Book giveaway winner...


Thank you everyone for participating in our first giveaway featuring the novel, "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet". This was an amazing read and lead to a fantastic adventure for me, exploring Seattle in a new way. I hope you all have a chance to read it!

Kathy, please email me at and let me know where I can mail your new book!

Free holiday label printables!


Do you have any good friends that you've been thinking about lately, but haven't been able to get together with?

I do. And I feel terrible and short on time during the holidays. So I'm sending them all one of these...

If you want to make these too, all you need is this:

treat + bag + sticker + stamp

In my bags, I put hot cocoa (I bought the Starbucks™ trio from Costco - different flavors and incredible packaging), my favorite sweets from See's and Ghirardelli and a few mini marshmallows.

I used up my ribbons I had from other crafty projects and created a few fun stickers to seal the bags. Each little package is so small they can even be mailed in an envelope. Who doesn't LOVE getting mail?

The labels are formatted as a pdf available to you immediately. Click here to download the file.

Once you put your labels (Avery #8293) into your printer you will be able to print from Acrobat rather than downloading any complicated templates. I've done the work for you!  If you need Acrobat Reader you can download it here.

I hope you enjoy these fun stickers as much as I did and use them to brighten up your holiday gifts!

Color inspiration is everywhere!


I am often asked if I have any advice about how to choose the right colors for a home. Whether furniture, walls, or a front door, that's an easy question to answer.

My advice...just look around you. Color inspiration is everywhere!

The circles above represent colors that I've sampled from the photos above. All of these objects made me smile! The yellow Vespa looks like a fun ride and the warm colors of the changing leaves are inspiring. Nature really is the best teacher when it comes to color.

Objects like these can help you on your path to choosing colors for your home. You can see exactly how the color inspiration above translates into a color choice for a home in the picture below. What a gorgeous front door!

Can you imagine this conversation?

Homeowner: "I have a gray house, what color do you suggest for our front door?"

Paint store: "Orange. Definitely".  (not likely)

This homeowner was not just daring but brilliant in their color choice for their front door.

My advice:

I always choose colors that make me feel good. It may sound corny, but it works. If you are trying to decide on a color for your interior, exterior, furniture or accents, be sure to ask yourself a few questions first. What do you want to feel when you see it? Calm? Inspired?

For example, I am usually trying to crank out creative work in my home office so I need to feel inspired. I decided on warm yellow walls to inspire me and all white furniture to act as a clean palette for each new project. The wall color makes me feel awake and ready to work while the bright white surfaces keep my mind uncluttered.

Of course, I had to make a mistake first in order to learn this lesson about color. I used to love the cinnamon walls at my favorite cafe. I loved them so much that I came home and painted my office that exact color hoping to elicit the same relaxing feelings I had at the cafe. When it was done, it looked amazing. Unfortunately, it was all wrong. Why? I enjoyed the cafe interior because it made me feel calm and relaxed, which was not the intended goal for my home office. Shortly after I painted the walls a cozy cinnamon color, all I wanted to do was sleep at my desk! Luckily, I learned an invaluable lesson about color that I can pass along to you.

I hope these ideas help you to find your color inspiration for your next project! I'd love to hear about it.

Emily Post's Etiquette book, in blue.


It has been alleged, by unnamed persons, that I purchase my household goods/needs based on color & design. Everything from Kleenex boxes, my iPhone cover - even the scissors on my desk.

This is my defense: I am charged with the duty of keeping our house stocked with necessities, I cannot be faulted if I'm drawn to...a certain color palette, allegedly, of course.

Last week when I was browsing the book section at Costco, this leapt out at me! I know, surprise. I had to walk down the aisle, you know, just in case I needed it. Turns out, it was a book I have wanted for years but I wasn't ever sure how it related to my life.

Emily Post's Etiquette book, in blue. Bonus.

Now that I am in my thirties and in charge of teaching said etiquette to my children - this book naturally fell into the "necessities" category and so, was quickly placed in my cart for checkout.

With the torrent of holiday parties that will soon be filling our calendars, it is the perfect time to pull out some helpful etiquette tips.

Look forward to "Mind your manners" week!

Plants and pumpkins? You bet.


Plants and pumpkins? You bet.

If you're like me and not sure what to do with your assortment of small pumpkins left over from Halloween, here is a great idea. Spruce up your outdoor container pots by adding your pumpkins, squash and gourds.

This is so simple and will add a bright touch of color perfect for fall just as your perennials begin to die back!

A book giveaway!


This is one of those books that was almost impossible to put down.

I don't get much time to read anymore so when I get the chance to cozy up with a book, it has to be good. If I'm not captured in the first chapter I don't bother. This book did not disappoint!

About the book:

The story is a journey through the eyes of a young Chinese boy, Henry, growing up in Seattle during World War II just after the attack at Pearl Harbor. Although Henry's parents are very traditional Chinese, they insist that he attend an "all-white" private school to become more "American". He doesn't fit in. He faces all of the usual struggles of a 12 year old boy combined with the reality of discrimination and bullying as an after affect of Pearl Harbor. Eventually he meets "Keiko" a girl his age, at his "all-white" school, also there at the insistance of her parents who are Japanese. This becomes the premise of the entire book. An innocent but forbidden love. A struggle between respect for his parents wishes and becoming the man he has chosen to be.

The hotel referenced in the title is the Panama Hotel in Seattle. This is where Japantown and Chinatown were said to intersect.  Although this is a fiction piece, there are many references to actual places and historical facts. The video below narrated by the author, Jamie Ford, helps to explain the background of this story.

After reading this book I felt compelled to go on an adventure with my friend and see what "Japantown", or "Nihonmachi", looks like today and to visit the Panama Hotel. Here is what I found...

Jan Johnson, the owner of the Panama Hotel just happened to be sitting nearby. She was so gracious to spend some time sharing her experience with us and how she has worked to preserve Panama's history and treasures. I didn't realize that the hotel was fully functioning still and I am dying to go back for a tour of the basement!

Jan, the owner of Panama Hotel holding photos of the original space
The tea and coffee shop was such a cozy and relaxing atmosphere that I didn't want to leave.

If you visit the Panama Hotel Tea and Coffee House you will meet the sweetest bilingual barista with her notes beautifully handwritten in Japanese...

Below is a slideshow of photos from today's adventure at the Panama Hotel.


You can read more about Jan, and what she has done for the community here.

To enterpost to your facebook account and let me know in the comment section.

To enter again: tell me one of your favorite books.

For double points: support the local community and go visit the Panama Hotel (or Tea & Coffee house), sign the guest book and tell me about it!

I will announce the winner in 3 weeks!

A cheerful front porch accessory


There was something about this house that caught my attention. I was on foot, chasing after my little bike riders when we all went flying past this house. The sidewalk we were on seemed really dark at this point because the trees were old and mature and had grown over the path creating a natural shade.

The kids were ahead of me screaming "weeeee" the way they always do when we go through a tunnel. As I passed through this dark "tunnel", the light coming from the entry of this home made me jerk around to see what I had just missed.

It was light, cheery and quaint. And it was for sale!

No, we didn't buy it or even make on offer...but I did take the opportunity to get a little closer and snap a few pictures. I had to get a shot of these adorable birdhouses.

I think this was such a cheerful way to dress up a front porch.  Two adorable birdhouses and an empty wire flower container. Furthermore, since red is opposite of blue on the color wheel, the birdhouses were in perfect contrast. I can't say that it would cross my mind to put birdhouses on my front porch but now it seems like a fantastic idea.

Ironically, the following weekend we strolled past this house again and were lucky enough to be invited inside to view it. It was just as charming on the inside! You can see it here if you like.

Last minute Halloween dessert table!


Are you having a Halloween party? Are you short on ideas and not sure where to begin?

Let me help you with your dessert table. If you want to recreate the display above, I've broken it down into bite-size steps.

Your grocery list for this menu:

Apples, peanut butter, mini marshmellows, cake mix (don't forget eggs and oil), frosting, writing gel or edible pen, candy melts & lollipop sticks (you may need to go to the craft store for these), chocolate pudding, oreos, tombstone shaped cookies, pretzel rods & sprinkles.

Making these desserts is fun and tasty!

I would set aside 2 - 3 hours realistically to make the food because you will have to bake for the cake pops and heat the candy melts. Once you do this it will go pretty quickly. You can find a great tutorial for cake pops and cake balls at Bakerella. If you are feeling really ambitious, you can find an eyeball specific tutorial here.

The "witches wands" will be fast because once you have heated the candy melts for the cake pops, you just dip the pretzel rods, place them on wax paper and sprinkle. Be sure to wait until they dry before trying to move them.

The "goblin kisses" are simply sliced apples (buy the presliced to avoid brown apples) with peanut butter spread to make the mini marshmallows stick. "Chocolate graveyards" are even easier - chocolate pudding topped with crushed Oreos and a cookie tombstone. Use the same gel pen as you did for the "ghost pops".

I hope this easy menu helps save you time and energy so you can enjoy your Halloween!

Magnets trump push pins (in my world)


Without question, push pins and bulletin boards are great. Nobody would disagree. However, I usually end up stepping on fallen push pins and pricking myself over and over when I go to put something up. So I've wised up and moved on to magnet boards. What a relief! My fingertips and feet are thanking me.

Enter, magnets. I went to the store to buy some magnets for my new boards and was so disappointed! Of course I could not find what I was hoping for, but not for lack of options. I realized in hindsight, that what I wanted to find was actually very taste specific...and my expectations may have been a little unrealistic.

My magnets were going to be used for my design boards so I didn't want them to clash with the little bits of inspiration from magazines, cards and fabrics I collect.

The colors and designs were really important and they also needed to be strong - not like the wimpy ones that can barely hold up a business card. I realized quickly that I needed to figure out how to make exactly what I wanted.

So I did. Here is what I came up with and I love them!

My final magnet board is below and you can see that the magnets only compliment the scraps and cards I have kept.

If you would like to make your own, you can find a great tutorial here. Magnet boards I found at IKEA, called the 'spontan' for $12.99.

Coffee station...definitely a necessity


Coffee. I love the smell and I almost always want a cup first thing in the morning (STAT) like many people. Unfortunately in our house there is usually a clatter to find a cup, sometimes a mad search to find the espresso capsule (or tea bag) all while the poor espresso machine is ready and waiting to serve.

Mornings can be unpredictable and unorganized, its simply human nature. Luckily this can be solved pretty easily by creating a station.

I have a friend who also needed this station, so I went to work in her kitchen. She wanted easy access to her espresso capsules, tea bags and instant coffee for days when she was on the run. She also wanted her espresso maker out of the cabinet so that she wouldn't have to set it up everytime she wanted to make a cup.

We started by gathering all of the related items and neatly organizing the surplus in a cabinet beneath the counter space we decided would make the perfect spot for a permanent coffee station. All we needed was a small amount of space that was not dedicated to any other purpose, an electrical outlet and a little creativity so that it would earn form points as well as function.

I looked around at what she had available in her kitchen. I could have used jars or glass containers for the coffee and tea but as a Seattle native I thought I'd grab a few Starbucks coffee cups I saw in the cabinet. They just happened to all match so I filled them up. Then, I lined them up on the counter near the espresso machine.

They all matched in size and shape which was great, but they still needed something.

I dug around in the kitchen and found a long ceramic serving tray that matched the off white coffee cups perfectly.

Voila! The coffee station was born!

Harvest Loaf, a recipe for fall


When I think of the month of October here in the Pacific Northwest, I think of leaves changing colors, foggy mornings that burn off into sunny afternoons and mostly, I think of a warm house filled with the sweet smells of baking.

Heading into the weekend I wanted to share this delicious fall recipe for "Harvest Loaf". The recipe was handed down to my good friend Krista, from her lovely mother-in-law. We made it together this afternoon and I fell in LOVE with it.  After a little convincing, Krista has graciously agreed to share her recipe with all of us. I promise you will love the taste and it will surely fill your home with the scent of fall!

Smart design for smaller homes


Understated elegance is how I choose to describe this home.

Although not grand in size, these homeowners display impeccable taste. By using a neutral color palette, smart landscaping and modestly decorating their petite porch, they have created one of the most well designed houses on their block.

Many people find smaller homes a little more challenging to decorate and landscape. There is less room for error with a smaller space so consequently design choices need to be deliberate and add value whether by adding charm or function, or ideally, both.

The front yard has just the right amount of foliage that includes a perfectly proportioned boxwood hedge, roses and other low lying plants in front of the living room windows.

The hedge is a very important design element as it helps to define the boundaries of the yard. Building a bulky fence could cause this home to look small and uninviting. Keeping the height of the hedge low creates an inviting feeling while still defining the property line.

The single golden pumpkin on the porch of this home is a smart accent because it's glamorous golden shine is in sharp contrast to the traditional elements of brick and the weathered wood porch. It also celebrates the season without taking up too much space or commanding too much attention.

Classic cement pavers offer more style points. They have been set into the grass walkway adding visual interest as well as function to keep our feet dry during the rainy months. These small details and design choices not only express personal taste but add tons of charm to this home.

This house is such a joy to look at and demonstrates a fundamental design lesson that once again, less really is more!

The Party Porch


The party porch. I happened upon this porch by accident. Innocently passing by. I was about to cross the street when the lights hanging from the trellis caught my eye.

Situated on a round-about street corner in Seattle, the trellis, lights and open design were impossible to walk past without snapping a picture.

This party porch was so welcoming because of its corner entrance and hanging lights that I imagined at any second someone would wave me up the steps for a drink!

Enjoy -

A sweets table, of sorts...


"Classic candy jars filled with blueberries, mangos, satsumas and strawberries"

Have you seen the Amy Atlas website or blog anytime recently? Amy Atlas is the original "Sweets Stylist". She creates amazing tables for parties comprised of sweet treats that are decorated and color coordinated to perfection.

For my daughter's birthday I wanted to give her a great food table that represented one of my favorite things, a candy store.  However, I wanted to limit the sugar intake as much as possible as to avoid the classic sugar crash - or as we call it here, the temper tantrum. You can see below the influence of Amy Atlas' sweets table and my candy shop obsession.

I love discovering old vintage candy stores. Especially if they are in a small, quaint town. I don't really think that it's the candy that draws me in, rather the bright colors, different shapes of the candies and definitely the sparkle of the glass jars. In fact, it could just be the sparkle of the glass jars.

A well merchandised candy store has fantastic glass jars. Tall, fat jars with clear lids or front facing jars that seem to beg me to grab a bag and filler'up.  I found some of these glass candy jars recently and I knew just what I would do with them. As you saw above, I filled them up with a variety of colorful fruits - blueberries, mangos, satsumas and strawberries!

The kids had so much fun with these glass jars and classic candy scoops that they didn't even realize that they were shoveling healthy snacks onto their plates!

At the last minute I decided to create a little personal art for the birthday girl.

I whipped up her silhouette and a piece of word art to articulate to her all of the words that I would choose to describe her. I had a good time late night with my online thesaurus so that we could have some fun reading this together. "You mean, I'm a lion?"

"Bite size watermelon piled into adorable ice cream sundae glasses"

This is probably the one tray I am most excited about. Why? Because my cute little ice cream sundae dishes were found at my new "not-so-secret", secret treasure trove - Value Village.

"Who doesn't love pirates booty and giant pretzels?"

Sneaking in another fun and relatively healthy snack!

- Kim

An inspiring walk in Calgary, Alberta


Making a statement comes easy for a door like this.

I am guessing that whoever lives here has a ton of confidence or hired a designer who does. I discovered this jewel while out on a  walk on our winter vacation.  I LOVE this door.

This home had a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and was pulled together impeccably. Many people struggle with the idea that if you live in a traditional home that all design elements should be parallel to that particular style. This is a great example of how that is simply not the case.  The front of this house has two planters in very traditional round pots, craftsman style bronzed lamp posts and then a very contemporary metal door. The front gate is almost delicate in its design in contrast to the weighty style of gray bricks and massive single front door, and it looks amazing together.

Today was -26 degrees in Calgary, Alberta. I was bundled up and out for a fantastic walk through my cousin's neighborhood.  His neighborhood is situated above the Bow River overlooking the downtown area. These are just a few doorsteps that caught my eye for different reasons.

In Seattle, I don't usually see this style door in a light stain. I love the curved top, light stain and that it was paired with a modern nickel door handle. Beautiful.

This particular house reminds me of a modest, older Seattle home that has tons of charm inside complete with built-ins and paned glass. Even though this is a smaller home with a single door porch, it commands attention because of the substantial, wood door and rustic stain.

I couldn't help taking a ton of photos when I was out walking.  I am intrigued by how architecture and design styles differ so much between cities, states, climates and countries - even neighboring countries. It was inspiring to see daring design choices, traditional charm and how architects are inspired by the elements (such as -26 degrees!).


First, break the rules


The photo above is one of the most inviting rooms that my clients always comment on in our portfolio. It is a formal living room in a brand new craftsman style home that we transformed into a cozy space that is perfect for visiting, entertaining or even for a quiet mid day read.

The room is situated just off of the entryway and right next to the formal dining room. The furniture placement and use of rule-breaking elements creates an effortless flow between the rooms.

Ironically, almost every piece of furniture in this room came from different stores. It doesn’t technically “match” and isn’t even the same styles. From the black framed art above the fireplace to the distressed, beachy wood frame in the corner.

This room is the ultimate rule breaker.

This is how we created this cozy room.

We chose a loveseat rather than a full sized couch so that there would be ample room to walk, thus creating an easy flow from room to room.

We placed the slipcover arm chairs facing the loveseat to create a level of intimacy in the room for conversations.

The coffee table is quite long and is accessible from every seat, so you don't necessarily need extra bulky end tables. We used a simple and shallow wood bench to offer a place to set things down under the window.

In the corner of the room by the dining area, we used a nested nightstand rather than a traditional end table. Nightstands are usually not as deep as end tables, so they won’t eat up your precious space. The nesting provides you the opportunity to use the smaller table if need be for food & drinks while entertaining.

Above the fireplace, instead of hanging a large piece of art, we took multiples and simply leaned them against the wall. Its easy, effortless and a cinch to update with the seasons.

Beautiful art found at Ballard Designs"
This room does not follow any rules - that's what makes it great.

Smaller furniture. Intimate furniture placement. Mixing woods and styles. Don't be afraid to break the rules. You may just end up with something great!


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The photo above is one of the most inviting rooms that my clients always comment on in our portfolio. It is a formal living room in a brand new craftsman style home that we transformed into a cozy space that is perfect for visiting, entertaining or even for a quiet mid day read.

by mlekoshi