Custom Upholstery: Tricks of the Trade

Today’s design climate is all about personalization and creating unique spaces. While there are many trends that create spaces that reflect your personal style, custom upholstery can be one of the most impactful. From pillows to large extravagant sofas there is a whole world of possibilities. Making the choice to pursue custom upholstery, however, is only the first step. Buying customized furniture and decor can seem like a daunting task, but understanding the process can make it a lot easier. Read on for an overview of two options for incorporating custom looks into your home.

Custom Upholstery Purchasing Options

One of the first steps is understanding your purchasing options. There are two main options to choose from. You can select a merchant that provides a combination of pre-finished furniture options and pre-selected materials. A more limited customization option. You can mix and match these options to create your own design. For the sake of this article, we are going to call this the Mix and Match Option.

Or, you can choose a custom manufacturer that will provide a wider variety of designs and finishes. TLS by Design, Kisabeth Furniture, and Ballard Designs are a few places to start. We are going to call this the Custom Design Option.
With the Mix and Match Option, you simply choose the item you want, select from a list of available fabrics, and specify how you would like them applied. The whole process can often take place online or in a store with minimal help needed. Have fun and make it your own. Need some ideas? Check out my posts on velvet or plaid
Interior designer, at the workplace in the office with samples of fabrics and accessories for curtains and upholstery.
The Custom Design Option is much more involved and you will most likely need to involve a professional. An interior designer or purchasing agent will be able to help you through the process. You can select from a number of pre-designed furniture choices, or, in some cases, create your own from the ground up. All of the finishes, wood, metals, and upholsteries can be customized to an extent. This option, while more expensive, gives you the most creative freedom.

Choosing the Right Upholstery

The next step is choosing the upholstery that you are going to use.The Mix and Match Option simplifies this step a lot. The manufacturers have pre-selected fabrics that can are usable on furniture selection. They provide a wide variety of appropriate leather and textile choices. Order a few free swatches of a couple different options that interest you and view them in your space. Remember, lighting and surroundings make a huge difference in how something will look, so you want to view your choices in your space. Hold the samples up to other items in the room and get a feel for what feels good to you. There is no right answer in design, if you love it, that’s what matters.
Upholstery fabric samples in different colours on a blue sofa in a furniture store.
The Custom Design Option is much more complicated when it comes to this step. There are two classifications of fabric choices, Graded-In or Customers Own Material (COM). Graded-In is similar to the Mix and Match Option, it is a list of pre-approved fabrics with each grade having a specific cost associated. COM is the application of any fabric that you choose, the sky’s the limit. There is a catch though, all fabric will need to be tested and approved for use on your furniture or decor choice. Every textile and leather on the market has unique features and characteristics. Meaning that while a fabric might be good for use on a flat headboard, it might not be good on a tufted sofa. This is where you are going to need that design professional who can lead you in the right direction and make your vision a reality.

Understanding the Costs Involved

The word custom often correlated with the word expensive, and that can be quite accurate. Costs of custom furniture can begin to add up quickly. First, you have the base price of the piece of furniture. Think of this as the unfinished product, the frames, cushions, and raw materials. Next, you have the costs of your finishes, in this case, your upholstery. Mix and Match and Graded-In selections will have a more narrow range of prices and a flat fee for use.
COM, on the other hand, is calculated based on the quantity needed and the price by the yard of the selected fabric. Fabric (and leather) can range from $10-250+ per yard or cubic foot. You will also most likely be charged for the shipping from the fabric or leather manufacturer to the furniture manufacturer as well.
The last costs are shipping and tax. Pretty standard and almost always applicable to purchases such as these. Both the Custom Design and Mix and Match Options will also offer inside or “white glove” delivery. A small extra fee is charged and your items get delivered, unpackaged and placed in your home by the shipping company. It’s often a great investment, especially you order a larger piece of furniture. Insurance on shipping and delivery is also usually offered and can be well worth it.

Lead Time & Returns

No matter if you choose from a pre-selected list of mix and match options, or design the entire piece from the ground up, your purchase will be made to order. Lead time is the amount of time from when you place your order until it delivers to you. The biggest thing that people forget about customized buys is that you aren’t going to get them in the mail tomorrow. You haven’t bought something that is stocked in a warehouse somewhere, ready to go. Your item begins its manufacturing journey when you buy it, and that takes time. Typical lead times range from 8-10 weeks. For more complicated designs, or items that come from overseas that can increase to 16+ weeks. Remember, plan ahead and be patient. Good things take time.
Hands of craftsman carve with a gouge in the hands on the workbench in carpentry
Returns are another thing that differs with custom purchases. Manufacturers will guarantee that their product arrives in one piece, blemish free. They will cover the costs of repairs or make small refunds for damage. They will not, however, guarantee that you will like your custom piece. Unfortunately, if that is the case, returns are not accepted. Custom pieces, made to order, are yours once you buy them, good or bad. I don’t mean to scare you, only educate you so that you are comfortable and well informed.
Industrial style brick wall, blue armchair, sofa and pattern rug
Now that you better understand your options and how the process works I hope you consider a custom buy. They can be long-lasting, heirloom purchases. Let me know if you have any more questions or would like help finding resources!
Smiles, Shannon
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Typography Home Decor: How to Do It Right

Typography Home Decor
Words. Lots and lots of words. For the last few years, Typography and Word Art have been huge, and it looks like they aren’t going anywhere soon. Signage, coasters and printed fabric and furniture can add a lot of whimsy to your decor. Dictionaries define typography as “the art or process of printing with type.” Pretty basic, nothing too descriptive here. So what are we talking about when we talk about Typography home decor?
The answer is quite varied. Basically: anything with words or writing on it falls into the category of Typography. Handwriting patterns, typeface, and mixtures of both make for an endless supply of designs to choose from. From very Vintage to ultra Modern and every motif in between there are typography options for everyone.
Of course, like all trends there are quite a few don’ts with this one if you want your designs to be chic and long-lasting. Stay away from the super trendy and common phrases. In a couple of years “Keep Calm and Carry On” printed everything will go out. “Never go to bed without kissing me goodnight” wooden signs will be a thing of the past. And pillows with phrases like “Namast’ay in Bed,” “Peace” or anything referencing wine will be out of date.

Typography “How To”

So how do you incorporate type and wording into your home without being tacky? I’ve outlined a few guidelines below to help you get started.

Go Vintage

Vintage typography works well with a lot of different decor styles. Pulling cues and motifs from history these pieces are sure to be a long-lasting addition to your space. Whether it be an industrial loft, a modern farmhouse, or an eclectic glam penthouse, Vintage Type decor will fit right in.

Looking to be more authentic? Check out your local flea markets and salvage yards for one of a kind finds. My personal home favorite is a salvaged print screen I inherited from my father. It adds so much character and uniqueness to my dining room, and it is a great conversation starter.Typography Silk Print Screen

Go Minimal

Typography prints can very quickly become overwhelming. Less is often best. While you could buy the entire line of wordy bath items, a single soap pump will stand out more and be less obnoxious. And if you aren’t into artwork with kitschy phrases, try a more simple print of a typewriter or typeset.

Go Personalized

Keeping with simple, initials can be a great, low-key way to add some Typography to your decor. Coasters, simple wall hangings and fun pillows with personalizations add meaning and fun.

Use Sparingly

You may be wondering why I chose larger furnishings for my add sparingly section. The answer? To demonstrate that sparingly doesn’t have to mean small and unobtrusive. It just simply means sparingly. Go ahead and indulge in the printed bedding set, but don’t get the matching curtains and the phrase artwork to go with it. Add a couple of printed dining chairs, but mix them in with solid and textural choices. Go ahead and get that fun kitchen sign-just don’t get all of the kitchen signs, and bathroom signs, and family room signs… you get my drift.

Typography prints done right can be a long-lasting and unique addition to your home decor. Personalized items add meaning. Vintage items provide historical allure. Fun stand out pieces can completely update and change the focal point within a space. However you choose to add Typography, pick what you love and what speaks to you. Don’t add that cutesy “Excuse the mess, my children are making memories” sign just because it is in vogue. Stay true to your style and you can’t go wrong.

Smiles, Shannon

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24 Home Decor Picks to Freshen Up Your Space in 2018

A new year is here once again. The holidays and time off are over and we are all returning back to our routine lives. The Christmas and holiday decorations have come down, and I don’t know about you, but my home feels like it was burglarized. The Grinch came in the night and took everything, including the crumb too small for a mouse! After having the beautiful greens, the big tree and the table set for many, even putting out the decor that I had up before the holidays now seems lacking. Don’t get me wrong, having your house as decorated as you do for the holidays year round is not what I am suggesting.
I have always been a supporter of the idea that your home should be a collection of well-loved and useful things. The homes that look like a show house that no one lives in, whose decor all came out of the latest catalog aren’t homes to me. They don’t have personality and stories that you can feel as you move through them. Trends are great, but as Karl Lagerfeld once said: “Trendy is the last stage before tacky.” These are words to live by.

Home Decor for 2018

So how do you freshen up your home while keeping it authentic and real? The approach is simple and comes down to quality and quantity. Adding a few modern or on-trend items to a space can help it feel lively and new. Picking only or one two will keep the cost down and prevent you from having a room that becomes outdated overnight. You mix these items in with beloved photographs, your kids’ art, heirlooms and memorabilia and you have perfection.
Another good guideline is to pick out items that have some classical or traditional qualities. Especially when it comes to larger items, go for the “safer” trends. There are a lot of decor styles that are hot right now that you can invest in that are not going to be obsolete tomorrow.

Let’s dig in and explore some fun options to freshen up your home for the new year and beyond!

Please note that the below includes affiliate and promoted links. Meaning I may receive a small payment if you should click on or purchase one of the products. To know more read my full disclaimer HERE.

Greenery & Green

White bedroom with screen, bed, armchair, bookcase, lamp and pouf

The Pantone Color of the Year 2017 was Greenery, so it’s no surprise that the color continues to be popular. From the bright green of Greenery, the shades have morphed into Olive, Jade, and Chartreuse.
The second part of the green craze is actual greens. That’s right, house plants. People are going ga-ga covering all the rooms in their homes in both faux and real foliage. Real foliage helps to clean the air in your home, but faux is much simpler to care for. You pick the one right for your lifestyle, either way, they are a great, fresh addition.

Floral Prints

I don’t think anyone is ever surprised to see floral patterns on a spring trend list. In fact, most of us roll our eyes at the sheer notion. But, this years trend is slightly different, its bigger and bolder, literally. Large-scale and bright floral prints in electric hues are in. Pair them with neutral colors and natural textures to keep them from getting out of hand and make them more long-lasting. Remember, less is more, especially with florals. Done right and sparingly, you can bring a lot of life to a dull area.


I tend to cringe when I hear the word fringe. Images of 1960’s hippie dens haunt my dreams at night. While some of the modern fringe revivals fall into this category, other new takes are fresh and fun. Frayed edges add a rustic, farmhouse charm to household items like tablecloths and napkins. Throw pillows and blankets in bright colors become even more whimsical with fringe banding.


Floral patterned pillow in braided basket on white floor next to king-size bed with pink coverlet

The year is just started but it is already quite obvious that Purple is going to be the stand out color of the year. From light and airy Lavender to the dark and dramatic Ultra-Violet, and all the shades in between Purple is out in force. The reasoning here is twofold. First and foremost, Pantone Color Institute named 18-3838 ULTRA VIOLET the Pantone Color of the Year 2018. Their influence on the Fashion and Home industries is undeniable. Expect to see the mystical and mysterious shades of deep purple everywhere. As a native Minnesotan and Prince fan, I highly approve.
The influence driving the popularity of the lighter Lavender shades is a little less straightforward. The most likely theory is that it is stemming from the ongoing Millennial Pink craze. Soft shades of Pink have been enjoying the spotlight for some time now, so it makes sense that the color is evolving. Cool blue tones are being added to the soft, warm pinks, and we are ending up with beautiful light purples.

Brass & Mixed Metals

Brass is a heavy favorite in the metal world currently. Of course, like most metal fads it will most likely be fleeting. That doesn’t mean you should shy from it though. Mix it in via less permanent installations and enjoy. There’s no need to swap out all your metals in an area to add some brass. Mixed metal looks are wonderful, they make spaces look collected and organic.

 Dark and Moody

While most of us tend to think of dark and moody interiors as drab and depressing, this new trend is anything but. Cozy, romantic spaces are being created using dark florals, velvets, and black accents.

Raw Materials

Accessories made from natural and raw materials are timeless additions to your home. Investing is artisan and handmade options add natural and personal flair. Celebrate the unique imperfections and variations or each piece and enjoy the uniqueness of one of a kind decor.

Brass & Mixed Metals
Brass is a heavy favorite in the metal world currently. Of course, like most metal fads it will most likely be fleeting. That doesn’t mean you should shy from it though. Mix it in via less permanent installations and enjoy. There’s no need to swap out all your metals in an area to add some brass. Mixed metal looks are wonderful, they make spaces look collected and organic.

Black and White

Apartment with white brick wall, sofa, table and pattern rug

High contrast color palettes are in high demand, and there is no higher contrast than Black and White. The classic color combination is seeing quite the revival in the home décor industry. Always chic, just ask Coco Chanel, it is a look that never goes out of style. The addition of warm browns and natural woods has enhanced the duo. The warm, neutral tones work to curb the harshness of the contrast and provide some nice textures.

However, you decide to freshen up your space for the New Year remember, it is your space and your style and personality are what’s important. Don’t get wrapped up in the trend and making purchases to have the latest items if you don’t love them. Your home should be a collection of the things you love and that make you happy!

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Hot Chocolate, What You Need to Know (with Recipes!)

Hot Chocolate is a favorite drink this time of year. With all the skating and skiing here in the Midwest U.S. a warm cozy drink is a necessity. Nothing feels better than wrapping your hands around a warm, steamy mug after a jaunt in the snow. Add a few marshmallows and a candy cane and you have a real cup of joy. But where does it come from?

 An Abbreviated History of Hot Chocolate

As much as we enjoy it in the winter, as a compliment to our cold weather, it is surprising to learn that hot chocolate originates in Mexico. As early as 500 BC the Mayans were drinking their own version of crushed cocoa seeds, water, and chilis. Of course, they drank theirs cold. (1) The word chocolate itself derives from the Mayan word xocoatl. (2)
From Mexico, drinking chocolate traveled to Spain with the explorer Cortez in the early 1500s. It was there that the drink began being served hot, and sugar was added. The elite of the Spanish court kept the drink secret for around 100 years. But, eventually, the drink made its way to Europe. (3) Once it reached England the addition of milk to make the drink creamy became popular.

 Hot Chocolate Today

All the way from cold and flavored with chilis, to warm, creamy and sweet, hot chocolate has seen many different iterations. Nowadays we love to get creative with the flavors and the sugary sweet additions like marshmallows. The recipes and flavor combinations are endless.
While many of us think of hot chocolate as a dessert, it does actually have some health properties. Cocoa has many antioxidants and helps with indigestion. The Mayans often used it to aid stomach maladies. It also contains phenylethylamine, which is a known mood enhancer. (3)
Did you know hot chocolate and hot cocoa aren’t the same? While they are, in general, interchangeable terms, there are differences. Hot Chocolate comes from actual, melted chocolate. It is usually characterized as being thicker and richer than hot cocoa. Hot cocoa, made from sweetened cocoa powder, is thinner and sweeter. (4) Who knew right?!
Now that you know a little more about this great drink, forgo the powdered cocoa. Get back to basics and try the real thing. You can really wow your guests this winter season with a warm gourmet treat. Need some ideas? Check out the collection of recipes below. Click on the images for the details.
Nutella Hot Chocolate |
Nutella Hot Chocolate
 Who doesn’t love Nutella? How could it not be better with warm, melted chocolate! Cafe Delites is responsible for this cup of goodness.
Butterbeer Hot Chocolate
Butterbeer Hot Chocolate
I am a huge Harry Potter fan, so a fandom themed drink sounds like the greatest thing ever! Thanks to the creative genius of Darla at for this one!
S'mores Hot Chocolate + Charity Water E-Cookbook #minimalistbaker
S’Mores Hot Chocolate

A favorite dessert in a mug, amazing! Thanks to #minimalistbaker for this gorgeous and tasty work of art.

Have a favorite recipe of your own? Share it with us!


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Please note that some of the below include affiliate links. Meaning I may receive a small payment if you should click on or purchase one of the products. To know more read my full disclaimer HERE.

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Style Spotlight: Velvet for Your Home & Wardrobe

Velvet, even the word is smooth and alluring. It evokes feelings of comfort and luxury. It is an ancient textile that has maintained its presence in the market for centuries. People have always sought out velvet to add class and refinement to spaces and garments. Modern times are no different and advances in science and technology have made it more accessible than ever. Everyone can enjoy adding some velvet to their home and wardrobe, it is a classic that never truly goes out of style.

 A Lesson in Velvet

When I stated centuries, it wasn’t a joke. Velvet can trace its roots back to 2000 BC. The earliest known producers were the early Egyptians.(1) They began producing velvet textiles by weaving with an extra set of yarns. After weaving the extra yarns, known as “pile” yarns, are cut on the surface side of the fabric. The cut yarns create a hair, or furlike finish of short, dense yarns that stand erect. The word “velvet” actually refers to this structure.(2)
From Egypt, velvet made its way to Asia, the Middle East and then on to Europe.(1) These early textiles were all made from silk fibers and were very expensive and delicate. Which explains why, historically, it was a textile reserved for the elite and royal. To this day, it still carries a reputation of luxury and comfort.

 The Rise of Modern Popularity

Unlike in ancient times, today velvet is much more accessible to the average user. Of course, much of the “velvet” in the market is actually “velveteen” or “velour.” Velveteen is a faux velvet mostly made from cotton, and velveteen from cotton-blends.(2) The use of these alternative fibers has increased the durability of velvet-looking textiles. Gone are the days when all velvets would bruise and blemish from slight mistreatment. Another factor that has increased accessibility by decreasing cost is machine weaving. 

Velvet for Your Home

There are many other contributing factors to velvet’s current popularity, especially within the home. Note that the below products include velvet and faux velvet.
Please note that some of the below include affiliate links. Meaning I may receive a small payment if you should click on or purchase one of the products. To know more read my full disclaimer HERE.

The boom of transitional (modern mixed with traditional) styling in homes. More than ever people are gravitating towards the aesthetics of bygone eras. In uncertain times, it is very comforting to surround oneself with the comfort fo the velvet armchair

The jewel tone trend. Rich, saturated hues are all the rage and velvet has the uncanny ability to take on these deep tones. Pinks and Purples are heavy favorites.

The deep tones get enhanced when lighting gets involved. The nap and texture of the surface cause the light to reflect differently off of curves. Highlights and shadows get created that have a dramatic effect. This phenomenon is why tufted (drawing the fabric together) velvets are so widespread.

Dramatic velvet can look particularly lovely against a dark backdrop. With black, navy and other dark tones being popular paint colors, jewel tone velvets are a perfect accompaniment. The result is a very decadent feel.

Lux finishes are also currently in vogue. The trio of marbles and precious metals would not be complete without velvet.

modern chic interior purple velvet

Used elegantly and sparingly the addition of this ancient textile in your home will not date. Do be careful though, because using too much will look like you raided a medieval castle.

Velvet for Your Wardrobe

The use of velvet in your wardrobe may not be as long-lasting as using it in your home-but who can resist?

Velvet dresses and skirts are the perfect go-to for party wear this winter. The soft texture makes it warm and cozy, while the overall look is elegant and sophisticated.
Velvet blue dress

If you already have an outfit in mind, invest in some luxe accessories. Chokers, shoes, and bags in this luxurious finish are great options.

Men and women both can add some flare to the closet with a velvet blazer. Day to night, the look is classic.

men's velvet blazer

For men, a tie or pocket square is a small addition with a big impact.

No matter how you choose to incorporate velvet into your life, I would bet that you will have no regrets. Velvet is a tried and true textile staple.

(2) Fabric Science [9th Edition] by Allen C. Cohen, Ingrid Johnson, Joseph J. Pizzuto [Fairchild Pubns,2009] [Hardcover] 9th Edition
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Holiday Target Finds Styled 6 Different Ways

High style doesn’t have to mean a high price tag. A quick stop at the dollar or discount section of many stores can provide a solid basis for great designs. A personal favorite of mine? The “Bullseye’s Playground” section at Target. Many of you may call it the dollar spot, even though items usually range from $1-10. It’s that area right inside the door of your Target store that pulls us all in. The buyers do a particularly good job of sourcing small scale, fun and trendy, home decor items. Most of us cannot help but stop and look for the newest finds.
Target Finds

This season I, myself, walked away with $19 of Winter Holiday goodies in my basket.
(1) 4 Pack Small Evergreen Bottle Brush Trees…..$3
(1) 2 Pack Large Evergreen Bottle Brush Trees…..$3
(1) Ceramic Tea Light House……………………………,$3
(1) String Battery Operated Star Lights in Gold……$5
(1) Large Silver Glitter Bottle Brush Tree…………….$3
(2) Small Glitter Bottle Brush Trees……………………$2

They’re each great, but together and with a little outside help from ordinary household items, they really shine. See for yourself and get inspired.

Style 1

Cakestand setting

Get out that cakestand you only use a couple times a year and put it to work. Arrange your items on top, circle the base with your light and voila-you’re ready to go.

Style 2

Setting on Fireplace

A setting on the mantle is a pretty traditional idea, but that’s because the results are always great. Use a piece of foam to elevate the house and cover it with cotton snow. For added effect, I put the lights underneath the snow to make the whole thing glow.

Style 3
Setting on Mirror

Decorative mirrors are another household item that you can use for a lot more than their intended purpose. The reflective surface enhances the effects of the lights. It makes the scene look fuller and brighter.

Style 4Scarf Setting

For this next style, I raided my closet. Finally, that green pashmina that’s been sitting in there has a use. Wrap the lights around a festive scarf or pashmina and drape around the ceramic house. Place the trees into the folds so they stand up nice and straight and you are done.

Style 5
Small House Door Wreath

Have a wreath that doesn’t get as much use as it could? Wrap the string of lights around the wreath. Hide the battery pack in the pine boughs and add some decorative floral inserts. You can attach the house to the wreath by hot gluing some zip ties to the base of the house. Once cooled wrap and tighten the zip ties around your wreath.

Style 6

Wreath 2Wreath 2 Close Up

Similar to the last one but instead of using the little house, use the bottle trees. I added a little more of the decorative floral inserts. The bases of the trees can be secured to the wreath by weaving them into the wreath material or tying them with string.

No Target close by? You can shop the Bullseye’s Playground selection online. CLICK HERE 

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Friday 5: Etsy Holiday Gift Guide 2017

The holiday gift shopping season has begun and the holidays are coming up quick. There are times when the whole hustle and bustle of the whole season becomes daunting. I struggle with the societal pressure to buy a gift for everyone I know which becomes so overwhelming. The pressure can take away from the magic of this special time of the year. That being said, the holidays are a wonderful opportunity to show appreciation for the people that really matter in our lives.
A gift, big or small, can mean so much when given with thought and love especially when they are handmade. Since we don’t always have the time, or skills to make all the items we would like to give, we have Etsy. Etsy, for those of you unfamiliar, is an online marketplace for handmade and vintage items. It is a great place to shop for unique items made by artists and artisans from all over the world.
Of course, there are times when we want to give a great gift, but can’t seem to find the right one. This gift guide is here to help. I have collected some items from Etsy, all $50 (USD) or less, for tough to buy for loved ones on your list. Happy Shopping!
1. The Teenage Girls
Unicorn-themed items are very trendy right now and that is why I picked this great sugar scrub. ModBathandBody has many other options as well, and they are all practical, usable and fun.
Unicorn Dreamer Whipped Sugar Scrub
Sugar Scrub Unicorn Dreamer | Unicorn Soap Sugar Scrub | Sugar Scrubs | Whipped Sugar Scrub | Exfoliating Sugar Scrub from ModBathandBody

The second option is the makeup brush travel bag. Great looking and it could double as pen or pencil holder or storage bag for the girls that aren’t as into makeup.

Makeup Brush Bag
Makeup Brush Bag Travel Makeup Brush Holder Makeup Brush Pouch Brown makeup bag Makeup Storage Travel Cosmetic Bag from LudaMelnick
2. The Teenage Boys & Men

Guys, in my opinion, can be very hard to buy for but I feel like I hit the jackpot with the following items. A great looking, yet masculine phone speaker is perfect for any music lover on your list.

Acoustic Phone Speaker
Acoustic Phone Speaker OKTIE Passive Phone Speaker Wood Phone Dock Android and iPhone Great Gift Retro Speaker Amplifier from OKTIEofficial

The phone stand that works as a storage area and charging station is perfect for today’s day and age. Bonus, it works as a small item storage and display area.

Rustic Wood Phone Stand
Black Vintage Industrial Rustic Wood Phone Stand / Docking Station / Charging Station / Cell Phone Holder / Phone Stand Wood from IndustriralMatter
3. The Kids

While you may not think of children as hard to buy for with all of the toys available today, it is hard to find gifts that are not electronic and that stimulate the mind. Get the kids on your list into reading with this fun nursery rhymes book that is personalized to incorporate their name.

Timeless Nursery Rhymes and Poems Baby Book Gift
Timeless Nursery Rhymes and Poems Baby Book – Beautiful Baby Gift, Child’s Christening Present – Baby Shower Treasured Keepsake Gift from MyMaginNameBook

Another personalized option is the wooden name puzzle. Puzzles are a great, technology-free way to build problem-solving skills.

Personalized Wooden Name Puzzle Gift
Personalized wooden name puzzle, newborn baby birthday gifts, nursery decor wood letters, toddler toy, wedding gift, for family, custom word from YourWoodenMaster
4. The Host & Hostess

This time of year sees a lot of holiday parties, but what to bring the host or hostess? While it may seem a little generic, the beautiful marble and rose gold coaster set below is a great option. The style is a classic, yet very popular and they will last forever.

Hexagon Marble Rose Gold Coaster Set of 4
Hexagon Marble Rose Gold Coaster Set of 4 Drink Coasters, Bar Coasters or Home Décor from MarbleObject

Want to stick to the basics and just bring a bottle of wine? No problem, but why not dress it up with one of these fun gnome bottle toppers that can be reused for years to come?

Adorable Santa Face Wine Bottle Toppers Gift
Adorable Santa Face Wine Bottle Toppers Olive Oil Bubble Bath Bottle Toppers Set of 3 from Sunflowermom
5. The Newlyweds

Buying for the couples that just celebrated their nuptials can be a challenge. They just received a plethora of gifts, one of which was probably from you, so keep it simple. Of course “simple” doesn’t need to be thoughtless, a great option is the customized wooden snowflake ornament below that also commemorates their wedding date and location.

Wooden Snowflake Ornament Gift
Wooden Snowflake Ornaments, Christmas gift Married Christmas Ornament Wood Christmas Decorations, Snowflakes Christmas tree ornaments from WoodenEngravedShop


Commemorative items are a great way to celebrate new couples, and at an amazing price, this one can’t be beaten. Starting at $5 you can give a customized gift that will help to create the setting for a perfect first Christmas for a lucky couple.

Soy Candle Newlywed Gift
Holiday Scented Candles, First Christmas as Mr and Mrs, Newlywed Christmas Gift, Christmas Gift, Christmas Candle, Soy Candle, Newlywed Gift from AtoZCandles
Bonus: The Traveler

I threw this bonus item in because I think it is awesome! For anyone who travels in your life, this would be an amazing gift. A beautiful map of the World or smaller various regions, you choose, that you get to scratch off locations as you visit.

Scratch Map from TravelMapPoster
Bestseller Map with golden foil, 88 x 63 cm (34.6 x 25.2 inches) from TravelMapPoster

Happy Shopping! And remember, it is the thought and love that counts, not the price tag!

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Make the Best Pumpkin Pie This Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is coming up quick. For many Americans, that means pumpkin pie on the dessert table. This year, instead of stopping by your favorite bakery, try making one from scratch. I will warn you, that “easy as pie” does not actually apply to pie making. But, with some patience and a good recipe, you will be well on your way to being the star of Thanksgiving.
Best Pumpkin PIe First, we start with the crust. A homemade crust will far outshine a store bought one, but either one will work. I use a traditional, simple recipe from Genius Kitchen for my crust which you can find HERE. This recipe includes vinegar which helps prevent the formation of gluten that causes tough crusts (1). It also is a good recipe for either Lard or Vegetable Shortening approaches. I have made it using both and do tend to prefer Lard crusts which are crispier and flakier. Note that you do not need a pastry blender to make this recipe. All you need to do is use two knives in a crisscrossing motion to “cut in” the lard or shortening. For a great video on “cutting in” lard or shortening click HERE.
Cut In
 When your dough is ready or purchased, you will move onto prepping and pre-baking your crust. If you need to roll out your dough make sure you use plenty of flour on your work surface, the dough and the rolling pin. Flour keeps your crust from sticking to things and tearing. Always roll from the center of the dough ball towards the edges. Be careful not to overwork your dough or get it too warm or you will end up with a tough crust.
 The important thing when it comes to crust for a pumpkin pie is that it is blind-baked, meaning it is pre-cooked. Pumpkin pie is a “custard” pie, it only uses a bottom crust and the filling is liquid when added. You need to pre-bake the crust so that the filling does not seep into the raw dough and cause a gooey mess. The directions for blind baking a homemade crust are below. All store bought crusts should include directions for blind baking on the packaging. Once you get your dough into your pan and form the edge, step by step instructions below, you will begin prepping for pre-baking.
Raw Dough in Pan
 Note that this step calls for pie weights. Weights are important as they prevent the crust from bubbling and tearing. You can buy them for a few dollars on Amazon, or even simpler, use rice or dried beans. Use all the weights in a set, or fill the center using the beans or rice. You will remove all the weights for the last few minutes of the pre-bake to brown your crust.
Pie Weights
 Next comes the filling, you put all the ingredients in the bowl and mix them, what could be more simple? The filling recipe below is very nice because it makes a spicy, moist filling that will not be runny. I have refrigerated this pie for up to a week and have not had it liquify, which has happened to me with other recipes. Add the filling to the crust and bake, but be attentive while it is in the oven, pumpkin pie is easy to overbake. The pie is done when the edge of the filling has begun to set and slightly darken but the center is still jiggly. If it goes for too long you will see cracks in the filling and have scorch marks near the edges.
 Last, but not least, dress up your pie with a dollop of homemade whipped cream. The flavor will bring your dessert to the next level. This might all sound like a lot, but once you get going it goes very quickly. Have some fun with your pie and dress it up. Use fun cutouts on the crust, or spice up your filling with your favorite spices.
Any way you make it, a homemade pie, made with love, is always well received.
Print Recipe
The Best Pumpkin Pie
A nice firm and spicy filling, paired with a flaky crust makes for one delicious dessert.
Prep Time 30 Minutes
Cook Time 1.5 Hours
Pie Crust
Pie Filling
Homemade Whipped Cream
Prep Time 30 Minutes
Cook Time 1.5 Hours
Pie Crust
Pie Filling
Homemade Whipped Cream
  1. Follow the directions for your chosen pie crust recipe, if you need a good recipe see the one I listed above. Make either half of the recipe or cut the final in half, saving the other half for later use as that is all you will need for this pie. If you want to make a patterned crust make the entire recipe. *If you are using a pre-made pie crust follow the directions on the packaging for blind baking the crust.
  2. Remove your dough from the refrigerator and let sit on the counter 5-15 minutes, or until malleable. Flour your work surface and place the dough on top. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and also rub some flour onto your rolling pin.
  3. Begin rolling your dough from the center toward the outer edges working your dough into a smooth disc. Add flour as needed to keep your dough from sticking to your rolling pin or work surface.
  4. Continue rolling until your crust is around 13" in diameter and about 1/4" thick-try not to overwork your dough or let it get too warm.
  5. Carefully transfer your dough to a 9" deep dish pie pan. Gently press your dough to fit into your pie dish. Don't worry if you get a tear, simply patch it back up by pressing the two sides of the tear together and smoothing out.
  6. Trim the crust about 1/2" beyond the edge of your pan. Fold the edges under to create a rim and press down to create a smooth edge.
  7. Crimp your edge using your fingers or a fork and pressing down into the rim. *To create an edge using leaf cutouts as shown above leave the rim smooth rather than crimping. Roll out some dough, to about a 1/4" thickness and use the leaf cutters to cut out pressed leaves. Place the cutouts on a baking sheet and bake in a 350-degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Once you have finished baking the pie simply place the baked cutouts around the edges.
  8. Refrigerate the crust while you heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  9. Remove the crust from the refrigerator and place on a baking sheet- The baking sheet will make the pie much easier to move.
  10. Cover the crust with a piece of parchment paper and fill the crust with pie weights. If you do not have pie weights you can use dried beans or rice.
  11. Tent the edges with foil or use a silicone crust cover to prevent the edges from burning.
  12. Bake the crust for 15 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment paper and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the crust is golden and flaky. If it bubbles a little bit at this point just press it back down using a flat spatula. Leave the foil or silicone protector on the edges.
  1. For the filling, whisk together all ingredients in a large bowl. Once combined, pour into your pre-baked crust.
  2. Bake your pie for 50-60 minutes. Remove the foil or silicone cover after about 40 minutes to let the edges brown. The pie is done when the edges have just set and the center is still a bit jiggly.
  3. Let your pie cool at room temperature for a couple of hours, then either serve or refrigerate until ready eat.
Whipped Cream
  1. 1. Combine the heavy cream, sugar, and splash of vanilla in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk using an electric mixer until stiff peaks have formed. Use as soon as possible or store in an airtight container for up to 12 hours.
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5 Coco Chanel Quotes to Inspire Women Everywhere

Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel was a French-born designer who revolutionized the fashion industry. Known to this day for her tailored suits, little black dresses, and signature scent. Inspired by menswear, her clothing designs focused on comfort over constraint. At a time when many women were still wearing corsets, she created comfortable and freeing, well-fitted clothing.

The only fashion designer on Time’s 100 Most Influential People of the Twentieth Century, her style remains iconic to this day. Coco Chanel was a hard worker with a passion who made a true difference. She believed that fashion wasn’t just clothes, that it was in everything around us. That luxury was about comfort and being yourself was true style. She defined elegance for the modern woman. Her wisdom is still applicable from wardrobe to home decor to life in general. I have collected some of my favorite, most inspiring quotes below. I hope you take something from them as I did.

The Words of Coco Chanel

"Elegance is when the inside is as beautiful as the outside." -Coco Chanel

Fashion and luxurious lifestyles can only take you so far. It sounds cliche to say that “beauty comes from within,” but Coco believed and we should practice.

"Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance." -Coco Chanel

Her little black dress is the epitome of an iconic design, and for good reason. It was simple and straightforward, yet captivating. She created a piece that let the woman in it shine through her clothing.

"The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud." -Coco Chanel

Coco voiced wisdom at the beginning of the Twentieth Century that is still beyond relevant today. Women should be heard as well as seen, and living that is true courage.

"Keep your heels, head and standards high." -Coco Chanel

One of my personal favorites. I repeat this to myself as a mantra at times. Feeling down about yourself and your progress in life? Don’t. Keep your head up and keep fighting for what you want and deserve.

"If you're sad, add more lipstick and attack." -Coco Chanel

Coco was truly a wise woman who embraced being a woman. A difficult feat for a businesswoman of her time. None the less she persevered and fought and we can all thank her for a lot. A true revolutionary who continues to be as relevant as ever.

Bonus Inspirational Quote:

Katharine Hepburn, another female revolutionary, played Coco Chanel in the Broadway musical “Coco,” which chronicled her life. She reminds us that we have to work hard if we want success.

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Style Spotlight: Plaid for Your Home and Wardrobe How To

The beginning of October means that Fall Fashion Weeks’ in Europe and America are wrapping up. From the runway to the street this years’ events welcome back a classic, plaid. From handbags and footwear to wide leg trousers and jackets the traditional pattern was a standout. Worn by models and fashion elites alike there were many different styles on display. Not surprising since plaid comes in an endless variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

A Lesson in Plaid
You may be wondering what the difference is between many of the different styles of plaid. Is there one? Yes, there are technical names for many standardized plaid patterns even though the term is often used as a universal name for many. While these patterns come in a wide variety, they do all have one shared characteristic. All plaids use the intersection of vertical and horizontal lines at 90-degree angles to create patterns. Let’s look at a few examples.
Tartan Plaid
Tartan is a traditional Scottish plaid that dates back centuries and is still seen today. The Tartan pattern uses a line repeat that is exactly duplicated on both the horizontal and vertical axes. Unlike a more generic pattern which may have unique line repeats on each axis. Yet, both of these patterns use the overlapping regions of their lines to introduce new or mixed colors.
Glen Plaid
Glen Urquhart
“Glen” or “Glen Urquhart” plaid is another lesser known pattern. It uses an alternating series of large and small checks. Often seen in suiting fabrics and utilizing houndstooth, Glen plaid traditionally uses muted colors.
Rob Roy Tartan
Rob Roy
Furthermore, a variety of check patterns  are often referred to as a “plaids,” including “Buffalo Plaid” and “Rob Roy Tartan.” These patterns use two or more alternating colors to create equal sized squares, and where the lines overlap, other colors appear.
Modern Plaids
These traditional plaids have taken on some modern twists in their latest iterations. By playing with scale, color and repeat textile designers have freshened up and modernized a classic. Modern versions often have bright, unique mixes of colors and playful line repeats. Large scales and metallic accents are being used to add a bit of whimsy.
For Your Wardrobe
Women, ready to add some plaid to your wardrobe, but not quite sure where to start? Grab a simple plaid shirt, skirt or scarf, and pair with sweaters, jeans and leather jackets. A few good pieces will provide an endless supply of mix and match opportunities. Shirt dresses are another on-trend way to spice up your attire this season.
Plaid for WomenFor men, plaid flannels have always been a staple. But, in the day and age where plaid is loud and proud, ties and even full jackets are a fun addition to the closet.
Plaid for Men
For Your Home
As popular as this trend is in the fashion industry right now, it is also a popular trend in home décor. Plaid evokes feelings of winter holidays and coziness. In preparation for the cold months ahead add some plaid touches to your favorite rooms. Use a plaid upholstered chair or sofa, or even wallpaper to create an eye-catching focal point.

Checkered Sofa

For a more subtle approach layer in plaid adorned throw pillows and blankets to create depth and interest. While it can be a very fun pattern, keep in mind that it can become overwhelming if overdone. Use patterns with similar color schemes or pair with chunky knits and neutral textures to avoid this issue.
No matter how you embrace it, plaid is a fun yet traditional way to dress up your autumn wardrobe and home!

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1|Plaid Table Decor-Frosting Home Decor on  2|Plaid Throw Blanket-hhprint on 3|Women’s Plaid Any Day 4|Red Plaid Stag Throw Pillow-Cost Plus World Market 5|Women’s Sylvia Alexander Plaid 6|Buffalo Plaid Knot Headband-shopantsypants on 7|Mid Mod Oval Stool Wood Legs-Plaid –
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