Spring Wine Party

Apr 24, 2024

You may remember that several years ago we had a Tuscan winery host a wine pairing dinner at our home.  We had visited the winery on a trip to Italy, and they let us know they visit the US several times a year to host wine pairing dinners. The first one was such a success that they have asked us every year to host another one. It's a bit of an undertaking, but our friends offered to co-host it with us this year because they loved the first wine dinner so much. 

We had planned to hold it outside by the pool like the first party. My husband installed string lights to go over the tables weeks ago. It would have been downright magical if it hadn't rained. I cannot tell you how disappointed we were when we realized all of those plans and table rentals would go to waste. We scrambled at the last minute to move everything inside, but all the small tables would not fit. I had to make do with my breakfast room and dining room tables. I had ordered a new tablecloth for the formal dining room two days before the party from Amazon just in case that happened. That was a good call! 

The bright side is the green tablecloths and gold chinoiserie chairs I chose fit right in with my decor. I knew I wanted sage green to reflect Tuscany. I decided to go more elegant than rustic with bright pink florals and gold accents. 

I added a cute little ribbon to each napkin. It's an inexpensive alternative to napkin rings. We rented the glasses, but saved by ordering plastic flatware and dinnerware. I already had the gold votives and glass vases. You can find both at Michael's for a great price.

We ordered the main course of chicken parmigiana and pasta from a local restaurant. The tiramisu for dessert was from the bakery at our grocery store. We put these personal charcuterie plates together the day of the party. Can you believe these cute plates are acrylic? They also come in various colors. 

It was less expensive to order the tablecloths, plastic plates and flatware online than to rent them. It's also a lot easier to clean up! We bought ours from Efavormart and Amazon. I do draw the line at plastic cups for wine. It just doesn't taste the same as it does out of a glass. We had two servers at the party and they were worth every penny! It was so nice that I could relax and not run around filling glasses. As soon as our guests walked through the door, the servers were greeting them with sparkling wine. They also had the entire kitchen cleaned before they left. I will always hire servers now for every event. The best part is one of them happened to sing Italian opera. He sang us a song at the end of the night that I have on Instagram if you want to check it out. Despite the rain, it ended up being better than I had imagined!

Happy New Year! Plus Christmas 2023

Jan 1, 2024

Happy New Year! I believe this might be the first time in 11 years that I haven't posted a Christmas Home Tour. I'm going to make up for that right now! The decorations were a little more neutral this year. I'm still not sure how I feel about it. Every time I tried to add a bit of red, it just didn't feel right for some reason. I'm pretty sure I'll have more traditional color next year because I did miss it even if the gold and ivory were beautiful.

I lost my decorating mojo this year when I got to the stairs. I just left he garland plain, but no one seemed to notice. 

The mantel appears much more simple, but the garland is so layered it isn't even close to simple!

I guess I was feeling gold this year because my outfit matched the tree. 

This gold velvet ribbon is so pretty! I found it at Wal-mart of all places!

My favorite photo! 

Christmas morning

The best Christmas Day breakfast! The skillet potatoes with sautéed onions, bacon and cheese are my favorite. My husband has been making it since our college days.

I promise Ryan is happy or he would have not let me take this photo. He's just being cool.

I'm so bummed Dylan missed the family photo. We didn't think to take one until the end of the night and he had left to go to a friend's house. Can you believe how tall the boys are?! Aidan is 6'1 and Ryan is 6'2.

The New Year's Eve table looked elegant, but I was in sweats and we played cards with friends here. It ended up being such a great night! My son and his girlfriend joined in now that they are 21. It's weird, but fun to have your kids quasi adults.

I put away all the Christmas decor on New Year's Day. I ordered a new throw pillow for my sofa to have something to look forward to before I started cleaning up the decorations lol. I think looking forward to a vacation or a new project around the house always makes me feel a little less sad about the season ending. It's getting harder every Christmas because I feel like it's a countdown until the kids aren't under our roof any longer. Of course with the cost of housing these days they may be here longer than we think!

Before Christmas I ordered a new tray and burl wood box for my coffee table. I love the way they look here. 

That's a wrap on 2023! 

Everything is linked here on my LTK page!

My New Two Pages Custom Curtains

Sep 17, 2023

I have been dreaming about curtains for my living room windows since we moved in, but as a designer I knew they were going to cost a fortune. I heard about Two Pages "viral" custom curtains that could be bought on Amazon from home decor influencers for much cheaper than going through a fabricator. I was definitely intrigued enough to bookmark the website a couple of months ago. Thankfully, I never got around to ordering because Two Pages reached out soon after for a collaboration. I was thrilled!

Aren't they beautiful?! They changed the entire look and feel of the living room. It's so much cozier and elegant at the same time.

My curtains are the Liz Drape in a polyester linen fabric. I chose these because I wanted something that didn't wrinkle as much as my 100% linen curtains. The header is a pinch pleat, but I also love the triple and Euro pleat that are available as well. I prefer a non-filtered curtain for a more elegant look so I chose a blackout liner. I love light filtering curtains in more casual rooms. I think what sets these curtains apart from everyone else is the memory shaping. I didn't even iron or steam them. The wrinkles fell out after a few days of hanging! I was recently asked how I chose the color. I decided that the beige-white was perfect for this room because it goes so well with the wall and trim paint. I didn't want to match the decor and then it not match if I change things up in the future. 

How to measure? There are measuring guides the company website if you want them to be functional. You also might consider a traverse rod to make it easier to close. Mine are strictly for aesthetics. I wanted to frame the windows for a softer and more polished look. I prefer a very full look so I measured how much width I could have without blocking the view when they are open. Mine are 72" wide open and about 22" wide closed. I can close them if needed at that width. I hung them as high as possible. The 132" length were perfect for my windows. If you don't have moulding, I suggest to go as close to the ceiling as possible. 

Before photo-It didn't look bad since we added the woodwork a few years ago, but it still lacked the warmth curtains could provide.

So much better!

New Chairs for the Living Room

Jul 30, 2023

I haven't made any changes to my house in a long time. That's not like me at all! I have been more focused on having fun in my spare time with family and friends. However, I could not take looking at my French chairs in my living room one more day when it hit me how much they were not my style at all anymore. I needed to get rid of them yesterday. 

I have been using a lot of swivel barrel style chairs in my projects so I knew that's what I wanted. I also wanted something neutral because as much as I love the blue accents in my living room, I'm getting a little tired of it. It's nice to have the option to switch up colors with the seasons too. I found the perfect chairs at World Market. If you buy them online and pick them up in the store you get an extra 15% off. That makes them under $500 each with tax!

The fabric is an ivory chenille, and of course they swivel! It's hard to tell in the photo because my ceilings are so high, but the back is higher than a lot of chairs this style. It makes them comfortable enough for my 6 foot tall kids.

I don't think I've posted a non-holiday photo with the new millwork we built on the TV wall. It adds so much character to the room. Between the millwork and the new Frame TV I don't feel like this wall is such an eyesore anymore. There was a time I was going to tear out the fireplace and center it on the wall. It would have been a fortune so I'm happy I found this less expensive option.

So what's next? I'd like a bigger rug and a contemporary square coffee table. I'm on the fence about a new media center and a more modern chandelier. I'm hoping they will blend with my new things. Here is a mockup I did when I was trying to decide on the direction I'm going to take this room.  The price tag on these items are quite high so I'll have to make some concessions on the exact pieces, but I love the look. I definitely want some type of burl wood in the room. 

So there's a lot to think about! 

Weight Loss and Fitness

Mar 31, 2023

I've been getting so many questions about what I eat and my fitness routine the past couple of months. I suppose it's because I've been posting photos and videos in swimwear on Instagram. Honestly, I get asked the same questions in real life on a regular basis. I have no problem sharing what works for me to anyone who is interested. Keep in mind, I am not an expert. I feel like I learn new things all the time that has me tweaking my diet and workouts. These are just things that have worked for me.

How Many Calories Can I Have a Day?

Diet is the most important factor for weight loss. It's the reason why you hear that abs are made in the kitchen. The amount of calories you need per day depends on gender, height, current weight, etc. I like this BMR calculator. I prefer to use the sedentary number as a starting point. I track my calories burned through exercise with an Apple Watch and then add those to the sedentary number for a total of how many calories I can have per day to maintain my weight. If you don't have an Apple Watch or something similar, here is a walking calculator to estimate the amount of calories burned. You'll be surprised at how fast and long you have to walk to burn a decent amount of calories!

So now you know how many calories you can have per day to maintain your weight. What about to lose weight? The general rule of thumb is that a 3,500 calorie deficit per week (or 500 calorie deficit per day) is needed to lose one pound a week. So you can decrease your calories by 500, up your workout to burn 500 extra calories a day or use a combination of diet and exercise. For example, 60 minutes of cardio at 3.5mph results in a 220 calorie deficit for me. If I reduce my calories by 280 every day as well, I will meet my 500 calorie deficit for the day. Keep in mind if you are just starting out you will probably lose a bit more due to water weight. 

What to eat? 

A plan is completely necessary. You can also eat many of the same types of food you are used to, but healthier versions. If you like hamburgers, sub the fatty ground beef for 99% lean and take off  the top bun. Try veggies instead of fries. I have spaghetti squash and turkey meatballs instead of high fat ground beef and pasta. I eat a modified club sandwich almost everyday-one toasted piece of 45 calorie low carb bread, 0 calorie spicy mustard, lettuce, tomato and 4 oz of deli turkey. Google the calories, sugar, fat and carbs of your food items and tweak until you have come up with a daily meal plan that fits your goals without feeling deprived or hungry. Check out the diet friendly versions of bread, yogurt, etc for ideas. 

Here is my favorite snack! It's a high protein, low calorie yogurt parfait. 

It's also necessary to know what you can have from a fast food place in a pinch. I rarely eat fast food, but if I do I order a grilled chicken Market salad from Chik-fil-a with light Italian. I leave off the extra nuts on the side for a total of 205 calories. The soft taco from Taco Bell with grilled chicken, lettuce and tomatoes is only 150 calories. I will have two of those and it feels like a splurge despite only being 300 calories. I will also order any grilled chicken salad from a restaurant with some type of vinaigrette dressing without worrying about calories. 

Does it matter when you eat? 

Intermittent fasting is really popular right now, but I am not a fan. I don't believe in ever going hungry. There's a difference between "I could eat" and being hungry. I can always eat, but I only eat when I'm truly hungry. I do try and eat my heavier meals during the day and go lighter/carb free (or very little carbs) at dinner time. I am sedentary at night and don't burn off the calories which results in weight gain for me. 

Can you drink alcohol? 

I drink wine every night, but not a lot. I measure it before pouring it in my glass to keep me on track. I'm personally not a fan of liquor, but there are low calorie options. I recently found a zero calorie triple sec mix to make skinny margaritas. The only calories in the drink was 60 from the one shot of tequila.

What is your workout?

I do a combination of cardio and weight training. Cardio is solely to help me meet my calorie goal when I am trying to lose weight. If I am not trying to lose weight I only do cardio for 30 minutes a few times a week. I am a fan of Beachbody on Demand for weight training, particularly the 21 Day Fix. I do the lower body, upper body, Dirty 30 and ab workouts. I skip the yoga, cardio and pilates since my goal is weight training. I also push myself to lift as heavy as possible because this is where you will see what people refer to as tone. Toning is just muscle growth. Many women have a fear that heavy weights will make them too big and they just want to "tone." You have to lift heavy weight to tone (aka muscle growth) in combination with enough protein intake. There are also calculators online to help you figure out how many grams you need per day. It's a lot, which is why many people who workout with weights opt for protein shakes. My workout routine is constantly changing as I figure out which Beachbody exercises I like and don't like. I substitute exercises for others I prefer all the time. The best part is my workout is only about 30 minutes, and then I follow it up every other day with 10 minute abs. It doesn't have to take a lot of time. Actually, my routine is done in the time it would take to drive to and from the gym. 

Why is it important to weight train?

Weight training will change your body in ways that fat loss will not. I lost quite a bit of weight a while back and was disappointed that I didn't look the way I thought I would since I got so small. I basically looked the same, but smaller. Keep in mind that if you do have a significant amount of fat to lose that the muscle development might not be as noticeable so don't be discouraged. It's also an amazing feeling once you start to get stronger. I can't even put into words at how much better I felt about myself when I could lift heavier weight or not feel as frail, particularly as I am getting older. I won't lie, it was really difficult to get through my Beachbody program the first few weeks. It's surprisingly almost too easy now. Just stick with it and modify the exercises when you need to as well. Listening to my podcasts also helps me get through it!

Does it get easier?

Yes! I actually crave the healthy foods I regularly eat. When I splurge, it rarely tastes as good as I remembered. I realized that I crave what I am used to eating. If I fall off the wagon around the holidays I find it just as hard to get back on track because I start to crave those unhealthy foods. I have splurged enough finally to realize that I don't need an entire cheat day or even a whole cheat meal. I do not deprive myself of anything I want at all. I finally feel strong enough to take a few bites of dessert and be satisfied. I didn't trust myself before not to inhale the entire cake. It helps to have someone to share it with to keep that from happening too. Also, once you get enough items/meals in your diet that you like, you can finally start to eat healthy without being so mindful and diligent. It took me a couple of years to get to this point, but it will happen. 

Here I am on my last full day in Mexico. I didn't gain any weight despite eating at an all-inclusive resort for several days. Normally, I would be hiding my stomach by now. I indulged, but in small amounts. I also made sure to fill my plate with 90% healthy foods. I didn't feel the least bit deprived. 

Weight loss can feel like the hardest thing to accomplish, and the easiest when you get the hang of it. It's also ridiculously easy to forget how to eat after a few nights out, a vacation or the holidays no matter how much you think you have a handle on it. Don't beat yourself up when you slip up. Just get back on the wagon and chalk it up to a learning experience!