Our Outdoor Kitchen Reveal Part 1

In early 2017, I designed a pergola with outdoor kitchen and fire pit.  My hope was to add value to our home and to provide extra entertaining space. We would like to live in this home until our son graduates and then move closer to my husband’s office.  Today I am showing the construction portion of our outdoor kitchen reveal and posting most of the styled backyard on Friday. I would love for you to come back and see the finished product then.

I wanted this to be completed for my daughter’s prom pictures and graduation party in June 2017. We started the project in March 2017 with a 6 week projected timeline. Then a week for my landscaper to come in and do grading and adding flowerbeds around the new areas.

Outdoor entertaining area great for guests. yourstrulyjenn

via pinterest

Here was my inspiration picture I used to help me design the pergola and get an idea of what I liked. I used it to show my builder the style I liked and then she made a rendering to scale of the design. From there, she started hiring out contractors and I started picking materials and products for my project.

Building the pergola for outdoor kitchen area. yourstrulyjenn

Everything for this project was custom for my specific design. All the details were chosen through me and finalized through my builder Tara, owner of Preston Homes. Let’s just say the options were endless. There was so much to choose from that it really was like designing something for a project inside your home. I really do think of our outdoor space as an extension of our square footage in the home. So of course I wanted to carry over a similar style.

Updating the backyard with outdoor kitchen entertaining area. yourtrulyjenn

I decided to take the project in the black and white color palette. Some of my accessories were already that color and I liked it so I wanted to continue down that path. Here are some pictures of the beginning of the project. We went out of the country in the middle of the project so I did my best with the pictures I had.

Building a square fire pit for a unique entertaining area. yourstrulyjenn

Here is a sneak peak of the finished product from Friday’s post.  I would love for you to come back and see the backyard styled and ready for the final reveal.

Outdoor kitchen entertaining area and Frontgate chair lounges. Yourstrulyjenn

Thanks for stopping in, I can’t wait to show the final reveal on Friday.  Make sure to come back to see that post.  It is one of my favorites for the whole year.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

 

How to Hide Outlets (Design Mistakes That Annoy us)

Do you have those design problems in your home that just annoy you?  I think one of the worst ones is cords and outlets showing all over the place.   If you have a newer home, hopefully your builder got creative with outlet placement. If you live in an older home you may have to get creative on how to hide outlets using smart decor placement.

Take this console table in the hallway.  I really don’t want a whole bunch of light switches and outlets showing.  Especially if I’m showing a house for sale or taking photos of something. I want to hide the outlets the best I can.  I remember I had just remodeled a room and my sister said, “I love everything you did, but there is one thing bothering me.  That fire detector just looks out of place.”  I had painted our walls Kendall Charcoal and the ceiling was white. However, the fire detector was a very yellowish cream color.  Now it was already there from the previous owner and the ceilings are 24′, but it’s something she clearly noticed.  So people do notice out of place things, they just might not say anything.

I love the new pop up outlets in counters of new homes.  They are also getting so creative with the outlet placement.  I've seen them in drawers for your curling irons and blow dryers in the bathroom which is brilliant. Also, in the kitchen, I've seen several outlets in the pantry so you can put your toaster and coffee pots in the pantry instead of cluttering your counters.  If you are getting ready to build talk to your builder about outlet placement and really think about where you want to put things during the building process.  It just takes a little planning.  

Look at these pictures. This decor is still nice, but you can see everything the builder did.  Now of course it is important to have a light switch at the top of the staircase for that foyer.  Sometimes you can’t get around it so that’s where your smart decorating comes in.  Watch how I made small changes so you couldn’t see the outlet or the light switch.

This picture shows that you can use design tricks to cover outlets and light switches.

I like this option a lot better.  It hides all the blemishes that I want to hide and the outlets and switches are still very accessible to me if I need to get to them. It’s practical and pretty. All I did was use some height and some smart decorating to solve this problem that annoyed me.  Think about what annoys you in your house and what ways you can disguise it with small decor changes.

This picture shows that you can use design tricks to cover outlets and light switches.

For those of you that might be building a new home, there are some really neat things out there in terms of outlets. I love the new pop up outlets in counters of new homes. They are flush and you push them and they pop up out of the counter.  They are also getting so creative with the outlet placement.  I’ve seen them in drawers in the bathroom for your curling irons and blow dryers which is brilliant. Also, in the kitchen, I’ve seen several outlets in the bottom of cabinets so they are hidden.  They are also putting them in the pantry so you can put your toaster and coffee pots in the pantry instead of cluttering your counters.  Talk to your builder about outlet placement and really think about where you want to put things during the building process.  It just takes a little planning.

I hope this simple demonstration gave you some motivation to go and fix things that are annoying you in your own home.  A couple simple changes fixed my design problem and I’m much happier with the result.  Good luck guys.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

My Podcasts Recommendations

I have really been loving some amazing podcasts.  Of course I love business related ones that teach me something, but I really love the inspiring shows that give me a great start to the day. They give me all the feels. Those are the ones I’m going to share with you.  If you are looking for some motivation or just some peace and calming vibes; you should check these out.  Here are my podcasts recommendations.  I hope you find them up lifting.

I started to listen to podcasts sort of by accident. There is a window of time where I have to wait in the line to pick up my son from school.  If I don’t get there early, I will be caught behind the buses and you literally can’t go anywhere.  I just choose to avoid that and get there as early as I can. During this time, I usually work on my blog, but there are some days that I read and listen to podcasts.  Try to think of a time that you could carve out of the day for yourself.  These really help because they are so positive and encouraging. They get you in the right frame of mind.  You could listen to them while you get ready, on your way to work, or the horrible rush hour on your way home.

My Podcasts recommendations

Happier by Gretchen Rubin- Have you ever read The Happiness Project?  Gretchen is the author and she is truly the expert on all things happy.  she really has a passion for helping people find their happiness in life and her podcast shows that. It is short and sweet and she talks about things that relate to all of us in our daily experiences.  I think you will really like this one.

The Chalene Show- You probably know her as Chalene Johnson from the Piyo commercials for her weight loss and exercise workout DVDs.  She is very peppy and a strong business woman.  I had been following her on Instagram for a while before I even knew she did podcasts.  She is very down to earth and so encouraging that you just want to listen.  Don’t worry, she doesn’t try to sell you her stuff.

Dear Sugars- Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond give you a dose of tough love but with empathy.  No question is too dark or too deep.  If you are feeling a little lost or need some direction, it feels like they are talking directly to you.

Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations-  Weren’t you sad when Oprah stopped hosting her show?  It was the end of an era.  I feel like these podcasts are somewhat an extension of her show.  She interviews some amazing guests and it feels like her in the old days. Of course it is great material that gives you such insight as everything Oprah does is quality stuff.

I hope you find these podcasts interesting and enjoyable.  Everyone has different tastes and likes different topics.  If you have podcasts that you think I might like, please leave a comment below.  I would love for you to share this list with someone you think would also enjoy these podcasts.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

 

Grilling Tips for Father’s Day

Father’s day is such a special day in our house because I not only get to celebrate my dad but, I also get to honor my husband. My husband really deserves an amazing day just to do all his favorite things. I recently had a surgery and he took such good care of me. He had to be in charge of the house, dinners, my care and work also. He is a super hero to me and I am so thankful for him. Most importantly, he is a great dad. He has always been the coach to Chase’s teams even when he was building his business in the early days. He always attended Taylor’s cheer, dance, and ice skating competitions. That’s one of the many reasons I love him. But let’s talk about the priorities here. He is amazing on the grill. This man can cook a mean steak.  He is going to share some of his amazing grilling tips for Father’s Day with us.

Darin always cooks out on the grill for Mother’s Day and let me tell you he is the master. He has perfected this over the years and when people eat at our home they always request that he cook something on the grill. I don’t want to have him working and cooking on his special day so I thought I would have him share his grilling tips with all of us so you ladies out there could also take over the grilling this year for your husband. Maybe you gals already do the grilling, but in our home that is daddy’s job. Here are some tips that he told me about and I hope they help you on Father’s Day and the rest of this summer.

Grilling Tips

Marinate your meats over night. If you don’t have this kind of time, try to keep them marinating for at least a couple hours. The longer the better. You also want to set the meat out about 30-45 minutes before you put it on the grill. You want it to be room temperature. During this time you can go out and check that the grill is clean, set up your work area, and get the grill piping hot. A backyard gas grill can get up to about 500 degrees to get those nice grill marks that taste so good.

Something else that makes your meat stand out above the rest is using wood chips.  This site, http://blog.cavetools.com/smoking-on-a-gas-grill-tutorial/ has a video that you can watch.   It also explains exactly how to use wood chips in the different kinds of grills. Sometimes your gas grill will come with a wood chip box to use. If so, you’re all set.

We must mention this tip because a lot of people do this. Don’t press down on your meats while cooking. This takes away the juices and will quickly dry out your meat and make them hard. If you only walk away with one tip this one will dramatically change the way you grill your food.

Save some of your marinade to brush on as you cook. Adding this extra sauce really gives your meat some amazing flavor. A lot of people don’t add this extra step. This can really put you as the queen of the summer soirees.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING! Just like cooking a meal in the house, the way you time the cooking process is very important. All meats are not created equal. Start cooking the meats that will take the longest. Usually the chicken, hamburger, steak that need extra cooking go on first. Seafood, rare steaks, hot dogs will go on last. Also, try to cook to your guests preferences. If you don’t know or you have a large crowd, try to cook several different temperatures of meat. The best way to know when something is done is to use a meat thermometer. That is a staple in our home.

I hope this was helpful and you might try your grilling skills on Father’s Day. You can do this. Be confident and go for it. Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing dads out there!

Yours Truly,
Jenn

How I Lost 35 Pounds after 40

This is not my typical posting topic, but I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I lost 35 pounds.  So here goes. I definitely noticed a difference in my metabolism around age 40. It seems like there is something in your body that just knows it’s your 40th birthday. I did not change the way I was eating and I made a ton of excuses.  I would say, “my thyroid is causing me not to be able to lose weight,” and other ridiculous excuses. Then, I saw a picture of me posted on Facebook and it was not flattering. Unfortunately, it was exactly what I looked like at the time. I knew my weight had crept up there, but that picture sealed the deal.  Let me just say that I do not have a background in nutrition.  I can only tell you some tips that worked for me. You should always consult a physician before starting any new weight loss or exercise program.

5 Tips for weight Loss

I knew I wanted to learn the clean eating method and portion control so I tried the 21 day fix by Beach Body.  I figured this would help me make changes rather quickly.  After you learn how to clean eat and what portions work for you, then you can eat clean on your own and you will know what combinations work for your body. I had always heard nutrition was about 80% of your program while exercise was about 20%. You can’t outrun a poor diet. Meaning you can run 5 miles a day, but if you have a cruddy diet you’re not going to be successful with weight loss.  You need to make these changes part of your lifestyle not just a diet you do for a week.  If you lose ten pounds and then go back to your old ways you will immediately gain it back. Health and fitness is not something you achieve and then forget about it. It’s something you have to attain and maintain. You have to decide how badly you want it.  Yes, this is hard and different at first, but being overweight is also hard.

Find out what works for your body. Everyone is different.  I also noticed through trial and error that my body responded to losing weight when I ate 1200 calories. I had tried 1270 and I wasn’t losing weight. Then I dropped to 1240 and still wasn’t losing.  When I got to 1200 that was my magic number.  I didn’t make a drastic 200 calorie drop, but I did have to play around for a couple weeks to see what worked for my body. If you kind of try then you will kind of get results. You have to do the work.  Keep a food journal so you can see what is working and what isn’t. Not everyone responds to the same things.  See what your body needs to start dropping weight.  Your body might need 1,500 to lose weight.  Just keep trying and moving forward.  Small progress is still progress.

Strength training was a major part of my workouts. This was the first time that I really incorporated strength training in a consistent way. I was always the cardio lover.  I really believed in hitting it hard in the cardio area. I thought burning calories through cardio was where it was at. Gaining muscle is so important especially as you get older. Muscle makes your body look fit and toned, keeps you burning calories after you finish your workout, and takes up less room than fat.

Track what you eat.  I had no idea how much I was really eating until I got the Fitness Pal app.  I put in the amount I was allowed to have each day and it would subtract how much I was allowed for the rest of the day.  Doing this really made me ration my calories so I could spread them out.  If you only Get 1,200 calories you don’t want to eat 600 for breakfast and then realize you only have 600 for the rest of the day.  You really need to think about your day and do a little planning.  

Meal prep makes it so much easier to meet your goals.  On Sundays, I went grocery shopping. Then I cut all my fruits, vegetables, and prepared my meals for the week.  My family also became better about picking healthy choices when things were washed and cut.  When life got busy I didn’t have any excuses because my meals were already prepared ahead of time.

Hopefully these tips help you get started in your weight loss efforts. If you want more of what exercises I did and what foods I ate, leave comments below letting me know what you want me to post. I just didn’t want this post to be too long.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

Summer house tour part 2

Welcome to my summer house tour part 2.  If you want to see part 1 you can check that out here.  I really tried to pull my colors together and go for that coastal vibe. I used various shades of blue to complete the look.  The beach is one of my favorite places and I had a lot of beachy decor that I thought would go well with my existing pieces. This summer tablescape can be used for outdoor entertaining or a beautiful coastal theme dinner party.

Here are some other posts with summer ideas that you might like.

Preparing Your Backyard for Summer

Florida room Challenge

Summer Book Challenge

This coastal themed tablescape is such a fun way to entertain in the summer.

I love these themed dishes that I purchased a year ago from Pier 1.  Aren’t the little fish shaped bread plates just the cutest? It’s fun to have some themed dishes to spice up your white set.

Blue and white dinnerware give this tablescape a beach vibe.

I always start with my white casual set of Emma dishes from Pottery Barn and decorate my table from there.

Using blue in this summer house tour to give the look of a coastal vibe.

These blue candlesticks and the centerpiece were items I found on clearance at Pier 1 a couple of years ago.  I love finding awesome pieces on clearance.

 
Using blue in this summer house tour to give the look of a coastal vibe.

I found this shell set from At Home. They also have the best scent.  It makes the whole kitchen smell like fresh linen.

Coastal vibe entryway in summer house tour part 2.

I found The blue tinted glass jug, the blue vase, and the blue coral at Home Goods.  They were such great finds.  Things fly off the shelves at Home Goods so you have to purchase it when you find what you want.

Coastal vibe entryway in summer house tour part 2.

I tried to pull together accessories with different shades of blue that have a natural, beachy vibe. If you think you’ve seen that driftwood garland before you have.  I used it on a client’s Christmas tree last year.  I did a coastal theme in a Virginia Beach office and used it as a garland.  It was that natural piece I needed to bring the final details together. It’s one of my favorite trees so If you didn’t get a chance to see it you can check it out here.

Coastal vibe entryway in summer house tour part 2.

Coastal vibe entryway in summer house tour part 2.

If you are in the Hampton roads area and are looking for a photographer for senior sessions or family portraits I use Jason Williams at Elite Photography.  He has been doing our photos for the last 6 years.

Coastal vibe entryway in summer house tour part 2.

I hope you enjoyed both of my summer tours.  Later in the month I will be revealing my outdoor summer kitchen and fire pit.  It is the best upgrade we have done to our house.  We are definitely more casual entertainers.  We enjoy throwing parties and entertaining around our pool. I think that is what home decor is all about. Making your home a place you want to be at and entertain others there as well.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

Summer House Tour

I’m SO excited!!! Summer is almost here.  We had a pretty harsh winter for Virginia Beach. Then it seemed like we just skipped past spring and it went straight to 90 degree weather.  I’m not complaining though. I’m not a fan of cold weather. Summer house tours are literally one of my favorite posts.  I love reading other blogs that showcase their homes this time of year.  Kids are getting out of school and everyone is in a party mood.

 Hey, If you’re new to my blog I’m so glad you stopped by.  Here are a couple posts to get to know me better; (10 Facts About the Person Behind the Blog, 25 Things About Me, and My Easy to Follow Nighttime Routine). Now let’s start the summer tour.

  Those of you who have been around a while know I’m a big fan of black and white decor. However, for the summer I do like to throw a little color in there.

Styling the living room for a summer house tour for Yours Truly Jenn.

This animal print ottoman came from One King’s Lane.  It was exactly what I was looking for.  It took me a while to find it, but when I saw it, I knew it was just what I was looking for.  You can find similar animal hide ottomans here, here and here.

This room with gorgeous animal print is beautifully styled by Yours Truly Jenn for the summer house tour.

This solid blue rug came from Pottery Barn.  I thought it pulled the room together with the pillows as well.

This room with gorgeous animal print is beautifully styled by Yours Truly Jenn for the summer house tour.

These glam velvet couches came from Joss and Main.

This room with gorgeous animal print is beautifully styled by Yours Truly Jenn for the summer house tour.

I love this aerial view from the hallway upstairs.  You can really see how beautiful the furniture is and how the pieces compliment each other.  I love having this 2 story ceiling in the family room.

This room with gorgeous animal print is beautifully styled by Yours Truly Jenn for the summer house tour.

The gorgeous chairs were a splurge from Neiman Marcus.  I love to get a splurge piece that I call “the guest of honor.” Then I get functional pieces that are more reasonable to compliment and make the splurge piece really shine.

The next part of the summer house tour will be on Wednesday.  I will finish up with a hallway display and my tablescape. I would love to know what your color scheme is for the summer.  Leave a comment below telling me your summer decor plans.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

 

How to Give Your Home That Coastal Feel

The beach is definitely my happy place.  I love sitting ouside reading a book listening to the waves break. Have you ever thought about bringing the beach feeling into your home?  Don’t worry if you don’t have a vacation home or you don’t live at the beach.  As long as you pull your accessories and colors together you can pull this off.

Color is very important.  Using blues and neutrals will definitely give you that beachy vibe you’re striving for.  Using cool tone paint colors will show you are committed to the coastal theme.  A light and airy color palette will go amazingly well with ocean waves and salty air.

These accessories and colors give this home a coastal feel.

If you’re looking for coastal inspiration, check out Kim’s blog Sand and Sisal.  She decorates her home year round with a coastal feel. It’s a place where you feel at ease and welcomed when you enter.  Isn’t that the feel you want from a beachy home?

Accessories are also very important.  Color comes to play again in your use of accessories. I love this blue coral and all the different shades of blue I used in this entry. The sky and the waves are all different shades of blue and it brings in those elements.  Also, using shades of tan work well because of drift wood, sand, and other natural elements like shells.  You can also use things that you find on the beach to put in your home.

This entryway uses different shades of blue to pull off a coastal feel.

Picking out decor will give your home those finishing touches.  You can pull in your color palette with your bedroom comforter, rug, artwork, and pillows.  These touches will show your guests you’ve thought of everything right to the smallest detail.  Even though I’m saying these items are the final details, sometimes I actually start with a rug or pillow as an inspiration piece.  They usually have a pattern or a color I like.  I use that inspiration to get the color scheme and vision for the room.  Whatever works best for you and your creative process.

Using certain colors and accessories help you achieve that coastal feel.

I’m curious if any of you have a vacation home along 30A in Florida.  If you do, I would love to pick your brain.  We are considering looking there or Hilton Head for a beach home.  Any suggestions or feedback you have would be amazing.

If you are looking to add some beachy accessories to your home I hope this gave you some new ideas. I am going to start posting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays so look for new posts on those days. Have a great summer!

Yours Truly,

Jenn

 

 

 

Like it, Love it, List

There are several books that I’ve been reading and I wanted to share with you guys on the like it, love it list today.  I know I’m WAY behind on the kindle idea, but being a reading specialist I just really liked holding a book.  I didn’t think I would ever give in.  However, we are trying to do some decluttering and I’m getting rid of some books. I started thinking if I got rid of some books, why I would I continue to bring new ones in. I would just have to go through the same process in a couple of years. So for saving room and for easier travels, I got the Kindle app on my iPad.  I am a converted soul.  I know I should have done it long ago.  If you haven’t done it yet, do it! It’s worth the wait. Now, let’s review the books I’ve read this month.

Check out these great books of the month and see if you love them as much as I do.

My favorite books this month

The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone.  If you need a motivational book about how to succeed or become all you can be; this is the perfect book.  It is the kick in the pants you need in a very encouraging way. You can’t help but want to get up and start a company or run a marathon after reading this book.  You have to get this one if you’re needing a little push or are looking for your purpose!

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I read this book like 10 years ago, but decided to read it again.  I remembered it being really good and I started her podcast and wanted to reread it.  It was just as good the second time.  She does a year long study of consciously trying to be “happier” in her life. It is a great read.  One of my favorite non-fiction selections.  Maybe you can even do a modified happiness project.

The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle.  This is a thriller that keeps you guessing with each page. From the first chapter the main character is notified that her husband has died in a plane crash, but that is in no way the thriller of the story.  Read to find out the twists and turns in this page turning book and how the wife finds out about her husband’s past.  Loved it!

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris.  This book flips back and forth from past to present situations of a seemingly perfect newlywed couple who seem to have it all.  But is their marriage as perfect as it seems to their friends or are they hiding a secret?  This one was very interesting.  Never read anything like it.  Very good!

The like it, love it list is all about books this time.  Just read so many because I was excited about my Kindle app.  You know then I will usually go on a dry spell and wait like 3 months without reading again. I’m trying to be more consistent because it really is one of my favorite things to do.  Since summer is coming I am trying to make it part of my daily life.

Hopefully you found something that sounds interesting.  If you read one of these let me know what you thought.  I love to know what other people think about the books.  It’s like we are having our own little book group. Also follow me on social media because I am posting stylish decor ideas and tips over there all the time.  Also, what books should I be reading this summer?  I love book recommendations.  If there are any free kindle books or great ones I need to buy, leave a comment below.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

How to Arrange your Pillows

Pillows are one of my favorite accent accessories. They can take a dull room and make it new again without breaking the bank.  Since they aren’t a big ticket item you can even change them out seasonally by color and texture without your spouse putting up too much fuss.  If you get really nice inserts you can get to the point where you are just changing out the covers.

These pillows really elevate the bedding to a whole new level.

At one point, I had so many decorative pillows that I bought a commercial pillow rack.  It is awesome and if you are a designer or just have a lot of pillows I highly recommend it for organization and a space saver.  If I remember correctly I think I got it off of Amazon.

I like to use the “guest of honor” pillow to get inspiration for the rest of the room.  I can then go and find paint colors, rugs, décor, art work etc…. A “guest of honor” pillow is one that is your more expensive pillow. It is just FABULOUS and probably cost too much. I have seen some really amazing ones in leather, animal skin, velvet and some amazing patterns. Then you can fill in with solids or other patterns that compliment that pillow on a less expensive scale.  However, those pillows are just as important to the design.

Choose a "guest of honor pillow" to take center stage.

Think about your groupings and where you place your pillows.  Are they indoor or outdoor pillows?  If you are putting pillows outside, make sure they are pillows that are made for outside.  However, just a tip, I still try to bring my pillows in, especially if it is going to rain. You could store them in a little container or a shed.

If you are using pillows outside make sure they are made of outdoor fabric.

Think about the function of the pillows. Are you using them for decoration only or are people using them as actual pillows to watch a movie or hang out?  You wouldn’t want to put pillows with sequins on them if people were going to lay their head on them.

Knowing the function of the room is important in selecting the pillows.

When I’m trying to match up colors and sizes on my couch, beds etc… I purchase a lot of options and then try different combinations and see what works best.  Sometimes I get it right the first time.  Sometimes I have to take a bunch of items back and try again.  I think it’s better to try a bunch of selections than to settle with something you don’t like.

Hopefully this was helpful.  Nobody gets everything right the first go around every single time.  There are too many variables in design that play a big part in the final product.  You have to play around and see what you like. I find I like the end result better when I do it this way.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

 

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