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A few weeks back a member of our Boston Bloggers group approached me about photographing our apartment for Houzz. I’m sure anyone who rents would agree with me, that apartment living isn’t always perfect — you have to work with what you have (in my case, crazy zig-zag carpeting and a kitchen with no cabinets!). Knowing those imperfections can be the things that I dwell on, I was a little apprehensive at first — but Faith from Design Fixation photographed our space and I’m so touched seeing the images that she captured of it. We’re in the very beginning stages of house-hunting (exciting! terrifying!) and I’m so happy to know that this imperfect little apartment where we got engaged, married, and built a pretty cool adult life is preserved. I pulled a few of my favorite details from the shoot below, if you’d like to see more of the images and interview (plus lots of product resources) head on over to HouzzScreenshot 2015-06-25 08.49.11Screenshot 2015-06-25 08.49.53Screenshot 2015-06-25 08.49.40 Screenshot 2015-06-25 08.50.38 Screenshot 2015-06-25 08.50.59 Screenshot 2015-06-25 08.52.08Screenshot 2015-06-25 08.52.47Screenshot 2015-06-25 08.51.41All photos taken by Faith from Design Fixation

 

I was super lucky to be invited to a sneak-preview tour of this year’s HGTV Dream Home back in December and in all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I’m just getting around to sharing some photos from the day (taken by my co-pilot on our adventure to Martha’s Vineyard, Taz of Bring to Light Photography). I’ve been entering the Dream Home sweepstakes for years and was so excited to not only get to tour the 2015 home in Edgartown but also to get to meet the planners and designers that have been working on these Dream Homes for the past 19 years.

aHGTV1Tell me a little bit about how Martha’s Vineyard influenced the design of this year’s Dream Home, how did you use the island for inspiration?

HGTV Design Team: We tried to bring in as many local elements as we could — we worked with local builders and architects on the build and collaborated with local artists and artisans for some of the accent pieces in the decor. It was important for us to meet with artists and learn the stories of the pieces and how they related to the island. The space itself also has an island feel — we used a lot of traditional New England and Cape Cod architectural elements but kept the concept modernized with an open layout. aHGTV2 aHGTV3 You definitely can feel that island vibe in the home, but it doesn’t feel too ‘theme-y’ — any decorating tips for how to get the beachy-feel without being overtly nautical? 

HGTV Design Team: Editing is a big component of what gives the space that clean, airy feel. Sometimes taking something away is just as an important part of the design process as does adding something in, so we were very conscious about keeping things simple and not having too much ‘stuff.’ We also kept the common spaces a little more neutral and then brought in the more obviously nautical pieces into the guest rooms where you can have a bit more fun — like with the oversized anchor and painted oars on the wall. 
aHGTV4 aHGTV5 The great room is one of my favorite spaces in the Dream Home — what was the concept behind having on large open living space? 

HGTV Design Team: The main living space was all about celebrating natural light, even on a gray rainy day on the island this room really feels bright and airy. The floor plan also gives a lot of flexibility for any type of family size, and we always the Dream Home to be adaptable to the family that wins it. We thought about how you would use this house if you were here for vacation with friends and family — that’s a big reason behind having the kitchen open to the rest of the living space. The kitchen is usually where people gather and are part of making meals together, so it’s nice that everyone can be part of the action. And a lot of the materials that were used also keep it flexible and family friendly — like using durable Sunbrella fabrics on the upholstery to stand up to lots of use. aHGTV6 aHGTV7 aHGTV8 aHGTV9 aHGTV10A big thanks to the HGTV team to inviting us to visit the island and the Dream Home, and an extra special thanks to Bring to Light Photography for these images. 

 

As I pack up for Thanksgiving this week I’m including a few favorite kitchen tools in my overnight bag — totally normal, right? You see, I’m really quite particular about the tools that I use – which makes my family really laugh when I pull my own tongs out of my purse — but the right pieces can make all of the difference when making a meal. And after years of living in apartments with teeny-tiny kitchens, combined with a real love of cooking, I feel like I’ve honed a pretty well-curated collection of just-the-essentials kitchen tools.Best Basic Kitchen Tools 1 It hit me that maybe this list of  kitchen items (that I so passionately feel the need to pack in my suitcase) is something worth sharing with my readers as you prepare for the holiday cooking season. Check out the list below for my top 10 basic kitchen tools: Best Basic Kitchen Tools 2

  • I have tons of knives, but I always keep going back to this simple 8″ Calphalon chef knife; it works for most tasks, has a good grip, and bonus: this knife isn’t going to break the bank.
  • The Ikea Tekla dish towels are maybe the greatest deal on earth — at less than a dollar a piece I don’t ever worry about them getting stained or ruined. They’re also a staple ‘prop’ and tend to end up in a lot of my blog posts! I’m also a big fan of Williams-Sonoma classic dish towels for bigger clean-ups, they’re super absorbent and come in a really nice range of colors — shown here in the background.
  • We registered for our wedding at Pottery Barn and were gifted tons of their Great White dishes — the dipping bowls are probably my favorite item from the collection because in addition to being great serveware, they also make the perfect prep bowls to mix up spices, portion out ingredients, and bring things like butter up to room temperature; I grab these all the time when I’m prepping a recipe.
  • The Oxo y-shaped peeler is one of those items that makes you realize how terrible your old cheap kitchen tool was before you replaced it. I tossed several broken peelers before finding this great version; the shape of the handle and the grips on each side make it so much easier and faster to peel veggies.
  • My Kuhn Rikon garlic press is probably the biggest splurge on this list, but I can not stress enough how amazing this thing is — it just works so well. You’ll get much more garlic out of a single clove with this tool, and the way that the press pieces separate make for a really easy clean up (something that was so annoying with my previous garlic press!). I can’t recommend this model enough, as someone who cooks with a lot of garlic, this has changed my life in the kitchen!

Best Basic Kitchen Tools 3

  • If I could choose just one item in my kitchen to work with everyday, it would probably be my Oxo 9″ tongs; I use them pretty much every time I cook. They snap open and closed really easily and they’re the perfect length — not too big!
  • I don’t love using too many silicon kitchen tools when I’m cooking with heat, but I did need a solution for avoiding scratched pans. So a few years back I purchased Pampered Chef bamboo spatulas that I use all the time for moving things around the pan. Bamboo doesn’t transfer much heat so I always find that these are a good tool for forgetful folks like me that leave them sitting on the edge of the hot pan.
  • The Kuhn Rikon fish spatula is designed for flipping fish but I actually use it for a ton of other cooking purposes. The spatula is just flexible enough that gives you some great leverage and maneuverability for flipping delicate foods like pancakes, but is sturdy enough to handle something as substantial as burgers. I’ve had this one for years, it might be one of the oldest items in my kitchen from this list!
  • Similar to my notes above about using bamboo spatulas in lieu of silicon, I always grab my Williams-Sonoma Olive wood spoons – they’re perfect for stirring up a pot of sauce and sneaking a little taste test. Olive wood is really dense so it doesn’t absorb flavors or smells from the food, and they’re pretty darn good-looking.
  • On the rare occasion that I’m putting on my baking hat versus cooking something, I grab my Williams-Sonoma spoonula – it’s got all of the functionality of a great spatula for scraping the sides of the bowl, but the slight curve gives it utility as a spoon too (and I’m all about multi-purpose tools in a small kitchen like mine).

This listen isn’t completely comprehensive, but these are my go-to items that I use every week when cooking. A few other favorites include a good cast iron skillet, an all-clad stainless steel fry pan, a quality whisk, an olive oil drizzle bottle, my marble pastry board, and glass tupperware. Okay now spill, what are you essential kitchen tools?

A few weeks back I was getting ready to host a baby shower at my apartment and I felt my living room could use a little ‘zhush’ — but I also didn’t want to spend a ton of money making updates. The fastest way to get a new look for your living room? Mixing up the textiles! I added some new pillows from Wayfair (I’m pretty obsessed with the Paris street map pillow, doesn’t it have a little bit of a Kate Spade vibe?), a cozy Mexican blanket that I got this summer from my trip to Creative Overnight, and pulled in my floor pouf  in for some extra seating. Just layering some new colors and textures on top of my existing pieces made a huge difference.
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Want to get in on this fun? I’ve rounded up a few of the items used in my living room below, and bonus: Wayfair is sharing a 15% off ANYPillowPouf or Throw through November 24th! Just use the promo code: WFPTP15

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Mexican Blanket | Paris Map Pillow | Knit Pouf Ottoman

Please note: This post was sponsored by Wayfair.com, all opinions are my own. 

I tackled my Mother’s Day shopping this weekend and am feeling pretty proud of my gift ideas this year! In my search for the perfect gift, I found a bunch of fun ideas from UncommonGoods, and rounded up a few to help you find the perfect gift for Mom!  A few of my favorites are the succulent wall planter — which would look so great on the porch, and the mobile foodie kit filled with spices (plus I’ve been eyeing those starburst sculptures for myself too!). Any good gift ideas for Mom you’d add to the list?

Mothers Day Gifts 2

Gift for the Gardener: Cupcake Planter | Garden Boot Soap | Succulent Wall Planter

Mothers Day Gifts 3

Gifts for the Foodie: Apron | Cheese Plate | Mobile Foodie Kit

Mothers Day Gifts 1

Gifts for the Decorator: Embroidered Pillow | Starburst Sculptures | Monogrammed Throw

This post was sponsored by UncommonGoods, all opinions (and awesome gift ideas!) are my own.

When I was hosting my DIY event at West Elm last weekend, I couldn’t leave without a quick spin through the new market section of the store. I had to control myself because I wanted to buy everything — from cute little anchor towels to brushed gold cheese knives. But the pieces that really caught my eye were a line of enamelware tableware and kitchen tools. I brought home a sweet little prep bowl and some of the utensils from the collection, I love the simple the lines and sturdy quality of the pieces.

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Plates | Utensils | Measuring Cups & Spoons

I am looking anywhere and everywhere for a little peek of warmth and spring these days, it seems like winter is never ending this year! I ran into this image and it was just the dose of freshness I needed. Don’t you love the bright and airy lavender wall color and the little pop of cheery gingham?

katie-armour-apartment-matchbook-magazine-1Image via The NeoTraditionalist

The new CB2 catalog landed in my mailbox last week and I can’t stop thinking about the pops of pink in their new products. I’m making a mental note, when I someday have more space for it, I will be purchasing a pink settee. And I love the bold stripes on the tablecloth and punchy neon pillows — they’re just so cheery!

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Big update here people, it’s my birthday tomorrow! The nice thing about having your birthday right after Christmas, is you don’t feel guilty lusting over cute new products after the holiday rush — it’s totally allowed. So I’m sharing an updated ‘caught my eye’ list today with a few things I have on my radar. On the top of the list? Some new bedding — I have been scoping out Biscuit bedding for a possible bedroom refresh! And a cute water bottle to help me keep those new years resolutions… and the Mast Brothers chocolate cookbook for when I inevitably break them, right?

Wishlist Birthday

Tufted bench, Biscuit bedding sham, Anchor doormat, Chocolate cookbook, Heart water bottle, Gold dipped spoons, Belvoir cordials

I’m participating in my blogger-buddy Jaime’s annual stocking series this week, and am sharing some of my stocking-stuffer wishlist. Click over to La Vie J’aime to find out what’s on my list!

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