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Thursday, October 8, 2015

One Room Challenge- Old Palm Beach Bathroom

It’s time for another round of the One Room Challenge hosted by Linda of Calling It Home. If you’re not familiar with the One Room Challenge the premise is to transform a room in your home within six weeks. Linda hosts the challenge twice a year. Last fall I made over the Family Room and in the spring I concentrated on the Living, Dining and Entry Spaces.  On both occasions there were times in the process that I wanted to give up. The pressure is immense. But the payoff is that you are motivated to complete a space. Given that I often drag my heels when decorating my own home the process does work well for me.

This go around I will be concentrating my efforts on the Fashionista’s bathroom. It is located on the second floor of Storybook Cottage.

This is a good example of the look she likes.

A Look Inside the Home of Lighting Designer Marjorie Skouras House Tour | Apartment Therapy:

The Fashionista favors the Hollywood Regency Style with a heavy dose of old Palm Beach.

Tropical & Tailored - Beautiful Wallpaper Ideas - Southern Living:

She also is wild about flamingoes.

To da loos: The flamingo bathroom:

The challenge is to combine these three forms of inspiration without the bathroom morphing into a tacky decorating episode of “The Golden Girls.”

Fanned Fronds Wallpaper -

Here are the “BEFORE” shots of the bathroom space.

The room is tiny. It measures a little under 5’ x 7’ and the ceilings are 8’ tall.

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Right now the focal point is the oversized wall cabinet. I can’t tell you the number of times I have cracked my skull on the corner of this thing. It also blocks much of the light to the right side of the room where the shower is located. It needs to come down along with the brassy enclosed glass shower doors. Both elements just completely close off the room and make it appear that much smaller.

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The vanity is not to bad. It definitely needs a fresh coat of paint and possibly some new cabinet knobs. The 30 year old linoleum is original to the house and will be replaced with tile.

The 10 Cent Tour 200

Previous homeowners tried their hand at DIY such as framing the mirror. Alas, the frame didn’t quite cover the mirror so that will be coming down as will the jungle wallpaper border.

The 10 Cent Tour 191

A brighter color palette and new light fixture will help curb the currently gloomy lighting situation.

The 10 Cent Tour 201

In addition, all of the towel bars will also be replaced with something a bit less “Rusted 80’s”.

The 10 Cent Tour 194-001

Here is the inspiration board we have come up with. It will be the first time I have ever tried my hand at wallpapering a space. To give myself even more of a challenge a budget has been set at just $500.

Palm Beach Bathroom:

Let the games begin!


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Top 10 Tips on How To Plan a Large Dinner Party

In the past five days, in addition to my son’s birthday, school finals, preparing for and accommodating 4 houseguests I hosted two separate dinner parties and a brunch. One dinner was for 24 guests, the second had 12 visitors and the brunch included 22 people. It sounds almost impossible but here are my top 10 tips that made it all possible. 

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1. Select a theme.

Many people assume that themes are only for children’s birthday parties. But truly, if you have a theme, it makes the selection of food, drink and décor so much easier. Since the very first dinner was in fact to celebrate Sweet Guy’s birthday I let him select the theme. He decided on “Nautical”.

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2. Plan a menu. (Cookbooks and Pinterest are your friends.)

Once you have a theme there are certain foods that just seem to fit the bill.

We planned to have “Chicken of the Sea” (which was barbequed chicken :)

Crabbie Patties (sandwiches shown in the first images)

Sea cucumbers and crab legs (carrot sticks)

Octopus Dip (Ranch dressing for veggies)

Seaweed dip with barnacles (spinach dip and bread)

Driftwood (long pretzel sticks)

Beach balls (round cheese puffs)

Fish and chips (potato chips mixed with goldfish crackers)

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I made cards with all the fun names and attached them to corks with a straight pin.

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This was the original image.


3. Take stock of your pantry and refrigerator.

This helps you to clean out both spaces and prepare a grocery list of items you need. This helps to insure that you have everything on hand and also enough room to store it all.

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4. Prepare as much as you can ahead of time.

Two weeks before the event I wrapped all of the plastic ware in a napkin and tied it all up with a lifesaver.

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Since we had some young children and teens attending their nametags/place settings were attached to anchor favor bags I had found in Michaels dollar section. Inside the bags the teens received silly string while the younger kids were given bubbles.

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Our first dinner was scheduled for Wednesday. I spent much of Monday mopping the floors, cleaning the bathrooms and dusting. On Tuesday morning I set the formal dining table and laid out the dishes and serving utensils that I planned to use on the dessert buffet.

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Tuesday afternoon was devoted to shopping for all the flowers, food, and drink. REALITY: At this point my kitchen was a disaster! The sink was full of flowers, grocery bags lined the floor and there may have been one slight breakdown as I wondered if I was going to be able to pull it all off.  :)

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Once the groceries were put away I began arranging the flowers as this can be somewhat of a messy job. There were going to be a total of 5 tables to accommodate all of the guests so I made five similar arrangements.  I selected long lasting blooms in shades of blue, red and white in keeping with the nautical theme.

Next, I gave the kitchen a good cleaning and laid out all the platters, dishes and utensils that I would need to serve the food. This insures you won’t be scrambling at the last minute for a certain spoon or leave a planned dish in the refrigerator. #I’vedoneboth

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5. Paper is absolutely ok for parties!

With a large crowd I didn’t want to get stuck in the kitchen washing a mound of dishes. Paper is absolutely ok. You also don’t have to limit it to just plates. Think about it for your décor too.

One week before the event I purchased plain religious candles at the dollar store and decorated them with scrapbook paper. They were then wrapped in twine and featured a small white wooden anchor that I found in packs of 4 in the Michaels dollar section.

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I also always try to have a fun activity on the tables. I took vintage spice bottles and filled them with white sand and tiny seashells. Scraps of paper and pens were provided with encouragement to leave a “message in a bottle”.

6. Keep the day of the party relaxed and easy.

Because of so much advance planning the day of the party itself should flow fairly smoothly.

Prepare your food and set up your remaining tables (if needed) and make sure everyone has a plate, cup, napkin and utensils.

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About one hour before the party put the food out that will not spoil. Do a once over to insure you have all your serving pieces, matches, et cetera.

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10 minutes before the party set out the perishable food and light all the decorative candles.

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7. Don’t try to be a solo hero.

If someone offers you help graciously accept it. People love to feel needed. A big thank you to Mr. Décor for barbequing all the chicken. The Fashionista made sure the entire house was vacuumed, the bathrooms were tidy and provided the happy background music.

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8. Don’t be so busy that you miss your own party. Take time to sing a little.

Fun fact: My Papa Jack didn’t care for cake. He always wanted a homemade apple pie for his birthday. Looks like the apple didn’t fall far from the family tree. His great grandson also asks for apple pie.

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9. It is absolutely ok to order takeout or select ready made items from the market.

Two days after Wednesday’s event we hosted a dinner for 12 on Friday. Since I had to cook and bake several items for Saturday morning’s brunch I hit the easy button and ordered a delicious dinner online. Guess what? None of the guests complained. Good conversation and happy company is truly all you really need. Of course a little wine can help too.  

Saturday’s brunch included two pans of delicious homemade eggy casserole.

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I also baked two loaves of banana bread and blueberry muffins. But there were also plenty of bakery items, a fruit tray, as well as deli meat and cheese all from our local market.

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A drink station featured bottled beverages, a kettle and packaged teas so that guest could help themselves.

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10. Encourage your guests to be goofy. After all, it’s a PARTY!

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I’ll be back on Thursday with this seasons entry for the One Room Challenge.


Monday, September 28, 2015

A Fun Week

In our house we celebrate a birthday week. It truly takes so much of the pressure off to plan just one perfect day. Since the time my kids were small we try to do something fun and out of the ordinary each day of the birthday week. We might have breakfast for dinner one day and go to the movies the next. An everyday trip to market becomes magical as they pick out food items that they normally don’t have in our house like cocoa puffs, doritos and twinkies.

I spent the weekend hanging four sets of patio lights simply because I want to look out my back door every evening and smile.

This is a wedding set up, but my family puts lights in the trees for's pretty!:

As I mentioned yesterday my Sweet Guy will soon turn fourteen. Where has the time gone? It seems like only yesterday I was sharing his pirate party. In a happy similar turn of events we are having a nautical themed party on Wednesday to celebrate. I have received so much inspiration from Pinterest.

Nautical Party by the pool! Cute items with links to buy!:

nautical table setting:

Nautical Sailor Dessert Table:

We will have several out of town guests arriving for the festivities and a Gunn family reunion through the weekend. Four houseguests will stay at Storybook Cottage and the remaining revelers are booked at a hotel. Wednesday will include hosting a dinner for 30 and a brunch for 30 on Saturday. I’ve done as much of the prep work ahead of time as is humanly possible.

When entertaining overnight guests, provide a guest tray for early risers. Plus more great tips on being the hostess with the mostest!:

I am inspired by Carolyn Roehm and the charming ways she greets her guests.

Desk space for a guest - orchid, blue water carafe, alarm clock, sharpened pencils, paper - Carolyne Roehm in Veranda:

As Murphy’s Law would have it this is also the beginning of school finals for me. It’s a lot, I know. The Fashionista has taken Wednesday off to help with party prep and Mr. Décor has taken Thursday and Friday off to escort his family around on field trips. I have this image pinned as a reminder to ….

Sometimes we just need to Breathetake it one second at a time..,-inspirational-quotes-9:

I’ll pop in when I can with happy shares.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Brick Walls and a Baby

Recently one of my college instructors wanted us to watch/listen to Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. I had watched this lecture seven years ago when it was an internet sensation. However, I needed a refresher viewing since it was linked to an assignment.

So many things he said were pure gold. A few outstanding gems are…

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

“It's not how hard you hit. It's how hard you get hit...and keep moving forward.”

“Brick walls aren't put in our life to stop us, they are there to test how much we really want something.”

In life I have had my fair share of brick walls.

Red brick crinkle crankle or serpentine wall at Easton, Suffolk, England:

Every year at this time I am reminded of one of the biggest brick walls I ever had to scale in order to claim my hearts desire. 

Mr. Décor and I were once told that we would never have a baby. NEVER. It was impossible.

Now sometimes you should read the writing on the wall and look for another path.

At the time we were living in Germany and so foster care and adoption was not an option for us.

There are other times you must ignore the writing (which may be in a foreign language) and have tremendous faith.

"Author's Writing on the Wall" -- " unknown Chinese author... covered every wall in an abandoned cottage in Chongqing, China with the words of their novel... Including illustrations, too..." -- Click through to see another photo, including the illustration.:

This is the route I chose to take.

I had a War Room 15 years before it became a hit.

Post your Prayer Requests on the Instapray App. Pray with the whole world --------->

I picked out bible verses that spoke of faith.

Matthew 17:20. This was the verse that brought me back into my Abba' s (Heavenly Father's) arms after years of wandering lost in the dark... Praise Jesus!!:

I pinned up verses on heart desires.

Post your Prayer Requests on Instapray. Pray with the whole world --------->

I also pinned up image after image of the cutest babies.

Cute Newborn Baby Boy One Month Old From GOD Picture- to do this with Stormy would be awesome because we have a black and white one with a pink bow of Hannah from when she was born. I like that it would be symmetry.:

Then I became relentless in prayer. I was incessant, unceasing and persistent.

Bible verses:

Now I truly believe God always answers our prayers. Sometimes just not in the way we had envisioned.

That's exactly what he did. He told me to wait & gave me the best boyfriend I could ever ask for.:

We had to wait.

Three YEARS of waiting. Three years of praying. Three years of climbing wall after wall.

During this time I was working at the Landstuhl Hospital as manager of the USO. I had become friends with a semi regular customer, Dr. Nah, from Nigeria. He popped in about once a week for a snack or chat.

One day school was cancelled. I can no longer remember why, only that I was very irritated! It meant that I had to bring my daughter to work with me. Coincidently Dr. Nah came by on that same day and met her.

The next time he came in he asked me about my other children. I told him that she was my only child. Dr. Nah, an obstetrician, said, “Oh but you should have more children.” I replied that I would love to have more children but we had been told that we couldn’t. His face was truly crestfallen and he simply said “Oh I see.”

The next time Dr. Nah came by he placed a business card on my desk. He very firmly stated, “This is my daughter. She works at a clinic in Homburg. She will help you.”

That evening an American military wife told her Panamanian born husband that a Nigerian doctor had emphatically told her that a German clinic was going to help them have a baby. Another year and a half was filled with tremendous heartbreak. Money was running out. I was still unceasing in prayer but it seemed as if we had to accept the inevitable.

It was then, at long last, hope arrived.


That hope turns 14 this Wednesday.


“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.” 1 Samuel 1:27