Getting a Jump on the Holidays with

It’s official: I’ve become one of those people who gets ready for the holidays before Halloween! My goal is to get as prepared as possible so that we can enjoy the festivities; relish those cozy afternoons of gift wrapping and hot chocolate. But the days seem to be zipping by so quickly that I hardly have a moment to breathe, much less drive to the store.

This year, I’m preparing for the season early by putting together a gift-wrap supply station. Since our days have been so full lately, I’m saving time (and gas money) by ordering everything from That way, everything gets delivered to our door without a second thought! These are the items going in my kit: Getting Holiday Stress Out of the Way with Online Shopping!

Clockwise from top left: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

Aside from wrapping, I plan on doing quite a bit of Christmas shopping at this year. While I can’t tell you who’s getting what—my very supportive friends and family peek in here frequently—here’s what’s on my list:


Clockwise from top left: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

Right now, shipping is free on every order, so we’re saving time and money by shopping on It’s just one more way that Target is making my to do list shorter so there’s more time for the things that we really want to do. And this year, in particular, these celebrations are especially important.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Target. The opinions and text are all mine.

Attention Span Expander: Serial

Serial Podcast from the creators of This American Life

Like so many others, I’ve noticed my attention span shrinking. When you spend a lot of your day communicating in one-to-two sentence blips, as I do, having the patience for longer-form things can be difficult. It’s like my attention muscle is flabby and focusing on anything for too long seems like a chore. I pin while watching TV. I send emails while I’m cooking. It’s getting a little ridiculous.

So it’s into this micro-economy that the This American Life team has debuted Serial, which tells one story over a series of shows. The story they’re currently telling is spread out over a dozen episodes! If you’ve never listed to This American Life, the shows are all based on a theme, usually with several different stories in one show. The word “story” can refer to many different things–essays, radio journalism, short stories, occasional songs, etc. They’re all so well told and beautifully produced, and suffice it to say that I’m madly in love with everyone who works on it because it’s made my life richer and happier and more beautiful.


Serial Podcast from the creators of This American Life

Anyway, the stories on TAL are always surprising. James and I went to see Ira  Glass speak (twice!) about how they choose stories for the show. The stories usually follow the format: this happened, then this happened, then this REALLY SURPRISING THING happened. Serial takes the pieces of radio journalism that can’t fit into a few minutes, or even an hour, so there’s time to look at every facet; every perspective.

The current story is about a murder that happened at a high school in Maryland 15 years ago. A girl was killed and buried in a shallow grave, and her ex-boyfriend took the blame. Only, there are so many holes in the case–including an alibi–that no one is really sure if the right person was convicted. Sarah Koenig masterfully navigates all the facts, interviews everyone she can find, and even re-creates the event, in order to try to figure out what really happened. Who’s lying? Who’s telling the truth? And why do we suddenly care so much about these people?

I started listening to Serial last week and I was immediately hooked. Binge listening may be my new thing. All five episodes were gone in a flash and now I have to wait until Thursday for the next one. It feels like an eternity.

Serial is a podcast available at or on iTunes.

Photo Credit: Better Homes and Gardens

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Autumn Refresh: Bedroom Makeover Reveal!

Boutique Hotel Inspired Bedroom Makeover | Frock Files

It’s finally reveal day! For the past couple of months, Heather and I have been working on our homes for our Autumn Refresh series and today we’re showing off how everything came together. To give you an idea of where we started, here’s a very lackluster before:

Boutique Hotel Inspired Bedroom Makeover (Before) | Frock Files

And here it is post-transformation!

Boutique Hotel Inspired Bedroom Makeover | Frock Files

Our goal was to take the bedroom from a space we merely slept in to one that we could actually enjoy. James and I love boutique hotels, and we thought it would be luxurious if we could bring in a few of the elements we like from those rooms, while creating a functional bedroom that we can live in every day.

Although we love our condo, it really doesn’t get a ton of light except in our bedroom. Especially in the wintertime. So before the days got too short, we decided that we would go with a soft white to amplify the light as much as possible. We went over all of the walls with Benjamin Moore’s White Dove, and to add depth and a bit of elegance, we painted the closet bump out Benjamin Moore’s Black Beauty. After the painting was done (and let me tell you, it took us awhile!), things really started to come together.

Boutique Hotel Inspired Bedroom Makeover | Frock Files

Like a lot of new construction, our bedroom doesn’t have a ceiling light in it. We had two lamps but then one of them died last year and we were left with one 75-watt lamp to light the whole space! Luckily, Wayfair saved the day by sending me these gorgeous swing arm lamps. They plug in, so we can take them with us when we move on.

Boutique Hotel Inspired Bedroom Makeover | Frock FilesBoutique Hotel Inspired Bedroom Makeover | Frock Files

You might be able to tell from the “before” image that our night stands were way too low. It was a cool concept to begin with, but dozens of spilled water glasses and knocked over cups of coffee later, we were tired of them. As you already know, I went on the hunt for the perfect gold side table and when I didn’t find it, I hacked an almost-right one from Home Goods.

Boutique Hotel Inspired Bedroom Makeover | Frock Files
Boutique Hotel Inspired Bedroom Makeover | Frock Files

On James’ side, we created a small workspace for the days (and frequent nights) he works from home. When I moved in, James generously gave me the second bedroom (check it out here and here) to use as a home office, which left him to work from the dining room table.

But that meant lots of distractions, and too much noise during conference calls. He told me he didn’t need much room–just enough for his laptop–so I asked our favorite carpenter for help wall-mounting a piece of reclaimed wood my friend Eling had found for us. This is by far James’ favorite part of the makeover.

Boutique Hotel Inspired Bedroom Makeover | Frock FilesBoutique Hotel Inspired Bedroom Makeover | Frock Files

The little accessories are what really bring the space to life. We didn’t want to get rid of the carpeting but I gave it a bit of a boost by layering faux sheepskins next to the bed–which Kona promptly declared to be her new bed. At the risk of being redundant, I hung another deer hook, which is the perfect spot for scarves. The blanket from DLK gives the bed a big dose of personality and chicness. And the big mirror brings even more light into the room.

Last but not least, the painting above the bed is an original watercolor by Roger Whitlock. He’s an amazing artist (and equally amazing person) based in Honolulu. I’m a lucky girl to own two of his paintings. I love the way it helps to tie in the natural elements in the room.

Boutique Hotel Inspired Bedroom Makeover | Frock FilesBoutique Hotel Inspired Bedroom Makeover | Frock Files

Now that we’ve wrapped up the makeover, we spend so much more time in the bedroom. When James and I are both working from home, I like to interrupt his afternoon with a little coffee break. And on the day I shot this, I climbed into bed and took a nap right afterward. Call us hedonists–we don’t mind!

Boutique Hotel Inspired Bedroom Makeover | Frock Files

Thanks for joining us on this Autumn Refresh journey! Both Heather and I have loved the motivation that the series has given us to finish our rooms. Now, head on over to The Caterpillar Years to see Heather’s amazing home office/guest room transformation! It’s chock full of ideas for renters with nit-picky landlords and perfect for anyone expecting guests later this year.

Check out the rest of the Autumn Refresh series here

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Life Update: Lucky Ones

Anniversary Photo by Carrie Ann Photography

Although I’m hesitant to say it, I think our streak of bad luck ended with the arrival of autumn. As the leaves really started to turn, everything began to improve. You’ll probably think I’ve spent too much time in hippie dippy Portland when I tell you that I think it must have something to do with the moon and the seasons and some nastiness with the tilt of the earth, but I do. So while I’m always happy for fall’s arrival, this year it was especially welcome.

Life Update: Autumnal Bliss | Frock FilesLife Update: Autumnal Bliss | Frock Files

A couple of weeks ago, James and I went up to our very favorite place in Vermont–a trip I look forward to all year long. While we have the option of going to the falconry school or driving a Range Rover up the mountain, we opt instead to swim the length of the indoor pool, drink wine by the fire pit, play Scrabble in the library, begin our Christmas shopping, and have dinners in the downstairs pub. They are the most glorious three days of the year. I always wish we could stay for longer.

While we were there we had the chance to meet up with our friend Carrie Bombria, who also happens to have been our elopement photographer. As part of her wedding/elopement packages, Carrie offers a free anniversary photo session for life! The photos Carrie took this year were my favorite photos of us, ever. Aside from the fact that she’s an amazing photographer, I think we look natural in these photos because we’re so comfortable around her–we were also extra comfy because we shot the whole thing in our pajamas. As I mentioned on Instagram, I respect James’ wishes not to show up on the blog or social media, so these photos are a rare appearance.

Anniversary Photo by Carrie Ann Photography

More good news: two days ago, my father-in-law went home after a successful three weeks of rehab. He’s doing so incredibly well that no one can really believe it. To put it in perspective, most people a third of his age take between six months and two years (or longer) to get to the point he’s at now, two-and-a-half months in. His speech is almost normal, he makes jokes, and he remembers almost everything–past and present. He’s already making plans to be back in his garden next summer.

I’m now busy pretending that the leaves will be this bright and beautiful forever! Although despite my state of denial, I’m thinking ahead–to two trips and the holidays. There’s so much to be thankful for, especially this year. And among those blessings, there’s you. Thanks for sticking around.

J xoxo

Photographs of us by the talented Carrie Ann Bombria of Carrie Ann Photography in Vermont!

Autumn Refresh: Gold Night Stand Hack

Bedside Table Hack | Frock Files

Before unveiling our full makeovers next week, Heather and I are each showing off some handy work that we put into our new rooms. In my inspiration board post, you might remember a gold table from Anthropologie. I toyed with buying that table but in the end I needed to spread that money out across my other decor needs.

I originally fell in love with the idea of a round, gold nightstand after staying at the Refinery Hotel. You can just make it out in the photo below. It was generously sized and perfectly proportioned.

Hacking the Too Small Nightstand | Frock Files

After a bunch of hunting around, I couldn’t find anything with the same tabletop radius–particularly not within my budget–so I ended up hacking one that I found at Home Goods. It was the right color and I liked the classic lines, and at $30 it was also the right price. But when I put it next to the bed, it was laughably small. I’m one of those people who keeps a lot of things next to the bed, so I needed room for my phone, a book, a glass of water, and a vase. One magazine would have overwhelmed this table!

Hacking the Too Small Nightstand | Frock Files

So I took some measurements and decided that I wanted a tabletop that was about 22″ in diameter, and off I went to the land of plenty: Amazon. Here’s how I finally got the table that I wanted without breaking the bank:


Table base
22″ table top
Spray paint primer
Rust-Oleum Metallic Gold Spray Paint
Rust-Oleum Crystal Clear Enamel (Gloss)
Drop cloth


1. In a well-ventilated area, lay out a drop cloth and place your table base and table top on it. Spray each with a good layer of primer, according to the directions on the can. Follow immediately with a light layer of gold paint. Get a drink while you wait 10 minutes to do the next coat.

2. Follow up with a second, heavier layer of gold paint. If you’re satisfied with the coverage, wait 90 minutes to two hours for the paint to dry before applying the crystal clear enamel.

3. Lay the tabletop face down and center the base on top of it. Using metal screws and an electric screwdriver, attach the two pieces together. If you’re not keen on screws or you don’t have an electric screwdriver handy, you can use a strong adhesive like Liquid Nails instead.

Bedside Table Hack | Frock Files

That’s it! I can’t tell you what a game changer it is to finally have a night stand with sufficient space–and at a sufficient height. We used to have low nightstands and I was constantly knocking things off of them with the blankets. Pretty and functional? Be still my beating heart.

Next week we’ll be showing off the before and afters of our completed rooms! Until then, you won’t want to miss Heather’s DIY over at The Caterpillar Years, where she’ll show you how she brightened up her wall with fabric-covered cork that doubles as a place to post little reminders and cute mail.

Are you refreshing any rooms for fall? Show us on Instagram by using #AutumnRefresh. xoxo

Update: Want to see the full bedroom makeover reveal? Check it out here.

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