Friday, June 28, 2013

On Vacation!

Via Pinterest, but no link.
That's it, everyone, I'm on vacation! Two weeks of pure bliss. No work, no daily life responsibilities. Just awesome time in Europe! While I'm gone, you'll see a few posts from me highlighting some of the places I will be traveling to. No specifics right now - you'll have to tune in to see what awesome places I'll be visiting!

Bon Voyage!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Headboard Headaches!

For months now, I've been going back and forth on what I should do with the wall space directly above my bed. Should I put in a headboard? Wall stickers? More pictures? Paint the wall? Add wallpaper? Ahhh!

As you can see, so many options. I continue to vacillate, so this post serves no other purpose but to show you all of the many ideas floating through my head. Here is the wall in question:
The standard beige-ish color of the walls makes me want to paint it true white!

Option 1: Canopy


Option 2: Mini-Canopy
Option 3: Wall Stickers

Option 4: Hang Curtain or Tapestry

Option 5: Banners

Option 6: Wallpaper


Option 7: Pick one and stop looking at Pinterest!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Advice For My Younger Self

Spot on.
Every once in awhile, I’ll see an article about what you would tell your younger self about life. Most recently, I’ve seen these pop up on financial message boards I read. They are the usual “save more, spend less” and “live below your means.” As I’m reading through these posts, I realize that the pieces of advice given are things I learned myself throughout my 20s. The thing is, I don’t think I “know it all” by any means, but there are some things I’ve learned that I am glad I learned as I think it has made me a better and happier person. I also think I’ll look back when I’m 40, 50, 60, etc...and think, “wow, I didn’t know a thing at 25, 35, etc....” But that’s life, you live and you learn.

But what have I learned? What “rules” or “code” do I live by? What would I tell my younger self? If I could tell my teenage self one thing, it would be to not care what other people think, except for your parents and true friends. But those bullies at school or the popular girls? Screw ‘em. They don’t matter to you. Do your own thing, stand up for yourself, and pursue what makes you happy.

When I think about the really unhappy times in my life, I think of when I was 22-24. What would I go back and tell my younger self at that age? Here’s a list:

1. Get out of any relationship where you are not respected. Don’t settle for a “sort-of” relationship. If he fools you once, shame on him, if he fools you twice, shame on you! Younger me, he has fooled you once, you should run!

2. Pursue relationships, even romantic ones, with those you want to be your best friends.

3. Start paying down your debt aggressively. It ain’t going anywhere and you’ll just have to keep paying longer.

4. Save more.

5. Spend less and prioritize your spending based on what you value, not what is “cool.”

6. Take the time to read some financial books, even if it bores you. Learn about investing and 
don’t assume financial advisors have your best interests at heart.

7. Set boundaries. This includes with family, friends, work, etc. Value your health and happiness, because only you can take care of you.

8. Do not move for a boyfriend unless there is a ring on your finger. You should have taught abroad instead, younger self!

9. Spend more time with your grandparents. You don’t know it, but they’ll all be gone in just a few years.

10. Incorporate walking into your daily life and cut the gym membership. It will save you money AND you’ll feel better about your body.

11. You are awesome, and don’t let other people tell you otherwise!

12. Having a spiritual life is important.

13. You hate your job, I know, but you’ll find a better one in a few years!

14. Don’t try to change yourself to save a failing relationship. It won’t work.

15. Embrace the practical person that you are and your inner hippie. It is who you are and love it!

16. You are German. This means you have lots of hair and thick bones. Live with it and don’t try to change it! Resistance to these facts is futile!

17. Your life WILL get better! So relax.

18. Finally, eat more REAL food and less packaged food. Your body will thank you later.

Do any of these sound familiar to you? What would you say to your younger self?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Best of the Blogosphere: 6/21/13 Edition

Every Friday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: My favorite quote from this article by The Minimalist Mom: "When you have less stuff you need to take care of what you do own." Amen!

Best Financial: Get Rich Slowly has a few ideas for how to have a garage sale when you live in an apartment. Maybe I just need to take out a Craigslist ad asking for someone to host my stuff and they'll get a cut? Or is that not worth my time?

Best DIY: How cool is this rain chain! I can imagine myself sitting on a porch swing listening to the rain trickle down. Via Design Sponge.
Best Before & After: MacGirlver sure did MacGyver the heck out of this dresser! She turned it into TWO pieces of furniture. Bravo.

Best Random: Living in Washington, I have plenty of friends who have some seriously awesome security clearance privileges!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Closet Conundrum

The biggest eyesore in my apartment so far is definitely my walk-through closet. The below floor plan isn’t exactly correct with regards to the kitchen and living area, but the way it shows the closet leading into the bathroom is entirely accurate.

On one side, there is a long rod to hang my clothes that takes up the majority of the wall space. Across from that is a series of shelves. It is really hard to take pictures of this tiny area, but here is my attempt:

It looks a bit crazy right now, which has led me to look for ideas on how to better organize and cohesively arrange things so that it is at least somewhat pleasing to the eye. After all, visitors have to walk through the closet to get to the bathroom, and I’m sure they don’t want to see all of my stuff!

To give me some inspiration, I’ve rounded up some ideas and blog posts on closet organization that would fit my needs:

1. Use a curtain to cover up clutter:

Via Young House Love
2. Keep rarely used items in decorative boxes on exposed shelves:

Via A Passion for Home

3. Infuse your plastic drawers with something more colorful:

Via Why Not Do It Yourself

If I can incorporate these ideas over time, I’ll have a more functioning closet! Ideally I’d like it to look like this. Somewhere, my high school art teacher is laughing:

If you have a small closet, how do you organize it?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mirror Mirror....on the Floor

I’ve been living without a floor-length mirror for a few years now, and while this isn’t a necessity by any means, I’ve thought on more than one occasion, “Does this outfit look ridiculous?” But I can’t tell, because I can only see from the waist up. A few times I’ve gotten to work, looked at myself in the floor-length restroom mirror and gone, “YIKES!” So it’s time to invest in a mirror. I’ve been browsing thrift stores for what I hoped was a cheap-ish one, but the last few months of searching has turned up nothing. It is time to look at what is out there in the wider retail world.

First up, Target:

The Threshold Hall Mirror - Silver
Price = $30.99
Pros = Cheap! Available in stores, so don’t have to pay shipping.
Cons = Cheap. Quality will be lower and I can tell from the picture it is only slightly nicer than those mirrors we hung on the doors in our college dorms.


The Easel Mirror
Price = $79.99
Pros = Decently priced.
Cons = Not available in stores, will have to pay for shipping. Not sure how I feel about the easel design.


Next, West Elm:

Parsons Floor Mirror - White Lacquer
Price = $339.00
Pros = Gorgeous, high quality.
Cons = The price, obviously. Not clear if it is available in the store or only online.

West Elm

Metal Floor Mirror
Price = $254
Pros = Minimalist design. Goes with anything.
Cons = Again, the price. Even though it is cheaper than the other West Elm mirrors. Also not sure how I feel about metal as a decor choice.

West Elm

World Market:

Recycled Magazine Mirror
Price = $249.99
Pros = Unique design. Conversation piece.
Cons = Price. Only available online.

World Market

Porter Leaner Mirror
Price = $119
Pros = In my price range. 
Cons = Not crazy about the brown color.

World Market

Finally, Ikea:

Mongstad Mirror
Price = $99.99
Pros = Reasonably priced. Available in the store, so won’t have to ship this big guy. I like the chunky frame to the mirror. 
Cons = I like Ikea and I hate Ikea. Lots of cheap stuff, but not always made that well.

Stave Mirror
Price = $49.99 or $39.99, depending on size
Pros = Cheap!
Cons = Again, its an Ikea product, so I love/hate it. This one looks like it will fall apart in a year.
So has this search narrowed my choices down any? Yes, it has. I know that going over $200 for a mirror is not realistic right now, even if I do like those mirrors better. What I’m going for right now is function, but not quite so cheap looking as to take me back to my college dorm room. I’m down to this debate: The Ikea Mongstad Mirror or Target Silver Mirror. Both will serve their functions, so now it is a matter of looking at both of them and figuring out which one is more my taste. Right now, I can say I’m definitely leaning towards the Ikea one!

It is a good thing my dad will be in town soon so I’ll have some help loading this big thing into the Zipcar we are renting for a few hours to run errands.

Do you have any suggestions where else I should look for floor-length mirrors? I'm open to different option than these!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Best of the Blogosphere: 6/14/13 Edition

Every Friday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: I recently did a bit of babysitting for a couple in town for a conference. I was amazed at all of the stuff they brought with them for their baby. The Minimalist Mom gives some tips on simplifying travel with your little ones.

Best Financial: A great article on Roth IRA's, including reasons why it might not be advantageous at certain points in your life to contribute to one. Via Get Rich Slowly.

Best DIY: Apartment Therapy has a tutorial on how to make a dessert stand out of vintage plates. I don't know why, but I've always wanted to make one of these.
Best Before & After: These "make-unders" are basically restoring crap furniture into their original glory, and what glory it is! Via Design Sponge.

Best Random: A list from Buzzfeed on why summer birthdays suck. As someone born in August, I can definitely relate to many of these. Especially #14, 15, and 16.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"Broom" Baby Blanket Tutorial

A few years ago, I picked up a crochet blanket pattern that I have never seen anywhere else. It is my go-to pattern for baby blankets. I've probably made over a dozen in the past 7 years! I call this the "broom" pattern since the outcome reminds me of the head of a broom. Here is the finished product:

Let's go through the steps to crocheting this beautiful blanket!
Step 1. Assemble the yarn, crochet hook, and large knitting needle. I use a 6 mm crochet hook and one size 50 knitting needle. One or two large skeins of yarn should do the trick. It depends on how big you want the blanket. Remember to get extra soft yarn!

Step 2. Chain 175 rows. Be careful not to crochet the chains too tight or too loose. When you do the chain the first time, you'll probably think it is too long. Trust me, it isn't! I've had to rip out the loops before when I realized I didn't chain enough rows.

Step 3. Insert your crochet hook into each stitch on the chain and grab the the thread of yarn, looping it through the stitch. Pull through the stitch and then drag the new loop onto the knitting needle. Repeat until each stitch on the chain has a loop through it that is attached to the knitting needle.

Step 5. Now that all loops are on the knitting needle, you are ready to start the broom pattern. Pull off 5 loops from the top of the knitting needle. Insert your hook into the five loops.

Grab the string of yarn with the hook and do a single crochet around the five loops.

Do a total of 5 single crochet stitches in the 5 loops.

As you can see in the photo above, you are creating a new chain on top of the "brooms." Once you have taken all the loops off and done 5 single crochets in each group of 5 loops, then you have a brand new chain. Go back to step 3 and put the loops on the knitting needle. Repeat. And that is it!
You can go on for as long as you like. I like to stop at about 25 rows of the pattern. This makes the blanket pretty square. Sticking to multiples of 5 works well with this pattern since you are working with 5 loops at a time. I like to add some fringe on at the end as well, and for that I just cut up the remaining yarn to a length I like and knot them around the edges. Pretty simple!
I hope this isn't too complicated and that you found the tutorial easy to follow!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Work Work Work!

Greetings form a hotel in an undisclosed location in the US!

I'm at a work meeting for a few days, so blog updates will be few and far between. While I'm busy working, I'm daydreaming about my upcoming 2-week vacation to Europe! It can't come soon enough.

Look kids, it's Big Ben!
Back to blogging soon, ya'll!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Best of the Blogosphere: 6/7/13 Edition

Every Friday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: I featured Zero Waste Home in a blog post earlier this week. Check out the author's wardrobe inventory here. Could you ever have so few articles of clothing?

Best Financial: Want a cheap cell phone plan? Check out Simple Family Finance for some tips.

Best DIY: I'll be taking a much-needed vacation soon, so why not think about what travel snacks I can make myself? Via theKitchn.
Best Before & After: I love entire home renovations! I'm inspired by those who have a vision and then have the courage to create it in real life. It's Overflowing featured an amazing house reno this week. You can also check out the whole process at the original site: Farmhouse38.

Best Random: A friend sent me this article, and I really did laugh out loud! My food is trying to kill me - the tragedy of the healthy eater!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Zero Waste Home

I have a new blog discovery that I have to share! Zero Waste Home. I like so much about what this blog chooses to be. The blog’s author, Bea, and her family aim to literally have no waste coming out of their home. That means they avoid clutter and live by the moniker “refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot.”

There is one page on the blog that especially piqued my interest. The Tips section. As I went through these, I discovered there were things I already do, things I don’t do but should start doing, and things that I absolutely refuse to do. So what are those things? Well, I’m going to break them down like Bea does on her blog, by sections of the home. I challenge you to follow along with me and see where you can make adjustments in your home!


Already Do:
  • Use reusable water bottles for my daily water needs. 
  • Take cloth bags as well as produce bags to the grocery store. 
  • Buy in bulk for some kitchen items, such as grains, legumes, and dried fruit. 
  • Shop the farmer’s markets in the warmer months.
  • Eat most, if not all, of my food. I don’t let items go to waste and only buy what I know I will consume.
Would Like to Do:
  • Completely ditch paper towels.
  • Use castile soap for both dishes and hands.
Absolutely will not/cannot do:
  • Compost. Unfortunately, I don’t have a garden. So what would I do with all of that composting material? Plus, I don’t have a place for the rotting specimens to, well, ROT. No yard or patio yet.


Already Do:

  • Sadly, nothing on her list!

Would Like to Do:
  • For body soap, use a package-free soap. 
  • Use 100% recycled toilet paper. This is more expensive than regular, though. Boo.
  • Refill bottles with bulk shampoo and conditioner. I once lived near a co-op that allowed us to bring in bottles and buy the shampoo/conditioner by the liquid ounce! It was awesome. I no longer have that, though. 
  • An alum stone instead of deodorant. I already use a non-aluminum, homemade deodorant. But I’d like to try making my own instead of buying someone else’s homemade product.
  • Dump the Q-tips. This is going to be tough. I am a bit addicted.
  • Make homemade toothpaste.
  • Make reusable panty-liners. 
Absolutely will not/cannot do:
  • Compost hair and nail clippings. #1, don’t have a place to compost. #2, ewww.
  • Menstrual cup. And how does one clean it in a public restroom? 
Laundry & Cleaning

Already Do:
  • Homemade cleaner (vinegar, water, and orange extract)
  • Old toothbrush for the nooks and crannies
  • Wash floors with microfiber mop
  • Turn worn-out clothes into rags
  • Iron less. I hardly iron as it is, so this isn’t hard!
Would Like to Do:
  • Own more houseplants to help clean the air (I only have one so far!)
  • Make homemade laundry detergent or buy in bulk
Absolutely will not/cannot do:
  • Take clothes to the dry cleaner, even if it is an eco-friendly one. I don’t want to spend the money!
Dining & Entertaining

Already Do:
  • Use cloth napkins
  • Stopped buying CDs/DVDs. But I do accept them as gifts!
Would Like to Do:

  • Bring my own container to take home leftovers when eating out. Sounds weird, but who cares, right? 

Absolutely will not/cannot do:
  • Take jars to the grocery store. How does one do this for bulk items and not get charged the weight of the jar? For example, bulk rice is sold by the pound. A mason jar will add to the cost because it weighs a pound, at least. 

Already Do:
  • Started a junk mail war! I get electronic bills and statements for all of my accounts and I don’t have a listed phone number or address. 
  • Only use paper clips at home.
  • Make my own envelopes out of the junk mail ones that do end up in my mailbox. 
  • Use recycled paper for printing.
  • Use memory sticks and external drives instead of CDs for storage of electronic files.
  • Use the library for books and renting DVDs.
  • Recycle paper and plastic products via the recycling center in my building.
Would Like to Do:
  • Use refillable pens and pencils.
  • Donate extra office material to local public schools’ art program.
Absolutely will not/cannot do:
  • Refuse free pens. As a part-time waitress, you lose so many pens that any free pens are highly valued! You would be surprised at how many customers steal pens!

Already Do:
  • Donate unworn pieces.
  • Keep worn-out clothes for rags.
  • Bring reusable bags for purchases.
Would Like to Do:
  • Adopt a more minimalist wardrobe.
  • Learn more sewing tricks. I can hem a pair of pants, but it isn’t that pretty.
  • Buy second-hand clothing. I do this on occasion, but I mainly stick to discount stores like TJ Maxx, Filene’s Basement, and Nordstrom’s Rack. 
Absolutely will not/cannot do:
  • Only shop a few times a year. While I don’t shop often, I can’t limit myself to only a few times a year, because clothes don’t wear out on a schedule. 

Already Do:
  • Keep only a minimal supply. Working on paring this down even more.
  • Own a Neti Pot. Great for nasal congestion!
  • Gave up the multi-vitamin. I eat a healthy diet!
Would Like to Do:
  • Don’t buy jumbo size medication. I do this because I think it is a better deal. It isn’t!
  • Find more natural/homemade alternatives. Like a homemade salt scrub or lotion.
Absolutely will not/cannot do:
  • Reuse my prescription jars at the pharmacy. I can’t do this. I tried and they refused. I do, however, use a few for storing small craft items, such as beads. AND edited to add, thanks to my lovely friend Nicole: save your empty pill bottles for your friends that are art teachers!
  • Ditch band-aids. Sometimes you cut yourself and don’t have time to wait and see if you will stop bleeding. Like while waitressing.

  • this last category I can’t write much. I don’t have a garden. :(

So let's hear it, could you incorporate some of these ideas into your home?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Update on the Bedroom's Blank Canvas

I made a few additions to my bedroom last week and took some pictures to show you the progress!

The bedroom has been sporting an all-white motif lately:

After a recent trip to Target, I came away with items that are launching my bedroom redecoration:

The pillowcases aren't much to write home about, just some simple black cotton ones do the trick. I'm super pumped about the ikat throw pillow, though! It was a decent price (~$15) and accents the bedspread well, I think. I'm liking the new decor so far!