4 Accessories You Need for Your Next Beach Day

There is something so satisfying about escaping to warmer weather when it’s still below freezing in Buffalo. This week, we packed our bags and traveled to Anna Maria Island, Florida where we were greeted by sun and sand.

While I packed plenty of sundresses and even jeans for chilly nights, the most important beach accessories didn’t take up much room in my luggage. Last summer, I shared 9 beach day must haves. I still stand by those favorites 100%; I’m adding a few more from this week’s trip to the Gulf Coast.

Must Have Accessories for Beach Day | Anna Maria Island, Florida | A New Day Sunglasses | Floppy Sun Hat

1. A Hat

A hat is an essential beach day accessory that keeps your scalp from burning and shields your eyes from the sun. The weather and our plans for the day dictated what hat I wore. I love this floppy sun hat with a pretty bow for lounging on the sand on clear, calm days. For a morning out on the boat or windy weather, my favorite UT baseball hat was a better fit.

2. A New Day Clubmaster Sunglasses

A New Day is a recently launched Target-exclusive brand with lots of cute accessories. These were a complete impulse buy just days before we left for Anna Maria Island. I love that they’re a classic shape with just enough details that they’re not boring. They also fit my smaller face really well.

Must Have Accessories for Beach Day | Anna Maria Island, Florida | Pura Vida Bracelets Silver Wave Ring

3. Pura Vida Bracelets Silver Wave Ring

This dainty accessory adds just a touch of nautical sparkle to my beach day ensemble. The ring was a Christmas gift from Shannon, along with an Anna Maria Island sticker and coozie. This gift had me daydreaming of the beach for the past 3 months!

Must Have Accessories for Beach Day | Anna Maria Island, Florida | Cool Gear Tumbler

4. Cool Gear Tumbler

Keeping drinks cold is a very real beach day struggle. I love this tumbler because it has a wide mouth for ice cubes. The double walls keep it from sweating, so sand is way less likely to stick and end up in my bag or the cooler.

5 Reasons I Can’t Wait for Warmer Weather

Shoveling inches of heavy snow after this week’s late-winter storm, just days after the weather seemed to be turning towards spring for good, has me dreaming of warmer weather. Spring and summer in Buffalo make winter bearable. I can’t wait until we’re eating on patios, grilling and planting flowers.

There’s so much to look forward to as the weather gets warmer, including these 5 things I’m most excited for:

  • Choosing lawn furniture. Cody and I moved into our apartment just as the weather was cooling off last October. This spring and summer, we’re excited to create a little oasis in our backyard, which was one of the reasons we chose the apartment we did. Lawn furniture, Cody’s new grill and a colorful collection of planters are very much on my mind.
  • Riding outside. Barn time is my favorite stress reliever all year round, but it’s definitely more relaxing when you can feel your toes.
  • Open toe shoes. Sometime in August, I start craving booties, but by March I’m so ready for strappy sandals and boat shoes. I’m also a big fan of going entire days without wearing any shoes, which definitely isn’t an option with 6 inches of snow on the ground.
  • Weekly trips to Lake Effect. Because our closest Lake Effect Ice Cream location is now Hertel Ave. instead of Lockport, we don’t have wintertime access to our favorite flavors. Fingers crossed this comes sooner rather than later!
  • Road trips. We don’t have any specific vacation plans for the summer, but I’m guessing warmer weather will hold weekend trips to the Finger Lakes, Allegany and Salem.

What I’m Reading Right Now

I love a good book and my family knows it, so the months following Christmas are always filled with a very long reading list, which I’m sharing here. I’m slowly working my way through a few books right now; next month we’re headed to Florida, where hopefully I’ll fly through a few books while laying on the beach.

The Amateur Emigrant by Robert Louis Stevenson

This is the only book on the list that I bought for myself. I found it in West Side Stories for a few dollars and haven’t had a chance to start it yet. This is a short (and lightweight) one that I’ll be sticking in my bag when we go on vacation.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I’m about a quarter of the way through this novel and I’m really enjoying it so far. I’ve only put in a few pages at a time at the breakfast table. The characters and action are so easy to picture, which makes it nice to pick up when I have a couple of extra minutes to sip my coffee in the morning.

What I'm Reading Now | Succulents and Sunnies

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

I added Born a Crime to my Christmas list after a few recommendations from friends. This is another one on the list that I have not started. I’m excited to crack it open, but I think it might be one that deserves undivided attention. I’m waiting for a low key long weekend to dive in.

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Reading Catch 22 has been a years-long process. I started it again this fall after getting only a few chapters in when I first received it a few years ago. It’s very good, but doesn’t exactly leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling inside – not that all books should!

Culturematic by Grant McCracken

I always like having a book in my bag to read during lunch at the office. Culturematic, my last lunchtime book, was very interesting. I think I would have liked a college course based on the book, but I won’t be keeping it around now that I’ve finished it.

What I'm Reading Now | Succulents and Sunnies

The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines

Paige got me this for Christmas (along with Hearth & Hand goodies) and I’ll probably take it to Florida as well. I adore Chip & Joanna and will gladly invest my time learning a little bit more about how they created the farmstyle empire they run today.

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen is not high end literature by any means, but gosh I love her stories of summer romance. This was not my favorite of her books, but it was a cute read that took just a couple of days.

Are you reading anything good right now? Let me know in the comments!

Starting 2018 with a Few Small Changes

Taking time at the beginning of the year to set goals helps me make changes I’ve been meaning to make throughout the previous months. Nothing major, but little changes that I feel make a difference. One year, I started making my bed in the morning. Another, I promised myself I would actually floss my teeth every day.

This year, January was a non-stop whirlwind of weekend trips, blogging about them, job interviews and holidays. Trying to set and maintain goals would not have been fair to myself. February promises to be a bit more relaxed with more time at home, perfect for a positive start to my resolutions for 2018.

1. Blog once a week

My current content calendar includes 1 new blog post a week, so this goal is definitely obtainable. My biggest change will be planning ahead when I know I won’t have time to write during a given week. Having content written and photos edited before I need them is a simple change that will hopefully make my life easier!

2. Edit a video

I never want to be a vlogger and I don’t particularly enjoy watching long vlogs, but I do like a good challenge and learning new skills. I took a bunch of video footage at Allegany State Park during a camping trip with friends last fall. We had warm, sunny weather and the raw video is really pretty. Compiling a short video of the trip is definitely on my long term to do list.

3. Post an Instagram story once a day

Sharing snippets of the everyday makes a difference in the number of followers I have. Other people have also noticed that regular behind the scenes updates help keep new followers around. I also don’t feel as pressured to post picture-perfect images to my feed on a regular basis when I’m active on Stories.

4. Take social media breaks

This is probably going to be the most difficult item on this list for me, but I want to take 1 day a month to completely ignore what’s happening on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Social media isn’t all bad, but it does affect my ability to focus and my outlook on any given day.

5. Eat well

I won’t be dieting anytime soon, but keeping a balanced diet is always a goal. My eating habits the last few months, between moving out of my parents’ house, the holidays and travel, are not impressive. More vegetables, less dessert.

The Prettiest Packages under the Tree

This weekend is the last chance to put the finishing touches on Christmas, which is just around the corner! Today Cody and I baked cookies, I shopped for stocking stuffers with my dad and continuous snow all but guaranteed a white Christmas.

Pretty Presents | Wood Ornament Tutorial

Last night I finished wrapping my gifts, which didn’t take long at all thanks to the number of family and friends who decided not to exchange gifts this year. Instead, we’ll be attending events together, and saving for vacation and long weekend trips later this year.

I wouldn’t want to skip gifts altogether though, because choosing my wrapping paper, ribbon and gift toppers is my favorite part of Christmas. This year I wanted something simple and not too Christmasy. My first choice was matte black paper, but I couldn’t find any in a local store. If anyone knows of a specialty store in Buffalo (or an online shop with free shipping) let me know!

Pretty Presents | Wood Ornament Tutorial

Pretty Presents | Wood Ornament Tutorial

Instead, I went with two-toned silver paper in both stripes and a floral pattern. It’s a Hallmark paper that I found in the bridal section of Walmart. I paired it with a bright blue in 2 widths to keep things wintery. Each package got a white tag and a wooden ornament to finish things off.

Make Your Own Wooden Ornaments

The wooden ornaments not only add a natural element to these packages, they make a nice homemade stocking stuffer as well!

To make your own, start with a decent sized branch. I chose pine to keep things Christmasy, but birch would be really pretty as well! Dad helped me slice them about 1/2 inch thick with the table saw and I sanded them down to make them smooth enough to write on. Some of the bark was loose, so I snuck hot glue under it to keep everything together.

Pretty Presents | Wood Ornament Tutorial

At this point you can either paint or leave the wood natural, which is what I chose to do.

I found really cute Christmas lettering on Pinterest (they’re all saved on my Christmas Crafting board) to use on the ornaments. Just print them the approximate size of the wood slices and use chalk to transfer the design. To do this, color the side of the paper without the lettering with a thick layer of chalk. Trace the lettering using a ballpoint pen with the paper’s chalk side towards the wood and then go over the chalk lines with a Sharpie.

Once I found a few designs I liked and that weren’t too hard to transfer I stuck with those for all the ornaments. There were more than a few flat-out ugly ornaments that didn’t make it past this step.

Pretty Presents | Wood Ornament Tutorial

I added a couple of coats of Minwax Polycrylic and drilled a small hole to thread a ribbon through. Overall, I’m pretty excited about how these turned out and they didn’t take too long, besides the sanding. If I were to do these again, I’d dry out the slices before sanding them by putting them on a cookie sheet in the oven at 200°.

Pretty Presents | Wood Ornament Tutorial

Are you all ready for the holiday? There were lots of last minute shoppers out today, so I’m guessing some of you will be wrapping tonight and tomorrow!

It’s Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, so I’m not one to rush Christmas shopping, decor or celebrating.

But now, the second weekend in December, it really is starting to look and feel a lot like Christmas. Last night, I got to see In a DC Minute‘s beautiful Fox Cross Farm decorated in Christmas glory. Afterwards, I joined Shannon and Morgan for a night of baking cookies and Christmas movies.

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It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas Decor

Today, the Bills are on TV, playing in an actual snowstorm while flurries go past our kitchen window. My cinnamon tea is hot and dinner is in the Crock-Pot. (If this post didn’t sound just like my mom in the first few paragraphs, it now sounds as if she’s writing my blogs.)

With the general cheer of this weekend, I wanted to share how Cody and I are getting our little home ready for our first Christmas here. Last Saturday, we found a beautiful tree at Jurek Plantations. We both brought our favorite ornaments from home before finding a few store-bought additions.

It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas Decor

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It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas Decor

In other spaces, we switched out throw pillows and added twinkling lights, pine boughs, a framed thank you card Paige made a few years ago, Willow Tree angels and a few handmade decorations from Filomena’s Favorites in Medina. I’ll definitely be shopping some post-holiday sales to pick up a few more items to decorate with next year!

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It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas Decor

The Perfect Farmhouse Table for Your Tiny Apartment Kitchen

When Cody and I moved into our apartment, we realized the 5 person dining table from his great grandpa wasn’t going to fit in our eat-in kitchen. And neither was anything we could buy for a reasonable price. So we made our own, without too many missteps.

Keep scrolling for our entire shopping and cut lists!

This project took us the better part of 3 weeks, but it could easily be finished in a weekend if you don’t have as many distractions as we did. I wasn’t planning on posting about this project, so I don’t have step-by-step photos – but it turned out too good not to share! I love how simple it is, which makes it easy to decorate no matter the season.

Farmhouse Kitchen Table for Small Apartment | Shopping List and Cut List

Farmhouse Kitchen Table for Small Apartment | Shopping List and Cut List

As always, measure twice and cut once! We found that after cutting our five short pieces for the table top, the width was slightly more than what we estimated; it all depends on the cut of the boards. After cutting and sanding everything individually, we assembled the legs, aprons and support bar. The apron is set in a quarter inch from the outside of the legs. We measured at both the top and the bottom of the apron, then put on wood glue before attaching the pieces with screws.

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Farmhouse Kitchen Table for Small Apartment | Shopping List and Cut List

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Farmhouse Kitchen Table for Small Apartment | Shopping List and Cut List

For the top, we assembled everything on the ground before attaching that to the base. Once everything was together, we sanded the top again to knock down some of the less than perfect seams. We could have planed either the pieces individually or the table top as a whole, but that would have slowed us down even more, so we chose to love the imperfections on the top.

If you have the space, it would be easier to stain and paint before attaching the two pieces, but we did not do this. Painter’s tape worked just fine to keep the stain and paint separate.

We chose a dark wood stain for the table top, to make up for the fact that we used pine (which was wayyy less expensive than hardwood) and painted the legs a creamy white.

To get the finished look, we used just 1 coat of Minwax’s Wood Finish Penetrating Stain in Espresso 273 and 3 coats of Mixwax’s water based Polycrylic protective finish. The only downside is that this finish is not super heat-resistant. For the legs, I used this tutorial on color washing with Behr’s Heavy Cream. It’s very easy and takes almost no paint, which is nice.

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Farmhouse Kitchen Table for Small Apartment | Shopping List and Cut List

Eventually, I’d like to find chairs that are a little more farmhouse style, but we’re using the chairs from Cody’s grandpa’s table and they work just fine!

Shopping List

2 4″x4″x8′ fir boards
2 1″x8″x8′ pine boards
2 1″x4″x6′ pine boards
8 oz Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish
8 oz Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Stain
8 oz Behr Premium Plus Ultra Interior Matte
Kreg Pocket Hole Jig Kit
Kreg 100 Count 1-1/4 inch Screws
4 oz Elmer’s Carpenter Wood Glue
Paintbrush
Fine Sandpaper (for between coats of Polycrylic)

Materials We Already Had

5″ Orbital Sander
5″ Orbital Sandpaper (a medium grit works fine)

Cut List

For the Top

5 21.75″ from the 1x8s (Four of these will come from 1 board and 1 from the 2nd board)
2 36.25″ from the 1x8s (This may change slightly, depending on the exact width of your 1x8s.)

For the Aprons and Support

4 26.25″ from the 1x6s
1 31.25 from the 1x6s

For the Legs

4 identical cuts from the 4x4s (The height will depend on what chairs you’re using; it really doesn’t matter as long as they’re all the same!)