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Thursday
Oct062016

my favorite entertaining books

We're back from our whirlwind road trip to Newport for the wedding of the centurey and I've been so excited to get back to blogging!  Amidst the bags to be unpacked and the mountain of laundry to be tackled, I've also got to plan a menu and table setting for a small get together this weekend for some good friends, but, of course, the latter is all I can think about right now!

I think the only thing I love more than playing hostess is searching for great entertaining ideas and inspiration!  Pinterest and, of course, Instagram, are neverending sources of gorgeous images and tutorials but my favorite way to brainstorm new entertaining ideas, whether it be for a small and intimate dinner or an over-the-top birthday bash, is through books.  For me, nothing can compare to flipping through page after page of beautiful images, dog earing my favorites and then pouring over how I could put my own spin on something particularly inspiring and timeless.  There are so many beautiful entertaining books out there, but there is particular handful I turn to time and time again.  Here are a few of my favorites:

1.  Barefoot Contessa Parties - I love everything about Ina Garten - her recipes, her show, her barn, her gardens...the woman is the epitome of rustic, earthy and chic table settings and meal plans that are so easy to execute and that never fail to impress!

2.  A Boat, A Whale and A Walrus - While this is more of a cookbook that is split up into seasons, it's also chock full of personal stories, menus and favorite recipes of author, chef and restauranteur Renee Erickson.  The images are beautifully simple and the settings are always casual, which I love.  This is one of my favorite books to gift, as well as reference!

3.  Camille Styles Entertaining - Organized by seasons with inspiring ideas and tips for everything from flower arrangements, favors, parties, desserts and signature cocktail recipes, this has become one of my go-to's when I'm really trying to get creative or when I really want to impress guests (I especially loved her mini bottles of tequila, paired with a key lime in a tiny burlap bag as favors for a Mexican fiesta!)

4.  Hamptons Entertaining - I'm obsessed with all things Hamptons, so it was only natural that I would love this tome, as well.  Author Annie Falk features 18 parties with recipes, tips for table settings, alcohol pairings and menu ideas but you also get little peeks of the gorgeous Hamptons estates and gardens as well!

5.  Great Parties: Recipes, menus and ideas for perfect gatherings: the best of Martha Stewart Living - My aunt gave me a copy of this for my birthday years ago and practically every page is dog eared!  Not only are the images gorgeous, but there are step-by-step instructions for hosting the perfect party, from small and intimate to grand and elegant. 

6.  Pret-a-Party: Great Ieas for Good Times and Creative Entertaining - If you're looking for some fun, fresh and modern entertaining ideas, this is definitely for you.  While a pig roast on a rooftop garden may not be practical for many of us, author and fashion designer Lela Rose's tips on decorating, table settings and menu plans are spot on and, with a couple trips to Hobby Lobby or Michael's, easy to replicate!

What are some of your favorite entertaining books?  I'm always looking to add to my collection!

Thursday
Sep152016

the latest swoon worthy hamptons getaway by steven gambrel

Easing back into blogging slowly but surely, and I thought it was the perfect chance to share design genius Steven Gambrel's  latest project, a weekend home in Bridgehampton, which was featured in last month's Architectural Digest.  It's no secret I'm slightly obsessed with designer Steven Gambrel's impeccable style; everything he touches is absolute perfection; I don't think there's a single home he's designed that I haven't loved (his Captain Overton house and his own Sag Harbor Captain's Cottage are two of my all-time favorite home tours EVER) and while I tend to gravitate to homes on a much smaller scale, I still find this gargantuan family home super cozy and intimate - the perfect place for a dinner party, wine with friends or curling up with the family for movie night!  Of course, the pale blue, gray and taupe color palette, natural textures and jawdropping lighting doesn't hurt, either (nor do the fabulous outdoor living rooms!) It's been a little while since I've posted a house tour and I thought this one was swoon worthy enough to make the cut!

Hydrangeas, crepe myrtles and slate pavers make a simple but dramatic first impression to the house:

Love, love, LOVE Gambrel's signature pale blue color palette and iron hanging lanterns in the living room:

The vintage-inspired kitchen is breathtaking, from the floor-to-ceiling subway tile to the custom made enamel pendant lights and woven bar stools:

Now, that's what I call a butler's pantry!  The darker gray on the trim and cabinetry is divine:

The teal and emerald green in the study is not a color combination I would ever think to pair together, but it works so well here with the brass desk and sconces, not to mention the silk striped rug:

That pale blue tufted sofa is what my dreams are made of!  Swoon....

Blue grass cloth, crisp white window panels and woven Roman shade and brass accents in the bedroom?  Yes, please:

Pretty sure this master bath is bigger than my first two apartments COMBINED:

This outdoor patio is such a beautiful extension of indoors - I love the woven shades, the gorgeous teak furniture and outdoor kitchen with open shelving:

Wednesday
Sep142016

he's here!

(5 days new, last week, and stealing his momma's heart)

My sweet little love bug, Luca James, made his grand debut the day before my birthday (his actual due date) on 2 September, at 900 pm!  He was 8 pounds, 12 ounces and 21 inches of pure sweetness and we are so, so in love!  He's got the most incredible head of jet black hair and the bluest eyes, just like his big sister and momma and daddy have a serious case of heart eyes! This newborn phase is so fleeting (I can't believe he's 12 days old already) so I've been soaking up every single moment and wishing I could bottle how amazing he smells!  Lydia is the best big sister ever; she's all about helping and holding him and smothering him in kisses, which warms my heart even more!

(meeting baby brother in the hospital)

Everyone told me that, with the second baby, time goes twice as fast and they weren't lying - between constant nursing and changing diapers, I'm playing dress up with Lydia or baking in her kitchen, just taking it all in.  I saw a quote the other day that simply said, "of all the things I'm proud of, being a mother is, by far, my greatest achievement".  And it's so true.  Thank you all for following along on this journey with me!  It's back to regularly scheduled blogging soon, I promise, but in the meantime, give me ALL the sushi....

Wednesday
Aug312016

dowel rods as curtain rods

Everyone has their weaknesses when it comes to decorating; custom window treatments happen to be one of mine.  The only down side, unfortunately, is that they aren't cheap (and even some of the pretty store-bought options from Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn can end up costing just as much).   I love to mix high-end with budget finds for a lived-in, loved look and that means, if your budget allows for some custom window panels in a fabulous fabric, GO FOR IT, because you can save money on the hardware and still make a big impact!

(A ten foot dowel rod, painted black and hung with a support brakcket over triple windows in my breakfast nook)

One of my favorite tricks is to use 1 1/4" or 1 1/2" unfinished wooden dowel rods from Lowe's and Home Depot.  When painted and paired with finials, you'd never know the difference!  You can buy them in 8 or 10 foot pieces and have them cut to the length you need for less than $15.  This is especially helpful for double or triple windows when traditional hardware, though gorgeous, can end up costing just as much as the window treatments themselves!

(An eight foot rod, cut in half for my dining room)

I've used them all throughout my own home and recently went through the whole process of priming, painting and putting them up in baby boy's nursery, so I thought I'd share how easy it is to do here on the blog.   I couldn't be happier with how they turned out and even better, they're substantial enough to accommodate lined panels (they're heavy!)

(Another eight foot rod cut in half, then painted and primed in Lydia's nursery)

I bought an eight foot rod and had it cut into two four foot pieces at Lowe's.  I also purchased two pairs of brackets (one pair for each window) and finials for the ends:

I always use this latext multi purpose primer because it sticks to everything and I didn't have to sand the finials or brackets, saving me an extra step!  I applied two coats to everything, even the rod, otherwise, it'll just soak up the paint:

Once the paint is dried and I'm ready to mount the brackets, I use a drill bit to drill holes in the ends and screw the finials in:

Happy Hump Day, everyone!

Monday
Aug292016

39 weeks + a few pics from my mother/daughter maternity session

Happy Monday!  Taking a tiny break from all things interior decor and design this morning to gush over a couple of the maternity photos I got a little sneak peek of over the weekend!  I didn't do a session when I was pregnant with Lydia, which is crazy now that I think back on it, because we'd had such an incredibly difficult time getting pregnant with her, so this time around, I really wanted to capture a few images of these last few days of it just being me and my girl.  Of course, I waited until the eleventh hour and ended up having them taken the day before I hit 38 weeks, so they are even more special because we are so close now!

There were only a few images I had in mind that I really, really wanted; at the top of my list was a black and white silhouette from the side, something soft and ethereal.  Not only was my photographer amazing, but she blew me away with the few photos I've gotten to see so far; they are above and beyond what I ever could have expected!  If any of you have ever tried to have professional photos taken with a toddler, you know it can be a harrowing experience, so we opted to have an in-home session and let Lydia change into her favorite princess dress (once we got the goods in her real outfit). It totally worked out in our favor because she was so focused on being a "ballerina" that the shots my photographer ended up getting of her dancing are just as amazing as the maternity ones!

Choosing what to wear was easy, as I knew I'd need something snug/form fitting in order to get the silhouette shot, but I also wanted to be super comfy, too.  I wore my favorite Michael Stars maxi skirt and a white maternity tank top from Old Navy, both of which have been staples in my pregnancy wardrobe this summer.  I've been told a million times by photographers never to wear white, but I've always chosen it for photo sessions - white is gorgeous, and with the help of a little self tanner, I've never had any issue with looking washed out.  And Lydia just looks too heavenly in white eyelet to not dress her in it every chance I can get!

We didn't want to leave Daddy out, so we got some shots of baby girl and her main squeeze, dancing...you can see my little princess ballerina takes it very seriously! This is exactly what it looks like around here after dinner these days....Lydia changing into one of her many princess dresses and getting Daddy to twirl and bow her all over the living room:

Of all the photo sessions we've done, these are some of my favorite pictures yet because they not only capture my complete adoration for my little miss, but also the love Lydia has for her daddy, and it also is a great reminder of a fabulous summer and the last few weeks of us being a family of three. My heart is so full already, that it's hard to believe how much more it will inevitably expand here shortly when baby bear makes his debut!  I hit 39 weeks on Saturday; we are in the final stretch! 

Happy Monday, everyone!