3.26.2015

Six Simple + Pretty Easter Egg Decorating Ideas


I don't know about y'all, but my craft-loving side comes out in full force when it comes to Easter eggs. I can't wait to dye eggs when we have our own kids one day. For the time being though, I rounded up some of my favorite simple and pretty egg-decorating ideas from around the web to share with y'all. In need of inspiration for next weekend? You've come to the right place. I also have an Easter Pinterest board if you need more ideas!

*Please remember to pin from the original source!

1 | Crafberry Bush | Golden Speckled Eggs


2 | Joy Ever After | White Painted Natural Brown Eggs


3 | Country Living | Ombre Easter Eggs


4 | Kaley Ann | Natural Brown Easter Eggs


5 | Oh Joy | Neon Dip-Dyed Eggs


6 | Paper & Stitch | Sharpie Easter Eggs

Hope y'all let your craft sides out this Easter! I can't wait to use some of these ideas myself.

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3.23.2015

Before and After: Basement Bathroom Makeover


We've come a long way, folks. Operation "Hide the Bidet" in the guest bathroom/laundry room is complete! This is a big step in making the weirdest room in our house prettier and more functional. Let's take a look at where we started, shall we?


In case you missed the intro post to this room back in February, here's the quick version: our second bathroom and laundry room share a very awkward space in the basement. The landlord was clearly on a shoestring budget based on some of the fixture choices and didn't think the space through very well. BUT, he did decide to include a bidet - how lovely right?! Just kidding. For my European friends, I realize this isn't strange to you, but if you look closely, this bidet doesn't even function like a bidet - it has a down-facing faucet. It's pretty much useless and not a great use of space in a small home like ours.

I decided to do something about it and chose to figure out a way to hide the bidet and bring in more storage.

After lots of brainstorming, measuring, and brainstorming some more, I finally settled on a solution from good ole IKEA: a hacked VITTSJO shelving unit.

Here's the star of our show in all her glory...


For reference, the original IKEA VITTSJO looks like this:

I had to assemble it without the bottom shelf so it fit over top of the bidet. Once I put the shelving unit into place, it mostly concealed the bidet. To really make sure it was well-hidden, I installed that leftover solid bottom shelf in front of the unit by sitting it on top of the existing bottom brackets where it would've normally been installed. Then I secured it with a leftover shelf arm. That part's hard to explain in words, but take a look at the photo closely and I think you'll see what I mean.

That left me with a hidden bidet and three shelves of new storage in this bathroom/laundry room. Hooray! For now, I'm using SKUBB boxes for organization, but my next project is cleaning/organizing other closets in our house, so that may change. We'll see.


I'm storing our extra toilet paper in one box...


Laundry items and socks that are missing their other halves in another...(our dog, Jackson, likes to take socks out of the hamper and hide them all over the house, so we have an abundance of missing socks)


And extra guest towels in the last one.


I love having that stuff all put away and organized!

One unexpected fun addition to the room was the chance to hang this old framed print advertising a French restaurant. I found this in my parents' basement when we were moving last summer and hadn't found a good spot for it in our house...until now. After I took down the awkwardly high shelf that was on that wall, there was a perfect spot for art.


And who doesn't love fresh flowers in a bathroom? These pretty daffodils came from my parents' yard. Spring hasn't quite sprung here in Philly, but having these pretty things around sure makes it feel like it until flowers start blooming here :).


So that's my bathroom update for today. I'm so glad I can cross that one off the list.

Here's one more before and after of the space before I go!


Now onto more organization projects. Next on the list are those closets!

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3.20.2015

Lovely Links

Happy Friday! I hope you all have had good weeks. It's high time for the weekend to begin, don't you think? After our week in St. Lucia, I wasn't quite ready to jump back into work, but I survived! Let's finish off the week with some fun links and inspiration, what do you say?

*As always, please pin from the original source!

1 | I love this pillows under $25 post from The Hunted Interior. She also passed along a great tip to make your pillows look fancier than they are...click over to read about it!


2 | I'm going crazy for these scalloped tiles in this bathroom!


3 | The bookcases in this music room are so beautifully styled (these were DIY'd, by the way).


4 | Here's a tip for keeping hydrangeas from wilting. This will come in handy once summer rolls around!


5 | Small space inspiration alert! I LOVE the makeover Abby did in her master bedroom closet. Not everyone has a walk-in like those beautiful ones you see on Pinterest (we have tiny closets here in our little row house), so I was thrilled to see this small closet makeover done so well.


6 | Abstract art turned into throw pillows. Find beauties like the one below here.


Have a great weekend! See y'all on Monday!

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3.18.2015

St. Lucia Trip Recap + Travel Tips


Hello friends!

My husband and I just got back from a glorious nine day vacation to St. Lucia. Since he's in grad school right now, he has things like spring break (cue the jealousy!), so we decided to take advantage of it and escape to the warmth of the Caribbean with two other couples. We had never traveled internationally with friends, and I'm happy to report that we all had a blast together. We even made matching tees (oh yes we did!). It was the perfect mix of restful and active - we spent countless hours hanging out by the pool, but made sure to spend a few days exploring the island on day trips as well.

Since I've already had several friends and family ask about our trip, I figured it would be fun to recount our trip, hit some highlights, and pass along a few tips and recommendations. If you're planning a trip to St. Lucia any time soon, I hope this information will be helpful! Feel free to ask me any specific questions via email or Facebook as well if you'd like. This post will be a long one, so pin it for later reference or grab a cup of coffee and pull up a chair!

WHERE WE STAYED:


With six of us in our group, we decided to rent a villa instead of staying at a resort. We all agreed this was one of our best decisions of the trip! We rented a gorgeous seven bedroom house with a pool at the very top of a hill on the northern tip of the island in an area called Cap Estate. The views were unbelievable! Now you may be asking why did you rent a seven bedroom house if you only needed three bedrooms?! Well it turns out that many villas will "close off" the bedrooms you don't use and rent out only the ones you need at a lower cost. The awesome part about renting a larger house is that you still get all the amenities and the common space of a bigger villa without paying the higher cost.




Also, the price of many villas (including ours) includes a housekeeper, cook and groundskeeper, so it's almost like having your own private resort. We felt so spoiled all week! Having a cook was amazing. We sat down and planned the meals with her at the beginning of the week and all we had to do was the grocery shopping. She did the rest. We ate at the villa for nearly every meal and it worked out perfectly for us. It was much more cost-effective than paying the high prices at restaurants around the island and it meant more time for relaxing since we didn't have to drive anywhere for meals. If going out to eat is a priority for you, make sure to pick a location with easy access to restaurants though :).

Our villa was run by a local property management company and the representative from the company was extremely helpful when it came to coordinating things like our hike (see below) and one of our day trips. She was always available by phone and email if we needed anything during the course of the week. Again, having this service made our villa feel like a mini resort - a huge plus!

With the villa facing west, we made sure we were "home" for the sunsets every night to catch views like these!


WHAT WE DID:

We chose to alternate days between hanging out at the villa with low-key activities and day-long excursions. This worked well for us so that we got to explore and be active some days, and be totally lazy on the others. Our excursions included two full-day tours organized through local companies and one day-long hike of one of the Gros Piton mountain. Here's some more information about those...

"Tout Bagay"Tour with Seaspray Cruises

This tour took us on a two hour catamaran ride down the west coast of the island from Rodney Bay to Soufriere. It was beautiful, but a longer ride and a more crowded boat than we expected! There were about 50 people on the tour. Once we got to Soufriere, we were divided into groups and shuttled up into the hills to see a waterfall, take a dip into a sulfur spring mud bath, tour a sugar mill/plantation, and eat lunch. The waterfall and sulfur spring were a little disappointing to be honest. They were a little over-touristy and the sulfur spring mud bath was pretty small. Both were pretty glimpses into some of the natural beauty of the island though! After that we got back on the catamaran and sailed back up the coast with a stop for snorkeling on the way. They provided the gear and we had a blast swimming around with the pretty tropical fish! Overall, it was money well spent to see and do a lot in one day. I'd recommend it.

Waterfall

Sulfur springs mud bath

View from the old sugar mill and plantation
Marigot Bay

Rainforest Spa Day at Sugar Beach with Carnival Sailing

First of all, this day had incredible potential to be super relaxing, but it ended up being a total, utter, logistical nightmare. The idea was to sail via catamaran from Castries to one of the loveliest resorts on the island called Sugar Beach (look it up...it's amazing). The girls would have spa treatments while the boys did water sports, we'd have lunch together, and then hang out on the beach for a couple of hours before sailing back at sunset. Sounds idyllic, right? Well the sailing company did all the scheduling incorrectly (along with some false advertising about the sunset cruise), so we spent most of the day trying to work things out with the cruise company and get everything we paid for. It was not the relaxing day we planned! I will say though - if the cruise company can hammer out the kinks in scheduling this day, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Once we actually got to do the things we signed up for, it was wonderful. And I can't say enough good things about the staff at Sugar Beach. They bent over backwards to help us out after they realized how badly the sailing company messed up. Yikes!

Our group on the catamaran with the Gros and Petit Pitons in the background

The Pitons


Me and my hubby on the catamaran

Hike Up the Gros Piton

Our biggest accomplishment was hiking the 2,000 foot peak in Soufriere called the Gros Piton. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You are required to have a guide (you don't want to go without one, trust me!) and our guide, Francis, was wonderful. He chatted with us during the "moderate to strenuous" hike, educating us about St. Lucia, the Gros Piton and life in general. He even took us to a "secret" lookout point at the top that was by far the best view from the summit. We were wiped at the end of the hike, but it's definitely a must-do if you go to St. Lucia.

View of the Pitons from a lookout point on the drive to the hike

We made it to the top of the Gros Piton! (Those are our matching tees, by the way)

Beaches

St. Lucia is a volcanic island, so the beaches are generally small stretches scattered all around the island. The west coast is on the Caribbean Sea and most beach-front resorts are on that side of the island because the waters are calm and the beaches are pretty nice. The east coast is on the Atlantic Ocean and is much wilder and less developed. Some of the beaches can be challenging to get to due to road conditions, but they're all open to the public - even if there's a resort there. That's good news/bad news. It was great for us since we were staying in a villa - we could drive to any beach and explore - but it's also bad because beaches can get crowded and there are lots of locals trying to sell you things. If I was staying at one of the resorts and hoping for privacy, this would not be the place I'd choose! If that's your hope as well and you're looking for a resort, your best bet is to stay at one that's more isolated and difficult to access. We didn't end up spending a ton of time at beaches, but if you're curious about specifics, please ask and I can probably give you some advice!

Pigeon Island Beach

Reduit Beach

Plantation (Cas en Bas) Beach

GETTING THERE:

We flew non-stop via Jet Blue from JFK to St. Lucia. The flight is a little over four hours and we arrived in the early afternoon. It was a very easy trip!

Also something to note about passports and St. Lucia: your passport expiration date MUST BE at least six months away from your return date in order to travel there. In other words, the expiration date isn't really an expiration date for some countries. One of our friends ran into this issue (thankfully before we left), and had a crazy time getting his passport renewed last minute.

GETTING AROUND:

We read terrible reviews about renting a car and driving in St. Lucia due to the hilly terrain, narrow roads, lack of guardrails, crazy drivers and the fact that you drive on the opposite side of the road. Needless to say, we were concerned! Many people avoid renting cars due to these concerns, but since we had six people and were staying at a villa off the beaten path, we didn't really see an alternative so we risked it. I'm happy to report that we had no issues and having a car gave us major flexibility to come and go as we pleased each day. You have to be cautious of course, but it really wasn't any worse than driving in Philadelphia in my opinion!

One thing about travel time: even though it's small island and you'd expect to go from one end of the island to the other in no time, the roads are very windy most of the time and so it actually takes about two hours to go from the north to the south end. No one enjoys riding in a car under those circumstances for very long!

If you book any day trips/tours, the cost generally includes a shuttle from wherever you're staying though, and we took advantage of that a couple of times for our excursions. Taxis are also available on the island, but we didn't use them so I don't know what the pricing is like.

CLOSING THOUGHTS:

Overall, we had an incredible trip. St. Lucia is a wonderful getaway spot for a week and I wish we were still there! It was the perfect place to rest and recharge after a long, cold, busy winter for everyone in our group. We deepened our friendships, disconnected from the constant pull of technology, played, and let ourselves be pampered a bit. Being back now, I realize how important it is to do that regularly given the crazy busy lives we lead. I'm so thankful for our time away!

Our last moments at our villa - we weren't ready to leave!

Looking for more posts like this? Check out my posts on our trips to Paris (part 1, part 2 and tips & tricks) and St. Barth (part 1 & part 2)!



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3.09.2015

Projects and Tutorials Page Updated!


In this week's edition of behind the scenes blog updates...

The Projects and Tutorials page has been updated! If you saw last week's post, you may remember that the Home Tour page page got updated to show our current home and I've been hard at work getting the projects and tutorials page up to date as well. It's got a brand new, streamlined look, so even if you've been over there before, I hope you'll stop by and see it. I added lots of new ones to the list since I realized that many of my favorites from the past year weren't there (boo!). It's always fun to comb through the archives, and now that I've been at this blogging thing for about 2.5 years, there's a lot to see!

In other news, I also added a new category in the navigation bar called Freebies. If you click on that, you can find all the free downloads I've posted over the years including the newest March wallpapers.

We're headed out on vacation this week, so I'll be popping in every now and again, but I'll mostly be unplugged. :) Enjoy the archives and I'll be back next week!


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