On Holiday

Image via MySoti.com

Image via MySoti.com

In August 2006, my husband and I took what I have since (annoyingly) heard referred to as a Babymoon–a big last hurrah trip before the arrival of our first baby. It was a fantastic trip with stops all over Europe, one of them being the lovely city of Florence. I spent a semester in college living in Florence and I was excited to show Tim all of my favorite spots from that time–my favorite gelato bar, that sweet little gift shop, a restaurant I loved but couldn’t afford as a college student. They were all still there, but at each one we came across signs–some officially printed and others hastily handwritten in Italian–that in one way or another said:

On Holiday for the month of August

See you in September

At the time, I was disappointed, but since then I have often thought about the act of putting up a sign, walking away from your life and business for a month and going on holiday. How incredibly freeing, unhampered and really, un-American–in a good way–it is to just take a break because you need it and because it is just what people do in Italy.

I had big plans for my blog post this week. Lots of pictures with a great how to. But remember those house guests I was readying for in my post a few weeks ago? We have had a steady stream of them–with one more beloved guest coming tonight. I adore having house guests and the past few weeks with ours have been wonderful, memorable and fun. But we have been so busy having fun that I haven’t had any time to sit down to the computer to put my little how to together. So, I am going to take a cue from the Italians and put up my “Holiday” sign, but just for this week. I’ll be back next week with that great how to. Ciao!

 

Ode to the Outdoor Shower

There is something to be said for simple pleasures, and for me, an outdoor shower is one of them. Whether the construction or style is rustic and utilitarian or elaborate and elegant, I think there is almost nothing as luxurious as taking a shower and looking up at this:

Don’t get me wrong, I love a beautiful, marble tiled indoor bathroom as much as the next girl, but on a hot summer day after the beach, there is no better way to get cleaned up and ready for the next part of your day (preferably that is a drink on the porch before dinner…) than an outdoor shower. It is just the simple act of being outside (and dare I say–being naked outside) that seems so wonderfully indulgent.

As with many things in life, when it comes to outdoor showers, the simpler, the better. All you need is a few great towels, some hooks, a small basket for shampoo and soap–and last but not least–a beautiful sunny day. See, even the dog loves it!

Buck

I found so many great outdoor showers when I was looking online for this post. There are so many different styles and options. Take a look and luxuriate.

Outdoor Shower Inspiration via Coastal Living

Outdoor Shower Inspiration via Coastal Living

 

Outdoor Shower Inspiration via Coastal Living

Outdoor Shower Inspiration via Coastal Living

showers_9-l

Outdoor Shower Inspiration via Coastal Living

Outdoor Shower Inspiration via Simply Seleta

Outdoor Shower Inspiration via Simply Seleta

Outdoor Shower Inspiration via Coastal Living

Outdoor Shower Inspiration via Coastal Living

 

House Guest Ready

IMG_3701

House Guest Ready

It may make me a bit of an oddity, but I LOVE to have houseguests. I’m not exactly sure why but I think it is because everything seems a bit special–you sort of amp it up when friends or family come to visit. I set out our nice pillows and towels, serve treats for breakfast like homemade scones and fresh orange juice and show off all the special things about my town. Really, when was the last time you took the time to visit a museum, go for a long, scenic walk or take in the sights when you didn’t have houseguests?!?

I’ve finally gotten our guest room to be a room I love and I hope that it is a comfortable home away from home for friends who visit. In my gleeful planning for houseguests, I’ve tracked down a few good sources for pictures and articles about how to prep a guest room (see my list of sources below) but I thought I would also offer my own take.

Guest Room Essentials

  • Extra towels, sheets and pillows – In our guest room, we have this great bed form Pottery Barn that has wonderful, large baskets all the way around the bottom – a perfect place to stash lots of linens. I like to leave a little lavender sachet on top of each set to keep things fresh
  • Mirror
  • TV with a remote
  • Pen & paper
  • Tissues
  • Password for house Wi-Fi
  • A robe
  • A clock
  • A comfy mattress and cozy sheets 

Special Touches  (aka My Favorite Part)

1. Fresh flowers

FLowers

2. Postcards, restaurant guide, guidebooks, map, and local magazines

Guide Books

3. A tote filled with toiletries – When I travel I always forget something dumb like a razor so I appreciate this. I filled ours with a lint brush (our dog sheds ALOT so this may actually fall in the Guest Room Essentials category), washcloths, toothpaste, razor, deodorant, a bar of soap and a night light

Toiletry Tote

4. Pineapple –no, not a real pineapple. Did you know that the pineapple is the symbol of hospitality, warmth & friendship?  I found this ceramic one at Home Goods a few years ago and I think it is kind of cool and just so perfect for a guest room

Pineapple

5. Books-I like to set out books that reflect the location or tell more about me as a host. I think David Giffel’s book The Hard Way on Purpose is a great one about Akron and growing up in Northeast Ohio like I did. Read more about it in the New York Times Book Review.

Books

6. Guest Book – Its great to look back over years at who has visited and it is also fun to see what your guests write about their trip. So far, all good reviews!

Guest Book

7. Various trays and decorative dishes to hold personal belongings-I found this cloche on Anthropologie‘s web site. Not only is it cute but it provides a nice place for guests to put their jewelry. I also love these great little dishes from HomArt that I found at one of my favorite shops called The Lions Paw.

ClocheDishes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SO, what are YOUR guest room essentials and special touches?  What am I forgetting? Let me know what you do to get house guest ready. In the meantime, here are those resources I mentioned for prepping your guest room:

 

Guest Room Prep Resources:

Guest Room Essentials from Fox Hollow Cottage

How to Get Your Guest Room Ready for the Holidays from Glitter Guide

Preparing for House Guests from Martha Stewart

9 Guest Room Essentials from Woman’s Day

 

 

Office Inspiration

So, first of all, have you tried Polyvore? I’m loving it (and frankly, I’m a little obsessed). It is a web site that allows you to cull and curate fashion, home and beauty finds into your own collage style boards. For a wanna-be graphic designer like myself, it is simply the coolest way to beautifully organize any home design idea, outfit or creative project you may be contemplating. Plus, Polyvore’s CEO is a woman and I really love to hear about success stories in women-run companies, especially in the male dominated tech world. Here is a nice Q&A with Polyvore CEO Jess Lee from The Huffington Post, if you would like to learn more.

I’ve been thinking about creating a small office area in our basement but I wasn’t sure how I’d pull it all together so I figured I’d try out my ideas on Polyvore to see how everything looks. I had some thoughts about what I wanted as far as a color scheme but then I found this gorgeous color board on a web site called A Creative Mint that I used as my inspiration.

Image via A Creative Mint

Image via A Creative Mint

It just speaks to me. I love the blues and greens along with the little pop of pale pink in the roses and the coral color of the spool of thread. Lovely.

From there, I found images on Polyvore of the desk and chair I already purchased from Bungalow 5 and an accent table I found from Wisteria. Then I let my creativity go and searched the Polyvore web site and other sites to find various accent pieces and art I could put with my little room collage, and voila, here is my basement office! Or atleast how it appears in my head–and of course, on Polyvore 🙂

Stay tuned to see how it actually turns out…

 

Office Inspiration

The Perfect Summer Dress

Every summer, I search for the perfect summer dress. I’m not a huge fan of shorts, and pants and jeans are usually out of the question on hot days so I love sundresses and find them to be the most versatile summer outfit option. I am constantly on the go–most often with the kids–so I need a dress that can be sporty enough to wear to the pool but can double as a shift for cocktails at home or a casual dinner out. And of course, it has to be comfortable, cute, flattering and stylish, but not too short–I am inevitabley picking up a Matchbox car or magic marker from under a restaurant table or the bottom of the stroller. Not too much to ask of a dress, right?

Well, its official – I have found the perfect summer dress. The Sailor Sailor Skipper Dress by Just Madras fits all of the criteria I mentioned above but is also made of a wonderful, soft, stretchy cotton and is soooo comfortable. I’m talking pajamas comfortable. I love it so much I bought it in multiple colors and I’ve been wearing them non-stop so I have found some fun ways to accessorize them for every outing and occasion!

Out & About: Skipper Dress in Navy Stripe with red cardigan sweater - here for similar; Mar Y Sol tote; Jack Rogers sandals; red bracelet - click here for similar

Out & About: Skipper Dress in Navy Stripe with red cardigan sweater – here for similar; Mar Y Sol tote; Jack Rogers sandals; red bracelet – here for similar

 

Cocktails & Dinner: Skipper Dress in Pink Stripe with Eliza Gray Clutch and Jack Rogers sandals

Cocktails & Dinner: Skipper Dress in Pink Stripe with Eliza Gray Clutch – here for similar; and Jack Rogers sandals

 

A Day at the Beach: Skipper Dress with Crushable Hat by Be You Fashion from Kayce Hughes; Eliza B flip flops; beach bag - here for similar; and Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses

A Day at the Beach: Skipper Dress in Royal Stripe with Crushable Hat by Be You Fashion from Kayce Hughes – here for similar; Eliza B flip flops; beach bag – here for similar; and Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses

I’ve had only one criticism of this dress. My mom said she wished it came in a version with sleeves. But guess what??  When I went to the Just Madras web site to do a little looking around for this blog post, it comes in a very cute 3/4 length sleeve version! And to solidify its standing as the perfect summer dress I also found it comes in solid colors AND in adorable little girls sizes!

All images via Just Madras. Left to Right: Skipper dress in 3/4 length sleeves; Skipper Dress is Navy Blue; Girls Sailor Dress in Small Red Stripe

All images via Just Madras. Left to Right: Skipper dress in 3/4 length sleeves; Skipper Dress is Navy Blue; Girls Sailor Dress in Small Red Stripe

I think an impromptu summer cocktail party is in order to celebrate. Which one should I wear?!? Cheers to the perfect summer dress!

If Only Strawberry Fields Were Forever

Pick Your Own Sign

Every summer, we hope that our travel schedule allows us to be in Nantucket around the wonderful, but short, strawberry picking season. It was our good fortune that the season was late this year due to the long, hard winter Nantucket endured.  There must be magic in that island dirt–or maybe its just sand? Either way, it produces the most magnificent strawberries and tomatoes and corn and flowers and lettuce…I could go on and on. It’s all just SO good.

My kids love this activity and it is such a fun thing to do as a family. On Nantucket, Bartlett Farms is our spot and it provides everything a good family activity should:

Exercise  – It’s a short but manageable walk out to the field, even for small children.

Walk

Scenic – The farm is so green and lush, especially next to the bright blue sky that we enjoyed when we were there. On the way out to the strawberry fields, you pass rows and rows of beautiful lettuce greens of all kinds. You can even catch a glimpse of the ocean just over the horizon.

Scenic Fields

Educational – It provides a great opportunity to talk to and show your kids about the whole farm to table concept and that food–especially the best, freshest food–comes from the ground and doesn’t just magically appear in a grocery store.

Strawberry

 

strawberry freshly picked

Delicious – We love finding new recipes for the strawberries that we bring home. I must admit though, a few of the strawberries end up in the kids’ mouths before we even leave the field.

Eating Strawberries

The only bad thing about strawberry picking season is that it ends. While strawberries can be found all year round in those little clear plastic containers at the grocery store, they are just not the same as those sweet luscious berries picked straight from the vine. Ahhh..if only strawberry fields were forever.

strawberries at home

For those of you on Nantucket now, I just got an email from Bartlett Farms that they expect to have strawberries through this weekend but it may be the last. A quart basket is $5 and it is some of the best $5 I’ve ever spent!

Strawberry

Here are some nice recipes with strawberries that we have tried from the fruits of our labor (pun intended), although the best recipe of all is just a bowl full of strawberries with a dollop of homemade whipped cream. Enjoy!

From left to right: Roasted Strawberry Parfaits via Spoonful; Frozen Strawberries and Cream Dessert via Pip & Ebby; Strawberry Pretzel Salad via MyBakingAddiction; Red, White & Blue Kabobs via Sadie423 on HubPages

From left to right: Roasted Strawberry Parfaits via Spoonful; Frozen Strawberries and Cream Dessert via Pip & Ebby; Strawberry Pretzel Salad via MyBakingAddiction; Red, White & Blue Kabobs via Sadie423 on HubPages

 

Planes, Ferries & Automobiles

I think there has got to be a quote or an adage that says the more difficult somewhere is to get, the more rewarding it is when you finally get there. Every year, we travel to the island of Nantucket for our summer vacation. It is not an easy place to get to, especially from Ohio, so traveling here can definitely qualify in the difficult category. A combination of cars, airplanes and a ferry boat are required transportation–and that is on a good day when you don’t have any delays due to fog, wind or other such things.

If you are not familiar, Nantucket is a small island off the coast of Cape Cod, 14 miles long by about 7 miles wide. Its hey day was in the mid-1700s to the late 1830s when the island was the whaling capital of the world, with as many as 150 ships making port on the island during its peak. There is not a single traffic light and next to no chain stores so everything here is wonderfully, authentically Nantucket. Its so unique that it makes even the most difficult travel day melt away to a distant memory once you arrive because it is so worth the trouble.

I’m convinced that somewhere across the ocean between Nantucket and America (as the locals call the mainland) some kind of magic happens. I swear that flowers bloom more brilliantly here, birds chirp a little louder, stars are brighter and tomatoes and strawberries grow even more luscious (more on the strawberries in next weeks post!). And even though adults are not supposed to believe in such things, I can almost agree with my 7 year old that mermaids DO live in Nantucket harbor. (She swears she has seen one, even if it was just a glimpse!)

Traveling anywhere with small children, as many of you know,  can be challenging. Our trips to Nantucket have had their ups and downs but the more we have done the trip, the more I have tried to just enjoy the ride and take it all in–the plane, the car ride,the ferry… After all, as I’ve been telling myself a lot lately: The journey is the destination.

With that, here is a little photo journaling of our long, but fun journey here this year.

 

On the plane - thank God for iPads!

On the plane – thank God for iPads!

Leg 1 complete - getting off the  plane in Boston

Leg 1 complete – getting off the plane in Boston

In the car on the way to the Cape - this is the best shot I could get of our quick pass through Boston. Look close, that building says Boston on it!

In the car on the way to the Cape – this is the best shot I could get of our quick pass through Boston. Look close, that building says Boston on it!

Waiting for the ferry in Hyannis

Waiting for the ferry in Hyannis

Bye Hyannis! Looking out the back window of the ferry

Bye Hyannis! Looking out the back window of the ferry

Even when we try to keep a positive attitude, everybody still gets a little grumpy

Even when we try to keep a positive attitude, everybody still gets a little grumpy

Looking out the ferry at Brant Point Lighthouse. One of the best views ever because you are so close!

Looking out the ferry window at Brant Point Lighthouse. One of the best views ever because you are so close!

Back in the car but ALMOST THERE!

Back in the car but ALMOST THERE!

We're here! And at the end of the day, it was all worth it.

We’re here! And at the end of the day, it was all worth it.

 

For more photos, information and fun things to do with kids on Nantucket, stay posted to my blog! In the meantime, visit some of these websites:

  • Nantucket BlACKbook – Great site for all things fun, fashionable and unique on Nantucket
  • Townpool – A great site for travel, food and retail deals on the island (yes, there are some!). Follow them on Instagram or Facebook too for amazing pictures of the island.
  • I found some fun facts about Nantucket and its history here
  • The Inquirer & Mirror (aka The Inky Mirror) is Nantucket’s only newspaper and their website is a good resource
  • Nantucket.net is a good source for Nantucket travel information