How to Style a Coffee Table, toddler version

Ours is like this, but different. Source: via Josie on Pinterest.

I enjoyed this short tutorial (with video) by Cupcakes and Cashmere about setting up your coffee table in an attractive, effortless looking way. (Hat tip: Long To Love’s Friday Favorites.)

To make it work for us, I followed some of her steps, and made some minor modifications.

 photo 867c3e62-f595-4fc0-8553-2004b7b08726_zps39f21c30.jpg

Start with a stack of hardcover books. Three books usually work well. Play around with it to see what looks good, with the largest on the bottom. Go for picture books, not novels.

Easy. We’re at no loss for hardcover books that are picture heavy. I went with some colorful choices.

Choose books with varied subjects. Our selections were mostly animal focused in content—instead of, say, impressionist art, old New York, vintage fashion, or Ansel Adams photography.

Next, select a tray. I switched out the tray for an indestructible bowl. (It’s also important that this bowl can function as a funny looking hat when we find ourselves putting on dinner shows for Mary Tobin.) If you have an indestructible tray, go for that. For us it worked to sub the bowl for the tray, because the tray is supposed to corral all of your objects from the next step. . .

On the tray, place fresh flowers, along with objects from around your home that will be a delight to the senses.

Toddler version: nix all of that. No flowers, candles, matches, or sharp rocks.

In the bowl we’ve got colorful blocks. Who knows? Your adult guests may enjoy them as well. If we had some attractive Waldorf-esque wooden toys, that would’ve been nice.

And, let’s be real, here’s how my clever arrangement devolves on a normal day:

coffee table real life

But it’s easy to put back into place!

My advice is tongue-in-cheek, but I am not making fun of this video; I really did enjoy it. I was cracking myself up as I tried to follow the steps as well as I could given our circumstances. (And I hope my attempt amuses you, too . . .)

I do love it when Mary Tobin’s toddler world and our grownup world coexist peacefully and as smoothly as is reasonable. That has meant:

  • For baby stuff: limiting the amount of it, choosing things that I like the look of, and having alright looking storage for it.
  • For adult stuff: limiting the amount of it (ackk), and putting a lot of things away for now, or at least out of reach and out of the Mary Tobin zone.
  • In general, getting rid of superfluous stuff (which is so hard for me!).

Stuff stuff stuff! It also helps that I’m OK with bright colors.

Side note: I’m thinking of painting this coffee table. Any suggestions?

What’s on your coffee table right now?


I hope you’re feeling the love this Valentine’s Day week.  Don’t you love extending holidays?  I do.

Here are my movie recommendations for a romantic day/date/any old time:

  • Casablanca

  • The Philadelphia Story
  • Adventures in Babysitting (bit of a dark horse for this category, but I love it.)
  • Robin Hood— the Disney version where they’re foxes.

Other romantic ideas:

  • Some of the Little Lights kids on love. . . be still my heart.
  • I would’ve bought this chair for Israel for v-day if I had more cash on hand (that’s a campaign phrase leaking into my normal lexicon. . . DC’s getting to me, man).  Anyway, I think it’s very romantic and masculine.
  • Handwritten notes. . . no link, just write one.

THE RING I will not be going to Jared, you’re welcome.

Close second:

I CAN’T Time my airport pickup so you see me standing like an emo statue at the top of the escalator but I’ll be there, somewhere. Airports confuse me.

This one’s sweet:

WHEN IT’S COLD I’ll pump the gas, you can chill in the car.

Also, this is brilliant.  Might be my new marriage philosophy:

THE TV Joint decision, but we can throw each other bones every now and then.


Thanks for reading my blawg. . . sometimes it don’t make no sense.  And many times, I go awhile without posting.  I’m trying to post more often to please you, dear reader, but also for my own enjoyment.  So today I have some follow ups and mini-reviews.

  • The Avett Brothers (whom I recommended here) graced the cover of Garden & Gun this month.  (Ergo, I have good taste.)

  • Here’s a post from Roger Ebert on why 3D is no good.  I agree and I hate 3D a lot.
  • The best thing in the Washington Post this past Sunday was from the kids’ section: America’s Attic.  It’s about all the fascinating items in storage at the Smithsonian (only 2 percent is displayed at a time!).  A new item is featured on the Smithsonian website every week, under Smithsonian Spotlight.
  • Which reminded me of Elizabeth’s recent post on Long to Love about  cleaning out her childhood closet.  Like her, I would find some lonely overalls, and I would surely find notes that are horrifying and embarrassing, friendship bracelets, postcards from camp, and a cheesehead.  Go, Pack, Go!  (Also, I love her encouragement to take time for remembrance, which I wrote about here and kind of here.)
  • Speaking of sports, let me recommend The Coach Blog.  Like its author, I didn’t really watch that show.  His recaps crack me up though.  (Hat tip, brother John.)

The title of this post came from the subject line of emails that Elizabeth and I used to send full of random unrelated items.   Israel and I do that now, too, though lots of times the title is “reminders” and it’s a honey-do list.  Either way, thanks friends, for receiving my thoughts!  (As we say at Little Lights, “I see you!”)