Tablescaping in an Apple Orchard

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You know you’re living a great life when you have too many friends and so you either have to have a 70th birthday party the size of the wedding or split it up into two fabulous parties.  My mom is that lucky.  We had her first 70th birthday party with family, close college lifetime friends and wonderful, supportive friends that she’s met traveling, post my dad’s passing.  Round two will be in November.

The party was held at our special family ranch and we had a long sit down table in the apple orchard for 70 people.

This was my largest tablescape by far and so quite a bit of prep went into it.  We wanted to go for a fall palate and that was dictated by the orange plaid napkins that I got at Pier 1.

IMG_6375       On top of each napkin, we placed a menu and little wooden pigs that I found off of ETSY and strung with bakers twine.


Down the center of the table, we placed pumpkins, pomegranate buds, gourds and greens, all of which was foraged from the ranch.


We also put out mason jars filled with popcorn kernels and candles


 It was such a fun weekend and a fabulous dinner, not to mention the food was out of this world – it was a pig roast.  Yum!

I couldn’t have put this beast of a table together without the prep work help of my mom, and the day of help with my Aunt Brenda and sister in law, Bridget!!  Thank you ladies for helping to carry pumpkins, cut down branches and place one apple after another after another after another.


Also, it must be noted that Grace matched the napkins.  You know how I love a theme.


Also, the girls and I had a trio of vests on cause I can’t resist matching.  I just can’t.

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After dinner was dancing in our barn.


It was a wonderful night and best of all my mom had a blast!!

October 13, 2015 at 5:51 AM 4 comments

One Room Challenging Once Again

It’s the One Room Challenge time.  I look back at my past One Room Challenges and I literally don’t even remember doing them.  The first one I did – my mom’s pool house, Grace was like six weeks old and Josie was 20 months.  What was I insane?  Here’s what I did…


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Then I did it again with a country bedroom when Grace was like six months old and Josie was two.  Here’s what I did…



Now, Grace is a year and Josie is 2.5, this should be no problem comparatively.  But, for whatever reason, I feel more tired.  Why is that, people? Everybody told me this mothering stuff gets easier with time.

Well, no one ever says The One Room Challenge gets easier.  So like a fool, I’m going in, fully aware of the stress to transform my daughters’ closet in six weeks time from start to finish.

I have gained wisdom with experience.  It’s a much smaller project than my past challenges.  And, my God do I love designing small spaces.  You have to be so exact and deliberate with every choice…some of which will be bold and oh so fun.  I hope you stick around!

Here is the closet in it’s current state…



It’s attached to my oldest daughter’s bedroom; here are some pictures of her room from my Instagram to give you an idea of the style.

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Next week, I’ll be sharing my plan. And for those of you new to the One Room Challenge it was created by Linda of Calling It Home.  Anyone with a blog can join and the challenge is that you have six weeks to decorate a space from start to finish.  See what others are doing here.

October 8, 2015 at 7:44 AM 8 comments

Children’s Book Nooks


From the bottom of my heart, thank you for contributing to my brother’s classroom book fund.  I was absolutely overwhelmed by the kind outpouring and donations.  We had filled up his asking donation by 9:30 that morning.  You guys made me cry happy tears which are so much better than the exhausted tears I’ve been shedding with the double whammy stomach flu that has run circles around my house the past two weeks.

You’ve given beautiful gifts to those young children.  Thank you so much.

There is tremendous power in a book and it’s so wonderful for a child’s imagination.  If I had the space, I would create a book nook for my girls.  Here are some inspirational spaces…





I’d also then take over their book nook with a cup of hot tea, an oversized wool sweater and a good old fashioned paper back novel.

October 2, 2015 at 11:05 AM Leave a comment

Early Readers Library


Without a doubt, my favorite moments of mothering come with a picture book, a well worn blanket, and both girls sitting on my lap.  A part of the personal joy comes with my secret love of reading aloud.  It’s as if I take to the theatre, and at times, the girls are my most captive audience.  I whizz and I clang, I crash and I bang, I moo and I baa with the best of them.

Josie is at the age where she can really take in a story now.  She wants to know where Miss Rumphius is going; she wants to hear why Mosquitoes buzz in your ear.  Gracie, being so young, is eager to touch the pages of a book, interact with the binding and point at any dog on any page.  When my girls are engaged in a book, so am I.  In those moments, motherhood is everything that i dreamt for it to be.  Our collective imaginations have taken flight thanks to the power of a book.

You see, I dreamt of motherhood involving loads of reading because that’s so much of what I was raised on.  My older brother and I were a team: the munchkins.  As wee little ones, my mom would habitually grab her munchkins, take us upon her lap and read to us for what felt like hours.  Physically we were in Los Altos, California.  Mentally, we were on the shores of Ireland, in the desert of the Middle East, or hiking the Himalayas.  Our world opened thanks to our mom and the books she would read to us.  And while we were mentally traveling the world, we were actually in what felt like the safest place in the universe: our mother’s lap.

My brother, my fellow munchkin, opens the minds and spirits of little kids every day, teaching 2nd grade in West Oakland – a highly impoverished area.  For many of these children, through the power of the reading, this is their first flight around the world.  And for some, school is the place equivalent to my mom’s lap: it is their safe haven.

Being the caring, sensitive man who my brother is, he wants nothing else than to help his students open their minds at the foundation of their youth and to help them to succeed in this mind boggling thing called life.  My brother is succeeding because he’s an excellent teacher.

However, he could use our help.  He recently opened a Donors Choose page requesting more books for his classroom.  He has no idea that I’m writing this post.  But I thought we could help a brother out.  Joe gives his students three opportunities every day to choose a book from their classroom library to read by themselves or with a partner.  At the back of each student’s chair is a sack containing five books that they have each picked out at their own level.  Just imagine how they must cherish picking those books out.  Joe and the kids switch out their books twice a week.

The catch is that they’ve read through all of their books.  And while reading a book time and again has it’s comforting quality, there is nothing quite like reading a new book and sparking a new wondrous adventure.

So, dear lovely readers, I turn to you.  I’d ask that you consider giving a little to my brother’s fund here so he can fill up every corner of his classroom with books for his kids.

You can donate here.

September 29, 2015 at 5:48 AM 7 comments

Tablescape Reveal


As I mentioned in this post, we had my playgroup over to our house for dinner without any children.  Since we do meet once a week with seven kids, ages two and under, everything is always baby proofed, kid friendly, battery operated and plastic; I thought the dinner should be the antithesis of all of that.  I went white, lace, candles and centerpiece flowers called “Love Lies Bleeding” – the most kid unfriendly table I could come up with.




I went with a white linen tablecloth (from Ikea).  I got three yards of lace from JoAnne’s fabrics on top of that, then I added our wedding china and Moscow Mule cups.  The silver is actually gold plated that I scored at a pac heights thrift shop years ago; the napkins are from Cost Plus but no longer sold there.  The candelabras were a treasured wedding gift.  Down the center was eucalyptus garlands and a vase with “lies bleeding” flowers with pillar candles mixed in.

A pulled back pick from our house so you can see Graham’s bench in with the table.


The night was a blast.  We pushed to the max of babysitters’ deadlines and got after it. Every candle was burned down to its end so I think that’s a sign of a night well lived.

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September 14, 2015 at 5:30 AM 9 comments

Speak to Me

I came across a Tumblr feed where practically every image spoke to me.  I thought I’d share some of my favorite photos here for some visual delight for your Friday.


Gary McBournie Design







McGrath II





I mean talk about design inspiration!  It’s as if this tumbler feed: Decor Design Review, popped into my head and brought everything I would ever want to real life.  Each image is better than the next.  If you like updated traditional with touches of whimsy you can get lost on this feed, here.  It’s good.

September 11, 2015 at 5:40 AM 2 comments

No Kids Allowed

Sorry for the premature post yesterday for those who receive my blog via e-mail.  A little child crawled over and hit ‘publish’

This Friday night we are having my playgroup over for dinner.  We meet once a week, rain or shine, exhausted or semi-awake, unshowered or put together, good mood or bad.  Thursday mornings mean caffeine, seven kids under the age of three and plenty of stories to gab about.  I look forward to Thursday mornings every week. It’s my lifeline.

We’ve been discussing the notion of meeting outside the realm of kid crying, toy inundated, mornings.  The thought came across of adults only dinner with husbands and wine. Imagine that.

So, I’m thinking for the tablescape, to get as far away from kiddie as possible, go with an all white table, laden with candles.  Because what says ‘no kids allowed’ more than white and fire?

I’m currently thinking: lace runner, eucalyptus centerpiece and maybe even black candles.  Black is so not my color of choice ever and I’m not a big lace girl but I’m feeling like changing things up.

Here’s some inspiration:





These images are most likely all from weddings so imagine a much more toned down version.  But, I’m excited to get to work on my next tablescape.

September 10, 2015 at 8:53 AM 2 comments

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