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  Patio Paradise sponsored by Wayfair

Hi friends, hope you are well and enjoying these gorgeous summer temps. About a month ago we decided that we would spend some of our summer “fun” budget to really improve our backyard patio. We figured we would be spending way more time in the backyard than previous summers and wouldn’t be traveling much.

While we had a few sets of vintage, mix & match seating areas on the patio, I really wanted a few pieces with comfy cushions and a sun shade large enough to protect the entire seating area, enter Wayfair!

I LOVE our new oversized white umbrella from Wayfair. It gives us shade and sun protection while still beig adorable and so stylish. This outdoor space is the perfect place for our family to hang out, play uno, have cocktails and just enjoy the warmer months. Plus, it gets us all out of the house which these days is so important to have a change of scenery.

We also got a new outdoor chest to keep all of our cushions, and pool toys in one place. I never knew how much I would love a large plastic chest as much as I love this one, but seriously who doesn’t love a good organization piece?

Thank you to Wayfair for including me in your Patio Paradise Campaign. I love being able to share our backyard additions with everyone.

  Patio makeover finds!

Hey Cleveland! Wasn’t this weekend totally dreamy? Our family spent most of the weekend outdoors enjoying the sunshine, lots of yard work and enjoying the warm temps. Looks to be another great week ahead!

This summer, we are giving our yard a bit of a makeover with a few new things. We picked up new towels for the pool, a sweet patio umbrella, a few side table (to hold margaritas!) a deck box for all the new pool toys and patio pillows and some outdoor games to keep us all entertained at home.

Now comes the fun part of putting everything together, adding mulch, a few plants and of course lots of sunshine! Photos to come real soon, but in the meantime check out some of the fun finds from Wayfair below.

GIFTED POST: Thank you to Wayfair for inviting us to be part of their summer outdoor campaign. Thank you for supporting this online retailer while allowing me to create special content like this for iheartcleveland!

  notes from quarantine

I wanted to check in and say “hi” to all of you guys. How are you and your loved ones doing during these SUPER uncertain times? I hope you are doing well.

Honestly, if you would have asked me 6 weeks ago if I could stay at home 99% of the time, home school our son, continue to work as part of a strong, creative design team plus improve my cooking (& cocktail) skills, go crazy with organizational OCD, find continuous joy on daily walks, rides and gardening sessions….I would have said “NO WAY!”

“Pre-corona” I would leave the house daily, to grab coffee with a friend, go to the studio, do some therapeutic thrifting, shop at the West Side Market, check out a new restaurant, explore a new hot spot, attend an after-work meeting, grab wine with my gals… and on and on and on.

But here we are…together…week 7. My daily “outfit of the day” story posts have evolved into daily breakfast and dishtowel posts. Bedtimes have gotten a touch later but mornings feel longer and more lazy even on the busiest of “social distancing” days. Where once I would buy bread from our Cleveland bakeries, now I am self-challenging with homemade Naan, NYT no-knead bread, muffins and more. Gosh do I miss my girl Meredith and her manicure masterpieces; and while I love my new lavender polish it’s just not the same…and let’s not even talk about my bangs trims.

I recently had an urge to go thrifting, to discover a one-of-a-kind, a score, instead I turned to Etsy. While I have been trying not to shop during these uncertain times, that day I was in need of some solid retail therapy….so for $19 I picked up a pair of fluorescent orange, JCrew heels and I felt a touch more normal. Then there is home schooling…to all you teachers out there, bless you. While I am enjoying arts & crafts and read-a-loud time, kindergarten new math and keeping our guy on track and attentive on Zoom is a daily challenge I can do without.

All in all, these last few weeks have been filled with many challenges and sacrifices…but also so much joy. The time together as a family has been incredible. Our long walks and “family meetigs” (to decide what’s for dinner) have brought us closer together as a little family unit. We for sure have our roles in this new normal…I do school, laundry and “grocery management,” Mr C. does Taco Tuesdays, “baseball practice” and the recycling and NinjaMax wears his noise cancelling headphones when Mom and Dad want to watch a movie with questionable 5 yr old words in it….and so far it’s all good. I mean, we’ve for sure had our challenges…like I want to spend this time doing every constructive, DIY project around the house while my boys want to spend this time to get caught up on all of the Harry Potter movies,…and while I like movies…I don’t like them all day…but that is so minor, I can’t really complain.

We are healthy, so for that I am deeply grateful. We are wearing our masks and gloves and using our hand sanitizer. We are social distancing…not even a glass of wine in a driveway, 6 ft apart…YET. I’m not saying never, but so far I have been pretty strict with the new normal rules and while I know I can’t do this forever…I will approach re-entry into the world full of hesitations.

A couple of things that we have loved during these times…
Bike Rides. NinjaMax learned to ride a bike! So we have been riding all over town including the Saturday morning North Union Famers Market. We go online and order meats, lettuce and herbs and then we ride our bike to pick up our goods. I love this routine.
Instacart! What can I say, it’s a new neccesity to either pick up or have your groceries delivered. I have always loved this service and in these times, I love it even more. Here is my trick…place your order for a few things early in the weeknand then add to the order throughout the week…by the weekend your order will be ready for delivery…or at least this has been my experience.
The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes. This local nature preserve has been our escape from the daily routine. We’ve enjoyed watching the trees bloom, the birds arriving for the summer season, the little flowers sprouting up from the earth and the neighborhood park coming to life. Thanks to the staff at the Nature Center for all you are doing durng these days.
Amazon. Amazon for everything…from board games, to hair clippers, to fancy cherries for manhattans, to new baseball mits, to vegetable seeds and paints, cookbooks and sidewalk chalk! Just to name few household things. Thank you to all the friendly drivers who are delivering during these times. We are so appreciative.
TV! While I mentioend I dont want to watch all day…I am good to go in the evenings. Currently loving Little Fires Everywhere, The Beastie Boys Movie, Tiger King, Ozarks, and Hook; circa 1991.
Peloton. As a “user” for over two years, this bike and wellness company is currenlty my lifeline to sanity, fitness and funky afternoon dance parties. Thank you Peloton family for evolving and changing with the times, I am a tried and true user for life. Thank you!
Food pick ups. The first few weeks we had zero food other that what I was cooking. Then after the 3-meal-a-day food prep I was loosing steam and open to the idea of pick up. Then when Vero opened their phone lines for pick up, I was totally game! From there we have picked up burgers and fried califlower from La Albatros, fancy pasta from Dante, Ban Mi’s from On The Rise and grain bowls from Luna Bakery. We take precautions filled with lots of hand sanitizer and leaving the bags and boxes in the garage but these few food purchases have kept us connected to the Cleveland food scene while staying safe (& somewhat sane) at home.

Last but certainly not least THANK you to our nurses and doctors for taking care of Cleveland on the front line. Thank you to the delivery & mail people for bringing notes and packages that bring our family joy. Thank you for our teachers for pivoting and teaching our kids during these scary times. Thanks to our friends for touching base to check in on us and make sure we are doing okay, personally I will be FOREVER grateful for the silly Zoom calls, the sporadic “HouseParty’s” and the day to day text check-ins with my community of friends, family and even those of you who have reached out just to say “hi.” Thank you.

So I hope you are well. I look forward to seeing you later this summer…with masks on of course…but I truly miss you dear Cleveland and I can’t wait for what the future holds. Be well. xo -Charity

  Services, tips & tricks of 2019

Well hello, hello! It’s been WAY too long my friends. I think my last post was in October and then the end-of-the year push happened at our design studio and with a busy holiday season at the studio, hosting a large Thanksgiving feast and all the festivities the holidays (& my December birthday,) something had to give.

I do know that many of us stay connected through instagram and for that I am thankful. I so enjoyed all the encouraging comments during December with regards to my self-imposed month of a #ShimmerandShineChallenge. It is a total passion project for myself and fuels my fashion creativity to a shiny new level. Thanks for those of you who played along, you guys are the best.

As I have been reflecting over 2019 and things that worked and things that maybe could be improved on, I kept coming back to these little tricks, products and services that I have discovered over last year and I thought you might like to know them as well. Nothing grandeous, but as a working parent who owns a business and would rather squeeze in a glass of wine with her friend then hit the grocery store on the way home, any little thing to make life sweeter is worth sharing. This is not a sponsored post but an honest sharing of things I know and love…check them out.

Okay, first up Instacart. I just had my 1 year anniversary with this service and I never want to grocery shop without “her” ever again. Did you know that Instacart offers personal shoppers at more than Heinen’s and Aldi’s? Along with Costco (you DON’T even have to be a member!) they recently added Target to their lineup so between those four stores I am totally covered. Using instacart has allowed me time to sit down with cookbooks and recipes to plan out the week. I easily select ingredients as I check my cabinets for things we already have and stuff we need; eliminates the “why do we have 3 jars of peanut butter?” issue. I know some of you are skeptical on having someone else pick out your produce and other items and yes, I still LOVE to go to the farmers market for my weekly fix of hydroponic grown lettuces, but in my experience the shoppers of Instacart are about 95% accurate and for that I am thankful. I love that I don’t have to go to the grocery store and negotiate with our son what special snack or cereal he can or can not get, makes shopping simple and fun. Sometimes I will let him pick one thing out on the app, so we can shop together from our pj’s on the couch. Now I do admit, I have ordered a few wrong sizes of things here and there and like anything else with practice the entire ordering process gets way easier. Also, if you do make a mistake or if the shopper substitutes for something you don’t want, the customer service is SO GOOD that they make me want to shop from there time and time again. I have heard a few of you say you don’t want to shop from there because of the single-use plastic bag usage…well I have great news, all of the vendors I have shopped from recently have all changed over to paper bags making this company even more love-able than before. If you don’t use this service, give it a shot…It helped give me a few extra hours a week in 2019 and for that I am thankful.

I know I may be late to the party, but last year I started to slowly transition to more organic household products. I found a company called Grove Collaborative that offers many safe household and bath+body products that I seriously love. Each month they send me a notice to see if I am running low on any products (detergent, glass spray, hand soap, etc.) a quick scan around my kitchen and I can reorder my organic products at a discounted rate and with free shipping. Plus, they have a few private label products that are not only effective but nicely designed, enter the laundry detergent. The laundry detergent arrives in a recycle-able refill bag which you pour into their frosted glass pitcher that is not only looks beautiful on our counter-top but also measures out how much of the concentrated cleaner should go into each load, beauty and function…LOVE. Plus as I do a bunch of laundry I feel so great that I am not recycling those big Tide plastic jugs that I had been doing for many, many years. Convenient, great design AND doing something good for our world!!! I am sold and you should check them out.

When it comes to solid tricks to making our household work smoothly, it all comes down to Sunday prep days. I literally set aside most of Sunday afternoon to prep all sorts of meals and munchies for our week ahead. Packing our lunches have never been easier and with a few soups and freezer meals prepped, weeknights are way easier than they used to be. Recently we do about a dozen hard boiled eggs for breakfasts, we make chia seed puddings with leftover nuts, berries and apples form the previous week, I try to make a new soup and a freezer chicken and veggies type meal for the crock pot and I do my best to clean and prep all of our produce to resist any lazy mid-week thoughts of why we shouldn’t cut up the cauliflower. Anyone want to come over and prep some Sunday? I swear it is a bunch of fun and you feel so prepared going into the work week, it truly is Sunday FUNday!

I’m sure I am late to the party on this one, but in 2019 I really started diving into whether for my drive to work or just the daily household chores, I could use that time to listen to the latest self help or fiction darling. Currently I am loving listening to some of the popular bios because they actually read them…LOVED Becoming by Michelle Obama and This Will Only hurt a Little bu Busy Phillips. Do you have any good tricks to getting all the “reading” done? This has allowed me to keep up while not falling asleep and re-reading a chapter over and over again when I finally go to bed. Thanks audible for bringing me back to loving books.

So those are just a few services I love, habits we created and fun ways that I created joy for myself and my family last year. Hope you might have found them helpful…can’t wait to see what 2020 holds for us! Cheers Cleveland friends, lots of love!

  Fall decor finds over at Wayfair

It’s feeling like fall and I am itching to do a few more decorating projects before the holidays. Nothing huge, switching out some small furniture pieces, updating some kitchen things, perhaps a new house plant or four!

I have plans to hit up a few vintage stores over the next few weekens, and one of my designer friends is going to swing by to give me here thougths on a few of my decor ideas. I’t fun to brainstorm with fellow creative friends on furniture picks and more.

For some other pieces I found some things over at Wayfair. Here are just a few of my fall picks below; check them out!