Revamping a Lamp (Before+After)

My decorating tendencies consist of picking up pieces that excite me when I see them. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.. the pieces you choose to furnish and decorate your home should make you happy. But up until recently, that was pretty much all I went by when choosing pieces.

That method left me with a lot of mismatched pieces that I like individually but don’t really love altogether.

Recently I’ve picked up where I left off some months ago and dove back into finishing the decor around our apartment. I’ve been purging closets and drawers of random things and started really giving more thought to the pieces I have around the house.

Do I love this? Do I need it? If its functions, can I make it work better somehow?

Case 1

before lampThis lamp came into existence solely because I loved the shade. I purchased this shade when I was a freshman in college and wanted it somewhere in my dorm room. I bought a plain black base with some interesting details and that’s how it’s been. 6 years later, that lamp still looks that and has sat on Josh’s night stand. He has not been a fan of it, but it’s free so it stayed there.

Until last weekend.

I mentioned incorporating turquoise blue and yellow accent pieces/accessories into the living room. I decided to donate the shade since it’s the perfect example of something fun and vibrant but doesn’t really match anything else I have or the look I’m going for.

Target [not surprisingly] has been a place of inspiration for redecorating and incorporating neutral color and patterns into our house lately. None of the pieces are boring,  just a little bit more sophisticated and more gender neutral that Josh and I can both be happy with. I picked up a lovely white lamp shade with subtle details.

I attacked the black lamp base with the same turquoise-blue spray paint I used to give some bang to those black picture frames I found recently.

after lamp side tableI’m so excited about the way it turned out! Still not totally sure about the blue candlesticks right next to it.. I’ll probably switch those out soon but overall – a much better look.

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Our Christmas: 12 Days of Christmas activity

Happy Thursday everyone!

If you all had a wonderful and as busy of a Christmas as we did, I bet your head is still swimming a bit as well. 🙂 I have a few things I’d like to share about our Christmas this year, one of which being the 12 days of Christmas activity that I did this year. The other will be a few of my favorite things, coming soon! 🙂

I came across this idea on Passionate Homemaking (original post viewable here). She talks about the hustle and bustle of the holidays and the stress that tends to set in when you’re trying so hard to finish up work for the year, keep your house moderately presentable because guests will be coming by, shopping with all the crazies and of course COOKING for all of your guests. It’s a fun season, that’s for sure, but it does tend to get rather busy and it’s easy to get caught up in all of the things we “need” to do and to stop enjoying the moments. One person who probably feels some of the tension you may be feeling, is your partner. Women, in general, are going to put more thought and effort into every task, every gift, every dish – you name it. The men just tend to ride along and go with the flow more often (I’m jealous sometimes). That doesn’t mean though that they should feel the wrath of our stress.. but rather, maybe this should be a time when we remind them how much fun the season can be, like when we were all kids and buying gifts wasn’t a chore, or a financial stress.

The basic premise is that you begin on the 13th of December and just like the song goes.. “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…” and you give ONE gift. Typically, this one gift could be more of a loftier item since it is just one. “On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…” and you give TWO of something. Day 3- three of something. You get the idea. You could reverse the idea and start with 12 and count down til Christmas as well. I chose to start on December 13th and started with 1 gift. Our 12 days of Christmas went something like this:

12 days of christmas collageDay 1: ONE pair of work gloves. Day 2: TWO 10-minute hand massage coupons. Day 3: THREE pack of undershirts. Day 4: FOUR pack of Monster energy drinks. Day 5: FIVE holiday scratch offs. Day 6: SIX pack of bud light lime. Day 7: I love you in SEVEN languages. Day 8: EIGHT pack of new socks. Day 9: NINE new car scent air fresheners. Day 10: TEN dollars (to go buy dinner out one lazy night when I’m at work) Day 11: ELEVEN white & milk chocolate swirl hershey kisses. Day 12: TWELVE pack of coke.

As you can see, you don’t really have to spend a lot.. you just have to be creative. Some of the items I wrapped or put in gift bags. Others, I just left sitting out in random places or hidden in places that I knew he would find (like his wallet). It was a fun activity that let me be able to be creative in finding gifts I knew he would like or could use that fit the number requirements. I think this may just be a new tradition!

 

Darling Little Things: Things that sparkle

Oh, Monday – we meet again. Normally I don’t have too much trouble with Mondays as I work more of a hybrid schedule and have days technically off and am not clocked in, and clocked in work in the evenings. But today was a struggle. Might be because we were MUCH more social this weekend and had quite a lovely time, just not a whole heck of a lot of sleep. 😛 So, I thought something that makes me happy would be largely appropriate.

Maybe it’s the season with all of the lights and sparkly things in ways of ribbon and bows and tinsel.. or maybe I’m just hitting a new point in my life, but suddenly I am very excited by things that sparkle. I have my fair share of costume jewelry but never went crazy with it, but oh times may be changing. Check out my finds this weekend:

skitch finalI limited myself to these 3 (really, 5 because the one card has 3 sets on it) but I had about 6 in my hand at one point. Life is about balance and my life is lacking some glam and glitz, so for $11 bucks.. I figure I can inject a little bit of sparkle here and there. Laid atop my dresser, they just make me so happy seeing the bright colors and sparkle.. can’t wait to wear them!

Happy Monday!

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Darling Little Things: DIY Dog Treats

With 2 fur babies of my own at home and a natural inclination to lean towards DIY things, I’ve found my newest [slight obsession] hobby! I’m sure it’s pretty common knowledge, but did you know how EASY it is to make your own dog treats??! And, bonus: way healthier! I tried a couple different options that I wanted to share.

Make at home dog treats

dog treat ingredients collageThese were my items of choice for my first batch of dog treats. You’ll need whole wheat flour and baby food. The original recipe I used called for TWO four oz. containers of baby food and 2 cups of whole wheat flour. Mix together to form a stiff dough and then roll out to a 1/4 inch thickness, and cut out with cookie cutters as desired. In keeping with the season, I chose to buy a few holiday themed cookie cutters and later, on the second batch used smaller cookie cutters.. because they came out a little too large for my 2 pups who are about 25 pounds and 40 pounds. Also, make note when choosing baby food selections to choose flavors that are dog friendly. (See arrows.) Anything with onions or onion powder is NOT dog friendly, so avoid any flavors with onion. Carrots and sweet potato are pretty big favorites in our house, so I went with those.

Roll out your dough and cut out your favorite shapes

Roll out your dough and cut out your favorite shapes

After you’ve rolled out your dough and cut out some shapes, add some wax paper to a cookie sheet and pop those babies into the oven at about 325. Bake 20-25 minutes.

First batch: sweet potato and chicken and carrot flavored

First batch: sweet potato and chicken and carrot flavored

Unfortunately, I did not store this first batch properly, or the carrot flavored ones just don’t have a very long shelf life.. still trying to determine which factor, or if both did me in with these. I let them cool [although maybe not enough] and placed them into mason jars and put the caps on. About 4 days later, every single one of those dog cookies had mold growing on them. Since making a second batch not using baby food, I think it may be the baby food that causes the dog cookie to be so moist that it cannot harden all the way. In this case, maybe adding a bit more flour to the dough would help, or letting them sit out overnight would aid in storage. I let them sit out all of last night and while my second batch is harder than the original, they’re still a little springy. I’ll leave a couple out for the next day or two and the rest will be kept in the freezer and taken out as needed, because they can be stored for up to two months in the freezer.

Third batch: Completely different. I perused different websites for new ideas. After reading a few, I noticed that there are a few ingredients that are interchangeable: flour (different kinds, usually wheat), rolled oats, egg, milk, water. For the third batch I used 1 1/2 cup wheat flour, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup peanut butter (warmed in the microwave to help with mixing), 1 tbsp vanilla extract, and drizzled honey throughout. I did half to add some water to get the dough to hold together. I baked these for a minute or two longer (about 24 minutes) and these came out much harder to begin with, and as they sat out hardened even more and are rather crunchy for my dogs to munch on. That said, I don’t think they’ll grow mold like the baby food ones, but I might still freeze them to be safe.

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Making these DOES make a mess. 🙂 It’s completely worth it though to make 100 treats using $4 worth of cookie cutters, a $3 bag of wheat flour and $3 worth of baby food. The rest of the ingredients, I had on hand. I made extras to freeze and store for later, but these might be great little gifts for the dog lovers in your life. Besides being totally inexpensive, you can control what ingredients your pups are eating and be a bit healthier all around.

Check out my Pinterest board for some of the other homemade dog treat recipes that I found.

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Everybody has those days…

Those days where no matter how desperately hard you try to get it together; you’ve overslept, you’re fumbling and dropping things as you try to hurry and make up for lost time only to open your fridge and remember DANG IT! I didn’t prep anything last night – so now I have to buy lunch today just to get out the door.

I’ve been working some time to master the art of being prepared for the chaos. For right now, our household of four includes: me, Josh, and our 2 pups. Don’t underestimate those dogs.. they act like toddlers more than not, but for the time being, I’ll be discussing the concept based on a household of 2 – Josh and I can get ourselves into enough of a bind without the added fun of kids in the house.

We all know that those days, despite our efforts to not have them, happen. That being said, I’d like to introduce a four-part series:

In this series, I’ll discuss (simple) concepts of preparation and organization so that when these days sneak up on you, you’ll have a few tricks up your sleeve.

One of my focuses the last several months, has been to cut costs. I’ve been trying to pay off some credit card debt and in strategizing how to do so, I came to the conclusion that there is no reason for us to be spending as much as we do. Slowly, I’ve progressed from brainstorming a couple of dinner ideas and hitting the grocery store to making a list before I go, then on to developing a couponing system to go with my grocery list, and finally to installing a database to make the whole process COMPLETELY organized and fail proof. I’ll discuss some of these details later in the series.

Part 1 of Be Prepared for the Chaoss: Freezer Meal Options

We’ll buy Lean Cuisine and Stouffer’s meals at the grocery store 4 and 5 at a time, no problem because they’ll go with our busy schedules. But when we’re talking about cutting costs, those are breaking your budget. Instead, make atleast 3 of your grocery list items things that you can double, or just make more than your household will eat. Our house holds 2, but one of us eats for 2.. so we’ll say we’re feeding 3. 🙂

Some of my favorite options:
BEANS! – A whole bag of beans is $1.50 at the store (I shop at Walmart.. it’s not always pretty, but it’s definitely cheaper!) Google a recipe or browse Pinterest for a great recipe, throw that whole bag of beans in the crock pot and BAM – you’ve got stuff to freeze that’ll last the next few weeks for those days when you’re in a bind. One of our favorite bean recipes is black beans and can be found  at It’s a Crazy Beautiful Life Blog. If you’re not just a beans and rice person, put those black beans in a hearty black bean quesadilla found on another of my favorite blogs, Budget Bytes. I wasn’t sure about them because there’s no meat in them, but they’re jam packed with veggies and SO flavorful. Plus the freeze really well for another freezer option you can grab in a flash!

TACOS! – Tacos are an easy, cheap meal pretty much any day. You have to go out of your way to make them expensive. But, courtesy of Pinterest, I found some crock pot tacos (can you tell I idolize my crock pots?) that you can make at night when you’re asleep (which is my method) or during the 9-5 when you’re at work. I sliced two chicken breasts in half, poured half a jar of salsa (we buy generic to save money and it tasted awesome in this recipe), and added 2 generous heaping tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning and turned the crock pot on. In the morning, I shredded the chicken with a fork and portioned all of the contents of my crock pot.

Add some painters tape and label the contents with the “good til” date, so you know what you have in your freezer

Our freezer

I personally love those little Gladware containers that you get at the Dollar Store, 4 for $1. They’re perfect for portioning our individual servings. They have all different sizes that you can get, but I like to portion them out individually so we can each grab something to take for lunch and it’s the perfect amount. These containers are dishwasher safe and if you ruin them somehow, they were only 25 cents.. so no worries!

When you’re ready to consume something from the freezer, a few notes. With all of the recent studies discussing warnings about BPA and toxic emissions from plastic containers in the microwave, I would caution you against fully microwaving your freezer meal in those Gladware containers. I pop them in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds, enough to loosen it.

Then you throw it in a glass bowl and continue to warm the dish. After, get out all the fixins and you’ve got yourself a homemade meal, for pennies instead of several dollars and just as conveniently as one of those box meals you can get in the freezer section of your favorite grocery store.

The next part in the series will discuss the art of meal planning. If you’re curious about a few of the favorites in our house, you can browse my Pinterest page.