the finished product.
Jade of aspoonfulofstyle is one of those women that just seems to have it all together. Don’t you love those women that push you to do better? She is a gorgeous blonde with two adorable little kids. Her daughter just turned three and her son is one. She talks about high end, trendy fashion as well as affordable pieces that you can mix in your everyday wardrobe. Sometimes she mentions kid’s clothing that she dresses her own kids in. what a great bonus. You can check her out on her Instagram here.
My last favorite fashion blogger is Caitlin from southerncurlsandpearls. She is very young and and I love her take on what is current in fashion. I love that her mom takes her photos and she really seems down to earth and family oriented. She includes travel and fitness posts as well. She is engaged and I’m starting to see pics on her Instagram about the wedding. If you guys follow my Pinterest, you know I’m obsessed with wedding planning. Here is a post I did on a small wedding I threw for my cousin and his fiancé. I also have a post on throwing a gorgeous wedding without flowers.
If you are into fashion as much as I am or you’re just looking for some new bloggers to follow, check out some of these ladies. I don’t think you will be disappointed. Have a great weekend.
There are so many spring things I’m loving right now. Sadly, my wallet is paying the price. Since I have had a recent weight loss I really need everything. (post to come soon), I hope you will love the list as well.
These Nordstrom Vince Camuto peep toe shoes in tan are the bomb. I can’t believe they are also so comfortable. As soon as they arrived, I tried to order them in black too and of course my size was sold out. Try to get these in the tan if you can. We will be shoe twins.
I really love Becca swimwear. I don’t really want to admit this, but I have a Becca suit that is from when my son was born and he is 16 years old. They hold up so well. I only bring it out in bathing suit emergencies, but the colors and elastic still look and feel great. I love this year’s suit that I picked, I got this fabulous cranberry color. You can mix and match the pieces to fit your style. The high rise bottoms are very in this year and some colors are already sold out so get them before your color goes.
If you are a fan of black and white decor, than you won’t want to miss Target’s project 62 outdoor collection. It is fun, trendy, and affordable. My favorite pieces are the umbrellas, pillows, and rugs. You can’t go wrong with black and white to give your outdoor entertaining area a resort feel. Your guests will feel so at home.
Now is the time to be thinking about your graduate. Check out this post I did for Minted when my daughter graduated last year. Minted always has the best selection of cards for your big day. Also, I found the best gift for an athletic child. Check out this ETSY store. She makes quilts out of your child’s old sports tee shirts. The only draw back is you really need to do this now so she has time to get this back to you.
I hope you were able to find a couple things that you like or love from my list. I’m going to enjoy this weather and hope for it to stick around. Happy Easter you guys.
I am still in the middle of my spring cleaning and I am feeling pretty good about my progress so far. I know before too long I’m going to have to add outdoor chores to my list and once that begins these extra projects of mine will be null and void. About a year ago, I redid my office and I just love that space. It’s a really beautiful pink and I love sitting in there for hours and letting my creativity flow. I will have to do a reveal soon. Let’s talk about how to keep your desk organized so you work smarter not harder.
- Go paperless. If going paperless just isn’t going to happen, break down your papers in groups. File keepsakes, pay bills, and shred all others.
- Have cute organizers for little items. There are so many cute containers now that are inexpensive. Use those in your theme color for paper clips, erasers, Post-it, etc…
- Put things you don’t use daily in decorative boxes. I love Sugar Paper LA boxes. You can also find beautiful ones at Michaels and Home Goods.
- Have a bulletin board with all your inspiration pictures. My mood board is right above my desk and it really reflects my style and branding for my blog. It helps keep me focused and if I need a little Inspiration I can take a peek for ideas.
- Make it functional. Some offices double as guest rooms so you need to make sure you decorate so the room accomplishes both goals.
- Storage is key. What storage items can help you get things off your desk? Maybe a file cabinet, shelves, baskets, and a closet.
- What kind of desk do you need? When purchasing your desk you may want to think about what your needs are. Are you going to need drawers or display shelves?
- Get a comfortable chair. The chair is just as important as the desk. You will be spending lots of hours here. Pick something that will give you support and is comfortable.
- Hide the cords. If you have a computer or desk lamp you want to have a plan for hiding the cords. You can decide this as you decide where to place your desk.
- Try to hide office printers and trash cans if you can. If you can take these bulky items and hide them than your office will make more of a statement.
I would love to hear some of the things you guys do to keep your offices ready for optimum productivity. Also, what do your offices look like right now? Do you work from home or in a traditional setting? Please leave a comment below and share this with a friend. Let’s be friends. If you want to see more decor and fun content, follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.
March is here and you know what that means. It’s time to go through your house and spring clean. I actually started this early this year as I had a lot of
stuff “junk” that I needed to clean up, donate, or sell. When you live in a house for more than 5 years I feel like you really start to accumulate way too much stuff. So let’s spring clean and figure out where to begin.
Spring Cleaning Tips
Start off with a big project to get you going – I began in August when my daughter left for college. When she left, my son decided he was taking her room (which is a second master suite) and she would move into one of the smaller rooms. This meant we would be packing up two of the rooms in the house and switching them. So we went through everything. All the clothes, closet items, and everything in both rooms. This was a huge job, but we had a goal and a purpose so it made it a little easier to deal with. My son was happy with his room once it was put back together. My daughter was not as happy with her smaller room, but she was very happy to be off at college. With one major project marked off my list, I was feeling pretty productive and ready to keep going on my list.
Set aside a “working weekend” for the whole family. You can get so much more done with 4 or 5 people than you can by yourself. Every 6 weeks or a time frame of your choice, set aside a “working weekend.” Let the family members know at the beginning of the week that this weekend you will set aside a certain amount of time on Saturday and Sunday to work on the the house clearing out clutter. Have a list planned ahead of time for them to do on their own and some things to do with the group as a whole. They need to have both kinds of tasks so that you don’t have to guide them at every tasks so you can get some work done too. Things will go a lot smoother that way.
Continue to declutter as you have time. Choose smaller tasks to do on your busier days. Cleaning out a junk drawer or your pantry are all things that need to be done. Sometimes these tasks may take as little as 15 minutes. You can choose to do these things on days where you don’t have big blocks of time to set aside, but you still want to get something accomplished. All of it needs to get done so use your time wisely.
Make sure items get out of the house immediately. Once you have sorted your items as donation, trash, or sell make sure you take them to the appropriate place right away. You have worked so hard to declutter, you don’t want the boxes to stick around taking up room in your house. What a great feeling to get all of this out of your house. What a big difference this will make.
Have a list with your “big picture” goals. What areas do you want to tackle? Make sure you are working in your spare time to get to all the areas you can in a timely manner. Use your bigger blocks of time for the larger projects and do smaller projects as time allows.
I hope you are having some nice spring weather in your area and you are getting motivated to tackle some projects that have been on your mind for too long.