Create natural outdoor lighting

Twine balls
I was drawn to the natural texture of these spheres, constructed from grapevines and twigs, and I wanted to incorporate them in my wedding. But these puppies can get pricey. I started buying them one at a time at Michael’s on the 40 percent off coupons they offer, but wedding time was quickly approaching, and I needed several more. I ordered the remaining 16 eight-inch balls and four 10-inch spheres from eGrapevineStore.com, then purchased several bags of small twine, twig and other natural-material balls at TJMaxx and Marshall’s. You can typically find these down the gardening aisle or where they merchandise the potpourri.
Small twine balls
Twine ball chandelier
I wanted to wrap these twine and twig balls with lights, cluster them together and hang the chandeliers from the trees around the perimeter of the park where our reception dinner was held. I created a total of 20 natural light fixtures (with lots of help from Mom!) of varying lengths and sizes. I used simple monofilament line to string my twine balls together, then wound battery-powered lights around the two largest spheres in each chandelier cluster and secured the lights with zip ties.

And now 10 months after the day we said “I do,” I am reusing these twine balls (minus the lights) in another labor of love–the nursery of one of my dear friends (and a bridesmaid) Naomi’s daughter’s future nursery (she’s due in October).

The new look of Ikea

Ikea is my go-to store for so many things–frames, pots, throws and rugs. This month, Ikea launched a new Stockholm collection that will make the budget chain my go-to resource for high-quality (you read that right!) timeless furnishings. Inspired by the 50s and 60s, these designs nod to nature and include materials, like full-grain wood and bone china. For me, the highlights of this new collection include bright colors and crossover pieces that I can see working in an entryway, living room, bedroom, dining area, even a nursery or kids’ room.

Here’s the fun dining room design Ikea’s new Stockholm collection inspired.
Ikea Stockholm
I am enamored by Mexican embroidered otomi fabric and love this wallpaper version, which I would hang on one wall in the room. (I stretched this for the inspiration board. Wallpaper would obviously have a repeat.) The rug came out of Ikea’s previous Stockholm collection, but I still love it and use it in many of my projects–black-and-white stripes create a perfect neutral. The dining table is my splurge in the room. In all honesty, I would wait and hunt down a black, round dining table with fluted legs on Craigslist or at one of the many second-hand shops of San Diego. And I would pair this more rustic table with these modern chairs and make seat cushions with this fabric.

I would create storage in the dining room with this bright cabinet and put this gold lamp on top. I like the natural simplicity of this collage of ferns that I would hang on the wall adjacent to the one with the bold wallpaper.

I would mount this fun, clear chandelier on the ceiling to light up the room.

Swiss National Day inspires Scott’s and my future living room

Swiss National Day was two weeks ago (August 1). I made my traditional Swiss fondue.

For the last month, the stores in Lausanne have been packed with Swiss flag decor–plates, napkins, string lights, flags, even BBQs. I’ve always loved the look of the Swiss flag, a simple red flag with a white cross in the middle and thought it would look fantastic on an oversize canvas in a living or dining room. Scott agrees, so I got to work planning our future living room.
Our future living room
I won’t actually be purchasing our Swiss flag art but painting it on dropcloth and stretching it over a canvas. I also want to hang this fun cow picture that Scott took in Interlaken and get a graphic G for the wall.

We definitely need to buy a new sofa. I am a little obsessed with blue velvet, which I will decorate with just a few pillows–this modern floral, white linen number and this blue applique version. One side table will be made of wicker and have this fabulous lamp on top. The other will be sleek and white.

In lieu of a traditional coffee table, I would opt for this military metal trunk that I would paint gold.

To round out the conversation area, I would add a brown leather pouf and this mid-century modern chair. And I would lay this striped rug underfoot.

H&M love

One of my favorite things about living in Europe is discovering new housewares and home goods stores. I found gorgeous shops offering furnishings and objects I couldn’t even own in my dreams, but it proved more difficult to find budget-friendly options (my MO). In Lausanne, I like ConfoDeco and Maxi Bazar, but it wasn’t until I visited London and Amsterdam that I found favorites Zara Home and H&M Home. And guess who just launched online home shopping in the U.S. this month? H&M Home. Contemporary, rustic, edgy and SO affordable. I want the entire offering of linens, pillows and decorative items. I decided to put together a little vignette of some of my favorite items.
H&M Love
I started this design with a sofa I love. I added round end tables in a warm wood tone and an inexpensive coffee table that I would spray paint gold. A brown hide rug and cantilever floor lamp round out the furnishings before I add lots of accessories from H&M Home.

I love the glam touch that these gold sequined pillows bring to some of the rustic furnishings I chose, like the rug and the tribal-inspired end tables. Bright pink velvet pillows offer a nice color pop. And the neutral gray-and-white stripe brings pattern without overwhelming. Light gray heavy-drape curtains in a washed linen look provide an airy backdrop to the texture fest happening in this living room. Then I layer in tabletop items. A white tealight holder becomes a vase for a pink dahlia and sits next to a metallic gold tealight holder. On the other side table, I place a pink colored-wax candle. After bathing the coffee table in gold, I put a gold ceramic jar on top for candy.

Back-to-school gifts for the kids–or you

Hard to believe that it’s almost time for the kids to go back to school. It feels like school just let out, right? I teamed up with Parade magazine to take the stress out of back-to-school shopping. I gathered 12 super cool, hip, awesome (or whatever the kids are saying these days) schoolday-appropriate finds. Check out the featured gear here, then keep reading to see three more things I wished I’d had as a kid–or might buy myself now.

Leader of the Pack
Kids carry it daily, so a backpack should be practical, durable and stylish. These polyester backpacks feature graphic images—from butterflies to mountain bikers (seven different styles)—two roomy compartments, mesh side pockets and an organizer for small supplies, like pencils and highlighters.
Discovery pack

So Write Now
Brighten her musings, doodles and notes with these soft-cover, lined paper journals that come in a rainbow of hues. An interior pocket keeps love letters hidden and the gold or silver monogram makes the notebook feel luxe.
Poppin personalized journals

Wild Bunch
Your child won’t forget—or toss—these animal-print washable, reusable lunch and snack bags because you can write their name on them with permanent marker.
Lunch and snack bags

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