Monday Ramblings: We Were Hacked & More Christmas Decor

Nov 25

Last week. It started out like any other – with so much promise. This girl loves Mondays because I LOVE to work and I love a new week.

But….can’t even begin to explain how terrible last week was. And part of that is due to my head still reeling from it. Mean it. Not sure how well-written this post will be so hope you’ll bear with me. I need a few days with absolutely NOTHING on the agenda to wrap my head around everything, make sure we are back on track – both online and with client projects and partnership obligations … and just to get back to myself.

I’d say I want a re-do…but honestly, I don’t even want to think about the week of November 18, 2019 ever again.

Yes, that bad.

It started out good – I signed the contract and sent in the deposit for the new website… got some designs into the system… had a few client projects make forward progress… even had a chance to host 2 great friends / colleagues for wine and apps early in the week …. Nicole of Eye For Pretty and Jenn of Starcycle Danville. Love these two!

But then… oh boy.

I re-visited a couple challenging projects. They were on hold because sometimes I need a minute (or a few months – ha!) to get the creative ideas flowing. Not everyone understands that, unless you work in a niche similar to mine. There are plenty of black and white projects where the end visual comes easy, but sometimes there’s a space / projects / people that throw me. They were on hold as I got through the move and revisiting them was stressful for some reason.

Then, the following morning I woke up to a sick little girl. She ended up staying home Wednesday – Friday, which meant work was nearly at a stand still…that isn’t great at a time when I absolutely need to be working. Especially on these projects that have been awaiting my attention. I’m worried clients think I’m flaky. I’m not. Just overwhelmed.

There were school projects to get done, carpool issues, an IEP meeting to prepare for (these are emotionally taxing for me), family topics, trying to figure out what we are doing for the week of Thanksgiving…on and on. I was also trying desperately to pull together a family Thanksgiving – both for our new little family of 7 AND for my family. I’ve been the host of nearly every holiday since moving back to CA 6 years ago. This was the first Thanksgiving I couldn’t pull anyone together. Makes me sad. And even more upsetting when I can’t get the 7 of us organized to do something.


THEN…as if all that wasn’t enough…on Wednesday morning while sitting at my office desk I watched the Simply Organized Instagram account get hacked into and removed…right before my eyes!

Yes. Truth.

Everything stopped at that point. It was like a crime movie unfolding / playing out right here in the office. The 3 day experience needs a post all its own – especially because in the process I learned it’s happening more and more. I’d love to share with our community how we were able to restore the account, ways you can protect yourself and I’d like to publicly thank a few people.

The hacker took down the feed and within 15 minutes emailed me asking for money to have it restored.


It was terrible and I’m not going to lie, I was scared out of my mind because the IG feed is a source of income. It brings in a sizable amount annually and wouldn’t have made it through the last couple years without the incredible brand partnerships we have on that platform. We are so close to 200k friends and kept thinking the worst – what if I don’t get it back?? How can I ever rebuild???

Wednesday was a blur when it all went down. Nothing had been resolved by the end of the day and you couldn’t find the feed on the platform – it was completely gone. Or you could see a white screen that said “no posts yet”. On Thursday I woke up to texts from friends sharing this screenshot of the feed…

I was relieved to see the images there…but where was my coveted username??? The hacker had changed it.

More tears and stress all day.

If Wednesday wasn’t surreal enough, I don’t even know what to say about Thursday. My phone was non-stop – texts and calls from IG friends, clients, companies I partner with…friends and family. Everyone checking in. Everyone up in arms. Everyone upset and trying to help me get a response for help from IG. I had to escape that day and go to work. A client project was already on the books so I shut down my phone and got lost right here…

When we wrapped up, I picked up kids from school, headed home to have down time with the kids and get ready for a wreath making event with a few girlfriends later that night. I ran to the gym to take out some stress and while sitting on the bike, my friend Jenn called telling me to answer my phone in 5 minutes…that NBC would be calling…


I answered the phone and about an hour later this was happening…

Is this my life?? Seriously?!

Like I said – it needs a post all its own.

At this point the feed is back, I have all the extra security measures in place and just a few things are jacked up on the backend. I’m forever grateful to have the account back, but I definitely have about 30 new gray hairs.

…and I did make that wreath event. A nice break away from it all… Whenever the interview is online I’ll be sure to share it here.


Nothing cheers the spirits more than a little Christmas decorating. I shared the beginnings of the front porch last week…

This weekend I spent a little time decorating inside. There’s a mantle in the kitchen and in the family room. Most of the decor from my old mantle works well in the kitchen…

I’ll probably make some edits…just pulled a few things from bins.

But the family room mantle. I have a good idea for this room and it includes a flocked tree with minimal, light and pretty decorations. I was also on the hunt for an awesome cedar garland for the mantle and the staircase as you enter the house…tough to find anything that looks real or not cheap. I searched everywhere, including Amazon. Nothing. Saturday I ran out to our local mall to check Pier 1, World Market, Pottery Barn…nothing. Finally I ended up at Anthro and was excited to find this one…

I love this garland! It’s the pine and berry garland and it feels and looks VERY real.

I added a few of Rachel Parcell’s mercury glass ornaments – so pretty!!!

Some fishing line was all I needed to secure the ornaments to the garland…


( garland | ornaments )

Slowly adding in layers.


Spent a little time this morning re-organizing the gift wrap accessory drawer in the office…

This is one of my favorite drawers in the house…

And I love when I find the girls in here wrapping a gift or writing a note…

Is it just me or is anyone else excited for the AFTER Christmas sales? When Target and The Container Store blows out all of their wrapping accessories at a huge discount? I love that time of year – and can’t wait to restock this drawer during the sale!


Last week I mentioned the little things make me smile…I’m finding it’s more necessary than ever to enjoy these small moments. Like waking up to these gals outside a window…

WHY do they make me happy??!! They are so funny! And cute.

This Sunday we hosted a Friendsgiving…such a fun time with good friends and food. Already sad it’s over – flew by. And reminded me to enjoy every moment this season because it’s going to whiz right past. I love a clean kitchen, but saw it this morning and was bummed. Last night was too fun…I prefer the mess…

Found peonies on sale at the market this weekend too! Another small thing I will never take for granted. Wish they had a longer season!…

What do you have planned for Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear where you’re going, if you’re hosting and what your traditions are. So please share in the comments.

I’ll be around this week to share some Black Friday savings…and also Cyber Monday sales as well. Look forward to sharing some simple and thoughtful, NON CLUTTER gift ideas with you!

Have a great day guys!



comments +

  1. Oh my goodness what a week to forget! I’m very happy that your IG account is back up and running.

    You have chickens?! My brother-in-law had a few about 10 years ago. He read that they calm down when listening to classical music, so he rigged up a speaker so they could hear all the hits! He doesn’t have his girls anymore. A fox decimated the group.

    Thanksgiving we are going out to a restaurant for an early dinner. My stepson turns 17 the day before, but we will celebrate after the meal.

    May you have a blessed & enjoyable holiday.

    • Samantha says:

      Thank you so much – grateful to have it back too! What a week!

      Yes, we have 6 – they have totally grown on me.

      Sounds like a great Thanksgiving! Thank you so much….am looking forward to the time with all the kids and the people we love!


  2. Kelsey Townsend says:

    Hi Sam!!

    Okay, I love that you sharing those sweet ‘buck buck’s’ (aka Chicken’s. My three little’s call them “buck buck’s”)! They bring serious happiness to your day, right?! I mentioned to you before, my parents have chickens, and we just think the world of them.

    We have a seriously big family, so Thanksgiving is a lot of fun. My mom (love her to pieces) has our immediate family over on Thanksgiving day. The following week, she has the entire family (My grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousin’s, and their children) over for a cocktail hour, hors d’oeuvres, and sit down meal. There are usually around 50 people and we all gather in my parents ‘Great Room’, give thanks, and eat way too much. 🙂 My mother is an amazing cook and host. Truly talented! My mom’s side of the family lives within a 30 mile radius of each other, ha! We love Wisconsin, what can I say!

    My dad’s side is very spread out. Alaska, New Mexico, California (woot!), and Panama. We get together with his side more sporadically, but I sure love hearing their stories when we are able to see them!

    If I could type this next line in smaller font, I would. I am so sorry about your Insta’ page. There are some things in life I will never understand, and intentionally hurting someone else is one of them. Maybe they are suffering or have no heart? In any case, I am so glad to hear things are on the mend. This too shall pass, sigh.

    Your Christmas decor is fabulous girl!! I am loving the new technology that is allowing manufactures to make these greens look and feel so real. Finally!! And those mercury globes, so pretty!

    You are truly talented in many ways! Hoping this finds you well and happy today!

    Lots of Hugs,

    • Samantha says:

      Awe – I LOVE hearing about your Thanksgiving plans and traditions! 50 people??!! Amazing!!! Sounds like such a fun time and I hope you totally enjoy it this week.

      I still can’t believe it’s 2 days away…and I feel like Christmas is right around the corner…and it’s coming in quick. I’m trying to hold on because having kids makes it fly by even quicker…you know?! Really want to enjoy it with these guys.

      Thank you so much for the compliments and support – very much appreciated!!!


  3. Lindsey says:

    I am so impressed with your strength to get through this tough year with such a strong “never give up” attitude. You are such an inspiration to me with your decorating style (we have similar entryways), I love to see what you do, and the fact that you found NBC news to cover your story and beat those Russian hackers gives me hope that just about any challenge can be overcome with the right attitude. Thank you for sharing your story. I have had the most challenging year of my life, and you have given me hope that I, too, will be able to move forward from it and put it behind me. I am so ready for 2020!

    • Samantha says:

      Hi Lindsey!

      What an incredible comment – thank you!!! I’m definitely determined to get through anything…not sure where the strength comes from. When you need it, amazing how we can find the place to pull it from. It’s been a tough year and grateful for each day where I can start new. Always hopeful the day will only bring something positive…there’s always something challenging. But there is always something good to be thankful about. I love my new planner because it has that section where I can add something to be thankful for…and it’s amazing how even in the worst days, there is always something I can write there.

      Sorry to hear you are having a difficult year too…you will get through this and be able to put it behind you. Promise!

      Thank you again!

  4. Jill Marie Annis says:

    I’m sorry to hear about the IG hack but glad to hear things are up and running. I’ll forward to your post about security. Right now I have a 2 step authentication set up on my accounts. thanks for sharing photos of your gorgeous house as inspiration. You really have some mad design and decorating skill Sam.

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