entertaining

What I’ve learned about entertaining

entertaining

 

Am I the only one who feels like they are still catching up after the holidays? We finally put our Christmas tree away this week and it felt so good! Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and seeing all the beautiful ornaments we’ve collected over the years but it was time to have my house back.

I took a week off in between Christmas and New Year’s – what I call “family week” – and during that time I was thinking about how much easier this Christmas Eve felt to host. This is the third year we’ve hosted and I felt like I finally was in a groove after learning from all my previous party “mistakes”. Here’s what I’ve learned to have a fun, easy, stress free and memorable party…

 

Set up beforehand, if possible. I like to have the table set up a day or two before Christmas Eve so Ryan and I don’t have to stress about taking folding chairs and folding tables in from the garage the morning of the party. This year we ran out of time and set up last minute, but it worked out because our curious almost-three year old was very curious and would have moved everything around anyway. :)

Cook some, buy the rest.  Pre-baby, I used to go crazy trying cook everything, proving to myself and my guests just how domestic I was. Ha!
Post-baby I realize how crazy I was! If you’re hosting dinner, make the meal and buy the appetizers and/or desserts. No one wants to go to a dinner party where the host is stressed, so do yourself a favor and let other people help! Plus you don’t want to be in the kitchen all night feeling like a caterer. Accept help so you can actually enjoy your guests!
If you’re hosting a big group, like I do, do a potluck. I make a ham and some roasted veggies while our families bring sides and appetizers.

Have sternos on hand to keep meals hot. Someone will always be late. No matter how organized you are with planning your meal times, someone will be late and all your food may get cold. I only have one oven, so I keep these on hand to keep the meal hot as guests arrive.

Always have a bottle of champagne in the fridge. You never know if someone will share news to celebrate! I love drinking champagne even on days where there’s nothing to celebrate but life itself, so I usually have a bottle chilling in the fridge.

Take stock of dish soap, paper towels, and toilet paper. A few years ago when we were hosting a party, we had only one roll of paper towels and one clean dish towel. Party foul. The next year I made sure all the dish towels were clean so clean-up was easier. Also, make sure all bathrooms are stocked with toilet paper so your guests don’t get embarrassed asking for it mid-party.

Set the mood. I’m a bit of a pyro, so every party I have there are tons of candles. On Christmas Eve, we try and get our neighbors involved to do luminaries, so our house had 48 candles outside alone. We may have had three times that inside on the tables!  For table settings, I like to keep it simple: lots of candles, plates all in the same or similar colors, and small flower arrangements.  I feel like the candles and the flowers elevate the mood and make guests feel special. At least that’s my intention!

Have the dishwasher empty. You’ll likely go through a lot of dishes cooking and eating, so have the dishwasher ready to do it’s job! This way you don’t have to wake up to a kitchen counter filled with dirty dishes.

OK to have dishes in the sink. Nothing is more annoying than when you go to someone’s house that appears spotless and they say “oh, don’t mind the mess” just to be polite. Do you agree?! I like to keep a few dishes in the sink: 1) because I’m lazy and hate doing dishes and 2) it makes guests feel like your home isn’t too precious and they can kick back and relax.

OK to entertain barefoot. On the same note as above, I read a tip years ago to entertain barefoot so you’re guests feel more relaxed and at home. I am typically barefoot at home anyway, so the same thing goes when I have people over.

Have ice made. If guests want a cocktail or a glass of water, they’ll need ice to keep it cold. (duh.)  One of my first parties I hosted, I forgot to make ice and I felt awful that my friends were drinking warm cocktails. Lesson learned!

Don’t go crazy buying desserts. If you’re cooking dinner, you’ll likely be too full to binge on sweets. Make/buy one or two and call it a day.

Do not mop your floors beforehand. I repeat: do not mop your floors beforehand. Ryan’s just as OCD as me, if not worse, and we would always mop before a party. As clean as you think your friends and family are, a big party tracks in a lot of dirt and stickiness from spilled drinks even if the party is mainly outside. I’ll vacuum before a party and do a very quick cleaning, but always mop the day after.

Have the garbage and recycling empty. Similar to the note about the dishwasher, have the trash ready and empty to throw things away so you don’t have to bring it out during a party.

 

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Accountability

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Happy New Year! In the past, I haven’t paid too much attention to a new year starting, but this year something feels different. I feel hopeful, positive and excited. The past three years have been challenging, to say to least – my father being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (something I’ve kept private), becoming a mother, buying a house, renovating our house, and my father passing away less than two years after my sister passed away – all while my business was growing at rapid speed. I’ve had extreme highs and extreme lows during this time and it took me 2 years to understand, acknowledge and appreciate the lessons I’ve learned during this time. I’ve had an internal fight about sharing too much of my personal life on this blog… which is probably why you notice a huge gap between the most recent posts. Why am I hesitating to share that I’ve lost a family member? Will my clients think I’m weak? Will they think I’m incapable to handle their large projects? If I blog too much, will clients think I’m not spending enough time working on their projects?   Taking time off between the holidays helped me clear my head and reminded me it’s quite the opposite – my grief shifted my entire life and made me stronger. It made me think differently and has strengthened my business because I’m more focused than I ever was.  On top of that, I am entering the new year with a newly renovated home office, new organized file system, and an accountant to help me with my taxes and book keeping. These were all huge goals for 2016 and I feel so good to have accomplished this.

Last year I wrote out a list of yearly goals and put it up on a pinup board so I’d have to see it every day. This year I’m sharing it here so I can be held accountable. :)

PERSONAL
Be mindful. Taking time off this past week made me realize how calm I am when I’m not on my phone and am living in the moment. I’m learning to meditate which has been really helpful, but also challenging for someone like me, who is constantly planning or thinking about what will happen next. I’ve been bringing my mind back to what’s happening in the moment: the way my cat feels snuggling me or the way their loud purr sounds, the way Cole’s small, soft hand reaches for mine to walk down the stairs, or listening to Ryan make Cole laugh. Little things add up to big things that change our lives, and I want to be mindful to experience them.

Have more family adventures.  We recently went to the Liberty Science Center and were there for 5 hours. Time flew by because we were having so much fun not having anywhere else to be. This past year, we spent a lot of our weekends doing home renovation projects. Looking back, we realize how much time it took from us focusing on family and exploring. Cole is almost three, so he’s becoming a typical little boy looking for adventure. I want to spend more time providing experiences, rather than holing up at home on a house project that really doesn’t matter in the long run.

Be more organized with meal planning. This is a typical new years resolution, but it goes hand in hand with us wanting to eat healthier. Our diets are pretty horrible right now, and Cole is THE pickiest toddler. I want to have a consistent schedule to go food shopping so I can prepare healthier meals to nourish my family.

Date nights. This one is pretty self explanitory. :) We need to focus more on our marriage because life has shifted so much since we’ve had Cole. We need to spend more time together and talk about things other than potty training or stresses of our jobs.

Care for my body. In addition to eating cleaner, I need to listen to my body and care for it. Seeing my dad’s health decline so quickly scared me and reminded me that I have control over my own health. I’m not saying that his Alzheimer’s was a result of his decisions, but I need to do what I can to take care of myself and pay attention to what I eat, what products I use, and what medicines I take.

Practice yoga. I’d love to be considered a yogi but right now I’m just an unsteady woman pretending I’m good, in hopes that I’m fooling everyone in the classes I take. :) I love my local studio and the community it provides and I intend to continue going more frequently for my body and mind.

Learn a new skill. Last year I took a pottery class and loved learning something new. This year I want to learn to knit, in addition to becoming a yogi. (See above. :)

PROFESSIONAL
Blog more. I’ve struggled a lot with what to post/share because I enjoy writing about personal things happening in my life. I know this business is my “brand”, but aren’t I my brand, too? I have a lot of ideas saved in my “drafts” folder but haven’t posted because I’ve been so busy with life and work. I also hesitate to write during a work day because I often feel guilty for writing instead of  doing my “normal” work. For example, today I had 564 emails when I woke up and now I still have 36. And I feel guilty because should I be answering those emails instead of blogging… Even though blogging is part of my work and my business, too. I want to rid my like of guilt, too. Add that to the list! :) I read this book recently and loved it and found it so relatable. So many creatives deal with similar struggles because our days aren’t normal, and each day is different, but yet somehow I still sometimes feel guilty for not always being behind a computer.

Less clients, but bigger projects. I love my clients, and am beyond grateful for them. I’ve found that having less clients and bigger projects allows me to get to know my clients better and helps me focus my attention to their specific needs. Having less clients, and more time to spend with each client individually also helps them get to know me and increases their trust in my design skills faster which moves the project along faster. I’ve learned that having a lot of clients with small projects requires more energy and I find myself spread to thin.

Go on artist dates. I read this book last year, and although I didn’t love it, I took away her “artist dates” concept. She suggests going on “dates” once a week by yourself to reflect and gain inspiration. I’d like to step away from the computer more – go to a museum, check out design showrooms leisurely, or go to a networking event – to go out and feel inspired. Working for myself, by myself gets lonely and I need to nourish my creativity. Sometimes you just need to step away from paperwork.

Go to market. I’ve never gone High Point Market (the biggest furniture market), and I hear mixed reviews from designer friends, but I’d like to experience it. This also ties in with the goal above – stepping away from the computer and reaching out to new vendors to get inspiration.
I’m really looking forward to 2017 and feel like it’s going to be a great year. :)

Photo via.

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Family Photos

Hi! In the past two years a lot has changed for me, and this year for my birthday all I wanted was to have family photos taken in our local park. We had pictures taken when I was pregnant, and when Cole was first born, but clearly he’s changed quite a bit since he’s been a newborn! We joke that Erin has become our life photographer because I originally met her when she was a second shooter at our wedding. We look like such babies in those pictures, but I digress…

In the past two years I learned a lot about my marriage, my role as a mother, and really, truly getting to know myself. I see my life through new eyes and with a lighter heart and I wanted these photos to capture my family: My husband who has taught me what true unconditional love and patience is, and my sweet little boy who can make my eyes tear from simply reaching to hold my hand, grabbing my face for a slobbery kiss, or saying “waterlemon” instead of “watermelon”.

Life can be strange, challenging, difficult, and beautiful, emotional and amazing. Through it all, I’m so ridiculously grateful to have these two by my side.

 

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Pacific Views – CA project

This was one of the most fun projects I’ve worked on for several reasons: it was in sunny California(!), it was my first project on the west coast (while having my own company), it was my first project with a repeat client, and it was with my amazing client that became a great friend. All a win-win in my eyes! This project hasn’t even been fully completed but has gotten so much interest that my clients are considering offers since it’s their vacation home.
This project was a complete gut job and had some challenges but all worked out in the end. We decided to go with a vinyl wood flooring (doesn’t it look beautiful?!) since they are near the sand/water and have two small boys. We needed something durable and this flooring fit the bill. We wanted the design to be light, airy with pops of blue to coordinate with the stunning views. All finishes were considered with beauty, function and durability in mind. (Now that I have a toddler myself, it gives durability a whole new meaning in my eyes!)
I’m hoping that I get to go back in August to finish with accessories and books to take final detail shots. I am loving these pictures from the realtor for the time being. Look at that bluuuuuuuue!

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Custom dresser in ivory satin lacquer and bronze hardware. 
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Boys Bathroom Vanity:
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Master bathroom:
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Look at this amazing view! 
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River Edge, NJ Interior Design Entry

River Edge Project – For Sale!

When I first started my company, I remember getting a phone call from a new mom who was overwhelmed with finishing her house. She originally wanted me to just do accessories which turned into furnishing some rooms. Over the course of the project, this client and I became fast friends and we are 100% kindred spirits. I have never met another person who is so much like me in so many ways, that it’s beautiful and strange at the same time. :)
Fast forward a few years and this very same client bought a vacation home in California and they hired me to design the entire home. I couldn’t have been more honored that they thought of me to help them again – that is the biggest compliment! Now they’re moving to California and even though I’m sad to see this beautiful family move away, I’m so excited for what their future holds.
Their house that I helped design is officially on the market. Check out this video the realtor did of the house – it’s such a fun way to see the spaces!

 

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JK Place Malibu

I’m back! I haven’t been blogging in quite some time because I’ve been updating my website… and by that I mean Ryan has been working late nights to get everything up and running and I’ve been annoying and over-analyzing every single detail. :) I wanted the site to be a bit simpler in design but with more content. It has a few more projects that I photographed over the winter and a new bio page to add a bit more of my personality. I plan on blogging at least once a week so I need to add a reminder to my phone to make sure that happens. (I’ve also been planning on eating healthy and working out, but yet my pants are tighter. Let’s hope I have better success with blogging!) So here I am…

I’ve had this post saved in my inbox for almost two months and needed to blog about it because it’s just so beautiful. Chic boutique hotel group JK Place had a pop up hotel in Malibu this past March and I’m in love with the modern California vibe. After doing some research, it turns out the house is owned by real estate maven Kurt Rappaport and is estimated to be valued at $100 million.(!!!!)
I love the light wood ceiling and the mix of gray with warm buttery leather. I am so in love with the media room! Everything about it looks so cozy: the sunken in sectional, the huge coffee table to kick your feet up, the built ins, and large scale art casually leaning against the wall. This room especially will definitely be pinned up in my office for inspiration!

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Discovered via Habitually Chic.

 

WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR DESIGN PROJECT!