Our Home for the Holidays

Topic of the day: CHRISTMAS IS ONE WEEK AWAY….then before we know it BOOM, 2019. I wish I could hit pause for a few days just to bake cookies, watch Elf on repeat and make a snowman…not that we have any snow, it is supposed to be in the 40’s all week ūüė¶¬† Even though it doesn’t quite feel like winter outside, when I’m at home and I have the lights on and candles going (and the blinds closed) it feels perfectly Christmasy.

Since I did a little “tour” of¬†My Fall Decor, I figured it would be fitting to do the same for Christmas.¬† Our decorations are pretty simple overall.¬† If I had to sum up the look I was going for in two words they would be: cozy & rustic.¬† I try to incorporate our seasonal with our year-round decor as much as possible.¬† This way I can leave out some stuff all winter instead of packing it all up after the Holidays.¬† Afterall, this is the time of year that our house feels the most comfortable and welcoming. I want to enjoy and share it as long as possible.

That being said, come on in…front door/entry

our beloved Christmas tree ( also refer to “tree selfie” below)

living area full of lots of throw pillows and blankets…because there is no such thing as “too many”

kitchen/eat-in dining…clearly I’m digging pine cones this year

I couldn’t resist adding some special touches to our guest room and hall bath before our friends’ visit a few weeks ago

Now here is the ironic part of this post, we won’t actually be spending Christmas at our house.¬† We’ll be heading North to Michigan on Christmas Eve (THANK YOU to our wonderful neighbors for watching over our house while we are gone).¬† This will be our first Christmas spent at our cottage and we are very excited.¬† I picked out a few things to bring with us that will add a little Christmas cheer and can also stay up through the winter months.


Maybe it seems crazy to you to go through the effort of decorating your house for Christmas and then leave.¬† Or maybe if you’re like me, you agree that it is totally worth it.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all!







Holiday Decor on a Budget

December is officially here.¬† I know that many of you have already started (and finished) decorating for the Holidays but there are some that abide by a rule of waiting until after December 1st.¬† Or maybe you had plans to start earlier and then life happened. Either way, we all know it can be an expensive and stressful part of the season, but it shouldn’t have to be.¬† Here are a few quick tips to hopefully make your Holiday decorating a little cheaper and easier.

Rearrange & Repurpose

This may seem obvious but I think it can be underutilized and is the best place to start. It is easy to get into a routine of putting the same decorations in the same spots from one year to the next.¬† This year I focused on changing things around and I was pleasantly surprised how much of a difference it made.¬† ¬†Also, don’t forget to incorporate your year-round decor into seasonal decor. I have a few small boxwood wreaths that I use all year long by blending them with seasonal accents. Getting creative with what you already have can be a rewarding (and money saving) challenge.

Keep it Natural

We are surrounded by all sorts of natural elements that can be perfect for Holiday decor…think pinecones & dried fruit.¬†If you don’t happen to have a pine or fruit tree¬† you can offer to help a friend who does by helping clean up their yard, it’s a win-win. Or worst case scenario, you end up buying a few which is still cheaper than many other decorations. Also, a few extra clippings from your Christmas tree can look beautiful displayed in a vase.¬† If you don’t have a real tree, many tree farms/lots will allow you to take some of their clippings for no charge, but ask first.

Use Free Stuff

As that last example above shows, you may not have to spend a dime for new decorations.¬† Never underestimate the charm and whimsy of a classic popcorn garland…as long as you don’t have to worry about your kids or dogs eating it. Also, using frames you already have you can get¬†cute free printables like¬†this one¬†from my friend Tammy as another great resource.

Shop Around

If you do decide you want to purchase a few new things, and your budget allows, there are some very affordable options.  The Target Dollar Spot is seriously awesome for cute & cheap seasonal decorations.  Dollar stores have also really upped their seasonal decor game after the last few years. Lastly, stores like Hobby Lobby & Michaels regularly offer 50% off their Holiday decorations.

Candles & More Candles

If all else fails just light a bunch of candles all over your house.¬† Nothing is cozier this time of year than candlelight.¬†Please just make sure to exercise the normal caution to prevent injury or fires…nobody wants to spend the Holidays dealing with either of those things.

Happy Holiday Decorating!


Happy Shopping

I’m sure your inbox is overflowing today with Cyber Monday deals; it can be overwhelming¬† and maybe even slightly annoying. I’m also sure many of you, like myself, want to support small/local businesses and those with a greater purpose.¬†I want to take a moment to share a couple of my favorites that are having some great Cyber Monday deals.

First, I want to start¬†with¬†Hello World Paper Co.¬†¬†I was fortunate to connect with Kelly’s company through this blog and I’m so happy I did.¬† Not only do they have beautiful products, they support a beautiful mission.¬† A portion of their profits is currently helping to build a school in partnership with¬†Pencils of Promise.¬† ¬†As if that wasn’t enough reason to support this business, they are fellow Midwesterners, based right next door to me in Illinois!

Now through November 27th, they are offering FREE  domestic shipping, FREE gift with purchase & 30% off ALL Holiday stamps. 

Also, you can use my coupon code BYTHEPOOLE for 10% off your purchase.

My own custom cutting board. I was able to select the style, design & finish

A small sampling of their other products including key tags, label pins, bookmarks, ornaments rubber stamps, stationery supplies  & gifts

I know some of you might already be familiar with this next one, but Antique Candle Works just happens to be located in the same city we live which is so cool.  Brittany, the owner, is an absolute sweetheart who is passionate about her business and her faith. Their soy candles are hand poured right here in Lafayette, IN. They are clean burning and smell AMAZING! Seriously.

For 36 hours only, buy 2 candles, get 1 FREE, no coupon code needed, discount reflected at checkout, $6 flat rate shipping for US orders

I am currently obsessed with Peppermint, but Fall Harvest, Back Roads & Southern Hospitality are my other favorites


They have a variety of¬† scents and sizes, including wax melts…stock up today and you can thank me later

I hope you enjoy whether you are shopping for Christmas gifts, or maybe a little something for yourself ūüôā


Cottage Recap: Kitchen

Last but not least on our Cottage Recap “tour” is the kitchen.¬† We started the recaps with the¬†exterior,¬†next was the¬†living/dining¬†, then the¬†bed/bath¬†and now here we are.¬† Every time I look back through all of these photos I am still in awe of the transformation over the last 2.5 years.

here we go again…

a little bit of demo

new drywall, paint, cork floors, wood plank ceilings & cabinets

new appliances, sink & butcher block counters

simple (and affordable) fixtures

getting closer with floating shelves & hardware

a few finishing touches

and the final product


This isn’t the last you’ll see of our little cottage.¬† We have a few more projects in mind for the future, but in the meantime we’re going to focus on enjoying it to the fullest.

Thanks for following along with our progress!






My Fall Decor

Happy Halloween! It’s hard to belive my second favorite month of the year (first is December) is almost over.¬† Mother Nature has¬†even been cooperating these last few weeks so it has actually felt like fall…better late than never I suppose.

Since last week I mentioned in¬†Fall vs. Halloween¬†that I typically pass on Halloween themed¬†decorations and stick with fall…I figured it was time to get around to sharing my own.

This year¬†my goal was to keep¬†my¬†fall decorations simple, subtle, neutral & natural.¬† ¬†I¬†prefer seasonal items that blend in well with the rest of our home decor instead of competing with it.¬† Of course, there are pumpkins, lots of them.¬† I fell in love with¬†all of the metallic tones I came across…everything copper, gold, etc.¬†¬†¬†I also found¬†a few “woodsy” accents that are so cute¬†I’m tempted to keep out¬†year-round.

My self imposed rule this year was to wait until September 1st to decorate for fall and now here we are just a few weeks out from Thanksgiving and time to start thinking about changing again.¬† But before I get too far ahead of myself…

let’s start outside

next up is the entry/living room

moving on to the kitchen/dining

and even in our bedroom

Decorating for fall (or any season) doesn’t have to be expensive.¬† Most of what I ended up purchasing this year came from the dollar spot at Target, or was on sale for 40% off at Hobby Lobby.

Now who’s ready to start thinking about Christmas? Just kidding…sort of ūüôā


Fall vs. Halloween

As of today we are one month into the season and 9 days out from Halloween.¬† There are typically two directions people take when it comes to decorating this time of year…Fall or Halloween.¬† What’s the difference? Fall decorations tend to be more universal and subtle, reflecting the changes outside.¬† Halloween decorations are usually more theme specific, bold and playful…maybe even downright spooky.

Which is more your style?
Fall: natural textures, metallic finishes, rich & neutral colors, leaves, berries, pumpkins, gourds, fruit, cozy candles
Halloween: black, orange, purple, jack-o-lanterns, bats, cats, witches, spiders (gross) and spider webs, dramatic lighting, cute and/or creepy
photos courtesy of HGTV

Maybe your house is the one in the neighborhood with the front yard transformed into a cemetery or maybe a couple of mums and pumpkins on the front porch are enough for you.  Personally, I stick to fall decor inside & out but I really enjoy seeing people get in the spirit of decorating no matter which direction they choose.

Please free to share your Fall & Halloween decorations, I’d love to see them ūüôā


Cottage Recap: Bed & Bath

It’s been about 6 weeks since our last visit to the cottage and I’m already missing it something fierce.¬† Maybe its because I don’t know exactly when our next trip up there will be.¬† I’m sure it will be sometime later this fall or early winter but it never feels quite soon enough.¬† I’ve realized having a “countdown”makes me feel better.

Since I’m feeling a little homesick for our cottage, I can’t think of¬† a better time for another look back at our remodel…this time at the bedroom & bathroom.¬† In case you missed them in my previous posts, I have already recapped the exterior¬†and the¬†living/dining space.

here we go…ready for for a facelift

first things first…we decided to “flip” the two spaces

just like everywhere else…we went down to the studs and started over

 drywall, paint, cork floors, & white washed wood plank ceilings

¬† ¬†New everything…flooring, fixtures & finishes


behind door # 1 & door #2….

a perfectly compact & cozy bedroom

and a bright and open bathroom

The next and final recap will be the kitchen, stay tuned!


Hidden Gems

Tucked away in southern Indiana and nearly surrounded by the Hoosier National Forrest are the small towns of French Lick and West Baden Springs.¬† Here you will find French Lick Resort and the neighboring West Baden Springs Hotel….hidden gems basically in the middle of nowhere.

Last weekend, Mark planned an overnight getaway as a surprise early Birthday celebration for me and it was amazing.¬† I’ve got to start by giving him all the credit for this post even coming to fruition.¬† It was the first time visiting for the both of us and we were blown away.¬† This might end up sounding like some kind of paid promo but I promise it is not, just our sincere opinions.

The history of the two properties is intriguing…both beautiful and tragic depending on the decade.¬† They sufferred through financial downfalls, multiple changes in ownership and even near collapse.¬† It is somewhat of a miracle these beauties are even still standing.¬† ¬†Instead of giving you all of the backstory, you can read all about it¬†here ¬†if it strikes your fancy.¬† One of the most interesting things we learned was that a big reason behind the location was the presence of mineral springs in the area…which explained the occasional sulfer smell.

It¬† might be somewhat of a cliche to say “the pictures don’t do it justice” but its true.¬† Even though I’m about to inundate you with photos, I could have easily taken hundreds more.

We arrived a few hours before check-in so we started out by touring French Lick Resort, even though our room was reserved at West Baden.  From the moment we walked in my eyes were darting all over the place.  Everything from the lobby to the gardens was perfectly decorated and maintained.

It felt like we could have been on the set of some glamourous old Hollywood movie.

To travel between French Lick and West Baden you can simply drive the short one mile, but what’s the fun in that? They offer a railway car that travels on its own track between the two properties all day long.


Just Like French Lick…West Baden was stunning both inside and out.¬† Between the two, it was my favorite since it was a little less busy and more out of the way.

The real show stopper is the atrium, which the entire hotel surrounds…it is breathtaking.¬† We couldn’t decide if it was more impressive during the day or at night.

Gorgeous details are EVERYWHERE… from tilework, to stained glass, ornate trim and rich upholstery.

Our room was no exception, but in addition to being beautiful it was functional and comfortable…hands down the most comfortable hotel bed I’ve ever slept in.

There is plenty to do here without ever having to step foot off of the properties…multiple restaurants and bars, a casino, golf course, spa, riding stable and shops, all of which I somehow missed getting any photos of…oops.

If you want to venture out further, like we did,¬† the two small towns offer some charming shops and even a winery…I recommend the Chambourcin Rose, two bottles came home with us.

Somehow French Lick Resort & West Baden Springs Hotel have managed to be peaceful and luxurious without being pretentious.  I imagine this is why they have both received AAA Four-Diamond ratings.  The weekend was about as close to perfect as I could imagine but for the sake of transparency I will share the only few cons I can think of:

1) We did not strike it rich at the casino 2) Our service at dinner was very slow but thankfully the food was good and they discounted our bill 3) I ended up with blisters from all of the walking…but that was probably my fault for wearing the wrong shoes

If you are looking for destination for a weekend trip or a romantic getaway I can’t recommend this place enough.¬† We’ve already been talking about our next trip back!


Cottage Recap: Living/Dining

For the first Cottage Recap we looked back at the exterior transformation.¬†Now it’s time to move inside to the living/dining area.¬† One open space that will get the most use by far…including as a guest room.¬† I’m happy to report, according to our FIRST overnight guests, the pull-out couch is actually comfortable!

MARCH 2016: There were some charming rustic features but we ended up taking everything out so we could start with a blank slate

We salvaged/recycled as much as possible, down to the studs

We were able to raise the ceiling and play with the footprint

New insulation, drywall, sub-floor & wood planks…so many wood planks

This is when things started to get really exciting…painting & flooring

And then my favorite part…decorating and “moving in”

SUMMER 2018: Completed living/dining space = LOVE

The finishing touch was “Mark’s chair.” A recliner that was heavily debated and required a good amount of searching.¬† Thankfully, we found one we could agree on.

Now we can relax & enjoy!


Cheers To 50 Years

This past weekend Mom & Dad celebrated 50 + years of marriage…how AMAZING IS THAT?!¬† Their anniversary was actually in January but they decided they would rather celebrate in the summer…because traveling in Northern Michigan in the middle of winter is less than ideal for most people.¬† Let me start by saying that my parents are truly incredible…loving, genuine, hard-working, generous, salt of the earth kind of people.¬† Not to mention that they have been each others’ best friends for over half of a century.¬† Biased or not, there is no one like them and they deserved a celebration as wonderful as they are.

Basically as soon as the date was set I started collecting and planning for the decorations. Mom & Dad are not fussy people and they did not want a fancy party. I stayed away from decorations covered in shiny gold glitter and the number 50, that’s just not their style. Instead I went with antique gold and ivory for more of a vintage vibe.

I started picking up items here and there…frames, lanterns, and miscellaneous accents from Hobby, Lobby, At Home, Gordmans, etc.¬† Surprisingly, I also ended up buying a lot of items on Amazon.¬† One of my favorite pieces was this wood slat wall hanging that I came across in the clearance aisle at Hobby Lobby.¬† I decided to write out a portion of their wedding vows in gold paint pen to display at the party.

I laid things out a few times at home just to make sure everything went together.  When the time came to head to Michigan, I had everything packed up and ready to go.

The hall was a blank canvas, but unfortunately that came with some limitations.  No hooks, tacks, or tape of any kind were allowed which eliminated anything on the walls.

I focused most of my attention on the card & dessert tables and hung paper flowers from the ceiling.¬† The dining tables were simple…alternating gold & ivory table cloths, wrapped LED tealights, and little wood hearts carved with the word “love” scattered down the middle.

It it was a full house…full of family and friends from near and far

Due to a precarious weather forecast…not many decorations made it outside.¬† Thankfully the weather did cooperate so we could all enjoy some line dancing and a campfire-style sing-a-long and no one missed the decorations (except maybe me).

The night was full of love and laughter, which was the perfect way to celebrate such a special milestone and couple.¬† My only regret is that somehow I didn’t get a single photo of my parents together…hopefully someone did, time to ask around.

Cheers to you Mom & Dad


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