Christmas Cards spread good cheer

And it’s good if they’re reminding you of that good cheer that was sent your way and not cluttering your kitchen counter tops. This was the first year I actually mailed out cards. I’ve halfway done it in the past (sent out 4 or 5) or given them out in classes when it’s easiest to just hand them to people. But half the fun of Christmas cards is getting cards back in the mail! I already have a better idea for what to put on our cards for next year. 🙂

As far as the organization half of it, I actually thought of this idea all on my own. I went to Michael’s Craft Store and found a delightfully Christmas-y bow (green and red polka dots) and chose similar red and white polka dotted ribbon.

What I started with.

What I started with.

I then took clothes pins and spray painted them gold to hold cards. I’m slightly obsessed with gold spray paint these days. It easily covers other colors and previous layers and covers very evenly..and is instaglam to anything you put it on. Go get a can, you’ll be blown away too.

Our very full Christmas card holder

Our very full Christmas card holder

I put our Christmas card hold right next to the front door, next to an antique 7 Up crate that holds some of our favorite knick knacks and most importantly – our keys so we can grab and dash out the door. It’s a nice reminder of all of our friends out there and adds a bit of festiveness!

Darling little things: jewelry organization

Up until recently, I was utilizing a traditional jewelry box. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very classy, traditional, sleek.. and black. And plain. I had the recent lightbulb go off in my head that getting ready in the mornings and putting outfits together would probably be MUCH easier if I could actually SEE everything that I have. Plus, all of the pieces of jewelry that I own are pretty things that I love, so why not display them anyway?

I started with this DIY project (featured in the sneak peek post last week), a jewelry board. I found the original project tutorial on Something Like That Designs, she walks you through her process here, and also see her Finders Keepers Post for some other organization inspiration- I ended up copy catting some of her thought process!)

First: Sneak Peek Project Reveal

My beautiful jewelry organization board

All of my favorite earrings are easily seen on this board. This is so much better than digging through a drawer or box and trying to find the matching pair!

I tweaked the tutorial a smidge when I made my own board. I purchased a frame from Michael’s Craft Store & then browsed the paint aisle. While some of the other tutorials out there (there are a lot on Pinterest if you’re looking for a different spin) show just taking the back out of a frame, I chose to keep that cardboard that comes with it and actually keep the back of the frame as well. I painted the cardboard insert a rose gold color and spray painted my chicken wire (which you can buy in a roll at Home Depot anywhere from $10 and up) a burgundy color. The two colors look amazing with the dark wood frame, so I kept it as it was. The only difficult part I had was threading the earrings through the wire with the backing still on the frame, it took a bit of maneuvering at times.. but we rent and I would rather spend that extra 10 minutes threading it through the wire with the back on than have lots of scuffs and things to fix on my wall when it’s time to do that, but that’s up to you!

Since I kept the back on, I wasn’t able to use the little cup hooks to hang my necklaces. I found these great little tacks at Walmart for a buck and was able to punch them through the back of the cardboard to hang my necklaces. The antique-y brass-gold color works nicely with my color theme.

Next: Everyday Items to Add Some Pretty Utility in Your Life

My newly updated dresser top

1. This great little ceramic egg crate was a steal of a deal and cost me $5 bucks at World Market (one of my favorites). I chose the yellow because I’ve been trying to incorporate more of yellow’s cheeriness into our home, but they had an assortment of pretty colors to choose from. The jewelry board organizes and houses all of my dangly earrings and the egg crate holds all the studs. I work for a rather conservative company that does not care for flashy jewelry. Instead of going without, I have grown a pretty large collection of studs that sparkle 🙂 The egg crate lets me separate them into categories (pearl, diamond, costume jewelry, blue, gold, etc.) and they’re easier to find, easier to see.

2. This is an example of using things you already have on hand. I bought this [yellow, gold] candle holder a few years ago and have used it as a small vase, a candle holder, a few different ways over the years. I had stored it in a drawer when we moved and I rediscovered it recently. I decided to put a leather cuff and another larger bracelet in it. I can see what’s inside, and it gives adds visual interest with its pop of color.

3. This plate is probably my favorite. I found it on the clearance aisle at Michaels for $1.48. It had a sticker on it that said “sold as is.” There are no marks on this plate that I could see… so, after visiting and falling completely in LOVE with Paris on New Years Eve, of course I bought it. It holds my every day favorite pieces: my new & beautiful birthday present watch from the boyfriend as well as the b-e-a-utiful necklace that he bought me our first Christmas together, my favorite rings [including a spoon ring!] and a very unique spoon bracelet.

4. While cleaning out my jewelry box with all of my nice, real jewelry, I realized I had another jewelry box somewhere with costume jewelry in it that I used to wear quite a bit a few years ago. I found the [very adolescent] jewelry box and decided it was time for a more sophisticated update for the pieces I wanted to keep and continue to wear. I found this little basket/box with button and loop latch at Hobby Lobby and got it half off for about $4 bucks. It was lacking pizazz so I dug through my craft bag in search of something that would give it that little something extra.

Add a Paper Flower to a Plain Box/Basket

 I had some on hand but you can go to your favorite craft shop and purchase paper flowers. I layered 2 for the effect I wanted & added a contrasting button on top to complete the design. Now it’s got that something special to it and is different, but goes nicely with all of the other elements atop my dresser.

I’m still working on organizing a second dresser that holds tanks, scarves, socks, and a drawer full of randomness that I’ll hopefully be able to show soon, but for now is still a serious work in progress.

Always be on the lookout for items that can add some pretty in your life.

Design Your Mind Space

So, a few weeks ago I posted a general post about what kind of stuff we had going on around our house. I mentioned our home office. A home office was one of the main features we were looking to be able to add when we were looking at prospective places to move into a few months ago. Our cozy one bedroom apartment (which I did love and it did work for me most of the time) afforded us the option or having the desk in our living room, right next to the TV. In this set-up, the most self-controlled individuals out there would eventually cave and turn to watch the TV show [or commercial] interrupting actual work trying to take place at the desk area. We did cave and pegged it as an efficiency problem in our home. So, our search for a new place was focused on a 2-bedroom house in order to create a home office.

Mind Space

Have you noticed how you tend to work better in an area specifically designated to do work in? All the books and magazines tell you not to do work in your bedroom because of the work-mind-relaxation associations and your brain will get mixed up and you could end up feeling tense in your bedroom, in a space that should be solely for resting.

In the process of moving, everything gets boxed up and then you have to find a new place for everything that you already had. Then you find that you have a different space with different design and style challenges and need different things. I’ve been processing all of these details and have got our place just about set up. (I just don’t believe people when they say they moved and a week later, everything is done. Halfway done maybe.) I knew that our home office needed to be a place that was organized and a place where my man and I could both work harmoniously and not trample on each other’s space. We also have different tastes. He prefers plain, simple and what I would consider ordinary[/boring]. Me, I’m drawn to jewel tones, prints/patterns and want to DIY on everything. A few weeks into unpacking/organizing I had an epiphany. He was right, we need 2 desks.

After a weekend of desk hunting and coming back empty handed (desks are waaay overpriced! plus he’s picky), we ended up falling into a situation where a desk was given to us. As was mentioned somewhat previously with photos of a desk in pieces… we had trouble getting the desk into the office area (it’s the back bedroom and just couldn’t take the 90 turn in the hallway), but eventually did get it through in several pieces. After putting it back together, (amazingly it holds) we were able to set up a definitive his and hers office space where we can both organize our own papers and items and work independently, albeit in the same space.

The photos I posted a while back are of it in a messy state. Little by little, we’ve been working on it and, while I would like to add more graphical elements on the walls and remove some elements (like the toolbox in the corner 🙂 ), it’s functional for us and that’s a big WIN! So, here’s the update on what I’m calling our Mind Space.

Our Mind Space

Includes his/her desks, lots of organizational items such as rustic wire baskets to get folders/papers/notebooks off the desk, a personalized Pinterest-inspired weekly calendar to keep both of us up to speed on events, and a cheap bookcase that I (with lots of help!) did some work on to give it that extra edge.

His Desk

Your typical large style desk with a hutch and drawers and cubbies to store things.

Her Desk

Much less “typical” desk design with mobile mini file cabinet type drawers extended on both sides of the desk and wire baskets flanking a customized bulletin board over the desk.

Let’s talk a little more about my desk. Like I said, I like color and pattern and DIY. I actually designed this desk myself from the 2×4 ft. dimensions of the desk top to the mobile drawers that can be sat underneath the desk like most desks or can be moved outside of the desk to hold a printer and lamp, like mine currently do in this photo. It was originally painted a dark brown, a nice neutral. I got bored with it so I painted most of the desk an eggplant purple and painted the drawers a goldy-yellow color and added colorful knobs. (I was pulling colors out of these two paintings that were hung about the desk in our old apartment, but I’ll probably repaint those desk drawers because I’m still not sure if I like that yellow.) I also made curtains to hang under the desk so that I could hide the ugly tangle of wires/cords underneath. This was an especially awesome feature when this desk was a main feature in the living room.

As seen in a BHG magazine, I made curtains for my desk to hide all of the ugly wires/cords underneath.

Now that we have a separate office space, I don’t NEED the curtains anymore but they make a tent-like environment and the babies like to play from time to time. 🙂

Peekaboo!

All my life, I’ve had desks that allowed me to put a piece of plexiglass over the top. For years, I made collages and put them under the plexiglass as my desktop design but as you take new photos, you get bored with the old ones and always want to switch out the pictures. I got bored with a plain purple desktop though too, so I bought a stencil from Michael’s Craft Store and a few different metallic paints and set to work. It took me a week or so and I kept layering the same stencil with different colors until I was happy.

A stencil layered in several different metallic colors on a desk top combined with fun office supplies makes a personal and creative work space!

Our weekly calendar

Pinterest-inspired weekly calendar that offers personality and keeps an entire household up to speed on all events coming up in the next week.

I found this group photo frame at Ross and pretty cheap at that, for about $8. I selected different scrap book prints and stickers and labeled each pane a different day. We simply change the dates every week and write our personal events for the weeks so that we both know what’s going on and what’s due.

Bookcase Makeover

When we moved, we knew we would need a new bookcase. We threw out the old one that we had been using because it was falling apart. I’ve had it since I was a kid and it had made 3 moves, the 4th probably would’ve been the end of it. So, I scouted my options and ended up picking a bargain priced bookcase from Target. It’s a 6 foot bookcase with 4 shelves for $30 bucks. I didnt want to spend $100 bucks on a book case because I had found a Pinterest idea to cover the back of it with fabric and have a pop of color coming through from behind. I reasoned that even if it wasn’t the nicest bookcase, with a little work – it would be great.

So, my amazing man locked himself in the office for probably 2 hours and put this sucker together. I was so happy that he took it upon himself to do that but so frustrated by how CHEAP and ugly it looked.

Can you see the back? Is that not ridiculous? I understand it’s only $30 but if you’re going to use that kind of backing.. why can’t the box be bigger so that it can lay flat and not SHOW all of the creases?!?!

cheap, cheap, cheap.

So, I tried to begin the process of “fixing” it.

That stinkin thing had about 100 nails holding the back on, and then I found that the back was in TWO pieces of crap. It took a while to get it all back off. Josh was NOT happy with me when he walked in and saw me taking it back apart. What I thought was a one person job, turned into a 4 person job. If you’re handy and a one-man show, by all means I encourage you to take on this kind of project by yourself. But it was MUCH easier when my mom and dad plus Josh took pity on me and all worked to help me put it back together. 🙂

I found some turquoise floral patterned fabric at Joann’s Fabric for $1.50 a yard, BARGAIN.

$5 bucks later I came home and cut the fabric into two pieces to cover the two corresponding pieces of backing for the bookcase. I ironed each piece and attempted to staple them. Don’t do that. It ended up being MUCH easier to hot glue the fabric edges to the backing, as it was really only glorified poster board anyway. But it did take 3 of us to add the hot glue and pull the fabric taut over the board, so if you’re planning to replicate this project – make that note.

After covering both pieces of backing with the fabric, the men hammered it back onto the book case and we set it back up right. I’ve added all of our books and trinkets that have been living in cardboard boxed for 3 months now, back where they belong and voila!

A pretty patterned fabric pops out of the black book case, giving it a customized look and hiding the ugly backing that came in the box.

Book cases don’t just have to hold row-by-bow books. Feature some of your favorite books in a stacked style  with a few trinkets and you’ve got a book case full of personality.

If you have the option, take the time to make a space where you can think. Everybody means to get things done but alot don’t. If you give yourself the opportunity to think and a place to be creative in, you might surprise yourself by what you come up with. 🙂

Until next time, thanks for reading!

-LRL-

Practicing Pinterest in September

It’s Tuesday, back to work after a 3-day holiday weekend for most folks. (Not me, of course – I work in the restaurant biz while I search for that perfect FT gig) but nonetheless it was quite the lazy day til 5:00 rolled around and it was time to go to work. Tuesday is the day to get back to work, and for me that means catch up here!

A few days ago, I mentioned an idea that I stumbled upon that I am coining Practicing Pinterest. So many of us are guilty of wasting hours on Pinterest pinning so many unrelated things saying “gosh why have I never thought of that?!” or “I could make that!” We pin and pin and pin.. but let’s face it, what is your pinned to actually made ratio? Mine’s not very good, haha. But I’m making an effort to be better. It occurred to me that maybe a schedule would benefit my efficiency when it comes to Pinterest. Maybe a few days should be for browsing and a certain day or two should be for reviewing and making a game plan on actually doing some of those DIY projects. This past Labor Day weekend, I did, in fact, do just that.

A Trio of Frames

Besides Pinterest, I also troll Etsy quite a bit.I look through for different ideas and make a wish list of things and favorite shops. But I also look at some of it and think about how I could duplicate some of it myself, for cheaper. This project was one of those instances. I came across an Etsy shop with a listing for 3 large picture frames painted a bright turquoise color (which is my favorite color, by the way). I did note that the grouping of the three photo frames did give it somewhat of a wow factor. I did move recently, and this made an excellent idea to add to the Practicing Pinterest list because I’m trying to turn this house we moved into almost 2 months ago look like it’s our home and give it the love it deserves.

So, I went out to find three 5×7 frames (I took 3 photos that I love and tweaked them a bit in iPhoto to add that extra special factor and by doing so, Walgreens informed me that if I blew up my photos any more than 5×7 I wouldn’t be happy with the print quality). 5×7 worked perfectly actually up on the mantle over the fireplace.

As you can see, we needed something on that mantle, as it’s looking pretty naked.

Our naked mantle

I found three frames at Hobby Lobby, for 50% off. (Seems like their photo frames are always 50% off – but that works for me!) I picked three white frames because I figured it’s probably easier to spray paint over white rather than black, right? My frames were priced at $11.99 each, but half off meant that I got all 3 for just under $20. I mulled over a spray paint purchase for quite some time though, and finally selected a burgundy color. I usually gravitate towards burgundy and turquoise and grays.. but after we moved from our last apartment, I swore I was going to have more of a theme of colors rather than everything that I like. 🙂

Three simple 5×7 Hobby Lobby Frames $11.99 each

I took those to my back porch and gave them a few coats of the burgundy spray paint and they started to come to life.

Even the pups were interested in my project.

This is the baby, Brooklyn.

I let them dry for about a day. Then I added my newly finished prints also (with an older photo in the middle frame so that I had some dimension with my frames and not all 3 on a horizontal layout- plus I’m still enamored with the print in the middle so it can be the rockstar on the mantle :).) Here’s the finished product:

A trio of frames all spray painted one bold color for instant glam – easy DIY project to add some WOW to your home.

Anthropologie-inspired Flower Vases

My next project from this past weekend was something I saw on another blog, (It’s Overflowing), about replicating ideas that you see other places on a DIY scale. She saw a flower vase at a store, that’s also a favorite of mine – Anthropologie. I’m guilty of walking in Anthropologie and just looking at everything and trying to find ideas that I can replicate at home, because it is a bit on the pricey side. I love the style there though, and they say imitation is the more sincere form of flattery.. don’t they? 🙂

So, like Amee from It’s Overflowing, I took a shot at recreating a vase like those found in Anthropologie. Amee’s post about her adventures can be found here. I found 2 vases at Michael’s Craft Stores ON SALE

Originally priced, these little things were $8.99 each. They were marked down to $4.99 each and I had a $5 off $10 coupon. I bought something else too, but these little vases worked out to being 2 for about $3. SCORE! I already had some flowers at home that I’ve been collecting for another project. I selected two cheery, very different flowers and hot glued those babies onto the vases.

Voila!

Anthropologie-inspired mini vases to add a splash of color in the home. Easy, inexpensive DIY project!

I’ve got another project in the works but I don’t like to show things until they’re finished. Hope this inspires the creativity in you and that you get a grip on your Pinterest account and start making time to do some of those projects you’ve pinned too. You can follow me on Pinterest here to see more of my style!

Thanks for reading!

-LRL

Latest goings on in our home

Our lives have been a bit of a mess the last couple months. I don’t mean to say that we’re ever overly organized or ahead of the power curve, but lately it’s been extra crazy. You see, I moved into a one bedroom apartment about two years ago. I LOVED that place. It wasn’t super fancy, and it sure wasn’t brand new. But it was the first place that I had ever totally called my own place. Me and Asia (my older pup) made it home sweet home. I painted everything a turquoise color and I loved it. Probably 5 months after we moved in, I felt that Asia needed a buddy to keep company when I was working all day and so I adopted another dog, Brooklyn. I am a huge fan and supporter of adopting pets, and try to keep up with our local shelters in town. If you’re looking to add a forever friend in your life, there is no better way to find the love of your life than adopting a shelter baby. For whatever reason, these animals have been dropped off and they know that they’re being given a second chance at life and it shows in their demeanor towards you. You want to know what unconditional love is? Just visit a shelter and they’ll steal your heart.

So, it’s me and 2 dogs at this point and we were doing pretty well. A little while after that, I met my boyfriend Josh. 6 months after we started dating, he moved in with me as well. In less than a year, we had DOUBLED. But it worked for a while. About a year later, we started truly realizing that we just didn’t have enough space. That fact and our little apartment was old and everything was starting to fall apart.

Our little one bedroom. This is the largest space, our living room.

So, I began the search for another place to live. I’m slightly type a personality and started scouting out places 4 months before it was time to move. People laughed at me for starting the search so soon and everyone told me it was too early to be looking. Probably a month into looking, I lucked into a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom garden style apartment that has a townhouse feel, only one level newly renovated with updates for only $50 more than we were paying for our one bedroom! To everyone who said I was jumping the gun, TAKE THAT! 🙂 It was a good thing that I had found it so early, I had alot of work to do at the old place. See those turquoise walls? I loved them, (my boyfriend, not so much) but MAN were they a bear to repaint back to white!

It was a slow, painstaking process but I got all the walls painted back to that glaring white (I hate white), we got everything packed up (you’d be surprised how much this little one bedroom held) and MOVED! It’s been about a month now and we are mostly settled but now it’s time to start putting the home touches on things. I am between jobs, so to speak, meaning that I am seeking a full time position related to what I have a degree for. But I have a serving job that I work in the evenings and I freelance on the side. So I have the time available to put some love into the new place, but not necessarily an overabundance of funds so it’s one thing at a time. The first thing- the office.

I know you can’t see it in that photo of our living room, but what I was standing in front of what I snapped that picture, was our desk. I tried everything I could think of to pretty up the desk. I painted it, I added pretty hardware, I added curtains to hide the ugly cords underneath it. But still, it was a desk in my living room. So one of our first decisions in the new house was make the second bedroom an office. The boyfriend is pursuing a criminology degree and desperately needs a place to sit down and be able to focus without distractions. Me, I am determined to increase my online presence (via this blog, for example) and work on my own personal brand and make more connections to pursue my own career and would benefit from an efficient office space as well.

Unfortunately, this is what I’m working with right now:

Why this desk is in so many pieces is a long story.. but basically boils down to the way the male mind functions differently than the female mind. I don’t know any woman who would say let’s demo the desk in order to get it through the narrow hallway and around the 90 degree sharp turn corner and then glue it back together.. but that’s his desk, so go for it babe.

That’s his project. It’s taking alot of prodding and reminding that you can’t walk through that room..and slowly, piece by piece it’s getting put back together. But we’ll see if it stays together. Anyway, behind this nonsense is my desk.

My desk area

I started looking for inspiration about a week ago. I’m not really into that whole typical office-type furniture and organization pieces. I would much rather find more interesting pieces and put them into places where they can be functional. Those great little baskets hanging on the wall are my latest find. I was browsing Home Goods and found these little blue, rustic metal baskets. For $12 apiece, I feel like I couldn’t have gotten anything to serve that purpose from an office store anyway. I hung them on either side of the desk as a his and hers way to keep our notebooks and papers OFF the desk so that we can work ON the desk. But then we decided we needed a second desk and the mess that ensued. I’m okay with keeping both baskets for my use. 🙂

Notice how there is a space in between the baskets? I had an idea for that as well. It would be too easy and too boring to hang a plain jane bulletin board up there. I did happen to have one of those that had made it through the move in one piece just stashed in one of the closets though. So with a couple trips to Joanns Fabric and Michaels craft stores, I have been putting life into a new bulletin board to orchestrate organization.

I took a plain bulletin board and painted the edges a slate gray to begin.

I found a great light seafoam colored pattern fabric at Joann’s Fabric (for $9/yard – didn’t quite realize til I got to the counter but oh well.) I also found some fabric gluesticks for the hot glue gun. Hindsight thoughts, much more difficult than one would have originally thought. But the gluesticks DID do the trick. It was just a little messier than I had anticipated.

A Pinterest inspired touch for the bulletin board was to include a piece of sheet metal on the board. This would allow dual functionality and give the option to pin reminders as well as use magnets to hang items without adding holes. I just happened to have a piece of punched tin that I had ordered from Ebay several months before (that I hung with two-sided tape on the inside of one of my cabinets to hold reminders, menu ideas, etc.). Of course, I needed magnets as well in order to utilize the sheet of metal. An easy quick way to get custom magnets, is to go to your local craft store and pick brads or embellished items and buy magnets and glue them together.

I opted for a sleek look and picked small heart metal stickers. I added surprisingly strong magnets (for how small they are) to the backs and voila!

The finished product

I added a bit of ribbon around the edges of my board and maybe to hide some uneven edges that I hadn’t cut quite clean enough and all that’s left is to hang it in that open space above my desk!

That’s it for today, but don’t you worry – I’ve got a new challenge for tomorrow.

Thanks for reading! -LRL-