Friday, November 24, 2017

Our Guest Room Reveal: A Farmhouse Christmas Retreat

Guest rooms in our house were one of the spaces I always thought I'd introduce lots of color (let's all have a good laugh now). Much like our bedroom, I wanted all our rooms to have a cottagey feel to them, with a bright-ish paint color on the walls, patchwork quilts, the occasional antique and lots of coziness. About a year ago, I started looking at light green paint swatches for this room, and then different inspiration hit and I was on to other designs that took a lot of different forms. But I landed on one that felt right for this space: an all white bedroom with dark furniture and slightly colorful, but neutral, bedding. 

So I continued to design a very farmhousey, cottagey, antiquey room. And seriously, I had with this one. I may have had more fun designing this one than our master bedroom. I also tried to add whimsical touches in here since the overall design was a bit more traditional than I was originally going for. And then, suddenly a few months ago, I started to design a Christmas-y guest room after seeing a quilt that I fell in love with. And of course, my plans turned into a full-blown Christmas bedroom.

The room is obviously white. We went with my old faithful, Simply White by Benjamin Moore because, well, you know. We shrank the size of the room down a bit after taking away a part of it for the guest bathroom, so I wanted to make sure it looked as large and airy as possible.

The bed is from Overstock and it reminds me of older farmhouse bedrooms. I always pictured this bed with beautiful patchwork quilts and patterned sheets and I searched high and low, for about three years for the perfect, colorful patchwork quilt for our guest room. And I never found it. I feel like patchwork quilts can go from lovely and vintage to weird and 80s really fast, so I just gave up and went in a different direction with the bedding I purchased to use year 'round in here. But obviously, I got sidetracked by all things Christmas.

We bought these flannel holly sheets at Macy's on 34th in NYC two years ago on a super sale. Seriously, I paid next to nothing for these, and they're such great quality, and incredibly soft. These sheets snowballed into needing some sort of red, patchwork quilt just for the Christmas season, and I waited for the perfect one to come along. And, it did. This quilt is from Pottery Barn, and this is the one thing I spent more money on than I would have liked. But, it's so perfectly farmhouse with the red grainsack stripes, and also a little whimsical with the tassels on the edges. As soon as I saw it, I pictured it with our holly sheets, and it all came together.

Our farmhouse is drafty in the winter, so extra layers are super important. It's always kind of uncomfortable when you're staying at someone's house, and you're either too hot or too cold. I tried to prevent people from being too cold by adding another knit blanket on the bed for extra warmth. This one from Target is so amazing - the chunky knit and the tassels give it so much character.

I found these bedside tables at Birch Lane, and when I bought them, they were on clearance for $68 each, plus an extra 20% off and free shipping. I love the turned wood legs and their dark, antiquey feel. Their measurements just happened to be perfect for the width of this room which made them destined for our home.

I think I read somewhere that milk glass was most popular in the 60's, but I always associate it with Victorian-esque designs. I'm not sure why. But, I got some really pretty milk glass bud vases from Etsy and eBay and used some faux eucalyptus stems I had leftover from all the wreaths I made for Christmas last year as bedside table decorations. I still haven't been able to decide on lamps for the bedside tables. I bought some from Target that I thought would be perfect in this space, and they turned out to be quite the opposite. I brought in the ones we used to have in our master bedroom, and those didn't work either, and I could never settle of any that just worked. So for now, we're lamp-less in this room until I find the right ones, so thank goodness for hardwired ceiling lights. 

I also made a little sign that has all our wifi info included. The last thing you want is to tuck yourself into
bed for your first night in someone's home for some really good Netflix 'n chill time,
and you don't know how to access the wifi.

I wasn't sure what to put above the bed, and debated a few ideas for a bit until I landed on wreaths (surprise!). I have a problem with wreaths - I put them everywhere because they make me smile. I love how they add color and texture, especially to an all-white room, so I decided on three above the bed. To make them Christmas-y, I used red grainsack ribbon that I had leftover from last year, which can easily be switched out once the holidays are over. For the wreaths themselves, I decided to keep most of the grapevine exposed, and just added some generic boxwood so they can be left up year 'round.

I've had this print from Etsy saved for a while, and I've always known it would go in this room. I wanted a really pretty antiquey, bronze frame for it, but I searched everywhere for months and couldn't find one for less than $100. So, it lives in a simple white frame for now, but I hope to someday find the frame I've pictured in my head.

When you first walk into the room, there's a little hallway-esque space, and soon it will be a home for my mom's old antique-y dresser that she had when I was younger, since she's graciously allowed us to have it for this room. It'll go where the little table is, and it also has a beautiful mirror that's attached to it. For now, just to use up the wall space, I hung a wreath above the table for some extra festiveness (Which, I wish I hung a little lower, but whatever). On the actual table, I layered a crochet doily (is that what they're called? I don't even know) down for some texture (I love how these remind me of my grandma's house), and then brought in some candlestcks from Anthropologie we've had for years because they kind of work perfectly in here. On eBay, I found this cute little pitcher and bowl, and then added a little milk glass candy dish with some chocolate mints. I don't know what I'll do with the table once the dresser comes after Christmas, but I'm thinking it could work next to the rocking chair.

Because I love the floors so much, I didn't really want to cover them up with a huge rug. But, at the same time, having a little rug does help add some coziness to a room. As we were wrapping up the drywall with this room, I got it in my head that I wanted an oval-shaped, braided rug that was natural fiber with some ivory cotton woven through. It's hard to describe, but it's kind of like a rug you would see in your grandma's house or an LL Bean catalog - those are the only ways I can describe it. I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for with the right colors, but I did find an oval natural fiber rug that was close enough, and super cheap on Overstock. I really like the shape of it because it seems like something that belongs in an old farmhouse between two twin beds.

In the corner is the rocking chair we bought at the Country Living Fair this past Spring. I remember as soon as I saw this sitting on the lawn, it would be perfect for this room. And now that I see it being used in here, I'm happy we've given it a good home. I put a throw pillow on it that I got on Etsy last year, as well as a white knit throw blanket (in case guests aren't quite warm enough yet).

And that is all, my friends. We're done with major projects for the holiday season, and this break is a pretty welcomed one. We worked non-stop on the guest bathroom for the first half of the year, and then went right into this room, so we're going to take it easy until after the New Year. I'm really looking forward to getting our house ready for Christmas, relaxing on a Saturday afternoon on the couch with Josh and hot cocoa and watching completely ridiculous Hallmark channel movies with a plate of Christmas cookies. And maybe an afternoon siesta in our new, perfectly Christmas-y, guest room.

Links to things shown in post:
Ceiling fan is the Auberville style by Hunter Fan.
Bed is the Giselle Antique Bed from Overstock.
Flannel holly sheets are no longer available (purchased three years ago).
Nellie Grainsack quilt is from Pottery Barn.*
Ivory knit blanket on bed is from Target.
Green & Red stockings hanging from bed are from the Hearth and Hand Magnolia collection at Target.
Rug is from Overstock.
Bedside tables are from Birch Lane - the exact table is discontinued but these are pretty much the same thing.
Clock on bedside table is from Pottery Barn.*
The watercolor bird print is from 1000PaintedTrees on Etsy.
Various milk glass vases are from Etsy and eBay (there are a ton for sale and I ordered from multiple sellers).
Wreath above little table is from Michaels.
Doily on little table is from Amazon.
Candlesticks on little table are from Anthropologie from at least 8 years ago.
Garland on bed is from Michaels.
Bird wall hooks are from Anthropologie, and they're no longer available.
Knit throw on rocking chair is from Pottery Barn*, and is no longer available. Similar here at Target.
Throw pillow on rocking chair is from JolieMarche.

*I work for the Williams-Sonoma brand and received an employee discount on these items.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide: Conventional Retailers

I love supporting small businesses, but I will admit, I do sometimes look to other retailers when it comes to buying gifts. I have Amazon Prime, and the convenience alone makes it hard to resist. I do buy small whenever I can, but on the occasion you need to explore conventional retailers, here are some of our picks for gifts.

I have to give a shout out to LL Bean. We shop there all year 'round, but in particular, we find ourselves in our local Bean store a lot during fall and winter. They have amazing quality flannels, socks, winter gear and even home essentials like bedding and dog beds. I could walk in here and likely find something for everyone on my list, including Betty! Our picks from the Bean for gift giving? Our first is flannel jammies. I got Josh a pair last year, and they're wonderful quality and really warm for those super cold winter nights. In fact, just the other night he was wearing them and said they were his favorites. They always have a great color selection so you could go Christmas-y red or traditional and neutral.

Photo courtesy of LL Bean.

A few years back, I got Josh a Bean canvas duffle bag and had his initials monogramed on it, and he uses this thing all the time. It's perfect for weekend trips, and even longer vacations, and it's wonderful quality. The monogramming option makes it extra personalized, too.

Josh's duffle bag that I got him from the Bean years ago.
The monogramming option makes it a great personalized but useful gift.

Neither of us have an LL Bean Fisherman's sweater, but I contemplate getting one every time I'm at a Bean store. They're traditional, they're cozy and they're incredible quality. I personally love them because they're perfectly New England, and they make me think of being in a cabin in Vermont somewhere, reading a book by a fire. Or, sailing on my imaginary boat on the first chilly day of Fall.

Photos courtesy of LL Bean.

For beauty lovers, I really love the Bite Beauty gift sets that the brand comes out with for the holidays. Every year, they release mini lip products in a cute little tin, and since Bite has some of the best lipsticks I've ever used, I feel so confident in giving them as gifts. This year, though, I'm especially partial to the Agave Kisses Set. It features minis of their agave lip mask, lip balm and lip scrub, all of which I've tried, and all of which are truly stands outs. If color is more your style, they also released mini tins of their liquified lipsticks and their cream lipsticks.

The Bite Beauty Agave Kisses set includes small sizes of three amazing lip care products. 

I've been having a love affair with the relatively new RMS cream palettes called Signature Sets. They come in two options, and I purchased the Mod Collection this past summer, which has slightly warmer undertones. RMS is known for being an organic beauty brand with stellar performance, and their cream products are simply amazing. I've been using their individual pots for a few years now, and love them all. Having a lovely white compact with five products to sample is an exciting gift to receive if you love playing with makeup. Plus, her products are infused with coconut oil, making these great for dry, winter skin! My recommendation for anyone on the fence would actually be Pop Collection, simply because the two cheek/lip colors are perfect for a snow-kissed winter look.

This is my own palette in Mod. The Pop palette has slightly brighter colors that are
beautiful for the winter season. 

Perusing on Anthropologie's site, or just walking into a store during the holiday season, you can probably cross quite a few people off your list. I always find really great gifts here that don't disappoint, and this year, I put together a small list of some of the things that stood out to me. 1. The Joy & Cheer Mug caught my eye because of the, well, cheerful design and it struck me as the perfect winter mug for someone who loves shabby chic or colorful cottage decor. 2. This Vintage Ski Loft Ornament isn't an extravagant gift, but it makes me smile when I look at it, and perfect for someone you now who loves to ski. 3. Not that people are eating a ton of ice cream in the winter, but this Copper Ice Cream Scooper kind of makes it worth being extra cold. 4. I see these Night Market Candles in the store each year, and I'm always drawn to the Mulled Wine scent. Also, the vintage illustration on them is so heartwarming. 5. I've had these Monogram Gem Necklaces saved in my cart specifically so I would remember them for the holiday season. I love that they're a bit different than your traditional alphabet pendant, and the colors are so beautiful. 6. I'm not normally one for patterned stemware, but I'm kind of in love with these Monogram Champagne Flutes. Whenever you break out the champagne, it's usually time for a celebration, and these flutes just say "party time" when you look at them. Plus, they come in all letters of the alphabet, so they're also personalized, which makes them even more fun and meaningful.

Photos courtesy of Anthropologie.

I love getting books as gifts, especially books with beautiful photos to admire that I can display on our coffee tables. I have so many books to suggest that I've loved reading over the past year, but today I'm recommending two that are less traditional and more inspirational. The first is the Half Baked Harvest cookbook. I've drooled over her Instagram feed for ages, and I'm so excited that she has a book filled with her mouth-watering recipes. It would be such a lovely display book on a kitchen shelf, and an amazing guide to some serious weekend cooking. Second, I'm sharing another book that I first discovered on Instagram. I've followed Flora Forager for a couple of years now, and she creates art out of botanicals. They're so whimsical and mesmerizing when you see what she uses to create images of birds, trees and other living things. Her book, Flora Forager: A Seasonal Journal Collected from Nature is filled with these images, and I think would be a fun, unique gift to someone who feels inspired by nature.
These could technically fall under small business if you purchase them from a local bookstore, but to be honest, I haven't seen them in smaller shops - Amazon and places like Barnes and Noble are the only places I've found them. But, you are supporting these lovely individuals by purchasing their books, even if you buy them from Amazon.
Photos courtesy of Amazon.

Josh told me about this new thing that was aided in development by Kickstarter, and as soon as he told me about it, I immediately thought it was an amazing and unique gift idea for a vinyl music lover. The RokBlok is a wireless & bluetooth-enabled device that plays a record simply by moving around on top of the record. It sounds crazy, but it's kind of genius. It runs on rechargeable batteries and will wirelessly connect to to a speaker system within a 30-foot radius. I assumed it would retail for more than $200, but they actually cost $99, which I think is a fair price for something rather unique. 
Photo courtesy of RokBlok.

I've gotten Josh a couple of Timex watches over the years, and the Weekender style is the most universal, and also comes in so many styles and price points. Josh loves watches because, in his words, "Guys don't really have a lot of fun accessory options," so he loves that with just two different watch faces he can totally change the look of it by swapping out the bands. I've gotten him several different bands as stocking stuffers for the past few Christmases, and it almost like he's gotten an entirely new watch. The Weekender comes in both men's and women's styles, too.

Photos courtesy of Timex.

I feel like I, personally, can never have enough scarves, and I love receiving them as gifts. I also love giving them. This year, two scarves at J.Crew caught my attention. The first being the Plaid Cape Scarf. Normally, I don't gravitate toward cape-styled, well, anything, but this one drapes like a light sweater and it looks so stylish and so easy to pull off. The second is the Patterned Cashmere Scarf, which is technically in the men's department but really is unisex. I love the navy and red plaid color making it classic for any season, or really, any person. And who doesn't love a little cashmere?

When in doubt, wine is usually a good idea, especially if you're in need of a hostess gift. One of my absolute favorites during the holidays is a red blend by Bogle called Phantom. My mom introduced it to me years ago when I went home for Christmas one year, and we definitely ran to the liquor store to buy more after polishing off two bottles. I'm not a wine expert, and I'm terrible at describing the flavors, but this one is just rich and complex and makes me think of the holidays. I've only ever seen it at liquor stores during the holiday season, and I think I read somewhere that it's a limited release each year, so I always like to snatch a few bottles up right before Thanksgiving to enjoy throughout the next several weeks. 

And that's a wrap on my gift guides for this year! I had a lot of fun putting these lists together, and I hope that it gave at least one person an idea or two. I'm wishing everyone who takes time to read my posts a huge helping of thanks and gratitude, and a wonderful next few days with friends and family. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Small Business Holiday Shopping Guide

If you like to start your Christmas shopping early, then you and I have a lot in common. The older I get, the earlier I start. About four or five years ago, I started to finish all my Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving, and let me tell you, it's allowed me to see the magic of the holiday season in a much bigger way. I'm not stressfully running around for last-minute gifts, waiting in lines at stores, or getting anxious that my Amazon order won't make it in time. I may wait to buy one or two things that I know will go on sale for Black Friday, but other than that, once Thanksgiving comes around, I know I can go into the Christmas season completely stress-free.

Each year I try more and more to buy things from small businesses. This year, I'm doing a holiday shopping guide, in two parts. The first, focusing on shopping small, and second, sharing ideas from more conventional retailers. 

Let us begin by shopping small!

My personal favorite things on this list are from Farmhouse Pottery. They're based in Woodstock, VT, and I drool over their Instagram feed on the regular. What I love about FP is that their pieces are classic, and they can work in any home design, be it rustic, modern, traditional or, you guessed it, farmhouse. I bought my first FP piece this past June, and I'm so smitten with it, and I love that it's handmade in New England. But, beside that, their pieces are truly dreamy. My picks from their shop selection are their 1. Maple syrup and bell pitcher boxed set (who doesn't love to make pancakes in flannel PJ's on a cold winter Sunday morning?), 2. Silo soup mug (for cuddling on the couch on a snowy day with an oversized mug of soup), 3. Milk bottle match striker (for lighting all those winter candles and starting your evening fires), 4. Beehive baker (pricey, but an incredible heirloom-quality, functional piece that can be handed down to generations).

Photos courtesy of Farmhouse Pottery.
If you're feeling like a splurge, you could even purchase a workshop session in their studio in VT. Someday, Josh and I would love to do this - and what a great gift idea for a couple, mother/daughter or best friends weekend getaway, right?

My own first Farmhouse Pottery purchase. 

Those who know me well know that my love for Organic Bath Co. products runs deep. I first discovered their Drenched body butter a few years back, and I've exclusively used it since then. I've also branched out to try their sugar scrubs and their Nourish Night Balm, and all these products continue to be in constant rotation in my bathroom. Going into the winter season, I cannot recommend these enough. The Drenched body butter is the most amazing, moisturizing one I've ever tried, and I personally find the fact that it's fragrance-free amazing so it doesn't irritate me while I sleep. The Nourish Night Balm is perfect for dry skin in the winter, and their sugar scrubs exfoliate your skin, while leaving it incredibly moisturized once you're out of the shower. They also donate a portion of each sale to the Global Soap Project, an organization that provides soap to underdeveloped countries.

Photo courtesy of Organic Bath Co.

I feel like men are more challenging to shop for than women, and that could be because women just use more stuff than men. But while browsing Etsy, I found this shave cream from Moss N Oak, and it sounded like a great little stocking stuffer for men. It's infused with Argan oil, which is my favorite for skincare moisturization, and it's also infused with peppermint, pine and lavender essential oils, which will smell perfectly woodsy and clean for the winter season. Neither Josh or I have tried this, so we can't speak to its quality, but the shop has stellar reviews on Etsy, and I'm awfully intrigued by it.

Photo courtesy of Moss&Oak on Etsy.

If you don't find goats irresistible, then I don't even know who you are. Beekman 1802 has been growing in popularity over the years, but I still consider them a small business, I suppose. I guess you could argue me on that one, but I thought they more so belonged on this list versus a conventional retailer. Whenever I use my Beekman goat tote for groceries, farmer's markets, or sometimes even as a work bag, I get compliments on it. Reusable bags are great for a variety of reasons, as we all know, so get one that's super cute for a farm animal lover in your life. Every season, they change the design, so it's not the same as the one I have, but every design I've seen has been super cute.

One of my favorite types of gifts to give are personalized ones, and Etsy is the best place to find these types of gifts. When I was browsing Christmas decor on Etsy in October, I stumbled upon a shop called Black Butterfly Signs, and they make personalized door mats. For someone who just purchased a home, or really, anyone, a door mat with either their name, or a saying you know they'd like is such a fun gift to give. My personal favorites from this shop are down below (if you have a Seinfeld-obsessed friend or family member, you need to check out bottom right).

Photos courtesy of Black Butterfly Designs.

I also love getting people personalized mugs from Etsy. This past May for my sister's birthday, who is a nurse, I got her a Trauma Llama mug, and it was a hit. I feel like everyone has too many coffee mugs, and yet, not enough at the same time, especially if it's personalized with your name, or a funny saying. A standout Etsy shop for fun coffee/cocoa mugs is Sweet Mint Handmade. They have something for everyone, and their designs/font choice are awesome. Below is a sampling of my favorites from this shop.

Photos courtesy of Sweet Mint Handmade.

You had to know that I would work Cape Cod in here somehow, right? We bought a candle from Cape Cod Soy Candle at a boutique in Chatham a few years ago, and it's so lovely. I mostly bought it because of the beautiful mason jar and label design, but the fragrance is perfection. We got the Cape Cod Cottage scent and love it. I have yet to try any others, but they're always on my wish list. For winter, their Holiday by the Sea scent smells like perfection in a jar.

Photo courtesy of Cape Cod Soy Candle.

Going back to Etsy for a sec, I really love the idea of getting someone an illustration of their home or happy place. Great for new homeowners, or someone who travels to a place that gives them all the feels, if you send in a photo of the home or place, an artist on Etsy can draw or paint it for you. I actually plan to do this for our house because I have the perfect place for an illustration of it. There are so many artists on Etsy, and it's hard to choose just one, especially because it depends on the recipient's style and taste. To give an example, though, here's a house watercolor from an artist, landgpaperco, on Etsy, that I personally admire.

Photo courtesy of landgpaperco.

I love the t-shirts from Sneaky Bacon Tees. My personal favorite is their You Had Me At Pizza tee because, well, I have an obsession with pizza. They have so many funny t-shirts, though, that would make a memorable gift for someone you know.

Photo courtesy of Sneaky Bacon.

Lastly, Josh wanted to chime in and say, "Buy local beer!" For anyone who enjoys a good microbrew, he'll often go out to a brewery near us to grab a growler or a six pack to bring with us while we travel for Christmas, and pour people glasses, or give them as gifts. For us, we live local to Brown's Brewery, and he also grew up close to Southern Tier Brewery (which, by the way, their Warlock beer is hands down the best I've ever had. It's a seasonal beer of epic proportions). Southern Tier can be purchased in a lot of stores now, but these are the varieties we had on hand. So anyhoo, that's his way of gifting a little taste of home.

Beer-y Christmas, everyone!
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