Simple Ways to Style a Sophisticated Coffee Table

“Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication” ~ Leonardo Davinci. This is a motto that guides my design principles.

I like to keep things simple and minimal allowing each design feature and decor item to speak for itself. This is the same rule I apply when I am styling a coffee table.

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Tips on how to style a coffee table that will accommodate almost any style:

  1. I always love adding fresh flowers, plants or greenery to add life and color to a room. It could be as simple as fresh flowers in a mason jar, as I have here, or potted plants or some faux greenery in a vase.
  2. I have a number of items on my coffee table such as the candle, vase, paper weight and bead garland. To keep it looking clean and clutter free, I added a tray to store all the items. I chose a tray that complements the decor of my home. In my case I chose this gold mirror tray that really ties in all the pieces adding a level of sophistication to the overall look of the coffee table.
  3. To create visual interest, I added some contrasting pieces such as the natural wood bead garland wrapped around the mason jar next to the polish gold apple paper weight. The different material choices immediately draws your attention to it, not in a negative way but in a complementary way.
  4. The purpose of the candle here is to add varying height to the coffee table. If everything on the table is the same height, it will often look boring and cluttered. By adding objects with varying heights it keeps the eye moving and captivated. That and I simple love candles. You’ll see them pretty much in every room of my house (with the exception of the kid’s room and their bathroom). They are pretty to have around but also keep the house smelling fresh!
  5. Coffee table books are just one of my favorite accessories in the house. Find one that interests you and they are often very well designed so it looks great in any home. It also allows your guest something to browse when they are visiting. Magazines are also great options and you can always stack them to create varying height as mentioned above in #4. Rule of thumb: stack in odd numbers.

 

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How to Achieve a Pregnancy Glow without being Pregnant

So first off, I am most definitely pregnant, 33 weeks plus 4 day to be exact. The reason I named my blog post as such is because I have been getting a lot of complements from family, friends and various people that I cross path with about my pregnancy glow.

I am not sure how much of it has anything to do with my pregnancy but instead how diligent I have been with my skincare routine the past 6 months or so. I have spent the past 14 or 15 months trying different products and have finally settled on a routine about 6 months ago. I am pretty happy with this routine and definitely have noticed a difference in the quality of my skin. Now if only had I started taking care of my skin in my 20s instead of my mid 30s. Also, something to note is that I NEVER wear foundation so my focus has been to even my skin tone and make my skin more healthy.

My morning routine:

  1. Wash my face with Youth to the People Superfood antioxidant cleanser. Now, I don’t always my face with a cleanser in the morning. I usually wash it with just water first and see how it feels. I don’t want to wash away all the natural oil from my face. However, it does feel more oily than I like, than I would
  2. Use this Rose floral toner  to tone my face using this super soft cotton pad. A toner is important to restore your pH balance after cleansing your face.
  3. Eye cream is a must given my age, and this one by Fresh is my go to.
  4. Being in Florida, I get a lot of exposure to the sun so a good vitamin C serum is really important to me. I apply this vitamin C serum to my face and have noticed my skin tone more even and firm.
  5. Then I apply my favorite product of all time and it is this glow oil as my mositurizer. At first I was hesitant about using an oil but it absorbs really quickly and leaves my face glowing all day.
  6. One thing I wish I had done in my 20s is reduce the exposure to UV rays, instead of lying outside baking in the sun without any sun protection. I guess better late than never so now I always make sure I apply sunscreen on my face everyday, even on a cloudy day. I love this one from Supergoop as it is clear and applies matte on my face. It doesn’t feel sticky or leave any residue on my skin.

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My night/after shower routine: 

  1. I always double cleanse my face at night. The first wash is to remove my makeup and sunscreen and I use this one by Farmacy.  The second one is to cleanse my face and I use the same one as in my morning routine.
  2. Use this Rose floral toner  to tone my face using this super soft cotton pad.
  3. I apply this eye cream both day and night.
  4. I love this anti-aging night serum that I have been using the past year or so.
  5. Apply this glow oil as my moisturizer.

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Weekly Routine: 

Once or twice a week, I would use this facial peel. If you are just starting out or if you have more sensitive skin, I would use this one, which is a bit more gentle. The peel is great for reducing fine lines and wrinkles and brighten skin tone.

I also try to incorporate this overnight mask from one of my Youth to the People a few times a week. So instead of using the glow oil, I would replace it with this mask and leave it overnight. I love that this mask absorbs really well overnight and the next morning, you wake up with an instant glow.

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The key to good skincare is to be consistent. In the past, I have tried to develop a thorough skincare but never stuck to it or was never patient enough to realize the benefits of proper skincare. Also, I am a firm believer that skin care starts within so feeding your body with lots of water and proper nutrients will also help nourish your skin.

I hope you find this helpful.  I am sharing you my specific routine and the products that have worked for me and my skin type.  If you do end up trying some of these products, please let me know in the comments below what your thoughts are on them.

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Thanks and as always XO,

 

Kim

 

 

Maternity Wear Without Maternity clothes

Guys, just a few more days and I’ll be 31 weeks pregnant which means we are officially in single digit countdown! To say we are excited in anticipation of this baby is an understatement but not being prepared is definitely not one. Our poor baby still does not have a place to sleep.  My goal next week is to start the preparation for the arrival of our new bundle of joy. Stay tune for upcoming nursery, baby gear posts and so much more.

As I am quickly approaching the end of my pregnancy, I wanted to share with you how I built my maternity wardrobe without any maternity clothes. This sweet little boy or girl (it will be a surprise) will be our very last baby.  I didn’t want to invest in clothes that I can only wear a few times or for a few short months. If you are in the same boat as I am or looking for versatile pieces that will accommodate both a growing baby bump and post pregnancy, this is for you.

For the most part, I avoided wearing jeans/pants and stuck to dresses, elastic band skirts, joggers and jumpsuits.

This dress is currently my favorite dress of all time. It is a such a flattering day to day midi dress that comfortably stretches to accommodate a growing belly. It also makes the perfect LBD post pregnancy.

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I have owned this Leith dress in multiple colors for a few years now and it has been the perfect go to maternity dress. I also recently purchased this red bohemian dress  that simply drapes over my belly. It is such a statement dress that is comfortable and light weight, perfect for summer.

 

thumbnail_IMG_1958.jpgIf you are into jumpsuits, then you cannot go wrong with this one. It hits all the marks, affordable, comfortable and on trend. I also got this kimono during the Memorial Day sale to rock at my baby sprinkle in about 2 weeks. And let’s not forget about comfortable nightmare. I have this night gown from Target in all three colors. 

What I Pretty Much Live in These Days

 

Swimsuits:

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Living in Florida, you can’t really get away without putting on a swimsuit every now and then. I pretty much stick to high waisted bottoms and these have been my affordable go to swim suits during my pregnancy. This blush tunic coverup is my all time favorite.

 

Headpieces:

Accessorizing with a headpiece has been my tool to elevate my maternity wardrobe. If you follow me on Instagram and seen my stories, you’ll notice that I am almost always rocking one of these headbands.

 

 

 

 

How I Transformed My Not So Desirable Kitchen Into A Beautiful White, Open And Spacious Kitchen.

Guys, we finally renovated our kitchen after contemplating for over 2 years since the day we moved into our 1680 square feet townhouse. After finding out I was pregnant with baby #3, I immediately knew our kitchen had to be gutted and remodeled. Now that I will be nesting with a baby, I knew I needed to love my home.  The kitchen was the one room in my house that I did not love, yet spend the most time in it.

If you ever once thought white kitchens are boring, well I hope to change your mind today. In my opinion, white kitchens are classic and timeless. For our kitchen remodel, I wanted to keep it traditional while adding some modern elements and plenty of visual interest to it.

We didn’t touch the layout as this layout functions great for our family but we pretty much replaced everything.

What we did:

  1. Added taller shaker style cabinets (old cabinets were 30″ in height, new are 42″).
  2. Added crown molding above the cabinets.
  3. Replaced the under cabinet microwave hood with a custom built in hood.
  4. Added open shelves on each side of the hood.
  5. Lowered the bar top to countertop level.
  6. Removed the pantry and replaced it with full height cabinets.
  7. Added deeper cabinets over the refrigerator and panels on each side.
  8. Replaced the travertine backsplash with white 3″x12″ subway tiles.
  9. Added shiplap above the shelves and cabinets and on the back of the peninsula.
  10. Added lighting above the shelves.
  11. Replaced the tile floors to waterproof/kid proof vinyl wood floors.
  12. Replaced the speckled corian countertop to the Calcatta gold quartz countertop.
  13. Added the waterfall effect to the countertop of the peninsula.
  14. Replaced hardware, faucet and sink.

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Despite the layout remaining the exact same, the kitchen now feels a lot more open and spacious. The taller cabinets, the open shelves, the lowering of the bar top, the replacement of the pantry with full height cabinets all played a significant role in this.

The rectangular hood above the range may appear simple but definitely added a modern statement to the overall look and feel of the kitchen.  The simple black hardware, stainless steel apron sink, champagne gold faucet and industrial glass pendant lights all added the perfect modern balance to a traditional kitchen.

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The shiplap, the crown molding, the beautiful veins on the Quartz countertop and most definitely the waterfall effect adds drama and keeps your eyes captivated despite the very white and neutral color palette.

I absolutely love how our kitchen has turned out and excited to be making many more memories with my family here. I would love to hear what your thoughts are on white kitchens. If you didn’t like them before, was I able to convince you otherwise.

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Before Photos (of when we purchased this home):

12 Simple Tips on How to Make Traveling With Tiny Humans Just A Little Easier.

Traveling with young children may seem scary, I get it! I know many parents who avoid traveling altogether, because they fear how their children will be, when confined in a small aircraft, away from their comfort space and off their routine. This is definitely a fair and a legitimate concern.

If you have followed me for a while, you’ll know that my husband and I both love to travel.  One of my favorite philosophies in life is that “variety is the spice of life”.  Nothing offers more variety than being able to see, experience and immerse yourself in different cultures and lifestyles from around the world. It is important to us that our children learns to appreciate the uniqueness and complexity of different cultures and understand the vastness of what this world has to offer. Not all classrooms need to be made up of four walls.

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Having said that, traveling with kids can be a lot of work so I have tried my best to outline as many key tips for you to make your experience as positive as it can be. Let me be clear, I have had my fair share of disastrous trips so I want to help you prevent that from happening.  Nothing is worse than spending a ton of money on a vacation and NO ONE is happy!

1. Be realistic about your travels: No one knows your child best so be realistic about your destination, activities and duration. For example, if you have a young toddler that does NOT like to walk for a long period of time, don’t plan long hiking trips unless you are fit enough to be carrying your child for most of the hike.

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2. Accommodate some routine in your travel plans. I definitely think you should be able to relax a bit when you’re travelling. The reality is, you are on vacation and there are places you want to go, and things you want to see.  Accommodating every nap, every routine, every day, is probably not realistic. However, we all know that kids are better and happier when they on a routine.

My rule of thumb is when we skip naps for one or two days, we’ll try to accommodate naps the following day. Or if we went to bed late one night, then the following night, we would try to go to bed earlier or at least on time.  I consider this as an opportunity for your child to reset. The last thing you want is to have a tired child having an epic meltdown in the middle of the streets, while hundreds of tourists stare at you. I speak from experience! This on routine, off routine (or reset) method worked really well for us when our kids were younger. However, every child is different, so the schedule that worked for us may not necessarily work for you. You know your child best so determine a schedule/rhythm that works best for him or her.  It may take a few trials and error before you get it down so be patient! As your kids get older, it will get easier to skip the day to day routines.

3. Book flight times around your children’s schedule. If it is a long flight, book an overnight flight if possible. It will be dark and late so they will most likely be tired and sleep through most of it. If it is a shorter flight, try to schedule it around their nap time.  Sometimes the perfect flight time may cost more, so do what makes the most sense for your family financially. Any hour you can get them sleeping on a flight, the better and less stressful it is for you. If napping/sleeping is not an option, then select a time where your child is easiest to accommodate such as in the morning, after they had a full night of rest. Tired kids are often cranky ones.

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4. Keep them busy on flights. The older your child is, the easier it is with flights. I personally had great traveling experiences with my kids when they were babies. They slept, ate snacks and when they got cranky, I would nurse them and that usually did a great job of calming them. Make sure to pack lots of snacks if you are traveling with infants, it will come in handy.  For toddlers, if you are open to screen time, then iPads and tablets are great. Download activities, games, and shows prior to your flight so they can occupy themselves with that.  Now if you’re like me and try to limit screen time, bring activities. I always hit up the local dollar store. For $10 or so, I can get a number of coloring books, fun packs, playdoh and some simple sticker crafts that will keep them busy for hours. Reusable sticker pads and audio books were also great hits with my boys.

5. Don’t care about the other people on your flight! For some reason, this is hard for most people.  We get so occupied with not disturbing other flyers, and completely stress ourselves over it. Most people are understanding when they see you traveling with young children.  But trust me, I’ve gotten a few eye rolls here and there (definitely not often), as I walked down the aisle by the business class section by myself with two young children. You know what, I don’t care! I have the right to be on that flight with my kids just as much as anyone else does. The reality is, most of these people were once in your shoes at one point or another.  If they can’t sympathize with you, then that is too bad, and makes me want to care less about what they think.

6. Pack as much as you need (yes, this is probably different from what you are used to hearing). I’m not saying pack your entire house for all your trips, but if there is something that is going to make your trip easier, then why not bring it. For example, we went to Portugal this past summer and my husband didn’t want to bring a stroller. I thought he was crazy. Yes, my 5-year-old should be walking for most of the trip, but let’s be serious, there was a LOT of walking and he’s going to be tired, along with my 3-year-old! I am a fan of catering your trips appropriately to accommodate your family type. However, unless you have all the time in the world or a lot of money, you’ll want to get the most out of your trip. If you need a stroller so you can see or do more, then by all means, bring a stroller! Bring what makes your trip easier. If you think the benefit of having something outweighs the inconvenience of having to bring it, then bring it!

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7. A little planning goes a long way. As romantic as the idea of being spontaneous may sound, routine and structure are good for kids. Plan ahead the various activities that you would like to do or places you would like to visit and create a travel itinerary. This way, you can accommodate some of your children’s routine as outlined in tip #2.  For example, you don’t have to go back to your hotel everyday for your kids to nap, but if you are going to have a car, plan for your kids to nap while you drive from one destination to another or in the stroller as you push them to the next location.

8. Hand sanitizers are a must. Make sure it is in each bag. Let’s get real, kids are gross! Prevent germs from spreading or kids getting sick so pack those hand sanitizers.

9. Be flexible with the your travel plans. Now if you created an itinerary as suggested above, realize that with younger kids, you might not be able to tackle everything on that list. Prioritize your list of things to see and do each day, and try to get through the ones highest in priority first. Be flexible to move things around if you can’t get to something on a certain day. I think we often forget that we’re not able to move as quickly with younger children.

10. Make sure to include kid friendly activities or attractions in your trip. Most kids don’t get excited about art galleries, museums and sight-seeing. We took the kids to the aquarium in Lisbon in Park of Nations and they had a blast. They are on vacation too, so plan something fun for them as well.

11. If your child is old enough, give him or her a camera. I did this with Lucas in Portugal and it was probably one of the best things I did on this trip. He felt empowered with his camera and it provoked his curiosity wherever we went.  He was excited to go sight-seeing because he could capture the experience himself.

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12. Last but not least, JUST HAVE FUN! Enjoy yourself and not stress over everything. Traveling is about being present and immersing yourself in new experiences and having cool stories to tell later on. Appreciate the people you are with, in the surrounding you are in, so go have some fun!

XO,

Kim

 

Simple Ways to Bring Fall Inside Your Home

As you know, I reside in Florida so the closest things we have to Fall at this time of the year are pumpkins and various colors of mums found in grocery stores in mid 80 to 90 temperatures. So it doesn’t really feel like Autumn around here and you MUST know that this is my absolute favorite season!!!

I miss being able to dress for this time of the year with all the layers, cozy  sweaters, jackets of all sorts and BOOTS! I MISS MY BOOTS!!! I remember the first year I moved to Florida, the day after Labor Day, I totally had my OTK boots on. I couldn’t tell you how silly I felt, as not only was I sweating in them but EVERYONE, and I mean EVERYONE were in flip flops, even the men, which you almost never see up North. But that’s not going to stop me from embracing all the warm hues and beautiful rustic elements of this season. I  might not be able to rock the oversized cozy sweaters and booties that have been blowing up my Instagram or take evening strolls watching the leaves grow old in vibrant colors of yellow, orange and red. But I can definitely sit inside the comfort of my cozy Autumn home sipping on a pumpkin spice latte in my super fuzzy slippers.

Here are a few easy ways to bring the beautiful season of Fall into your home:

1. You know Pumpkins were going to be on my list so it might as well be the first one. I can’t seem to resist them at this time of the year despite knowing very well that they will NOT last long given the Florida heat and humidity. Nothing screams Fall more than pumpkins. They come in various sizes and colors so make sure to grab a few and scatter them on your mantle, coffee table, entry way table, shelves and/or front porch. Instantly Fall has found its way into your home. If you prefer more of a neutral decor like myself, then white pumpkins/gourds are perfect for you.  IMG_6502.JPG

2. In fashion, plaid is a big hit at this time of the year.  This is when I love rocking button down shirts/flannels, my way of incorporating the season into my wardrobe even with the lack of cooler temps. This same trend can also be applied to the interior of your home. Plaid throw pillows and towels can easily be staples in every house and will allow you to maintain the color scheme of your decor. They never go out of style and really can be used anytime of the year. Texture and layering is quintessential to a cool Autumn day so this is a great time to add hearty texture to your decor. Bring out the faux fur, chunky knits and velvet throw blankets and pillows to add that touch of coziness.

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(Image found on todaycreativelife.com)

3. When I think of fall, I think of nature, being in the woods surrounded by trees with tons of leaves, some on the tree and some scattered on the ground. So add some rustic elements and wood tones to your decor. Replace a ceramic planter or vase with a wooden one and you’ll be surprised how warm your space will feel. LRG_DSC06354

4. Flowers are always a nice touch to every home. If you’re like me and can’t keep plants alive to save your life, flowers are a great way to add life and a pop of color to your home. To celebrate this season, add some mums to your front porch in rustic planters and you are set. Fresh cut sunflowers in a vase is another great way to showcase that warm Fall hue  in your decor.

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5. Yellow, Green, Orange, Red and Brown are the probably the colors that come to mind during this season. If that is your thing, by all means, incorporate these colors to your home. If you are like me and prefer a more neutral palette, instead of introducing bright orange pillows to your couch, find a more subtle way to introduce these tones to your home, such as adding amber glass jars/vases for your shelves or in my case, hand soap/lotion bottles. It doesn’t have to be extreme or over the top, subtle touches are often the most impactful!

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Also try shopping from your own house. It is likely that you have something stored away that you can reuse or repurpose and that is really the best way to shop! I brought out my olive-green hunter boots and placed it by the entry way for that extra touch of Fall. The reality is I NEVER wear them but you know what, that’s ok because it makes me happy! I also have an oversized plaid scarf that I’ve had since my days in Toronto and now I use it as a throw blanket for this time of the year.

I would love to hear what you have done to incorporate Fall into your home. Please feel free to share your tips in the comments below.

XO,

Kim,

 

 

How to Create a Fun and Simple Kid’s Halloween Tablescape.

Earlier this month, I shared my thought of creating a Fall tablescape with my Instagram followers and asked if they were interested in seeing a Thanksgiving or Halloween tablescape?  The vote was unanimous and the conclusion was Halloween. Everyone wanted something for their kids, so here it is!

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Initially I was going to put together a pretty and elegant Halloween table for you. Then I remembered that everyone that voted, voted because they wanted something fun to share with their kids. Having that in mind, my goal for this Halloween table was to create something that is:

  1. Simple
  2. Whimsical
  3. Affordable and
  4. Low-maintenance

Kids are messy and they probably couldn’t care less whether they are eating on fancy china with gold flatware or paper plates and plastic forks.

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To decorate my entire table, I opted to use some of my existing Halloween decorations such as the pumpkins, banners, candle holder, the faux blood napkin, halloween tree with ornaments and skeleton. So feel free to dig through your Halloween box tucked away in your garage or basement and see what you can use to create your own whimsical Halloween table. Everything else I purchased from the dollar section at Target: the broomsticks, the pumpkin paper plates, napkins, mini black caldron, faux plants, mini mason jars, paper straws and black tablecloth.

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We absolutely LOVE Halloween in our family! As much as I didn’t want to make it over the top scary, I did want to add some of the traditional Halloween ghoul. That is why I decided to add the skeleton (Mr. Bones) in one of the seats to play up the fun factor and have him enjoy the meal with the kids. Now if anyone is scared, then he can easily be removed and put back into his grave :). I also added some faux spider webs over the centerpiece (the Halloween tree) but did not add any creepy crawlers because I wanted to keep it light and those could be too much while trying to enjoy a meal.

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My table was set outside because I live in Florida and there are very few months where a meal outside is actually enjoyable.  Since it is typically a bit cooler during the month of October, I figured this would be a great opportunity to eat outside. Also, I usually have some fun craft and decorating activities for the kids after their meal so keeping the mess outside would definitely help maintain my sanity.

To style this table I used less than $20 to purchase everything I needed, on top of the existing decor I already had. This was very simple and inexpensive to create. Your kids and their friends would absolutely love it, Even if you are not planning a kids party, why not simply enjoy a fun halloween family dinner with your kiddos! Enjoy guys and Happy Halloween!

XO,

Kim

Florida Bucket List

As many of you know, our family moved from Toronto to Tampa 4 1/2 years ago because of my husband’s job. Florida has become our home and it’s where my oldest son spent most of his life and where my second child was born. As much as we have loved the endless sunshine and being surrounded by beautiful palm tress and white sandy beaches, our plan is always to return to Toronto to be closer to our families.

Keeping that in mind and really unsure of when that date will be, my goal lately is to take as much advantage of this lifestyle as we can before we move on from this chapter of our lives.

Here are a few things that I have listed on my Florida Bucket list to do with my boys (in no particular order):

1. Go to the Beach more often

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There are so many beautiful beaches around the Tampa Bay Area and it is ashamed that we don’t go nearly as often as we should. Prior to this year, we probably went 3 to 4 times a year or when guests came to visit. This summer, my goal has been to go at least once a week or every two weeks.  Once we move back to Toronto, the ocean will be a lot more than a skip, hop and jump away.

2. Watch the sunset on the beach with my boys

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We are only half an hour away from the beach so I would love to take the boys one evening, grab dinner on the way and have dinner on the beach while the sun is setting in the horizon. One day they will probably want go be sharing this experience with someone special in their lives as I did with their dad in some of the most beautiful places in the world. For now, I would love them to be the special people that I get to share this experience with before I pass that baton to someone else.

3. Try stand up paddle boarding

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We were able to check this one off the list when we got back from our Portugal trip but I would definitely like to continue exploring it as a sport. I found it extremely calming and relaxing when we were out in the water.

4. Continue to explore all the amusement parks

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If there is one thing that Florida has, it is definitely an abundant amount of amusement/themed parks from Disney World to Busch Gardens to Legoland to Crayola Experience and so many more. The first year we moved down to Florida, we immediately went to Magic Kingdom at Disney World. Let me tell you, it was everything BUT magical, nor was it the happiest place on earth. However, we learned from our lesson and got much smarter and attempted it again 2 years later. A little pre-planning made the world of difference in our experience. We had a blast every time we went. So far we have been to Magic Kingdown; Epcot; Busch Gardens and we always have an amazing time. We visited Legoland this past long weekend and my boys still rave about it EVERY SINGLE DAY!

5. More weekend trips

My kids love staying at hotels.  I’m not sure why to be honest, because for the longest time, I struggled at the idea of sleeping in a room that has been used by gosh knows how many people. But I guess they think of it as a place away from home and it means we’ll be spending most of our time doing fun activities, which is true. Florida has some great spots for quick getaways that I’d love to take advantage of prior to our move. So far, we have been to Sanibel Island, Miami, Jacksonville, Naples, Orlando (Disney) and St. Augustine (the oldest city in the US. A quick side note: it wasn’t that old. LOL). Here are a few places that are definitely on my list for future weekend getaways: Anna Maria Island; Key West/Florida Keys and Seaside. We always have such a great time on these short weekend trips and the memories we make on them are priceless.

6. Rent a boat and spend the afternoon out in the ocean

I feel like you really should be in or around water as much as you can when you are this close to the ocean. So a day out in the ocean on a boat with family and friends sounds like a lot of fun to me. I would prepare lunch to eat on the boat, try fishing (which is really not my cup of tea, but hey, why not) and perhaps convince the kids to go tubing.

7. Weeki Wachi

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I discovered this place on the Labor Day long weekend as we went with a bunch of friends and I can’t tell you how amazing this place is. It was on my list of things to do but now that we have gone, I want to take every guests that visits us here and take the boys as many times as I can. This is such a neat little place with plenty of fun activities for everyone. There is a live mermaid show, a wildlife show, canoeing, a spring where you can swim in, multiple water slides that drop you into the spring, a kids area and you can even rent a float and float along the spring soaking up the sunshine. During our visit, there was a manatee in the swimming area so we were able to dive under water to see it in person. That was pretty cool!

8. Watch a Rocket launch at NASA

We recently watched Elon Musk launched a Tesla up into space on the news and the boys have been fascinated with rockets and space ever since. We have visited NASA in Houston but not in Florida. I am actively monitoring the launch schedule on their website. Once there is a rocket launch that is aligned with our schedule, we will definitely be packing our bags and heading to the space coast. I can’t wait!

9. Attend a Gasperilla Pirate Festival

Can you believe we have lived here for over 4 years and never attended any Gasperilla events? For those that may not be familiar with Gasperilla, once a year, pirates invade Tampa Bay aboard the majestic pirate ship “Jose Gasparilla,” kicking off a full schedule of pirate-themed events.  There are a lot of street events that typically involve a lot of alcoholic beverages which I am not particularly interested in. However, I would at least like to attend the children’s Gasperilla parade with the kids, with them all dressed up as pirates collecting treasure/beads. We planned to attend last year but my little donut got sick the night before so we didn’t end up going. However, it is definitely on our list for this coming year.

That is it for now guys! I am sure I will be adding more to the list overtime. If you have any additional recommendations, please let me know in the comments below.

XO,

Kim

 

Whimsical Kid’s Playroom and Space Planning Tips

Recently I got the opportunity to design my kid’s playroom as we relocated my husband’s home office to the spare bedroom upstairs.

When designing a space, one of the first questions I always ask myself and my clients is How do you plan on using the space or what purpose will it serve you and your family? Once you have this question answered, it will be a lot easier to plan your space. In my case, I wanted this room to be a one stop shop for my kids. That meant they would use this room for: playing; reading; arts and crafts along with doing their homework. It was important for me to keep all their stuff contained in one room instead of being scattered throughout my house, which was the case prior to having a separate and enclosed playroom.

Once you understand the functions that the room will serve, it is important to prioritize that list and identify your must haves.  In some cases, you might not be able to accomodate everything for various reasons such as space and budget. My priority list is as follows:

  1. Plenty of storage: storage was extremely important as we come from a big family so my boys have accumulated quite a bit of toys over the years. The last thing I want is for those toys to end up in my “adult” space.
  2. Ample space for them to play and build. They have a lot of toys that require building such as race tracks and lego so I wanted to make sure they have enough space on the floor to do so.
  3. A large flat surface: Both my boys love to draw, color and and since Lucas is now in elementary school, a table or a flat surface for him to do his homework was definitely high on the list.
  4. Have a library: We also encourage reading in our family and typically spend about 20 to 30 minutes reading to the boys after school so I wanted an area for their books and if possible a little comfortable reading nook.

Once I determined my priorities, I measured the size of the room and planned accordingly. This is how I tackled my priority list above.

  1. I opted for these cubes from Ikea as it offers plenty of storage and I knew I could neatly separate and store their toys in baskets so they are hidden.
  2. I divided the room into two: one area for playing and the second area for doing artwork, crafts and homework. The play area, I knew I wanted a rug to create a  comfortable and defined space for them to sit and play with their toys, whether it is building a block tower or watching their hot wheels run down a track.
  3. The second area I opted for a large coffee table to be used as their workspace. Just a quick tip: using a coffee table was a lot cheaper than kid’s furniture.
  4. For their books, I used a few picture shelves and mounted it on the wall. I opted for wall shelves as it occupies less space. Since this is a multi function room, I wanted to make sure the room did not feel cramped or too busy.  For the storage cubes, instead of using all square cubes with 4 cubbies (2 on top and 2 on the bottom), I used one long one with 4 cubbies in the same row. This way I could use it to create a custom bench. Throw in a few pillows, a blankie and a stuff animal and you have a cute little reading nook.

 

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Voila! That was my space planning process. Now, everything after that is a matter of design and finishes that you select to bring the room together. I originally painted this room a beautiful navy blue color that I absolutely loved. My husband took one look at it and said “it’s nice, such a boy’s room”. And that my friends killed it for me. I guess I didn’t realize having a gender neutral room was also high on my list, not to say that blue is meant for boys. I am definitely not someone who thinks blue is for boys and pink is for girls. My boys rock pink all the time but in this case, it did feel dark and definitely had a masculine feel to it, so I repainted the entire room in a light gray.  Since it is a kid’s playroom I wanted it to be fun and whimsical so I decided to have a feature wall using wallpaper.  This one from the Hearth and Hand collection by Joanna Gaines fit the bill, neutral but playful. Since the walls were pretty neutral, even with the pattern on the wallpaper, I wanted to play up all the bright primary colors that are in my kid’s toys.  I purchased this bright geometric triangle rug and displayed some their brightest toys as part of the design element. Then it was simply adding a few final wall decor and the room was complete.

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Having this playroom has made the world of difference for us as a family. My kids spend most of their time in this room while I cook, clean or work. The most important thing is that their mess is contained in the room and not spread all over the house, which is a total win for me! They do a pretty good job at tidying up at the end of the night but for whatever reason they or I couldn’t get to it, I simply close the door! Life is good!

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XO

Kim

Around the world and back

Hey guys,

I wanted to share with you a neat little idea I had for an activity that I could do with my boys and then use it as wall art for our house. I am also confident that this activity would strike up a conversation with our guests when they visit our home.

One of the many things that my husband and I share is our love for traveling. When we first started dated, we seriously listed out all the countries we have visited to determine who has travelled more between the two. LOL (we were such kids then). We both have done our fair share of independent traveling but have also taken some amazing and unforgettable trips together such as Greece, Italy and Iceland. Traveling is something we are both passionate about and plan to continue doing with our children. Having said that, if you’re a parent, you’ll know that traveling with children definitely has its challenges, from flight durations to time change, nap/sleep schedule, routine…the list goes on. As a result, we have definitely limited our traveling over the past 5 years. Both my boys have been on numerous plane rides, but for the most part, we try to keep our destinations within 3 hours of flying (with a few exceptions). Some of the places they have been to are: Dominican Republic, Toronto, Bahamas, Lake Louise, Seattle, and California.

My oldest child is 5 now and the youngest is turning 3 in a few weeks. For the first time, both my husband and I feel like we are ready to take on bigger adventures with them. This summer our family will be visiting Lisbon and the Algarve in Portugal for 2 weeks. While I am super excited about this trip, I am definitely nervous about it and no doubt, the stress level will be at its peak closer to the date.

With this trip and future trips in mind, I wanted to come up with something I could do with my boys to document the magical memories I plan on creating with them (yes, being SUPER optimistic here). I purchased a scratch map of the world online. Check out this one similar to the one I purchased.  This one from Walmart and this one from Etsy both seem like great options as well.

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Every country we visit, the boys can scratch that country off on the map to show where we have visited collectively as a family. I got the map framed at Hobby Lobby and now it is currently hanging in my office/dining room. Right next to it, I hung a Metal mesh grid panel. After each trip, I would let the boys select a few photos from our trip that they could print using our polaroid printer.   They can then hang it on the grid using bullnose clips or mini clothes hangers. How cute is that? To add a little dimension and some fun to it, I wrapped a fairy string light that I picked up from Target around the metal panel. I want to make sure the photos are visible so lighting was necessary.

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I love that this is something we could do together as a family for many years to come. It provides an opportunity for us to bond and reflect on our experiences and most memorable moments from our trip. Another thing I absolutely love about this idea is that a map is a pretty generic/standard piece of art but this is so personal and really reflects who we are as a family. If you know me and my style, you’ll know that I am a fan of making your home reflect you, your lifestyle and this is just that!

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Now if you are looking to do something similar to this and not wanting to use a scratch map, you could also glue a map to a cork board sheet, get it framed (optional) and then pin the areas you have visited. I had a client  once who collected pins from every city/country he visited and used it to pin his map.

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Now all we need to do is start traveling and fill our wall with amazing memories! If you do end up doing something similar, I would love to see it, so please feel free to email me at xomyhome@gmail.com to share your creation and memories. Thanks for following along guys!

 

XO,

 

Kim