H&M home for the holidays

27 October 2014

Have y’all ever explored the H&M home category? I just did for the first time over the weekend, and was super impressed! Lots of simple, good-looking goods that would be perfect for colder weather festivities, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. A few of my favorites:


Top to bottom and left to right: 2-pack checked napkins ($6) | cotton tablecloth ($25) | cake stand ($10) | candle holder ($10) | Christmas tree mat ($18) | cotton table runner ($10) | cotton tablecloth ($25) | dotted baby blanket ($18) | navy checked baby blanket ($18) | gray star place mat ($10) | checked throw ($35) | linen tablecloth ($60) | checked cushion cover ($18)

I’m thinking either the Christmas tree mat or the star tablecloth will be coming home with me. Any favorites from H&M home? Have any of you ever bought anything from them?

My ultimate dream home and other magazine memories

22 October 2014

As y’all know, I just finished sorting through the boxes my parents brought to our house from my childhood home. Though I brought a good chunk of my things when we first moved to North Carolina, there was a lot still left up north – we weren’t sure how long we were going to be here and we were only moving to an apartment, so we didn’t have that much room for storage! The remnants have been slowly migrating for the last few years, whenever my parents had room in their suitcases. The pile I just finished tackling represented the last big haul, so working through it felt like the completion of an epic project!


There were all sorts of goodies to sort through, including Irish dance trophies, elementary school yearbooks, and graduation gifts, but the bulk was magazine clippings. I’ve been a continual subscriber to Better Homes & Gardens and Martha Stewart Weddings since the seventh grade, and kept meticulous manila files of my favorite tear-outs over the years. I tossed the majority, but when I got to the Coastal Living Idea House from 2001 (13 years ago!), I stopped. It’s the first home inspiration I remember saving, and after all these years, it’s still my ultimate dream home. That porch!!

coastal living nov 2001

As I sat on the floor of our spare room and flipped through the pages, I was overcome by a really sweet feeling – a realization that I now have what that 14-year-old self dreamed about: a home of my very own, shared with the one I love most. Pretty amazing.

coastal living idea house 2002 2

Some folks asked to see more when I posted this on instagram, so I thought I’d share a few more scanned shots here! After all, I may have a house of my own, but I think I’ll still keep this one around for future inspiration :)

coastal living idea house 2002

coastal living idea house 2002 4

coastal living idea house 2002 3

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Ten years after the Coastal Living feature, my jaw dropped when I flipped the page in Better Homes & Gardens and saw my house (or a very similar one in the same community) featured! It was so fun to see more angles:






And just for fun, a few more random clippings that made the “save” pile and were scanned for Pinterest posting:

bhg june 2006

bhg feb 2003

bhg june 2008

bhg march 2005

bhg november 2005


It’s comforting to be reminded that some things never go out of style, isn’t it?

Do you have an ultimate dream home? If so, please share! If it’s online, I’d love to take a peek :)

Marvelous Money: Why do we spend so much?

20 October 2014

I read an interesting piece the other day that I wanted to share with y’all. It was from one of my favorite writers on personal finance, Megan McArdle, and in it, she laid out seven reasons why most of us spend more than we should. Go take a peek!


Another money guy, Dave Ramsey, likes to say that the root of our money problems is almost always ourselves, and I think it’s true! It’s not just the things that we do, but the ways that we think and the logical fallacies that we believe (as Megan points out) that undo us. If what we’re doing is not working (i.e. we’re not saving enough/we’re spending too much), then understanding why we’re doing what we’re doing is a great step toward changing our habits.

I’d love to know: which reason Megan laid out resonated most for you? I identified most with numbers 1 and 7. And I loved her final two (succinct) pieces of advice!

Porch party

16 October 2014

Well, when I made posting a priority in September, I knew my frequency might drop back down this month – but I didn’t expect to write only my second post of the month on the 16th! It’s been a busy two weeks, between traveling to New England for a wedding and to meet our newish nephew, me traveling to New York for work for five days, and starting a new family group at our church. I thought I’d get back in the swing of things by sharing our porch party!


After 2012’s Julia & Julia dinner party and last year’s adventure dinner party, I knew I wanted to host another special event for some of our friends this year. We considered another adventurous location, but decided instead to celebrate our new home and its glorious porch. We used the same six-foot folding table that we bought for last year’s party, and splurged on two strings of lights from World Market. We moved our dining chairs outside for the evening. The simple white tablecloth was from Target, and I added some pale blue thin tapers at the last minute.

Our menu was Mediterranean: bruschetta, chicken souvlaki, quinoa Greek salad, and chocolate raspberry pavlova – all things we had made many times before. Friends brought rosé and pitas and hummus.

We started with a walk around our neighborhood, then came back to the house and finished prepping dinner. We completely lucked out with the weather – August in North Carolina can be HOT and muggy, but we got a mild, sunny day in the 70’s. Bliss! It made for a really relaxed evening, as we were able to stay outside in comfort, chatting and laughing. This year’s dinner party iteration wasn’t particularly elaborate, but it was lovely, and so good to get to give hospitality to the folks we love. Cheers to simple celebrations and good company!!

P.S. As you can see, the houses are pretty close together in our neighborhood, and I was a little nervous that I’d be self-conscious about our festivities. But I wasn’t! Once things got started, it was like we were in a cocoon of happiness :) Like with the adventure dinner party, don’t let what others might think hold you back!