August 1, 2014

DIY Dip-Dyed Marshmallows



This is by far one of my favorite new party staples.  I first saw the idea earlier this summer on my friend Sara's blog and knew immediately that this was something I wanted to try for Wells' pink and purple princess Birthday party.  Marshmallows are pretty much every allergy family's dream treat because they're cheap and yummy and almost anyone can enjoy them.  They also look gorgeous on display!


Sara gives really good directions that I followed exactly.  I used the jumbo campfire marshmallows I found at Walmart.  Basically I added several drops of food coloring to a little bowl of water and the kids and I started dipping away.  I did find that there was no real color difference in the pink and the purple but that the purple was a more saturated color so we ended up just using that.  Another mistake I made was waiting until the day of the party to make these.  I wish I had done them at least 24 hours before the party to ensure that the food coloring was completely dry before plating them.

I love that this activity is really simple and kid-friendly.  I had my almost six year old nephew, plus Wells and Tagg help me and they loved playing with their food.  We tried doing a water color technique with paint brushes at first which occupied a lot of time but had less than stellar results.  I might try that myself with a more saturated dye solution for next time.



We don't do party favors, but if you did, this is a really cheap and cute idea.  Just wrap up a few in a plastic bag to send off with your guests!  I'm pretty excited to try my hand at these again with another color.  The soft pink and white are so dreamy so I'm not sure an orange or green would have the same effect.

Have you done any super simple DIY's with food lately? You don't always have to start from scratch or reinvent the wheel to make something worthwhile!

July 30, 2014

Disclosure Statement | Affiliate Links

I wanted to take a minute to chat with you about my disclosure policy.  In no way is this meant to be a manifesto for bloggers in general. This is a pretty new arena and I have found that everyone is pretty tight lipped about what is going on behind the scenes so I want to make it perfectly clear that this disclosure is meant to be applied to this blog and only this blog.  And of course I realize it's wordy.  Sorry about that.  If you find yourself eye rolling at the length just imagine how my husband feels after I've had two glasses of wine ;)

I have never meant to mislead anyone into unknowingly spending money here.  I think you already know that, but, going forward I will try to follow the new guidelines for disclosure as well as continue a platform of respect for you as readers.   Please know that the actual legal statements regarding disclosure are way above my skill set and that as a "private contractor" I have no one looking over me or guiding me through this process. If you feel anything I say to be untrue or not within the guidelines, I urge you to email me so we can try to sort this out.  It has never been my intention to mislead anyone here and I hope that this post allows for more transparency going forward.

I want to be very clear on one important factor, I will never agree to favorably mention a product or a company that I don't personally endorse in exchange for product or money.  My integrity is worth more than anyone can offer. 

 
I only mention products or companies on my blog (and associated social media) that I love.  In fact, I'd say that I only endorse about 80% of what I am sent for review.  About 20% of the items I am given do not fall into the category of things I would personally purchase so I choose not to include them on my blog at all.  Most often the item isn't really my style once I see it in person or I think it's not worth the price.  I have built my blog around my personal style and is a bag I don't really like worth compromising the value of my opinion both in blog land and in my real life?  Nope.

I don't mention those products publicly because I feel like it's irresponsible for me to put a negative review of an item out there just because it's not for me.  I appreciate those businesses putting themselves out there and trying to spread the word about their products and I respectfully give them my less than stellar feedback in private.  I also only accept about 40% of what I am offered.  You would be surprised (or maybe not) by the amount of requests I receive that I turn down immediately. I also don't feel the need to publicly share which companies or products aren't a good fit for me.  Shockingly, I don't need a pair of Adult Onesies.  No matter their value to others.  But I don't think it's nice for me to do a post on why I won't be wearing them.  I hope that helps to explain why you only see positive endorsements here.

Occasionally you will see that a post is sponsored by a company like this post and this post. That means that rather than send me a specific item with the hopes that I'll like it and publicly talk about it the company pays an advertising rate up front and I get full creative freedom for how I feature them in a post.  The biggest difference from what I just discussed above is that I may choose to purchase a product of theirs for use in the post or not.  Rather than purchasing space as a side bar ad they have purchased a mention in my content.  But all items featured in that post were actually purchased from my bank account.  I'm cheap so you better believe that I like it if I buy it.

I publicly endorse companies and products that I love without compensation all the time so I will include a statement of disclosure when I have been given something for free or am being paid to mention them.  Typically I will state that so and so company sent me this product to review.  In the past I have used the abbreviation c/o which equates to care of.  The FTC finds this misleading so I will no longer be using that.  I will also state when a post is being sponsored up front so you can chose not to read it.  I promise to make a real effort to blend in sponsored content seamlessly so you won't feel like you totally wasted your time by reading.

AFFILIATE LINKS

I participate in reward style (rS) affiliate links.  This means that sometimes I will receive a commission from the products that you purchase at certain websites if you click to that website directly through a link from my blog.  For example, if you click on a link for a pair of jeans from Nordstrom through my blog and you purchase those jeans or perhaps a new dress and some lipstick I will receive a commission.  Your purchase price is not affected AT ALL.  Nordstrom just pays me a finder's fee from their profit margin.  If you click on that link and do not make a purchase, I do not get a commission.  If one million people click on a link but not one person makes a sale then I do not get a commission.  Clicks do not equal compensation.  Purchases do. 

The most often used rS links you see on my blog are from some of my favorite companies that I have been posting about since long before a commission structure existed.  Nordstrom, Serena & Lily, J.Crew, J.Crew Factory, ShopBop, Tory Burch, Lulu & Georgia, and Furbish are just some of my favorite online retailers that I feature here the most often and I do receive a commission if you make a purchase from these sites directly from my blog.  There are many other companies that I work with through Reward Style so please do not take the above examples as the sole source of affiliate links used here. 

Not all links are affiliate links.

Some of my favorite online retailers do not participate in Reward Style but I am still happy to point you in their direction.  For example, Land of Nod, Vineyard Vines, Southern Marsh, High Cotton Ties, and my most favorite candle company, ReWined Candles, do not compensate me when I link to their site even if a million people purchased items directly through my link.  But I will absolutely continue to mention them.  This is where it can get messy for both bloggers and readers alike to differentiate when the "clicks" are enabling me to make a profit.

Bottom Line
I would like for you to be fully aware that the purpose of this blog is not to make money off of you.  However, all monetary revenue from this blog is made through affiliate linking which brings you products at no additional cost and that is why I participate.  While that compensation is beneficial to my family, I will never compromise the integrity of myself or my opinions for any dollar amount.  Any content I bring to you here, both as a possible revenue source or not, will always solely be at my discretion and something I find useful, helpful, pretty or entertaining.  I never want you as my reader to feel that you are being tricked into buying something when you come here or to question my motives.  I really hope this helps clear up any confusion you had about affiliate linking or sponsorships.  Please feel free to email me if you have anything further to add or have questions about anything I've mentioned here. 

Gorgeous Weather


I was going to apologize for the late posting this morning, but I think I'll just say see you tomorrow instead.  The weather here in Richmond is AMAZING today and my best girl wants to go ride her new bike.  I'll be back later with a recap of our trip to Williamsburg and Wells' fourth Birthday party.

I hope you're enjoying your day too. 

July 29, 2014

Lowcountry Art | Marsh Series II

I've been working on a third series of lowcountry marsh paintings and I think you'll like them.  I had a wait list after the first collection I showed on the blog sold out and those people got to preview my second series before I posted it.  It also sold out immediately.  I am always so blown away by your support! 

This collection of marsh scenes is so meaningful to me and my family and it's so awesome to hear from others who share that story in some way.  I posted on sneak peek of the third series I'm currently working on via instagram last night and already received more interested emails that I have paintings!  Again, blown away by your support!  

I'm also working on two custom pieces right now which is really fun.  One piece is being created from a Virginia hunt club so the marsh is slightly different and has a special meaning to the couple.  Another is actually more of a beach scene from North Carolina.  I can't wait to get a little further in the process and share those with y'all as well.

If you'd like to be on the email list to preview the third collection just send me an email, juliakyleryan@gmail.  There is obviously no obligation to buy if you're on the wait list, it's just early access to view my pieces.  I'm hoping to have them ready by late next week.  Of course, it usually takes an extra week or so to to be ready to ship because of the heat right now.  Framing is always available and typically takes an extra week or two as well.






July 28, 2014

Blue and White Little Boys Room | Americana Inspired

Did everyone have a good weekend?  Our sweet babygirl turned FOUR this weekend!  We had an amazing time celebrating her with good friends and family.  I'll be sure to share more details of her party later this week.  It was such an easy and fun time!

I want to share another room with you today.  It's an Americana inspired little boys room.  It's perfect.  Play area, reading zone, divine bedding.  It's also real.  No special styling just for the blog.  I love the balance of stylish and playful elements.  It's picturesque, yet you can still see a little boy really living here. 


This is my nephew's room and I just love it.  This home had been freshly painted before my sister and brother in law purchased it and they decided that it wasn't worth repainting any of the rooms when they moved in.  The both work full time, with crazy hours, so they really don't have time to do many diy things like re-paint on their own.  And while neither of us would have selected yellow, I think it's really cute and love it paired with the classic blue and white.


I'm in love with the Leontine linens.  That monogram sham is my favorite.  I'll be honest, that splurge is past my price point, but my sister swears they have been a dream if any of you have considered them and are on the fence.  There is absolutely nothing that a little boy can do that hasn't been successfully washed out.  No ironing or special laundering needed. 


I love how his room is a place to play and create yet it still looks chic.  All of the books and toys are at child level for easy access.  I sometimes get skeptical when I see tall bookshelves in a small child's room with toys or books up top.  I'd be worried about circus climbing to snatch up something on top.   I'm working on that blend of playfullness myself in Tagg's room. 


The bookshelves, rug, play table and chairs and 3 hanging art boards are all from Pottery Barn Kids.  The bed and leather chair are family pieces.  Many of the books were ours as children and the art is all my precious nephew. 

You can also view my sister's sitting room and living room, her wallpapered powder room, and her gorgeous dining room that was featured on the Quadrille website. 


July 24, 2014

Pink and Purple Princess Party Planning

Wells turns four this week.  FOUR.  I asked her a few weeks ago if there was anything special she'd like to have at her party.  Her response?  Pink and Purple and Princess and Girls Things and No Boys Allowed and Cupcakes and Pretzels and My Girls and Sprinkles and Babies and A Cake and More Princess Stuff And Some Boys But only Nice Ones Like Tagg and Daddy and My Friends And Popcorn.  Buuuuuut,  I'm not really into talking about the details right now, so I'm still thinking about that part. Well ma'am, why I don't I just order you a real live unicorn too.

Thankfully I've always relied on a solid color scheme to get me through party planning.  I think it's fun to have just one spot really decked out with the theme colors and then just chill out on the rest.  Picking too narrow of a theme or too large of a decorating area is a good way to spend a whole lot of money on things no one will even notice.  I buy all the food and keep it really super simple.  Basically, I provide what I normally would for a play date.  Too many choices adds up quickly.

I also set up early, that's not just so I can drag it out on the blog.  I like to see what I'm working with ahead of time so there are no surprises or buying double.  It also allows me to enjoy the process of getting ready and my last minute prep can truly just be setting out the food.  It's also been really fun to have a big party countdown with Wells this week and let her enjoy her pretty party table.  I realize this wouldn't work with all kids.  She's built a club house down below and swiped some of the plates and napkins down there so it keeps her and Tagg from messing with what's on top.

I'll try to do a more detailed post on what worked or didn't work after the party if anyone is interested in details like that.  I'm no party planner but I do have some things I've found have worked for my mom and her sisters over the years and I use them.




July 23, 2014

A Really Simple Spinach Stuffed Shells Recipe

I am very quick to call myself a work in-progress in the kitchen.  As I've mentioned before, my husband is an amazing cook with the ability to whip things up from scratch.  I, however, subscribe to the semi-homemade method for almost everything.  I've realized that adding unnecessary steps into dinner is how I get overwhelmed and give up so I give myself every opportunity to succeed.  One new step? I've been keeping a few jars of gourmet tomato sauce around for really quick dinners that taste drastically better with the pop of a top.


My new favorite dinner to make is Spinach Stuffed Shells with ooma tesoro's sauce.  And no, this is not a sponsored post.  I just love the simple sauce and love a good success story.  The owners/creators are a husband and wife team who both lost their jobs a few years ago (sounds familiar) and started making large batches of a secret-family recipe marinara sauce to sell at Farmers Markets so they could keep their home in the northeast.  They've since expanded big time and I can taste why!


Spinach Stuffed Shells
2 cups of Ricotta Cheese
1 cup of Italian Blend Cheese
1 small package of thawed frozen (drained)  spinach
Stir together in a bowl
Cook 1 package of large shells and let cool
Fill the shells with the mixture above and place in a baking dish
Top with Marinara Sauce and more cheese

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes 

*sorry for leaving that last bit off yesterday.  I posted in the morning and was gone all day and couldn't make the change from my phone.  I tried to keep everyone who commented in the loop but I offer a big giant OOOPS just in case your family ate cold pasta last night for dinner.  Although, my recipe contains no raw egg so feel free to try this cold.  I think Wells would probably enjoy it that way as she likes everything to be room temperature.



July 22, 2014

Kids Art Display | How to Display Kids Art (New House Playroom Update)

We're starting to get a stock pile of art around here and I'm trying to find more ways to display it.  As a creative myself, I think it's really important to foster that imaginative side in my children.  I've never struggled with being artistic, but I have battled with anxiety in showing my work.  I get really snippy and judgmental on myself, my own worse critic.  I hope that by showcasing all of their art, even their "unfinished" pieces, my children will learn to appreciate art for art's sake and not the final perfect product.


And while I'm really drawn to bright colors, I also have a strong need for white and neutral in my surroundings.  In a house with two little kids, I'm learning to embrace both.  The sunroom/playroom in our new house really is the perfect spot to let this side run loose.  You may remember a few weeks ago when I showed you some major updates we had made in the space.  I am still really happy with how the front section, visible from the dining room, turned out .  The blue sofa and loveseat are so cozy and functional for reading or hanging out and always look really nice from the passing view.  I  was still working on getting the second half of the room, the toy section shaped up.


I hung a long piece of twine against the whole back wall secured with a nail at each end and one in the middle for support.  Clothespins allow for a really functional and colorful art display.  Last fall I framed two of my favorite pieces Wells painted and I've moved them to the narrow strip of wall above the white sofa.  Those are more permanent creations while the art strung on the clothesline is meant to be seasonal with new art rotated in constantly.



How do you display your kids art?  I know a few people who mentioned some cool frames at Target that let you easily slide a new picture in when you're ready for a change.  That would make such a pretty and organized display.  A friend of mine also hung long pieces of wood trim and secured clothes pins to that with a glue gun.  I love the merge between a grid and free-flowing.

Also, do you have a system for what stays, even short term, and what goes secretly into the trash?  At this age, I'm looking to keep things they bring home from school on display for about a year.  I'll probably only keep the things with their hand prints or extra special creations longer.  Anything seasonal gets stored away with the holiday decorations.  I think it's cool to bring out old art with each new holiday.  The daily scribbles or water colored pages last about a week around here.  What do you do?

July 21, 2014

Chicago Apartment Living Room

My cousin is moving to Chicago this week to start her first corporate job and she asked me to help her furniture plan.  She's lived in a dorm room for four years so she's completely starting off fresh.  I've channeled her inner east coast prep with the blue and green and pink color-scheme.  She's going to be living with two other girls so I think it's the perfect time to lean towards feminine. 

She wasn't really sure how to get started or exactly how to make a plan, but, then add things in slowly. 


I've selected everything above from Furbish Studio, Serena & Lily, Lulu & Georgia, CB2, Target, Design Darling Boutique, Homegoods, or Etsy.  Those are pretty much my go-to online shops because of the price point and wide selection of style.  I know she can go pick out her own favorite things from their curated collections.

But, I also love to support local and love the idea of her wondering around her cute little neighborhood or going for brunch with friends and walking into an amazing local shop.  Of course, I've never been to Chicago so I have no clue where to send her.  Anyone in Chicago have a list of must-visit local stores you can recommend?  Maybe a favorite brunch or happy hour spot?

July 19, 2014

The Best Striped Dress for Under $50

I can imagine this redundant post will get some side eye from those of y'all who wish I'd stick to interiors, but, I know others of you will be seriously excited to hear that my favorite new striped dress is on big time sale right now at Nordstrom.  The orginal price was really fair in my opinion, but knocked down to $45 it's just an outright no-brainer!  Plus free shipping and free returns make it super easy!

This dress also comes in a pink and white stripe and also as an a-line skirt in a few extra colorways.


Shop the look here:



July 18, 2014

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is LIVE TO THE PUBLIC!

The most exciting news in shopping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale?  My favorite striped dress (shown below) is steal of a fabulous deal at just $45!  You better believe I'll be wearing this all fall.  Packed with tights or a little cardigan, this baby carries me pretty much through to Christmas.  And the matching skirt of the same style and material is onsale for just $34.  I can't even imagine why you don't splurge on this one today.


If you're like me you, you had to wait until the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale went live to the public this morning to get a deal on the new fall preview.  It's no newsflash that Nordstrom is pretty much my favorite store so I thought it would be fun to share my top picks.  I've rounded up my favorites for you and it's no surprise you'll see lots of fit and flare dresses as the top pick.


Women's Anniversary Sale Picks for Fall:


 







And a few of my favorites for kids:

July 17, 2014

REAL LIFE SPACES | A NASHVILLE LIVING ROOM & SITTING ROOM

I've had a few readers email me spaces of their homes in the past asking advice about a specific update or simply showing off something pretty.  I love it!  In a world over-saturated with Pinterest perfect spaces, I think it's fun to highlight some real life rooms on the blog as well. 

Today I want to show you my sister's sitting room and living room.   You've already seen her powder room with the amazing wallpaper and her dining room with the gorgeous Qaudrille fabric.  so it's no surprise these living spaces are just as awesome.  I need to get her to take some pictures of the rest of her house for us.


 This is the space you actually walk into from their front door.  They don't have an actual entry but they do have this large sitting room complete with a gorgeous fireplace directly opposite the front door.  What a warm welcome! 



July 16, 2014

New House Progress: Kitchen Window Treatments

I bought some fabric yesterday for the kitchen.  I wasn't sure I wanted anything on the windows originally but lately the whole room has been feeling cold and I knew some well placed fabric could solve that.  I went to one of my favorite fabric stores in Richmond, Ufab, and walked out with Windsor Smith Riad in Seafoam.  I have loved this fabric since I first saw it a few years ago and feel certain I won't grow tired of it anytime soon.  It adds just the right amount of color without overpowering.  There is already a lot going in this small kitchen.

I'm lazy and like instant gratification so I immediately folded the fabric up and draped it over a tension rod so I could visualize.  I'm in LOVE!  We can probably take bets on how long it's going to stay that way.  Most likely until someone comes over and forces my hand at cutting this fabric up to distribute amongst the windows.  We still have a backsplash situation on our hands but it just doesn't make sense to add tile when we'd eventually like to upgrade the counter tops.  Cart before the horse and all.  So this is a pretty good way to get your eye off the back wall and up at the pretty.


Do you have fabric on your kitchen windows?  It's such a cheap way to add in something nice.  I plan on making mine faux shades so it's really minimal yardage.


I told y'all I was being extra productive with just one kid in the mornings this week.  I feel like a whole new person.  Imagine what life will be like with two kids in school two days a week and one going four. 


July 15, 2014

Striped Skirt

My most favorite striped jacquard dress is also available in a skirt version of the same material.  On sale now for $35.00 + free shipping.  I can't even believe it.  I'm going to order the pink stripe I think.  It also comes in solid black and a circle pattern as well but y'all know I'm partial to stripes. 

I realize that clothing items are not exactly newsworthy, but this awesome skirt at 40% kind of breaks that rule.


And bonus, you don't need to be a Nordstrom card holder to access the sale.