Archive | things i like

A new iphone wallet case and why I’ll never go back

One year ago (almost to the day) I posted about the iPhone case that changed my life.

The phrase ‘changed my life’ sounds a little intense for something as insignificant as a phone case, and it probably is. But I’m happy to report that using a wallet phone case truly has simplified my daily routine.

The first case held up great for over a year. It was starting to crack a little (perhaps because I drop it often?!) and instead of ordering the same one as last time, I went with something new.

Introducing, my new iPhone wallet case:

I just received it in the mail yesterday and popped it straight away onto my phone. It’s nothing fancy and cost only $15, but it totally makes me happy.

The gray canvas. The leather detailing. The slim profile. It’s a good one.

I shared a photo on Instagram and there were a bunch of questions in the comments so I thought I would talk about this little life-changer on the blog today.

Can you still talk on the phone?

The quick answer is yes. You just flip open and fold back the cover and it works great. It is a bit more cumbersome than if you didn’t have the case on but as all my people will attest to, I am not a phone talker, so it really isn’t an issue for me.

Is it hard to take photos with the case on?

Not at all.

Here I am in the Redwood Forest taking a picture with the old case on:

I’m a two-handed photo taker anyway, so I hold the phone with my left hand and snap the picture with my right. The case doesn’t get in the way at all.

What do you keep in the case?

One of the biggest reasons I’m sold on this type of phone case is how convenient it is to have my most essential cards with me all the time.

The wallet portion has three pockets and I keep 5 cards in them: my driver’s license, Costco card, Target Red card, personal credit card and business credit card. In the little pocket behind the cards I keep my insurance card and maybe a few dollars. It could probably fit more, but the case starts to get a bit bulky and doesn’t close all the way with much else in there.

Someone on instagram wondered if I worried about leaving my phone somewhere and losing all the cards inside. I guess that is always a concern, but I’m pretty trained to keep my wallet/phone combo nearby pretty much everywhere I go.

How has this phone case simplified your days?

I talked a bit about the reasoning for switching to a wallet case in the first phone case post (you can read that in full here) but I’ll recap and update here.

First, since switching to a wallet case, I rarely carry a big catch-all bag. Having just the essentials in my phone works for at least 80% of my daily errands and outings. When I drop the kids off at school all I need are my keys and phone. When I hit the grocery store it’s just my keys and phone (and maybe a list). Post office, dry cleaner, hardware store, gas station. You get the picture.

When I had babies, I needed to carry a bag with all the things in it but I would still imagine that having a wallet case would make getting out of the house just a touch easier since it is only one thing to remember rather than a wallet and a phone.

Here’s another random reason I love a wallet case: I tend to do a lot of our shopping online and it is just the worst when you’re all cozy on the couch and in order to checkout you have to get up to go find your purse for your credit card number. As long as I have my phone with me (which I pretty much always do), I can just grab the card I need without having to move a lazy muscle.

Limiting the number of cards I can carry also keeps things streamlined. I used to carry a big stack of random cards – debit, punch cards, gift cards, membership cards – and they totally weighed down my wallet. Now, I just carry the cards I regularly need and use. I have the extras in my real wallet in a bag and will bring it with me when I know I’m headed somewhere where I might need one.

I used to leave my Target card in my real wallet and it helped me avoid stopping in (and spending way too much money). We now live far enough away from a Target that it doesn’t have the same effect on me, so I can keep the card in my phone without much risk. If you have a card that you need to limit yourself from using, leave it at home and it is much less convenient to use it.

Maybe the best reason of all? I only have to remember to grab one thing when I leave the house. Super simple.

What’s the biggest downfall?

This wasn’t a question anyone asked, but I wanted to talk about it anyway :)

The only thing I don’t love about a wallet case is that it doesn’t really fit in my back pocket. This probably has more to do with the size of my phone, but it is just something to consider. I typically carry it in my hand or put it in a coat pocket and it is fine. But sometimes I miss the ease of the back pocket.

Whew. That was a lot of words about a phone case. Clearly, I’m into it.

So let’s chat … are you a non-case, a regular case or wallet case type of person?

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Book Crush: 5 Books I just purchased and can’t wait to read

It seems I’ve been on a book-buying spree lately. These five were just delivered within the past two weeks and I can’t wait to crack each one open and pore over the pages.

These books are not my typical choices. I almost always read novels, and usually lean toward historical fiction. Because of our move and the many house projects that have kept us busy, I have read much less than I prefer these past few months. I’ll get back to it, I’m sure.

For now, I grabbed these five books that are slightly outside my regular genre, but each charming and intriguing in their own way. I’ll talk you through the choices.

YOU ARE FREE by Rebekah Lyons

I recently listened to two podcasts with Rebekah (with Annie Downs and Jamie Ivey) and completely connected with her message. This is a personal journey she has walked through moving from a place of people-pleasing, achievement-reaching, acceptance-seeking to true freedom. I’m excited to read the message and it sure is a pretty cover.

HOW’S YOUR SOUL by Judah Smith

My friend Rae casually mentioned this book in a recent blog post and threw in something nonchalant like “this book is completely changing my world“.  Those words piqued my interest :)

Judah Smith pastors a church here in the Seattle area and has written a few best-sellers. This new book speaks to where I’m at and I look forward to digging in.

Judah Smith pastors a church here in the Seattle area and has written a few best-sellers. I’m absolutely on a journey of taking a deep look at my soul, healing and growing and I’m pretty sure this one will speak to where I’m at.


This is not a new book (it was released in August 2016), but that cover just kept catching my eye and so I finally added it to my small collection of coffee table/design books.

Rebecca Atwood is a textile designer with an incredible eye for mixing patterns in interiors. The photos are great and there are how-to’s peppered in for mixing patterns in our own homes.

CUT FLOWER GARDEN by Erin Benzakein of Floret Farm

Oh, this book makes me insanely happy. I have such a thing for flowers and dream of having a cutting garden. This book is my first step in that direction and I could not be more impressed with what’s inside.

There are tips for growing, cutting, arranging all broken up by season. Since Erin and her family’s flower garden is in our area, I’m especially excited to learn all I can from her and maybe someday I’ll have flowers to cut from my yard.

P.S. Be sure to follow Floret Farms on Instagram. You’ll be so happy every time a post of flowers pops up on your feed.

OLD HOME LOVE by Andy + Candis Meredith

Have you seen this adorable couple’s renovation show? They are so charming and the homes they restore are so good. The book is full of old, gorgeous homes with so much character and detail.

Again, this one has a great cover that will look great left out on the coffee table or stacked up on a shelf. I appreciate a dual-purpose book. And, Andy + Candis have a great Instagram feed that’s a must-follow.

So there you go. The five books I can’t wait to read.

Do you have any of these? Or is there a new book you’re dying to read? Do tell …

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The six things I bought at IKEA (and one thing I wish I bought)

As I mentioned earlier this week, my friend and I ‘popped’ into IKEA last Saturday to grab a few things. It happened to be the grand opening weekend of the brand new massive store and it was literally busier than Disneyland. So many people.

On less busy days, I like to take my time and look around, pushing those wonky carts and snacking on the ikea animal crackers as we shop. But on this particular shopping trip, I had a short list of specific items I needed and was able to skip the showroom section and just cruise my way through the marketplace and warehouse.

I say that I have a love-hate relationship with IKEA, but actually, I mostly love it. Not all of it, mind you. Maybe 90% of the products are not for me, but those leftover 10% are pretty great.

Someone asked on instagram if I would share what I bought and I like that game (don’t you think it is interesting to see what people put into their carts?!), so I’m here to play. These are the six things I bought last week at IKEA (and one that I wish I bought).

LACK WALL SHELF | I grabbed four of these for the studio. They are very minimal and slightly modern, which is just what I wanted for above the desk. Ryan helped me install the first one and I did the other three by myself!

RIBBA FRAME | If you remember the design plan for the third floor hangout space, I bought two National Park posters for the wall and needed an inexpensive framing option. We have a million of these frames (see them in our old house here), just not in this color and size. You can’t beat the price and quality is just fine.

ZAMIOCULCAS PLANT | You guys, I’m getting out of control over here with my love of plants. I spent yesterday morning pruning, repotting, inspecting, delighting in my growing assortment of greenery. Is it just me getting older? Is it the fact that I’m no longer spending my every effort growing toddlers that now I can direct that care to plants? I don’t know, but I kinda like it.

FYI: a ZZ plant is super hardy and easy to grow in spaces with little direct sunlight but it is poisonous to children and pets.

RENS SHEEPSKIN | These sheepskins not only add a terrific texture to a bench, chair, bed or floor, but they feel amazing. I have one that sits on a cute tufted ottoman in the living room and another draped over my office chair. I love how it looks and feels so much, I added a second one to the matching chair.

KOLDBY COWHIDE | I laughed when I looked at my cart and saw sheepskin and cowhide. Apparently I have a thing for farm animals. The cowhide was for Ryan’s office, but I put it up in the studio to try it out and liked it so much I think I’ll steal it from him.

VITTSJO SHELF | Speaking of stealing … when we redid Ryan’s office last week, we borrowed furniture from around the house and this shelf was one of those things. It used to function as an etagere in the guest bathroom in our last house. When we moved in to the new house, we stuck it in the kitchen. And now it is in Ryan’s office with a second one flanking his desk (photos to come of his space soon). This shelf is super inexpensive, clean-lined and multi-purpose.

Great choices, if I do say so myself :)

What I missed out on buying but really wish I hadn’t is this great planter I never even saw it in the store (that’s the trouble with going quickly) but came across it this week online and have made a mental note to pick one up next time I’m there.

So that’s what came home with me from IKEA.

I’d love to know … do you have a favorite item from IKEA?

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New favorites in the JDC Goods house + home shop

Sometimes I think about opening a brick and mortar shop. A big warehousy-type building with soaring ceilings, worn wood floors and white walls. It would highlight cute home goods that I could arrange and rearrange every day, a coffee shop (because shopping is always better with an extra hot latte), fresh flowers and plants and space to host classes and gatherings. I mean, how dreamy does that sound?!

In the meantime, we’re starting with an online house + home shop we call JDC GOODS.

The shop opened just before Christmas last year and has been such a fun experiment in sourcing products, photographing, playing stylist and watching our wonderful customers enjoy their purchases.

My criteria when ordering inventory is pretty simple: if I want it for my house then it makes the cut. Which basically means, I have one of everything we sell in our house.

We just received a handful of new items that I can’t wait to show you:

You know I’m a bit smitten with pillows and throws. I love the simplicity of this navy cotton throw blanket and the extra detail of the pom tassels. The goat fur pillow is weird and wonderful and super soft. And that new enamel box makes a darling planter, but also great for storing first aid supplies, paperwork in the office, cookies – it will find many uses in our house.

It’s likely that you’ve seen this big brass tray in photos on Instagram. It moves from place to place because it’s just so versatile. That pretty blanket is the cream version of the navy one above.

My local market had potted ranunculus for sale and I couldn’t resist. I popped three of them into this great tin planter and it’s an instant Spring-pick-me-up. Bonus: the whole thing is less than the price of a cut bouquet and will last much longer. The mister is brand new to the shop. I use mine all the time for in-between waterings. Did you know that misting cut hydrangea petals will keep them fresh longer? It really works!

For the office, I love the acrylic stapler and tape dispenser. They are so useful and pretty, too! Ribbon has been a long-time love of mine and I wanted to offer my favorite varieties in generous quantities in the shop. This velvet ribbon is so pretty and comes in three colors.

Each of these items are so great for a bathroom. That little Mr + Mrs dish is very inexpensive and makes such a cute gift.

Of course there is so much more great stuff in the shop than shown here. I’m particularly taken with this quirky glass ball display and cement tissue holder (oh my goodness, we go through so much tissue in this house).

Come on over to the shop to take a peek and see what goodies you can add to your house!

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The best indoor plants to bring green into your home

Hang out for long with me and you’ll find I have a deep affection for fresh greenery.

Ferns, trees, herbs, little plants whose names I don’t know – I’m in to all of them.

I would even venture to say a room is not complete without something living and green.

One of the most asked questions about the mini kitchen makeover centered around the vast amount greenery seen.

I’m so glad you all noticed the plants because they really do add so much life to the kitchen.

In answer to the most frequently asked plant-related questions, I’m here today with all of my greenery-loving wisdom.

Are the plants real?

Yes, all of the plants in the kitchen and around the house are living.

There are times when faux plants are just the better (or only) choice – like in a room without natural light, up high on a bookshelf, in unkind climates or in vacation or rental homes where regular care is not available. Otherwise, I always err on the side of real.

Real plants have gorgeous color, texture and movement that faux plants just can’t quite capture. Plus, they grow! And watching the growing process is fascinating and rewarding (I sound like a completely crazy plant lady but I’m okay with it).

How are they cared for and kept alive?

I know one of the biggest issues with bringing in real plants is the challenge with keeping them alive. Are some people better at it than others? Is there really such a thing as a green or black thumb? I’m not sure. But I will say that with regular attention, anyone can keep a plant alive.

At least for a while.

Sometimes, plants die. Sometimes ferns loose their leaves and start to look a little yellow and sparse. Sometimes you don’t catch dry soil fast enough and a little mossy plant dries out. It happens and it’s okay.

I like to think about it like this: if I were to buy a bouquet of flowers from the grocery store, they would only last 5-7 days. So any plant that costs less than $20 and lasts longer than a week in the house feels like win in my book. (I will say, though, that I’ve never killed a plant in 1 week. After a month? Sure. But then some of my $20 ferns are still going after a few years!).

Each plant has its own temperament and needs. Some like direct light, some like indirect. Some like the soil to remain moist, some need it to dry out between waterings. You’ll usually see these caring instructions on the little stick that comes in the plant or you could ask the nursery worker.

Yes, pay attention to those plant idiosyncrasies, but also don’t stress.

I pretty much treat all of my plants the same with one main objective: keep them well-watered.

How often you water depends on the climate and temperature of where you live (I notice the plants dry out much faster in the winter when the heat is on all day). I typically put all of the plants in our sink to fully water once per week. If I notice throughout the week that the leaves look droopy or the soil is dry to the touch, I’ll water again. If I don’t feel like bringing the plant to the sink, I’ll just pop an ice cube or two on top to melt. If it helps you remember, schedule a watering day once per week to build into your routine and keep your plants alive.

Other than watering, I just try to keep dead leaves trimmed.

If you notice that a plant doesn’t look healthy, is losing its color or doesn’t seem to be growing, try moving it to a new spot in the house. In general, anywhere with indirect natural light is a good place for an indoor plant.

What types of plants are best for indoors?

The quick answer is anything that catches your eye in the indoor section of the nursery. If it is housed in the indoor greenhouse, it is likely a good choice for indoors.

I am usually drawn to non-flowering plants in shades of bright green with lots of little leaves.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Boston Ferns (and other similar varieties) are inexpensive, commonly available and low-maintenance. They are usually hanging at the garden center and I just remove the plastic hangers. Expect to pay about $20 for a good-size fern.

Maidenhair Ferns are my very favorite, but they are a bit more temperamental. They dry out very quickly and can’t be revived once the leaves wilt. The little plants are around $5, the larger ones (like the one in the terra cotta pot on the kitchen counter) go for $15.

Baby Tears is a sweet little creeping plant that will fall over the edges of the planter. I pay around $5 for a small one.

Jade is a variety of succulent that requires very little care and has a cool sculptural feel (like the one on our kitchen table). I bought mine six months ago for around $15 and it’s doing great.

Herbs like Rosemary, Basil and Thyme are always good choices especially in the kitchen. Bonus: you can clip right from the plant to use in your cooking.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees are very popular and known for their diva-ish needs. Indirect sun, no breeze, 1 cup of water per foot about once per week, no moving to a new spot, more expensive price tag. Even taking these things into consideration, I still love them.

The one in our kitchen was a bush I found at IKEA 3 years ago. It lost all of its leaves and I was about to throw it out, but instead moved it to a bright spot that didn’t get much air flow and it started growing again. You can sometimes find 5′ trees at Home Depot for around $80 or check your local nursery (expect better quality and a higher price – like $150 and up). Check out this post for more on fiddle leaf fig trees.

And, of course, don’t forget clippings and branches from outside. They are free, they bring in that green and add so much life and texture to any space.

I very much encourage you to bring a live plant into your home. Just that little touch of organic green will really make an impact!

Do you have any favorite indoor plants? Or any other questions for this crazy #plantlady? Ask away …

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5 instagram accounts that have me super inspired

From time to time I am asked where I get inspiration from.

Well, nature, is always and forever first.

Second is some weird mix of imagination/creative ability that comes out either when I’m a. in a crunch for time or b. when I’m laying in bed or driving alone in a silent car.

A more tangible answer, though, is INSTAGRAM. It is like a perpetual feast for the eyes.

I follow a random assortment of feeds that breaks down something like this:

70% home decorating/bloggers
10% real life friends + family
10% lettering + fine artists
5% ballet dancers
5% fashion

See? Kind of random.

I’m quick to follow new feeds that peak my visual interest and equally quick to unfollow when the photos no longer inspire. That sounds mean and I don’t mean to, I promise. I just love using instagram as a personal way to indulge my aesthetic-loving eyes and gathering inspiration. Sometimes that changes depending on season, projects I’m working on and trends.

Case in point: A year ago, I was all about clean, white, bright spaces and my instagram feed (both in what I followed and what I posted) reflected that.

Currently, I’m inspired by simple interiors with a mix of white and deep, moody hues. It kind of makes sense because this is the direction we’re taking our new house and so my eye is drawn to other spaces that are doing similar things.

If you look at the most recent images I’ve posted on instagram, you can see the theme.

Lots of deep, saturated grays and blues mixed with white (and lots of greenery because I just can’t stop).

Here are five instagram feeds that are particularly inspiring to me right now and continue to push me to add more color to our house:


Ginny works with another design-crush Emily Henderson and has this perfect mix of traditional and modern. Her use of blues and natural wood tones is what I’m especially drawn to.


This sweet family is building a home, painting gorgeous art, building furniture … and I’m pretty sure I like every single photo.


The designers behind this company create the most classic, simple, elegant kitchens. I love a white kitchen, but more and more I’m being drawn to not-white ones and deVOL knows how to do them beautifully.


I don’t recall how I came across this account, but I can tell you that when I did, I spent way too long scrolling through all of their work. Every room is classic with little pops of personality (a perfect combination in my book).


Cathy and her family recently moved to an old farmhouse in Eastern Washington and it’s been fun watching the rooms come together. Her style is a great mix of vintage and traditional mixed with rustic farmhouse.

I’m throwing in one more of my favorite instagram accounts for good measure.

It has nothing to do with interiors, and yet is still utterly breathtaking and I look forward to each new photo.


I literally can’t stop staring at this photo.

So those are my top six to follow right now … do you have any favorite instagram accounts that inspire you?

P.S. you can hang out with my on instagram @jonesdesigncompany

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get a CLEAN start with a free Mrs. Meyers gift set

The kids are back at school today which is slightly bittersweet. Of course we love them being home and celebrating the holidays together. We love the sleeping in and lazy days, the game playing and game watching.

But you know what having four kids at home all day does to a kitchen?

doingdishes It keeps it in perpetual disarray. Food left out. Crumbs on the table. So many dishes.

dishes Washing dishes used to be a point of marital contention and then one day I decided I didn’t hate doing them anymore. I’m slightly particular when it comes to loading the dishwasher (I can’t believe I’m one of those people!) and I have a system for hand washing dishes that makes it quick and mindless (utensils first, medium sized items next, save the worst for last). I’ve found in marriage that if you take the things you care the most about and stop worrying about fairness, things get much easier. And it leaves me with a clean kitchen, so that’s totally worth it.

dishsoapsink I’m all about making the everyday more beautiful and since I have to do dishes on a regular basis, I might as well make the experience enjoyable.

At the kitchen sink are simple pleasures like good smelling soap, a fresh, neutral sponge and favorite dish towel. Seriously, these things make my day happier.

Fun bonus: the company where I get my soap and sponges is giving away a Mrs. Meyer’s gift set for FREE! 

grovefree Right now, when you sign up for Grove and place your first order of $20 you’ll get this Fresh Start offer for free:

  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap
  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap
  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s lotion (only available at Grove!)
  • Free Grove Collaborative Enamel Cleaning Caddy
  • Free Grove Collaborative Walnut Scrubber Sponges
  • Free shipping

grovefreetop Existing Grove subscriber? You get a free Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap! Click here to claim your gift.

UPDATE: The offer ends TONIGHT (January 9th) and supplies are limited.

I had been eyeing Grove for over a year – always thinking about ordering but never pulling the trigger.

And then last fall I just couldn’t resist the Mrs. Meyer’s Iowa Pine scent that was part of the free gift and jumped in.

Coming up with what to buy for $20 was easier than I expected. I was surprised to see that the things we regularly use in our household are available at comparable or even lower prices and it saves me a trip to Target (which, honestly is a money trap for me so reducing the amount of trips there is a good thing!)

Here’s what is on my perpetual reorder list:

grovepurchases walnut scrubber sponges I’m a born and raised sponge user. Some people are grossed out by them, but they work so well to wipe counters and scrub dishes. I throw them in the dishwasher every once in a while and am not shy about tossing them once they look dingy and start in on that nasty dirty sponge smell.

mrs. meyer’s hand soap I like a matching set of hand soap and dish soap and don’t mind switching up the scent. This time of year, I’m going with Lemon Verbena for its fresh scent and pretty green packaging.

dr. bonner’s all-one toothpaste What originally caught my eye was the graphic packaging. What’s keeping us using it is the natural ingredients and interesting anise flavor. It comes in peppermint and cinnamon, too.

tom’s toothpaste How do my kids go through so much toothpaste? I have no clue.

bubble up dish brush set This simple dish brush set is a new essential for my dish-doing. The simple natural wood/white porcelain combination means I’m happy to let it sit out on the counter. I like having a little dish to rest the brush in and let it dry out when not in use. And while in use, it works!

seventh generation laundry soap We’re a family with sensitive skin so this free and clear laundry soap is our go-to.

accure cleansing towelettes Confession: I bought these for our nearly-teenage son to do my part at preserving his soft baby skin. Will these keep teenage breakouts away? I don’t know. But it’s worth a shot.

The great thing about Grove is that I’m not stuck with any of these items and can always order more, less, try new products or keep to a regular order. They make it super easy.

freegift Want to give it a try?

When you click over to Grove, you’ll be asked a few questions and your cart will auto-fill with $20 worth of products. Go ahead and take their suggestions or browse your favorite brands or household items and choose your own (but I’m going to highly suggest that bubble up brush).

To receive the FREE Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap, dish soap, lotion, scrubber sponges and caddy, your order needs to be a minimum of $20.



sinkdishes I hope you find Grove to be a helpful service that saves you time, money and keeps you happy when you’re doing daily household things like dishes and laundry and brushing your teeth. #simplepleasures

Click over to Grove to learn more + claim your gift!


*Please note that Grove currently does not ship to Canada, Hawaii, or Alaska

*I am happy to be a Grove affiliate

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18 last-minute gift ideas

We just have a few days until Christmas! How are you feeling? Are you ready? Stressed out? Savoring the music and trees and twinkling lights?

Perhaps you’re like me and are still finishing up the gift-buying. No shame here. We have become almost 100% online shoppers and since most of the shipping deadlines have passed, the final gifts are being purchased from Amazon. We’ve been Prime members for a long time now and fully take advantage of the free (and fast!) shipping. Our poor UPS guy probably thinks we’re crazy for the amount of Amazon boxes he has been delivering to our new house :) But seriously, the convenience of a one-stop shop for almost everything plus great prices and quick shipping is pretty amazing when it’s December 19th and there are just six days until Christmas.

If you’re still doing a bit of last-minute shopping this week, I’ve put together 18 items perfect for gift giving. Many of these items I have and love, some are things I’d like to have and love. And all of them are Prime items so you should get them in time for Christmas!


1. Everyone Brave is Forgiven | $18.89
I have had this book on my kindle app for months and finally started it this weekend. I’m so hooked already. If you’ve read The Nightingale or All The Light We Cannot See and loved them, you’ll love this one, too. If you’ve read either of those two and feel like this is just another version, don’t miss out. It has a new angle that feels special and a story of it’s own. Plus the cover is so pretty it makes a nice gift.

2. Brass Dinner Bell | $16.85
This is a fun gift for new homeowners! We just added one in our kitchen so we can call the kids down for dinner without shouting.

3. Leather Phone Case | $25.99
I converted to a wallet phone case last spring and haven’t looked back. I like the color of the leather and the dainty size.

4. 3 Piece Mixing Bowl Set | $59.95
This is a totally unromantic gift, but so practical. These bowls have rubberized bottoms that make them stay put while stirring. I use at least one bowl from the set pretty much everyday.

5. Signo Black Micro Pen | $11.21 for 12 pack
My favorite pen to write with, hands down.

6. Signo Gel Pen in White | $6.80 for 3 pack
My favorite white pen to write with. It is great for colored envelopes, chalk tags, metallic stickers, anything non-white that you want to write on.

7. Rifle Paper Co. Notebooks | $14 for set of 2
You can never have enough pretty notebooks. I keep one in my bag, one on my desk, one on my nightstand … you get the idea.

8. Jenga Game | $16.99
This classic game is a regular in our house. Great for kids and adults (bonus: the blocks look great left out!)

9. Kitchen Timer | $14.99
A retro-inspired timer for the home chef or aspiring baker. Comes in a few different colors and it’s magnetic, too.

10. Wetbrush in Natural | $15.99
Audrey and I converted to these brushes this summer and we no longer cringe while brushing our thick, tangly hair.

11. iPhone Dock | $59.99
This was a recent purchase as I needed a spot to charge my phone downstairs and grew tired of going upstairs to grab my cord. This dock now sits in the kitchen ready for regular charging. It is heavy and well-made and nice to look at.

12. Milk Frother | $129.93
If you get anything on this list, I vote this one. You can find less expensive frothers out there, but I stand fully behind this one. We use it daily for lattes – here’s how I make them at home and here’s my eggnog latte recipe. If you have a coffee drinker in your life, he/she will thank you for this one.

13. Weighted iPhone cable | $39.99
Black and white striped cords are so up my ally. This cord is 10ft with a weighted knot to hold it in place. Such a smart idea.

14. I Had A Favorite Dress | $11.44
Looking for a sweet picture book? This is our favorite girly one.

15. Telephone | $14.75
And this is our favorite boyish version. Although, it is not just for boys, so don’t hesitate getting this one for a girl, too. The pictures are so great and the story is witty. The best combination.

16. The Secret Keepers | $10.79
For the older kid-reader, this is a new novel by the author of one of my oldest son’s favorite series, The Mysterious Benedict Society. I may or may not have purchased this one for him.

17. Brass Plant Mister | $17.45
You know how I feel about fresh greenery around the house (if you don’t know, now you do: I am a big believer in lots of plants) and one way to keep them alive is by daily misting. This brass mister looks great left out on the kitchen counter so you don’t forget to use it!

18. Don’t Tip the Waiter | $19.99
How fun does this game look?! It would be a good one to leave out on the coffee table for guests to pick up.

Hope this list is helpful if you’re searching for a few last-minute gift ideas!

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My soundtrack for the Christmas season

We are music people.

Ryan, especially, but me and the kids, too. If we’re home, its very likely that there will be music on in the house.

sonos When we moved in to our new house, there were a few weeks where we had no idea where anything was. Our speakers were buried in the mess and it was a happy day when they came out! Adding music made it feel more like home.

We use Sonos throughout the house and couldn’t be happier.

In our old house we had two in the living room and one in the kitchen.

You can just barely see the white speakers on the bookshelves, which is pleasing to my design eye.

In the new house we’re still figuring out where the speakers should go so they are randomly scattered throughout the family room and kitchen. Sonos was having a black friday sale and my darling husband just couldn’t resist getting two more. I didn’t complain :)

Music playing in the house just does something to the mood. Lately, it’s been non-stop Christmas music.

I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorite Christmas albums that have been playing on repeat since Thanksgiving.

First up, Christy Nockels’ new Christmas album called The Thrill of Hope.


I listen to her podcast and in the more recent episodes, she has told the story of different songs and it makes listening even more meaningful.

Next is my kids’ favorite: Pentatonix. We have their older Christmas album and bought their new one this year.

pentatonix pentatonixnew

If you are not familiar, Pentatonix is an accapella group that does covers of songs and sound amazing. I especially love their version of Hallelujah and this video is so gorgeous:

I just bought Matt Redman’s new Christmas album, These Christmas Lights


It has a very worshippy feel, which I love.

You all know my love of Lauren Daigle. When I heard she released a new christmas album this fall, I was first in line.


It is moody and jazzy and the perfect music to play in the background at your Christmas parties this year. Have a listen to my favorite song:

And then of course there is the classic of all classics (at least for this child of the 80’s), Amy Grant. All of her records (because they were called records back then). Every single song. I love them all, but especially her first one, A Christmas Album.


Although, this one is a very close second.

Those are my favorites this year. I was surprised at how many new albums came out this fall and I fell hard for each one.

Do you have any favorite songs/artists/albums that play on repeat in your household?

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Free Nutcracker Gift Tags

calendar Happy December 1st!

It was so nice to have a few days between Thanksgiving and December … sometimes it feels like they just melt into one another and this girl needs a few days to adjust!

I’m still far, far from the wrapping gifts phase, but if you are anything like my sister (her motto is “wrapped and done by December 1!“) perhaps you’d enjoy a set of adorable Nutcracker gift tags to add to your packages this year!

giftwithtag ballerina-tag These tags are part of our December Paper Works collection which is filled with darling paper goods to keep you organized and looking cute.

tags Paper Works is $9 per month and you receive fresh designs each month to download and print.

dinner nutcrackerart notes Think everyday useful items like calendars, note cards, art prints, shopping lists, menu planners, chore charts and – my favorite – scripture cards.

scripturecards Join now for all of these designs and much, much more!

If you’re not quite ready to become a monthly subscriber, you are welcome to join the FREE monthly list where you’ll receive four downloadable items each month.

There is always a CALENDAR and WALLPAPERS for your computer desktop and phone lock screen, and we throw in two bonus items. This month, you’ll get these adorable NUTCRACKER GIFT TAGS and a SHOPPING CHECKLIST.


Just click the image above (or right here) and sign up for the free items at Paper Works. You’ll receive an automatic email with the download links to all of the freebies!

Enjoy and happy wrapping!

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The Perfect Polish For Fall

I have finally found a polish that lasts for more than three days!

Gel has been around for forever and I’ve tried it many, many times. It has traditionally lasted longer than regular polish (like 7 days instead of two or three) but it still felt a little spendy to get my nails done if it was just going to peel off within a week. It was a fun once-in-a-while event to get a manicure, but never something I did regularly.

Then last month, my friend took me to her neighborhood nail place where they use some magical polish, give the best hand massages and their polish job lasts weeks. Since then, I’ve been in two more times.

On our first trip, I chose a typical Emily color: a soft white called It’s In The Cloud.  I do love a neutral nail.

I’m not sure if it is the quality of the polish or something special with the lights the salon uses, but to my surprise, it lasted nearly three weeks. That is an absolute record for me. By then the tips were showing some cracking so it wasn’t looking perfect and my nails were far longer than I prefer. Every time I typed on my computer I felt like my fingers were spider-legs tap-tap-tapping along. It was time for a refresh.

I went in for a second time, strayed from my norm and chose a warm peachy-red called Schnapps Out Of It.

It’s hard to tell from this photo – you can see it better in Coffee Chat Episode 9 (right here). The color looked great with my pale skin (and nearly matched my rain boots) and felt very fall-ish.

On my birthday last week, we went in once again for a fresh manicure and polish change. It had been another three weeks and the peachy-red was starting to peel up on the sides. Again, three weeks feels like a major win for me and my un-delicate hand treatment.

The most recent color is a great neutral gray/purple/taupe called Taupe-less Beach that changes color in different lighting.

All three polishes are neutral-ish and very appropriate for fall.



I highly recommend this brand of gel polish. You can purchase it on your own (links above), but it is the kind you need to cure with the special light-thing. I’m not great at painting my own nails, so I prefer to get them done by a professional.

If you have had gel done professionally and it hasn’t lasted you more than a week, seek out a salon that uses this OPI GelColor polish and give it a try. It’s magic!

Also, how fun are the names of nail polish?!

P.S. Follow me on instagram for more in-the-moment photos like the ones above! My name is @jonesdesigncompany

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the dinner solution that has changed my life (for real)

We came home from our summer-long road trip and do you know what was the greatest joy of all?

Having dinner delivered to us again.

I mean, I did fine with cooking on the road – mainly because it was only a few nights per week and we made the same three meals over and over again.

Hamburgers. Burrito Bowls. Grilled Chicken + Salad. Repeat.

But at home, I’m terrible at dinner. Terrible.

Especially once fall is in full swing and there are football practices and ballet lessons and homework and extra work projects added into our daily life. All of the sudden it is 4 o’clock and I have no idea what I’m making for dinner.

I wrote the following post last summer after having used a meal delivery service for six months.

Here we are over a year later and I can still wholeheartedly say that it is the best decision ever. I tell my real life friends about it all the time and can’t help but share with you as well.

So here you go … to my friends who maybe don’t mind the cooking part but can not stand the thinking, planning and shopping for all the right ingredients part … the dinner solution that changed my life.

(Originally published July 2016)

I’ve tried it all.

Planning dinner for the week.

Planning dinner for the whole month.

Eating the same meal on the same day each week. 

A regular rotation of eating out at one of the three restaurants in our town. 

Resorting to quesadillas because that’s the best I could do.

Dinner is just not my thing.

It’s not the cooking that’s the issue (I actually enjoy being in the kitchen – usually for baking, but cooking is fine, too) and I certainly don’t mind the eating part, but it’s the planning that gets me every time.  I just can’t seem to find a rhythm.

In January of this year, Ryan decided it was time to come up with a better solution and offered to take on dinners around here.

After one week of a few botched recipes and realizing just how frustrating it can be to get to 4:00 and have no idea what’s for dinner, he did something crazy: he signed us up for a meal delivery service.


You’ve probably seen posts about companies like Hello Fresh and maybe you’ve rolled your eyes and thought, ‘nah, not for me.’

But hang on. Because I was in the same boat and now I’m fully, completely, 100% a believer.

So here’s how it works: Once per week a box is delivered to your door. Inside are all the ingredients for three meals (we buy the 4 person box and it feeds our family of 6 perfectly, usually with leftovers). Included is a recipe card with the meals and instructions for preparing.


There is a bag of produce/canned items separated for each meal that goes right into the fridge and the proteins packaged separately.


Each night, I just decide which meal to make and pull out the bags + protein needed.


All of the recipes are easy to make and take about 45 minutes to cook.

We were leery at the beginning, I’ll be honest.  What if we didn’t like what they sent? What if the produce and meat was not good quality? What if we got bored of the same meals?

After six months of using Hello Fresh, here’s what we’ve found:

1. Dinnertime is one hundred times less stressful.

I don’t have to think about what’s for dinner. I just open the fridge, pull out a bag and start cooking. All of the ingredients are included except for olive oil, salt + pepper.

2. Three meals per week is perfect.

The other four nights we either eat out, are with friends or family or just make a favorite go-to meal (like burrito bowls).

3. With the exception of about two recipes, we’ve enjoyed every dish.

You can select three out of five options per week, but we usually miss the cutoff and just go with the chef’s choice.  They’ve nearly all been great.

4. In six months, we’ve never had a duplicate recipe.

The meals are similar (protein+carb/starch+vegetable), but the flavors and techniques vary and we’ve tried recipes beyond our regular go-to meals. Many are gluten free and they also have a vegetarian menu.

5. Only once in 24 deliveries have we had a bag with produce that was not perfectly fresh.

And it was only because the balsamic vinegar spilled and mushed the spinach.

6. We are probably saving money. 

The cost per meal is more than we would spend if shopping ourselves, but because I’m barely ever at the store (I just do a Costco trip once/twice per month and a few random add-ons while running through Target), I am buying less, we’re wasting less, and eating out much less. We haven’t calculated the exact savings but even if it’s costing us a little bit extra, the time and stress it saves totally makes up for it.

I sound like a crazy lady, but seriously, this dinner service has changed my life.

We subscribed because we needed a solution and have stuck with it for 6 months. We thought we’d cancel this summer since we seem to be out and about a lot, but have kept with it and just cancel the weeks we know we’ll be out of town.

If dinnertime is a struggle for you, stop the madness and give yourself a break. Ryan was so smart to do this for our family and I wholeheartedly recommend giving Hello Fresh a try.

You can see all the details on pricing, menu options and if delivery is available in your area RIGHT HERE.


When we joined we were given a referral code (8P7ZPV), so when you sign up and use that code you’ll get $40 off and we get a credit towards our meals. You’ll get a code, too, so if you love the service and tell your friends about it, you can get a credit towards your boxes.



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the best dishes for picnics, camping + outdoor entertaining

This post is sponsored by Crate and Barrel

Crate and Barrel has long been our go-to for all things kitchen, dining and entertaining related. We registered for our wedding 14 years ago and still use our original dishes, flatware, kitchen gadgets and more. The quality is great and the designs are classic – two big reasons we keep coming back again and again.

When I was outfitting our teensy Airstream kitchen (here’s a full tour if you’d like to see it) for our road trip, there were a few items on my list and I knew Crate and Barrel would be just the place to find them.

bestdishestitle One of our needs were everyday dishes that were super durable, low profile and classic. I had one drawer available for storing 8 dinner plates, 8 salad plates and 8 bowls.

dishes These white melamine dishes are perfect. They are glossy on one side, which makes washing easy (no terrible stains!), they are matte on the back, which keeps them from slipping around. They stack easily for storage and fit like a glove in our drawer.

picnic I have a thing for white dishes. Remember my pretty kitchen back home? All of our everyday dishes are out in the open on display on the shelves and since they are white, they don’t feel too cluttered. White dishes are easy to decorate with and they make a great canvas for pretty food, too. I’m a fan.

cherries Another essential for our traveling kitchen were these clear acrylic glasses. I bought one for each of us, they stack up nicely, are thick and work great for camping/picnicing/outdoor entertaining.  We also grabbed two of these acrylic stemless wine glasses.

pistachios See that cute little metal cup in the cherry bowl? I’ve been wanting them for forever. I bought a stack to bring with us in the trailer and they are the cutest multi-purpose cups.

picnicclose We’ve used them for holding cherry pits and pistachio shells, filling with ranch for veggies and peanut butter for dipping apples in and, of course, as the perfect container for corralling legos.

square All trip long we’ve had breakfast, lunch and dinner – inside and out – on these great dishes.

kids-dishes And once we’re back home, I’m sure they will stay on steady rotation for everyday snacks and outdoor entertaining.

So if you’re searching for the best dishes for picnics, camping and outdoor bbq’s, may I recommend:


dinner plate | salad plate | bowl | condiment cup | acrylic cup | stemless wine glass

If you’re looking for something fancier than melamine, Crate and Barrel is a great resource for classic white porcelain dinnerware. These are our everyday dishes at home, my sisters both have these, and I also love the organic texture of these dishes (see the full collection of dinnerware here).

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What We’re Watching, Reading, Listening To and Playing

We’ve been on the road for just about three weeks and enjoying (nearly) every minute of it. I was just commenting to Ryan the other day that it’s crazy how quickly you can get into a new routine and have it feel normal. Living out of the trailer, hitching and unhitching, driving for long stretches – these have all become our new life and we’re taking to it quite nicely.

Since most of our days are spent outside sight-seeing, its nice to have some downtime in the evenings, mornings and on drive days.


I thought it would be fun to share what we’re watching, reading, listening to and playing every couple of weeks (or as they change) and perhaps it will spark an idea for someone in your family.


We just discovered the Ken Burns documentary titled The National Parks – America’s Best Idea. It is free on Amazon Prime and so, so good. It’s really more about the history of how the National Park system came to be, but it still showcases the breathtaking scenery from parks across America.

The kids have been watching a lot of old Looney Toon cartoons in the car (we have a hard drive with a gazillion shows and movies that they can access from their ipads/kindles). I’m not sure what the fascination is with Looney Tunes, but they’re all currently into it.


I just finished my first novel of the trip. It was okay. I was about to stop reading it, but pushed through. I didn’t hate it, but probably wouldn’t recommend it.

Next up is this one from my Spring Reading List. Or maybe this one.

P.S. Anyone have a suggestion for a Civil War historical fiction novel?


Besides a whole lot of music on Spotify, we’re listening to The Chronicles of Narnia on Audible. I thought I was purchasing the audio version of the series – you know, someone with a great voice reading Mr. Lewis’ poetic words to us – but instead, I bought the BBC Full Cast Radio Dramatisations. I don’t love it, but the kids (especially our 8 year old) are eating it up. The boys have all seen the movies and our oldest read the series a few years ago and even still, it keeps their attention for at least an hour at a time.

I subscribe to my friend Anne’s Kindle Deals list and scooped up this audible book for super cheap. It’s next on our family-drive-listening list.


Our friends gave us a new game as a send-off and it’s been a big hit around here. The game – called Tenzi – is super simple and fun for all ages. Each player has a set of 10 dice and you roll until you get the same number on all 10 dice. I know, that sounds kinda lame, but there are variations and we make up our own string of numbers to roll and it is the perfect game for the kids to play while we’re packing up or I’m making dinner.

When they’re not playing Tenzi, the kids are playing their long-time favorites, Monopoly Deal and Sudoku

So that’s what we’re entertaining ourselves with so far. Do you have any current favorites in any of the four categories? Please share!

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5 games I actually enjoy playing with the kids

I’m so sorry; that title sounds terrible.

I like my kids. And I like playing with them. But when it comes to playing board games together as a family, there are some that are just brutal.

Take Monopoly, for example. Or Sorry. I played both games for hours with my sister and cousins when we were kids. But as an adult? No, thank you.

Our kids ask every once in a while, “can we have family game night?!” and I want so much to say yes. Really I do.

So I’m always on the lookout to find games that we all enjoy. Here are five of our family’s favorites:


First, you wear these silly plastic headbands, so that makes everyone smile. Second, it feels like a fun way to teach kids how to be descriptive and ask pointed questions and I like a game that sneaks in learning. While probably best for younger kids, my older two will still totally jump in on a game if we’re playing.

product description:

Play Hedbanz, the quick question game of “What am I?” Ask “yes” or “no” questions to figure out if the cartoon on your head is an animal, food or man-made object. Be the first player to guess what you are and win!

apples to apples

The boys found this game at the house we stayed in for spring break and we stayed up way too late on night one laughing at our answers. I’m pretty sure we were playing with the adult set, there, but the kid set is great, too.

product description: 

Apples to Apples Junior brings all the fun and hilarity of Apples to Apples to the younger crowd. Players aged 9 years and older will have a blast making crazy comparisons while expanding their vocabulary and thinking skills at the same time. The 576 unique cards ensure maximum inventiveness, so each round is filled with surprising comparisons from a wide range of people, places, things, and events. Fast-moving and refreshing, Apples to Apples Junior is easy to learn, easy to play, and great for hours and hours of entertainment!


Zingo is a well-loved game in our family, especially when the kids were younger. Audrey and Mason will still play (in fact, I heard the card clicker clicking yesterday!). It says ages 4 and up, but I think you could start earlier than four with this matching game.

product description: 

Zingo! brings fast-paced excitement and learning to the classic game of Bingo. Slide the Zinger to reveal picture tiles, make a match and fill your card to win. Images with printed words and two levels of play make this the perfect game to grow with.


We bought this for one of the boys as a guessing gift for christmas. (Guessing gifts: mystery packages we wrap up for our kids starting on December 15th. You get three yes or no guesses on the first night and then one each consecutive night until you guess correctly or it’s Christmas Eve. It’s a very fun tradition passed on to us from my aunt and uncle.) The night he guessed it, we played over and over and squealed every time the tower collapsed. Plus, because it’s about balance, it feels a bit educational.

product description: 

A family game of tricky hangs and steady hands! Try this hanging balance game and you’ll be hooked! Suspend comes with 24 notched, rubber-tipped wire pieces to hang from a tabletop stand. Sound easy? Try adding another piece! Each time a bar is added, the balance shifts, the difficulty changes and the incredible midair sculpture transforms. Can you add all your game pieces without making it fall? This tricky game for 1-4 players is a test of steady nerves and steady hands.

monopoly deal

This is a great alternative to the real monopoly game and much faster. It takes a round or two to get the hang of it, but after that, you’ll play hand after hand.

product description: 

Get a handy way to play the classic property-trading game! Be the first collect 3 full property sets of different colors, and you’ll win the monopoly deal card game. You’ll pick up cards when it’s your turn and play action cards to charge players rent, steal their cards or demand money for your birthday. Build up property sets, gather piles of money and keep wheeling and dealing until you’re the monopoly deal winner!

Does your family have any favorites? Please share!


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