Living Room Special Events

Let the Summer Games Begin: Party Essentials

barThe Rio 2016 Summer Games are officially here!

The only way to properly watch the Opening Ceremonies tonight is to throw a party, and we can make that happen in a few easy steps.

First, we need to talk decorations. You could go in a couple different directions with decorations – all international, root for the home team, or a combination of both. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Hang flags over doorways – the smaller, 6 x 7″ flags with the vinyl rope (find them at places such as Party City).
  • Get patriotic garland to wrap around banisters, fences, etc.
  • Make cutout torches to pass out at the start of the ceremony.
  • Utilize The Games rings – you can hang them on the walls or display the rings and colors in your food.
  • Make a personalized Summer Games banner for your front door.
  • Go all out by getting an athlete cutout that welcomes people into The Village.
  • If you want the whole party to participate, tell people to come dressed as their favorite athlete. You can also have a bin of fun accessories they can put on during the party. This bin can consist of sweat bands, light-up necklaces/bracelets, pom poms, and so on.

Next, you need to think about the menu. Whether you plan on serving finger food or a sit down dinner, choose a theme. You can embrace the South African menu, the international mix-of-everything menu, or a USA menu! With the international and USA menu you can offer your guests a lot of variety. For example, an international menu can consist of: sushi (Japan), egg rolls (China), pizza (Italy), hot pretzels (Germany), and so on. We all know what an American menu would look like – burgers, corn on the cob, apple pie, fried chicken, etc.

With food, also comes the beverages! We’ve discovered some great celebratory sporty cocktails, such as the Camarena torch, Star Spangled Sparkler and World Record Splash. Check out these recipes and more here. You can also create gold, silver and bronze drinks and serve them in three big punch bowls.

people cheering at a gameWhile everyone is not crowded around the television, make sure you plan other ways to keep your guests entertained. Whether it consists of a photo op with the life-sized cutout athlete, a team based activity in the backyard, or a pass the torch drinking game, find a way to keep your guests occupied for the whole night.

Good luck and go USA!

Summer Trends & Inspirations

Summer is Ending – Kids Tackle Dinner

As summer comes to a close, you have minimal dinners left when your kids don’t have homework, sports and after-school activities. You already miss the long nights on the patio by the pool without the worry of bedtimes and packing lunches. How can you make dinner a different experience with these nights left? Switch up the roles!

We have some tips on how to make use of the rest of this time – kids take over the kitchen and tackle dinner for the family. We have ideas on how they can help you cook and some fun, summer recipes you can use.albany1

  • Be prepared for this cooking experience to take longer than usual – start earlier. When you’re cooking with kids and you want them to get something out of it, don’t rush the process. Make them read the recipes, get the ingredients out, and follow the directions to the best of their ability. Help them along the way to make sure the end product will actually be satisfying!
  • Expect there to be a big, big mess at the end. It wouldn’t be taught or done right if there wasn’t. Cooking can get messy anyways, but with kids around, you can only expect that mess to double. If that means putting tablecloths down, go for it.
  • Make sure you choose recipes that are age appropriate. A recipe that involves a food processor or beating eggs until soft peaks, might not be suitable for a 8-year-old. girl outdoor setting table partyCooking is a good learning process for kids though. It teaches them skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. Whether it’s teaching them about geography or math and fractions within the recipes, it will serve a purpose.
  • Cooking can also expose kids to new food groups. You should encourage them to test and taste foods while they cook. For example, a foreign vegetable that’s cooked versus uncooked.
  • Have some fun with it! If they only want to tackle the basics, such as measuring out the ingredients, don’t push them to do more. With more time, will also come more experience and comfortably. Sooner or later, you can sit back on the couch and let them take over completely!

Looking for summer recipes that are easy and kid friendly? Check them out right here!

Trends & Inspirations

Breakfast in Bed: Tips & Recipes

Everyone likes to be pampered – especially if it involves the words “breakfast” and “bed” in the same sentence. We have some tips, tricks and recipes to share with you to create the perfect breakfast in bed experience.

First things first, make sure you have a fun tray to create a great presentation. Add some personal touches if the tray doesn’t have much to it. Whether that’s a place-mat, flowers or anything fun to add a personal touch. Secondly, (and most importantly) food! Make sure you know exactly what you are making and have all the ingredients that the recipe requires before you begin. You don’t want to have to make a grocery run in the middle of frying eggs! If you haven’t decided what to make yet, we have some great ideas that will impress – they are sophisticated and easy. wood kitchen cabinet

Waffled Brioche French Toast

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • Four 1 1/2-inch-thick slices brioche or challah bread
  • Melted unsalted butter, for brushing waffle iron
  • Maple syrup, raspberries and icing sugar, for topping
  • Special equipment: waffle iron (preferably Belgian style)

Preheat a waffle iron to medium-high. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F (to keep cooked waffles warm). Whisk together the milk, sugar, vanilla, salt and eggs in a bowl or baking dish. Soak a piece of bread in the mixture for 2 minutes per side.

Lightly brush the top and bottom of the waffle iron with butter. Place the soaked bread on the waffle iron and close gently (don’t push down). Cook until golden brown and dry underneath when you lift a corner, 5 to 6 minutes. Keep the warm in the oven or covered with foil on a plate. Repeat with the remaining bread.

Top French toast with syrup, raspberries and confectioners’ sugar. (Prep: 10 min, Cook: 25 min, Skill: Easy). Link to recipe here.

Baked Eggs in Cheesy Hash Brown Bowls

  • 2 cups shredded hash browns (used Simply Potatoes), all excess moisture squeezed out and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped onionbreakfast in bed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt, to taste for personal preference (I used 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled bacon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley or basil
  • 2 eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 425F. Have two 12-ounce ramekins ready (if you don’t have ramekins, use 8″ round pan, and can add up to two extra eggs). In a large bowl, mix together the hash browns, cheese, onion, olive oil, and salt. Divide evenly between the two ramekins and make a wide enough indent in the middle for adding the egg later.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the tops just start to turn golden brown (don’t let them get too brown as you still need to cook the egg). Cool for 5 minutes.

Crack each egg into the middle of each bowl. Bake for another 8-12 minutes or until the egg whites are set. Top evenly with bacon and herbs. Serve immediately. (Prep: 15 min, Cook: 60 min, Skill: Easy). Link to recipe here.

Toast with Avocado Spread, Smoked Salmon & A Poached Egg

  • 2 slices of granary bread
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 slices of smoked salmon

Toast the bread. Cut the avocado in half and remove the flesh into bowl. Use a folk to mash it up. Mix together the lime juice and salt then add to the avocado. Spread the avocado onto the toast. Put a small pan of water onto boil. Once it comes to a boil turn the water down to a low simmer. Crack your first egg into a saucer. Give the water a gently stir and slide the egg into the water. Repeat with the second egg.
Cook the eggs for 3 minutes. Make sure you time them, 3 minutes goes really quickly. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a tea-towel. Place two slices of salmon on each slice of toast and top with an egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. (Prep & Cook: 10 min, Skill: Easy). Link to recipe here.

                                                                                                            ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
there’s a lot more where that came from! If you are looking to make pancakes, yogurt parfaits, breakfast bread, oatmeal, breakfast burritos, crepes, casseroles, etc. go to this site and pick any and all that look appetizing!Sleep, bed, mattress

After you’ve made the breakfast, make sure to pick the cute plates and glassware to put the food and drinks on. Hopefully they are still asleep and you can really surprise them by waking them up with that smell of beautiful banana’s foster waffles coming through the door! If they aren’t already awake, turn on some light tunes, light some candles and crack open the blinds. Your presentation will be on point and it’ll be the perfect start to their day.

Product Features Space Planning & Tips

Make A Grand Entrance: Your Entryway

There are so many choices when it comes to adding some style, color or storage to your home’s entryway. Although this may not seem like an important part of the house to worry about, it actually is one of the key spaces to make sure you dress it well! This will be everyone’s first impression of your home, and you want to make sure everyone is eager to enter. Depending on the kind of entryway space you are working with, we offer many different kinds of foyer pieces.

white entrywayIf you are working with a smaller area such as a back door or a side door, you may want to go with a casual and practical storage piece. The Levi Entryway Collection is a great way to give this busy area the organization it needs. The bench gives you an easy place to remove or put on your shoes; the matching wall unit is practical place to keep your coat, hat, umbrella or scarf all together. This collection comes in black, mahogany and white (shown in the picture – left).villa capri laila cabinets

If you have a small wall in your foyer and your design is a little fancier, The Laila Credenza, The Villa Capri or The Grenoble Media Credenza are great options for you. They are bold and bright, and add a geometric vibe to your foyer. You also have the choice of dressing it up or dressing it down – they meant to go either way. For a dressier look – think, elegant lamp and beautiful, coffee table books. These credenzas are a bonus storage unit. You may not have thought you’d have room in your foyer to store those extra plates, or games or movies, but these units can fit a lot. These units come in many colors – black, grey, teal, silver and red. This is an easy space to be different in because you don’t have to accessorize too much.

wooden cabinet foyer

If you have space, and we mean, lots of it – go big! As big as the Union City Entertainment Wall Unit. If you have a massive foyer and you are ready to create a great entrance for yourself and your guests, chose a unit that will bring life into the space, as well as tie in your adjoining rooms theme. Use a unit like this for display, for storage and for keeping your family’s stuff organized. If the Union City isn’t your style, check out some of the other entertainment wall units here.

There are so many different pieces to help spice up your entryway. First, pick a unit, then figure out how to decorate with the unit being the focal point, and the rest will fall into place!

Summer Trends & Inspirations

Staying In, In Style

You’ve discovered that you’re sick of going out, spending money, or just want to spend time in your pajamas and can’t think of ways to change up the plans? We can help you out! Whether you’re staying in with your friends, your boyfriend, or your spouse, we have some clever, fun and creative ideas to make staying at home more fun!

  • Games galore. No matter the age, people always forget and underestimate how much fun game night can get. Whether you decide to include alcohol or not, games like Cards Against Humanity, Taboo, Risk and Charades always involve a lot of laughter.
    friends eating outside summer
  • Night centered around the meal. There are many options if you want to take a night to celebrate food with your friends or family. You could host a pot luck dinner where everyone is required to bring their favorite dish with a recipe. You can host an international dinner night and everyone must agree upon a country and you make their most popular dishes. Each person must come with a fact about that place to share with others. If it’s just you and your beau, have a fun night in the kitchen and cook together.
  • Movie + sleepover. Pick out a couple of your favorite movies or a TV show to binge watch all night long. To make it more interesting, create a sleepover setting – bring all the blankets, pillows, popcorn and wine in front of the big screen and cuddle up in front of the TV.
  • Plan an indoor scavenger hunt. Hide and seek related games always bring people entertainment. Hide a number of things and give everyone a list of items that they have to find around the house. Allow your clues to involve some thinking before they run from room to room. To make it trickier, put a time limit on it and whoever collects the most items before the timer runs out wins a game day
  • Host a costume or themed party. Invite your friends over and have a dress up night. Halloween or not, dressing up as someone else is always a creative way to get people involved and invested in having a great night.
  • Karaoke night. A classic way to entertain a larger or smaller crowd is singing to them. Even if you may not have the best voice, everyone always enjoys an opportunity to bust a lung or a dance move on center stage.


Life Events Space Planning & Tips Special Events

Moving Tips: Newlywed Edition

You’ve had the engagement, you’ve had the wedding, now for the exciting part – moving in together!

Hopefully you’ve figured out some of the logistics – what area you’re moving to, what payment plan you’ll have, and so on. If you haven’t, those are definitely two places you want to sofa family room

Throughout this process, keep in mind that it’ll only go smoothly if you both make compromises. You each have your own style, your own personality, and your own opinion – you need to value that. There will be some adjustments when you live with someone and it’s up to you how you handle those changes. You’re going to be sharing your space with this person for a long time, it’s acceptable for you to both want your own personal space. Don’t be mad or offended if your spouse wants their own drawer, their own office, or the own area – that’s natural.

Next comes who’s stuff goes and who’s stuff stays. Decide together what furniture you both like and make sure it will go with the rest of the house. When doing this, consider which pieces are in the best condition and which will last the longest. If you can’t come to an agreement, sell both and buy a new piece together.

Moving time is a great time to clean out the closets and donate grandma’s old quilts. You’re essentially investing in a new home and also a new, refreshed look. white sectional sofa living roomIf you can’t afford to start from scratch, do it room by room. Just have an understanding upfront about what you are ready to get rid of, and what you want in your new home for the long haul. Remember, no piece of furniture or accessory is permanent, so if you’re having a hard time with your spouse’s possessions, compromise. Maybe it will grow on you or maybe you’ll swap it out in a few months. Regardless, they’ll respect and appreciate you more if you give it a chance.

Lastly, enjoy and love each other! While you may discover your spouse’s frustrating habits, remember why you married them. You may have your design differences or different ideas of cleanliness, but it’s important to accept those differences and appreciate all that the other person does for you. This is a journey and will be an adjustment no matter what – be patient with your spouse and enjoy your time as newlyweds!

Looking for some new pieces you’ll both love? Visit our site here and check out colors and styles that will work for both of you!

Life Events Special Events Summer

Recent Grads: How to Make a House a Home

For anyone who has recently graduated, your life might feel like it’s turning upside down when it’s time to make the transition into the real world. Your own apartment, a “grown up” job, time away from your family and friends – it can be quite the adjustment! We are going to tackle one of these new adventures now.

Moving into your own apartment or house may be overwhelming at first, but it’s also exciting! Here are some pointers to keep in mind when decorating a new place.

  • Picking a theme for your pad is a great place to start. Whether you’re living alone or with a roommate, you need to come up with a theme that everyone is happy with. It will make your decorating decisions much easier about what goes together and what doesn’t. If you’re having a hard time with this, go neutral. It’s easy and you can’t get sick of colors like white, black, gray or tan.

    We love choosing a theme for every room in the house. The more rooms you have the more imaginative you can get!
  • Seek the unique furniture and accessories that reflect your personality and go well with your general theme. If you’ve chosen more timeless furniture, unique accessories are a good way to spice the place up.
  • Details are what really turns your house into a home. This includes pillows, candles, curtains, books and artwork. One striking piece of wall art can really tie the room together. If you are on a budget, get creative and make your own decor.
  • blue chair plants living roomBring nature indoors. Whether you have a small plant in your kitchen, or a big fern in your living room, it adds life and color to a room. Adding in bits of nature to your space can even make the air smell better!
  • Lighting can also help with the presentation of your home. Choose lights that will add a soft glow, and with this will come a cozy and secure feeling right when you enter, especially in the bedroom.
  • Lastly, in order to truly break in your space, create memories there. You can do this in many different ways – throwing a housewarming party or cooking your favorite meal for your loved one. Make these memories and continue them as rituals and that’s the true trick to turning your space into your own!
Life Events Space Planning & Tips Summer

Tips on Moving with Kids

Moving with kids is very overwhelming, and quite frankly, the more kids you have the more insane it is. Don’t underestimate the emotional and physical energy it takes to move – but don’t get discouraged either. We have to some tips and tricks to help make the packing process and moving day go a little smoother for the whole family.

  1. Our first piece of advice, ask for help. If you know you’re moving two weeks from Saturday, plan to have someone take your kids for the day. If you see yourself struggling to get boxes packed while your kids run around, have someone come over and watch them. You’ll be able to get so much more done, and you won’t have them wanting to take everything out of the box that you just packed up. If your family or friends are offering to help you pack up boxes, have them help with a room that doesn’t need your supervision. If you’re just going to hover as they pack up your glassware, assign them a different task.
  2. De-clutter after you’ve put your little ones to bed. Kids are not happy when all their toys go into boxes, and they especially aren’t when their toys move to the donation pile. Don’t tell them what toys they never play with because they will then declare that as their favorite toy and you’re horrible for giving it away. Make sure you do leave one box of toys out until the last day so they have entertainment while you conquer the rest of the house.
  3. Take your time labeling boxes. Whether that means you label by room or by item, it will be much easier on you during the unpacking process. Also, another helpful hint is to use color-coded tape so the movers know where you want the boxes taken once inside the house. Green tape means upstairs study, blue tape means living room. You can stick a piece of colored duct tape on each door to help them out.moving day
  4. Start packing earlier than you would have ever thought. If it took you and your husband a month to pack up your starter home, double or triple that time if you are packing up for you two, plus three kids, and a dog. Even if you think you live in a shoe box now, at the end of day, you’ll feel like you’ve packed up a hotel.
  5. Look into spreading out your move over a few days or over a long weekend. This works well if you are moving locally. If you plan ahead, you can work out a deal with the realtors to get your keys early. In the end, it makes the transition much easier on everyone and you won’t have a sea of unpacked, unmarked boxes in your front foyer haunting you at the end of the day.
  6. Don’t forget to wave goodbye to your old house. It can be traumatic to leave your childhood home, so if your kid wants to wave goodbye to every single room, let them.
  7. In order to keep your move a positive and happy experience for your child, surprise them with new toys and let them choose the carry-out the first night. This will allow them to associate your new house as an exciting adventure!