DIY Projects

Faux Fireplace Project | Renter Friendly

Talking all things faux fireplaces in today’s video! We have a couple of faux fireplaces in our apartment and we have tried to make them a seamless part of our apartment but also provide a seasonal statement. The fireplace surround in our bedroom was a really lucky Facebook Marketplace find – using the search term “fireplace surround”. The other fireplace in our living room is one we bought a few years ago online and had in our previous apartment as well. We have been trying to find a way to make this mantle look a little more real and have a little more character.

We decided to add a faux brick interior with a stone-like hearth around the brick inside the mantle. It was fairly easy and the materials we used are linked below. We wanted the fireplace panels to have a stone-like facade around the faux brick interior/faux insert. To get this look we used ¼ inch MDF board, a couple of pieces of trim and roman clay. The faux brick was peel and stick so after applying that we began to work on the outer panel area. We cut the MDF board into 3 pieces – 2 vertical for the sides and 1 horizontal piece that went over the top middle. Wood filler is a great option for covering the seams.

After a quick priming, we applied roman clay for a natural-looking stone-like finish. If you haven’t used roman clay before, you typically apply it with a sculpting knife or putty knife and repeatedly scrape over the entire area. The finishing touches were a couple of pieces of very thin trim around the opening.

See more on Instagram and TikTok @prettyinthepines


A Weekend in Woodstock, Vermont

woodstock inn travel guide vermont october

TJ, Brooks, and I got to do something that has been on my fall bucket list for the longest time… travel to Woodstock, VT, in (almost) peak foliage week and stay at the Woodstock Inn! If you are like me and love quaint towns, colorful mountains, local history, and great people, Woodstock is a must visit. I have wanted to visit multiple towns in Vermont (and New Hampshire) for years now it did not disappoint! It was such a cozy weekend away and it definitely won’t be our last time staying at the Woodstock Inn (it’s pet-friendly too!). It was also a nice retreat from NYC (only about 4.5 hours away) and the drive was very scenic. Here is a rundown of what we did while we were there.

Where We Stayed

The Woodstock Inn has been calling my name for a long time and it was so nice to be able to stay there. The Inn is one of the most popular destinations in Woodstock (they also have a bunch of other bed and breakfasts and Airbnbs to choose from) and usually fills up a year in advance during these peak fall weeks. The Inn is set right in the middle of downtown Woodstock and is a quick 5 or less minute walk to a lot of shops, restaurants, and scenic views. Their busiest time is the first two weeks of October since that is when the foliage is at it’s peak. We were so lucky to get a somewhat last minute reservation – TJ called them and asked if they had anything available for the first week of October and they just had a cancellation so we hopped on it. They offer a bunch of different packages (breakfast included, spa package, golf package, romance package, etc.) to choose from when booking a room, but we were a little late securing one for our trip. That didn’t stop us from going to the spa though!

The Spa

The spa was one of the best we’ve experienced. TJ and I took turns getting a massage (one of us looked after Brooks while the other was away). We were able to line up our spa appointments during Brooks’ naps so we were able to get some work done too. The spa is on-site at the hotel and was super easy to get to from the room. It was also like stepping into an oasis of Scandinavian design features (which was much different than the hotel decor). It was super minimalist and was bathed in neutral colors that relaxed the mind. They also had these delicious little granola bars in the waiting area that I’m about to recreate. One great thing about the spa is that if you spend more than $125 on a treatment with them you got to spend up to two hours taking advantage of the other amenities like the hot tub, sauna, steam room, and outdoor pool area. It was the most peaceful place and I can’t wait to go again. They even have a foot/scalp/hand treatment – all my faves. 

The Restaurants

The Inn boasted two different restaurants to choose from when looking for a dining option. The Red Rooster (a little more upscale) and Richardson’s Tavern (more casual). We were able to get a spot at each of the restaurants on different nights. I would highly recommend a reservation if you are planning to stay there and eat on the property, especially Mondays. A lot of restaurants and shops are actually closed on Mondays (and some Tuesdays) so one best practice would be to book a reservation at the same time you are booking your room reservation just to make sure you have a spot. A lot of the ingredients for each restaurant are provided by local farms and even an on-property garden (Kelly Way Gardens). Everything tasted fresh and delicious. Some of our favorites were the New England Clam Chowder, the Billings Cheese Fondue plate, the Vermont Cheese tasting, Pan Seared Salmon, Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup and the Woodstock Cookie plate for dessert. 

The Property 

The entire property of the Woodstock Inn was immaculately maintained and created a sense that you were in a fall wonderland. There were no less than 100 pumpkins of all sizes scattered around the grounds, mums of every color were planted out front and in the back lawn, and Adirondack chairs lined the grass. There was also a stone firepit that was set off from the back of the Inn that provided an incredibly scenic backdrop at night as the embers crackled. Speaking of fires, one of my favorite parts of the Inn was in the middle of the lobby – a huge fireplace that had 2-3 couches, large chairs, and an ottoman for all guests to enjoy. This was probably the warmest and most welcoming inn I’ve stayed at. Each area of the inside of the Inn was meticulously and thoughtfully arranged – a game room off the lobby that had a chess set, backgammon, and leatherbound books (and kid’s books). Sitting areas were plentiful and had large vintage chairs and loungers that you could sit in for hours. This provided a very welcome refuge when Brooks became a little unruly while sitting through some of the dinners! The interior inspo was endless. 

The Town 

What We Did

Traveling to Woodstock in the fall provides a long list of things to do for everyone. There are a bunch of shops to explore, local food stops galore, scenic hikes, and educational stops. We tried to do a little bit of everything while we were there. We spent the first day walking around the downtown area and exploring some of what the shops had to offer. Since it was a Monday, a few were closed, but many were open. We stopped in the Yankee Bookshop to look for local history books, guides, and other gifts. The main general store in town was FH Gillinghams and had anything that you could need. We found a cool coffee mug there (we are collecting coffee mugs from our travels as keepsakes), but also some essentials and apparel. Right next to FH Gillinghams was a cute little shop that I popped in and got a few little keepsakes (a wooden covered-bridge Christmas ornament for Brooks and a candle). It was called Clover Gift Shop. They also had very cozy blankets, scarves, and pillows. One cool thing that TJ was really into was the Sea Shepherd office right in downtown because he was a big fan of watching Whale Wars a few years ago. Two other shops that we stopped in before heading back to the Inn that day were RT Home and Red Wagon Toy Company. We got Brooks a bunch of fun things from Red Wagon including his oversized Vermont hoodie that he probably won’t be able to wear for a couple of years. 

The Food

Outside of the Woodstock Inn, there are so many cute places to grab a bite. We weren’t able to hit many while we were there because we were a little hampered by Brooks’ nap schedule, but we did love a few places. Village Butcher Shop was the place to be if you wanted a sandwich or fresh deli-type food. We loved the orzo and chicken salad. Some places we wish we went to and heard a lot of good things about were Woodstock Scoops, Mon Vert, and Worthy Kitchen (closed Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday). Mon Vert was packed though every chance we tried to stop in… probably worth the wait though!

Farm Day 

On our second day in Woodstock we decided to call it “Farm Day”. We went to 3 very recommended farms and also stopped in a few places around the farms for snacks and shopping. The first farm we stopped at was Billings Farm right outside of downtown Woodstock. It was about a half mile from the Inn so definitely a walkable distance. Also, if you are staying at the resort you get into the farm free of charge. There were mini-tours about the farm and the Jersey cows that they have there and they also had a Creamery and Cafe for a bite to eat. The views were beautiful and the tops of the mountains trickled down orange and yellow. Next, we headed to Sugarbush Farm which was about a 15-minute drive from downtown. Most of it was on a well-maintained gravel road that had some of the best views we experienced while in Woodstock. We didn’t stay too long at Sugarbush, but they do have cheese and syrup flight tastings and some animals on the property. Although I don’t have much to say about this one, I’d still recommend driving there simply for the scenic drive and mountain views! One last farm we stopped by before heading back to the Inn was Sleepy Hollow Farm, which was actually a private residence, but very highly photographed and I had to see for myself the hype. One farm we didn’t have a chance to get to but is one of the most photographed farms in the state is Jenne Road Farm. We will definitely be making a stop there when we go back. 

On the way back from visiting the farms we stopped at two other places on the list – Silver Lake State Park and Farmhouse Pottery. Silver Lake is a scenic lake about 15 minutes from downtown and is surrounded by fall foliage in reds, oranges, and yellows. It was closed for the season, but you could still drive in and park to walk around instead of being able to drive into the campgrounds. Farmhouse Pottery is a small store and pottery studio (with a huge social media following) about 5 minutes away from downtown and is a dream! They have so many handcrafted and unique items for sale. They even have an open studio where you can watch some of the master crafters at work, ask questions, and even take a class.


Other Fun Things 

Part of the allure and fun of Woodstock is just how beautiful everything is, the history, and the slowdown in pace of everyday life (especially for us coming from New York). We tried to take as much time as possible to slow down and enjoy the sights. Like the Covered Bridge heading out of downtown, the river that runs right along the town, and the people that are always there to lend a helping hand or a smile. The town was very family and pet-friendly. I hope everyone gets to experience the blissful nature and idyllic surroundings that Woodstock gives its residents and visitors. 

 I would love to hear your favorites from your visits to Woodstock in the comments! We will absolutely be visiting this winter. 

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Entertaining & Recipes

Chickpea Noodle Soup

Now that it is getting a little cooler, it is time for one of my favorite parts of the fall (and winter) – soup season! There are so many different soups that TJ and I love to make but there is one that I keep coming back to – a chickpea noodle soup. It’s simple, vegetarian-friendly, light,  but if you add the right amount of flavor, it is SO comforting and delicious. It took us a while to really figure out how to get the flavor right and the # of bullion cubes is KEY. This is a recipe I’d make every single week though. We recently made it when our family was all battling a cold a couple of weeks ago – highly recommend for a sick day. We hope you enjoy it! 


3-4 large carrots, peeled and chopped

3-4 stalks of celery, chopped

1 large yellow onion, chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp garlic, minced

1 tsp of Italian seasoning (or dried basil and oregano)

Pinch of salt and pepper

2 quarts chicken broth 

2 quarts of water

6-8 bullion cubes (chicken or vegetable)

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 cups of uncooked pasta (we like to use Rotini)

Add olive oil to the stockpot on medium-high heat and cook until shiny. Add garlic and saute for 30-45 seconds or until aromatic. Add in vegetables, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper, and cook until tender. Once tender, add broth, water, and bullion cubes and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in pasta and cook until al dente. Once pasta is cooked add chickpeas. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Take off heat and serve immediately. We like to have a loaf of fresh sourdough bread to go along with it, if possible! 


We hope you love this recipe as much as we do! Let us know if you add anything or cook it a different way in the comments!



Baby Teething Remedies

Brooks is in the thick of teething right now and we have been trying a lot of different remedies to help soothe his gums and give him a little bit of relief. I wanted to share what we have tried and what seems to work the best for him. I hope it helps some other parents struggling with this with their babies. 

The first time it looked like he was beginning the teething phase was when he started to really put everything in his mouth… his toys, his fingers, our finger, Pearl! Everything was going right to his mouth. We knew we needed to get him some teething-friendly toys so that his gums would be massaged, but he was also safe when he put them in his mouth. Here are some of the teething-friendly toys we got him.

Let us know if you have any teething remedies that we haven’t tried in the comments.

Our Favorite Stroller for the City

I’ve been meaning to talk about our favorite stroller and give you a thorough review of what we like and what we don’t like about… the Nuna TRVL Stroller! We use this stroller about 90% of the time and there is definitely a reason! 

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Currently, we have 3 strollers and I do not recommend that when living in a New York apartment – but we have the Silver Cross Wave, the Nuna TRVL stroller, and a running stroller. I won’t really say too much else about the running stroller because we haven’t had a real chance to use it yet since it has been so hot up until recently. BUT the Silver Cross and the Nuna are the ones we have used regularly. Here is a breakdown of the Nuna! From months 0-4.5ish, we only used the Silver Cross Wave (with bassinet attachment). After that, we’ve almost exclusively been using our travel stroller.


Lightweight – The Nuna TRVL is extremely lightweight! It is made with very light parts and is meant to be very portable. The website says it weighs less than 14lbs, but even that seems high. I am able to easily lift it with one arm and carry it a decent distance when needed. 

Foldability and compact size – The Nuna has one-hand fold-up buttons on the top bar of the stroller. It is extremely conveniently located and easy to press to fold up into its compact position. Speaking of the compact position, this thing gets super small which is very nice when living in a smaller space where every inch counts. We are able to store this at the bottom of our coat closet, which isn’t that large of a closet. When we are traveling, it only takes up a small amount of room in the back of the car or front seat. It is also just as easy to unfold the stroller and that can be done with one hand too! 

Adaptability – The Nuna TRVL stroller is adaptable with the Nuna Pipa car seat series. We have the Nuna Pipa Lite RX Infant car seat and it fits right into the top of the stroller, locking around the front bar. This makes it so easy to transition from car to walking without too much movement of the baby. This really comes in handy when Brooks is asleep and we don’t want to wake him up when we move him from the car. It also is nice to use when we want to take an Uber or taxi somewhere and then walk around. It all just becomes one! We also were able to move seamlessly from car seat to stroller when checking luggage at the airport, which made the process a little less stressful.


Lightweight – Yes, lightweight was a pro, but in this case, it is also a small con. The lightweight construction sometimes makes it feel like the stroller is a little flimsy. Brooks definitely feels every little bump on the sidewalk or gravel when we push him in the stroller. Sometimes the sidewalk bump can be big enough to cause a full-on abrupt stop.

Not All-terrain – This one is kind of an extension of the above. You definitely cannot take this stroller off-roading very far. You can attempt but it might be a challenge. There have been a couple of instances where we have gotten a little stuck walking through certain areas in the park. 

Features – To use this stroller, your baby definitely has to be able to graduate from the bassinet-style strollers. We had to make sure the Brooks had good control over his head because we knew he would be moving around a bit more than when he was in the bassinet. For this reason, we used the Silver Cross Wave until he was about 4-5 months old. You also cannot add on to this once you have more children like you can with the Silvercross Wave.

I think that covers it. We love this stroller so much and it is the first one we reach for whenever we have someplace to be. We still love our Silver Cross, especially when he was little, but this is our current go-to! I did notice that Silver Cross Wave has released newer options though that look like they’d be great fits for city living. Hope this helps any moms and dads out there when deciding which stroller to choose from!

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