Friday, December 9, 2016

Heartache, Loneliness and the Holidays

The holidays are a time of year where loved ones come together, people seem a little bit more blissful and magic and miracles seem to pour in. Still, this can be one of the hardest times of year for a ton of people out there. When you are separated from family, living in a foreign place, have a family member who is deployed or you have lost a loved one, it sometimes can seem impossible to get through each day with a positive attitude, especially when beautiful pictures are flooding social media, showing you everything you are "missing out on". A zillion articles have been written about how most of that is just a staged highlight in someone's life and that every person has their problems and issues, so I am not going to cover that in this post. I have experienced a great deal of loss and loneliness, in a foreign country and without ANY family in Germany, so as blessed as I am, I know a thing or two about "making the best" of this often difficult time of year. I have been wanting to write this post the last couple years and after lots of thinking and marinating on things, I finally feel as though I can open up and put my thoughts and feelings out there. 

First of all, you are not alone...well you are (HA!), that's why you are reading this...but you are not alone in being alone. In fact I think you will find that tons of people around you are in the same boat. I guarantee everyone around you is either overwhelmed because they are overbooked and over-tired or they have an underwhelming and lonely schedule. Here are a few things that have helped me and loads of friends who have been through some kind of loss or away from loved ones during these festive times of year. are a grown up... and no one is responsible for creating a magical holiday season for yourself, but you. Also, the more you take the focus off of you and think of ways to bless others and bring cheer to them, the happier you will begin to feel.

Stop trying to make the holidays what they "used to be", when you were a kid, before you lost your home in the recession, before the divorce or loss of loved one, before... well, I will let you fill in the blanks. It WON'T be that. Seriously... It will NEVER be that again. Let it go, whatever "It" is for you.  I am not saying that the pain or loneliness will be gone but let go of what the HOLIDAYS were. Life has changed and the holidays will always fall short of what it "used to be" if you are constantly trying to make it what it used to be. Honor and be grateful for that time in your life, that person, that place and store it away with all your happy memories. Embrace where you are now and create new positive memories, that I guarantee you will miss when life goes on and changes again. If you have lost a loved one, honor and celebrate their life, create a new, positive tradition to remember them by. Old traditions are wonderful and are there to make you happy, however, If we are so solid on our traditions and aren't flexible with them, they can cause upset and ruin the day. I have seen people have falling outs with family or hurt peoples' feelings all because "it's tradition" to do it this way, on this day. Let. It. Go. 

Seriously guys, you will find that so many people have to work, are transplants, are alone and can't afford to go home for the holidays. Start a new friend-family tradition. A few years ago, many of my friends' husbands had to work on Christmas Eve, other friends had family events that were on different days-so they were alone, or had family that they were estranged from.  We all would get together, play games and eat and drink. The group has shifted and changed over the years as peoples' families are growing, but this has now become one of my absolute FAVORITE Christmas traditions. It is hard to imagine a traditional Christmas Eve on Christmas Eve anymore. While living in Germany, ALL of my friends over there were away from family or had spouses who were deployed, so I would have them all over and would have them bring their favorite Christmas dish that they ate growing up. We would laugh, share stories and would have the best of times. Christmas Day was spent with my best friend, snuggling with our pups on the couch, watching our favorite childhood Christmas movies, indulging in everything we "shouldn't be eating" and watching the snowfall from my barn window. We would book every weekend with trips to the Christmas Markets or embrace the traditions of the German culture and soak it all in while we were there... We knew with our ever-changing lives, it was going to be a distant and precious memory soon. Quickly, our days were filled to the brim with fun and festive events...we didn't have time to be lonely or feel like we were missing out on things at home. In fact, I started feeling bad for people who were imprisoned by their traditions and didn't get to experience all the other wonderful things the world and other people have to offer, if only they were open to it. It was a Christmas tradition that developed out of extreme loneliness and now that are my most missed holiday traditions. I have peppered in some pictures of Christmas overseas so you can get inspired to get out there and see new things. Like I said above, I appreciate it and honor it and remember it with love, but am enjoying where I am now, with the people that I am with...NOW. Only realizing now, that had I sat alone in Germany missing Christmas in California, I would have missed out on these incredibly precious memories. The same could be said about me not enjoying where I am in this moment and longing for Europe again. 

I am almost positive that after talking to your friends and family, there is someone who would love to invite you to a meal, or coffee... or just invite them, sillies! In fact my best girlfriend and I decorated our homes together via Skype this year because we didn't want to do it alone... It was such a fun day! If you have tons of family plans, reach out to those that aren't so lucky and invite them... You have no idea how much it means to someone who may otherwise be alone. Will it really ruin your tradition so much that you can't make someone else's holiday????? When I was completely alone in Europe,  I had so many acquaintances reach out to and include me. They are now some of my closest friends in the world. You really have no idea how much including someone else in your family events can mean to them until you have experienced being alone yourself. 

Still have no plans for the holidays? Find out all your friends who have to work that day, make them cookies, bring them coffee to work, stop by and visit. Drop gift packages off at peoples' front door to wish them a Merry Christmas. Do the obvious and volunteer to feed the homeless or visit people in the hospital or at a retirement community. Call your local Base or church and see what is needed. When you remove yourself from the equation and bless others, you will be so "filled" with gratitude and joy... It's a biblical and universal law. End of story.

Stop making excuses as to why the holidays are crappy for you. Create your own dang traditions and magic... Sleep in, watch a good movie, take your pup for a walk with your favorite holiday drink... collect items from the forest and create a bomb-diggity forest scene in your home, I don't know, but get off your fanny and choose to make the best of the season. It took me a couple years of dealing and coping with some difficult and very real things in my life to learn and realize all of this, but it sure has helped now that I have. The real reason for the season is the birth of our Lord and Savior. Focus on HIM and you will NEVER be alone. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

My Little Loft Tour {Fall Edition}

You guys!!!! I am so excited about Fall being here! There is nothing like cooler weather, spiced treats, snuggling with loved ones, and wearing all those cozy sweaters and hats. Nature seems extra gorgeous and the sky isn't gray and dreary yet. Everything seems to have a golden glow to it that is absolutely divine!
I don't know if you all feel this way, but once October hits, I feel as though the rest of the year flys by waaay too fast. I always hope to slow down and enjoy the seasons like I did in Germany, and this year I plan on making that happen. As of late, I have been so slammed and am running on virtually no sleep. I haven't kept that promise to myself thus far, so I am grateful that Autumn has only just begun! I am hoping to relax and soak up the season a little more VERY soon!
Today I am off to Nashville to visit some of my best friends but first, I wanted to share my Autumn decor post with you all!
This year, I wanted to do Fall in a very subtle way. As much as I love lots of leaves and orange, I wanted to show you how to do Fall in a more neutral and luxe way. I have changed the florals to things that are less vibrant but still rich in color. I have added gold metal tones, wood accents and lush fabrics to add warmth to the space. Gold antlers and acorns in my lantern definitely hint at Fall without feeling overdone!
Nothing says cozy like a fireplace... since one does't exist in my loft, I created one (that I use year around) with a mantle, an antiqued mirror and faux candles. That is probably my favorite thing about this space. The feeling of a fireplace can be done with a shelf as well!
I placed some glitzy pumpkins into my rustic dough bowl and I love the contrast of the two mixed together! I definitely love blending the two looks. Faux sheep skins draped over my ghost chairs make them extra comfy and remind me of the bistros in Europe during the Fall and Winter months. 

Copper, brass, velvet, lots of soft blankets and warm colored glass help add warmth to the space as well!

Thank you so much for coming on this small tour of my little loft!! I am off to the airport and am stoked to listen to some good music this weekend! So tell me, how do you do Fall? Ciao, ciao for now!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

My (Rental) Little Loft~Living and Dining Room Tour

After completely setting up my space for Fall, I realized I never shared the changes I had made in the space over the last two years without all the seasonal decor! So, I took it all down and set it up as I have it in it's neutral/non-seasonal state! I will be sharing all of my subtle autumn touches later this week! 
As I explained before, I converted a loft (above a home) into a little bachelorette pad for the Penster and myself. I have my own private bedroom, bath, living and dining-room, which includes a mini fridge and espresso bar. It is so perfect for me! I also have access to the main part of the home which has an additional living room and the kitchen that I have just remodeled. I will be sharing more photos of that space soon too! My loft is small and I have it pretty jam packed with a bunch of goodies that I brought back from Europe, along with some modern items to give it a bit more of a transitional look. It feels so very "me"...The style is a bit modern and clean with some vintage and eclectic charm thrown in. I feel so lucky to have this little space to relax, get inspired and create in!The pictures below are of the space before I added the wall to make it a private little apartment. These are from the day I moved in. Eventually, my landlord will be adding wood floors to this space. Here are the before pictures!

Here is my space now! On a side note, the pictures below are a combination of some that I took and some were taken by the ridiculously talented, Ari & Faye Photography. Those photos will be linked to their site. Check these talented gals out!!!
I added a mantle and some faux candles to give a cozy home-y feel and it sure does the trick! I light my faux fire every single day! It adds a ton of ambience and the flickering looks lovely dancing in the antiqued mirror behind them. I love having aged surfaces that my guests feel comfortable kicking their feet up on or placing their drinks on. It also makes the space feel a bit more laid back. 
I finally got a chesterfield that I have been wanting for years and moved the white sofa to where I had two gray wing backs. The lightness of the sofa and the height of its back really brightened up the space, opened the room up and has now allowed for more seating!

I have added contemporary side tables, ghost chairs, accessories and a lamp to help make the place more glam and to make the space more updated and hip, with the abundance of antiques that I have. The ghost chairs have that fantastic traditional form but the modern material is what makes them so streamlined. They are the perfect additions to a room full of antiques! They have the sheepskin on them for the Fall and Winter months!

Many people use gold and antlers in seasonal decor,  but I like to use metals and antlers year around. They add a luxe and organic touch to any space. 

My favorite part of my loft is my espresso-bar armoire and relaxing by my fireplace to some jazz music. This tutorial is awesome for small spaces, rentals, bed and breakfasts... Or just to add a touch of whimsy to your home!

I painted a charcoal focal wall to add interest and visual weight to that side of the room. The gray balances out the gray from the sofa on the opposite side of the room. 
The dough bowl on my dining room table is currently holding books from Paris that are close to 200 hundred years old. I love these and found them for a steal in France at a thrift shop. They are certainly some of my favorite things in this space! I will be filling this bowl with greenery and pumpkins this evening for my Falliday decor. 

I cleared my buffet of all my cocktail bar accessories so as to not distract from all the beautiful woodwork on that piece. I decided to use a lovely little cocktail cart I scored at Ross to display a fully stocked bar. I love mixing bargain pieces with beautiful and authentic antiques. The antiques seem to elevate the everything else in the room. It is a trick that seems to work EVERY TIME.
 Thank you for coming along on my living/dining room loft tour, and stay tuned for the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and Fall tours... Oh yes and some stagings that I have done... Boy, I have A LOT of catching up to do on this blog!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ultra Creamy, Uber Delectable and Customizable Coffee Creamer

Guten Tag, my friends! If you follow me on instagram, you'll know that since I don't have adorable kiddos to post pictures of everyday, I share pictures of my adorable coffee. Yes, yes I know, some of you may think it's a little lame and sad, but I think it's a little awesome...I love my coffee and I love religiously going to my coffee bar armoire to whip up a delectable drink I enjoy relaxing with it by my (ahem...faux) fire. It is my "me" time.
I wanted to share my favorite, ultra delish, ultra creamy, coffee creamer recipe that you can make from home and is totally customizable. Anytime I serve it to guests, they ask me what it is and 90% of the time they never need to add extra sugar because it is delicious on it's own even through it contains no sugar or sweeteners! Get ready for the most embarrassingly simple recipe ever. On a sidenote, besides my IG photo above, all these shots were taken by my super talented lady friends, Ari and Faye of Ari and Faye Photography! So grateful to have these shots and to share some more with you throughout the next few posts!! 
 To make a batch of this customizable and natural creamer, you simply combine:

~ 2-1/2 Cups unsweetened almond milk (I enjoy the vanilla almond milk)
~ 2 Cups heavy whipping cream
~ 1-2 vanilla bean(s) scraped out into the cream, vanilla extract or any other extract (start with a Tbs. and add more to your liking). If you choose to use the vanilla bean instead of the extract, you can leave it in your cream and it will become deliciously more flavorful over the next couple days. Other extracts that I enjoy are pumpkin pie spice extract, butter and rum. Sometimes I will mix all of the above with pumpkin pie spice (found in your spice section) and it tastes remarkably like egg nog without all the sugar. 
 Mix it up, play around with the recipe and tell me what different variations you come up with! I would love feedback on how you liked this! Now I am off to tear apart all the Fall decor I just set up, because I realize I never shared a post with you on my totally updated loft with my new furniture additions. After I shoot all that, I will be setting all the fall goodies up again. I am tired just thinking about it! Good thing I have coffee to help keep me perked up and peppy!

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