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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Neutral Winter Decor: Pillows & Mantel

So, this is totally a bit late because we'll be going into Spring soon, but the good news is, even though I had Winter in mind while putting all these things together I'll be carrying a lot of it over to Spring & Summer.

It's always sad and also satisfying to put all the Christmas decor away. We actually keep it out until mid-January, and there's always a random day around that time that I say to myself, "K, I'm over this," and I start to pack it all back up. It's like a little mini Spring cleaning. But because I actually enjoy the Winter season, I always try to keep little sprinkles of it in our living room decor. I kept some of the same things from last year, and changed up some others.

The one thing I'm most excited about, though, is finally having a set mantel design that I can keep from season to season, and maybe just change it up for Christmas if I feel like it. I've said it before, I'll say it again, I struggle hardcore with designing mantels. They're narrow in depth (ours is only 5.5 inches deep), which really limits what you can put up there. My goals for the design have always been clean and simple but impactful, and proportionate to the height of the room. And during Christmas one thing we created for our coffee table gave me an idea for our mantel.

I love bringing the outdoors in because, like, I'm obsessed with nature. So after making little birch vases for some eucalyptus stems for our Christmas coffee table, I decided I wanted larger ones to go on each side of our window panel mirror for our mantel. And then from season to season, I can change out what to put inside (kind of, ridiculously excited for fall leaves in these bad boys).

Finding the birch logs was easy - we just went for a walk in our back yard and found a birch tree that had fallen down, and we sawed it down to the sizes we needed. Making them into vases, however, was a little bit of a pain. The smaller ones we made for Christmas aren't so bad because we just used the hole drill bit we have for our doors, and, you know, made an opening at the top. But, the size of these logs was much bigger, and we didn't want to buy a super expensive larger drill bit, plus its components, just for this one project. It was a lot of trial and error and a combination of a few techniques we found online. From the top, they look terrible, but no one can see the tops anyway.

I filled them with eucalyptus stems from Michaels that I recently found - I love that these ones are a soft and dusty light blue/green - and then added some cotton stems I had leftover from last year.






Yep, completely obsessed. Can't.stop.looking.at.them.

And since I'm a pillow freak, I changed up our pillows from Christmas to neutral/Wintery. I invested in a new pillow cover from my favorite pillow shop on Etsy JolieMarche, which combined my love of wreaths and natural looking botanicals into one perfect little pillow. And then I brought back our Winter snow owl pillow, and added a new throw I got myself during Christmas that's the perfect gray knit for maximum coziness.






I also found this cotton wreath at Homegoods for like $15, which I feel like is a steal because anything cotton-stem related tends to be a little pricey. And after Christmas, I just removed the red berry stems from our little coffee table tray eucalyptus arrangement, and added some cotton picks.






With all that said, I feel like come Spring, most of this will all stay the same, and maybe I'll change up a pillow or two (Mr. Owl will go away, and my bunny pillow will probably make an appearance for Easter). It's nice to finally have a set decor pattern that I can easily change out for each season.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Perfect Vermont Weekend: Shelburne & Stowe


It's always a good time to daydream about the fall season, yeah? I love living in a four-season climate, but fall wins all the points. I meant to post this months ago, and time got away from me, so better late than never? 

Last fall, Josh and I took a long weekend to our favorite place in Vermont. We always joke now that we no longer have a need to take weekend getaways to small towns out in the country like we used to because we basically live in a small town out in the country. Vermont was always our go-to place to visit when we needed to get away from every day life. It was the destination of our first trip together, where we honeymooned, where we celebrated Josh's 30th birthday with friends and family, and we even have a place that's our place in Vermont. It's been a while since going back and we were craving a fall trip away from the distraction of renovations. So we planned a last-minute getaway to our favorite little place.

We've been to a lot of little towns in Vermont, but our favorite to stay in is Shelburne. It's just outside Burlington, so you have the convenience of being closer to a larger college town with plenty of shops and restaurants, but Shelburne is a much quieter, small town that gives you that away-from-everything feel while still having things to do.

Our first stay in Shelburne at the Elliot House for Josh's 30th birthday four years ago.

The B&B we love to stay at is perfection. This year as we were pulling up, we were sad to find that it's actually for sale. The owner, Anne, is waiting for the right buyer, so hopefully we have at least another year left to visit Anne, who is the perfect host. We actually love to chat with her throughout the day and she's great at determining if you're in a chatty mood, or want to be left alone. She always makes our stay so lovely. 

This perfect place I keep referring to is the Elliot House B&B. It's very inexpensive per night (for Vermont fall foliage standards), and while the room is very basic (no TV or anything), the windows from two of the bedrooms give you a perfect view of the sunrise over the mountains in the backyard, and it's perfectly cozy with traditional decor and antiques. I love the fact that the rooms don't have TV's, so it forces us to get lost in a good book, or just drink wine in the library downstairs overlooking the big maple tree in her front yard, and spend quality time together,. Anne also cooks amazing breakfasts in the mornings, which is included in he reasonable rate. During breakfasts, you sit with the other guests. We've met some really lovely people there, and while it can be awkward at first, if you get lucky and get the right people, breakfasts are usually really fun. And the food is amazing - Anne usually wakes everyone up with smells of muffins baking in the oven, so when you come down for breakfast, they're still warm. And she offers a variety of options on her menu to choose from. Elliot House also has 400 acres of walking trails in its backyard with amazing views and apple trees. The ocean is my main happy place that feeds my soul, but if I had a top five list of happy places, these walking trails would be on it. The B&B is small with only three rooms, so typically, we're the only ones ever out there when we venture them, and I feel completely secluded from the whole world. We love staying here so much that we never even consider other places in Vermont.

Hiking the trails on the Elliot House property three years ago.


Our visit three years ago. Behind the Elliot House, the walking trails will lead you to a clearing
with a great view of the lake. 

I started to dub this the Alice in Wonderland tunnel. Picture quality isn't great, but it's totally magical in person.

Four years ago, the morning after Josh's 30th birthday party.

Four years ago at the clearing by the lake.

We have two must-visits every trip we make to Shelburne - Shelburne Farms and the Bearded Frog restaurant. Shelburne Farms is a 1,400 acre working farm with tons of walking trails through the property. We stop along the way to visit the animals - they have sheep, goats, chickens, donkeys, cows and many others I'm forgetting - and then take the hiking path that leads you to a clearing with an amazing view of Lake Champlain. During the fall season, it's lit up by firey color, making it especially worth-while. When we visited this year, they were in off-season mode, which means we weren't able to visit the on-site bakery for a snack while walking around, or sample any of their cheeses in the dairy building. But, the highlight is walking around the acreage, so it was still an amazing time. And they have a welcome center where you park, so you're still able to purchase their homemade cheeses and other foods as well as grab a coffee or hot apple cider while you peruse their gift-y items available for sale.

The path by the parking lot leading up to the trails to Shelburne Farms.

View of one of the buildings that houses the bakery, dairy building and animal petting area.



The animals are usually out and walking around.



Josh made a friend four years ago. They've been aloof since that visit.

The path leading up to the best view from the grounds.

Once you walk up the path, you come to this tree, which gives you a view of the
mountains across Lake Champlain.



The sheep are usually out to pasture, making me the happiest girl on earth.


In the fall, I love this area where the fall leaves create a walking path against the open pasture.

Selfie during our most recent visit this past fall.

The Bearded Frog is a restaurant located right in the village of Shelburne, and it's perfectly cozy. Whenever we visit in the fall, they have a fire going in the fireplace, and offer some sort of delicious fall soup (which we always get, this year it was a squash and apple bisque, which was so good). And if any vegetarians are reading, they have such an amazing house-made veggie burger. It's a great little date spot after a day of hiking outdoors. I sadly never took any pictures of our visits there.

Exploring Burlington is always exciting. It's such a beautiful city because it's lake-front, but also has the hustle and bustle of a college town. We sadly were only in Burlington for a short while this year because it was cold and rainy (cold and sunny is fun, add rain and I'm not a happy camper). But we were there long enough to stop at a favorite restaurant, American Flatbread. Amazing flatbread pizzas in a super cozy atmosphere - all tables get a nice view of the pizza oven, and the food is impeccably fresh and local. They also have a great beer list. I wish I could say we've eaten at more of the restaurants, but we haven't. Hardcore creatures of habit, you know?

Stowe has recently become one of our favorite little towns to visit as well. It's a bit of a drive from Shelburne - just under an hour - but so worth it. Cute little shops, a little park to walk around, stunning views of the mountains (it is a ski destination, after all) and has Stowe Mercantile, one of the best little general stores I've ever been in. I'm the biggest sucker for a good general store. Stowe is one of those little magical New England towns that you see in Christmas movies, but in the fall it's stunning. The main street area is perfect for a little bit of boutique shopping, and Cafe on Main has a killer pumpkin soup in the fall season, and if you tack on a Vermont cheddar grilled cheese, you've got yourself the perfect chilly autumn day lunch.





















We usually spend the rest of our long weekend enjoying wine and some books in the library of the B&B, taking naps (because that's a thing of the past while renovating a house) and talking with each other. It's the perfect escape from every day life in October.

As much as I love Shelburne and Stowe, I've heard amazing things about Woodstock. I'd be sad to to not come to Shelburne during a Vermont getaway, but it's definitely on my to-do list. 
 
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