On My Mind...Lately

July 25, 2014
Well y'all, it's finally Friday!  Sorry I've been quiet this past week.  I've just had zero creative thought in my brain lately, so it's been hard to muster any energy to create a decent blog post. 
Do you ever feel like you're on top of the world and you're doing an amazing job at balancing all your responsibilities and you're pretty much just being awesome at life?  That's how I felt a few weeks ago.  Everything was tidy, I was about 4 weeks ahead on blog posts, I finally lost the 3 pounds that were lingering after a long winter, everything worked out with securing the venue for our wedding and all the vendors we wanted were available...and now my apartment is a mess, my eyebrows look like caterpillars, I have no blog posts scheduled, and I'm not very motivated to go work out.  Ugh. 
I think it's likely because I have so many big transitions happening right now.  I've been stressing out about moving because we couldn't find a good place to live in Baltimore (we finally settled on Columbia, MD and have secured an apartment that we will move into in 3 weeks), my last day of work in the Army is next Friday, I'm thinking about starting a small business, and I should be planning a wedding.  It's just a lot to handle so the little things (and to be honest...the big things too) fall by the wayside.  I'm really hoping that once I'm out of the Army I can do a better job of keeping managing everything.  Only 7 more days!
Ok well enough of that rambling...here is a round up of the fun and pretty things I've been loving this past week.
1.  White Kitchens

carrera marble countertops, colorful accents

Last week I had the chance to stage my dream bungalow in Alexandria, VA.  Since then, I've been thinking about what I would do to create my dream home, and this definitely includes a white kitchen.  I'm really into white cabinets, Calcutta or Carrera marble counter tops, and subway tile backsplashes right now.  I just love how this kitchen is so clean and simple, yet the bright colors make it light and whimsical.

2.  Casey DeBois's Everygirl Home Tour and CustomAcrylicDesigns.

entry table

As always, I'm a sucker for an amazing home tour.  I just love to see how normal people turn their spaces in inspiring and fun places to live and relax.  Casey DeBois's home tour on the Everygirl was my favorite tour in quite a while.  I am slightly obsessed with her entry table.  She shared her source for it, and it's from an Etsy store called CustomAcrylicDesigns.  Even though I already have a lucite console table from CB2, I may still look into getting something unique like this once we move.

3.  Trader Joe's Fruit Frenzy Bar.

Ok so this photo is from the Glitter Guide and it's supposed to be showing off the fun manicure.  What I'm concerned with though is the delicious popsicle she has in her hands.  I tried this flavor earlier this week (it's raspberry, lemon and strawberry) and it's absolutely amazing.  It's made from real fruit and is the perfect summer treat.

4.  Beachy Home Decor.

colorful beach decor

Living in Hawaii was an absolute dream for me, and I've always felt most at home when I'm by the ocean.  I may be buying a home at Fripp Island, SC with my parents pretty soon (I grew up vacationing there every summer and it's so relaxing and wonderful), so of course I've started looking up ideas for how to decorate a beach home.  I don't know if I want to go with navy blue and neutral colors for a relaxing pallet, or should we go for something a little more unexpected?  I love the black, white and turquoise color combo in this picture...but I also am crazy about the more traditional nautical look...I'm so torn!  What style do you think I should go with??? 

Have a nice weekend y'all! 
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Blue and White Jars

July 21, 2014
If you read design magazines or browse Pinterest from time to time, I'm sure you've noticed that blue and white ginger jars are crazy popular right now.  It's probably because these beauties play nicely with any color you pair them with, so they can fit in just about any room.  

I'm loving all the blue and white in this room!  

What a perfect combo!  Ginger jars, lots of white flowers and a rustic table.

Ginger jars also make lovely subjects in art.  This beauty is by Anne Harwell of annechovie on Etsy.  I'm swooning right now.  All her artwork is gorgeous!

Ginger jars were originally created in China thousands of years ago to hold spices.  They have been popular in decorating for years and years, so they clearly are not a trend that is going to fall out of fashion anytime soon. 

If you have decided you want to start your collection of these gorgeous blue and white beauties, you may get a little sticker shock when you see how much they can run you (typically over $100 each depending on size)!  If you're into saving your money while also having a beautiful home (like me!), then go hit the thrift stores instead!  Like I said earlier, ginger jars have been around for years and years, and you're likely to come across some pretty blue and white pieces if you regularly troll the thrift stores.  All of mine have been found at thrift shops, and I haven't spent more than $10 on any of them.

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On My Mind...Lately

July 18, 2014
Happy Friday everyone!  This sure was one crazy busy week and I'm happy it's finally Friday!  Here are a few things that I've been thinking about this past week.
1.  Home Staging.  Tuesday through Thursday I attended an Accredited Staging Professionals course and learned so much about the field.  As most of you know I'm getting out of the Army in 2 weeks (yikes!), and right now I'm just searching for ideas for what I want to do.  I'm definitely considering starting my own home staging company, but I need to think about it for a little while to see if it makes sense and if it's something I really want to do.  What is staging, you ask?  Staging is a proven marketing tool using your (the home seller's) budget and time frame to prepare your house for sale so it appeals to the most buyers, sells faster and for the most money.  Basically it's a way to get rid of the clutter, tidy things up, and place furniture/accessories in a way that makes buyers see your home for all the potential it has.  On Wednesday we staged a $1.2 million craftsman bungalow in Alexandria, VA, and it was an amazing experience.  The home was over 90 years old and had recently been flipped.  It was stunning and I never wanted to leave!  We got to decorate each room with furniture that was brought in, because it's been proven that empty homes sell much slower than furnished homes.  This experience also made me REALLY want to start flipping houses.  Maybe I'll do both??
2.  Maine.  This evening Tom and I are heading to Maine.  He's a Mainer (is that really what they are called?), so we are going to visit his parents and I will get a chance to meet some of his family that I have not met yet.  It'll be a nice weekend and I'm excited to see the state!  I'm just glad we are visiting in the summer and not winter because I am a huge wimp when it comes to the cold. 
3.  Wedding Bands.  Tom and I went to look for wedding bands last weekend, and I think I narrowed it down to 2 different bands.  At first I was thinking I wanted one that matched the band of my engagement ring, but right before we left I saw one that was so unique, delicate and beautiful that I may have changed my mind.  I have a few pins that are similar to this band on my Wedding Pinterest board. 
4.  Kate Spade.  I had my wedding dress fitting last weekend and realized the day before that I had to have my wedding shoes before they could do any hemming to the dress!  I went to Kate Spade at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City the morning of my appointment and got the most fun and whimsical shoes!  The girls working at Kate Spade were so sweet and helpful, and they even sent me a congratulations note in the mail that I received yesterday.  So nice!
5.  RewardStyle Summer School.  Last night I attended a class for DC bloggers who use rewardStyle.  RewardStyle is an amazing blogger resource that allows us to earn commission off of certain products that we love and blog about.  We learned about different ways to use the tools to grow our audiences and be more effective bloggers.  I still have so much to learn about this "world," so I tried to soak in as much as I could.  The event was at Lincoln Restaurant on Vermont Ave. in DC, which was a really neat place and I wish I had discovered it sooner!  Needless to say, after a full day of class about starting a staging business, and then 3 hours of blogging class (with wine, of course), I was exhausted and slept like a baby last night.
6.  I'm over on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter, and I'd love for you to follow along if you aren't already! 
Have a great weekend y'all!
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How to Hunt a Thrift Store

July 16, 2014
I know, I know...you have to do a lot of digging before you find anything fantastic, but swallowing your pride and combing the shelves of a thrift store will absolutely be worth it once you find a treasure for a mind-blowingly low price.

I was raised with a mother and a grandmother who know the value of a good bargain.  Whenever we'd visit my mom's parents, all the girls would go to the Amvets, Salvation Army, or FAITH (Fight Abuse In The Home) thrift stores, where we would spend hours browsing every rack in the store.  My mom and grandmother have the most beautiful homes, and many of their pieces were found at thrift stores.

Here are some rules on how to hunt a thrift store.  They work for me, and they are sure to work for you too! 

1.  Have a general plan.  I typically head to a thrift store with a few general themes in mind.  For example, right now I always keep an eye out for blue and white pieces (ginger jars especially), anything brass (it's made a huge comeback and most people that own old brass things don't realize it's cool again so they get rid of their pieces!), tiny mirrors, old hobnob pieces,  serving trays, lucite, glasses, etc.

Brass AND lucite candle stick!  A winning combo in my book!

2.  Be open-minded.  Pick things up and study them and think about where you could use them.  Tabletops and bookshelves don't need to be sparse, so get creative!

Ginger jars can be used just about anywhere, and always make lovely vases.

3.  Be patient.  I searched for my new dining chairs for about 10 months.  I knew I wanted well built, unique chairs at a good price, so I had to wait until I found the perfect ones.  I'm glad I didn't spring on a set of chairs I didn't truly love a few months ago.  That would have been rushing the process. 

I can't wait to make over these chairs!  I have the fabric (so fun and I can't wait to share it with y'all) and the paint, now all I need is some space to work!

4.  Be imaginative.  If you see a piece that may need a little TLC, don't be afraid!  Getting something reupholstered or painting a piece of furniture isn't as expensive and doesn't take as long as you might think.  Plus they will be one of a kind pieces once you're done with them!

This was actually at my neighbor's yard sale (and she gave it to me for free!).  Good thing I have an imagination, otherwise I would have thought this was a lost cause.

Now this same sofa looks amazing.  Just a simple fabric change made all the difference!

5.  Be wary.  Make sure to try out thrift store lamps before you buy them.  You never know if their wiring works until you try it out.  Also check the craftsmanship of any furniture.  You don't want to waste your money on something made from particle board.

I made sure to test out this lamp first before I committed to it.

I've had great luck with thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets, but it's because I put in the effort and don't mind spending lots of time looking at everything.  One last hint is to choose a decent area of town to browse.  Thrift stores in nice areas will usually have a better selection simply because the local residents will be getting rid of higher quality stuff.

So to recap, here are the rules again, surrounded by an assortment of items I've found while hunting at thrift stores over the years.  My home wouldn't be the same without all my eclectic second-hand pieces!

Happy hunting!

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Go Bright or Go Home

July 14, 2014
J.Crew Dress / Lisi Lerch Earrings (c/o) / Ann Taylor Sandals / J.Crew Factory Sunglasses (similar)

I am an absolute sucker for a J.Crew dress, and this dress was no exception.  I love how the lace design is nice and ladylike, but it's a little bit "out there" with the crazy neon color.  I wore this dress while touring the Beaufort Inn in Beaufort, South Carolina (where the wedding reception will be), and just had to take some pictures in the beautiful waterfront park.

The earrings are from Lisi Lerch, a lovely new jewelry boutique that I discovered recently.  All the jewelry they sell is gorgeous, but I figured I'd continue with the bright look and chose some fun blue earrings (a total departure from my normal choice of stud earrings).  Check out Lisi Lerch if you are looking for some unique jewelry to add a splash of color to any outfit!

Even the sun on this sweltering day couldn't outshine me in this fun ensemble!

I'm loving these shoes right now.  I can't resist a gold heel!

I love this man!

Such a pretty park!  Lots of swings, a beautiful view of the water and the perfect place for a photo op.

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On my Mind...Lately

July 11, 2014
First off, I just want to say thank you to all you wonderful people out there!  Your kind words about our recent engagement truly warmed my heart.  It's a delicate topic and I know I opened myself up to receiving comments (all positive thankfully!) about moving on after what I've been through, and I am so extremely thankful and blessed that I have such wonderfully supportive family, friends and readers who cheer me on for choosing happiness.  Thank you all for your support.

Here's a round up of the things that I've been thinking about this week.  
1.  Wedding.  I obviously have wedding on the brain right now, so if you want to see what sort of ideas I'm mulling over right now, my "Wedding" board on Pinterest is finally unhidden for the world to see.

2.  Grilled Asparagus and Ricotta Pizzettes.  Tom and I cooked these delicious pizzas earlier this week for dinner.  They were so good!  I've never cooked pizza on a grill before, and I may never cook any other way ever again.  The sauce on these pizzas is simply pesto, and with a dollop of ricotta they feel really indulgent but they are simple enough to make on a weeknight. 

3.  Bow Push Pins.  Ever since I made my bulletin board I've had my eye on these adorable Kate Spade push pins.  These are everything I love: bows, Kate Spade, and gold.  What's not to love?

4.  Peppered Bacon Bloody Mary.  Tom and I love a good Bloody Mary.  This peppered bacon Bloody Mary looks amazing.  Bacon and a Bloody Mary...sounds like a match made in heaven!   

5.  DIY Pom Pom Placemats.  I ran across this DIY pom pom placemat idea on Rue Daily recently, and I really love this idea!  Take a simple placemat and jazz it up by adding some whimsical pom poms!  Looks pretty easy so I may need to try this myself soon!
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!

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A Vase by Any Other Name

July 9, 2014
If you've been reading for a little while, you probably have realized that I like to use things in unexpected or unique ways, and this isn't just limited to furniture.  Recently I've been using pitchers, urns, teapots and other pretty items as vases.  While I love florist-made bouquets, I think I'd much rather have a simple bunch of grocery store flowers any day.  I cannot stand those simple, ridged glass vases that normally comes with the flowers and I almost always donate them the second I have to throw away the flowers.

I love the creativity and work you have to put into arranging a bunch of grocery store flowers.  Plus you get to choose your own "vases" and sprinkle flowers all over your home!  Bathrooms, bedside, kitchen table, kitchen counter...the options are endless, and with a couple cheap bouquets of daisies or whatever is sold at your local grocery store, will go a long way and can add some cheer to your entire home.  Currently I'm into blue and white (like I shared in this previous post), but I switch things up often.  I just found this old blue willow patterned cream pitcher at a thrift store for $6, and doesn't it look so pretty with a few pink flowers? 

Now go "shop" in your china cabinents and bookshelves and see what you can use!  I bet you have a darling little pitcher that will look lovely with a few roses next to your bed.
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