Category Archives: Food & Drink

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

*This post is sponsored by AVA Grace Vineyards.

Ahhhhh, summer…Is there anything sweeter than the beginning of this lazy, hot season?! Truth be told, fall is my absolute favorite time of year, but even still I’ll always have a soft spot for summer. I’m sure it’s all thanks to my memories as a kid, getting to enjoy those three blissful months off from school, with nothing to do but play on the swing set, go to the pool with my friends, and do summery crafts at the kitchen table with my mom and little sister.

I’m pretty notorious for letting summertime fly by, though, without getting to the things I love to do now as an adult. I start June off with big plans for spontaneous picnics at the winery, grilling out while the sun sets, lighting up the fire pit, and so on and so forth. Sounds dreamy, right? The problem is I usually tell myself I’ll get to it when work slows down, or maybe not this weekend but the next. Excuses, excuses. By the time fall gets here, I realize that I never even broke out my bathing suit!

All this to say that I’m hoping summer 2019 will be a different story. I want to embrace the free-spirited vibes of summer, and live my very best life under the sun. To kick things off, I set up a quick summer lunch over at my parents’ new house with delicious varietals (in cans!) from AVA Grace Vineyards and meats and cheeses to boot. Keep scrolling to find out how to recreate the spread for yourself this summer.

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

One of my favorite things about having my parents here in town now is the fact that, if I happen to have a slow afternoon, I’m able to shut down my computer early and head over there to hang out on their back deck (usually with wine in hand). It’s become something of a routine, but I wanted to mix things up and make it feel just a little fancier than an “everyday” type of hang out.

Taking inspiration from their massive back deck—complete with views of both the golf course and the mountains off in the distance—I went with sort of a garden party theme. That might sound overly complicated, but it really wasn’t! All I did was throw a tablecloth (that Mom already had) over their outdoor bistro table, then I situated a potted plant in the background to serve as a makeshift centerpiece to elevate the mood. For the finishing touch I plopped down a pile of plates, cutlery, and a huge cutting board laden down with nuts, cheeses, crackers, fruit, and sweet spreads, too.

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

Right before everyone dug into the lunch spread, I pulled some chilled AVA Grace wine out of the fridge for all of us to choose from. This was our first time enjoying wine in a can, and I don’t mind admitting that we’re converts to the concept. It kept the wine colder, plus the mostly-closed top helped keep bees and other winged critters out of our drinks. I love the approachable price point behind AVA Grace wines, too, and the gorgeous metallic labels we’ve come to love and appreciate on the brand’s wine bottles translate so well to their cans. The soft pink and jewel-toned cans will make just about any type of summer lunch spread look picture (read: Instagram) perfect.

But the pretty label definitely isn’t the main reason I love serving this wine at family gatherings—it’s the taste. For this particular afternoon, I chose the Pinot Grigio and Rosé. Both are absolutely brimming with summer-appropriate flavor. The Pinot Grigio, for starters, has hints of citrus, peach, and honeysuckle with every sip, and the Rosé brings to mind the flavors of berries, apricots, and watermelon. Are you thirsty yet? I know I am. Both feel really elegant and pair perfectly with a cheese board, like the one you see pictured in today’s post.

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

I set things up buffet style on the bistro table, so that we could grab what we wanted, and then find a spot on the back deck to enjoy the view. I personally loaded up on the dried apricots and fresh blackberries, plus slices of cheddar cheese, a handful of crackers, and a spoon filled with strawberry jam. I also love herb-infused goat cheese, so that was my main focus on my return trip to the buffet. Having a lot of different options available means that everyone’s able to find something they’ll love.

We ended up spending more than an hour on the back deck around the bistro table, laughing it up, sipping our AVA Grace wine, and going back to the cheese board for seconds, and maybe even thirds.

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

It was one of those perfect summer days (even though it was just a regular ol’ Wednesday!) where we didn’t have a care in the world, and we felt like royalty eating in the gardens at some place like Downton Abbey. In reality, this whole thing was super affordable to pull off, and took about 10 minutes to style and serve. Just goes to show that you don’t need a ton of money or extra time to make this summer feel like a special one.

What are your favorite AVA Grace wine varietals to enjoy this time of year? And don’t forget to tell me what’s on your seasonal bucket list in the comments below, too!

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

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Changes We’re Making As Our Pets Get Older

Changes We're Making As Our Pets Get Older | dreamgreendiy.com + @purina #ad

*This post has been sponsored by Purina ONE®​. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The other day, I was at the vet for a post-surgery follow-up for our cat, Ginny, who had just had some teeth pulled. While I was there, I happened to ask the tech if there was anything we needed to be doing to help her out as she gets older (she’s 11 this year). Come to find out that every single one of our four pets is now considered “senior”—even little 7-year-old Tonks!

Of course, I know that pets age faster than humans and that “dog/cat years” are a thing. However, I was still a little surprised to realize that our fur babies are anything other than exactly that: babies. The good news is that I learned all sorts of ways we could help our pets live the longest, healthiest lives possible from our vet, so I wanted to share a couple of the tips and tricks we learned in case they help your own furry friends do the same.

Changes We're Making As Our Pets Get Older | dreamgreendiy.com + @purina #ad

Let’s start with the obvious first—namely, food. You know how, as infants and toddlers, we’re fed specially formulated baby food, and that eventually evolves into veggies and other organic ingredients, built to help us grow mentally and physically strong? Well, that same type of evolutionary eating is important for pets, too.

We started our three cats and one hound dog off with kitten and puppy foods when they were little, and we have slowly transitioned them to adult formulated foods as they got older. I knew we’d eventually need to change their kibbles over to a more “mature” variety as they became seniors, but just didn’t realize it would happen so soon. Time goes too quickly, doesn’t it?!

Changes We're Making As Our Pets Get Older | dreamgreendiy.com + @purina #ad

Anyway, the time for all of that is apparently now. So, we recently changed our pets’ then-current Purina ONE®​ dry food over to their “Vibrant Maturity” formula (both the dog and cat varieties). Purina has been a mainstay in our home for all 14 years that we’ve had pets, so it was a no-brainer to stick with the same brand. John and I love that they never use fillers in their food, and the first ingredients on the lists are immediately recognizable. Chicken has always been a favorite amongst our pack, too, so we decided to stick with that main ingredient when switching their foods.

Obviously, the best part is that we know they’re all getting the nutrition they need. This type of food includes antioxidants and Glucosamine, which will help them have more energy and mental power, plus the high-quality protein diet is great for supporting the heart and muscles. You can learn lots more here!

Changes We're Making As Our Pets Get Older | dreamgreendiy.com + @purina #ad

I know it’s a little silly, but I’m also a big fan of how easy Purina ONE labels are to read. There can be a bit of hesitancy involved when considering changing your pets’ food, but I was able to spot exactly what we needed when I was wandering the pet food aisles at Target. The age range is printed in big, bold letters, and the bag made it obvious what types of benefits the specific food promoted. Now that I know exactly what to get Luna, Ginny, Tonks, and Rocky (and I know they like it!), I’ll use Target’s Order Pickup service to take a bit of time out of our monthly restock.

Changes We're Making As Our Pets Get Older | dreamgreendiy.com + @purina #ad

Changes We're Making As Our Pets Get Older | dreamgreendiy.com + @purina #ad

This second tip is a little more specific to cats, but one other thing we’re doing to help them out as they age is keeping their food a little lower to the ground. They get plenty of play and exercise to help keep their joints healthy, so I didn’t think it was quite so necessary to put their food up high anymore. So, I converted the cubby shelf in my office into a cat food station. Their Purina ONE bites are kept in an air-tight container behind one of the doors, and their bowls are in the two lowest cubbies for easy reach. Keeping food and water lower to the ground helps our older cats so they don’t have to work quite so hard to get to it.

Changes We're Making As Our Pets Get Older | dreamgreendiy.com + @purina #ad

Changes We're Making As Our Pets Get Older | dreamgreendiy.com + @purina #ad

This topic might not be for everyone, but our home is so much about the people and animals who live in it. I could go on and on! Hopefully, my learn-as-we-go insight also proves that having pets (young and old!) at home doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style and décor either.

So, now I’d love to hear from my fellow pet moms and dads! Tell me about your own pet routine in the comments. Do you do anything special to help your fur babies live easier, better lives as they age?

Changes We're Making As Our Pets Get Older | dreamgreendiy.com + @purina #ad

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My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

One of my favorite things to gather from you guys on Instagram are responses to an “Ask me anything!” poll. I get so many interesting questions in return, but one that really surprised me recently was this one: What’s your arrangement at the pottery studio? It caught me off guard because I hadn’t realized that I was doing such a bad job explaining the situation!

I think it can honestly be hard for me to have good perspective working by myself from home. Unless I hear from you guys in the comments or on Instagram polls, like the one I mentioned above, it can sometimes feel like I’m talking to myself. I know that’s not the case thanks to the sweet messages I do receive, and that it might be hard for you to be able to picture my side of things (I totally get it!), but the truth is that I might not be quite as forthright with little details because I wonder if I’ve already mentioned it, or I incorrectly assume that you’re right here with me on a daily basis and already know.

Silly, I know! Thankfully, the ambiguity is about to go away because today I plan to break it all down so you can get a good sense of how it all works.

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

First, let me take you back to the beginning in case you’re new around here. It was January 2018 and I was just coming down off a mental New Year’s high. I was still enjoying my winter break holiday, and so I had plenty of time on my hands to think about what I wanted to do with 2018.

I had seen an advertisement for a local pottery class at a place called Make Waynesboro on my Instagram feed, and happened to mention it to my sister and John. They immediately encouraged me to go for it, and even though it took about a week and a half for me to gather up the courage, I did sign up for it.

Those initial weeks of my first class were really hard and humbling for me, but after a few weeks I slowly started to get the hang of things. I fell in love with pottery and went on to sign up for four or five more 6-week classes before finally deciding to become an official member of the studio (and, later, opened an Etsy shop!).

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

At our particular local studio, people are welcome to sign up for one-off classes for a fee, which is what I did for about four months. Then, after signing on as a monthly paying member, I was able to come into the studio whenever I wanted and I was also able to get a discount on classes. I continued to take classes, and also started a regular Monday/Wednesday/Friday morning schedule at the studio so I could work on my own at the wheel outside of classes.

Now, I should probably explain something about myself. When I want to learn something new, I want to learn every single thing I can about it. So, after deciding that I might want to do pottery on more of a full-time basis than I had originally set out to, I started asking the owner of the studio lots of questions that went a little beyond what he taught in the wheel-throwing classes that I had taken up until that point.

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

Happily, he seemed more than willing to offer the extra info, and I guess I was so persistent that he eventually offered the role of Studio Assistant to me. There are a few other people at the studio who do this, but basically, the studio assisting consists of things like loading and unloading the kilns, helping with organization projects, painting, tool storage, clay reclaiming, and all sorts of other things.

I basically help the owners, Jake and Katie, and the other studio assistants keep up with all the things that go along with running a community pottery studio. I also eventually took on the role of managing the studio’s Instagram account since I mentioned having an interest in that, too.

I dedicate roughly 1-3 hours a week of my time at the studio to this role, and in exchange I receive a generous discount on my membership, plus lots of really valuable insight into the inner workings of life as a professional potter.

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

But beyond that, I guess I showed so much of an interest in pottery that the owner offered me a paid position as his own personal assistant, too. So, in between helping out around the studio, I also help Jake with his pottery production process, doing things like weighing and wedging clay so he can quickly make mugs and vases, waxing the bottoms of his pieces before we glaze them, and I also help with his multi-step glazing process to make the more repetitive steps easier on him as he works to fulfill gallery and wholesale orders.

I included several photos of his pieces in this post so you can visualize how I might help him on a daily basis. The spotted pieces, in particular, that you see throughout today’s post are one of the more involved things I get to help with. Other than glazing, I help Jake with a few photography projects, and we also most recently collaborated on redesigning the tags he uses on his pieces when he sells them at galleries and shows.

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

So, that’s a pretty long-winded way of explaining the whole situation, but I hope it gives you better insight into how it all works. I’m still very much in the learning stage and taking every chance I can to try new things, so I’m excited to see how it will all play out in the next year—and, hopefully, many more after that.

Feel free to leave any lingering questions in the comments, and if you happen to have found this blog because you, too, are a potter, I’d love, love, love to hear how your studio arrangement works. Do you have your own space, or do you work in a community studio like I do? If it’s the latter and you’re hoping to take on a bigger role, I can’t encourage you enough to start asking questions. Who knows where it could lead!

My Arrangement At The Pottery Studio

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Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.6

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.6

I just love pottery launch days…It’s so thrilling to debut a brand new collection of handmade work, and to hear all of your helpful feedback, too. I live for those messages from you guys detailing what you love about the pieces, and what you’d like to see more of as well. The DGD Pottery shop exists purely because of your support and excitement over my pottery, so I always want to make sure that I’m focusing on shapes and designs that can live practically and functionally in your homes.

Suffice it to say, my heart leaps out of my chest every single time an order comes through, no matter how big or small it might be, because there’s nothing quite like the vision I have of my art living inside your homes. The thought keeps me going through all of those slightly-less-than-successful days at the studio (of which there are still many!).

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.6

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.6

At any rate, a new 7-piece collection of (happily, very successful!) items just went live over on Etsy, and is ready to be adopted into your own hoard of ceramic treatures. There’s a mug, a carved tumbler, one of my favorite handmade bowls to date, plus a few smaller pieces, like a vase, sauce dish, and another hand-built business card holder, too.

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.6

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.6

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.6

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.6

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.6

Collection No. 6 includes a couple of new pieces that were made with speckled clay, something I’m continuing to focus more and more on as I make new work. One of my personal favorites is that raised platter pictured above, which was glazed in a semi-transparent white finish. Those specks and flecks of brown and gray in the clay really give this piece unique texture and character. It’s going to be a hard one to let go of.

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.6

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.6

Hop over to the DGD Pottery shop here to see all seven items in closer detail and from all sorts of different angles (top, bottom, and all around!). As always, please feel free to share your thoughts, suggestions, and votes for any new shapes you’d like to see this spring in the comments below. Your perspective and opinions are very valuable to me, and I’m consistently blown away by your clever ideas. Multiple heads are better than one, after all.

But before I go, do you want a little hint at what’s to come this summer? Ceramic magnets! Stay tuned, guys. It’s gonna be a whole lotta fun.

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.6

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Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.5

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.5

Did you hear?! A brand new collection just launched in the DGD Pottery shop, and you can take your pick from any of the six new items this way. As has become tradition, I wanted to chat briefly about each piece here on the blog, too, so that you can get a sense of my thought process going into the making phase.

While, a lot of the time, I let the clay sort of take shape and evolve into what it wants (I prefer a pretty spontaneous method over a lot of pre-planning!), I do have an idea of the overall aesthetic I want. Keep scrolling to learn more about Collection No. 5, and then you’re invited to choose one of your favorites on Etsy here.

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.5

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.5

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.5

Tall neck bottles seem to have become something of a default shape for me, so I’m trying to get better about creating vases that can hold more than just one flower stem or branch. That dusty blue organic vase pictured above definitely checks those boxes with its low, wide opening. You could fit a whole bundle of springtime flowers in this vase! Can’t you picture it on an Easter buffet with fresh Alstroemeria blooms overflowing the sides?

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.5Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.5

My sister was actually the one who first got me thinking about making ceramic business card holders. She had seen one she really liked on a different Etsy shop, and asked me if I could try my hand at doing something similar but customized for her.

I started with four different prototypes to show her, and now that she’s had a chance to tell me what she likes and doesn’t like about each of the four based on her (very picky) aesthetic, I’m ready to release them to the world for you guys to snatch up throughout the next several shop updates. This first one is my personal favorite with its rich inky ash finish and organic carved sides.

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.5

Remember my quest to make vases with wider necks? Well, here’s another newer, wider vase to consider for spring. The funnel shape on this piece is perfect for delicate flowers that might need a little more support around their stems. Like the hand-painted design on the side of the vase hints at, it could also be great for fresh cut branches once the leaves come back out in a couple of months.

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.5

To be completely honest, I’m really struggling with learning how best to make mugs. They’re my favorite shape to see other people making, but I’m personally still trying to figure out the best way to make and attach handles to complete mugs of my own.

This two-tone cup above was supposed to be a mug, but I ended up being too intimidated to try my hand at making a handle during the small window of time when I could have attached it (before the cup dried out too much, that is).Yes, I could have said that the no-handle design was my intent all along, but I never want to sweep things under the rug with you guys. Plus, I know you’ll understand that I’m still learning.

The cool thing is that, since admitting all of this over on social media, a lot of you have come forward to say that you actually prefer handle-less mugs, so maybe I should start intentionally make those, too! Leave your vote for “Handle” or “No Handle” in the comments.

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.5

Not all hope is lost for me and mugs, though! That one you see above has got to be one of my most successful ones yet, and is definitely the sort of shape I’d love to keep making this season. I love the straight up-and-down sides, and the minimalist half circle handle is exactly what I was going for, too.

The layered mountains glaze design on the sides was something I tested out during the glaze class I took last year, and is another thing I’d like to perfect in 2019. I was born and raised in Virginia, so the Blue Ridge Mountains have always been a big part of my life. This mug is an homage to all the memories I’ve made hiking and camping in the mountains. See more photos of it this way if you’re interested.

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.5

Last up is a new ceramic bowl, which is actually a bit of an unintentional hint for what’s to come. I don’t remember how I ended up with it, but I somehow came into possession of a lump of speckled stoneware clay (as opposed to the white clay I learned on and started my Etsy shop with).

This bowl was made by combining the white clay I had leftover and my lump of brownish clay to create a marbled look, and then I used a semi-transparent glaze overtop. I loved the final look so much that I’ve since started working exclusively with the speckled clay. I can’t wait to start debuting this fresh new line of finished pottery—stay tuned!

In the meantime, click the graphic below (or right here) to shop all of the pieces in Collection No.5. Let me know if you have a favorite from the bunch, or if there’s a unique shape or style you’d like to see in the shop later this spring and summer. I’m always open to new ideas, so leave a comment below and I’ll see what I can do for you.

Shop DGD Pottery Collection No.5

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Secondhand Score: Mid-century Dining Chairs

Secondhand Score: Mid-century Dining Chairs

Practically since the first day I started this blog back in March of 2011, I’ve had a running series called “Thrift Store Scores.” The concept behind it was to share vintage furniture, lighting, and other decorative goodies scored from (you guessed it) local thrift stores. That was all fine and good when we lived in Lynchburg, Virginia, where thrift stores were practically around every corner, but since we moved out of town to Waynesboro, it’s a totally different story.

Instead of thrift stores, we’re surrounded almost exclusively by antique stores, and of course there’s a pretty big difference between “thrift” and “antique.” So, lately I’ve been called out (rightly so!) by you guys for including things like a $500 mid-century cabinet in a series titled “Thrift Store Score.”

All that to say that this calls for a title change! Welcome to the revamped “Secondhand Score” series. Hopefully the shift away from thrifty-specific terminology will help shed more clarity on our collection of secondhand antiques. First up with this evolved series name in mind? Our new-to-us set of retro dining room chairs.

Secondhand Score: Mid-century Dining Chairs

Secondhand Score: Mid-century Dining Chairs

As you may remember from our home tour, we used to have a great set of dowel-leg dining chairs that looked an awful lot like the famous Eames molded plastic side chair. Since they were inexpensive knockoff versions, our chairs came in well within budget, and still gave me the mid-century vibes I was hoping for in our dining room.

The only rub was that I knew they weren’t really mid-century, and that bothered me probably more than I should admit. So, I’ve unofficially been on the hunt for authentically mid-century (as opposed to reproduction) chairs for the past year.

Secondhand Score: Mid-century Dining Chairs

Secondhand Score: Mid-century Dining Chairs

Secondhand Score: Mid-century Dining Chairs

Late last December while I was working on a little dining room revamp at our house, I really got serious about finding antique wooden chairs to replace our cheapo plastic ones. I scoured Craigslist, kept an eye on the Facebook marketplace section that everyone raves about, I watched for new arrivals in my OfferUp app, and I also was a regular at all of our local antique stores.

It wasn’t until a couple of days after Christmas that I finally found the perfect set of retro chairs. They came from Circa in nearby Charlottesville, Virginia, which (as you probably know) is a favorite spot of mine. The chairs are most definitely vintage, and I love the mix of their wooden frames with black leather upholstery. They’re comfortable, easy to clean, and, best of all, were within budget at about $250 for the set of five.

Secondhand Score: Mid-century Dining Chairs

Secondhand Score: Mid-century Dining Chairs

Secondhand Score: Mid-century Dining Chairs

In case you’re wondering if you heard me correctly, yes, the store only had five chairs in the set. It’s definitely a bummer since we have room for six, but 99% of the time it’s just John and me eating at the dining room table, so we already have more chairs than we need with the set of five. Plus, we’re looking forward to keeping an eye out for that elusive sixth chair to round out the set. It’s our new favorite game when we’re out antiquing.

Before I finish up this story, I wanted to quickly mention the piece of art you may have spotted there between our new-to-us retro lamps (the ones I talked about a couple of weeks ago here). It’s a vintage Japanese architectural drawing that I found in this Etsy shop last summer.

What To Know Before Buying Vintage Lights

Secondhand Score: Mid-century Dining Chairs

Secondhand Score: Mid-century Dining Chairs

The print had actually been saved to my “Favorites” list for months and months, and the purchase of those sleek mid-century chairs finally inspired me to order the print to help play up the cool monochromatic vibes of our new dining room setup. That Etsy shop has tons of gorgeous vintage art pieces to choose from, so definitely check them out here if you have time.

Anyway, that’s it for today’s “Secondhand Score” story! What do you think of the new chairs? Would you have passed on the set since it’s missing that sixth chair? Or do you think you would have, like us, fallen so hard for them that it didn’t even matter? Do tell in the comments below.

Secondhand Score: Mid-century Dining Chairs

*I earn a small percentage from purchases made using the affiliate links above. Affiliate links are not sponsored. Rest assured that I never recommend products we wouldn’t use or don’t already love ourselves.

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Valentine’s Day Dinner For Two At Home

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

I’ve said it year after year, and my tune hasn’t changed—Valentine’s Day still isn’t a holiday I get all that excited about. I know, I know…I must sound pretty heartless, but I tend to be of the mind that love should be celebrated every day of the year, and that Valentine’s Day, in general, has gotten pretty commercialized—which is a shame!

Please don’t get me wrong. If you love Valentine’s Day, by all means, do it up! My own sister, in fact, has always been a gigantic fan of the February 14th holiday, so I know I’m probably in the minority here. Despite my feelings about Valentine’s Day, I do look forward to seeing all those warm, fuzzy declarations of love pop up across social media the day of the big event.

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Knowing all of this, it should come as no surprise that John and I won’t be making a big deal out of Valentine’s Day this week. There will be the exchanging of cards and “I love you”s, of course, but we’ll skip elaborate gifts and probably won’t be going out to a big fancy dinner to celebrate.

Instead, I thought it would be fun to challenge us to make the holiday feel special this year just by amping up our homemade dinner at home. I experimented with a few tricks in a little trial run one afternoon last week, and it turns out that you really only need to gather a few small pieces to make Valentine’s Day feel grand around your very own dining room table. Keep scrolling for the tips I plan to put to good use this Thursday for our real holiday dinner.

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Break Out The Linens

Most days we just use everyday placemats on our dinner table, but for Valentine’s Day I wanted to make the table look restaurant-inspired. To get that vibe, I plan to lay down a white tablecloth that billows down the sides for an elegant look. Luckily, this type of “elegance” doesn’t require any money spent if you already have the cloth on hand!

To create a sense of intimacy between the two place settings I’ll spread a pink runner across the space of the table between our seats. The runner you see pictured in today’s test-run set-up is actually a floral scarf that I already owned but repurposed as a table linen.

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Never Forget Flowers

One of the few things I plan to purchase fresh for our Valentine’s Day dinner at home is flowers. Even a tiny bunch of flowers from the clearance section at the grocery store will do. To make them look extra special and restaurant-worthy, just pop a few stems into bud vases and arrange them in the middle of your table.

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

**Resources: Floral Runner/Scarf, Gold Floral Dish, Bud Vase, Tray, Terrazzo Jar Candle, Salad Bowl, Black Cutlery

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Candles Are A Must

Of course, it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without ambiance, so make sure to pull out a candle or two to light up come dinner time. Most of us keep these types of accents around for special occasions, so it’s another way to save money this holiday. Corral a few lit candles in the center of your tabletop on a nice tray to create a centerpiece.

One trick to make a plain votive feel worthy of the special occasion is to place it on a metallic plate, like the floral dish you see on our own table. By itself the little white candle would have felt lost and unimportant, but setting it on a gold dish instantly made it feel grand.

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

As for food, I say don’t feel the need to go overboard! If you try out a few of the decorative tips I shared above, your everyday dinner table will feel anything but ordinary—so much so that even simple chicken salad sandwiches could make you feel like you’re out at a five-star dinner on the town. Cheers!

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

*I earn a small percentage from purchases made using the affiliate links above. Affiliate links are not sponsored. Rest assured that I never recommend products we wouldn’t use or don’t already love ourselves.

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Tips For De-stressing Over The Holidays

Tips For De-stressing Over The Holidays

Just five more sleeps until Christmas morning! Are you ready and all set to go for Tuesday morning’s festivities? I’m just about ready, but, nevertheless, feel a little anxious that I’ve forgotten something. That feeling is probably thanks to the amount of to-dos I still have on my list of deadlines for work, but all of that will be done by the end of the day tomorrow, and I’ll finally (finally!) be able to relax and enjoy all the excitement that comes with Christmas and New Years.

For those of you who can relate and tend to feel a little on edge or overwhelmed in general this time of year, I put together a list of eight ways to de-stress and decompress. Scroll on for my tips, and picture me over here trying to take a cue from my own book, too!

Tips For De-stressing Over The Holidays

Tips For De-stressing Over The Holidays

Tips For De-stressing Over The Holidays

How To De-stress This Holiday:

1. The very first thing on my list? Learn to say no! This time of year can be especially hard on people who suffer from social anxiety (like me), so go ahead and decline that holiday party invitation that’s been weighing on your mind. If the host is a true friend, they’ll understand. When you graciously decline, though, maybe suggest planning a post-holiday lunch date to catch up.

2. Don’t overextend your creativity on presents. If you’re still buying gifts for people, consider asking your family members to give you their specific wish lists. That way you can be sure you’re getting them something they’ll actually use and love.

3. Eat healthy foods. Even if you trade in just one carb-heavy dinner this holiday season for one packed with vegetables instead, you’ll inevitably feel more energetic and less stressed.

4. Turn off the television and play a board game. Bright digital lights from a TV can cause eye strain and anxiety, so dim your table lamps, turn Christmas music on low in the background, and get back to basics with a family game night.

5. Give yourself license to skip the hassle of wrapping gifts this Christmas. Instead of struggling with tape, scissors, and perfect lines, use bags (or even fabric) to loosely hide your presents from their recipients’ view.

6. Think of quick yet effective ways to give back this Christmas. I was going to suggest volunteering at a homeless shelter, but then my mind started spiraling at the thought of trying to work something like that into an already-packed holiday schedule this late in the game. Instead, go buy some coats, gloves, and hats, and donate them to your local homeless shelter.

7. Keep up with your routine. Sometimes, breaking away from the activities you’re used to during the rest of the year can make you feel thrown off, so stick with your weekly yoga class, morning meet-ups, and bedtimes this holiday season.

8. Stop for a moment at least once a day to think about the big picture. Think about what Christmas means to you, or try visualizing a couple of positive goals you want to make for the new year ahead. You could even simply tell yourself that this, too, shall pass in just a couple more weeks! Having a mini check-in with yourself puts things into perspective, and can help you recenter before tackling another potentially stressful holiday to-do list item.

Tips For De-stressing Over The Holidays

Tips For De-stressing Over The Holidays

Tips For De-stressing Over The Holidays

How do you de-stress over the holidays? Or are you the type of person who can sail through Christmas and New Years with a big ol’ smile on your face despite the chaos surrounding you? I wish I could be more like that latter group of folks, but, alas, I think I’m always going to be just a tiny bit high strung this time of year. Even still, I always look forward to these festive holidays, and wouldn’t trade the occasion for anything in the world. Leave your own tips, if you’ve got them, in the comments below.

Tips For De-stressing Over The Holidays

*Photos by Chelsea Laine Francis from my 2014 feature for Camille Styles all about 10 Easy Ways to Deck Out Your Home for the Holidays
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Christmas Coffee Cocktail Holiday Recipe

Christmas Coffee Cocktail Holiday Recipe

Happy Monday, everyone! Did you enjoy a nice relaxing weekend like I told you to? I think it’s so important to prioritize self-care right now since we’re all likely in the midst of a super chaotic holiday season.

Even if you’re not traveling or hosting a big group of family and friends for Christmas or New Years, chances are good that you’re having to accommodate all of those people around you who are. John and I drove out of town the other day to do some Christmas shopping in a nearby city, and we had a helluva time avoiding impatient drivers and stressed-out shoppers. It’s the nature of the beast, if you will, this time of year, so make sure you set aside some time for self-care these last couple of weeks of the year.

Today, I thought it might be fun to share one of the simple little stress-relievers that I’ve added to my own holiday routine this year. Every few days, I make myself a cup of this Christmas Coffee Cocktail, and it does wonders to soothe my racing mind. Keep scrolling for the couldn’t-be-easier (or sweeter!) recipe.

Christmas Coffee Cocktail Holiday Recipe

Christmas Coffee Cocktail

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. Baileys Irish Cream

1 tbsp. Frangelico

1 tbsp. Kahlua

8 oz. fresh coffee

Directions:

Combine the first three ingredients in a mug, and then pour the fresh coffee over top. Stir to combine, and serve hot. The drink is sweet enough on its own, but if you want to go the extra mile, try adding cinnamon sugar to the rim of your mug before mixing the drink. A dollop of fresh whipped cream wouldn’t hurt either. Cheers!

Christmas Coffee Cocktail Holiday Recipe

P.S. If you enjoyed today’s post, you’re going to love what’s coming in this week’s DGD Tribe newsletter! Sign up here to get on the list before the last newsletter of 2018 goes out on Wednesday.
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How To Install Under-Cabinet Lighting

How To Install Under-Cabinet Lighting

This statement is nothing new to you if you’ve been a blog follower for a while now, but the lighting in our kitchen is really, really bad. Even with the overhead pendant on full blast, John and I feel like we’re squinting to see what we’re doing while cooking in the space. So, under-cabinet lighting has been on my to-do list for practically the entire time we’ve lived in this house.

As of this past fall, enough was finally enough, and I decided to splurge on a set of battery-operated lights for under the kitchen cabinets. Today, I wanted to talk you through the quick install process, and also share my thoughts on the lights themselves now that we’ve used them for a couple of months.

Oh, and just so you know, this post isn’t sponsored—I paid for the lights myself, and just thought you might like to know a little more about the exact ones we bought because (spoiler) they’re awesome!

How To Install Under-Cabinet Lighting

How To Install Under-Cabinet Lighting

Here’s a link to the set of six wireless puck lights I ordered off of Amazon. After reading the reviews, I decided to also order a few sets of rechargeable batteries. The puck lights themselves actually came with regular batteries, so I didn’t have to open the rechargeable ones right away, but I’m glad to know that, when the cheap batteries die, I’ve got a backup set that we can reuse over and over again.

How To Install Under-Cabinet Lighting

As for installation, all you have to do is remove the lights from their packaging, pull out the temporary plastic tabs to activate the batteries, and then decide where you want each light to go under your cabinets. Since you really can’t see the lights when you’re moving around in the kitchen, you don’t need to be super meticulous about measuring things out—unless you want to, of course. The lights are tucked far enough under our own cabinets to be inconspicuous, so I just eye-balled their placement every few feet around the L-shape of our kitchen.

You can actually tap these particular puck lights to turn each one on individually, but the set also comes with a remote so you can turn them all on at once, dim them, and even set them on a timer, which I think is pretty handy. The only thing you need to keep in mind because of the remote is that you need to install the lights with the sensor facing outward so the remote can trigger them accurately.

How To Install Under-Cabinet Lighting

How To Install Under-Cabinet Lighting

(Note: Please ignore the patchy yellowish drywall you see exposed between the backsplash and cabinets…We still need to paint it or add trim to cover it up.)

To install, I first held the assembled light up where I wanted it under the cabinet, making sure the sensor was facing forward. Then, I carefully lowered the light (with it still oriented the correct way), gently twisted the halves apart to access the screw holes on the top section, and then realigned it under the cabinet. After that, I made marks through the holes onto the cabinet with a marker, drilled through the marks, and screwed the top portion of the light to the cabinet. Finally, I twisted the bottom part of the light onto the top that I had just screwed in place.

As you can see a few photos up, I also drew on a quick arrow to help me remember which way the top portion needed to be aligned under the cabinet. This made sure the tabs that you twist the halves over are all facing the right way to get the sensor aligned properly. I promise this will make a whole lot more sense if you decide to purchase and install these exact lights, so don’t worry if it sounds confusing right now!

How To Install Under-Cabinet Lighting

How To Install Under-Cabinet Lighting

I went back and forth over whether to pay an electrician to come out and install wired lights, but am actually really glad I decided to go with battery-operated. Yes, they’ll eventually dim and die and we’ll need to stay on top of recharging batteries, but the lights cost less than $35, so the whole project came in way under budget.

Another reason I’m happy we went with wireless lights? They are an absolute GODSEND when the power goes out! That doesn’t happen too often around here, but it went out for 24 hours last month after an ice storm, and we were able to light up the entire kitchen without power thanks to our little set of puck lights. We also were able to twist a couple of them off the cabinets and keep them in the bathrooms so we had light in those rooms during the power outage, too.

How To Install Under-Cabinet Lighting

How To Install Under-Cabinet Lighting

How To Install Under-Cabinet Lighting

Have you installed under-cabinet lighting in your kitchen? If so, did you go with battery-operated lights, plug-in options, or fully wired versions? Let me know in the comments below. And, again, if you want to copy our set-up, these are the puck lights we bought, and these are the rechargeable batteries that we have on standby.

How To Install Under-Cabinet Lighting

*I earn a small percentage from purchases made using the affiliate links above. Affiliate links are not sponsored. Rest assured that I never recommend products we wouldn’t use or don’t already love ourselves.

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