Simple Living

I’ve been on a tropical punch lately with summer approaching! The tropical style has been around for years and years, but lately I have been noticing it showing up more and bolder than ever! 

Let’s picture an island. What do you see? Palm trees? Sand? Vibrant colors? Let me give you some inspiration!

Bora Bora

British Virgin Islands- St. Thomas

Phi Phi Island- Thailand

 

Okay, those pictures are almost too perfect and basically thousands of miles away! Why not bring some of that tropical  into your very own home for a vacation you never have to leave?!

Colors! Colors! Colors!

This is the perfect opportunity to bring out those big, bold colors and prints! Come on now, don’t be shy with those either! The more colors, the better! Pick at least 3 different colors to start out with! Here are a couple of different color pallets that are fun and tropical!

Sherwin-Williams

Paint colors from Chip It! by Sherwin-Williams

The “Escape Hues” color palette from Design-Seeds.com is one of those amazing palettes which offers a tropical palette with less than typical shades.  We used Let’s Chip It! from Sherwin Williams to see what colors they recommend using

Better Homes and Garden

2015 Better Homes and Gardens Color Palette of the Year.  Gorgeous colors!  Especially loving Fresh Berry and Behr Essential Teal. Paint color names and brands on link.

Patterns

Lets add some patterns in there with those colors!

#pattern #flamingo Encontrado en americanapparel.tumblr.com

14wehi Tropical Hibiscus & bird of paradise, plumeria flowers, vintage apparel style fabric.  More fabrics at: BarkclothHawaii.com

Liberty of London: Flower Show – Botanical Garden Digital Prints

Don’t Forget That Greenery!

Here is a great go to guide for those greens to add into your space! Remember… there are more plants out there than just palm trees!

Statement Leaves glossary via Justina Blakeney

Lets Put It All Together!

There’s only one thing left to do and that’s to put it all together! Remember, this is your tropical vacation spot! You can alternate any of these designs to make it all your own!

relaxed and laid back feel for the sitting room, no tv's allowed in here. this room is for reading and chatting

The lesson here is the versatility of a basically white palette.The tropical accents can easily be switched out to quickly transform the room.

THIS. IS. BEAUTIFUL!! although I would like it much better if the counter wasn't floating

Martinique Wallpaper (made originally for the beverly hills hotel and reproduced for years since) - I REALLY want to have this wallpaper in some home, at some stage of my life...so far I haven't been able to convince anyone I have co-habitated with that it's fabulous, psshh what do they know!?

Tropical Bedroom design by Tampa Design-build Arthur Rutenberg Homes

Tropical Guest Bedroom Idea... love the colors

 

I hope this gives you some inspiration to design your own tropical paradise!

Images found on Google and Pinterest

***For more inspiration check out our Pinterest Pages at

https://www.pinterest.com/thesimplelifede/a-tropical-touch/

https://www.pinterest.com/thesimplelifede/color-is-beautiful/

 

 

BONUS!

Here is a simple recipe I have found to enjoy while in your vacation spot 🙂

 

Ingredients:
Large Batch:
– 1/2 cup lemon juice
– 1/4 cup strawberry puree (approximately 10 strawberries blended well)
– 3/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
– 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup pineapple puree (crushed pineapple works too)
– 1 gallon water

Single Serving:
– 2 Tbsp lemon juice
– 1 Tbsp strawberry puree (approximately 3 strawberries blended well)
– 3 Tbsp sugar
– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 Tbsp pineapple puree (approximately 6 pineapple chunks)
– 12 oz water

Directions:
– Mix all ingredients in a large pitcher or a large glass until sugar is dissolved and well mixed.  Serve over ice or chill in the fridge.  Enjoy!

http://www.whilehewasnapping.com/2014/07/strawberry-pineapple-lemonade/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Simple Tips to Create a Relaxing Home   

By Guest Blogger Susan Shehata

I believe that one of the reasons that vacations are so relaxing is that you are surrounded by a peaceful environment.

Not just that beautiful beach or that lovely mountain view, but the indoor surroundings as well. You are often staying in a place that is free of clutter, and visually appealing.

You can bring that same serenity to your own home as well, by following these five simple tips:

Assign a home for clutter

Start by collecting any objects that are randomly hanging out in the space.  Assign a home to any of those items that do not already have a designated spot to live. If you don’t have enough space for that to happen, then it means that you have too much stuff for your current living situation. Begin the de-cluttering process by eliminating doubles of items, things you don’t use, and things that you “just don’t get around to” repairing.

Surround yourself with what you love

From paint color to furniture to décor, be intentional about what you choose to surround yourself with. Often these choices were made on the fly, or out of convenience. Do not underestimate the importance of consciously selecting things that make you feel good in the space. When you have objects that you are indifferent to, or actually dislike, it subconsciously affects your feelings about the space.

Have clear systems

Clutter happens when we don’t have a system in place that works for you. Whether it’s the incoming mail, the sporting equipment or the laundry, if you don’t have a clear process for how objects move from point A to point B, things get backlogged. Address your most problematic areas by implementing a system that works for you. If you have a system in place, and things are still chaotic, that is a sign that the system is not in alignment. Proper systems take experimentation. Keep trying until you find something that works for you!

Designate a Maintenance area

Often stuff that requires our attention hangs out in our active living areas demanding our focus, and yet these objects get ignored. After a bit, they start blending in with everything else and become part of a cluttered landscape, stealing our peace of mind. Designate an area where these objects will be stored until they are handled. And so they are not forgotten, create an actual time in your schedule, such as when you are doing other household chores, to address one or two objects from this area.

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Add vacation spot elements

Whether you are drawn to the beach in Bali or the museums of Rome, surround yourself with items that evoke your favorite vacation destination. This might mean seashells, sheer curtains and lanterns or ornately framed artwork. You decide! What physical elements do you think of when you think of relaxing? Add these items into your living spaces.

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Ready to relax? Don’t miss the Fabulous Paper Purge this April! Release your paper clutter & clear your mind with the free 7 day online guided event. Connect with Susan on Facebook for her weekly tips.

Susan Shehata, also known as The Space Guru™, is an Educator, Holistic Guide and Performing Artist, who specializes in helping you identify and release hidden obstacles that hold you back from an Inspired Home & Life. Though her offerings are varied, the goal of her work is the same: to clear the deep patterns of resistance in people’s lives. www.SusanShehata.com

 

 

I have recently moved out of my parents house and into the “big” city of Appleton, WI. Now, with the house I’m living in at the moment, it’s fairly tiny, and basically doesn’t have a front porch. I take a look at my neighbors and some have all different sizes of porches, but they aren’t taking advantage of the space they have. What my “front porch” consists of is a cement walkway from the sidewalk, 3 steps, and wrought iron railings. Even though that is a very small space, I thought, “why can’t I still decorate this small space cleverly?” I hope some of these tips help you out and make your porch a little more welcoming!

Greenery 

One of the easiest ways to bring your small porch to life, is to add a little life in it! By that I mean, add some greenery! Plants and flowers are a great way to catch by-passers eyes and make them think, “WOW!” My mother and I are always looking at houses with a little extra effort put into the flowers around the house or on the porches. If you’re not a very good plant grower, fake flowers and greens will work just as good! Give some greenery a try!

 

Add Color!

I’m a huge fan of color and as the seasons change, more opportunity for different colors! With spring just around the corner and summer hopefully not too far after that, playful colors are a guaranteed way to brighten up your porch space! Dig into your memory of when you were little! Remember all those colorful Barbie clothes? How about those bright colored race cars? Bring those colors back to life and into your porch setting!

 

Make it Friendly

Whether your porch is big enough to have a cook out, to just sit at, or just enough room to put a couple of potted plants on it, you want to make sure your porch area is welcoming. Picture that old neighbor who always sits in the chair rocking away, and saying hi to anyways who walks by! You get that sense of welcome and that’s what I think is the most important key to having a great porch, no matter the size!

 

Images found on Google.

 

Please check out our outdoor furniture to complete your front porch! 🙂

http://thesimplelifedecor.com/cottage-garden

Do you have a relatively small kitchen space? Whether the small space is at home or at a cottage, you can make the most out of your small spaces with these few hacks and tricks!

1.) Small furniture in a small space isn’t always best. A bigger dining table or chairs can often be better than a smaller size. Bigger doesn’t always mean over powering.

2.) Combine like objects such as garbage and recycle into a cabinet space. Have it “hidden” within the cabinet space.

3.) Use mirrors or glass to bounce light around, it’ll make the room look more spacious.

4.) Think vertically! Vertical lines make the room “reach up to the sky.” This can involve cabinets, artwork, and appliances.

5.) To the ceiling cabinets. Cabinets that stop before the ceiling really show how small the room may be.

6.) Light colored cabinets. Light colored cabinets and cabinets with glass front doors lighten up the space where dark colored cabinets give the impression that the room is much smaller that it is.

7.) Let light in. Don’t have a window treatment that blocks a lot of light entering the room. Rooms that don’t have a lot of light entering them tend to downsize them.

 

8.) Put function FIRST. Create the space based on your natural habits. If the first thing you do in the morning is get a pot of coffee going, then make sure that is a very accessible spot verses putting in storage and taking it out every morning. That way, it’ll be easier to go about your daily routine.

9.) Make sure you can move efficiently between the stove, sink, and refrigerator. This is what’s called the work triangle. According to NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) standards, space between the sink to the refrigerator should be no more than 9 feet. From the sink to the stove should be no more than 4 feet. Obviously in a smaller space this isn’t exactly possible, therefore adjustments would be made.

 

There you have it! Hopefully these great tips will help enlarge your small area of a kitchen within your home or home away from home! If you have anymore tips or tricks, please share with us in the comment box below!

Please check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more great inspirations!

https://www.facebook.com/TheSimpleLifeDecor

https://www.pinterest.com/thesimplelifede/

https://twitter.com/TheSimpleLifeDe

 

Images founded on Google.

 

Whew!! January is almost over! Do you know what that means? SPRING IS COMING!! If you’re anything like me, I love spring and the freshness it can bring to your home after the long, cold winter months. To get us over some of our winter blues, I thought I’d share with you some of my techniques to making your home feel refreshed and brand new for the spring months to come!

1)Color

Adding color throughout your home is a great way to re-freshen the energy that may have been dulled with these cold days! What colors should you add you ask?

Citrus colors are guaranteed to make your household more lively. Think of a bowl of fruit with oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit… you have your pale yellows, pinks, greens, and oranges. These colors will leave a long lasting impression on your home throughout the rest of the year!

2)Accent Pieces

Lets talk about accent pieces! These are extremely easy and cheap to add to your blooming household!

~Preppy green centerpiece

~Fruits and flowers make great accents!

~ Don’t forget about patterns!

~Metallic Pieces!

 

~ Floral Pattern Valances!

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~Natural Fibers!

-Jute

– Sisal

 

Hope these tips are helpful when decorating for spring!

Lastly don’t forget—Choose a color or pattern that makes YOU happy 🙂

 

http://www.bhg.com/decorating/seasonal/spring/spring-decorating-ideas/

 

 

Images found on Google

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Photo via http://cereusart.com/beach-sayings-on-pinterest/

00df6acfd9cbb28d3fd6e505eb6f6b3bAbout a month ago, I was struck by a scene that I had witnessed by a couple at a popular restaurant in a tourist area in Wisconsin. They appeared to be two parents who had gotten away for a romantic weekend  and were seated at a table with a beautiful view of the water.  Instead of talking to each other or enjoying the scenery, they were taking pictures of their food and posting to Facebook about what I can only assume is the awesome time they were having on their vacation.  They spent a good portion of the meal on their phones and really missing out on the gorgeous scenery in front of them and the time that they had together.

Isn’t this a common scene though? How many times have people spent more time engaged with their online friends than with the ones right in front of them? How many times have people been more concerned with bragging about the awesome time they are having than actually enjoying the time they are having?  How many conversations are had between friends, spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends over text message rather than just picking up the phone and talking to each other? How many times have I opted to spend 10 minutes ordering online rather than 2 minutes calling the pizza place?

Often I am guilty of taking so many pictures to capture a moment that I forget to enjoy it sometimes.  I get frustrated when my kids don’t look at the camera or if they make a silly face.  Instead of taking the moment in to remember it,  I’m more concerned about how to document the memory on my camera and share it on social media.

Are we truly a disengaged, engaged society?  Are we so engaged in what our friends are doing that we are disengaged in everything going on around us? Are we so afraid to miss out on something online that we miss out on the moments that really count?

Simple Living Tip:  Today, I challenge you to put down the phones and step away from the social arena to be more present. Opt to be engaged in the people who are in front of you over the people you are trying to impress online.  The ones that truly matter don’t need to be impressed anyway.

 

 

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Isn’t life wonderful on Bragbook… er I mean Facebook? On Facebook I’m so ambitious. I ran an Iron Man, baked 5 dozen cookies, did 20 loads of laundry, and it’s only 5 am. It sounds so much better than sitting on the couch in my PJ’s till 3pm. On Facebook , my husband and I have the perfect marriage. We write each other Facebook status love letters and have riveting conversation every night at the family dinner table while our children throw spaghetti-o’s at each other in the background. We never fight or lose our patience with each other. On Facebook, I am rich. We have a mansion, take lavish vacations and drive Maseratis. On Facebook, my children are wonderful. They get straight A’s, get chosen for the lead part in the play, and listen to everything I say. They are prodigies. On Facebook, my job is glorious! I LOVE managing people and I get to travel to glorious places and I never get stressed out. I’m the CEO of a Fortune 500 company at 35!

 

These of course are exaggerations but I have been known to do a bit of bragging and glossing over the not so fun parts on Facebook. If you say you haven’t, I’ll call BS. The worst part is that we compare ourselves to these glorified statuses and feel worse about our own lives. I have had the opportunity to have conversations with a number of friends over time and have realized that underneath the surface we all have our struggles. Whether it be kids, marriage, job, finances…. we all have a cross to bear. If you were like me in college and high school, we used to spill our guts to anyone who would listen. Now, we keep it all bottled inside and try to make our lives look more put together than they always are.

 

I can’t say that I will completely stop bragbooking but just remember when you read those glorious statuses from me or anyone else that life is hard and not to feel worse about your own life. Be happy for them but don’t wonder why your life isn’t as fulfilling as theirs. Part of simple living is learning to not compare ourselves to others. We all have a struggle and their life is probably not as glorious as their Facebook status would imply.

 

 

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The journey to simplifying your life has to begin in getting your financial house in order. Although I claim that my simple living journey started when I left my stressful career in healthcare, it truly started several years ago when my husband and I decided to pursue financial peace. That is, in my humble opinion, the foundation of everything. Financial peace is a must for simple living and is truly the cornerstone in pursuing your dreams.  Until I was out of debt, I had to make decisions based solely on money rather than other factors such as stress level and job satisfaction. My husband and I made a commitment to paying off our debt and made goals for ourselves that we usually finished far before our target dates.

Here are a few of my tips for getting and staying out of debt:

-Find a program that works for you. Ours was Dave Ramsey. He has taught many average people how to win with money and cut away from the chains of debt to give yourself financial peace. The program is really common sense but does take discipline. We started by listening to his CD’s on long car rides and then took the class one fall. We were able to pay off $124,000 in debt in 5 years following the program and we are almost done beefing up our emergency fund (Baby Step 3). Check out DaveRamsey.com to see what it’s all about.

-Stop buying more than you can afford today. If you can’t pay off your expenditures that you put on your credit card for that month, at the end of the month, then you have to stop the bleeding first. Dave Ramsey says to pay only with cash and that is probably a good policy if your credit card purchases get away on you. We never did the envelope system like Dave Ramsey suggests. We used our reward credit cards and have been successful in paying it off every month but it takes a lot of discipline.

-It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet. You know what I’m talking about. You go on the diet for a few months and then fall off the wagon and get right back to where you started. The same is true with debt reduction. Make it a lifestyle change and make changes for the long haul. That also means that you can cheat a little too. We didn’t follow the Dave Ramsey plan religiously. We did it the way that worked for us. We took a vacation or two, ate out sometimes, and bought other things. We paid for them all in cash though and saved up for it or budgeted for it. We didn’t want to fall off the wagon so we allowed ourselves to cheat now and then. Every raise, every bonus, every tax refund, every reduced expense, overtime, etc. went toward our debt though. We used some of the money for the other things we did but we always put most of it toward our debt before paying for fun stuff. We also didn’t stop contributing to our 401ks as Dave R would suggest. With a company match, I couldn’t give away free money.

-Find friends who are also reducing their debt. It was really motivating to be in class with others going through the same thing especially when most of the people around us weren’t. Read inspiring stories from others who have paid off their debt. Thankfully frugality seems to be a lot “cooler” now.

-Don’t keep up with the Joneses. They are likely up to their ears in debt.

-Sell stuff. I sold a lot of  little things on Facebook and Craigslist that helped me lighten the load and pay down our debt.

-Make a budget. I didn’t enjoy it but it helped to see how we were spending our money and to control it rather than have it control us. I have to get back to doing one this year. I fell off the wagon and need to get back on.

-Put all your debts on a mirror in your bathroom and keep a running tally of how much you have paid down and how much you have left. It kept us motivated and was incredibly inspiring to see how far we’d come. I have kept all of the sheets that we had on our bathroom mirror and look at them occasionally to see how much we were able to accomplish by making our goals visible. Pay down using a debt snowball or line up debts with the highest interest first. Either method works well. Choose the best one for you. The debt snowball concept is that you line up all of your debts from the smallest debt to the largest. You pay the minimum payment on all of your debts except for the smallest one which you pour every extra penny you have towards. Once that is paid off, you move on to the next smallest debt and so on. The idea is that you’ll gain momentum by getting quick wins and it will keep you going for when the larger debts are left. The other concept, paying the highest interest first is most financially beneficial. Line up your debts by the highest interest rate first to the lowest and pay the minimum on all but the highest interest rate which you will concentrate on first.

-Cut cable. It was liberating when we got rid of cable especially that DVR. The DVR was one more thing I had to clean up every day as I tried to keep up with a ton of shows. When we cut cable, we watched the news more often and found new shows on Netflix. We lived without it for a year and a half as we finished up paying off our debt. I didn’t miss it (much). We have it again now that we are debt free but I could definitely survive without it.

-If you have credit card debt, play the 0% interest game. I hardly paid any interest on my debt when I had it because I moved the money around to 0% cards. Be careful with this though because since the time when I was paying off credit card debt a few years ago, adding transaction fees has become commonplace. Those could wrack up really easily and negate your efforts.

-This next one isn’t a debt reduction tip but will save you a lot of money. Always, always, always ask the clerk at stores if there is a coupon for the items you are purchasing. You would be amazed how many times I have gotten 20% off or another discount just by asking. Often there are coupons that I haven’t received in the mail or email and the clerks are either more than willing to give it to me or tell me they shouldn’t but they will.

The bottom line is that you have to be financially secure before you can become less stressed or be able to take a less stress job. None of this is earth shattering advice as it takes good old fashioned hard work and discipline to get out of debt. It is an amazing feeling to be free of debt though so it is definitely worth it.

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Last October, I opened my store, TheSimpleLifeDecor.com.  It has been overwhelming at times (okay, most of the time)  to sort through all that needs to be done and trying to balance it all.  I also have a full time job and am raising a young family so simple living with so much going on seems unattainable. But I’ve discovered that it is as much a state of mind as it is a product of my surroundings.  One important lesson that I’ve learned is that quieting the noise around me is the best way for me to be successful.

Anyone with young kids is probably thinking that “quieting the noise” must be metaphorical, and that I could not have possibly found the Holy Grail of child rearing.  In many ways you are correct. There is not a great way of quieting the kids (my kids at least). There is a time when this magic occurs though… 5 am.  I get up at 5 am nearly every morning before I head off to my full time job and have over an hour of complete peace to grab my coffee and work on whatever I need to get accomplished before the harried day begins. More on the power of 5 am in a future post.

What I really want to focus on though is quieting the noise from the metaphorical sense.  In a new business, there is so much to do and it is difficult not to compare myself to other long-established businesses.  There are customers to serve, products to add, SEO to complete, blogging to do, networking to be done on several social media platforms, books to read, blogs to read, podcasts to listen to learn how to improve, prices to monitor…. the list goes on and on.  It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.  There have been three very powerful lessons that I have learned recently though that have helped me in quieting the noise.

The first lesson comes from “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. I ask myself this question which is the premise of the book: “What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” By focusing on the ONE thing and not letting the noise from the rest of the world distract me, I am able to complete the most important thing that I need to get done.  Once that ONE thing is complete, rinse and repeat. “What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” and on and on chipping away at the things I need to accomplish. Instead of being overwhelmed by the mountain, I can focus on the step immediately in front of me.  I still struggle with this as a multi-tasker at heart but the book also discusses how multi-tasking actually slows down progress.  I am starting to believe it and I’m working at focusing at the one task at at hand rather than trying to do many tasks.

The second lesson is from Jon Acuff to not compare my beginning to someone else’s middle. It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game and see that another business/site/employee/parent you name it is doing better than I am. It’s important not to compare especially comparing where I am to others who have been long established. Everyone starts somewhere and so have I. Rarely do we get to hear the struggles that it’s taken to achieve the success that we compare against.

The third lesson is to quiet the voices (seek help if you really hear voices : ) but what I mean is the voices that tell you you’re not good enough, strong enough, smart enough, dedicated enough … They may things that you tell yourself or people around you that don’t support your dreams.  These voices are often wrong and destroy more dreams than failure ever will. They don’t deserve any real estate in your head.

There are many lessons to be learned about staying focused in a noisy world if you seek them out. They say success is a journey, not a destination. We need to treat ourselves with grace and be patient to take the next step without beating ourselves up if we stumble.

 

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My name is Wendy and after leaving a stressful career, I am on a journey to a simpler life. I have started a business called The Simple Life Decor (thesimplelifedecor.com) specializing in mid to high end cottage style furniture and decor for cottages and primary homes. My blog is focused on living a simpler life whether it be through creating a serene environment in your home or simple living tips! Subscribe to my list and shop TheSimpleLifeDecor.com!

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