Living room BEFORE pictures

I’m back from vacation and here today with some living room before pictures. And they’re a wee bit scary.

We’ve nearly put the final touches on our bedroom re-do, so I want to share pictures of that soon, but we’ve since gotten going on redecorating our living room, which desperately needed a makeover.

I’m really excited to redecorate this room because it’s where we spend the most time at home. But for that same reason, I want to tread carefully and make good choices.living room makeover - before

We’re keeping the couch, dining table (it expands to seat 8!) and chairs, and already replaced the old MCM TV stand with this dresser I found on Kijiji. Other than a few treasured keepsakes, we got rid of everything. Even the couch and chairs are due for new covers, so we should have a brand new living room by the end of this!

I did like our living room, especially in the evenings when it felt so cozy, but the two-tone paint job had to go and the room was really due for an update. It had been pieced together over time, but never with any real intention.

Living room makeover - before pictures

The first step was doing some major de-cluttering. I used the Kon Mari method (like I did on my closet) and was able to part with SO MUCH STUFF. Even those items I spent a lot of money on at one time, and those gifts that I hung onto just because they were gifts, and even some items that I really, really liked, but just didn’t have a place for.

Living room makeover - before pictures

You can see how much de-cluttering I did, from these pictures, since when it occurred to me to take some before photos, half of the room was taken up by things that we rounded up for our yard sale (no, we didn’t regularly keep a Keurig in the living room!).

Living room makeover - before pictures

Yes, our living room was kinda cluttered, but definitely not typically this full! Look beyond the piles of yard sale stuff and I think you can see what we had going on.

Even before I took those photos, we got rid of this oversized chair that no one sat in, but took up a lot of room. Covered in fur (blanket and cat) is the ottoman that doubled as a coffee table using a tray, which I also sold on Kijiji because it took up so much room.

Living room makeover - before pictures

The first coat of fresh paint is up now, and once that’s done, I’m hoping to find a few new pieces that will make the space feel larger and lighter.

And for a way back throwback, this is my living room from back when I lived with roommates, didn’t watch TV, and thought painting my walls burnt pumpkin orange was a good idea.

Orange living room - before picture

Closet Makeover: the KonMari Method

Although our new bedroom was almost done, one major thing left on my to-do list was to purge and organize my closet. It just seemed like a daunting task, so I kept putting it off. This weekend, I finally decided to tackle my closet and about 3 hours and 2 large trash bags later, I happily crossed that chore off the list.

You might have heard about KonMari, since this decluttering method has been all the rage in the blogosphere for the last several months. My sister lent me the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and although I never would have believed that a book about cleaning could be an enjoyable read, much less life-changing, it really is!

Nothing in this book is entirely new or mind-blowing, but the author, Marie Kondo, has a way of putting things that just really makes sense and helps to provide that little push to get rid of those but-maybe-I’ll-need-it-somehow-someday things. She promises that one proper and complete cleanout is all you will ever need to become and stay organized for the rest of your life. Since starting her book (I’m only about halfway through now), I’ve thoroughly enjoyed applying the KonMari method in every nook and cranny of our apartment. We’ve made numerous trips to drop off donations, we had a massive yard sale and we’ve filled bins and bins of trash and recycling.

I literally KonMari’d my “craft closet” into a single small craft supply box. I downsized two tool boxes to one. My piles of papers have vanished. And most recently, I cleared out an entire dresser and at least half of my closet. With every load I haul out of my apartment, our space becomes lighter and more comfortable. I didn’t realize how suffocating my stuff was until I got rid of it.

People joke that KonMari is a cleaning cult, and when I found myself raving about the KonMari method to friends over brunch this weekend, I knew I was completely and happily brainwashed.

kon mari closet makeover

This weekend, as I cleaned out my closet, I leaned heavily on these three principles from the KonMari method.

1. Take everything down.

This one is huge and its importance cannot be overstated. The KonMari method requires that you take down all the items and put them on the floor. For example, take all the books off the book shelf, all the dishes out of the cupboard, and all the clothes out of closets and drawers. As I got started on my closet, I gave this principle a thought and decided, “That just makes so much more work. Is it really necessary?” YES. Yes, it is. See that picture above? That’s my closet after I ignored KonMari’s rules and pulled items I wanted to get rid of off the hangers. See that pile? Not bad, right? WRONG. At this point, it occurred to me that if I was going to do this, I should do it correctly. She has these instructions for a reason, so I decided I would just trust the method and see what happened.

So I pulled every item off its hanger, every piece off its shelf, and every article from its drawer. And I get it! Making the decision to keep an item is entirely different than making a decision to get rid of an item. When a perfectly good shirt is hanging comfortably on its hanger, it’s easy to let it hang. When you pick that same shirt out of a pile on the floor you’re not just simply deciding if you want to leave it be. You’re forced to actively decide whether to keep it or not.

See those large bags below? That’s what I was able to eliminate using this approach. Compare that to the tiny pile above. Once I tried it, I got it.

kon mari my closet

2. Put everything in one place.

KonMari strongly encourages you to collect all like items in a single place before starting your purge. This is another principle that kind of had me saying, “Why bother? I know what I have.” Here’s the thing though. Imagine you’re clearing our your kitchen junk drawer and find 3 highlighters. You might decide to keep 1 or 2 of the 3. Then on another occasion you tidy out your office and find another 7 highlighters. So you keep another 2 or 3. Then another day, you’re cleaning out purses and book bags and come across a few more (I’m a researcher and spent a lot of time in school, so I’ve accumulated highlighters, ok?). Individually, you’ve done a great job of purging, but you still end up with 10 highlighters when you only needed a couple. That’s the importance of gathering all like items.

My closet and dresser are located in our home gym (Mike uses the closet in our bedroom). But we also added small 3-drawer dressers as nightstands when we redecorated our bedroom, with the plan that we’d eliminate my dresser in the gym. I use the top drawer of my nightstand dresser for my makeup (since I got rid of my vanity), so I wasn’t sure how I’d possibly downsize from my overstuffed 5-drawer dresser to 2.

But KonMari insists that you’ll always have exactly the right amount of storage once you have exactly the right amount of stuff. So I went ahead. I gathered all the items from my closet, my gym dresser and my bedroom dresser. I pulled the jackets off the hooks on the backs of doors and sweaters off chairs, and coats from the hallway closet. Then one item at a time, I started to go through my giant mountain of clothes.

kon mari my closet

3. Hold each item in your hands.

As a professional organizer, Marie Kondo is in a bit of a love affair with items. She whispers sweet nothings to them and thanks them for their service. I haven’t gone that far, but I’ve taken to heart her requirement to hold each item in your hands before making a decision about whether it should stay or go. I’ll give an example. I looked at a particular sweater in my pile of clothes. A light knit, pink, with white polka dots. I’d worn it often enough this past winter and it was in perfect condition. I’ll keep it, I thought. Then I picked it up. And with it in my hands, I immediately recalled how I felt when I wore it. It was a tad bit short, slightly itchy, and I just didn’t really love it. So into the ‘donate pile’ it went. That was the magic of holding each item. I didn’t try anything on as I went through this closet cleanout, but as I picked each item up in my hands, I was easily able to decide to hang it back up, slide it into the drawer, or say goodbye.

I now can easily see everything hanging neatly in my closet and my clothes have room to breathe, avoiding wrinkling. And I did manage to clear out that entire dresser, reducing to only two drawers in my nightstand with room to spare. And that’s the magic of tidying up!

Have you tried the KonMari method? Is your closet due for clean out?

Planning an interfaith wedding: Jewish wedding traditions

dancing the horah - the jewish wedding dance - the chair dance - jewish wedding traditions

When we were planning our wedding, it was important for Mike and me to have a wedding that truly reflected us. Neither of us are particularly religious, but we both wanted to include traditions that were meaningful to us and our families. I’m Jewish and Mike is Christian but neither of us wanted to be married in a church or synagogue. Just to keep things simple logistically, we decided early on that we wanted to find a venue that could accommodate both the ceremony and reception (which we did at The Rosehill, Toronto).

I was out to brunch with a couple girlfriends when I mentioned that we were still looking for an officiant. One of my friends then told me that her father actually had started officiating weddings when her older sister, also a Jew marrying a non-Jew, was having trouble finding someone to marry them. How perfect is that? He specializes in ceremonies for interfaith couples just like us. It turned out to be great because he was really familiar with all the Jewish wedding traditions and he spoke Hebrew, but he also understood how to create a nice balance. When we met with him, he took us through many of the Jewish traditions we could consider and we just picked and chose the ones we liked. Drinking wine? Yes, please. Walking around in circles? No, thanks.  7 blessings? We’ll take it. Breaking the glass? Mazel Tov!Wedding bands and ketubah from JessyJudaica.com

Once I started researching, I realized that so many Jewish wedding traditions are already part of the traditional Christian wedding…the veil, the white dress, the rings. So that made it easy enough to plan an interfaith ceremony that felt right for us.

Since there were many guests who weren’t Jewish, I was excited about being able to share some unique traditions. Our officiant did a great job of explaining everything, so no one was left wondering what the heck was going on.

walking down the aisle | Jewish wedding traditions

The Chuppah

One of the most obvious characteristics of a Jewish ceremony is the Chuppah. This canopy represents the home that the couple is establishing together. Nowadays people have the most elaborate and gorgeous Chuppahs decorated with flowers and silks and ribbons and whatever else the couple likes (seriously, so gorgeous!).

traditional chuppah jewish wedding

For our ceremony, we went ultra simple. Chuppahs are commonly free-standing, but we loved the idea of using the traditional Chuppah poles, which Mike’s Best Man and groomsmen held.

Holding a traditional chuppah in a jewish wedding

The canopy can be made of any type of material, but we used a tallit (prayer shawl). My dad brought his beautiful tallit from France, but it ended up being too small so our officiant provided his.

The Kiddushin

This is where the wine comes in. The officiant recited a blessing over the wine and then we each took a sip from the same cup.

Jewish wedding ceremony traditions | An interfaith wedding | Wine ceremony

“All the sweetness life’s cup may hold for you should be sweeter because you drink it together; whatever drops of bitterness it may contain should be less bitter because you share them.”

The 7 Blessings

During this part of the ceremony, 7 blessings are recited. Our officiant recited some contemporary blessings in English, which included wishes and hopes for us as a couple.

“May you respect each other’s individual personality and perspective, and give each other room to grow in fulfilling your dreams. May you find happiness together in adventures big and small, and something to celebrate each day of your lives.”

Signing of the Ketubah

Traditionally the Ketubah is signed before the ceremony, but we chose to sign it during the ceremony along with the marriage license.

groom signing the ketubah - jewish wedding traditions

For more, I described the whole Ketubah thing, a Jewish marriage contract, in a previous post.

J+M-346

I’m really glad I decided to splurge on a stunning paper cut and gold leaf Ketubah from Jessyjudaica.com because we’ve recently hung it up just at the entrance of our bedroom and I love to see it every day.

paper cut ketubah from jessyjudaica.com

Breaking of the Glass

This is the most fun part of the ceremony for sure. All the formalities are over, the couple is married, and it’s time to break the glass. There are a few different explanations, but the groom stomps on a glass which signals the end of the ceremony, the beginning of a marriage and the start of the party.

breaking of the glass | jewish wedding at the Rosehill Venue Lounge, Toronto

After the glass is broken, everyone shouts Mazel Tov and the couple kisses. (Top secret: instead of a glass we used a light bulb, placed in a pouch to avoid shards of glass all over the place. The light bulb is easier to break and has a better pop!)

“We are reminded of the fragility of life and how good it is to share moments of joy and connection.”

Wedding kiss | Jewish wedding traditions | The Rosehill Venue Lounge, Toronto

The Yihud

This is a great tradition. After the ceremony, the couple is supposed to go into seclusion. It was so nice to escape downstairs for a little while as everyone was enjoying cocktails upstairs. We nibbled on hors d’oeuvres, finished off the little bottle of wine from the ceremony and just had a moment to chill on a whirlwind of a day.

IMG_1438

 The Horah

And no Jewish wedding is complete without one of the best Jewish wedding traditions – dancing the Horah! We had to hold on for our lives as we were hoisted up in the chairs, so that was a little terrifying but the energy was so high and we loved sharing these moments with our friends and families.

dancing the horah at a jewish wedding - jewish wedding traditions wedding dance dancing the horah at a jewish wedding - jewish wedding traditions wedding dance dancing the horah at a jewish wedding - jewish wedding traditions wedding dance - jewish chair dance dancing the horah at a jewish wedding - jewish wedding traditions wedding dance

Re-decorating: living room décor inspiration

~This post was sponsored by The HighBoy.~

As we put the final touches on the bedroom re-do, I’ve started looking for some living room décor inspiration. We spend most of our time in there, so I’m really excited about transforming it. The last of my roommates moved out a few years ago, and long gone are my student days, so it’s time for my living space to reflect that.

LivingRoom-Inspiration

[source]

As I try to figure out how to grow-up my living room, I’ve been spending time browsing through The HighBoy.com. Mixing vintage and antique finds in with thriftier, more generic pieces (Hi Ikea!) can help elevate the space. The HighBoy is a fantastic online marketplace for antiques, fine art and a huge selection of furniture. My favourite feature is that you can search the site by style from French Country to Victorian to Mid-Century to whatever pulls at your home décor heart strings. The Weekly, The HighBoy’s editorial journal has gorgeous interiors and some great home style tips.

traditiona-livingroom-inspiration

[source]

For the living room, new pieces I’m keeping my eyes out for include an accent chair, narrow console table, lamps, coffee/end tables and a new rug. With those items in mind, I put together an inspiration board with my fav finds from The HighBoy to go along with a couple of our existing pieces (the Ikea couch and gold-framed mirror).

HOMEATSIX | HIGHBOY

Console table; Arm chair; Table lamps; Wood side table; Decorative boxQing Dynasty jar

Do you like old or new or a mix of the two? What’s your living room style?

Redecorating the bedroom (progress update)

bedroom makeover I mentioned a while ago that since we decided to stay put in our current apartment, we are doing some redecorating to freshen things up. We started with redecorating the bedroom, and while it still needs some finishing touches, it’s almost done! It has definitely come a long way from our dark, cabin-y old room!

We painted the bedroom a very light grey. So light that it’s almost white, but still reads grey with the whiter trim. The wall paint is Benjamin Moore’s Intense White and the trim is Benjamin Moore’s Purest White.

bedroom makeover

We replaced our night stands with Malm dressers from Ikea. The mirrors which still need to be hung up are also from Ikea. The headboard, lamps and bed skirt are from HomeSense and we picked up the bedding at a local shop. I found the throw pillows at H&M (love their new home section!).

bedroom makeoverWe put up a new white roller blind, but still have grey curtains to hang. Our walls are concrete, so putting anything up is always a big ordeal, since we can’t get through the wall with a regular drill and have to go rent one.

Also still need to figure out artwork. No clue what we should put above the bed. And we need a new rug, too. It’s still a much more peaceful, comfortable space than it was before.

As we put the finishing touches on the bedroom, we’ve already started to tear apart the kitchen. Oh my gosh, we are going to have the biggest yardsale! As I was packing up bins of things we want to get rid of, I was like, “This is crazy! We’re not MOVING…this is all stuff we don’t need!” I’ve been reading the KonMari book, so the urge to purge is strong! :)

bedroom makeover bedroom makeover bedroom makeover

IVF for PGD: Egg retrieval and genetic testing results

6to10cells

Since my last post, we froze some embryos, ran the SportingLife 10K and redecorated our bedroom. For now, I’m back with the update on our IVF cycle.

In my last IVF update, I shared that I was getting set to take the trigger shot and go in for the egg retrieval. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the egg retrieval was no big deal. I was given Fentanyl through an IV and then went in for the procedure. I was awake but slightly foggy. I didn’t feel much pain, just a bit of discomfort.

Leading up to the egg retrieval, we were told that we could expect getting around 10 eggs but they’d grab whatever they could. They managed to find 17! Knowing that they’d drop off at high rates, it felt good to start with that higher number. Every morning, the embryologist would give me a call with an update. It was kind of fun to wait for this call around 10 AM everyday. The downside is that they’re never going to call with an update that you’ve miraculously gotten more, you just hope they don’t drop off in large numbers.

The afternoon of the retrieval, they fertilized the eggs, and the next day I received a call that 16/17 of the eggs were mature, and 13/16 were successfully fertilized. By Day 2, there were 12/13. Those 12/13 also made it to Day 3. There was no update on Day 4. Since we were doing IVF for PGD, the objective was to biopsy and test Day 5 or 6 blastocysts. The number of fertilized eggs that make it to that stage can be pretty low, but I had youth on my side, so we were hopeful! The encouraging part is that those that make it to Day 5 or 6 are much more likely to result in successful pregnancy further down the line. It was still a bit of a bummer when these little tiny, 2-6 cell things stopped doing their cell division thing.

On Day 5, 5/12 were ready to be biopsied and on Day 6, 3/7 were biopsied. So of our initial 17 eggs, 13 were fertilized, and 8 made it to biopsy. The biopsy samples were sent off to a lab in the US, where they’d developed tests specific to us using genetic samples from Mike, me and my dad to screen for the BRCA 1 gene mutation that my mom passed on to me.

Each little blastocyst had a 50% chance of being positive for BRCA 1 mutation. On top of screening for BRCA 1, we also did PGS, which screens for a whole bunch of chromosomal abnormalities, including Down’s Syndrome. Since embryos with chromosomal abnormalities usually won’t result in a successful pregnancy, the idea was to find BRCA negative embryos that were also chromosomally normal. On average, they expect to detect chromosomal abnormalities among about 40% of those tested, with that risk increasing with age. Once you find out these stats…how few fertilized eggs make it past the first few days, even without any fertility issues, it’s a wonder that anyone manages to get pregnant at all. But with 7+ billion people on earth, I guess it somehow works out!

We had to wait about 2 weeks to get the PGD genetic testing results, and during that period I felt curious but not stressed or nervous. I had been feeling a bit stressed out before, wondering how many would make it to Day 5 or 6. If we didn’t have many, we’d have to consider doing an additional cycle first, since the cost of genetic testing is so high, so it makes sense to test as many as possible at once. So that’s the question I was mostly going back and forth on.

When we found out we had 8, we decided we were cool with sending those off for testing without getting another batch. Based on the 40% and 50%, I was anticipating that we’d find out there were 1-3 healthy (BRCA negative + chromosomally good) embryos depending on how much overlap there was between those two risks. So I was pretty happy when I got the call that we had 4. So now our potential future babies are chilling in the freezer. My friend pointed out that they’re quadruplets since technically they were all conceived at the same time! Haha. I bet they’re so cute with all their tiny cells.

Oh, by the way, IVF helped me quit coffee! On the day of my egg retrieval, I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything, including my morning coffee. Thanks to the Fentanyl they gave me, I didn’t experience the usual coffee withdrawal headache and just decided to go with it and haven’t had a drop of caffeine since (over 3 weeks now!). Want to quit coffee? Try Fentanyl. Just kidding. Please don’t.

IVF for PGD: Cycle protocol and update

Since I’ve been doing my own share of Googling other people’s IVF experiences over the last several weeks, I think it’s time that I document my protocol and experience with my current IVF cycle.

We’re doing IVF for PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) to screen embryos for the BRCA gene mutation. I inherited this gene mutation from my mom, and each of my eggs is 50% likely to be positive, too. BRCA 1 radically increases the risk of ovarian and breast cancer, so while I’m doing what I can to reduce my own cancer risks, we decided to pursue this option to try to avoid passing this on further. (Read more about our decision HERE)

So, my IVF protocol involved taking a birth control pill for 2 weeks. This ensures that my ovaries aren’t doing anything before we get started. After those two weeks, I started on Gonal F to stimulate follicle growth. I was to do that for 6 days before adding in Luveris and Cetrotide.

Ok, I actually totally messed up and thought I was supposed to take Luveris + Cetrotide instead of Gonal F instead of in addition to Gonal F. The next morning at my appointment, I was so devastated when I found out that I’d missed a dose because I was worried everything had been ruined and my cycle would be canceled. Fortunately, the nurse explained that my follicles had still grown so all was ok. Of all the meds to miss, the Gonal F was the least tragic at that point. So phew! I still was anxious about it for the rest of the day and just so upset that with all the uncertainty that already exists with this process even when you do everything 100% correctly, I hated to think an innocent mistake could mess up a cycle. When a cycle runs many thousands of dollars, eeek!IVF for PGD

Anyway, from then on I took them together. Luveris works with the Gonal F to stimulate follicle growth and the Cetrotide prevents ovulation to keep all those eggs up in there until they’re mature enough for retrieval. While Gonal F comes in an easy-to-use pen, the others required mixing dilutants and powders and swapping needles and instructions with 17 steps. I got the hang of it though and am now pretty much a doctor 😉

I’ve had to go to early morning monitoring appointments every couple days for ultrasounds and blood work. I’m so lucky that the clinic is a 5 minute walk from my office. I know there are other ladies that drive in from 2 hours away, and probably even further. With appointments between 7 and 8am every day or two, I really lucked out with being so close by!

My appointments showed that I had a decent number of follicles in each ovary and they were growing steadily although slightly slower than expected. This just meant that I had to “stim” longer (10 days total).

After so many injections, my belly is now feeling quite tender, but otherwise my only symptom has been major bloating, which results from big swollen ovaries full of growing follicles. The bloating started about 4 days in and has only gotten worse. I constantly feel like I’ve eaten a huge meal, and feel like I’m waddling around. I even have to undo my pants!

IVF for PGD

I’m also a bit more irritable, which isn’t surprising with the hormones flooding my system. Hearing people (Mike) making a noise while yawning has suddenly become the #1 most annoying thing ever. I have no idea why this of all things nearly triggers rage within me. So random. Fortunately I’ve managed to keep myself in check since I know that’s hormone-related craziness. Ok, so maybe I’ve become very irritable, but only a bit more than normal 😉 Otherwise I’ve been going about with business as usual for the most part. I’ve stopped running at my doctor’s recommendation, since swollen ovaries + vigorous activity can lead to twisted ovaries, which I guess is as awful as it sounds. I’ve been walking/waddling, but avoiding doing any more than that.

Tonight I’ll be taking Ovidrel to trigger ovulation, and then my eggs will be ready for harvesting in a couple days. I’m so happy that I only need to take one injection tonight instead of 3.

Since we’re doing IVF for PGD to try to find our healthiest, BRCA- embryos, it really is a numbers game and kind of crazy to consider how they drop off at each stage. Right now it looks like I have at least 10 good follicles, maybe more. Hopefully eggs can be retrieved from all of them. Even then, who knows if we’ll end up with any or one or two or more at the end. It goes something like: # follicles > # of eggs retrieved > # of eggs fertilized > # of embryos that grow into blastocysts > # of embryos that are BRCA- and chromosomally normal. And that still doesn’t guarantee anything when it comes to the success of the later frozen embryo transfer. For now I’m hoping for a successful egg retrieval in a few days and for the rest we will have to wait and see!

Redecorating: Bedroom – BEFORE

Staying within the lines #colour #color #colouring #coloring #colouringbook #coloringbook

A photo posted by @homeatsix on


I haven’t posted in ages because I have no idea what I want to blog about. I still have plenty of wedding-related things, but I don’t want to get tooooo boring. I haven’t been feeling creative in the kitchen, and the most crafting I’ve been doing is colouring. I don’t want a whole other month to go by without a blog post, so I’m back with just a little life update.

Lately life has been about two things. Our living situation and IVF. I’ll do an IVF update another time.

I’ve been living in our current apartment for over 6 years now, and Mike moved in 3 years ago, and we’d been itching to move for a while. All last year we were busy with wedding planning, so we figured we’d wait until that was over with before trying to find a new place. We considered buying something for a while, but decided that we weren’t ready to move out of the city yet, and with shacks going for millions now, we ruled that out pretty quickly. But like housing prices, rent in the city is CRAZY!

I looked and looked and since we can’t find anything else that would give us the same space for any less than double our current rent, we’ve decided to stay put for now. It’s not the worst thing in the world since we do love our neighbourhood and we do have more room and storage than most other digs in the city.

To make the best of it, we’ve decided to give our apartment an update. We’re getting on top of some much needed repairs, putting up a fresh coat of paint, and swapping out some of our furniture.

The rooms we’re making changes to now are the kitchen, living room and bedroom. We’re leaving our home gym and Mike’s office alone for now. While we’re kind of trying to tackle it all at once, we’re hoping to have the bedroom done first. Ceiling are being repaired tomorrow and painting is happening this week.

Before Mike moved in, I had the girliest room, so we painted the walls and put up our DIY headboard, but other than that it was just sort of a mash up of things. SO BROWN! We were kind of going for a cabin/cottage vibe, with the paddles on the wall and snowshoes above the bed, but we never really got around to fully executing the look. With my vanity taking most of the room on my side, and Mike’s large dresser on the other, and Josie’s cat tree crammed at the foot of our bed (because that’s her fav spot and we can’t deny her), our room has never been that peaceful retreat we want.

bedroom-before

BEFORE: Bye-bye DIY headboard and our weird cabin-y décor (It doesn’t normally look so disastrous…we’d started tearing it apart before it occurred to me to take a ‘before’ photo!)

So Step 1: Get rid of all our things.

bedroom-before

BEFORE: My old vanity

I want SIMPLE, SOFT, LIGHT. We picked out paint this weekend and we’re going with the lightest gray…basically off-white, so I hope that brightens the room up. I think I am truly a minimalist at heart, but SUCH a maximalist in practice. I just love all my things and have a hard time not having everything out on display all at once. I’ve been working on this over the last few months and really trying to pare down and de-clutter. Spaces don’t all need to be filled!

josie on her tree

Don’t know if I can kick Josie (and her tree) out of the bedroom b/c isn’t this the cutest thing to wake up to??

Some of my Pinspiration:

bedroom-inspiration-2 bedroom-inspiration

Do’s and Don’ts: Bridal Party Thank You Gifts

Your girls are there for you for all the excitement, stress and planning leading up to your wedding, and you might have gone a little Bridezilla on them a time or two.

A thoughtful gift can is a nice way to communicate your gratitude for their participation in the wedding, so consider these Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to shopping for your bridal party Thank You gifts!

Do's and Don't for Bridesmaids Gifts[DIY beauty box]

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Click here for details. 

Do’s and Don’ts: Bridal Party Thank You Gifts

DON’T gift your bridal party anything that is emblazoned with your wedding details. No one wants to carry around a tote with your wedding monogram, and no one needs a beer koozie with your wedding date.

DON’T gift something they will only use for the wedding day. That robe embroidered with “Bridesmaid” will look really cute in your getting-ready photos, but it’s not very meaningful as a gift if they can’t get any use of it after.

Along those same lines, if you choose to pay for your bridesmaid’s dresses, nails, hair or makeup, that is lovely but that is not a gift. If you want them to look a particular way for your wedding, that is for you, not them.

I did include the jewelry for my bridesmaids in their gifts, but I also added in a piece that wasn’t for the wedding day, and I hope the jewelry is something that they like and will wear after the wedding, too.

I couldn't tie the knot without you bridesmaid gift[Bridesmaid earrings]

DON’T go overboard. Elaborate gifts aren’t necessary. Your bridal party might have shelled out a ton of cash related to your wedding, included expenses associated with showers, bachelorette parties, clothing, transportation and hotels, and that’s something to be mindful of. But your gift is not meant to pay them back for their involvement. Your gift is meant to say Thank You and to communicate your genuine gratitude.

DO consider your budget. When planning your wedding budget, make sure to include a budget line for bridal party Thank You gifts. Set a budget that makes sense within your overall wedding budget, and stick to it. Gifts valued at $50 to $150 will generally be appropriate. (On a tight budget? These gifts are under $40!)

DO consider your circle. If your friend recently gifted beach towels, your gift of Tiffany bangles might make them feel bad, and that’s the last thing you want to do with a Thank You gift.

bridesmaid gifts name bracelets[Personalized name bracelets]

DO consider what will mean most to your bridesmaids. I wrote above that paying for your girls’ dresses isn’t a gift, since it’s for your wedding. But for a cash-strapped bridesmaid, covering that expense might be more meaningful than whatever little tchotchke you’d give them. The last thing you want is your girl to open her personalized, leather-bound day planner, and think, “ok, that’s nice, but I would rather have cash back in my pocket!” If you decide to go that route, I think it’s totally fine to then give a small gift like a bottle of wine and a sincere Thank You card.

DO consider individualized gifts. One idea is to buy Thank You gifts as if you were buying birthday gifts, and tailor the gifts to suit each persons likes. While no one wants a tote with your name on it, gifts with their monograms are super cute. Initial necklaces are one of my fav gift go-to’s (like this in yellow gold).

DO consider the gift wrap. Even if you didn’t come up with the world’s greatest bridal party Thank You gift, you can still make it look super fun by packaging it creatively. Not very creative? Just write their names on simple paper bags using a metallic sharpie!

diy bridesmaids gift bags

DO include a Thank You card. Thank your bridesmaids and be specific. Did one of your girls go above and beyond in helping to plan your bachelorette party? Was she up all night addressing envelopes? Put it in a card.

Wedding Paper Divas - Thank You Cards

Wedding Paper Divas is giving away 10 FREE Thank You cards for their Anniversary Sale, so this is a great opportunity to stock up on those Thank You cards! Click here to get yours and enter the Promo Code: 10Years to get 10 FREE cards.

Have you given or received any great bridesmaid gifts? Share your ideas in the comments!

Tips for Creating a Wedding Dessert Table

As we started the planning process for our New Year’s Eve wedding, there was one thing we definitely knew we wanted. Both of us love sweets (for better or for worse) and we knew we wanted to have an insane wedding dessert table.

Mike’s mom lovingly baked most of the treats for our table. (Thank you!) We kept an eye on prices over the months leading up to the wedding, and knew where to shop for the best deals. We used dishes we already owned and scoured thrift stores for candy jars, cake plates and serving platters. By shopping sales we were able to keep the cost of our dessert table to less than the per person dessert price offered by our caterer even though we stocked our dessert table with enough to feed twice as many guests.

Sweets table - tips for setting up an insane treat table for your wedding
sweet & salty popcorn for a late night wedding dessert snack

Create levels:

A variety of heights is the key to making your wedding dessert table really stand out.

  • Use cake stands and jars of different heights and sizes.
  • Create platforms. Place several boxes underneath a table cloth, or wrap them in gift wrap that matches your theme.
  • Accessorize your table with props such as tall candle holders or vases to add visual interest.

tips for setting up a wedding dessert bar

Stick to a theme:

Give your wedding dessert table a cohesive look by tying it in with the rest of your wedding decor. There are a variety of ways to do this without resorting to only including candy in your wedding colours.

  • Match the table linens to your decor, and then tie coordinating ribbons around candy jars and cake stands.
  • Create a backdrop. Hang coordinating streamers or banners to make your dessert table a real focal point.
  • Be consistent with the styles and colours of your serving platters. Stick to only white or clear glass. We kept to our metallic New Year’s Eve theme and used foil doilies to pull the look together.
  • Use flags on toothpicks or skewers to decorate desserts and tie in your wedding colours and theme.

mini oreo wedding cake - tips for a wedding dessert table

tiny donuts for a wedding dessert table

Easy-to-serve:

If your guests are going to be serving themselves at your dessert buffet, make sure that treats are easy to reach and eat.

  • Provide the right utensils. Make sure to have tongs, scoops, and knives for each dessert.
  • If you’re serving up gooey fudge bars or fresh-cut fruit, make sure to have dessert plates and not just napkins for your guests.
  • If your table is too wide, you might have your guests leaning over it to get to the treats at the back. Desserts shouldn’t be placed more that 2 or 3 deep.
  • If you’re placing candles or flowers on the table, make sure your guests won’t be reaching over them to get to that brownie to avoid burns or spills.
  • Rather than slicing into a full-sized pie, individual pies or tarts are easier for your guests to select. Cake pops instead of cake slices are cute and easy to handle.
  • Keep things pretty, but accessible. Guests might be hesitant to pick desserts out of an intricate arrangement. You don’t want your guests wondering if that beautiful chocolate tower is just for decoration, so a little bit of purposeful disorganization can welcome your guests to dig in.
  • Use candy jars with wide openings to make the candy easier to scoop.

fererro rocher tower for wedding dessert table

Continue Reading