Friday, August 31, 2012

Fierce Friday

Happy Friday everyone!
Some of you may have already started your long weekend (good for you!!), and some are eagerly counting down the hours til you can escape!
Kyle and I are packing up Dablet and running away for about 30 hours to Lake Gaston to a friend's lake house, and I am SO excited. We've had a couple of vacations this summer, but for any vacation that involves car rides over 10 hours, or super particular packing to ferry across your items there tends to be just as much stress as relaxation.
This week I've been very inspired (and busy) with a potential new client project, mini pinning rampages, the OlioHop for Dorm Decor, baby shower planning (not mine!), and I am loving every second of it! In the spirit of shared inspiration I want to share some of my favorite looks of the week with all of you. Maybe you'll love them, maybe not, but hopefully they will help you define your own sense of style in the process!
Caitlin Wilson Design
Pinned Here

Photo from Centsational Girl
Pinned Here

Metropolitan Home
Pinned Here

I feel like this last photo conquers something people struggle with all of the time: How to mix patterns in the same color family and make it work. This is probably the most daring of the three photos, but the principle behind it is "do not be afraid to be daring!" 
All of these photos are from my "Room Hue: Black and White" board on Pinterest that I started during yesterday's #DesignPinThurs. If you're on twitter, follow the hashtag every Thursday to see some fabulous design ideas you can use for inspiration yourself (or find the designer behind them!) So why Black and White?! My friend Lynda (whom I haven't actually met yet!) has given me the inspiration to embrace black! Black on walls, clothes, furniture, decor, whatever it may be. I've always worn a lot of black, not to be gloomy, but fierce! Check out her blog, Focal Point, and get some more inspiration! 

Just to give you a little extra incentive to come back, I will be teaming up with Lynda from Focal Point and Julie from Simply Savvy next Wednesday to do the "Big Three Before the Tree": Fall Decor, Tablescapes for Thanksgiving, and Halloween!

Have a great long weekend!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

OlioHop Dorm Decor

"Back to school, back to school, to prove to dad I'm not a fool"

Happy OlioHop Monday everyone! We're talking dorm room decor today, and this is something that hits close to home. It was just eight short years ago that I was packing up my bags and heading South from Massachusetts to Greensboro, NC to move into my first dorm room! Personally, I HATED living on campus, but looking back on it much of those feelings were in my own control. I never made my space my own or feel anything like home until I got into an apartment. There are SO many things I wish I had done differently! Honestly, dorm rooms should be treated like first apartments (some are) and less like an awkward first experience. College will provide plenty of awkward first experiences!
Sometimes schools provide bed frames, desks, chairs, etc. Note to past self, this DOES NOT mean you HAVE to use them!!! Sometimes you're lucky enough to have a single all to yourself (lucky from my raised as an only child used to my own space point of view!), and sometimes you have an actual apartment feel with two or four bedrooms, a common space living room, and even a small kitchen. If you, your child, or family member you are joining us on behalf of are gifted with this, do a happy dance NOW! You have so much space to express your style! Most often, you'll have one room that you share with other people and still need a way to make your space your own; both physically and with personal style.
Here are the most important things to think about when talking about Dorm Decor:

  • Storage - so many things, so little space, and you must be able to be productive!
  • Organization - where did you put that paper? How about your ID card? 
  • Functionality - if it's hard to use, it won't be fun to live in!
  • Communication - this is VERY important when you have roommates to pass along messages!
  • Personality - make it your own with things from home! 
  • BUDGET - let's face it, college is expensive! Dorm room decor doesn't have to be!
First, you're going to have to plan and pack up to get there, and I found a great packing list on Pinterest so be sure to repin and take a closer look when you have the time!

This past weekend we made the drive to Charlotte, NC to IKEA for the finishing items for Dablet's playroom! I was inspired beyond belief for things I wish I had done in my dorm room in college! So, I created an Olioboard for today's hop using all IKEA items...yes ALL!
To see this board and shop the look click here

So, I'm sure you're much does that room cost? $1,078.74 thanks to Olioboard's handy budget tool in their pro plan! That's for the following:
Twin bed with storage, dresser, desk, chair, sofa bed (yes that folds down!), coffee table, side table, rug, table lamp, floor lamp, two overhead lamps, double laundry basket, two square ottomans, mirror, wall clock, filing, blankets, and all decor elements!
Yes, I know $1,000 is a chunk, but you don't need all of this, and for everything that I included in this design you must admit that's a fabulous price! IKEA is perfect for college because it's trendy, functional, easy to pack (ships flat!), and will give design savvy students more bang for their buck! Chances are you have some of these elements already and can bring them with you, or could find something similar at your local thrift stores! As a side note, I added all of these elements from IKEA into Olioboard myself with the "one click add" tool!
Let's knock out three bullets in one: Storage, Organization, and Functionality, after all college (and the rest of life) is about effective multitasking! Items that can serve duel purposes, think storage ottomans and room dividers with built in shelving, will save you time, money, and space in the long run.
To see this board and shop the look click here
Etsy is great for prints and you can shop these directly from this Olioboard. Also, I'm seriously loving Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and West Elm for the pops of color in shower curtains and dishes!

Shower curtains pack a lot of punch in a small package. Sometimes when you get to your dorm room, your closet space is more like a "large" cubby without a door and you'd like to cover it for privacy! Chose something that reflects your style and brings some color into your room. Those same shower curtains can add dimension to your room if you beat the "you can't paint your walls" battle by hanging command hooks and draping fabric on your walls! Color, texture, and even the look of a hidden (but nonexistent) window! You'll likely notice (whether this is your first dorm or your third) that the thing you have the most of is walls! Put them to use with fun and funky shelves, organizers, and hooks and get your clutter off of the floor.

Trust me, this is another thing your family will appreciate when they come to visit!
I think futons are the ultimate one, two, (sometimes three) punch. You can sit, sleep, and store using them! The ones in this board (from Target) come in about eight different colors and are less than $200!! OK, so maybe your mom won't be crashing here, but I'm sure your friends from high school and maybe a few newbies might appreciate something other than floor space!

I mentioned communication right? There are a few easy ways to be the good roommate and make this an easy practice. Even if you have a single, your parents will appreciate coming to visit you when they know you're leaving yourself notes, staying organized, and maybe even have "call home" written on your schedule!
Pinned here
The chalkboard calendar! We've seen it, loved it, and it works! This is just another use!

Pinned here
I've shared this before, and I'll share it again! Calendar, hooks, chalkboard, and organization! 

For my next look, I wanted to recreate a photo I found on Pinterest that I added to my Dorm Room Decor board. Here's the photo:
This look is pinned here
Why does this work? The biggest reason is the storage room divider between bed/personal space and common/living space! 
To see this board and shop the look click here

I used some finds from Target, West Elm, and Lamps Plus to recreate the elements in the pin. Most importantly I wanted to show you how easy it can be to create a shopping list from Olioboard of something you fall in love with on Pinterest! Also, you can make it your own by adding fun pops of color like the wall hooks and art panels! College is the first time many people are "on their own" and your living space should reflect your personal style. What if your style changes? Choose pieces that you can grow up into, recover, change the bedding, or use different accents!
One final piece of Pinspiration is this "bookcase" created by stacking different colored and length benches! This is a fabulous way to use something in an non-ordinary way that brings color, dimension, and use of vertical space into your room!
Pinned here

If you need some more ideas for effective organization, check out our recent OlioHop ALL about organizing! Head over to Olioboard and come up with your own ideas for your dream dorm room and share them with me! You can always find budget friendly ways to make your biggest one room dreams come true, and I'd love to see what you're dreaming about!
There are 10 other fabulous designers blogging with me today, so go check them out for more dorm room inspiration, and of course, don't forget Pinterest! I'm going to be pinning on my Dorm Decor board all day so be sure to stop over!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fall into Fall!

Sickness has hit the household, and it's making me want to curl up with a good book or better yet my iPad and Pinterest account! Why?! Because it's buzzing with Fall inspiration including mulled cider, layers of clothing, and decor that makes me feel the cool breeze blowing through my open windows!
Do you need some help breaking out of the summer heat? Check out some of my favorite finds!
I love this look for Dablet for the Fall! The layers, ruffles, and comfy rustic chic look are too cute!
Pinned here

Me to a "T" the neckline, texting (or tweeting) while walking, and layers of bracelets for a bit of fall glam!
Pinned here Originally pulled from Particularity Blog

Let's face it, North Carolina doesn't get SUPER cold so I can pull of flip flops for a long time. I can also appreciate the comfort of this grab and go outfit for running errands with Dablet!
Pinned here via Lynda from Focal Point

Let's face it, mulled cider is one of the best things about the Fall! I LOVE these apple cups too! Great way to use all of the parts and have a fabulous display!
Pinned here!

This is BY FAR the best beef stew I have ever had or cooked. Whenever it comes up in our house "what do you want for dinner" in the Fall or Winter Kyle gives me a side eye and says "Beef Stew?!" like a kid asking to open a Christmas present early! Here's the recipe! 
(Cited from


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for frying, plus more to drizzle
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 3 pounds beef chuck shoulder roast, cut into 2-inch pieces (this cut is also called chuck shoulder pot roast and chuck roast boneless)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bottle good quality dry red wine (recommended: Burgundy)
  • 8 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 orange, zest removed in 3 (1-inch) strips
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 9 small new potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut in 1/2
  • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups frozen pearl onions, a large handful
  • 1 pound white mushrooms, cut in 1/2
  • 1/2 pound garden peas frozen or fresh
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish
  • Horseradish Sour Cream, recipe follows, for garnish
  • Toasted Peasant Bread, recipe follows, for serving


Preheat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with the oil and butter.
While the pan is heating, arrange the flour on a large dish. Season the cubed beef with some salt and freshly ground black pepper and then toss in the flour to coat. Shake off the excess flour and add the beef chunks in a single layer to the hot pan, being careful not to over crowd the pan, you might have to work in batches. Thoroughly brown all of the cubes on all sides. Once all the meat has been browned remove it to a plate and reserve.
Add the wine to the pan and bring up to a simmer while you scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon being sure to loosen up all those tasty bits. Once the wine has gotten hot add the browned meat, thyme, smashed garlic, orange zest strip, ground cloves, freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste,bay leaves and beef stock. Bring the mixture up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until the liquids start to thicken, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 1/2 hours.
After 2 hours add halved potatoes, sliced carrots, pearl onions and mushrooms, along with a pinch of sugar to balance out the acid from the red wine. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes more, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Add the frozen peas during the last minute of cooking. Season with salt and pepper and remove the thyme sprigs.
To serve, place the stew in a soup bowl, garnish with parsley, drizzle with olive oil and add a dollop of Horseradish Sour Cream. Right before serving add a slice of Toasted Peasant Bread, half way submerged in the stew.

Happy Fall Dreaming!!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

West Elm Wednesday

Today I was lucky enough to go to a media preview tour of the new West Elm location in Durham, NC at Southpoint Mall! The store officially opens tomorrow, August 23rd, at 10am (added bonus, the first 300 customers will receive a pretty cool tote bag customized for the Durham store!). However, I will be back there tonight for a pre-opening event that will benefit SEEDS, a Durham based non-profit dedicated to promoting principles of sustainable agriculture, organic gardening, food security, and environmental stewardship through garden-based programs (cited from West Elm's August 1st press release). Why does this fit the West Elm brand so well?
This is a living plant installation at the store behind the register area. Yes, living vertical landscaping! 

In this business it's important to know where your style heart lives, and for me it's in the beliefs held by companies and their founders much more so than how something might look in a catalog. West Elm features recycled glass for their decor, organic bedding, and even the Emmerson Furniture Collection line made from old wood pallets (I'll share pictures in a later post!) Plus, two collections (Dunham & Henry) are made at a facility in Hickory, NC. Here's a video behind the scenes of Sutter Street where the furniture is still hand assembled!
On our tour Abigail (this is truly a meant to be love as my daughter's name is Abigail as well, although most of you know her as Dablet), told us how the President of West Elm often says "Perfection is never as important in a home as personality". Clearly they've seen my house! Often times when you over-style a home it can become just as unlivable as a home on an episode of hoarders. Don't believe me?! That's OK, just send me the number of your live-in cleaning service and I'll stick to my "I get more clean in 10 minutes before people come that I do all week" mentality! My home needs to be three things:

  • Functional
  • Beautiful
  • ME!!!

This lovely find is the Graham Glider

I actually didn't know this chair was a glider until I sat on it to take some notes. I think Dablet has added this to her wishlist for her bedroom face lift!

These paper mache animal sculptures might need to come too! I'm sure you've seen many variations of these from all of your favorite designers and stores, and the word through the grapevine is that there are some fun new ones coming to West Elm for the holidays! 
At this point, I'm not sure who or what is bursting with excitement, or this store with things to be excited about. The thing is, when you walk into a store that tells you they partner with local Etsy merchants for a "Flea Market in the store" day, have partnerships with 16 artisans from South Africa for their Fall collection, and believe that their customer is the type to want to mix and match their West Elm favorites with thrift store finds and heirloom can you NOT be excited?!

Just in case you needed another reason to head over, the 15% off Upholstery Sale is going on!

I have long felt that the "out of the box" look is fading fast, and West Elm gives singles, couples, and families the opportunity to have style on a budget. Don't misread that as "cheap" because this is the store full of phenomenal style that lasts, and allows your bank account to last a bit longer as an added bonus! (This will keep my husband a happy man for sure!)
I'm off to get some painting done in Dablet's new playroom before heading back to West Elm for an event that will likely turn into a shopping spree (of sorts) for me! Have a happy hump day!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Week's Preview: West Elm

Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you have all had a fabulous weekend and have something amazing planned for your week this week! I have been missing the blog, but SO much has been going on. I am up to my ears in home makeover projects, helping my mom come up with ideas to makeover her new place, and have been brainstorming for a new client who has just moved into a large home with very little furniture! To top things off, I will be doing another OlioHop August 27th with the theme of Dorm Decor, and West Elm (one of my favorite brands) has invited me to a preview party for their new store opening! Oh, but did I mention that I also received the sweetest email when I was invited to the party also asking me to come in for a private tour of the new store and to meet their staff because they know I'm a fan of West Elm and they're fans of my blog! West Elm featured my blog on their blog when I posted my ideas for an Outdoor Celebration!
I was honored, and of course said yes! With all the square footage I'm working with between the three current projects, and their fabulous trade program, I'm pretty sure we'll be doing lots of business together!
In celebration of their invite, I wanted to pull together some of my favorite pieces to share with all of you. I (of course) headed over to Olioboard because West Elm is one of their brand partners (I'm telling you good taste is all around!), used some Benjamin Moore paint colors for inspiration, and started pulling!

I have always been a HUGE fan of industrial looking lighting, geometric side tables, and fun textured decor pieces! Check out this board and shop the look here!
I will be snapping plenty of pictures of the new store, and sharing my favorite picks during the opening! Do you love West Elm too? Head over to Olioboard and make your own room design to share with me! I'm sure West Elm would love to see it too!

Have a great week!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pressure of Perfection

I have read countless lifestyle blogs showcasing perfect outfits, room designs, organized spaces, flawless DIY projects. Guess what!? It's not that easy!!! I would like to give you a real life look behind the front door of my house because, let's face it, not everyone can afford an interior designer, their dream furniture collection, the entire Fall Fashion catwalk, or even if they can; who has the time to make it happen?!
Some of the ladies I have referred to as friends, although they might have NO clue who I am (isn't the world of blogging and Twitter amazing?!?) have talked about the pressure of maintaining the semblance of order in life, style, and design within their homes, family, and personal appearance as "lifestyle bloggers".
But wait....aren't I claiming to be an interior designer? At least to know what I'm talking about when it comes to organizing?! Sure, but how many people can relate to the "it's so much easier to do it in someone else's house?" philosophy?? **Hand Raised right here!** It's OK if you're too shy to raise yours, I'm not judging. Maybe it's also due to the fact that I have an 11 month old (TODAY! yikes!) daughter, I work from home, we have 3 dogs, four cats, and never ending hair, I don't have a nanny or daycare...Yes, my mom helps out a lot, but when she's around I'm trying to run errands, or get laundry done, or maybe even vacuum. So what about when Dablet naps? Remember that thing called work? I'm trying to get that done! I'm not sitting here inventing new excuses that have never come into play over the countless years of "homemaking", just pointing out that while they haven't changed we need to do something about changing how we manage them.
You've probably seen this floating around on Pinterest or Facebook recently, and I don't think I could find a single person who doesn't agree with this when it comes to their own home! We strap on our super powered cleaning belts when people are coming over and do the impossible. I always shake my head in disbelief at what I can accomplish for the people who say "Don't worry about it, we understand you have a lot going on", and I always end up saying, "I'm so sorry, our house is a disaster" secretly hoping I'll get the, "What are you talking about? It looks great!"
What person out there doesn't dream of having a perfectly organized home? Especially those of us with little "beings" running around on the floor. I recently posted this on Facebook, it's my latest and greatest idea to solve the hair problem in our house:
Yes....I have allowed Dablet to become a Baby Dry Swiffer, and guess what?! It WORKS!!!

I'm looking to take "baby steps" (as well as make some pretty drastic changes around here) to solve the cyclical nature of stuff...clean....stuff...clean.... Here are a few of my latest Pins for "quick fix ideas"
Where are the keys? Where did I put that Coupon that came in the mail? Did I send out that bill?!
Because a calendar would be nice too!
I'm currently working on something like this (not as big) for our mudroom, it is currently my favorite project!

What are your biggest challenges? Do you have a top five trick list on how to manage your time? I think everyone can identify what doesn't work for them, but it's often hard to look at what is working when you feel like you're stuck in a cycle! I will, of course, post pictures of my own home before and after shots to show you that no matter how crazy your life is, you can make progress!
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sharks, Sox, and Family Apps

Happy Mommy Monday everyone! I feel like I have been in a whirlwind the past several days, and this week isn't going to provide any relief. Is that a bad thing? NOPE!! I cannot wait to keep pulling things together in my two main makeover rooms (office and playroom)! On a Cape Cod note, did you hear about the Great White Shark attack?! That was one town north of us, and Dablet has something to say about it:

 After our week in Wellfleet, the antiquing, participating in Olioboard's Mom Spot OlioHop, and taking Kyle deep sea fishing for bluefish, we headed into Boston for a couple days. Thanks to Facebook as a tool to stay connected, we were able to meet up with a couple we met on our Honeymoon over two years ago, in St. Lucia, for dinner in Boston. Also, as an early birthday gift for Kyle (he'll be 27 on Thursday!!!!!) my mom got us tickets to see the Red Sox! Here are a few pics from the game:
As always, a great crowd at Fenway!
Did I mention that our seats were two rows behind the Sox dugout?! Thanks again mom!

After that we hit the road! Now, given that it was a night game this meant we started driving back to NC from Boston at 11:40pm. Crazy?! Yup! But did it work out?! YUP! The thing about road trips with kids Dablet's age is you have to prioritize. She is still rear-facing until she turns one so I can't default to DVDs, she doesn't talk yet so we can't ask her what she wants, and it's a little hard to feed her while driving (even with someone in the back seat with her) so we have to stop every couple of hours for a diaper change, food, etc. Thus, driving while she's sleeping overnight is the perfect solution! We made it home before noon yesterday and proceeded to win both of our coed softball games in a double header! After that you better believe I passed out!!
Trying to keep up with work, family, pets, "vacations", and home is challenging to say the least! I've blogged before about some great organizational tools for family communication, but have we talked about the apps?! Do you have favorite apps that help keep you organized and communicating with you family? Share them!!! I need all the help and new ideas I can get!
This is the app I use to have our family organized on our iPhones, why?
  • Shopping lists - categorized by store, type, importance
  • Family calendar - color coded by person
  • Add your pets! - They have appointments too right?!
  • Sends you an email at the beginning of each month with your calendar
  • Anyone who has access can update shopping lists/schedule/appts/ etc.

Here's to a productive and organized week!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cape Cod Chaos

Happy Hump Day everyone!!
I wanted to check in from the Cape and actually talk about the Cape! In case you missed it, I'm spending the week on Cape Cod with Dablet, Kyle, and my mom with a few days in Boston at the end to catch a Red Sox game and see just about as many friends as it's possible to fit in the time allowed!
Cape Cod is my childhood vacation spot and I am SO thrilled to be back! We've already knocked off the following items from the list:

  • Toes in the sand on the beach
  • Swim in Long Pond (where our rental is)
  • See a frog
  • See a seal (minus the Great White Shark)
  • Eat fresh lobster (pics below)
  • Try something new - raw oysters and oyster shooters (pics below)
  • Eat fresh fish - swordfish! Others to come
  • Eat at PJs (pics below) including clam strip roll, lobster roll, clam chowder, and coffee/black raspberry twist soft serve
  • Go to P-Town

Things left to do:

  • Go deep sea fishing (Tomorrow!!!)
  • Go antiquing/thrifting
  • Eat bluefish
  • Get Kyle to try an oyster
  • Play mini-golf
  • ...many more

We have a busy day today of antiquing! (this is probably the BIGGEST reason I'm glad we drove up here from NC....) I'll be sure to tweet my favorite finds even if I can't bring them home with me! Here are the pictures so far:
The perfect day at the pond! Dablet LOVED swimming in her tube and playing with the minnows!

The beach diva! 

Sometimes even mamas need a girl's night out! This one was full of new experiences including raw oysters and oyster shooters (raw oyster, vodka, horseradish tomato juice...stir and toss it back!) Plus I saw a seal on the beach...without the Great White!

Thanks for the shirt Grandy! We think she's a "keepah" too!

My Cape Cod food medley...
Broiled swordfish, oysters, and the way to take on a "Lobstah"! OK, I know that's not how you're supposed to do it, but it was a fun picture!

Where are you vacationing this summer? Do you need a stay-cation spot? Check out the OlioHop from Monday for Mom Spots to find the perfect escape ideas at home! Happy Summer!!