May 2018 archive

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

 

Preparing your Backyard for Summer

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.

Trimming your hedges and putting down mulch will help spruce up your yard.

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.

Putting flowers in pots will help complete your outdoor porch area.

Putting flowers in pots will help complete your outdoor porch area.

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.

Set up your pool opening after all the spring pollen is gone.

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.

Style your backyard as an extension to your indoor living space.

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.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

 

 

 

What You Should Pack For a Beach Vacation

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.

Check out these tips and tricks for traveling out of the country on 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.

Check out these tips and tricks for traveling out of the country on a beach vacation.

Packing Tricks

  •  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.

Check out these tips and tricks for traveling out of the country on a beach vacation.

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.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

How to Keep the Pollen Out of Your House

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.

Check out these easy ways to keep pollen out of your house.

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.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

 

Happy Mother’s Day

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.

Celebrating our mothers in a special way.

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)

Celebrating our mothers in a special way.

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)

My sister, me and my mom on vacation.

My sister and me with my mom when we were little.

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.

Celebrating Mother's Day in a special way.

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.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

A Beautiful Pink Mother’s Day Brunch

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.

A special Pretty in Pink Mother's Day celebration.

Check out this gorgeous Mother's Day table in pink, white and rose gold.

This glam tablescape is set in pink and rose gold for a special Mother's Day celebration.

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.

Pretty in pink tablescape set for a Mother's Day celebration.

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.

Celebrate your mother this Mother's Day with this gorgeous pink and rose gold tablescape.

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!

Pretty in pink tablescape set for a Mother's Day celebration.

The wine glasses and the gorgeous blush Linen Hemstitch Napkins are both from Pottery Barn.  

Pretty in pink tablescape set for a Mother's Day celebration.

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.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

A Special Graduation Celebration

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.

Planning an amazing party for my daughter who was an honor graduate at her 2017 high school graduation.

Our family was so proud of my daughter at her 2017 high school graduation.

Gorgeous white flowers for a high school graduation party.

Black and white color palette for my daughter's high school graduation party.

Tips for Throwing A Grad Party

  1.  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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.Black, white, and teal wreaths for my daughter's high school graduation.

Black, teal and white backdrop for my daughter's high school graduation party.

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!

Yours Truly,

Jenn