Laura Rennie


Admiring // Five spring gifts under $40

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I recently shared here that I am in a season of having to mostly say no to pretty decor items. I haven't been to a Home Goods or Target since February! Y'all know I love decorating (shocker!) and not being able to snatch up things I love for my home is hard. But it's spring, which means there are lots of events to gather gifts for: Mother's Day, graduation, showers, weddings... you get the picture! Buying something for someone else often satisfies my desire to shop, plus I can do it guilt-free (if I stay within budget).

I've found five decorative pieces that would make great gifts this spring, and they're all under $40:


Mason jar collection from Relish Decor: $14-38

My sister and I were searching for a housewarming gift she could give to a friend, and we came across these cheerful jars at Relish Decor. Each color and size is so fun, it's hard to choose one over the other! 

Best for: any occasion!


Monogrammed trinket dish from Anthropologie: $12

These trinket dishes are too cute for words. Each dish features hand painted florals and most include a small illustration based on the letter of the dish. ("L" has a tiny ladybug on it!) I have two trinket dishes and both are meaningful to me. The one on my nightstand belonged to my grandmother and the one on my bathroom counter was handmade in Kazakhstan and given to me by a friend who traveled there.

Best for: birthday, graduation or baby shower (with the baby's initial!)


Striped tray from Target: $29.99 (currently on sale online)

Blue and white stripes? Target, you're speaking my love language. This gorgeous glazed tray with gold trim would be a piece I'd want to pull out for every occasion. Actually, I'd probably keep it out on display! It would be stunning on an entry table, coffee table or bar cart. 

Best for: birthday, housewarming, wedding


Adra vase from Crate & Barrel: $39.95

Speaking of bar carts, how gorgeous is the vase on that cart? I love the subtle chevron pattern and crisp white color. I own several vases from Crate & Barrel and they are all beautifully made.

Best for: Mother's Day, birthday, wedding


Parisienne basket from Silk & Burlap: $34

If you manage to buy this basket as a gift and not keep it for yourself, you are a saint. It can be used for shopping or as home decór (fill it with knitting supplies, bedside reads or a cozy blanket).

Best for: Mother's day, birthday, graduation

Which of these gifts would you most likely buy for someone else? Which would go on your own wish list? I'd love to know! 


Admiring // Five finds to inspire you this week

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Happy Monday! I know, I know. Mondays can feel like the worst. It's dreary and chilly here in Maryland and it's going to take a lot of coffee to get me through the day. I've put together a short list of links to brighten your lunch break and give you a dose of inspiration for the start of your week.

1. 55 before and after photos of the tiny shotgun house featured on last week's episode of "Fixer Upper."

photo by Rachel Whyte

photo by Rachel Whyte

!!! I think I had a stupid grin on my face the entire time I watched this episode. I find tiny house living extremely fascinating and I was crossing my fingers that the clients would choose this house! I loved that this episode included a lot of "firsts" for Chip and Joanna. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say "I love "Fixer Upper," but Joanna Gaines does the same style over and over again and it gets old." Many of Joanna's clients want their homes to reflect her style — they're all for shiplap and reclaimed wood islands. But not EVERY project on "Fixer Upper" is like that. (Season 3 has had a great variety of styles so far.) I've enjoyed watching Joanna try out different types of tile as well as cabinet and countertop finishes.

This house is definitely not for everyone. I could get over walking through the bedroom to get to the bathroom, but I could not deal with the noise (and slowwwwness) of the stair pulley. I have absurdly sensitive ears.

What did you think of the space?

2. A fun gallery wall for your kids' artwork

How happy is this gallery wall? My friend Cassie (Primitive and Proper) displays her kids' artwork in their hallway, which I imagine makes her son and daughter feel pretty great about themselves! Using mismatched frames in gallery walls can be fun, but in this example the use of all white frames allows the artwork to pop and be the main focus. Check out her post to see how she added artist palettes to the wall — I LOVE them!

3. Jenny's new website includes the ability to search for inspiration by room OR by color



Little Green Notebook has a new site design with lots of fun features. I love the ability to search by room or by color! Her site is chock full of inspiration and I used to find myself going down the rabbit hole to try to find an old project of hers. Now everything is nicely organized! (But I still think I'll spend hours and hours on here, simply because it's fun!)

4. A design gesture that made me weep

photo by Julia Robbs

photo by Julia Robbs

If you follow me on Facebook or read A Cup of Jo, you may have already caught this post. I had to include it in this list JUST IN CASE, because I would hate for you to have missed it! Jenny Komenda (author of the website mentioned above) designed a lovely home makeover for Lucy Kalinithi, whose husband Paul passed away last year. I recently read Paul's book and my heart broke for Lucy. I love the idea of gifting a home makeover and hope to be a part of something similar one day.

5. These slow cooker lentils with coconut blew my mind

Photo by Andrew Purcell

Photo by Andrew Purcell

I am a big fan of Dinner: A Love Story and often head there for cooking inspiration. I found myself salivating as I read over the ingredient list for these slow cooker lentils! I made them yesterday and I'm already counting down the hours until I can eat them again for dinner tonight. (I chose not to buy pomegranate seeds for garnishing.) We ate the lentils with raita and naan. You could also serve the lentils over rice, if desired. 

Still in a "I hate Mondays" slump? This should do the trick.

What has inspired you lately? I'd love to know!

Admiring // Cyber Monday window shopping

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Forget clothes and electronics — Cyber Monday is a great day to snatch up pieces for your home! Here are a few pretties I’d be tempted to buy if I didn’t have a cracked laptop screen and a cracked iPhone screen to take care of... womp womp.

Duvet covers at West Elm are 40% off today! If I were to buy any of these items, this would be it. I’ve been eyeing the Belgian Linen line ever since it came out. All of the colors are gorgeous, but knowing me I’d go for white or navy.

How about a pretty headboard from Wayfair for my pretend new duvet?

Oh my goodness, I want this pouf from Target so much! It’s 15% off, which puts it just over $100.

I’m getting a little tired of seeing the same Target bar cart everywhere, even if it is cute and affordable. This tiered cart is 20% off at World Market. (It would also make a gorgeous display for beauty products in a luxe master bath.)

Listen, go big or go home. You can get $100 off of $500 at Restoration Hardware today, so you might as well pick up this gorgeous dining table.


P.S. Rugs USA is offering 80% off their rugs!

Admiring // Sweet Clover in Frederick

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If you live in or around Frederick and you haven’t been to Sweet Clover, you need to get out your calendar and plan a trip IMMEDIATELY! (Next weekend, perhaps?) Sweet Clover is a shop that sells vintage, re-purposed and handmade items. Cassie (one of the owners) is super sweet and offered to display my business cards at the shop. I am really feeling the love from my new entrepreneur friends!

Oh, and have I mentioned that Sweet Clover is located in a dairy barn? 

I dropped in last Sunday and snapped a few (ahem) pictures on my iPhone. I am not a photographer, and I didn’t want to be in anyone’s way, so please forgive the amateur approach towards capturing Sweet Clover’s incredible inventory! There’s a lot to look at! 

Can you even handle it? No? Me either. I fell in love with over a dozen pieces of furniture and decorative accents. Those MCM wall sconces are killer! I did take one thing home with me — a blue and white footed porcelain pot that reminds me of a Chinese ginger jar.

If you can’t make it next weekend, Sweet Clover is also open Dec. 4-6th. Make a day of it and head to Chartreuse & Co., another nearby barn sale in the area. You might just see me there! :)

Admiring // Decorating books on my Christmas list

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Over the summer I borrowed a tall (and heavy!) stack of decorating books from the library. I spent lazy weekends poring over the pages and trying to soak in as much information and advice as I could. With my birthday and Christmas coming up, I decided to put a few decorating books on my wish list. It doesn’t hurt that they’re all beautiful to look at!

photo via Coeur d’Coeurs

photo via Coeur d’Coeurs

Domino: The Book of Decorating by Deborah Needleman, Sara Ruffin Costello and Dara Caponigro

Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves by my girl Emily Henderson (all the heart-eyed emojis for Emily!)

Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating by Lauren Liess (a fellow JMU Duke!)

Modern Mix: Curating Personal Style with Chic & Accessible Finds by Eddie Ross

The New Bohemians: Cool and Collected Homes by Justina Blakeney


I’ve read Domino, but I haven’t gotten my hands on the other four books. It’s killing me to not go out and buy them! I have my mother’s voice in my head saying, “Don’t buy things for yourself this time of year!” Have you read any of the books mentioned above?

p.s. I’m also requesting a subscription to “House Beautiful.” :)


Admiring // Art Crate

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I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I stumbled across @art_crate on Instagram and read about their services. Art Crate sources unique art from around the world and offers to mail you a print each month through their subscription service. The print you receive is specifically chosen to suit YOUR style. How fun is that? I love art, but I often get overwhelmed by sites that offer thousands of pieces. How do I choose?!

I reached out to Art Crate and asked if they’d be willing to offer me a free print in exchange for my thoughts on their service. I received a beautiful 11x14 print by abstract artist Katie Craig. I’ve been a fan of Katie’s for some time now and was pleased to recognize her work when I opened my package!


Aren’t those colors stunning? I love it! Thank you, Art Crate!

How exciting would it be to receive a piece of art in the mail each month? This service is perfect for someone who wants to bring more art into their home but doesn’t have the time to spend hours browsing or the money to buy custom work. You could use your new prints throughout your home or put them together to create a gallery wall. You can even request for your print to arrive in a custom frame (at an added cost). If you’re not ready to commit to paying for art each month, you can try it once and see what you think! You control how often you receive art, and there’s no fee for canceling the subscription. (Also, shipping is FREE! Happy dance!!!!)

Here’s how it works — first, you fill out a design survey to give your personal curator an idea of your style. (You know I LOVE design surveys!) Then you choose a pricing plan, where you decide if you want to receive a small, medium or large print. Then, you’ll receive an e-mail with three prints picked out for you. You can pick your favorite, or you can ignore the e-mail and your personal curator will select a print for you. Lastly, your print will arrive in the mail! 

Still not sure what to think? Check out Art Crate’s FAQs here (scroll to the bottom).

What do you think of the idea of receiving art through a subscription service? Would you request a style you know you like, or something outside of your comfort zone? I hope you give it a try!