My Fall Prep Plans

mama's mac and cheeseIt’s difficult to think fall when the weather doesn’t agree. Days this week have been in the upper 90’s and low 100’s here in Wine Country. But it’s still not deterring me from preparing my home and heart for the inevitable cool and wonderful fall weather that’s surely on its way.

Here are some of the things I’m doing this weekend to prepare myself and my home for fall: Read more

Decorate with Fall’s Bounty

decorating with fall leavesFall is such a great time to decorate, whether it’s just for the season or for expanding the long term decor plan in your home. Because of all the autumn beauty nature provides us at this time of year, it’s a cinch to get yourself in the fall-mood by simply looking at what is already around you. Here, we will focus solely on seasonal decorating, with the next post taking a look at what elements of fall you can incorporate into your home decor scheme to last a lifetime!

Fall Seasonal Decorating:

Pumpkins – Not just for carving or eating, pumpkins make great seasonal decorations inside and outside the home, and are a must-have at any fun fall get-together. Read more

Oars Up! Holiday Cooking Time is Rapidly Approaching

fall cookingFall is officially here, and the holidays are just around the corner! Do you have all the tools and gadgets you will need in the kitchen to whip up your favorite meals? Now is a great time to organize those cupboards and take stock of what you have and what you will need. If you keep a detailed list on hand, you can take advantage of those great grocery store sales as they pop up over the next few months.

Get Your Kitchen in Order Read more

Tips for a Fall Themed Party

fall dinner partyFall is one of my favorite times to entertain because you can draw so much inspiration from the natural surroundings. When planning a menu and decorating scheme for a fall bash, think about all the things we love about fall. The first thing that comes to mind? The changing of the leaves. Tree lined streets burst into vibrant flames of color and richness. The apples ripen and give us mouth watering tones of red and green. Pumpkin patches alongside the roadway create blocks of luscious orange. We trade in our bright, floral summer dresses for cozy sweaters in charcoal and chocolate colored knits. Read more

Cozy Thoughts of Fall

cozy fall afternoonEvery year around this time, I start falling in love with fall. As the festivities of the action-packed summer come to a close, I move inward and one word describes everyday… cozy. What is cozy? To me, cozy happens when all the senses are in tune with something comforting. A warm blanket to snuggle up in, a scented candle that evokes the upcoming holidays, warm and hearty home cooked meals. The refreshing iced tea of summer becomes hot, steeping pots of herbal blends that soothe the senses. Playful afternoons in the sunshine turn into drizzly craft days, movie days, and days where any kind of indoor indulgence is acceptable. The sun sets a little earlier everyday to remind us that this is the time to nest. Read more

My Fall List of Cozy Cooking

fall cookingFall is officially here, just in time to dust off those old holiday cooking recipes that will get us through to the New Year! But instead of jumping right into the Christmas season prematurely like so many big chain stores do these days, let’s not forget to savor some of fall’s favorite activities, many of which happen to involve cooking. I like to think of Autumn as the time that we essentially kick-off the cozy season, so here is my official list of things to experience and enjoy during the Fall via your taste buds. Read more

Stop House-Guest Overwhelm

welcome house guestsWith so many holidays, fall is the perfect time to visit with friends and family. While it can be fun to catch up, having a house guest at such a busy time of year can sometimes seem like a lot to handle. Don’t get overwhelmed with everything going on. A little planning ahead can help make sure you have plenty of time to spend with guests and don’t waste any time worrying about whether or not they’re being taken care of. Read more

Summer Clothes Storage 101

summer clothes storageOne of the most well-known and oft-recited laws in the world of fashion is, “Never wear white after Labor Day”. Of course, this strict rule of thumb begs the question: Where does one keep all of those white garments during the fall and the winter?

While some fashionistas are blessed with walk-in closets that provide ample amounts of space to store your off-season outfits, the vast majority of us have to make do with what we have and find a way to squeeze those out-of-season duds into what available space we have left. Read more

Winterize your Home – Part 1

winterize your gardenWinterizing your home, whether you rent or own, is as important (if not more so) than spring cleaning. As we all know, winter storms in any part of the country can cause damage to the home, and frankly much of it is preventable with the right plan of action. However, since fall has just begun, I thought it would be nice to ease into things, starting with what I think of as “the fun stuff” when it comes to taking care of the home in preparation for winter.

So let’s just start in my favorite place, the garden! Read more

Taking The Stress Out Of Fall Travel

fall travelAs we approach the crisp, fresh days of fall and escape the sweltering sweatbox that is summertime, I know that I suddenly find myself looking to capitalize on my personal favorite season.

There are many ways to enjoy the fall – from apple-picking to cheering on my favorite college football team. There is something about the freshness in the air that makes fall the number one season for me. Read more

Summer Clothes Storage – It's That Time of Year

Fall and summer clothes storageI don’t know about you, but I am so glad that this record-hot summer is has finally winded to a close. Okay, sure the weather is nice and the living’s easy – but honestly, is the weather really that nice? And is the living really that easy? With 100 degree temperatures and kids all over the house, it is nice to see a return to moderate climates and kid’s with backpacks lining up for the bus.

Well now we can finally “chill-out” because summer has ended, the kids are back at school, the MLB pennant race is heating up and our favorite football teams are back in action. And I do mean “chill out” quite literally – better get used to brisk evenings and chilly mornings! It’s time to ditch those board-shorts, maxi-dresses and tank-tops and get ready to stay warm. Read more

3-2-1 Countdown to Fall

fall canningFor some reason, fall always feels like the beginning of a new year to me, even though the real New Year doesn’t happen for several months.

Most likely this is due to the fact that it is the beginning of the school year. But autumn is also signaled by the falling of leaves, cool breezes and the oh-so-subtle yet nevertheless apparent changing of the natural lighting all around us. Read more

The Joys of Fall

fallThis year, for some reason, I’m not quite ready to let go of summer. Maybe it’s the flip-flops and sun dresses, I don’t know. But I do love fall! So, in an effort to say good bye to summer, I’ll tell you why I love fall.

The leaves – The colors! I love how you can see the full range of colors from green to yellow to red all on one tree. My daughter and I like to collect them right from the trees, dry them and use them in arrangements or as fall decorations around the house. Read more

Setting Up Your Dorm for Learning

desk lampsWhat an exciting time it is, moving away from home and starting your new life away at college. But don’t forget that you are there to learn and study, not just play all the time! When you are setting up your desk area or “office” at the dorm or apartment, keep in mind some of the following strategies for learning success!

Quiet – Anyone who has lived in the same house (or room!) with two other people knows that it is virtually impossible to study through a bunch of noise. Roommates should set up a block of time (or two) each day that is reserved for quiet studying only. That means no cell phone chatting, TV watching or loud music.
Read more

Coffee Makers – A Back To School Money Saver

Farberware Stainless 2-4 Cup Percolator“I never drink coffee at lunch. I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon” – Ronald Reagan

Perhaps as the president of the United States, Ronald Reagan was able to find time to take a nice long afternoon nap, but as a returning college student, you know sleeping through Philosophy 322 is just not going to get the job done (or the degree earned!). For many students that are preparing to head back to college for the semester, a piping hot cup of Joe can be the perfect antidote to a monotonous Geology instructor with a penchant for using the scientific name of every mineral. Read more

Fifty Ways To Leave Your Clutter: Part One

Fifty Ways To Leave Your Clutter: Part OneTime to date myself here – Do you remember the 1975 Paul Simon hit, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover? Well, Rita has come up with a clever de-clutter version: Fifty Ways To Leave Your Clutter!

Here are the first 10 – Check back in the weeks ahead for more!

~~ Take Time To Decide, Clyde ~~
The first step in leaving your clutter, before you even touch one things, is:
1. Decide where you’re stuff is going to, whether you want to donate it or sell it; how and where you will do that. Read more

Grad Life: Part Four – When Your Graduate Moves Back Home…

Magnetic Board - by BlomusThere’s a reason that some refer to them as “The Boomerang Generation”. With a sharp increase in college graduates moving back home because of poor job prospects and rising student loan debt, parents are having to rethink their empty nest plans. All of a sudden, moms and dads are finding themselves in the situation of being roommates to their own children who are now young adults.

Moving back home is a great idea for some recent grads, as it allows them to get their financial footing, paying off some debt while searching for jobs in a tough economy. How can parents and young adults set up the home to make this tricky living situation more palatable? Read more

Grad Life – Part Three: Eco Style

Reversible Bamboo Duvet CoverWhen searching for the right gift for your graduate, it’s important to keep in mind that this generation of students is very tuned into the needs of the environment. Thankfully, there are eco-friendly products available for nearly every area of the home, so you will have no problem finding what you, or your student, needs.

Environmentally friendly homewares usually fall into one of the following categories: Chemical free (cleaners), organic (linens), energy efficient (appliances), or renewable resources (everything else). Choosing a product from one of these categories shows that you care about your grad’s interests and commitment toward a better world. Read more

Grad Life – Part Two: Life on Your Own

end tablesFinding your style as you enter the real world can be exciting for some while overwhelming for others. This is true of both your clothing style, and of your home decor style.

The time after the academic years is one of major growth, and, naturally, a time of nesting. If you are confused about what type of style you would like to incorporate into your home, start by simply searching for different styles on the internet, specifically zeroing in on image results to get a feel for what is out there and what you like. Some terms to get you started are: “Modern Décor”, “Contemporary”, “Transitional”, “Tuscan”, “Classic”, “Country” and so on. Read more

Grad Life – Part One: Closets 101 – A Course for the Recent Graduate

gradCongratulations on your amazing achievement! Now enough with the partying, it’s time to get down to business. Specifically, it’s time to get you started on your way toward a more organized lifestyle. Getting your apartment, studio, parent’s basement…wherever you happen to be living, in order now will give you the fresh start that you need as you begin your oh-so-new grown-up life.

There’s a good chance that if you have just graduated from college, you are in the process of moving. The fact of the matter is that many grads fall into one of the three categories: Ready to move out (on their own, sans roommates), ready to move up (better apartment), or ready to move back home (for a while). No matter which category you fall into, this is a great time to organize your closet.

Here are detailed steps on how to organize a closet of any size: Read more

Tuesday Tip: 10 Household Uses For Lemon!

lemonIn my quest to find natural solutions to all my everyday cleaning chores, I stumbled upon this list. I never realized something so inexpensive and readily available could do so much – and best of all, with no chemicals!

1. Sanitize your wooded cutting boards. Run a slice of lemon over the surface to disinfect.
2. Keep foods from browning from air exposure. Mix equal parts lemon juice and water and dunk apple or pear slices before serving, or squeeze a bit into guacamole and give it a stir. Read more