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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how soon is too soon to decorate for the holidays

honestly if it were up to me, i’d probably have my holiday decorations up for six months a year, but that’s borderline crazy, right? we all know that most people don’t get their tree until the weekend after thanksgiving, but that is just way too late for me! so instead, i pretty much go for it as soon as halloween is over. two months of christmas is not even enough, but it’s way preferable to one!

i partnered with pier 1 to “prematurely” decorate, they have loads of unique holiday items for decorating and entertaining at really affordable prices, and they were the first place i went when i became an adult and needed ornaments for my first grownup tree.

if you have a spouse or roommate who doesn’t believe you should decorate until after thanksgiving, first of all they are wrong. second of all, here are my tips for convincing them (or doing it anyway but without getting in trouble)… 

do it slowly

day by day, throw some twinkle lights up around a doorway or window frame and make sure they’re turned on in the evening when they get home. the vibe is instantly warmer and it’s undeniable. we also wrapped our fiddle tree with them, i love a festive potted plant! (and you can get a remote so you don’t have to bend over).

add little accents everywhere

once you’ve hooked them with that cozy romantic lighting setup, add more and more and add some garlands too! i love a garland around a window or shelves, and i love how this faux one looks wrapped around our entryway mirror. (here’s another option!)

scent is so important!

especially true if you’re using a fake christmas tree, stock up on some scented candles and reed diffusers and get the house smelling like the holidays. when they walk in, they’ll get in the spirit. i also looove petrified wood, so i picked up these large coasters to use for candles and holiday cocktails.

play christmas music

don’t be annoying about it, but just have it casually playing in the house. and make sure it’s music they like (i don’t know about you but most of the boys i know don’t actually like listening to mariah carey on repeat). and speaking of sounds, get them in the spirit with jingle bells too. i love this jingle bell door hanger so much, i don’t even mind if it wakes up the baby from his naps.

surprise them from the outside

hanging a mini wreath is v low maintenance and when it’s faux you can keep it around all year and hang it up on november 1st no problem! there is also no argument with faux trees and garlands and wreaths that they won’t last until new years, i’ve always hated that argument. i also added these cutie LED pyramids, which look so cute and cozy at night. (i’m using the small size and the medium size)

don’t worry about judgement, get a fake tree

ok this one is totally personal preference, and this is actually our first year with a fake tree because gid has always protested. while i do miss that amazing permeating pine scent for sure, you can set the tree up immediately, and once they get home and there’s a tree sitting there setup — they’re out of luck! the other part i love is that it’ll last through new years, no dead tree to worry about.

they’ll quickly realize there’s no reason to put up a stink once they’re in the full on spirit, so you win! and if you haven’t decorated yet, what are you waiting for? get to it!

this post is in partnership with pier 1
all opinions are 100% my own

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holiday gift guide : for the little ones

you guys ask me a lot a lot for our favorite toys and stuff like that, so i’m working on a big post of lots of toys — but didn’t want to leave out the kids from the gift guides this year, since i have one now and all. here are some of my favorite gender neutral gift ideas for babies and toddlers. 

01. loooove this magnetic block set, the colors are so pretty.
02. cuddle + kind provides 10 meals to children for every doll sold, we love sebastian
03. love this sweet and positive t-shirt 
04. this jellycat chicken is so cute and goofy
05. such a handsome ride-on car
06. love this origami boat for bath time
07. you might recognize this wood stacker from instagram if you follow me… it’s arlos fave
08. the cutest pretzel rattle
09. arlo’s favorite lovie bunny (and mine too)
10. so excited to have a play kitchen someday, love this one.
11. cute musical instrument toys
12. a modern wood dollhouse that can travel too
13. we have this hammer and block toy, it’s so cute
14. a super cute piggy rocker

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holiday movie night (with the best living room update ever)

we are big, big TV watchers in this house. we were a little more intense about it before arlo, but we’ve always made a big deal about having a dope viewing situation and i’ve always preferred watching movies at home to the theatre because i never have my seat kicked the entire time at home. so, we do not own small TVs, which is nice when you’re watching big blockbusters… but it’s always been a huge aesthetic problem. until now! not too long ago, samsung released the frame, the TV for every design obsessed person in the universe. have you heard of it?! (it’s one of oprah’s favorite things this year so you know its good) it’s designed to look like a framed piece of art on your wall, replacing that big black rectangle that we’re all sadly used to. when i saw this TV i literally dreamt about it. i know that sounds so shallow and materialistic but i can’t help what i dream about OK!? i am so excited to be partnering with samsung, because they did that thing where you dream something and they made it real (there should be a saying for that!)

our house doesn’t have an entryway, and it’s open concept — so when you walk in you just see the living room wall with the TV right there. and it was the biggest eye sore ever, you may even have noticed you’ve never seen the opposite side of my living room? that’s why. so when i saw the frame, i knew it was the answer to this massive problem.

and gid has totally geeked out on the TV for his own reasons, his boy reasons. it’s 4K HDR Pro, which makes for a super rich color and contrast. it comes with it’s no gap wall-mount, so it hangs flush to the wall like a real picture. i just kept walking by to see it from the side the day it was installed and could not believe it. AND the invisible connection connects to the one connect box, which eliminates all of the cables and clutter, and now our cabinet is FINALLY just cluttered with my own pretty objects. you can also customize it with different bezel frames in wood, white or metal –- they just easily snap on to the existing frame. we decided to get an oak wood bezel to match even better, and i can’t wait. can you tell i could not be more excited about it?

i think it’s been v well established by now that i do not shy away from going all out on the holidays, so i was inspired to do a holiday movie night. i made it super chill, i stocked up on a bunch of pre-made holiday cookies, movie theatre popcorn, caramel corn and eggnog. you know i’m all about shortcuts, don’t worry about buying all your snacks, as long as you put them in on pretty platters — no one will care!

if you’re not set on what movie to watch, a fun idea is to have everyone vote when they get there. my favorites are die hard, scrooged, love actually and home alone.

you may have noticed this is different art than before! there’s a gallery of 100 pieces, and an art store you can purchase additional art from, or you can also upload your own photographs (shrine to arlo?). and you can do all of the art control from the app on your phone as well, which i love. the other amazing thing the frame does is allows you to view the art in any lighting, it has a brightness sensor which automatically adjusts the color and brightness to the ambient light in the room. so rad.

i really truly love this TV so much i am already wanting to switch out our bedroom TV for one too. if you are also so sick of looking at a big black rectangle on your wall that you may or may not be going crazy — check out the frame for sure. and ps, it’s $200 off the 55” and 65” sizes, in-store and online 12/10 through 12/30 and if you purchase by 12/9, you can also get 50% a bezel with the purchase of the frame.

THIS POST IS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH SAMSUNG
ALL OPINIONS ARE 100% MY OWN

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