March 17, 2017

Letters From A: Decorating With White

 

I hate decorating.  I hate picking paint colors, buying furniture, choosing fabrics (ha – I don’t actually know what one would do with fabrics but this seems to be a thing with interior people), and having too many….erm…decorative objects makes me break out in hives.  “TOO MANY THINGS TO DUST!” said my mother once and yes.  AGREED.

Couple my….lack of passion for the topic with the very real fact that I am Not Very Good At This and you end up with a house full of Stuff That Does Not Go, coupled with a few large pieces of Stuff That Doesn’t Fit, usually co-located with at least one Piece From a Wishful Thinking Phase, and rounded out nicely with Stuff I Had in College.

Happily, I also have…an A.  (You may remember her from here:  Am I Too Old or Too Short For These Jeans?)

My dear friend A is one of those magical creatures who seems to need no sleep, has boundless energy, and can see 3-D scale models in her head of any room she designs. She’s the kind of friend who, on a Friday night, if you happen to say, “I wonder if I should move the couch over he–” is already on her feet, moving the couch, chair, bookshelf, and swapping out the rug for one she happens to remember seeing once in your basement.  And somehow…despite no shortage of initial arguing (usually by me)….it always looks a million times better when A is done.

She’s like a fairy godmother of home design.

No, scratch that.  She’s like the…..Energizer Bunny of home design.  A fairy godmother would just wave a magic wand and POOF.  Done.  She wouldn’t text you at odd hours of the night telling you that she found THE EXACT NIGHTSTAND for your bedroom and oh-by-the-way 5 new lighting fixtures were added to the Pinterest board she created for your playroom and when you (finally) log on to Pinterest to look…you realize that she’s also created Pinterest boards for alllll of your friends who she is also simultaneously helping.  With all of their rooms.  In all of their houses.

(If you guys want to follow A on Pinterest, you are in for a treat.  She finds killer stuff. )

But one of the many reasons I love A so dearly, is not for her mad home design skills.  It’s for her general outlook on life, her ability to…shine, so brightly -even through all of life’s shit (and she has more than her fair share), yet somehow expand that glow to everyone around her.  She’s the kind of girl who truly lights up a room, and the whole world is better because A is in it.

One of A’s pet projects lately is helping Mike and I finish our renovations.  This has involved many bottles of wine, Pinterest board after Pinterest board, and, when I’m being more stubborn than usual……A’s shenanigans.  She’s held one-act plays in my living room over coffee tables, written an Ode To My Powder Room, and…..the weekly emails.  Which are actually my favorite part.

Almost every week, A has started writing letters about whatever topic we’ve been discussing, filled with all kinds of fun home decor inspiration, but also a little dose of real life.  Of her.  Of her indefatigable optimism, her charm, her East-Coast, Philly-girl nonsense.

I’ve been getting so much joy out of these letters that I asked A if I could share them with you.

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March 13, 2017

Kids’ Bookcase Organization – Before & After!

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As you can see above, my toddler’s book situation was a lil’ bit out of control. We live in an old house that has small bedrooms, and hers is not only the smallest but also filled with the most furniture. Crib, huge gliding rocking chair, and twin-sized bed – the old Ikea Expedit I’m using as her dresser is wedged into the closet. But reading is a big part of the bedtime routine, so as she began getting more into books (and squirrelling them all away in her room – toddlers are excellent hoarders) I needed a better organizing solution. The shoe rack/makeshift bookcase worked ok for a while, but lately had been a disaster area and way too small to contain much of anything.

Time for a new solution – a real bookcase with lots of space for storage bins, baskets, nightlights and of course, books. We did sacrifice the walking space between the crib and glider to fit one in, but it’s infinitely better. Ready for the big reveal?

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By March 13, 2017 17 No tags Permalink
March 5, 2017

Hot Eats & Cool Shops in Portland, Maine

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 Portland Trading Company

A few weeks ago the hubs and I escaped for our first weekend away since kids. Hallelujah! We spent a day exploring Portland, Maine – or as I like to call it, Brooklyn North. There are some seriously cool shops and amazing restaurants packed into this little city, not to mention the quaint cobblestone side streets (incredibly slippery in winter, FYI) and stunning views of Casco Bay. I kept thinking how much the kids would love to visit even though we were supposed to be off-duty! It’s such a unique place. The wharfs in the old, still-working port are fascinating, and there’s a strong arts culture that has fun events year round. For older kids and adults, there’s an incredible music sceneLake Street Dive was in town that weekend for a sold-out show. I was admittedly surprised at how much the city has going on and wished we had more time to explore. Note – it’s not a definitive city guide, just our picks from shops and food we found when wandering around. Think mashed potato donuts (oh, yes), a gorgeous kid’s boutique, Scandinavian heaven and lots more. Let’s go!

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February 11, 2017

Valentine’s Movie Night Ideas – Unromantic + Unfiltered

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In our annual tradition of non-romantic-movie themed Valentine’s date nights, I polled the Mom Edit team for their faves and whipped up some really fun ideas if you’re staying in this year. Because it’s February and no one wants to leave the house – hot popcorn & warm couch > fancy dinner & unsensible shoes.

Grab the remote and your bae: we’ll tell you what to watch, wear, drink and give for a low-key but awesome Tuesday night.

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By February 11, 2017 3 No tags Permalink
February 10, 2017

Simple Valentine DIYs

Hey there friends! I don’t talk crafts often here at TME, but I adore making cute, simple crafts as gifts…so, I thought I’d round up a few easy ones to share for Valentine’s Day. And, I have to be honest, I love how this turned out!

It was inspired by a couple of different images I saw online, plus a little what-can-I-do-last-minute inspiration from my own brain cells. I’m excited to send these to the grandparents!

Check out the steps below for a quick tutorial on this simple Valentine, plus some other awesome Valentine DIYs from some of my favorite blogs.

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January 9, 2017

Gorgeous Tech Accessories & Office Supplies to Start the New Year Right

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Scale of 1-10, how painful was back to work this week? I’m having major “holiday hangover”, missing having the hubs home during the day and trying to get the kids’ sleep schedule back on track after a week of relaxed rules and way too much sugar. I’m in need of some major motivation and organization – especially since my home “office” is a desk two feet from our bed, and our room happens to be the most disorganized and cluttered room in the house! (Although I heard hygge is the new KonMari, I don’t think it applies here…) 2016 kind of kicked our collective butts, as Shana alluded to – but we are strong, resilient ladies and it’s time to get back to business. Nothing centers me like having a functional, organized clean-ish workspace and I want the things I see and use everyday to “spark joy”. I found some gorgeous tech accessories and stylish office supplies to help start the year on the right foot.

2017: let’s do this thing.

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December 28, 2016

The Best of Nordstrom’s Home Sale

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Nordstrom velvet comforter

Nordstrom’s Half-Yearly home sale is so. flipping. huge. this year! What an awesome post-Christmas gift! I edited it down to just my absolute faves which took a while but was a blast. I’m seeing major discounts on the best indoor/outdoor Dash & Albert rugs, Dwell bedding, cozy Barefoot Dreams throws and pillows and all kinds of fun stuff to warm up your house this winter.

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December 20, 2016

Last Minute Toys For Kids (STEM, STEAM and Fun)

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When the boys were really small, I had Christmas down.  We did holiday-themed art projects, advent calendars, Christmas stories, and went to see Santa right after Thanksgiving.  Their stockings were filled with carefully curated items, and Christmas cookies were baked.

I’m slipping.

For the last few years, Christmas seems to take us by surprise.  Now it’s as much of a Christmas tradition to have Mike and I on Amazon at 1AM three days before Christmas chanting, ‘Prime shipping!!  Filter on prime shipping!!”

So.  If you are riding the crazytown train right into Christmas, turnaround and say hi.  We’re sitting one row behind you.

Happily, Amazon does have some seriously amazing options.  We’re talking really and truly special gifts with high levels of Morning-of-Excitement, and even some toy options that were included in this year’s STEM guide (available to newsletter subscribers), but are worth talking about again. (Also check last year’s STEM guide – most of the products featured come with prime shipping options.)  Additionally, I found a few subscription-based gifts perfect for little (or teenage) engineers and artists.

Without further ado….here are a few last-minute gift options that will make it look like you’ve been planning this all along…

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December 19, 2016

Last-Minute Gifts for the Cook


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If you follow me on Instagram stories at all (@elletrain) you know I love to cook and bake. My grandmother was an amazing Southern food cook and baked the most delicious desserts. My stepmother is half Italian and has always cooked and baked fabulous holiday treats and special birthday meals. My youngest brother works in the food industry and is an avid fan and tester of all Alton Brown’s recipes. My mom is an incredible cook who has hosted international dinners in her home where she’s researched traditional foods from various countries to serve to complete strangers. (#brave) I think it’s in my blood.

I didn’t use to love to cook, but being surrounded by such wonderful foodies in my life, I had no choice but to take up interest. Once you spend a little time trying out recipes and building your repertoire of kitchen tools you learn the genuine satisfaction that comes with making a delicious meal or treat. I know many of you out there probably share my interest or know someone who does. For you or them, a great kitchen tool is really a priceless gift that will be used again and again.

Here, I’ve tried to gather useful, beautiful kitchen gifts that I would absolutely love to receive this Christmas. They’re also all available with Amazon Prime shipping, so you have time to get them ordered before next weekend. From mixers to cookbooks, there’s a little something here for every price point and every cook.

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December 13, 2016

Home & Hosting Gift Guide (Plus Foodie Gifts!)

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These are another type of favorite gift to give because I have so much fun picking them out! And maybe buying them for myself! Yep, that’s a box wine cooler you see above. Holiday parties are about to get real fancy around here…I found some delicious gifts for your favorite hostess that has everything and pretty little things for home. Holiday hosting & toasting gift ideas right this way…

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