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simple natural holiday table

we normally don’t host anything holiday related because our parents do it all, but this year we’re doing a simple little dinner on christmas eve with family. i’m keeping it v low-key because of the baby, but i’m going to cook a nice, easy dinner and i set a nice, easy table for it. 

i love natural linen, and i’m even a fan of the wrinkles on a table. i’m sure some of you can’t stand the look, but crisp linens can sometimes feel stuffy to me. i also left the napkins un-ironed — remember this is supposed to be practically effortless.

i got these plates on sale on black friday and i am so into them. the little ridge makes them feel so special to me, and our everyday flatware is so pretty it’s totally appropriate for holiday too.

i added two pillar candles and then just scattered a few votives for extra light and warmth.

and in lieu of flowers, i got one bundle of silver leaf eucalyptus from trader joes for $2.50, and just scattered branches individually down onto the table. i layered them one by one in different spots, filling in blank areas and keeping it fairly minimal so the table feels light still.

for each place setting, i trimmed a small piece of garland and placed on top of each napkin. an easy little accent, and adds an extra christmas scent.

sources

plates / tablecloth / napkins / flatware / glasses / EUCALYPTUS

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DIY stir stick wall hanging

i’ve been really wanting a little wall hanging or something for the empty wall in our new dining nook, and i’ve been thinking i’d make one if i found the time or energy, both are which are v fleeting at the moment — but when esurance wanted to challenge me a second time and show how i could upcycle something to have #madeitmine, i thought it was perfect excuse to find both the time and energy.

i do not think i’m the only one who hoards paint stir sticks, right? i always grab a huge handful every time i paint a room and end up only using one or two. so this wall hanging is so free. it’s just paint sticks and string!

materials

paint stir sticks
string (i used this baker’s twine)
miter box and saw
drill with a 1/16″ – 1/8″ drill bit
clamp

directions

01. marking it with a pencil, line up all your sticks flat on a table (i went with 13 plus one for the top). mark them in ascending length. you can measure exactly, but i just eyeballed it (you can tell lol), probably about 1/2″ difference between each one.

02. saw each piece in your miter box.

03. clamp pieces together in groups of 3 or 4, and drill a uniform hole on the top, again about 1/2″ away from the top.

 

04. once your pieces are all cut and drilled, line them up to start assembling. if you have trouble fitting your string through the hole, wrap a piece of tape to the end to make an aglet (like a shoelace). give yourself a couple feet of slack on one end and go through your first piece, tying a small knot on the outside and one on the inside. then proceed to do that through every piece, with a small knot in between each one to keep them in place.

05. once you’ve attached all the pieces, and you’ve tied your last knot at the other end, you can attach a top piece (mine is just the entire length of the stir stick before the indents, with a hole on both sides 1/2″ away from the ends.) to secure the top wood piece, add two more knots (one on each side) evenly spaced on your ends of string (mine are like 10″ of string from the vertical wood part). Those two knots will secure your top piece in place. add your top piece.

06. continue the string to the top and tie a double knot, trim excess and hang on your wall!

this post is in partnership with esurance.

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backyard campfire date night

date nights are few and far between these days, so lately we’ve really been trying to make an effort to make the most of the time we have together, at home. i try to have dinner cooked by the time gid gets home from work, and where the first few months with arlo — we ate separately while one of us watched him, we’ve finally gotten to the point where we can sit down together to eat. it’s so important!

when pine mountain fire logs reached out about trying their extremestart firestarter, i was super excited to actually use our firepit… for the first time ever. i thought sitting in the backyard cozied up with a fire after putting down arlo would be a perfect date night at home! 

since we came out after dinner, i just put together an easy dessert of strawberries and cream, and hot chocolate with marshmallows. here’s the hot chocolate recipe i love:

Ingredients

3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 cups whole milk
6 ounces semisweet chocolate finely chopped
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions

bring ¾ cup water to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. whisk in 3 tbsp. cocoa powder until no lumps remain, then add milk and return to a simmer. whisk in chocolate and sugar and cook, whisking frequently, until mixture is smooth and creamy and chocolate is melted, about 5 minutes. divide hot chocolate among mugs.

the extremestart firestarters are compact and super easy to use — we just added one to the fire and struck a match and had a healthy fire. each firestarter burns for 20+ minutes, so it’s perfect if you don’t want to spend your whole date babysitting the fire. you can also use them inside in your fireplace and in your grill, they’re odorless and clean burning!

pine mountain also makes the java-log, it’s the only firelog that is made from recycled coffee grounds! it burns up to four hours, so perfect for all you non-parents, who can stay out with your fire all night and have friends over and play loud music and drink out of paper bags, i’m totally not jealous at all.

i also brought out some throw blankets for each of us to truly cozy up. but why is that boys never want to use a blanket? it’s v dumb of them.

you might be wondering why we chose not to roast marshmallows? and that is because i did not feel like finding sticks lol.

once it got dark, we projected a movie onto the studio wall. when we designed the backyard, i made sure to keep the side wall empty to use someday for projecting movies, i’m so glad i did. i borrowed my moms little projector, but they’re so small and cheap these days, i really want to get one for outdoor movie nights! and now that we’ve finally christened the fire pit, we can do that too.

if it’s too cold where you live to do a fire pit date at the moment, then consider pulling a samantha and smith and cozy up next to your fireplace instead with matching robes. (like i said, the extremestart fire starter works indoors for fireplaces and chimneas as well.) and now i wish we had matching robes and a fireplace because that also sounds amazing.

PHOTOS BY BRANDI WELLES

this post was in partnership with pine mountain fire logs.
all opinions are 100% my own.

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holiday gift guide : stocking stuffers for him and her under $20

a lot of you guys asked this year for stocking stuffers — it’s not too late! most of these items are prime and ALL of them are under $20. i am pretty sick of seeing stocking stuffer suggestions that are like $40 because i am not filthy rich and if i’m spending $40 on a gift then you better believe i am wrapping that thing and making sure it gets a lot of attention and i get a lot of credit. so here are some more affordable, useful ideas! (and obviously, supplement with treats duh.)

for him

01. such a handsome, inexpensive bottle opener
02. i always say you can never have too many bluetooth speakers
03. cute gold keyring you can eventually steal for yourself
04. headphone splitter, so useful and so easy to lose (this is the time to replace!)
05. i love these minimal playing cards
06. is it just mine or do boys looove dry shampoo
07. small tape measure and it’s pretty cute too
08. gid has always resisted a popsocket, but i feel like he’d be so happy if he actually started using one
09. a pretty hair comb
10. shave cream (or sunblock works too)
11. a simple cute little nyc city guide

for her

01. a cutie little concrete candle
02. complexion spray, perfect for her morning ritual
03. i would loooove if gid filled one of these books out for me, dunno about you.
04. and you can also never have too many nail polishes
05. i love a little wood comb for my hair and for prettiness on the dresser
06. you can’t go wrong with cute enamel pins
07. and last thing you can’t have too many of is cute notebooks
08. a facial brush travel set that’s pretty and v inexpensive
09. bandanas are so hot rn
10. love these sweet little leather key chains.
11. a pretty air freshener that’s such an upgrade from standard ones and cheap

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