Holiday Prep 101

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As a busy mom and a full time realtor, I have to be super organized when it comes to the holidays.  As mothers, we already have a ton on our plates….we juggle taking kids to and from school, to their after school activities and sporting events, we have to make dinner, do laundry, dishes….the list never ends. That same list just continues to grow during the months of November and December and in order to stay sane, I have a few helpful tips to share below.

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ORDER GROCERIES ONLINE – I started loading up my cart 2 weeks ago. I selected my order date and time ( believe me, available delivery spots fill up fast so reserve your slot ASAP) and have been adding items as I think of things I will need. I started with home goods; i.e.) toilet paper, water, soap….all the goods I will need for my guests and home.  Then I add groceries needed for recipes and meals.  Most online ordering allows you to add items up until the day before delivery.

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The Love & Lemons Cookbook

REVISIT RECIPES – We all have some favorite recipes, either  family traditions or basic staples that we love to make.  Start reviewing and organizing those recipes and notes a few weeks out.  This allows you plenty of time to adjust your menu or look for new recipes.  Just don’t forget to look at each ingredient to make sure you have it on hand (spices and herbs often to get forgotten) and then add to your online grocery list.

fullsizerender-2Inspo from HomeGoods

CONFIRM HEADCOUNT – The holidays always throw us a last minute curve ball and more often than not, an extra guest finds their way to your table.  Do take a few hours to layout seating and table arrangments.

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COMPLETE YOUR TABLESCAPES – I reuse a lot of my plates and decor for gatherings.  My plates are neutral and I have metallic chargers for under.  My linens are white, my candle holders & votives are mercury glass and my vases are clear.  From there, I add the color of the season or holiday with smaller plates, florals, napkins, pumpkins, pinecones, pine, etc. to create the story or theme I am going for. I usually start creating my tablescape 2-3 weeks out so I have time to buy an extra table cloth or accessory if needed.

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ORDER DESSERTS AND FLORALS – I love to cook but I can’t do it all and in all honesty,   my local bakery makes my favorite desserts.  Cross another item off your list by ordering these  goods and having them ready for pick up the day before your gathering. You can do the same with florals from your market.

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HAVE GIFTS ON HAND – A few years ago, I had a sweet neighbor (new to the neighborhood) stop buy with a really nice gift for our home.  She came by to introduce herself and wanted to wish us a Happy New Year.  I was so sad that I didn’t have a little something for her.  Obviously the holidays aren’t about buying someone a gift just because they gave you one, but I love to give – even if it’s  just cookies or a card. Throughout the year, as I am shopping for upcoming birthday gifts or I find a great sale on one of my favorite items, I make a purchase and hold onto these extra little goodies to give out as needed.  Sometimes it is as simple as my kids needing a last minute gift for a party or for a friend having a bad week that I am meeting for lunch.  I do the same with cards, as I find some favorites, I buy and use throughout the year.

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BUY HOLIDAY CARDS NOW – There are a ton of discounts on picture cards starting the end of October, beginning of November.  Plus many sites offer free shipping this early.  Don’t wait till the 2nd week of December and pay full price + expedited shipping.  This is an easy project to do while watching tv or in bed once kids are tucked away.  Some of my favorite sites: Tinyprints.com, Shutterfly.com, Minted.com

Happy Holidays from my family to yours! WW

HELPFUL HINT:  To save money and time, organize a cookie swap in your neighborhood or amongst friends.  This is a great way to get a lot of cookies made for not only your home and kids but to give out as gifts.  It also allows you time to be with friends and family and try new recipes. 

Buy Cookie Exchange Boxes Here      Rectangle Cookie Exchange Boxes

Spritz Cookie Exchange Kit   3 Dozen Holiday Treat Boxes

Small Space Redesign

WithinWalls.com DenMy favorite designs utilize every square inch of a home.  Lets not deny it, we all want more space but we want smart space, effective space, efficient space…not necessarily more square footage, but useable space.  So for all my mamas out there that want or need more from their current home, let me share some of my favorite designs that will give you that extra storage area, reading nook or guest bed that you so desire.

Photo Above – Design by Joanna and Chipper Gaines // Photo from Country Living Magazine

Photo (top left) Hus & Hem //Photo (top right) by  Kajsa Blum // Photo (bottom) by Sarah La Rose Design

Above are some great examples of how to maximize unused space.  All of these areas were not being utilized to their full potential until a few shelves were added – we forget how much we can get out of a basic wall. By simply adding shelves, you can store books, toys, art, etc.

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Photo WithinWalls.com Client’s Home

White Floating Ledge Shelf Set of 2      Gray Floating Ledge Shelf

WithinWalls.com Shelving

Photo WithinWalls.com Client’s Home

Black Stripe Woven Storage Basket    Industrial Pipe Hardware for Floating Shelf

Kids Shopping Cart

Utilize baskets and bins to store magazines, video games and all your not-so-cute stuff like cords & papers.  You can buy these types of “easy install” shelves at Target, Walmart, Ikea, Home Depot or click on the Amazon.com links above.

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By Ashley Goforth Design Orange Eames Chair

If you have a larger budget or a really handy hubby, this is the option for you!  This built-in really manages to give this room numerous uses. Often you find bookcases with drawers and cabinets, but adding a desk space for a home office or for the kids to do their school work definitely gives this room a few more end uses.

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Photo (top) by Joanna Gaines//Photos (middle) Kim Vallee //Photo (bottom) by Patterson Custom Homes

One of my favorite areas of the home to be creative, yet constantly underutilized is the staircase.  We usually see dwarf-like closets that are not user friendly and end up collecting more junk than helping us stay organized.  All of these designs allow us to gain more “smart” space.  One option gives this home a mini reading nook or den, if you will.  The other two designs allow extra “usable” storage, keeping the homeowner free from digging through a tight space.

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Photo by Interior Housing Biz

Another great option to gain space is to build up.  If you have high ceilings and want to add square footage for storage, a den or sleeping quarters, creating a loft is an excellent option. You will often see this design utilized on those “TINY” home shows or in city apartments.

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Serena and Lily Red Star Sheet Set

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Photo (top) by Jackson and Leroy // Photo (bottom) by Sarah La Rose Design

Maybe you don’t necessarily need more storage but rather, more sleeping spaces for guests, your childrens’ sleep over buddies or grandchildren.  Trundle beds and bunkbeds are great options to add an extra sleeping spot without taking up a ton of room; however, you can also turn an old walk-in closet or bay window into a little sleeping nook as well.

Photo (right) by Arcadian Homes // Photo (left) by Home Edit

Some  homes don’t have a proper dining room and can only allow enough space for a small bistro table in the kitchen area.  Some homes only have a dining room area and no space to  allow eating in the actual kitchen. If you don’t have enough seating when guests come to visit, here are a few examples of adding a shelf and some barstools to give your guests (or maybe even your family) a few mores spots to dine.

With a little research, the options are endless to help you utilize every inch of your home.    Email me at Withinwalls.com or leave a photo message in the comment section!  I would love to see your creative spaces and to share your photos with others that need a little inspo!! WW

DESIGN TIP:  Re-working your closets and drawers is a quick and easy way to gain more space.  By adding just a few simple shelves or racks, you can really maximize your current storage area and create a clutter free space. The Container Store has great storage options and customizable closet units.

Kitchen Canister Set        Spice Rack Drawer Tray

Fall closet cleaning guide in 8 easy steps

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As a realtor, one of the biggest must haves on every female’s list is a “BIG closet”.  Well, we all know that this request doesn’t always get fulfilled, so then we are left with how to fit our favorite items in a small space which is why a guide to maintaining an “user friendly” closet is something I get asked about all the time.

Closet purging and organizing is not just a task to take on going into spring, but equally as important as you head into fall. In fact, getting your closet ready for the fall season is even more crucial, as winter items are bulkier and take up more space. Therefore, you must have strategy in place to create space for everything to fit. Here’s an easy guide to ensure you have room for all those scarves, gloves, jackets and boots.

1. Get mentally prepared. This project can be overwhelming.  Get in your most comfy attire, then mix your favorite mocktail, make some tea or head over to Swig, Sodalicious, FiiZ, Straws or Thirst & grab a Dirty Diet Coke!
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2. Purge. Rule of thumb – if you haven’t worn it in the last few seasons, donate it or sell it; feel good knowing you are sharing. eBay is a great way to make some quick cash on your better items. Hey, then you can buy something new for the season.
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3. Lose the boxes. I know it’s hard to part with those designer shoe boxes but they hog up space and aren’t the best way to store your shoes. If you need to protect your faves, use a dust bag.
4. Get creative.  When it comes to creating space, storing shoes both sideways and front facing allow you to squeeze in a few more pairs.
5. Adjustable closets. Utilize this feature by adjusting hanging bars and shelves to gain space. Don’t be afraid to play around.img_2104

6. Don’t have drawers, no problem. Dont go buy plastic storage bins when you can use old gift boxes. This is a great way to store items and keep you closet looking organized and pretty on the cheap.

7. 3 for 1’s. Find an ottoman that allows you to use it for not only seating, but storage, as well as a step stool to get to the higher spots in your closet.img_2101

This Pink Storage Ottoman comes in 22 different colors.  Click photo for details.

8.Hanger swagger. Swap out plastic hangers for skinny velvet hangers. By doing this, you can get 10% more hanging per section.img_2107


Jeronic Thin Beige Velvet Clothes Hangers – Pack of 50