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My Amazon Home picks

by Shalice Noel

Pouf /and this knit pouf is a bestseller! / Shag rug // Peonies // Tom Ford Book // Planter // Faux cactus // H blanket // Candle // Marble coasters // Wishbone chairs

So many good home finds at Amazon, from poufs for the girl’s room, to a shag rug. I’m also using these baskets to organize.

Which is your favorite?

How to German Shmear

by Shalice Noel

Large basket // Floor Pouf // Two-toned basket // Shag rug // Gold Mirror // Similar Cactus // Faux fiddle leaf fig

German Shmear

Our basement room has a beautiful view of the mountains, but the space needed some love.  First up, our plans were to refresh the dark and drab stone fireplace.  Reid was hesitant covering up the natural stone at first but after cleaning the surface we noticed the previous owners must have altered the stone somehow.  

So with that, we took the German Shmear plunge.  I’ll admit You Tube and Pinterest helped A LOT in convincing us to take the dive. Yes, everyone is doing this right now and I still worry 20 years from now we will look back and say, ”why did we do this”? 

Without risk, you will have no reward and frankly, design is a risk.  So take the risk, my friends.

Here is a quick shopping list and step by step German Shmear process.

Shopping List

o   Mortar (Tile Grout) – We used white.  (White is typical for German Shmear)

o   Mixing Bucket

o   Mixing Stick or Drill Bit

o   Big Sponges

o   Cheap Paint Brushes (They will get destroyed)

o   Rubber Gloves (This is very messy)

o   Painters Tape

o   Trowel and or Spackle

o Putty knife

o   Ziploc Bags

Process

1.      Wash surface with water, bristle brush and sponge.

2.      Protect surrounding area with painter’s tape.  We used flatten cardboard boxes to lay around the hearth for protect.

3.      Mix mortar per package direction.  Mix to a consistency of thick frosting.

4.      Use brush to spread mortar onto surface.  Brushes work well for smooth surfaces.  But honestly your hands work the best.  So don’t be afraid to just dig in and shmear.  We put Ziploc bags on our hands and literally grabbed the mortar and slapped it onto surface.  Fill grout marks so that the mortar is flush with the stone/brick surface.  A trowel and spackle tool can also be used.  Beware, this is messy.  But we are washable.  (The mortar also is water soluble and does clean up with a wet rag pretty easily, just in case)

5.      Let mortar dry per package directions

6.      Just before mortar is complete dry.  Take wet sponge and brush entire surface till smooth, to your liking.  This is where the artist comes out.  Some like it rough and some like it smoother.  Go ahead and express yourself.  Exactly like styling an outfit.

7.      Remove the protective barriers and Viola!  A masterpiece.

Great job!  You are now a pro!

Tag me in your DIY photos.  I would love to see how your spaces turn out.

Burpee Gardening 101

Everybody has that other thing, you know, that thing that you totally could have done but didn’t end up doing. Mine is gardening, and in many ways it’s my dream job. In fact, my first job was at a flower nursery and I have always loved plants and planting thanks to many afternoons gardening with my dad. I always find it refreshing and therapeutic to be around and in God’s creation. 

I once thought that I needed acres and acres of land to grow vegetables. But that is clearly not the case. If New Yorkers can grow their veggies on rooftops, I was sure I could manage a decent garden in sunny California. With a few good pots, rich organic soil, some sun, and our garden was started.

One thing I really wanted as I put together our garden were solid, healthy, veggie and herb plants. It didn’t take long to find Burpee Plants, a collection of the leading garden vegetables, herbs and flowers available at your favorite local garden retailer. They offer a huge variety of options, including plants for small spaces, foodies, and even organic. As you know, healthy plants grow healthy vegetables.

What we planted

“Sriracha Hot Pepper” with dark green fruit

“Basket of fire” hot pepper

Sweet Thai Basil

Rutgers DMR Obsession Basil

Boost Tasti-Wee Small Fruited Tomato

Jalapeno Sweet Poppers Sweet pepper

Ristra Cayenne II Hot Pepper (um, yes, we like our peppers)

Sweet Thang Cabbage

Sweet Slaw Cabbage.

All of the above vegetables are from Burpee! Just yesterday, Atalie picked a hot pepper from our container garden. Oh, the excitement in the house! All of a sudden, 4 kids were fighting over who was going to eat it. I had to remind them, peppers are hot!

1 month later . . .

5 Reasons why you should plant a Burpee vegetable garden

1. Vegetables grown in your garden will often have more nutrients than those from the store that often need to be picked early.

2. It helps you eat more veggies! When you’re so involved in the growing of your food, you’ll definitely want to eat it. 

3. Gardening is easy and fun, not intimidating. It’s a relaxing, healthy activity that gets the entire family involved.

4. There is nothing quite like eating fresh, ripe veggies in your salsas and dinners. 

5. Did you know that gardening is actually proven to combat stress and anxiety? (I knew there was a reason I loved it so much!) 

If these aren’t reasons enough, here are two of my favorite things to make with our Burpee garden haul. 

Recipes: Tomato Salsa

3 cups chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 cup onion, diced

1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

2 T fresh lime juice

1 fresh jalapeno pepper, chopped (including seeds)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Stir the tomatoes, green bell pepper, onion, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno pepper, cumin, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Serve.

Spinach Basil Pesto

1 1/2 cups spinach leaves

3/4 cup basil leaves

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (more or less to taste)

4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Blend the spinach, basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a food processor until nearly smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary. Drizzle the remaining olive oil into the mixture while processing until smooth.


Thank you Burpee Plants for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own. For more, follow the Burpee blog!

Master Bedroom:

Amazon linen duvet // Sheets // Bed // Small Lamp // Art 40 x 54 // Large throw pillow // Plants // Vase // Down Alternative Duvet // Lacoste Chevron Coverlet // Chloe dupes

I get a lot of questions about our carpet through out our home. Here’s the official swatch. We like it and it’s super versatile.

Patio Table and Benches:

Benches in dark gray // Wicker Chair // Square planters

Teak Chairs, Planters and Firepit

Firepit // Teak Chairs // Sphere planters

Great Room:

Similar Sofa Sectional // Light // Similar Dresser // Lamps // Circular Vase // Pampass Grass // Dreamcatcher

Acrylic Table and Artwork

Acrylic table // Artwork (I had framed) // Basket underneath // Wood Sculture

On Thursday, we have the privilege of sharing our home with you! Since we bought it at the end of December, it has been a whirlwind.

One of our first purchases was a SECTIONAL. So many friends and decorators alike suggested we purchase the “RH Cloud Couch.” Seemed like a cult favorite so I did some research, which included going to the Restoration Hardware Outlet in Ontario and seeing the couch in person. Yikes, it looked like a sunken-in mess. I told Reid we’d better go back to the drawing board and do more research. I opened it to my readers on stories one day asking for any sectional advice. One reader who happened to be a realtor, suggested Cantoni Design. After more online research on Cantoni, which we were already liking the look of, we found something we think we liked. Since they had two locations in SoCal, one in LA, and one in Irvine, we planned a trip! Honestly, the best advice I can give you regarding couch shopping is to see it in person! Sit on it, stare at it, touch it … it’s too big of an investment to simply see online. It turned out that Irvine had the sectional we liked, so all seven of us drove down to Irvine. As it turns out, we ended up liking another sectional 3x as expensive as the one I originally liked. Isn’t that how it always happens? It took a day or two to convince Reid it was The One, but he finally agreed with me and the rest is history. A commonly asked question I get a lot is how to keep it clean. Honestly, it’s hard. There really isn’t any easy way to keep a couch clean when you have kids, short of never letting them use it.  However, I have a strict no food or drinks in the great room rule. Zero. With five kids it’s nearly impossible not to have a constant mess. But at least that rule keeps the mess confined to dry, non-sticky items that don’t leave stains on the couch. Small mercies, right? 

I’m still working on my office chairs for our family’s new work from home set up. So stay tuned what chairs I actually end up choosing.

Thank you for reading and following along.

Let me know what you think, which room is your favorite?

All the best,

xx Shalice

5 Ways to Sleep Better

by Shalice Noel

Just recently Reid and I upgraded to an ALLSWELL memory foam California King mattress. All previous eleven years of our marriage, we’ve slept on a full, so this was a bit of an upgrade, and by a bit, I mean a huge upgrade.  Reid still isn’t super happy about the large size (I give it another couple of days) but he can’t deny the great sleeps we have been enjoying. We sleep so well, even with Levi’s 1am wakeup calls and the random sleepy child. And honestly? A good night’s sleep can change. your. world. So, if you’re like me, and have slept in the same mattress for over a decade, go mattress shopping! 

Here are a few tips for a better nights sleep!

1. Invest in a good mattress! (Repetition for those who haven’t had a good night’s sleep.) 

2CBD does wonders for my sleep. I take 1 gel tablet before bed and I sleep like a baby which is huge for me, a light sleeper since birth. Use code: shalicenoel

3. Magnesium – I take CALM. I sleep better and it aids in regularity. I find taking this while traveling is so helpful. Now I don’t leave home without it; it has become part of my routine.

4. Take a bath. Baths are relaxing, especially with a bath bomb! Or a shower … but showers wake me up? So, you know, you do you. 

5. Exercise during the day (this is scientifically proven!). Even 15-20 min of light walking or jogging makes a difference. Just get out and move!

6. Use blackout shades. Light wakes you up (science! again!), and darkness sends messages to your body that it’s time to slow down, retire and rest. If you don’t have shades, use an eye mask.

But always looking for more ideas! What gets you a good night’s sleep?

I’m doing a lot of online shopping this weekend! Here’s a link to my Amazon page, and my shop page is open 24/7. Stay healthy! A happy heart is good for the immune system.

This room gets so much use! Between the office and tv space, we are in here A LOT.

Family Room:

Master Bedroom:

Amazon linen duvet // Sheets // Bed // Small Lamp // Art 40 x 54 // Large throw pillow // Plants // Vase // Down Alternative Duvet // Lacoste Chevron Coverlet // Chloe boot dupes

Patio Table and Benches:

Benches in dark gray // Wicker Chair // Square planters


We love our outdoor area

Firepit // Teak Chairs // Sphere planters

Great Room:

Similar Sofa Sectional // Light // Similar Dresser // Lamps

Acrylic Table and Planters

Great room

Similar sectional and larger one here // Dream catcher // Wood Bench // Pampas Grass

I’m writing this the day we sprang forward an hour and the only thing that makes me happy about paying back the hour of sleep we gained last fall is the fact that we now have longer days ahead.  Welcome Spring!  With the coming of later sunsets, we are excited to enjoy time out on the patio of our new home.  This is a first for us.  None of our previous homes had any desirable outdoor space, so we cut new design teeth this season.

               We learned five things while planning our outdoor living space.

1)     Measure your area from deck / concrete edge.  Sketch the area to scale and identify your traffic flow.  Where is the door into your house?

2)     Think design in terms of enjoying from outside as well as inside.  We discovered how much is helps to by similar looking outdoor planters and placing a couple inside our glass sliding door and a pair just outside the sliding door.  We were amazed at how much this brought the outdoors in.

3)     Scale of furniture is everything.  With so many outdoor furniture pieces on the market we were tempted to pick a big wicker looking sectional with coffee table and side chairs.  You can easily buy these as a package deal and it’s definitely a good deal – if you have the area large enough to fill it.  Thankfully, we scaled back a discovered it better to just buy four teak chairs with cushions and arranged them in a circle around a firepit as the coffee table.  (I also might turn the firepit into a planter…just thinking about it.)  Individual seating gives us a lot of flexibility.  We sometimes bring the chairs inside to switch things up.  If we had gone with large furniture pieces, our smaller than anticipated patio would have become crowded.

4)     We steered away from matchy – matchy.  Amazing how fashion parallels interior design.  I found our dining table at CB2, on sale so quickly jumped on it.  It’s durable and heavy which are two things I really liked about it.  However, it didn’t come with chairs.  Buying 8 chairs gets expensive quickly, so we landed on very cool benches that seat six and are stained ebony to coordinate with the grey tones in the table perfectly.  The major win was finding the head of the table chairs.  After researching chair options, I was drawn to bamboo or wicker style to contrast the contemporary design of our table.  We found these grey, high back chairs with white cushions that paired with the table looked dramatic.  Exactly what I wanted.  The high-back chairs gives the large table an intimate dinning experience while the white cushions coordinate with the white cushions on the teak chairs.  (I do bring the cushions in at night to keep them from getting dirty or I suggest covering them)

5)     Lastly, we used small potted plants to finish off the look.  These are reasonably priced to buy a higher quantity and add some additional greenery to your table scape.   Our miniature sedums also add a personal touch at each dinner placing.  Have your guest take one home.

When planning your outdoor space, think scale.  Don’t be afraid to break away from the matchy-matchy pre-assembled furniture sets.  Have fun.  Relax.  Take in the fresh air.  Cheers! 

Keep me posted on your patio life and comment on this post or on my Instagram profile.  I’m still looking for outdoor lighting ideas and thinking about adding a buffet under our kitchen window.  Oh and most importantly, we need a grill so Reid takes on more of the cooking!

Check out my takeover on the Liketoknow.it Home account!

Our sectional: Cantoni Versa Grand Sectional // A cute one that is smaller scale HERE

Not sure if you got the news, but we bought a house!! We didn’t go too far from our rental but loving the new space! We’ve been here for 2 weeks and the sectional we saw in a show room in Irvine is now in our living room. Hooray! While this room is still coming together, it is finally looking like more of our interior design preferences. Reid and I discussed below what are some tips to scoring your next couch. I made a mistake once, buying a sectional online. Once it arrived, I didn’t like the scale of it and it was final sale. I was bummed. Don’t make my mistake. If the brand of couch you like has a local showroom, go ahead and visit it. We had a sectional in mind when we visited the Irvine Cantoni showroom but quickly upon seeing it, we changed our minds. Word of advice: see it in person first. It’s a big purchase, so be picky!

  1. Scale – the couch should fit the scale of the room.  Small spaces are great for mid-century modern looks.  Large spaces are great for big, extra sized sectionals.
  2. Firmness – do you want to sink into the couch and take a nap or have a conversation with some one?  A firm couch is much more formal while a slouchy coach is more restful and casual.
  3. Color – Pick a color that will survive the trends.  I suggest a solid and neutral.  A couch is a big investment and should last you years.
  4. Texture –  For large spaces, don’t be afraid of texture.  Thick woven, suede, ribbed or slouchy velvet.  For smaller spaces, pick smaller scale textures with tighter weave.  Velvet is always a good choice if you can stand the dull vs. shiny marks.
  5. Legs –  For smaller spaces it’s good to have long slender legs .  You want to see the floor running below the couch.  For larger spaces you can pick a couch that has a platform or one that meets the floor.  This gives the couch weight in the large space.

Enjoy shopping around!  Here are my go to couch websites at the moment.

Cantoni, Burke Decor, Rove Concepts, Article

Why We Sold Arrowhead

by Shalice Noel

Our pj’s are on sale!

12.16.19 We closed on our beloved arrowhead home.

When we moved from Chicago to LA, we anticipated giving up the opportunity for homeownership. We knew it would be crazy out here, so we decided to rent until we really knew the area. While renting, we were longing to sink our teeth into a house. We looked for houses all over, made offers, waited and prayed. The doors kept closing. 

Out of frustration, we decided to rethink homeownership. There are many benefits to renting, but wow, we really wanted to sink our teeth into a house. That’s when we made a unique decision. We decided to buy a cabin in the mountains with the potential to rent it out. Reid was once told, “rent where you live and rent what you own.” As Reid obsessively searched the real estate listings in Lake Arrowhead, he finally came across some doable options. Our A-Frame was a diamond in the rough and we knew it had SO much potential. We leaped on it and didn’t turn back. After 6 months of design and countless trips up and down the mountain, the place looked pretty special and we loved it. 

How did we find the A-Frame?

Reid kept his eye on the real estate listings for Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead. I think he looked at every house listed for a month straight. We knew how much we were willing to spend and we did our research and looked at Airbnb listings to find daily rates and how often they booked. That way we knew if we rented the A-Frame for a minimum of 10 nights a month we would cover our cost. It’s all about timing and seeing potential in what seems unlikely – don’t be afraid to jump on something you don’t exactly want. 

What did you learn from renting it out?

Renting the A-Frame on Airbnb was a great experience and helped offset our remodel expenses. Our guests were super polite and we received great comments. Although, of course, there was one funny thing that happened in our year of short-term renting. Our oven knob kept braking. We have no idea why, but we went through four knobs in two months! Reid finally made a video of how to turn the oven on and would text it to the guest when they arrived. That seemed to do the trick.

The grand finale of our rental was the 24” snowstorm over Thanksgiving of 2019. Our guests lost power for the entire day, ran out of firewood and their phones died. Needless to say, they loved their snowed-in experience and their kids thought we “staged” the snow. A great ending to a year of hosting guests.

What does it take to be an Airbnb Superhost?

Communicate clearly

Touch base with the renters, but don’t act like you are babysitting them.

Make your guests feel welcome

Clean

Comfy beds (thanks Lull Mattress! We got so many compliments on our comfy mattresses)

Respond quickly

Why did you sell?

The decision to sell was easy for me but hard for Reid. While I loved going up to the mountains as an escape from the LA grind, I still found the trip exhausting. Packing the family up for a couple nights was a lot of work. The kids also started soccer and our free weekends became not so free. We found it more difficult to spend time up there. I decided I would rather invest in our primary home. I wanted a house we could live in, design and make a home. Reid, on the other hand, was a little more emotionally attached. This was his vision and a great experience for him to see his drawings come to life. He loved the quiet of the mountains and the architecture of the A-Frame. But in the end, we both agreed that we would rather have a permanent home of our own. Thus, we decided to list the A-Frame on the MLS with Christine Williams who was referred to me by a friend. 

With the sale of Arrowhead, we were able to have a down payment for our new house and super thankful. While we are sad to see it go, we are overjoyed for the lasting memories we made there.

See more about the renovation, inspiration, and links to products we use, HERE.

After 4 years of renting, numerous offers, and bidding wars, WE BOUGHT A HOUSE. Even crazier, we’re moving 5 days before Christmas! Never a dull moment around here. We laugh because every Christmas we do something crazy like travel or move and we have a less than normal Christmas. I’m super excited to show you more of the house, our plans for it and interior design. Yesterday, we took a video tour of the house with Tim & co, and I can’t wait to show you more! I’ll admit, it was a little daunting talking into the camera so long, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy the home tour.

We plan to clean carpets and the house before we move in, as well as pack up 7 people after settling 4 years in this rental house.

If you think we are crazy, you are probably right but I can’t think of another Christmas and birthday gift I would rather have. I’ve been dreaming about home content for ages and so happy to finally have a home to renovate and decorate. Unlike a rental, I can actually pick all the light fixtures, YAY! Are you ready for some home content?

In the meantime, here is a major SNEAK PEEK to get an idea of what the new house looks like:

Here are some home items that I am loving!

blazer cotton on // similar and another plaid blazer // jeans // sandals // bag // similar turquoise ring // tank //

I get questions all the time from you guys about what my daily schedule looks like not only because I’m a blogger, but because I’m a mom that works from home. Working from home can be tricky – especially when some of your little ones aren’t in school yet. Luckily we just have Levi not in school right now, but regardless, there are a few things I have to hold myself to every day to make sure I still get work done. Like any job, some days are more productive than others, but if I could share any advice, these 6 things are what’d I’d suggest.

  1. Make your bed
    When working from home, it’s all about getting your day started on the right foot and making your bed is key – at least for me. It just sets me up to have a more productive day when I come into our room and things are in their place. Otherwise, I might be tempted to cuddle up and take a nap! 

  2. Get dressed 
    One of the hardest things about working from home, especially if I don’t have a photo shoot scheduled or any meetings for work, is getting dressed. Between trying to get the kids out the door and getting my own day started, some days getting dressed is a challenge, but I always feel better about myself when I do.

  3. Don’t make appointments for friends to come by
    It took me a little while to learn this lesson, but once I did, it made all the difference. Just because you work at home, doesn’t mean you’re free to have friends visit during the day. Try to schedule social things after work hours like you would any other job.

  4. MAKE A LIST and SWEAR BY IT
    Take a picture of it if you need to. If it’s an extra different day and you have a really long list, put a reward at the bottom of the list like going to the gym, booking that spa treatment, whatever it is you fancy. I need bribes just like my kids do, ha!

  5. Have a designated workspace 
    Honestly, my best workplace is our dining room table right now. It’s in the middle of the hustle and bustle but it’s convenient for where I am in life right now. Find a place in your home with little noise and plenty of sunshine.

  6. Keep a schedule
    Ask yourself, when are you most productive? For me, it’s the mornings. I do conference calls in the afternoon, local meetings in the morning and brainstorming and writing in the morning. Play around with things a bit to discover what works and then stick with it.