Category Archives: Uncategorized

Thankful HOME

HOMES have taken on an entirely new meaning this year, haven’t they? Back in February, HOME was the place we came back to after a long day at work. For some of us, that’s still the case but for most of us, HOME is so much more. It has become more to us than just shelter.. Perhaps the word refuge best describes the word HOME in 2020? It’s where we find comfort, surrounded by the people we love and where we can finally relax. While there are still many challenges ahead of us, I thought it would be good to focus on how many ways we can be Thankful for HOME.

Thankful HOME. What does that mean to you? For me, from the challenges of Covid to the opportunity to be present in my own life here in Tampa with my husband, I am thankful everyday that I am here at HOME. My new business is making changes in new and exciting ways (more about that in the new year).In the present, I am making new connections while keeping some of the existing, and continue to build from  the many, many years of my retail & design business!  And I am thankful! I am also learning new skills, taking new risks, and growing my love of all things HOME in a new way that is not limited and is becoming clearer and clearer every day. Have you found that you, too, have discovered some new joys in your life during these last months? Have you retired, sold a home, bought a new home, remodeled your home? We are seeing so many projects this year, and we are Thankful for each of them. 

As we look to November and December and the upcoming Holidays, I continue to be thankful for being able to connect with my children and family. I, shamefully, am looking forward to being a ‘normal’ person this Thanksgiving week at HOME! This will be my first Holiday season in 11 years where the worry of a retail store will not limit my attention to my people that surround me. I hope you will understand. Yes, I will miss the holiday decorating of the store, but guess what? I am able to still decorate homes for the Holidays, including my own! 

With Thanksgiving just a few short weeks away, and looking very different from our past celebrations, I thought I would take a moment and talk about what and HOW we are doing things different this year. First, Thanksgiving is going to be spread over the course of a few days so that we can gather in smaller, safer ways. For me, that means more quality time with individuals versus a large single gathering. It means more intimate connections. And isn’t that what we all need this year? More one on one time with our peeps? I know I do! And the upside- more Stuffing! There will be physical spacing for our meals as well…more about that in our newsletter this month. 

The annual Turkey trot, goes virtual- Yep, I am still making the kids and hubby run/walk with me this year (and yes- they are just finding this out right now as they read this), the best part- they don’t have to get up early if they don’t want to- you are welcome Catherine and Davis! Last year, the gentlemen started a new tradition and went golfing after their run and while we will continue that tradition, we are adding in an extra round so we ladies can play as well. I would much rather cook a thanksgiving day meal than play golf, however my darling enjoys a round together at least once a year. From there it is off to eat, and I do enjoy eating! 

How about you? Are you embracing the traditions with modifications or are you throwing in the towel and trying something completely different? Are you making new recipes? I am working on mastering a little bread baking this year with the help of Catherine- the master baker in our home- I think it has something to do with that precision thinking that she is so good at! The other new recipe I am trying is an Apple/Pecan bourbon pie…yep can’t wait to dig into that one!  I’m thinking vanilla whipped cream on top…

I also have to admit that as much as I miss the cooler days of Fall in Illinois,  I am thoroughly embracing the warmer weather that the Tampa area offers. And while we don’t have the changing of colors in our trees, I have some awesome friends that have sent me photos to remind me of all that is wonderful in the north- and I am Thankful for them…and for all of YOU that have hung out with me through this year of change. It’s been an amazing ride and one that I know we will talk about for years to come. 

So, as we adventure through the Holiday season of 2020 I hope that you will take a moment to be Thankful and enjoy all the goodness that life is trying to offer each and every one of us. Keeping ourselves positive and thankful is the easiest way to ensure that we seek the good in this crazy thing called LIFE.

And I will always be thankful for YOU.


A few weeks ago, I dropped the bomb on all of us that we are closing the retail store. I don’t want to say that it was a “last minute” decision, however, I did give myself up to the last minute to mentally prepare for what that announcement would mean to our staff, customers and community. Nothing I did to prepare myself, however, could have prepared the team and I for the overwhelming support, emotions and heartfelt story telling that has occurred in these past weeks. I for one, am humbled.

I am overwhelmed by your kind words, and the time that you have taken to express them. Whether you sent an email or text, or stopped by in person to share your emotions and feelings for our team and what our store has meant to you, it has been a blessing to each of us. You have, once again, amazed me! Lynn has a few famous quotes from her 5 years at Y&M, and the one that we all repeat is- “How lucky are we? We have the best customers!”

You are truly the best people- EVER!

When I conjured up the idea of Yours & Meyn (well over 15 years ago) I envisioned a place where people would feel at home, they would meander through a beautiful array of curated items that would ‘speak’ to them, while they share stories of what their homes mean to them. They would dream of what the space could meld into for their families and friends, we’d discuss the  pieces that were cherished and those that could not stay…for one more minute… and from those conversations we would begin the process of designing their new space or home.

Fast forward all these years and that is exactly what we did & do- and then some! We have designed homes from Crystal Lake to Chicago, and from Colorado to Florida back north past Lake Geneva and everywhere in between- overwhelming, isn’t it? And to quote Lynn again- “We are more than just a store”-she put into words the vision that I saw all those years ago. I, however, only had a vision of the dream- it was each one of you that made the vision come to fruition. We nurtured, but your nature took us to places that I did not imagine. Sure I have a passion for all things HOME and we have assembled a team of women that care deeply for each other and you- but it is our customers and clients (that’s you) that have made all of those thoughts and dreams continue for these past 10 years!

Your sense of community, your willingness to support your local businesses, your open-caring style is what makes our downtown and all of Crystal Lake an incredibly special place. There is something magical about the Midwest and the people that reside here. Whether it is our hard-working history or the resiliency of its people (that may have something to do with our winters) there is just something special about Illinoisans. I know you’ve had this happen: You are traveling, perhaps thousands of miles away and you hear a Chicago “accent” or you see a Cubs or Sox hat, you know you have met a new friend. It is a truly remarkable connection. 

I ask myself often, will I be able to make the same type of connections here in Tampa? Honestly, I don’t know, but I know I must try. After all, you all know I need Social Time! The one thing I know about me, is I have a need to make people feel welcome- whether in their home or mine- and all of you showed me that it is important to share that hospitality. As I continue the next steps of this journey called life, I know that hosting others will be an important step to take. I will continue to watch for those Cubs hats through the haze of Yankee caps that swarm the Tampa area, and when I find one, I know I will have a connection.

As our Team continues the process of placing our beautiful products in your homes and we share the stories about our time together, I want you to know that each conversation, photo of your home, and hug we share will stay with each of us for a lifetime- after all- How Lucky are we to have met each other?! 

June 2020: The End of an Era

Have you literally felt like you were in a movie for the past dozen weeks? For some maybe it was Groundhog Day, others a horror film, some a romantic comedy, and others maybe still Survivor- Business Edition or HOMESCHOOL edition! I think I may be having cameo appearances in all of those. Seriously, early on in the pandemic I had the wherewithal to write a list of items, tasks that I should try to accomplish, you know -the Gwyneth Paltrow idea, but with some reality added in- like find all the important papers box from the move (last year) and finish the taxes, and spend 15 minutes a day re-learning the piano (that I had to have moved 1200 miles). Here I am, weeks later and I am analyzing the list.

Here is the reality. I, like you possibly, were filling my early days of Covid-19 with news, mostly negative while seeking only positive. One day, I literally googled- Positive news today…and trust me there was not much to read…and then John Krasinski called, and we came up with this great idea- so he ran with it. Oh sorry, brain slip- I went back to reading many articles only to decide that CLEARLY this was messing with my positive mental attitude, so I decided to only hit the high points each day. Nope nothing positive there either. At that point, we were only on day 7 of Shelter in place…Now some of you are thinking, was this entire event a joke to this woman?? Hardly, but in between applying for loans, making decisions to lay off over half of my team, deciding to close my Colorado location permanently and trying to generate as much (read that as hardly any) revenue, I decided to laugh. Laughing, humor, funny memes, this is what I turned to, to get me through the days. I am not so creative that I generated any funny graphics, but I shared, and I sought out the work of others, so that I could laugh. Just laugh. I knew that fear could not, as much as she was trying, beat out faith. And laughter eases fear for me. How about you?

 And then more history making changes occurred, some positive, some negative and then we stopped laughing.  We are in the midst of deep conversations, emotions and feelings that maybe we find difficult to express in ways that all see as “acceptable”.  We must remind ourselves that these are feelings, they are not right or wrong, and they belong to each of us. We live in America, where we do get to express our opinions, we will not always agree, but again these are opinions we are allowed our own.  Yours & Meyn has and will always show love and care for all, equally.

I also sought out the stories of others, through FB, Instagram, zoom, phone calls, and through it all we were making new adventures! And that is what I think I learned the most from all of this. Connecting to people and making and taking those adventures is what we all need, okay I need. I also learned that I have not done a good job of making new connections in my new city of Tampa.

So here is the moral of my story: Sometimes things happen in a way that clearly shows you where you are meant to be. And I am meant to be in Tampa, making a new life in my not-so-new marriage, with my husband, in a city that he loves, and I am learning to. So, if you made it this far into this reading you should know that you are what I will miss the most. The people. Our customers, my friends. I will miss these connections, more than you could ever imagine, but it is time for me to connect to my new life, in my new city with my old (don’t tell him I said that) husband. It means that in 2 ½ short months we will close our doors that have brought so many amazing people into our lives. Our employees that are now friends, our customers that are now friends and our friends that have come through for us for 10 years of Retail store ownership.  Did COVID-19 cause this to happen, not entirely, but it clearly defined our priorities and God, Family and then work are what I have always tried to follow.

I hope you will understand and then come share your stories of how our business has had an impact on your life, because you have had a profound impact on ours.

All the Wonder of May.

May is typically a pretty remarkable month. May 2020 will go down in history as the one where everything was different and yet the same. We have graduations, weddings, and Mother’s Day and we have 10 Year Anniversary celebrations. We have school years ending, teacher appreciation, proms and so much more. And yes, NOT one of these things will be celebrated like we normally do; however, we will celebrate them all.

The Meyn family has so much to celebrate that I thought I would share a few of these big days with you this month and then give a big shout out to all of the moms out there that do so much for all of us, every day. And if you don’t have a mom to hug, even virtually, anymore…that’s all the more reason for the rest of you to really celebrate big this year.

There are a few really big days for the Meyns, and I don’t want one to overshadow the other, so here they are by ‘birth order’: our daughter Catherine is graduating with her MBA- our son Davis turned 21- and Y&M turned 10 years old. I would say that is a big month for us!

As a mom, I could not be prouder of our daughter. She has worked hard every day of her schooling since she was literally in 2-year-old preschool. Back then, the teachers suggested she may be ADHD (I said what 2-year-old isn’t??), andwe turned her attention to learning and discipline. Apparently, those lessons took hold, because she has shown that discipline every day as she finishes up her 5th year of college with both an ME undergrad and MBA. Yep, she does NOT take after her mom.

Davis celebrated his 11th birthday at the old store the week we grand opened, and now he turned 21 in Quarantine on the Monday of finals week. Dang, that poor boy just really knows how to party! LOL. BUT, he did not complain once, in fact he was all smiles for his ZOOM parties on his 21st. And we were able to celebrate his first (wink-wink) alcoholic beverage with him at home! It was a fun night! We were thankful we were able to be with him.

Our 10-Year Anniversary celebration has been cool, just not as cool as we had initially planned. There was going to be cake (and I do love a good cake) and hopefully many of you stopping into the store to say hi. Obviously, that did not happen. We were, however, able to celebrate with a virtual party that was well attended and great fun! Even with all my technical difficulties, rewinds, etc., the biggest miss of the night was when I skipped the part where I thank my husband and 2 children for being a huge part of this business. So, thank you Bob, Catherine, and Davis for allowing me to realize my dream of designing homes, and being a part of our wonderful community.

And, we can’t forget our moms (it is almost Mother’s Day, after all)! Moms have been the shining stars of quarantine. They’ve become chefs, teachers, entertainers, psychologists, and kicked butt in this new version of working at whatever their job may be. There was no training for quarantine and all us moms out there have done the absolute best.

Here are some of the wonderful things (that we can all probably accredit to the moms involved) that I have seen being shared this past month that have shown moms are the duct tape holding our families together. .

I have seen more birthday banners outside, more outdoor PE classes in backyards and the streets, I have seen kids throwing balls in the streets. Awesome! I have seen groceries being brought to the elderly. I have seen nurses and doctors heading into the hospital, and other staff walking out. Not all these people were moms, but I can guarantee that everyone of those people have a mom.

This month celebrations are all going to look very different, the celebrating will take a new look, however the memories are created; the zoom parties, the car parades, the virtual hugs will still be shared with your favorite people (even if you rotated family members for Quarantine 2.0)

So, raise a glass to celebrate all that life has to celebrate. And I hope to see and hug you all soon, and not just virtually. Until then, be well. Be safe. Be strong for yourself and for your community, we need every one of us to get through this successfully. 

Hello. This is not a 2 minute read.

Let’s be honest, this is NOT the blog I thought I would have been writing a month ago. I planned on talking about our 10 Year Anniversary celebration, the amazing people and projects that have walked through our doors and into our hearts, and the growth that we’ve seen over the years. 

Today however, is a new day in the face of our country, our world, our economy, your kitchen table, and for small and big businesses everywhere.  How does one even begin to translate what is happening into some cohesive sounding blog? All I can keep saying is “this is crazy- this is weird- this is surreal.”  And then I think…this is just a blip, a small part of a bigger story that is life…and really do you want me pontificating on anything but positive thoughts? 

So, in the spirit of positivity, I hope you will indulge me as I share some thoughts about the past 10 years…

10 years ago this month, we were in the final stages of receiving orders, painting floors and walls, and building our service desk. We were nervous and excited about opening the doors for the first time to perfect strangers. We were working countless hours, hustling 2 middle schoolers to school, swimming, track and soccer (we even celebrated Davis’ 11th birthday in the store!) We had friends helping us unpack, price, and set up displays with our new home accessories. And we were doing it all because I had this dream. A dream all of those lovely people helped make possible. It was amazing to see so many help us out, Bob and I were excited, exhausted and oh so nervous.  

In these last 10 years, our store didn’t grow to the size of a Chip or Joanna (maybe in the next decade?), but what has grown is our hearts. Each time someone walked through our door and greeted us by name, who we hugged and talked about life with, our hearts all grew a little bit more. So, if this is as far as you get in this month’s blog (but you really should keep going because there are some fun things down the page), please know this-the PEOPLE are what have made this business what it is today, 10 years later. And those PEOPLE are the ones that will help us get through this together. And I also know that during a pandemic we should all be blessed with the people that I have in my life.

Until the time when we can welcome you back into our store, here are some of the highlights of these past 10 years: 

  1. Do you know what the first item was that I sold in the store? A bird, a big bird. The funny thing about birds is that they are NOT on my list of favorite things to offer customers! Okay, I said that too gently. I DIDN’T want to sell birds in my store, but I was told I HAD TO. Well who’s laughing now? Maureen!  Ironically, birds are some of our biggest sellers! 
  2. How about some of the first design clients, John and Joanne, Janice- all still some of our favorite people…and they are kind enough to keep coming back for refreshes on their homes. How lucky are we??!  
  3. Lynn, my store manager that we all know and LOVE: went home crying on her first day of work…over a lamp…Needless, to say she came back the second day…and 5 years later she is the glue that is keeping this all together! 
  4. Thursday nights are the BEST. You know who you are- and you have made Thursday nights special for all of us for years! 
  5. What started as a family business with my awesome husband, Bob, handling all of our marketing, deliveries, etc- the kids working in a multitude of ways including computer work, deliveries, and so much more, had grown to 12 employees. The bottom line is that I couldn’t have done any of this without my family supporting me. The funny part- I think I wore them out. I can barely get them to come to the store let alone work in it! 
  6. Dozens of employees have walked these concrete floors, and their feet have more stories to tell than most!  I am a better human thanks to many of these lovely ladies, and yes- we have been a full-on Women in business model since day one (Bob and Davis excluded). See, my goal was to offer a place where a woman could work part-time in order to have a flexible schedule for whatever reason she needed it. Along with that, I wanted a place where there was fun, positive, build-each-other-up feel every day. I hope that everyone that has graced this place feels that way today and always. 
  7. Being part of the Downtown Business Association. I have the pleasure of celebrating 8 years as part of this great group. It has been a joy to be able to contribute to such a dedicated group of business owners, community members and of course, the amazing Diana Kenny. 
  8. WE are MORE THAN just a STORE- My favorite Lynn quote. Truly, that summarizes the big picture of what my goals were all those years ago. To offer a kind word, a source of inspiration, a glass of something and a place to meet and make friends. I hope that you have felt that every time you have stopped by our store. 
  9. This TEAM- To say the last year has been without challenges would be an understatement. Did I mention we moved? The team that is with me today, has had my back for these past 11 months and they are truly awesome. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I would not have survived without you. Thank you all. 
  10. The future- There has not been a day in 10 years where I have not thought about the future of the business. Today is no different. And although none of us ever know what the future holds, today’s situation is something none of us could have predicted. For the first time in over 10 years, I don’t have an answer (ask my husband- he’d say I always have an answer). But whatever the future brings, it will be GREAT! 

When this is all over (and I pray that it is sooner rather than later), and we are able to gather again, we will talk about our days filled with new found creativity, new ways to connect, new skills, new self-discoveries, new found joy and appreciation; it is then that we will look back and realize that we are stronger, we are better, we are more resilient than ever thought possible and then… we will hug.

It’s always GREEN in Tampa!

We are here! One year from the time my husband took the leap to a new position with a new company in a new city and state…and that city always seems to be green. The perfect month to be talking Green- is March! Green also represents Fresh and New so here goes on what I have found to be cool, odd, exciting and challenging about this new city we call HOME! 

We love our lifestyle! For all of you new Empty-nesters worrying about whether the kids will come home if you downsize or relocate…don’t worry they always find their way home. Well, okay my kids do miss that fabulous house we called home in CL. However, when you own a 100+ year old home, it is only meant to be yours for a time…and then a new lovely family gets to care for it. 

Moving into a new home and city allowed me to recreate the design of our home and our new look. Coming to the south, where the temps are a bit warmer, I decided I wanted to keep things organic, clean and light (notice I didn’t say bright). I was able to change up the bedrooms looks with some new furnishings, added some of the rugs from our previous home and the art and created an entirely new style and design. 

One of my challenges was fitting the furniture from a larger home into this smaller townhome. As a designer, space planning is such a key part of our job, and that skill came in really handy as I made those decisions on what to move or sell ahead of time.  For the main living spaces, we were able to keep things simply classic with a twist of Mid-century and that has allowed us plenty of space for greeting and hanging out with family and the friends that have been able to visit already. But, let’s be honest, most of our time this month will be hanging together outside before that sunshine gets too HOT for this midwestern gal. 

As you know, I have preached about my love of change for years, and that still holds true. The one thing I didn’t think about in moving to someplace new while working remotely was that I would have to get creative about how to meet new people and clients, so that is on my list for March as well. I am settling into a routine that allows me to be HOME longer than a week or 10 days at a time, which allows me an opportunity to be present in this new opportunity. So, when you see me ask me how I am doing with creating those opportunities. I’d better have a great answer! 

As I trade in my snowshoes for sandals this March, I am looking forward to getting my garden growing sooner than May 15th, and as I mentioned Green is everywhere. How’s this for a fun fact, it’s really difficult to find ‘shade’ plants in Tampa. Although, I am still searching for gardening centers like our amazing Countryside in CL, I am happy to say that I will be planting my first planter this month! 

I am sure at this time of year you are not excited about your friend Mary discussing sunshine and sandals, but I am here to tell you- all we are doing is trading different months of the year when we are inside versus out. March has always been that month where we begin to see the newness of life, the crocus starting to pop through the snow and new life begins. It’s an exciting time at y&M as fresh new furniture and products make its way into the shops. I hope you look to March with a fresh new sense of style and excitement, and if you’re not sure where to start anew- stop by the stores, you’ll find fresh everywhere you look at HOME by Yours & Meyn and Yours & Meyn! 

It’s all about LOVE!

February is the month of love! So, it’s only fitting to share all the things that I love– both personally and professionally (let’s see if you guessed any of them).

Family and Friends– I like to lump them together, right? Although there is nothing like family, we have the privilege of having some friends that feel just as close. The ones that you call on in a pinch or shed a tear with, and who are always there to lend a helping hand.  I love my family, my husband and children. I love my extended family as it grows to include nieces/nephews, even grand-nieces/nephews– it’s more fun than ever, and I love watching life continue to grow!

Music– I love music, the feelings it evokes, and the environment it creates, from a sultry jazz to a classical marvel and everything in between. I’m always listening to it, whether I’m working, traveling, or relaxing.

Books– Who doesn’t love a good book? Well, I truly embrace every aspect of a book from the paper its written on, to the way the signatures are assembled, to the actual words on a page. I am drawn to the creative minds that bring torn or glossy edge on a page (depending on the book) to the readers hands…think about all the books you’ve ever read and how they felt in your hand. It’s such a great feeling! I know I have written about cookbooks before and how they are among some of my favorites. But, it’s much more than the recipes on the pages. There is a story to how that cookbook came to be and about the love that I share when I create something from those pages.

Cars– I love fast ones. Enough said.

My career path– It’s been a long, twisted road, but it is exactly where I was meant to be at those exact moments in life. The path has taken me from the new home building industry to a retail store owner in 2 states, a designer that has done everything from remodeling old homes to designing and building new ones. I have staged homes, merchandised, and designed model homes. I have grown a team from a single employee to a team in the double digits. I have had an amazing career that keeps going and growing. My love of design, interior, exterior, landscape, kitchen…all of it. I love taking something old and outdated and updating to fit a need. I love when a client will smile over a completed project that has made their home a better fit for them. I love it all.

My new home in Tampa– This new life that Bob and I are creating is very different from anything we have done before and it is FUN! We walk or bike to restaurants, shopping, the bay, we visit the beach and new areas when I am home, and we’re getting involved in new adventures and experiences..

Lastly,  all of you– who not only read my blog but continue to bless my life with your stories of home, family and your ups and downs. I love the daily connection to your lives–even when I am away from the stores– through social media.

So, what do you love? Have you been making a list as you read through mine? I hope you have because no matter what is going on in this crazy world, we must remember that it is LOVE that will change it all. So, whether it is as simple as creating an environment that allows you to spread your love or the words you read on a page, love is what we all should share.


It is with wonder, delight, sadness, enthusiasm, and relief that I look back at 2019, and look forward to 2020. I am certain that I am not alone as we look at the past year. As we look towards 2020, maybe some of us are looking at not only a new Decade, but maybe also A new state. A new life. A new home. There begins the theme for this year, 2020- the beginning of so many new things! Like any great journey, one must look at the past to know where they are going in the future.

It is in that spirit that I look back at the completion of our 10th year in business here in Crystal Lake Illinois. As I look back over these years will you follow me on this journey and reminisce with me as I recount the best of the best from the past 10 years? These little stories are not in any particular order, but they have had significant impact on our business. Here are some of my favorite memories:

-When one of my first reps, Mary Alice, told me ‘I have to buy birds, -everyone loves birds’- she said…guess what? The first item I sold in May of 2010…A bird. A cute sweet chubby bird. I wasn’t a huge fan of birds at the time…I am now.

-When I decided that I was never going to be able to do all of this paperwork by myself, and I hired my accountant, Heather, she was a God-send from day one and even though she has grown and moved on recently, she will always be a blessing to me.

-When the late, Ann Nevills walked into my ‘small’ store and told me she felt my business needed to grow and I would do great in her space as she was retiring… 6+ years later and we have filled this place to the rim…and service more design clients and customers than ever!  Thank you Ann, for having the confidence in me before I realized it myself.

-When my now, right hand woman, told me that she literally went home and cried her first week of work, because she didn’t think she was cut out for this physical job…silly Lynn- she rocks the retail world of Yours & Meyn.

-Celebrating my son’s 11th birthday on the newly stained concrete floors, in our first store 4 days before we had our opening party.  I am thinking Davis won’t be celebrating his 21st birthday with me the same way this coming April.

-Taking our first family vacation after we opened, with no employees on staff, and calling on both family & friends just to make that happen- I will forever be grateful for that vacation and every one since and the wonderful team I have that allows that to happen.

-All of those customers, that are now friends, that are still customers. Thank you. I wouldn’t be here without you.

-When my Marketing VP decided that ‘his’ boss was too bossy and he needed to take another position. That vote of confidence that I could tackle it all ‘alone’ from Bob (my hubby), was something that I didn’t know I needed, but did. Thank you Bob, for 10 years of free business consulting, physical labor, delivery, lighting service, marketing expertise, moral support…and so much more.

-All of the team members that have walked through these doors, with smiles on their faces, to greet thousands of customers, open more boxes, bubble wrap more items, schlep more heavy stuff, clean, de-glitter (if that is even possible), hang hundreds of ornaments, sell more succulents, staghorns, and some of the most awesome lamps and art than I ever dreamed possible…Thank you! You have all left a mark in my thoughts and on my heart.

-When my MBA student/daughter told me how she drew from her years of ‘watching her mom run a business’ to assist another small business owner make significant changes…my thoughts: she was watching and learning, she is empowering others, she will make a difference, she is my daughter Catherine.

I could go on…but alas…you have reached your threshold for words. So simply stated. Thank you all for everything!

We are bidding this past decade a fond farewell as we look forward to the new dreams and adventures this next one has to offer! Cheers to the “New Decade. New Design. New Dreams” to come.

Starting New Traditions

Just think, a year ago I was talking about the traditions that we share as a family, the busy shopping weekend at 2 stores, the plans for the upcoming gatherings and the ever-important Christmas day, celebrating the birth of Christ in our Pj’s. Flash forward one year and I am sitting here in Tampa Florida wondering how to make this Holiday season feel fresh and different and yet Family-focused but in a completely different home, climate and state. Have you had a big change in your life this year? Or do you crave a change? Or are you like many, just wanting to keep your traditions just that…traditions for all to share?  Either or any way, the Holiday season is here for all of us to share…and here’s what I am planning for this year.

First thing is a look back: I look back fondly on those early days when my kids would circle items in a catalog, think American Girl, or yell from the family room when they saw the toy they wanted on the TV. Now, I get a link to a website and a smiley face asking if we can add this to their list.  I remember those sweet faces anxiously waiting on the stairs until Bob and I “made sure” that there was something under the tree, and then the exhilaration and sheer joy as they came upon their gifts, no matter how big or small.  Those were the days.

Flash forward and now we are thrilled to have them home for whatever days the swim and college schedules allow. And being in a new home, without a mantel to hang stockings, has me super excited to try new things, and a little melancholy that I won’t be hosting friends this Holiday season.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t get to plan many great meals, setting a great table and finding new traditions for this new life in a new state. Here is what’s on the top of that list:

  1. Bring out all the Christmas décor that made the move.
  2. Go all out in a big way with our new smaller spaces with the decor.
  3. Plan a family gathering ensuring everyone is invited.
  4. Watch family movies on the rooftop (outside instead of inside)
  5. Invite some new neighbors over for a Holiday cocktail. Perhaps this will be the start of a new tradition.

No matter what changes you have seen in your life this year, I hope that your reason for this season brings you close to family and friends- that is pure Joy.

Spending Time Together

Recently I was working on an article about making our homes more welcoming for guests, and I shared some of the things that I have done to make our new home welcoming for friends. I wanted to share more of that experience with you, to “open my home” to you- so to speak- and share what I do to bring friends and family together.

With any new adventure such as a new home or just a change of season like FALL it reminds me that it’s time to come inside and make our home ready for the winter months ahead and guests! And we are fortunate enough to have had several grace our home, from traveling college students to siblings it’s been a fun summer of welcoming folks into our home. So, what makes my home that special place for our family and friends to gather? Is it the warm people that greet them at the door, the wow factor as they walk into your kitchen greeted by the scent of fresh baked goods, or is it the little touches that say- ‘Home is important to us and we are glad to share it with you’. I’d like to think it is all of it that makes our guests remember their time spent with us- well, there won’t be baked good necessarily, but there will be good food.

Here are a few more fresh ideas that I have implemented into making our home ‘guest ready’-

Nothing says ‘Welcome’ like a Fresh set of new bed linens and towels. Simple right. Moving makes it easy to look at your linens and decide ‘is that tattered towel worth spending money to move’? Even if you aren’t moving, Fall is the perfect time to spruce up the linen closet with a fresh eye and purge your old, worn out linens. If you missed our linen event at the store this Spring, you don’t know the benefits of investing in good natural quality fabrics and the long-term savings they allow…but we can share that information with you in store.

A new home also makes it easy to re-think how you ‘live’ in a kitchen. I planned my kitchen around someone else’s design so I really had to work through the layout as it wasn’t how I would have designed it. My challenge, as with any kitchen layout design, is to process how you live in your home. I wanted to make my kitchen work well for not just us, but guests as well. Making sure coffee mugs are where they should be is a VERY welcoming touch for guests. Again, it’s FALL and that makes it the perfect time to re-think your kitchen layout, and the accessories that make it functional and fashionable.

Lastly, welcoming guests means have comfy places for them to ‘sit a spell’ and visit! Whether that is a comfortable counter stool, a quiet chair for reading or a rooftop deck, each of those spaces needs to have a few key elements to make your guests ready to kick back and enjoy your company. I like to have a drink table (for both coffee and wine) easily accessible in any sitting area, as well as a comfortable stool for hanging in the kitchen. I recently had to replace my stools and found some great new styles and designs. Lighting is hugely important in any space, and guest spaces are no different. Lamps for reading in bed or in a chair, overhead lighting for tasks, ambient lighting for gathering areas help make a house feel welcoming for your guests.

When our guests come walking through our doors, we see our homes through their eyes and sometimes I don’t like what I see! So, let’s make this our reminder to start our preparations early, so when everyone starts to arrive, we get to do what really is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of any visit. Spending Time Together.