Posts Tagged ‘home’

Gardening…Dare I Dream?

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

I have a Pinterest board called “Gardening…Dare I Dream?” because even though I have always been abysmal gardener, I can’t shake these vivid, bucolic fantasies that I may one day grow beautiful, healthful produce in my very own back yard. After all, my dad is a great gardener and can bend plants of all types to his will. Pepper plants tremble before him and lettuces quiver at the might of his harvesting shears. On the other side of my family, my Papaw was a tobacco farmer in his youth and a prolific backyard gardener in his later years. Memories of tinkering around in the garden with him fuel these fantasies to the point that a few times I’ve been overcome with hope and actually planted things in the soil. I literally have farmer’s blood – this should be no problem. But there is a problem. There is always is a problem.

The first time I committed “attempted gardening” was when Jacob and I lived in Columbus, Ohio. We weren’t even married yet so it must have been the summer of 2000. I went outside and dug up a 2’x2’ square next to the back porch of our duplex house with a hand trowel. There I planted some random seeds in soil better suited for throwing pottery than growing crops. Precious little grew and I had no desire to crouch among filth and bugs to pluck weeds in the summer heat. At harvest time we gathered a few knobby carrots that were comparable to a shooter marble in size, shape, and density. Oh well, better luck next time, I thought.

Three years later, I discovered container gardening. I deduced that hard soil (and not lack of water, fertilizer or proper sunlight) was the reason my carrots turned out badly. Containers of optimally blended potting soil were going to solve all my gardening woes. I got a transplanted piece of garlic chive from a green-thumbed friend and I bought a tomato plant from the garden center at Walmart. The tomato was wilted dead from thirst before the first blossom could open. Surprisingly, the garlic chives took off like gangbusters in spite of my neglect. It was only then that I realized I didn’t know what to do with a garlic chive apart from sprinkling it on baked potatoes, which my husband hates. On a side note, that townhome had slugs on the porch; they were super gross and creeped me out so I really did prefer to stay indoors.

For the next several summers I tamped down my urges, but when we moved to Phoenix, purchased a home, and I learned that there were two growing seasons per year here, all restraint was lost. Obviously this was the solution to my problem. It wasn’t that I was a bad gardener, I reasoned, it was just that I needed more practice. This was an opportunity. Plus, now we were official first-time homeowners with a fenced yard. Sure, it was a horrid, barren little yard, but it was ours and maybe a lush veggie patch was just the thing to inspire us to really get into landscaping and outdoor living.

I hit the library for a stack of gardening books and the home improvement store for many dollars’ worth of hoes and shovels and such. This time, I decided I was going to do a recessed bed so I could turn the hose on it and soak the space to irrigate the plants. I nearly broke my back trying to turn the soil, which was baked hard as brick by the desert sun. I might have seen this as foreshadowing the garden’s fate, but I was intent on my verdant goal. I considered renting a tiller because this time I was mostly sure it was probably going to totally work. In the end I decided not to because but just in case – on the off chance it didn’t go well – I didn’t want to invest too much cash. A month later when my plants were choked out by weeds and outdoor temps soared well above 110 degrees, I lost all interest. My husband started watering the plants in an effort to save them from my (repeat-offender style) abandonment but when he saw how little I cared he gave up too. The total of our harvest was a fistful of Thai red chiles and two medicinal-tasting cucumbers. Thus ended the gardening ordeal of 2008.


Henry helps reap the bounty of our doomed garden

You would think that by now I would be done with gardening fantasies. It is pretty clear that I like the idea of gardening much more than the actual doing, that I don’t want to make a significant investment of dollars or hours, and that once it gets hot out I’m likely to cut and run, leaving the little plants to fend for themselves. On top of all of this, my husband vehemently discourages all gardening talk. I don’t blame him and I don’t consider him unsupportive because he speaks truth. Time and again I’ve proven myself untrustworthy with seedlings. That’s why I was a little bit nervous for him to see the heirloom tomato starter I brought home from the farmer’s market last spring.

This time is it, I thought to myself. I think it could be different – I could be different. Yeah, I know I’ve said it all before, but I felt good about this attempt. I built up two 2’x2’x1’ raised beds right near the hose bib and in a place where they get some afternoon shade from the shadow of the house. Next, I filled the beds with good potting soil and nestled in the little starter. I set up a tomato cage and gently tied the limbs up with twine so my plant could grow strong and true. In the next bed I planted basil, rosemary and oregano which are herbs I actually use and know what to do with.

Things went well for a while, but once again it got hot out and once again I had a derelict weed patch where my garden once stood. The heirloom tomato is dead. The herbs are dead. I officially quit. I am never, ever gardening again. In fact, if you ever find yourself in the garden center at The Home Depot and catch me in one of my gardening-fantasy stupors, please stop me. Maybe even warn an employee about my tendencies so they can deny me service.

You can save the Earth one plant at a time…by keeping them safe from me, The Plantslayer.

Eco-Resolution: Starting a Recycle Bin

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

I usually don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Christina’s recent post sums up a big reason why – I tend to set the same stale goals and then get deflated the next year when I realize that in an entire year, I couldn’t accomplish what I was so excited to achieve the previous year. So, this year I decided that I wanted my goals to revolve around actual tasks, most of which are little items that are easy to do, but I keep putting off for one reason or another (time restraints, failing at it the first time, getting distracted by something shiny).

Something that I have wanted to do for months is start a recycle bin. I have done a great job in the past year of taking my reusable shopping bags with me to the store, and even have mastered a cleaning routine before I put them back in the car. After seeing the benefit of how many bags I have saved, as well as the inspiration I garnered from Rachael’s recent post on setting an environmental resolution each year, I decided that it was time to stop slacking, and get my recycle on!

Setting up a recycle bin is simple, especially if your city offers curbside pick-up:

1. Buy a trash can/bin to keep your recyclables in.
2. Print out a list of recyclable items (Rachael recommended this PDF).
3. If needed, put a sticker/printout/spray-painted stencil on the top of your recycle bin of the recycle logo. (You could also get a copy of recyclable items laminated and adhere it to the top of the bin for easy reference.)


You have your new bin and it’s in the kitchen and labeled, so now what? This is where the intimidation factor came in for me. I know that there are some things that are recyclable and some that aren’t, and if you put something that shouldn’t be recycled with recyclables, it could ruin the entire batch. Talk about pressure!

I imagined that my life was going to be something like this Portlandia skit:

So, I decided to start small. For now, we are focusing on recycling cans, paper and bottles (glass or plastic). If we succeed in keeping up with our new eco-habit, we will expand our focus to more items on the recyclable list. After only a few days, we have done a great job with sorting, and I have made two trips out to our city recycle bin to empty the contents.

UPDATE: We have been using what Bryan calls “the hippie bin” for about three weeks now, and it’s going great. We quickly found ourselves recycling more than just the basics we initially committed to. Cheers to starting new habits!

Laundry Room Inspiration

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

When we moved into our house in the fall of 2012, none of the walls were painted. The builder wanted to charge a few thousand dollars to paint the interior walls and ceilings. Rob & I were convinced it would be no big deal to do the painting ourselves. We might have underestimated the amount of work that was ahead of us. More than a year later, we still have a few rooms left to paint.

Originally a makeover for the laundry room was pretty low on our home project to-do list. It wasn’t until Rob installed the garage door opener a few weeks ago that it got bumped way up that list. We have to walk through the laundry room to get to the garage and now every morning I walk through that drab, vanilla colored room and think “this room needs color!”

This should be a quick and easy makeover. The room is small and it’s a utilitarian space so no tchotchkes allowed. Instead I’ll focus on adding color to the room through paint and framed art. To keep the room neat and tidy, I plan to add storage bins and hang cabinets. I’ve put together a board that includes the inspiration photos, colors, art and DIY projects that I’ll use to bring the room together.


1. Make it Yours Print
2. DIY Laundry Soap Storage
3. Brushed Rose by Valspar
4. Plum & Bow Zooey Dot Rug
5. Locker Basket
6. Alabax Medium Light
7. White Penny Tile
8. Nova Trellis Wall Stencil
9. Black & White Wall Hook

I’ve just started this project and I’m planning to do a few update posts along the way as projects are completed. Here is my to-do list:

* empty out room
* paint walls & ceiling
* stencil wall
* hang cabinets
* buy rug
* change out light fixture
* buy new storage bins
* DIY laundry soap storage
* hang art & household organizer
* install tile

Whistle While You Work: Cleaning Checklists To Keep You Sane

Monday, January 6th, 2014


There is nothing more frustrating than spending an entire day cleaning your home, only to have it completely in shambles again the next day. Want to keep a clean home but don’t have access to a crew of helpful woodland housekeepers like Snow White? You can by maintaining a cleaning schedule.

Think of your desk at work. Do you function better when it’s piled with papers or when it’s clean and organized? Most likely, it’s the latter. The same goes for your home.

I feel much more in control of my life by keeping up a quick 30-minute daily cleaning checklist (which can be broken up throughout the day), as it keeps my home clutter-free, and also provides the benefit of reducing the time it takes me to do my weekly chores.


Below is a list of cleaning items that you can tackle throughout the year (courtesy of Household Management 101):

* Pick up clutter and neaten each room in the house
* Clean up the kitchen after each meal
* Deal with spills immediately
* Put away everything that comes into the house (mail, groceries, etc.)

* Clean all the rooms in your home (dusting, floors, etc.)
* Laundry
* Menu planning, making grocery list and grocery shopping

* Sweep garage, basement and attic
* Wash or air pillows
* Wash windows

* Air and turn mattresses
* Clean drapes and curtains
* Wash rugs and clean carpets
* Clean basement, garage and attic (this is a great time to make a larger donation to your local Goodwill or thrift shop with items you no longer need)

If this list is overwhelming, start simple. Challenge yourself for one week to make your bed each morning, and clean up clutter around the house before you go to bed at night (including hanging up clothes, putting away shoes, etc.). It only takes a few minutes, and you will be amazed how much better your house will feel by doing those two simple starter tasks.

FINAL_JB_CleaningTips_010614_3   FINAL_JB_CleaningTips_010614_4

Once you have a couple of weeks under your belt, work your way up to doing the full 30-minute daily cleaning checklist, and then keep moving up until you are able to complete the checklists for the entire year.

The key is consistency. Bryan and I clean our house every Thursday night. Why Thursday night? Because cleaning on a weekend day was taking away “our time,” so we decided it bummed us out a little bit less to complete our chores on a work night. Everyone’s schedules are different, so you might have to do some trial and error to find what works for you, but stick with it, and you will soon find that keeping your house clean is less of a chore.

Start a New Tradition: New Year’s Eve at Home

Monday, December 30th, 2013


New Year’s Eve is one of those high-expectations holidays. We all have visions of wearing some beautiful ensemble in a large glamorous setting, with the air full of glitter and a perfect midnight kiss over a champagne toast. Most years, I end up overthinking how to make a perfect evening at home, and then end up disappointed because I can’t recreate that ballroom in my living room. I have been totally missing the point.

The greatest things about any holiday are food, drink, and being with the people we care about. This year, if you don’t already have plans to head out, I challenge you to start a new tradition – New Year’s Eve at Home. It’s cheaper than going out and you don’t have to worry about driving home amongst those that had a little too much bubbly at the party.

With an at-home party, you can go one of two directions — “fancy pants” or “cool and casual.”

“Fancy Pants”
For those of you who still want to put on your party dress, the “fancy pants” night is for you. Pick a recipe that you want to try out, set the table with white linens and candles, and turn your living room into a makeshift dance floor. If you want to invite friends, make it a potluck and give each friend a course to bring. Don’t want to cook? Have everyone chip in and order a spread from your favorite local restaurant, or your nearby gourmet grocer. Stock up your bar cart and serve a signature champagne cocktail.

“Cool and Casual”
Want to wear your yoga pants and chill on a couch while enjoying food and merriment? The “cool and casual” party is for you. You can have your guests bring their favorite appetizers, or order a few pizzas. The key here is comfort. Buy (or print) hats, noisemakers, and some basic décor from your local party store, and make sure there are plenty of seats in your family room, so that everyone is comfy. Pop out the Apples to Apples game, challenge everyone to a game of charades, or watch your favorite movie.

No matter which party you host, please make sure that if your guests are drinking, that you secure a cab for them, or invite them to crash in your guest room.

This year Bryan and I will be going the “fancy pants” route, for two. We are planning on making beef wellington, truffle mac & cheese and chocolate mousse. I will be setting the table, making a mix of our favorite jazz songs on my iPod, and making a gin and champagne cocktail called the French 75.

What are your New Year’s Eve traditions? Are you more of a “Fancy Pants” or “Cool and Casual” type? Leave your comments below.

Happy New Year!

Art Space Reveal

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

I’m really excited to show you my art space today. It’s been a labor of love. The room had become a dumping ground for homeless furniture, vintage finds and too many art supplies. It took me about a month to clear out, purge and organize. Then I went to work making the space my own. I’m sure it will always be a work in progress, just like the things I create there. But, for now I’m in love with it. This space is my new favorite spot in our home.

I’m using the Edland dressing table as a desk that was a final markdown find from IKEA. The lamp is vintage; I topped it with a shade found at Target. The little white owl planter is from Joann’s. The scarf and embroidery hoop are local estate sale finds. I made the dream catchers hanging on the wall using doilies that belonged to my great-grandmother.


Originally I had planned to hang a gallery wall over my desk. But, I decided that I wanted something a little more organic with pieces that would be easy to change out every so often. The print in the middle is actually Rob’s birth certificate backed by a piece of scrapbook paper; the painting and the photo print were both done by yours truly.



The sewing table belonged to my Nanny and was passed on to me by my aunt. I also have her pinking shears and lots of unused patterns she collected over the years. I hope to share them with you in a future post.


The little sitting area showcases my favorite vintage chair; who doesn’t love crushed velvet? The basket and pillow are Home Goods finds. The shelves above display lots of my favorite things; a Crosley record player, which was a gift from my Mom, one of my favorite Neil Young records and a few owls from my collection (there are many more). I really love that Rob has a place to hang out while I work and our dogs love to lounge around in here too.



I already had the tabletop that I’m using as a cutting table; the Nipen legs are a recent addition, I love the pop of color they add. The utility cart is also an IKEA find and the notions box belonged to my Nanny. The tchotchkes lining the windowsill are vintage finds. One of my favorite pieces in this room is the pink lady portrait; it’s a print of a painting my dear friend Jan created when she was in middle school.


This room is pretty tiny, so I decided to take off the closet doors. After living with it this way for a couple of months, I know it was the right decision. It’s much easier to locate supplies and remove the tubs that store my tools and various crafty bits.


I wanted to create a spot where I could curate all my little bits of inspiration and corral my reference books, clipping binders and journals. The bookcase is vintage, eventually I’d like to paint it white and sew a fabric curtain to conceal the shelves. The ceramic deer is a new addition; I picked it up from one of my favorite antique malls for a couple dollars. I purchased the clay bowl in Mexico; it’s filled with little mementos that remind me of happy times. I bought a few mini clipboards and painted them a minty green color using sample paint that I had purchased for a different room. I hung the mini clipboards over a bulletin board; it’s still pretty empty, but I’ve slowly started to add fabric samples, quotes and photos of my favorite people.



The wood shim wall border (inspired by this post) turned out to be way more work than I originally anticipated. Don’t expect a DIY just yet; I sort of made it up as I went along (with a couple temper tantrums and lots of help from Rob). The border evolved over a couple of weeks because I couldn’t seem to recreate the image I had in my mind on the first try. I’m really happy with it now, but I think there is an easier way to do it. I’ll put a DIY post together once I figure it out.


I’m a very sentimental gal, some might call me a stage-five packrat. Over the last few years I’ve worked hard to purge the excess and only keep the things I love most. This room is filled with all of those things, lovely and unique images and objects that inspire me to create.

Thanks for letting me show you around.

Eye Candy: BOHO Bedrooms

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

I’m a procrastinator. I also have a hard time living in the moment, choosing instead to spend my days making big plans for future days. Occasionally this can affect my productivity. Which is why it’s no surprise that in the midst of putting the finishing touches on my art space and preparing to re-do Rachael’s master bedroom, I’ve been daydreaming about making over my bedroom. I’m curious – can you call it a makeover if the room was never decorated to begin with?

Prior to moving into our home last year, Rob and I sold most of our furniture, if it didn’t work in our new space, we didn’t want to move it. Since then, we’ve been able to replace most of what we sold with furniture that fits our space. We were much more thoughtful as we shopped. Gone are the days of buying something simply because it’s cheap or it fits.

The master bedroom is a different story. Bedroom furniture is kind of essential. Rather than sleeping on the floor until we found the bed of our dreams, the old furniture came with us to the new house. There it has sat untouched for one year. I suppose we always assumed that we’d get to it once everything else was done. The crazy thing is we spend a ton of time in our bedroom. Who needs a living room when you can watch Apple TV in bed?

Why do we give so little attention to the bedroom?

Personally, I’m never quite sure how I want my bedroom to feel. Peaceful? Sexy? Bright? Stark? All of the above? I want to fall asleep in a quiet room with a moody vibe and wake up in a bright sunny one. Can this be done? Yes! Bohemian style is the best of all worlds.

Here are a few rooms I can’t get enough of:






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Now, I just have to talk my husband into it.

A girl can dream, right?

How I Budget for Home Decor: What to Buy at Big Box Stores

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

In my last post on budgeting shared a little bit about the 70/30 rule that I use when decorating my home.

I break my budget down into three categories:
Foundational Furniture (High-Quality)
Beautiful Things I Can’t Live Without (Lovely & Unique Conversation Starters)
Accessories (Neutral & Trendy)

You can maximize your design dollars by shopping big-box retailers and knowing what to buy. They’re a great, affordable resource for both neutral & trendy accessories.

Accessories will make your house homey. Start with plants, framed photos, candles and cozy textiles. When choosing neutral accessories, select solid colors or classic patterns. Neutral accessories should be able to stay through a room re-design or be used in a different room. When selecting trendy accessories, have fun and look to current design trends. But, remember to check price, they should be inexpensive enough that you won’t feel guilty switching them out with the season.

I’ve compiled a list of my favorite stores and the types of accessories I like to buy at each one:

Lamps, Linens, Candles & Bath Accessories

Home Goods
Woven Baskets, Lamps, Pillows & Quilts

World Market
Bath Accessories, Curtains, Hardware & Homemade Accent Pieces

Frames, Pillows, Plant Pots & Curtains

Dollar Tree
Glassware (think mason jars, bud vases and tea light holders) & Plant Pots

In my next post on budgeting, I’ll give you a tour of my living room and breakdown how I utilized the 70/30 rule along with a source list and budget breakdown.

What are your favorite big-box stores? Feel free to leave them below in the comments.

Art Space Inspiration

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

When Rob & I purchased our first home in late 2012, one of the items on our wish list was a third bedroom. In our condo, our spare room had worn many hats, serving as storage room, office, guest room & art space. Needless to say, it was always cluttered and only had room for an air mattress. We were hoping for two spare bedrooms so that guests had a real bed, room to unpack and weren’t forced to share space with my art supplies. I also wanted a separate room so that if we had someone staying with us long-term, I’d still be able to work on projects, manage my Etsy shop and do school work.

We were fortunate enough to find a great house, with a third bedroom for my art space. However, when we first moved in the room became a catch-all for art supplies, spare furniture, shop merchandise and random bits. I shut the door and there the piles sat. I went to work getting the rest of the house put together and planned to set-up and decorate the room once that was all done. Even though I didn’t have a functioning space, I still had projects to work on and schoolwork to do. Before I knew it shipping boxes, textbooks and art supplies had crept into every room of the house! In September we’ll have owned our house for a year and I’m determined to have the room set-up before then.

The room is pretty small, it measures 10×10. I need room to sew, paint & scrapbook, do homework, blog, and manage my Etsy shop. I also need plenty of storage for supplies, magazines & books. I’d like to be able to display my collections, art and inspiration material. It’s also really important to me that I have extra seating, so that Rob can hang out and read while I’m working or to host friends for the craft nights I’ve been dreaming of.

I’d like the space to feel airy & feminine with bright art & accessories and an eclectic mix of furniture. The color palette was inspired by Patricia Bravo’s Summerlove fabric collection. I was also inspired by the art spaces of two of my favorite bloggers: Danielle from Kischy Digitals & Jamie from Raising up Rubies.

Here is an inspiration board that I put together featuring furniture and accessories that I already own or hope to buy and DIY projects that have inspired projects for the room:


MASKROS Pendant Lamp
“Don’t Give Up” Print
Eiffel Ghost Side Chair
Wall Terrarium
Mid-Century Walnut Bookcase
DIY: Twin Track Bracket Shelves
NIPEN Table Leg
Gooseneck Desk Lamp
DIY: Wood Shim Wall Art
Edland Dressing Table
RASKOG Utility Cart
DIY: Torn Fabric Garland
Yellow Chevron Pillow

I’m a few weeks into this project and have already made a lot of progress.

I started by clearing out the room; anything that wasn’t going back into the room found a new home or ended up in the garage. I removed the sliding doors from the closet to make it more accessible. I painted the walls and hung a bamboo shade and curtains over the window. I also hung curtains over the closet opening. I stashed all of my junk in the closet. Then Rob helped me move in my existing furniture we which we re-arranged several times before finding the perfect layout. I already own the EDLAND Dressing Table (discontinued) and a basic white desk from IKEA that I plan on adding the NIPEN legs to. I’ll use my Nanny’s sewing table to house my sewing machine.

I’m still on the hunt for a mid-century bookcase, a comfy vintage chair and inexpensive storage bins. I’d also like to plant a terrarium and buy a potted plant or two. I need to hang art, shelves that will display my collections and there are several DIY projects that I should be wrapping up soon. I’ve got lots to do – I better get to work! I can’t wait to show you the finished product!

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How I Budget for Home Decor: Part One – The 70/30 Rule

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

I’m bananas for home design. No, seriously. I’ll splurge on a piece of Bitossi pottery over a great pair of shoes any day of the week. If I had to nail down our home’s style in a couple of words I’d call it 60’s vagabond surfer meets mid-century modern. I love to mix airy curtains, colorful, quirky accessories & art with warm, dark woods and furniture that is more masculine in shape.

In my perfect world our home would be furnished entirely with vintage furniture, original artwork, kilim rugs & plush linens. Alas, I live in this world and my budget is tiny.

I’ve found that the key to creating a well-styled home on a tiny budget is knowing where to spend, where to scrimp and where to shop.

In each room of our home, we use the 70/30 rule; we take 60-70% of our budget and spend it on items that will fill about 30-40% of our space. Take a large chunk of your budget and spend it on high-quality foundational furniture like a couch, dresser, china hutch or coffee table. Take your time and choose wisely. These are the pieces that you’ll own for a long time; you want them to be comfortable, an appropriate size for your room and to fit your style. Next select a few unique pieces that you love, think art, small accent furniture and lighting. Now use the rest of your budget (30-40%) to fill in the gaps and make your space feel homier with plants, frames, candles and textiles. Start by selecting mostly neutral accessories, in solid colors or classic patterns, avoid trendy prints. Ask yourself – can I use this in a different room if I grow tired of it in this one? Don’t forget to have a little fun! This is also your chance to purchase accessories for your room that reflect the current design trends. By creating a foundation with high-quality pieces that reflect your personal style and then filling in with trendy accessories, you extend the life of your room design. Because you didn’t break the bank buying that super trendy fill in the blank, you won’t feel bad trading it out for something new next season.

So, that’s how I budget for home decor. First, I invest in high-quality furniture, art & a few unique accessories. Then, I fill-in the gaps with neutral & trendy pieces that can easily be switched out with the season. I buy new, used & vintage. I shop at antique shops, big-box stores, local boutiques, thrift stores, on Craigslist & online.

This rule of budgeting has really helped me to be a smarter shopper. Now, I keep a list of items that I need to complete the various rooms I’m working on. If I find something on the list and it’s in the budget, I can buy it. If it’s not on the list, well then it has to be amazing. Remember, sometimes rules are meant to be broken!

In future posts, I’ll show you how I used the 70/30 rule in our living room and share what I buy when I shop at big-box stores.

What about you, how do you budget for home decor? Feel free to let me know below in the comments.

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