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 🙂


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 🙂


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 🙂


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


Cottage Recap: Exterior

If you’ve been following along (which we appreciate!) with the progress of our Cottage remodel/renovation, you may have already seen some of the reveals along the way.  However, I wanted to take some time over the next few posts to reflect back on the entire transformation, starting with the exterior…

where it all began, a cute little cottage ready for some TLC

the roof stayed, the rest went down to the studs

new siding, windows, etc…ready for a new deck

where we are today…SO IN LOVE

exterior final

For anyone that might be wondering, the front door paint color is Jitterbug and the deck stain is Canyon Brown 🙂

I’ll be back soon to continue with the interior.

Unitl next time,


My Story

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment my interest in interior design & decor sparked; but I do know it started at an early age…

In elementary school I remember walking through a house for sale with my parents and our realtor.  To this day I can vividly remember one of the bathrooms had large, dramatic black & white tile and a clawfoot tub.  I was disappointed when we didn’t buy that house because of that bathroom alone.  I also remember finding a vintage chair at a garage sale that I fell in love with but the fabric was terrible.  What 4th grader falls in love with a chair?  We had it re-upholstered and it was perfect. It was at that point I first learned the importance of looking for the potential.

A few years later, when I was in middle school, we started building our house.  Mom & Dad asked for our input when it came to our bedrooms.  The one thing I wanted was hardwood floors.  They indulged me and it was the only room in the house that wasn’t carpet. Again, what 6th grader cares about their bedroom flooring choice?

Throughout high school I watched Trading Spaces almost obsessively, and liked having a bedroom that was put together. Don’t get me wrong, I still had the messy teenager room at times, but probably mild compared to many of my peers.

I went into the Interior Design program at GRCC after highschool and a few years later went through the C.I.D International coursework to become a Certified Interior Decorator.  There was a lot of valuable information in these programs.  However, I have learned the most from personal experiences over the last decade or so. Experiences like: moving into different rentals where you have to be creative in making a space your own, decorating with virtually no budget, Mark and I going through first renovation together, and a complete remodel of our Cottage which has been our biggest undertaking to date.  Not to mention our current house will always be a work in progress, even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

I have never been a decorator or designer by profession.  Most of my projects have been personal or for family and friends.  I enjoy being the “go-to” person for people I know when it comes to consulting on paint colors or picking out fabrics or wall decor.  Over the years we have been together, Mark’s interest has also grown and he has developed very good taste (I’ll take partial credit for that).  It might still be a hobby at this point, but that could change in the future.  Whatever the case may be, I’d say this passion of mine isn’t going anywhere after 25 (ish) years and I enjoy sharing it with you.


What’s your story? I’d love to hear it.





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