Health, Lifestyle

Why The Beach Is Still Good For You During This Pandemic

Hello beach lovers, this post is definitely for you and for those avoiding the beach due to Covid-19 it may be somewhat controversial.

***This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, see my affiliate disclaimer for more details.***

When summer began, I was horrified when I saw on the news that authorities in some cities began closing the beaches due to coronavirus. News reporters scolded people for going to the beach claiming it was dangerous. Americans angry at other americans for having fun simply because they could not get to the beach or were afraid to go themselves. We all know how the major news media lies, as many fake overcrowded beach images were plastered all over the news channels. Even cities that have no beaches were featured in the news as having beaches that were packed. Really?

You have to ask yourself why is okay to go to Walmart and stand in line packed in to conformity while trying to remain six feet away from each other as “essential employees” completely ignore the six feet rule while guiding you into the store, and hand over a cart that they have supposedly cleaned and touched?

I want to thank the wonderful and good essential employees for their service and bravery, but I don’t feel that their health was protected at all. They were simply thrown into this virus madness just like the all of us deemed “essential. As someone who worked in the healthcare industry; I was torn between protecting my health and not wanting to leave my job because our patients needed us.

As a beach lover and someone who depends the ocean for my sanity when life becomes too overwhelming, I decided to do some research. It’s been proven by science that the beach is actually still good for you improving your physical and mental health. Here is why:

  • It supports your immune system– stronger immunity means your body can protect itself better from disease.
  • It relieves stress and has the ability to trigger a psychological state of calm and contentment. Right now we are living in very stressful times and the beach is the best escape, (especially from the news).
  • It’s good for your lungs– Studies have shown that there are therapeutic qualities to the salty ocean air that have helped lung disease patients as well.
  • It has healing properties– Ocean water helps with allergies and sinus issues. It can also heal skin conditions and wounds while improving skins elasticity.
  • We really need more vitamin Sea– It clears your mind and restores your soul.

So why on earth would the anyone recommend avoiding the beaches especially during a time when we need it the most? I firmly believe if we all used a little commons sense and truly remain six feet apart from each other, we will be safe at the beach and not need a mask! Do not fear the beach but embrace it, know that you will be okay. If you still don’t feel safe, take drive by the ocean and just park by the water. At least get out there and enjoy the waves and the sea breeze! You can thank me later. Stay safe and God Bless.

Home Decor, Lifestyle

A Sneak Peak Of My New Home!

Hello! A lot has happened within the last 6 months! I bought my 1st home, and it’s a 1947 ranch fixer. Although it’s about 20 minutes from the beach, I absolutely love it! I am still surrounded by plenty of water as my house is only 1 minute away from one of the largest rivers running through Connecticut. The Aqua Cottage officially has a home!

***This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, see my affiliate disclaimer for more details.***

Buying a house during Covid-19 was especially stressful. I started searching for a home in November of 2019. I found my dream home in March of 2020, right around the time Covid hit the US. I wasn’t sure if my job was going to shut down, so this made the whole process even scarier. Luckily, my mortgage company speeded up the whole process, and my job did not shut down until 3 months after I closed on my house!

I am so excited to share with you some DIY pics and projects that I have been working on for the last 3 months. I will also share all of the before and after photos in the future full house renovation reveal. Thanks to Covid I am still patiently waiting for a contractor to renovate my kitchen and bathroom. So here is a sneak peak below.

Family Room

Here is one image from the family room, I am currently working on the fireplace and will add those pics when completed. As you can see I am so ready for fall. I love pumpkins, so I thought why not start decorating for fall a little early this year? I’m a November baby, so fall is my favorite time of year! I had this table special ordered at Barewood Fine Furniture and painted in Sherwin Williams Watery! It is my favorite color.

I had horrible dark brown panel covering the walls in the living and family room. I bought Walldoctor Paintable Prepasted Beadboard Stripes Texture Wallpaper on Amazon. Then painted over it in Sherwin Williams Pure White to brighten up the space. The wallpaper comes pre-pasted, so it was pretty easy to apply. I absolutely love how it turned out, plus no more 70’s brown panel.

The Kitchen

Here is a partial view of my kitchen. The paint color on the wall is Topsail by Sherwin Williams. I am currently without kitchen cabinets so I had to be a little creative with storage.

I built these cottage style shelves that I purchased on Amazon. I will add the tutorial later but you like them, you can find the corbels here. https://amzn.to/3iQvFRr

I also purchased this kitchen storage rack which holds a fairly large microwave. I love the top shelf. As you can see I have overloaded it with aqua canisters. Its very sturdy and yes it can hold a very heavy Kitchenaid mixer. Here is the full pic below with and the link. AmazonBasics Kitchen Storage Baker’s Rack with Table, Wood/Chrome – 63.4″ Height

https://amzn.to/349vTyP

My Living Room

I am a true Aquaholic! As you can see Sherwin Williams Watery is just about everywhere through out my house. I have been obsessed with this color for several years. It just makes your home feel so cozy, comfy and beachy! How could anyone not wake up happy here?

I built the TV shelf using the corbels I mentioned previously and bought a pine shelf from Home Depot. They are pretty awesome because they will cut the wood for you up to a certain amount of pieces for free.

The sofa is from Pottery Barn, and it is the comfiest sofa ever! I am not a Sherwin Williams, Home Depot or Pottery Barn affiliate. I believe when a product is an amazing it should be shared regardless.

Here is some more pics of the living room fall decor, I am so ready. Are you? Orange and Aqua are two bright cheery colors that look amazing together!

The white table, aqua blue lamp, metal wall decor above the TV, and white picture frames were all purchased on Amazon. Just click the highlighted text and you can find so many unique decor items. They were a lifesaver because for the first 3 months of the pandemic, all of the stores in my area were closed, and everyone had to shop from home.

I hope you enjoyed my new house sneak peak, and that you are inspired to create your own cozy cottage style home! Follow The Aqua Cottage for upcoming DIY projects, renovation ideas and my full house tour. Thanks again! Have an awesome day!

Good Advice

Welcome 2020!

Welcome 2020!!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Congratulations, we made it to 2020! It’s been a while since I have posted, but that’s because 2019 was full of challenges that followed right into 2020. First, my printer died or technically stopped printing in color. On the same day that I was given a new printer as a Birthday gift, my favorite (one and only) laptop died! I am not one to run out and impulse buy new electronics, so I tried to have it repaired only to learn that the hard drive was gone and no data was recoverable! There went my $30 in stock photos purchased and my some of my beloved photos.

Now I know those things are minor compared to what’s going on in the world right now. For some people the holidays (thank goodness they’re over) are a tough time to get through. Especially if you aren’t surrounded by loved ones, don’t get along with family, are facing health issues, have recently lost a job, or are simply alone. During the Holidays the media continues to bombard us with images and scenes of a perfect life of health, wealth and family. if you are facing any of these challenges, it can be hard to feel like celebrating.

Remember It’s perfectly okay to take some alone time for yourself.

So here is a fresh new year, ready to be conquered. I’m sure it will present it’s own set of new challenges, but you will make it through. Your past has brought you to the place you should be and life is all about lessons. I want to encourage you to focus on your goals, continue fighting for your dreams, and try to make amends with loved ones. Unlike my computer and my printer, they are not replaceable. Take the lessons of 2019 and turn them into wisdom, and forgive yourself for the mistakes.

Last year I learned that nothing is stable. Not my job, my electronics, or my health. This year has taught me that you should always have a back up plan, especially for your computer! (haha) After much hesitation, I bought a new computer and I love it! I learned to let go of the old, welcome the new, and keep moving forward!

I’m looking forward to the this year, the lessons, the blessings, and the journey! I wish you all peace, success, and a Happy 2020!

Blog, Lifestyle

25 Amazing Christmas Gifts For People Who Love The Beach

Are you looking for gift ideas for beach lovers? Look no further, as beach lover myself I have gathered a list of gift ideas that anyone will love.

***This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, see my affiliate disclaimer for more details.***

I love the beach! Spring, summer, fall, and winter I’m there. I just can’t resist being near the sea or listening to the soothing sounds of crashing waves in any season. I guess you could say I am truly dedicated.

I believe that everyone loves the beach. The feeling of the sand beneath your toes puts everyone in a relaxed mood when they step foot in the ocean. If you know someone who’s constantly thinking about their next beachy getaway, then these gifts are right up their alley. There is something for everyone on any budget.

What’s amazing about this list is that not only can you find a great gift for a loved one, you can also find something amazing for yourself! This list is great for anytime of year, but there is something special about Christmas time. It’s when I like to give the very best!  It’s no secret that I love Amazon, I have been an Amazon customer for over ten years. So, I have lots of experience when it comes to choosing quality gifts.

Gifts For The Home

20 oz Big Stemless Wine Glass
  1. Nothing like spending a day with my beaches! Find it here https://amzn.to/2MyRKXs
Barnyard Designs Beach Rules Wooden Box Wall Sign

2. Perfect for anyone who forgets the rules. Find it here https://amzn.to/2BoS18X

Ebros Nautical Ocean Marine Seahorse Drinking Beverage Blue Stoneware Ceramic Mug

3. This Mug is perfect for Seahorse lovers. Find it here: https://amzn.to/2P4vBBH

4. Warm up their home this holiday with scents from the beach. Find them here: https://amzn.to/32xm8a9

Integrity Bottles Set of 4, Sea Turtle Stemless Wine Glasses

5. Calling all turtle lovers! Find them here: https://amzn.to/2P7Der9

GOOD MANORS Stripe Throw Blanket with Fringe in (Light Turquoise)

6. Stay warm and cozy with this cozy Beachy throw! Find it here: https://amzn.to/2pE47Is

Riverside Designs Beach Life Metal Sign

7. This metal sign is all about the beach life. Find it here: https://amzn.to/2J7Ijw1

Pfaltzgraff Everyday The Beach Is My Happy Place Large Coffee Mug

8. Beach lovers will start everyday off thinking of their “happy place.” Find it here: https://amzn.to/2Bv1j3i

3-Piece Coastal Beach Theme Quilt Set with Shams

9. This coastal quilt will spruce up any beach lovers home for the holidays. Find it here: https://amzn.to/2Muv5vg

10. These decorative candles are a perfect reminder of a beach vacation. Find it them here: https://amzn.to/2BtodrD

Sandy Toes & Salty Kisses Nautical Seaside Beach Sign

11. A perfect gift reminder of the beach. Find it here: https://amzn.to/31vjctj

Gifts For Mermaids

 Barn Bath & Body Works 3 Wick Candle Mermaid Life

12. Perfect for anyone who thinks they are a Mermaid: Find it here: https://amzn.to/2VZsgWj

Barnyard Designs Always Be Yourself Unless You Can Be A Mermaid Box Sign 

13. Makes a great gift for that special mermaid. Find it here: https://amzn.to/2MVmhxz

kksme 60 x 80 Inch Always Be A Mermaid Pattern Super Soft Throw Blanket for Bed Sofa Lightweight Blanket for All Seasons

14. Keep your mermaid warm and happy with this colorful throw. Find it here: https://amzn.to/32vWbYl

LARGE BEACH BAG Tote Bag for Women

15. Love these colorful beach totes perfect or Mermaids on the go. Find it here: https://amzn.to/32uNTQI

Mermaid Gifts Sorry Too Busy Being a Mermaid Beach Lover Gift Coffee Mug 

16. The perfect coffee mug for the busy Mermaid. Find it here: https://amzn.to/2oOF2Lb

Gifts For The Cook

KitchenAid KSM155GBSA 5-Qt. Artisan Design Series with Glass Bowl – Sea Glass

17. The ultimate gift for the cook in your home. Find it here: https://amzn.to/2BpvIQx

.

Jozie B Seas The Day Sea Star 18 x 22 All Cotton Flour Sack Towel Set of 2

18. Why not pair these cute kitchen towels with that gorgeous new Seaglass Kitchenaid? Find them here: https://amzn.to/32HF2eF

Pfaltzgraff Venice 16-Piece Stoneware Dinnerware Set, Service for 4, Aqua/White

19. This gorgeous china set will make any beach lovers dining table look amazing. Find it here: https://amzn.to/33KdJQP

Gibson Cape Coral Starfish Serving Bowl One Size White/blue

20. This festive bowl will please anyone who loves starfish. Find it here: https://amzn.to/2ByUBch

Cathy’s Concepts SEA-1110 Seashell Stemless Wine Glasses – 4 Unique Designs

21. These wine glasses are perfect for people who love seashells, and wine. Find them here: https://amzn.to/32tmH4G

Keurig K250 Coffee Maker, Single Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Brewer, With Strength Control, Turquoise

22. Know someone with a beachy turquoise kitchen? This Keurig is the the perfect color match! Find it here: https://amzn.to/2P5QTyW

DII Cotton Embroidered Blue Sea Dish Towels

23. A perfect gift for the beach cottage kitchen. Find the here: https://amzn.to/33LfVHH

Brownlow Gifts Galvanized Metal Round Serving Tray, Seas the Day

24. A beautiful serving tray for coastal farmhouse lovers. Find it here: https://amzn.to/35NFcmu

LIFE IS BETTER IN FLIP FLOPS Teal 12 oz Stemless Wine Glass With Lid

25. Life really is better in flip flops! Find this wine glass here: https://amzn.to/2Mwqd8P

I hope you find these ideas helpful. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Blog, Recipes, Yummy

New England Corn Pudding

This buttery golden corn pudding recipe will make your house smell so amazing while it’s baking, you’ll want to eat it straight out of the oven. It’s also a quick, easy, and deliciously rich side dish for Thanksgiving!

Ingredients:

1 can whole sweet corn

1 can sweet creamed corn

8 tablespoons of all purpose flour or baking mix

3 whole eggs beaten

1 teaspoon salt

1 quart whole milk

4 tablespoons melted butter

In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs and milk. Add all other ingredients and stir until nicely combined. Bake in a pre buttered baking dish at 325 degrees for 45 minutes until topping is a pretty light golden brown, Enjoy! Serves 6-8. If you try this recipe, let me know what you think and if you find it to be awesome, share it with friends and family!

Blog, Lifestyle, Recipes

Sweet Potato Souffle

Sweet Potato Souffle

Happy Fall Everyone!

It’s Harvest Time! I love this time of year because the leaves start to change making New England look absolutely stunning. I call it Pumpkin Spice Season, lol. As the days become a little longer and a lot cooler, it’s also time to start preparing for the Holidays. Today I am sharing an awesome recipe for Sweet Potato Souffle. I have made this just about every Thanksgiving for the last six years, and sometimes for Christmas. This melt in your mouth recipe has always been a hit with family and friends! You will love it too but warning, it’s very rich and yummy. Once you make this delicious dish, people will bug you to make it time and time again! This easy recipe can also be prepared the day before saving you time in the kitchen.

***This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, see my affiliate disclaimer for more details.***

Ingredients:

4 cups sweet potatoes

½ cup brown sugar

2 beaten eggs

4 tablespoons melted butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup milk

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Sweet Potato Souffle

Boil sweet whole sweet potatoes 15-20 minutes until done or fork tender. Once potatoes have cooled, combine all ingredients into a large bowl and mix. Beat in eggs with a mixer. Spoon mixture into a baking dish and let set. Next make the topping.

Topping:

3/4 cup flour or baking mix

3 tablespoons butter softened

3/4 cup chopped pecans

½ cup brown sugar

1 package marshmallows

Into a large bowl add all of topping ingredients and combine with a fork, Mixture should begin to crumble, and once it does sprinkle topping over sweet potato souffle. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and add marshmallows on top, then place back into the oven until marshmallows are golden brown or at least 3 minutes until marshmallows are melted. Serve while still slightly warm, and enjoy! Serves 6-8.  If you try this recipe, let me know what you think and if you find it to be awesome, share it with friends and family!

FALL Mason Canning JARS in Wood ANTIQUE WHITE Tray Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Find this gorgeous Thanksgiving Table Centerpiece here: https://amzn.to/334y0QN. For more decor inspiration, see my blog post The Best Cottage Fall Decor on Amazon. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Blog, Good Advice, Home Decor

Everything You Need To Know About Paint

Are you ready to spruce up your home? The fastest and most inexpensive way to do so is with paint! There is something so promising about opening up a new can of paint. It has the power to transform walls, and freshen up a room almost instantly. Here you will find everything you need to know about paint and pro-tips on how to make your next painting project a success.

As you know, if you have visited my website previously my favorite color is aqua, hence the name “The Aqua Cottage.” Aqua blue reminds me of my favorite tropical beaches but; Did you know that the color blue is tranquil and calming? That’s because it’s the color of the sea. The word Aqua is not only a color, but in some languages also means water. The color blue  promotes relaxation which makes it ideal for bedrooms and bathrooms.

***This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, see my affiliate disclaimer for more details.***

Before you choose colors consider the function of the space. For example kitchens are high traffic areas and bathrooms have high humidity. Living Rooms and bedrooms are more restful. Do you want your paint color to spark creativity or encourage rest and relaxation? Before you pick up a brush, let’s look at the different types of paint and finishes first.

Types Of Paint

Primer: A coat of primer lays the foundation for a lasting paint job. Primers are formulated with special binders that help paint adhere to it. You can have your primer tinted to match your paint and ensure even coverage. There are also many new paint options that have primer already combined into the paint.

Latex: Today most paint is vinyl acrylic or one hundred percent acrylic latex. It’s water soluble and DIY friendly because it cleans up easily with soap and water. Latex paint dries quickly, usually in two hours or so and cures in a matter of weeks.

Oil: Oil paint is known as alkyd or solvent based. It dries slowly and must be cleaned up with mineral spirits. Oil paint also hardens well to create a durable finish. 

Low VOC: This paint has ingredients that contain volatile organic compounds to eliminate the gas which creates that familiar paint smell. It’s best for those with breathing or health issues where as regular paint fumes may be hazardous to your health. Today there are many low to no VOC lines on the market that still offer great color and coverage.

Paint Finishes

  • Semigloss: It’s less shiny than gloss and almost as easy to clean. It is the finish of choice for most kitchens and bathrooms. For the bath, choose a paint or primer with mildewcide such as Kilz (see below) to handle high humidity.
  • Flat: This finish has little or no shine creating and even tone and hides surface imperfections. It is harder to clean than finishes with sheen, also good for ceilings and living areas.
  • Satin, Eggshell: Good for foyers, family spaces, and high traffic areas: This finish has less sheen than semi-gloss. It also cleans up more easily and resists “burnishing” or shiny spots that result after being rubbed and scrubbed.
  • Matte: This is a low gloss finish that can help camouflage tiny cracks and bumps in the walls. Good for bedrooms, livingrooms, and dining rooms, this finish delivers a rich coat of color.
  • Milk Paint: This powered paint formula comes in dozens of colors and gives walls and furniture a vintage look. Just add water and mix with a blender or a hand mixer.  It can go right over sheetrock.

Find it here: https://amzn.to/2mZ9Dol

Painting 101

Now that you know the type of paints and finishes, and how much you’ll need, it’s time to get started! Before you open that can of paint or dip that paint brush, here are some application techniques and secrets to giving your walls and trim a flawless finish. Painting walls is a delicate balance of cutting in with a brush around trim, outlets, inside corners, and the ceiling. Only cut in as much as you can roll while the paint is still wet. Otherwise you may notice a difference in sheen or a stripe that occurs where the wall meets the ceiling.

Click image to find list items here on Amazon.

One gallon of paint covers about 400 square feet. To figure out how much paint you’ll need, add up the lengths of all your walls, then multiply that amount by the room height. Subtract 20 square feet for each door and about 15 for each window. Divide the result by 400 to get the number of gallons you’ll need for one coat.

Now it’s time to paint! Follow these basic steps after applying painters tape.

  1. Cut in around the edges with a 2 ½ inch angle brush. Only dip the edge of the brush into the paint or less than half way in  to avoid over saturating the brush. Shake off excess paint, to prevent drips down the wall or floors. Draw the tip up to meet the edge, then drag the brush steadily along. Reload brush when the paint starts to fade. To prevent overlap marks avoid working the paint brush back and forth. Finish with a light pass across the area.
  2. Use the roller once you’ve cut in around a wall to fill in the field. Damped the roller before using it (with water for latex and paint thinner for oil). Dip the roller into a lined paint tray with just enough paint to reach the grate. Roll it back against the grate to distribute the paint evenly and squeeze of the excess. Make sure the roller is covered completely before using it on the walls to avoid dry spots. Start out rolling by making a W on the wall and then fill it in using short easy strokes. Now you’re painting like a pro! Aim to cover a 3-by-3 foot patch with each rollerfull. Keep a damp cloth handy to wipe up any drops along the baseboard. Continue painting until fully covered. Overlap the edge to avoid visible brush marks. Wait an hour to retouch the wall before applying a second coat.
  3. Remove painters tape pulling it off slowly while the paint is still wet. If you wait for it to dry the tape can gap causing damage to the finish or surface.

Once all of the walls are completed and the walls are dry, step back and take look at your work. See if there are any touch ups needed. Now, enjoy your newly painted space and decorate accordingly. If you love coastal decor, see The Ultimate Guide To Beach Cottage Style. I hope you found this article to be helpful. Save time and money by ordering online and have one neat pro-painters box shipped right to you door. You can easily find all of the painting supplies on the list through my link here on Amazon. Also, If you are planning to renovate your kitchen, see The Ultimate Kitchen Renovation Guide.

Blog, Home Decor

The Best Fall Cottage Decor On Amazon

Can you believe that Fall is already here? There is a crisp chill in the morning air here along the New England coast, and the leaves are starting to change! Some people refer to it as “Pumpkin Spice Season.”  (haha) It’s my favorite time of year although I’m still not ready to let go of summer thanks to my love for the beach. It’s time to reflect back on the year, gather with family and friends and be grateful.

As for the beach lovers who just aren’t ready to let go of summer yet don’t worry, I have also added in some fall coastal decor items to inspire you too; and they are all budget friendly. It’s also time decorate for Halloween if you haven’t started already.  Pretty soon the leaves will begin to fall from the trees and then before you know it, the holidays will be here. Save time and money with this list of inspiring fall cottage and trending coastal farmhouse decor ideas from Amazon . These items transition well into the holiday season. 

***This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, see my affiliate disclaimer for more details.*** 

  1. Nothing says fall like pumpkins and tons of cozy pillows! I cant get enough of them, so I started buying pillow covers instead.
Pumpkin Decoration Cotton Blend Cushion Cover Set of 4

Find it here: https://amzn.to/2mze88L

2. Everything really is better at the beach, including pumpkins!

Custom Decor Coastal Pumpkin Garden Sign

Find it here: https://amzn.to/2nmN38R

3. Don’t you just love white pumpkins?

White Pumpkin with Gold Centerpieces (3 Piece Set)

Find it here: https://amzn.to/2lRppkq

4. This indoor/outdoor wagon comes in 3 lovely colors and can be display all year long.

Amish Wagon Decorative Indoor/Outdoor Garden Backyard Planter

Find it here: https://amzn.to/2nw9atn

5. You can never go wrong with pumpkins and lanterns.

 Coastal Fall – Welcome – Garden Size, Decorative Double Sided Flag

Find it here: https://amzn.to/2lRvBca

6. This wreath is perfect for that coastal farmhouse look.

 Lamb’s Ear Wreath with White Pumpkins Pinecones Cotton Bolls Fall Front Door Wreath

Find it here: https://amzn.to/2nupoDm

7. Don’t you just love the color of these aqua and white mason jars?

3-Piece Vintage, Retro, Farmhouse Chic, Mason Jar Inspired Ceramic Kitchen Canister Set

Find it here https://amzn.to/2lSg9wx

8. This door banner also comes in other styles for Halloween and Christmas.

Welcome Happy Fall Yall Large Hanging Flags Signs Porch Banner

9. Honestly, you can never have enough throw pillows!

 Welcome Fall Throw Pillow Covers Autumn Harvest Pumpkin Starfish Coastal Decor

Find it here: https://amzn.to/2o2gxcl

10. Pumpkin spice and everything nice!

Fall Decorations for Home Set of 4 Fall Pillow Covers 18 x 18 

Find it here: https://amzn.to/2lWDBJ4

11. These real wax Birch Bark battery operated pillar candles with remote are a safe way to make any corner of the room look warm and cozy.

Flickering Candles, Candles Birch Set of 4 5″ 6″ Birch Bark Battery Candles Real Wax Pillar with Remote Timer

12. So cute, kids and adults alike will not be able to keep their hands out of the candy jar!

1 X The Pumpkin Express Train – Decorative Accessories

Find it here: https://amzn.to/2nrUhbF

Check out some these decor items and many more coordinating items on Amazon. Many of these items make great gifts for fall October and November birthdays! Enjoy your fall!

Blog, Good Advice, Home Decor, Lifestyle

The Ultimate Kitchen Renovation Guide

Are you looking to create the perfect kitchen of your dreams? The first step is to figure out your must haves and create a wish list. Proper planning is the key to success. You can use this guide and free printable checklist to plan any style kitchen renovation. I created this article as a guide for my own future renovation and sought expert design advice from contractors and renovators. Now I am more than happy to share it with you! A kitchen is an investment that impacts your quality of life and the value of your home, so you’ll want to invest wisely.

***This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, see my affiliate disclaimer for more details.***

The kitchen is the most important room in your home. It’s where we live, entertain, and make wonderful memories. Whether you’re creating a brand new kitchen or updating an old one, the key is to tailor it to the way that you live. When planning a renovation, consider choosing eco-friendly products and finishes that are beautiful and sustainable. You want to design a kitchen that not only makes the most of your space and budget, but also improves your quality of life. The modern kitchen is the new command center where we handle most household affairs. Designing a kitchen involves lots of choice. As you start to weigh all of the elements think about longevity.

Before you get started, ask yourself these important questions.

  1. How do use your current kitchen?
  2. What kind of kitchen will suit your needs? 
  3. Do you like the current layout or do you need more space?
  4. Does your kitchen need updating or and extensive remodel?
  5. What is your budget with contingency?
  6. What permits will you need if any?
  7. Are you going to do any of the work yourself or hire a contractor?
  8. What is your time table to complete this project?
  9. Are you renovating with intent to sell?


Are you wondering how much all of this should cost? Of course! Here is fairly accurate prediction of what each part of the renovation should cost. This should give you some ideas on how to break down your initial budget.

Source: National Kitchen & Bath Association.

Assessing The Project

If you are working with a small budget and your kitchen is functioning properly, then you may want to consider a moderate make-over. The easiest and least expensive way to change the look of your kitchen is by applying a fresh coat of paint on the walls and painting the kitchen cabinets. Remember to update the hardware. These minor cosmetic changes plus updating the appliances can dramatically improve the look of your kitchen without spending a fortune. If your floors need updating, consider using durable yet affordable eco-friendly linoleum, not vinyl. All of these projects can be done without having to hire a contractor.

A full or partial renovation means a more time consuming and costly undertaking. The advantage is that you can expand the layout, knock down walls, move the appliances, add more counter space, and update the style. For example relocating the stove may involve installing another gas hook up and vent.  Moving or adding a sink will require additional plumbing. Anything that requires venting plumbing, gas or electricity requires a professional. You can easily remove walls, but if the wall is load bearing you will have to take special precautions to support the structure during the process. I suggest hiring a designer or and architect who can assist with the renovation and assure that you get the best kitchen for your money. Re-configuring space means buying new cabinets, which is the biggest portion of the budget.

A major overhaul is the most expensive type of renovation because it involves adding space to enlarge the footprint. There are many ways to open up and reconfigure most kitchens within their existing space. If you have a small kitchen and you want to add an island, breakfast nook or home office, you will need to consider building and addition or taking part of an adjacent room  such as a den or spare bedroom. I personally prefer knocking down walls to create one cohesive open space such as a kitchen, living and dining room combination. Any additions will require and a new foundation and roof, so you will need to factor the labor, materials and permit fees into your budget. I recommend hiring and experienced architect who can design and integrate your new kitchen seamlessly into your home. 
When planning a major overhaul, you will need to be prepared for any plumbing, electrical or structural issues before you begin. Usually these surprises sometimes sprout up once you begin opening up the walls. Don’t skip on fixing any issues that arise just to save time and money. You want your renovation to add value to your home, so be sure to hire a good contractor and make smarter choices. Yes there is lots to think about, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Your renovation does not have to be a nightmare, there are new innovative products and materials on the market everyday to make it go smoother. 

Before you start planning, think about the following questions. Are you looking for low cost or best quality? Do you want to use the kind of products that will last a lifetime? Will you use eco friendly products that have a low impact on the environment? The truth is although there are lots of choices, there is no right answer for everybody. That because everyone has a different budget. What matters most is figuring out what’s more important to you and why. 

Now that you have answered those questions, it’s time to plan. Whatever the scale of your project, first organize your ideas to allow you to make smart decisions along the way. I highly recommend using Pinterest for inspirational ideas! Don’t focus on trends, but think about both style and function before you make any choices. Think about what would suit your households needs in the future.

  •  Do you cook in your kitchen often, or entertain regularly?
  •  Do you need space for more than one cook? 
  •  Do you have enough cabinets and countertop space?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’ll need to incorporate them into your design to make sure the kitchen of your dreams not only comfortable but functional. Remember, you’ll want your kitchen to have lasting value. There are lots of options, but for now you can start planning by answering these questions

Next you will need to consider:

  • How old is your house?
  • Any Asbestos or Lead Paint?
  • What kind of electrical wiring is in place and how old it is.
  • What kind of lighting will you be adding in the ceiling?
  • The kind of insulation in the walls if any.
  • What kind of plumbing is in place, how old is it and is it functioning properly?
  • Are you adding wiring for computers, smart homes and audio and visual components?
  • Can your heating, cooling and Hvac systems handle the changes you want to make.
  • Are your walls plaster or sheetrock?

Now let’s think about the style. What style will you choose? There are over sixteen different types such as Modern, Traditional, Contemporary, Rustic, Craftsman, Industrial, Mediterranean, and Beach to name a few.

My personal favorite design is Beach Cottage Style. A beach cottage style kitchen should be light and airy reflecting the colors of the sea. Your design plan should include white cabinets, but if you have dark cabinets that are paintable, consider lightening them up by painting them in a cool coastal blue.

See list below to shop this look.

Add shiplap, wainscotting, engineered wood, wood look ceramic tile, or bamboo floors for warmth, and chunky open shelves to display pottery and give the kitchen a cottage feel. Next include natural elements in the decor such as flax and linen, and nautical elements such as seagrass, sisal and driftwood.  Remember to add comfortable seating to keep it cozy and casual. I hope you enjoyed this post. View my Pinterest board Coastal Style Kitchens for more design inspiration.

Shop or find items in Image on this list here.

  1. Safavieh Jute Area Rug –https://amzn.to/2lpWAeO
  2. Dining Room Chair – Wood Seat – Set of 2 – Blue/Green- https://amzn.to/2mRyyK6
  3. Solid Wood Dining Table- https://www.jossandmain.com
  4. Kitchen Cabinets- http://www.willowlanecabinetry.com
  5. Wood Look Ceramic Tile Flooring- http://www.BuildDirect.com
  6. Golden Lighting 3602-L-CH-WH http://www.build.com
  7. Seaglass Bottle- https://www.pinterest.com/pin/421368108887254088/
  8. Emerald Coast Countertops- https://www.vetrazzo.com/inspiration/sea-and-sand/?lang=en
  9. Seagrass Baskets- https://amzn.to/2mYktu6
  10. Glass Back Splash Tiles- https://amzn.to/2nyURVd
  11. Cabinet Hardware- http://smarthomekitchen.com/black-kitchen-cabinet/black-kitchen-cabinet-hardware/
  12. Kitchen Canisters- https://amzn.to/2lm00PH
  13. Moen Faucet- https://amzn.to/2ljY3TK
  14. Sink- https://amzn.to/2nyTGVN
  15. Cabinet- http://www.willowlanecabinetry.com
  16. Wall Clock- https://amzn.to/2nsXRlO
Good Advice, Health, Lifestyle

How To Keep Your Home Clean, Organized, & Fresh

People always ask me how I keep my home clean and fresh all the time. When friends  come over, I always here “Wow it smells so good here, what did you do? I would just laugh it off, not realizing that they really did want to know my secrets. I didn’t know that people struggled to keep their homes clean as it comes natural to me.  Our home is our sanctuary, and who wants a stinky sanctuary? Haha Well the good news is that I am going to share my cleaning secrets with you. It doesn’t matter if you have kids or pets, you can do it too. I have had dogs and cats, and no one could ever tell upon entering my home.

I love the smell of candles, fresh clean laundry and Clorox, yes Clorox. I mean who doesn’t love the smell of fresh clean laundry?I don’t spend a lot of money on cleaning products either. The secret is that I make my own, floor cleaner, carpet fresh, kitchen and bathroom cleaner. (All from the same 3 products.) Friends and family think I have spent hours cleaning my home to keep it smelling fresh but I don’t. Here are my secrets to keep your home neat, tidy and fresh smelling.  

Create A De-cluttering System.

The first thing you should do is get rid of clutter. A messy house always looks dirty. Did you know that clutter can make your home feel chaotic and affect your sleep?  Get organized and find a place for everything. If there is no room in your closets to put anything away, then guess what? It’s time to donate the things you are no longer using or need. Having too much stuff can stress us out and be exhausting. Clutter can stress us out because our lives are already overwhelming enough. It can have a negative impact on both adults and children.

Start small by picking one room or closet at a time.My goal is to help you be able to put a system into place where you can easily find everything. Here is an easy organization tip. Buy the large, $5 clear storage bins and line them up with the lids off. Label them near the area that you wish to organize. Now divide and conquer. Pick one item at a time, examine it, then simply drop it into the bin. No need for messy piles on the floor. That way, however you decide to dispose of the items, it’s all  packed into the bins and ready to go. Simply place the lid on and tote them away. After sorting and purging, go ahead reload those kept items back into your nice clean space.

Now label the bins:

  • KEEP- These are the items that you can’t part with, so find a home for them. Place them in some decorative storage baskets for your closet.
  • DONATE- These are items such as clothing and shoes that are still in good condition. You can donate them to your local church, charity, or goodwill. Trust me, you will feel so much better about giving these items away to someone in need.
  • TRASH- Any items that are broken, worn, has holes in them, or stained should be discarded.

Time to Deep Clean

Now that everything is in its proper place, it’s time to clean. When you first walk into your home, stop and take a deep breath. How does it smell? If you are nose-blind (like in the Febreze commercials) step outside again. Do you like the smell? If not get rid of any nasty smells in your house immediately! Now open up some windows for fresh air and get to deep cleaning. You don’t have to spend lots of money on cleaning products. Here are my 4 secret products to a great smelling house.

  1. Clorox bleach
  2. Tide pods
  3. Baking Soda
  4. Dryer sheets 

Okay so at first you may not be impressed, but as I said previously, “Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh clean laundry? Just about everyone has these products on hand in their house already. No need to run out and buy anything. Now here is how to use them around the house instead of in the laundry.

  • Make your own cleaner- Grab an empty spray bottle and dissolve half a laundry pod with two capfuls of clorox bleach. This can be used all around the kitchen and bathroom surfaces, and especially dirty countertops. 
  • Floors– Melt one pod in super hot water with ¼ cup of Clorox. You can use whatever your favorite laundry pod is, but I personally love “Tide with Downy”. The fabric softener and super hot water easily dissolve dirty, sticky, stained floors and the Clorox automatically disinfects.
  • Carpets-  Baking soda naturally gets rid of nasty smells in the carpets. I use baking soda on my rugs before vacuuming and that’s about it. It’s kid safe and pet friendly. Sprinkle baking soda on carpets and let sit for about 1 hour before vacuuming. I usually do this first before I start my cleaning routine, then all that’s left to do is vacuum. 
  • Bathroom toilet-  Open the lid and pop one laundry pod in the tank. Let dissolve. Pour ¼ cup of bleach in the toilet bowl and let sit. 10 min.Then flush. As you flush, swish with a brush, the cleaner will come down into the toilet bowl surface. The softeners in the laundry pod will soften the grime and make removal much easier. Now cleaning the toilet will be a breeze and your bathroom will smell great.
  • Bathtub- Fill up your tub with super hot water, pop in a laundry pod and ½ cup of bleach. Make sure to keep windows open when using bleach. Let sit for one hour for tough tub ring stains. Any dirt should dissolve easily, if not get out a brush, scrub, rinse and then drain.  Your bathroom will smell amazing as the steam releases the fresh laundry pod smell into the air. I did not address bathroom mold because I simply (never let mold grow) in my home. It horrifies me and it’s a health hazard.
  • Dryer Sheets- I take a dryer sheet during the summertime and place it in my air conditioner with the filter. It makes my whole house smell amazingly clean. Remember to clean the filter often and change the dryer sheet daily.

Once your house is all clean, remember to put things back in their place right away, and clean as you go (meaning if there is any mess, clean it up immediately.) Don’t give it a chance to turn into a smelly mess. Your house will stay cleaner and be easier to maintain.I hope you find these simple cleaning hacks to be helpful, if you do share it! Now enjoy your newly clean and fresh smelling home, without spending a ton of money!