Serene Gender Neutral Nursery Design

Photo credit: Julia Elizabeth Photography, julia-elizabeth.com

Photo credit: Julia Elizabeth Photography, julia-elizabeth.com

A small, unfinished room previously used as storage/office space was transformed into a serene baby nursery with careful space planning, a smart use of functional furniture, a mix of bold patterns and neutral color choices.

The vision for this nursery design was to create a peaceful space for my little boy to relax and sleep. The serene, gray color scheme paired with a graphic rug and loft covering gives the room a balance of interest and subtlety. I made a conscious effort to focus on non-gender specific colors, the design could be equally fitting for either boy or girl.

Photo credit: Julia Elizabeth Photography, julia-elizabeth.com

Photo credit: Julia Elizabeth Photography, julia-elizabeth.com

I wanted to give the baby some points of interest in the room without over stimulating, as the overall purpose of the room is to induce sleep. The simple, yet engaging animal wall prints were the perfect solution. Created by artist Sharon Montrose at theanimalprintshop.com, her definitive photographic style is both sophisticated and playful. What I love most is through this series, they help support several organizations devoted to animal rescue, educational programs, and nurturing wildlife.

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Photo credit: Julia Elizabeth Photography, julia-elizabeth.com

It was important for the pieces and space to be functional as well, so the furniture purchases were extensively thought out. The rug is in anticipation for crawling, the glider for bedtime stories, and storage ottoman for easy clean up of books and toys. Instead of the typical changing table, I opted for an actual full-sized dresser. It has deep drawers that pack a lot of storage so I always feel like I have adequate space, and the height is fine for changing baby. The crib is convertible so that it can grow with the baby into his toddler years. The large mirror sits across from the window and helps keep the nursery bright and airy as it reflects natural sunlight. As an added bonus, my son likes to look at his reflection in the mirror as he is getting changed, which was unexpected and sweet.

Photo credit: Julia Elizabeth Photography, julia-elizabeth.com

Photo credit: Julia Elizabeth Photography, julia-elizabeth.com

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Photo credit: Julia Elizabeth Photography, julia-elizabeth.com

Photo credit: Julia Elizabeth Photography, julia-elizabeth.com

Photo credit: Julia Elizabeth Photography, julia-elizabeth.com

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Photo credit: Julia Elizabeth Photography, julia-elizabeth.com

Photo credit: Julia Elizabeth Photography, julia-elizabeth.com

Photo credit: Julia Elizabeth Photography, julia-elizabeth.com

Photo credit: Julia Elizabeth Photography, julia-elizabeth.com

Here is a breakdown of the room elements:

Wall Paint: Benjamin Moore
Silver Satin

Rug: Pottery Barn Kids
Herringbone Rug (Gray) 5×8′

Crib: Babyletto
Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib with Toddler Rail, White

Mattress: buybuyBaby
Classica II Deluxe 2-Stage Foam Crib Mattress by Colgate

Bedding: Pottery Barn Kids
Mini Dot Fitted Sheet, Gray

Wall Art: Animal Print Shop
Baby Monkey, Baby Elephant, Baby White Tiger, Baby Giraffe

Wall Art Frames: Pottery Barn
Wood Gallery Picture Frame, 8 x 10″, Modern White

Glider: Babyletto
Madison Swivel Glider, Ecru

Ottoman: Target
Threshold™ Tufted Round Storage Ottoman

Dresser: Ikea
HEMNES 8-Drawer Dresser, White

Changing Pad Cover: Pottery Barn Kids
Harper Changing Pad Cover, Gray

Mirror: Local Homegoods find

Laundry Basket: Local Homegoods find

Plush Animals: Restoration Hardware
Chambray Lion, Chambray Elephant, Chambray Giraffe

Curtains: Pottery Barn Kids
Harper Valance, Gray

Romantic Rose Flower Arrangement

ValentineBoquet2 ValentineBoquet1

Share your love this Valentine’s day with a DIY rose flower arrangement. It’s a perfect gift for your sweetheart, a friend, or yourself!

Roses signify love and romance, so there is no better flower choice on this special day. This unexpected combination of red and hot pink hues will make your heart sing, and the mix of full-sized roses and spray roses create movement and balance within the arrangement.

I used a low, round vase for this arrangement, found at a local Michaels craft store for a couple bucks. Believe it or not, I bought the flowers at my local grocery store – Shoprite! Putting it all together is a cinch, just cut the flower stems to the height of the vase, and mix up the flowers and colors for a beautiful finished piece.

What will you be gifting to your Valentine this holiday?

Healthy and Light Broiled Salmon

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Salmon is a healthy dinner choice to give your body a break from overindulging during the holidays. I like this simple, tasty and clean broiled salmon recipe that can be pulled together quickly.

For a complete dinner, this fish dish pairs well with roasted potato and roasted asparagus.

  • 1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets
  • paprika to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced width-wise
  • I pkg grape tomatoes, sliced in half length-wise

Preheat the oven’s broiler and set the oven rack about 6 inches from the top.

Season salmon fillets with paprika, pepper, and salt, drizzle with olive oil. Slice lemon width-wise and place slices in top of filet.

Line a baking pan with aluminum foil, and coat with olive oil. Place the salmon on pan surrounded with grape tomatoes. Arrange lemon slices on top and cook 6 to 8 minutes on each side side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Enjoy!

Home Office Room Design

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Found on sweetharmonie.com

If you have the flexibility to work from home, that can be a real plus in managing your life. But when creating a home office, it’s important to set aside a space that inspires production and creativity, and is separated from the distractions of home life.

Here are some exceptional designs to get you excited for planning your own home office:

Homeoffice10

Found on cocokelley.com

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Found on designlibrary.com.au

Found on parkavenueprincess.tumblr.com

Found on parkavenueprincess.tumblr.com

Found on thetomkatstudio.com

Found on thetomkatstudio.com

Found on home-styling.blogspot.com

Found on home-styling.blogspot.com

Found on designspiration.net

Found on designspiration.net

Found on desiretoinspire.net

Found on desiretoinspire.net

Homeoffice1

Found on dustjacketattic.blogspot.com.au

Found on carlaaston.com

Found on carlaaston.com

Found on theeverygirl.com

Found on theeverygirl.com

Found on michaelanoelledesigns.blogspot.com

Found on michaelanoelledesigns.blogspot.com

Grilled Chicken and Arugula Parmesan Salad

ChickenArugulaSalad

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 lb chicken breast strips
  • 1 pkg arugula lettuce
  • 1 pkg grape tomatoes, cut length-wise
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • 1/8 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Adobo to taste

Directions

Prep chicken strips by sprinkling both sides with adobo, sea salt and pepper – set aside.

In large skillet, combine olive oil, butter in garlic over medium-high heat. Add chicken, cook 6 minutes on each side.

While the chicken is cooking, in large bowl mix arugula and cherry tomatoes. Squeeze one lemon half over and toss the salad. Add extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and ground pepper to taste.

Lay cooked chicken strips on top of salad. Finish it off with shaved Parmesan cheese on top and serve. Enjoy!

Christmas Table Setting

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I actually get giddy with excitement when setting a Christmas dinner table. It makes me feel full of joy – anticipating the gathering of loved ones, food and laughter that is to come.

We have dinner later in the day, around 5pm, so tons of candles are a must for lighting ambiance. I have a drawer full of white candles on hand in different heights at all times, to be able to use throughout the year – pillars, tapers, and tealight candles. I like to use an assortment to create interest and movement throughout the tablescape.

Every year I come up with a color scheme and flower selection for the day, this year it was red white and green, using a combination of white roses and red ranunculus.

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Each guest went home with a Godiva Chocolate Favor. The gold box and red satin ribbon were packaged so beautifully that I made it part of the table design, by placing a box on top of each dinner plate.

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Nature Inspired Holiday Gift Wrap

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The presentation of your gifts can be just as exciting as what’s inside. During the holidays, I like to amp up my gift wrapping, since the presents can double as holiday decor as they sit under the tree awaiting Christmas morning!

Nature-themed packaging is perfect for celebrating the season. This year, I was inspired by a beautiful faux white birch wood wrapping paper found at my local Homegoods store. You can find a similar wrapping paper here. I tied each gift up in luxurious red satin ribbon from Paper Source, one of my all time favorite stores. To finish off the design, I added various pine cone and red berry embellishments purchased at my local Michaels store.

You can be creative with gift toppers by searching around your own garden, a local flower mart, or even foraging around the neighborhood park. If you prefer to dry the fresh finds, you can hang them upside down in a dark room for a few days.

How will you be wrapping your holiday gifts this season?

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Christmas Flower Arrangement

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! This festive holiday centerpiece is a mixture of white roses, white peony, red ranunculus, red anemone (which looks similar to a poppy flower), and red berries.

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I absolutely love creating flower arrangements, I find putting them together to be so therapeutic, and the beautiful outcome is always rewarding. Don’t be intimidated – you can’t really mess up with flowers – they will remain incredibly gorgeous no matter how you place them! Keep in mind that a table centerpiece should never block guests’ views of each other during the holidays or gatherings, so use a low container. In this photo I used an oblong glass rectangular vase, a local Homegoods find.

How will you be decorating your holiday table this year?

ChristmasCenterpiece3

The Power of Gratitude

Gratitude

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, we look forward to a day of eating, relaxing and spending time with loved ones. It’s also the perfect time to count your blessings, and reinstate the awesome power of gratitude.

Scientific studies, including those by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, have shown that people who cultivate gratitude lead more happy, joyful, energetic lives. The deeper we appreciate, the more we move from a state of fear (or not having enough) to a state of expansion and love.

So how can we practice expressing gratitude into our daily lives? An effective way to do this is by keeping a daily gratitude journal, and documenting your appreciation. We all have a general, off the top of our head, list of things we are thankful for.

For instance, mine would start off like this:

  1. Husband
  2. Parents
  3. Siblings
  4. Friends
  5. Job

But the stand alone exercise of making an itemized list is not enough to feel the paramount influence of gratitude. It is much more compelling to be specific; pick one thing you are grateful for and write five, detailed sentences about it.

For instance, I am grateful for my husband Ryan because:

  1. He loves me unconditionally. He doesn’t have to understand me, but he always supports me and truly cares about me.
  2. He balances me out with his calm demeanor, and satisfaction with life as it is in this moment today.
  3. He is genuinely a good person. I value his character, morals and convictions, and how he treats others.
  4. He is funny and makes me laugh.
  5. I love being wrapped up in his arms, it makes me feel secure, loved, and warm.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Try doing this exercise every day for a month and see the immense power that gratitude can bring into your life!

DIY Wine Bottle Floral Toppers

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Wine is an easy gift to keep in the house for last minute visits to friends and family. Creating a floral wine topper is a creative way to give your bottle more presence, and make it stand out from the others. These also make great wedding or party favors.

Choose to gift your personal favorite wine, for an added touch of thoughtfulness. I love this yummy (and inexpensive at about $12) Root: 1 Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s made in Colchagua Valley, Chile, by winemaker Sergio Hormazabal. This rich red wine is a mix of black currant, mocha and chocolate notes – an exceptional match with full-flavored cheeses, pastas, steaks and chocolate.

Go to a local craft store, like Michaels or AC Moore, and select an assortment of silk flowers and ribbon to create your toppers. Be open to experimenting with other items in the flower aisle, like faux fruits, olives, branches and leaves.

Tie the ribbon around the neck of the wine bottle in a double knot to secure it. Use a hot glue gun to arrange and adhere your floral pieces to the ribbon.

Let it dry and, Voila! You have a beautiful gift to present.