Monthly Archives: December 2013

Stay Organized: How to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions

Decorating, How-To | | | 2 Replies

If you’re like us, “Get Organized” has topped our annual list of New Year’s resolutions for the past five (Okay maybe more like ten) years or so. Every year, we start off with the best of intentions and the greatest ambitions, only to find ourselves in the same cluttered mess by the end of the month.

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This year, we’re approaching things differently. “We tend to create resolutions with entirely wrong attitudes,” says professional organizer and stager Jennifer Phelps. “Instead of celebrating the fresh start the new year offers, we’re usually resolving to do better at something we feel guilty about —clutter, weight, diet — left over form the previous year. Who doesn’t dread and resent a goal fundamentally based on our shame and guilt?”

Adjusting our attitude toward cleaning up our homes, and determining the cause of our clutter can help us keep a clean and tidy home year round.

Take a look at Phelps’s top tips to help you stick to your organization resolutions this year.

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Change Your Attitude

  • Ask yourself: What is the positive result of the resolution? Avoid hinging your self worth on the accomplishment of the resolution.
  • Create a reward system for attaining goal or for each month on track.
  • Use de-cluttering or purging as a meditation: each item has a story or is part of your story, so “thank” the item for the story, close that chapter and move on.
  • Whether you have a lot or a little, be grateful for what you have. This will make passing it on easier and even fulfilling.
  • Going through your stuff can be like shopping in your own closet – you’ll find gems you’d forgotten you had!
  • Find a charity and donate  — tax deduction is a bonus!
  • Get your kids involved. Have them fill one box or bag to give away, and let them help pick the charity.

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Reward Yourself

  • Take a moment and pat yourself on the back for each drawer you organize, each pile you pare down, and each bag you take out to recycle, toss or donate
  • Celebrate with small rewards each month you stick to your plan
  • Something you’ve been wanting? Make it a reward after completing a large project
  • If cold, hard cash will ease the pain, consign your treasures at a local shop or sell on eBay
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 Be Realistic

  • If you set your resolutions already feeling badly, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
  • Set smaller, more attainable goals over time rather than one gigantic goal.
  • Try to de-clutter one room a month.
  • Do just 10 minutes/one drawer/one shelf/one box per day – sometimes limiting yourself to tiny parcels of time is less intimidating and, therefore, more productive than devoting an entire weekend.

Stay Accountable

Agreements we make with ourselves are easy to fudge: Find someone to commit to your decluttering goal with, whether it’s one person or a group. Everyone should set a goal — whether it’s a similar or different project — and hold each other accountable. Encourage each other, confess when you fall behind, and share rewards and celebrations!

5 Champagne Cocktails for New Year’s Eve

Entertaining, Recipes | | | 2 Replies

Let’s face it — it’s just not New Year’s Eve without champagne. Everything from popping the cork to pouring out the bubbles like the perfect way to welcome in a new year. We’ve put together a list of a few new favorite champagne cocktails to spice up this festive beverage. Take a look at the recipes and serving suggestions below!

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1. Sparkling Bees Knees

Ingredients:
1 oz Tanqueray® London Dry Gin
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
.75 oz honey
1 oz champagne

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Directions: Pour the gin and lemon into a champagne flute. Stir in honey until incorporated, then top with champagne. Garnish with a lemon peel, expressed and discarded. We suggest serving it in one of our Caroline Stemware Flutes:

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2. Not a Snowball’s Chance Punch

Ingredients:
8 oz Tanqueray® London Dry Gin
4 oz vanilla liqueur
6 oz fresh lime juice
4 oz simple syrup
8 oz cold water
.5 oz bitters
Splash of champagne

Directions: Combine all ingredients into a punch bowl, and top with champagne until the bowl is full. Garnish with cinnamon sticks and lemon peels — serves 12.

We suggest serving it in our PB Classic Glass Punch Bowl with PB Classic Pint Glasses on the side:

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3. Black Velvet

Ingredients:
3.25 oz Guinness® Draught in Can
3.25 oz champagne

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Directions: Fill a champagne flute with equal parts Guinness Stout and champagne or sparkling wine.

We suggest serving it in our Library Stemware Flute:

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4. Bitter Amoré

Ingredients:
4 oz Stellina di Notte® Prosecco
.5 oz Italian bitters
.5 oz lemon juice

Directions: Combine juice and bitters with ice in a shaker. Strain into a chilled champagne flute, top with prosecco and garnish with cranberries.

We suggest using our Antique Silver Cocktail Shaker and serving it in a chilled Corsica Stemware Flute:

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5. Stylish Stellina

Ingredients:
4 oz Stellina di Notte® Prosecco
.5 oz Cherry Brandy

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Directions: Combine both ingredients in a chilled champagne flute and garnish with a cherry. We suggest using our Schott Zwiesel Stemware Flute:

schott zwiesel

You might also like: 5 Easy Christmas Cocktail Recipes and Serving Suggestions

Throw a Fuss-Free New Year’s Eve Bash

Entertaining, Holiday, Parties | | | Leave a comment

Glitz and glam are always appreciated on New Year’s Eve (When else can you whip out that sparkly sequin dress?), but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money or time putting a successful party together. As our entertaining expert Tony taught us, the best New Year’s Eve parties are low key when it comes to food, drink and decor.

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Event planner Julie Blanner took this to heart when planning out this inspirational New Year’s Eve party shoot, chock full of easy DIY projects that can give your New Year’s Eve party all the glamour you want without any of the fuss.

Photography: Alea Lovely
Styling: Julie Blanner

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Favors aren’t always necessary, but can make guests feel extra special and provide a fond memory of the party afterwards. “Miniature bottles of champagne or liquor are great takeaways,” says Blanner. Since most guests will be off work the following day, a comfort item like a baked breakfast bread and coffee or doughnuts is also nice.”

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Infusing your home with small but beautiful details adds a lot of ambiance to a party. Blanner recommends investing in a few floral arrangments, well-placed candlelight and extra sparkle wherever possible. These simple drink stir sticks make any cocktail festive! All you need is some curly ribbon, a bamboo stick and double-stick tape.

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Make these glass glitter votives by spraying the bottom of a few glass votives with spray adhesive and dip into gold or silver glitter and sprinkle them throughout your home or on the buffet table.

 

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Keep food small and simple but indulgent. “I recommend serving bite sized favorites like truffles, tartlets, petit fours or bars for late evening affairs,” says Blanner. “After the hustle of the holidays, guests are coming to unwind and celebrate, so consider serving items that can be prepared in advance, that allow guests to mingle and don’t require them to be seated.”

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Tell us: What are your plans for New Year’s Eve?

You might also like: Tony’s Top Tips: 10 Ways to Plan the Perfect New Year’s Eve Party

Giveaway: Win a Set of Our New Gypsy Spice Jars!

Uncategorized | | | 28 Replies

The new year is just around the corner — for many of us, that means it’s time to roll up our sleeves and start to clean, declutter, organize and refresh our homes.

We want to help you take advantage of the blank slate that comes with the new year, and turn your home into a haven, so we’re giving away 10 sets of our Gypsy Spice Jars from our latest collection. These terracotta jars with cork lids are glazed in colorful, fresh hues to keep your cooking supplies organized and your kitchen looking great.

spicejars

Simply fill out the form at the bottom of this post, and we’ll pick our winners. Good luck!

Official contest rules can be found here.

Giveaways

Please sign up for the contest.
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Refresh, Renovate and Organize Your Living Room

Decorating, How-To | | | 1 Reply

New year, new home — that’s the approach we’re taking to new year’s resolutions for 2014. The living room, one of the most-used rooms in your home, is a great place to start. We spoke to Liz Jenkins, a Professional Organizer and Staging Professional in Tennessee, to get her tips on how to organize, refresh and renovate our living rooms for the new year.

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Organize

Determine function. Decide what kind of space your living room should be, and what activities you want to take place there. Is this a media room? A family activity space? A homework space? “Once you’ve identified how you want the space to function, then you can determine what stays and what goes,” says Jenkins.

Zone the room. Put some thought into what goes where so activity flows smoothly throughout the space. Store items where you want the to be used — media should be stored near the TV, art supplies near the craft table and coasters near the bar. Zoning and separating your storage will also help keep each and every item accessible, instead of shoving everything into one giant cupboard.

Eliminate unnecessary items. DVDs, games, puzzles, toys and craft supplies can clutter up a well-loved living room quickly. Shelves and drawers often become dumping grounds for any and all items. Gather up all of the clutter and group similar items together to eliminate broken, duplicate or unwanted items.  “Decorative items should be replaced with a restrained hand, only using items you love and enjoy having in your space,” says Jenkins.

Refresh

Add color. Keep it simple and paint a single small accent wall, or that empty nook above the fireplace. If you’d rather not deal with messy paint, update your color palette through decorative accents, like rugs, throw pillows, vases or even slipcovers. “Even new lampshades can make a whole room look completely new,” says Jenkins.

Declutter. “Often, I recommend clients remove everything from the room that isn’t essential, like the couch or TV,” says Jenkins. “Then, they can group together the decorative items, and donate or discard anything that doesn’t really speak to them or their current style and ‘shop’ from what’s left. Once things are back in place, you can identify holes in your décor and purchase accordingly.”

Tip: Do a design swap with a friend and trade a few items to get some new items and an outside eye. “New drapes, lamps or a rug can be a big game changer on the way a room looks,” says Jenkins.

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Renovate

Build-in storage. Built-in shelving and cabinetry can add to your living room’s aesthetic appeal and value, plus take up minimal space. If you’re unsure of how to install something on your own, always call a professional for help. If you’re not ready to whip out a hammer and nails, you might want to splurge on some heavy duty storage pieces such as armoires, sideboards or shelving.

Replace hardware.  Other than paint, new hardware is one of the most powerful ways to change a piece of furniture’s style. Contrast traditional furniture with modern or colorful hardware, or simply find a fixture in a new finish for a new look.

Update light fixtures. Whether you want to add more light to your living room, set the mood with a dimming fixture or create some sparkle with a chandelier, a new light fixture can totally transform your living room’s look. Unless you’re an experienced electrician, leave any rewiring projects to the professionals — it’s not worth the risk to try it on your own.

Tell us: How are you going to update your living room this year?

You might also like: Post Holiday Organization: Clean Out the Old to Make Way for the New

 

 

Weekly Roundup: 12/21 – 12/27

Decorating, Inspiration | | | 1 Reply

Missed out on some of your favorite Inside & Out posts this week? Don’t worry, we’re not mad — the holidays are crazy after all! Instead, we’re making it easy for you to catch up here, with our weekly roundup.

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1. A Globally Inspired California Home, As Seen in House Beautiful

2. Guest Gift Picks: 5 Holiday Pottery Barn Presents from Designer Melanie Coddington

3. 5 Easy Christmas Cocktail Recipes and Serving Suggestions

4. 5 Hostess Tips for the Best Christmas Dinner Ever

5. Merry Christmas!

6. Post Holiday Organization: Clean Out the Old to Make Way for the New

You might also like: Weekly Roundup: 12/14-12/20

Post Holiday Organization: Clean Out the Old to Make Way for the New

Decorating, How-To | | | 1 Reply

After all the presents have been unwrapped and Christmas brunch has been served, the reality of post-holiday chaos usually starts to settle in. There’s so much stuff! Gifts, decorations, wrapping paper, lights, garlands and wreaths all have to be packed up and put away. But where to start? Rather than shoving everything in a big plastic bin to be dealt with next year, try some new techniques to make life easier now and later.

We spoke to professional organizer and stager Jennifer Phelps to learn about the best ways to sort through everything after the holidays. Keep reading to learn how to deal with your post-holiday chaos.

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Q: What are your tips for putting away holiday decorations (especially ornaments and lights) once Christmas is over? Do you tend do it right away? How do you keep everything organized?

A: How long one waits to put away their holiday decor is a personal decision, or maybe based on family tradition. Some do it right away and some wait until the tree has become a fire hazard. Either way, there are lots of clever ways to store ornaments and lights. 

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When you re-pack your decorations, always clear out bins of stuff you didn’t use. Do this every year to make it easier on you next year. Why waste space storing stuff you don’t use?

Here’s some other decoration storage tips:

  • Keep original boxes (my mom has boxes older than me).
  • Use egg cartons to store glass ornaments.
  • Don’t throw out gift wrap: re-use holiday gift wrap and crumpled tissue to store ornaments

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  • Use Zip-Loc bags filled with air to cushion fragile ornaments and decorations: wrap the ornaments in tissue paper and put in Zip-Loc bags, then use a straw to blow air into them.
  • Wrap strings of lights or garland around empty gift wrap tubes to keep them from tangling.
  • Cut pieces of scrap gift wrap or gift bags and glue to colored paper to make thank you cards. This is a great kid project.

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Q: Since many of us get new things for Christmas, we often have to get rid of our old stuff to make room for the new. What are your tips for clearing out the clutter to make room for new things in our lives? 

A: Looking in the bottom of our ornament bin can be sort of analogous to our lives. We’ve decorated our lives with the stuff we love, with what speaks to us now and what makes us happy now — whether it’s old or new. Left in the bottom and stuffed in the corners are bits from the past that no longer really do it for us, maybe it’s a tradition but one that no longer fits us. But every year we ignore it, leave there, and every year the bin gets more stuffed and becomes more of a hassle to pack, unpack and store.

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So this year, clear out the old bits, toss what you don’t use any more, the broken and faded, the stuff you never really liked anyway. Make room! Of course, you just might rediscover something precious too. But if it’s not something you intend to use, take it out of the big box and move it to a box with mementos, so your past doesn’t over-crowd your present.

You might also like:  New Year’s Resolution: Get Organized with Baskets