Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I Bought a Mirror!

After much consideration, I finally settled on a floor mirror for my apartment! I considered many options, as you can see, but I finally settled on the Mongstad from Ikea for $100. The nicer options were just too pricy (hello West Elm, I’m looking at you) and the cheaper options reminded me of my dorm room (hello, Target!).

So here it is, in all of its glory!

I absolutely LOVE it! Finally, I can see what I look like in the morning from the waist down! Other pros: it fits with most of the decor I currently have, (although I am aware that my apartment is starting to look like an Ikea showroom...damn them for being so affordable!) and it brightens up the room! Since the mirror sits exactly opposite from the large windows on the other side of my studio, the light reflects off the mirror and completely changes the feel of the place.

As an example, here is what my apartment looked like on a sunny day before the mirror, and then what it looks like now:

Pretty cool, huh?

And now the fun part of the story, the saga of how I got this large mirror into my apartment!

Originally, the plan was that my dad and I were going to do a massive run with a car when he arrived the day before we left on vacation. I reserved a nearby Zipcar for 5 hours and had the errands all planned out so we could get them done in time. That got all blown to hell when his flight got cancelled and he wasn’t re-scheduled to arrive until the late evening.

When my dad called to say it had been cancelled, we did our freaking out, then got him re-booked. We decided I would run all of the errands myself and that way, he could at least help me put up some things when he got here that night. Thankfully, our flight out of the country didn’t leave until the next evening. Go me for proper exigency planning!

So I go to Ikea alone, grab a few other things, then head down to the bottom level to find this mirror. Problem: it is huge and in a large box. I try to get it on the cart, but the cart keeps running away from me. Try holding on to something with WHEELS while simultaneous lifting a 70 pound awkward box! Thankfully, there are nice people in the world. After seeing my struggle, a friendly couple came over and helped me heave it onto the cart. The same thing happened when I tried to stuff this thing in the trunk of the car. I put down the back seats, moved up the front seats as far as they could go, and attempted to lift the mirror up in there. A man walking by with his wife eyed me and came over to help. What nice people! Ikea staff were nowhere to be found during these struggles, however.

Then there was the saga of actually getting it IN my apartment! Thankfully, I could just slide it on the floor most of the way, but getting it out of the car was quite the struggle. Someone should have had a video camera during all of this to capture the insanity!

But it was worth it in the end!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Color Behind the Canopy

Now that I have a start on the bedroom wall, I've begun brainstorming about what I want to go behind the sheer white half-canopy:

Several ideas are popping into my head. Curtains! Fabric! Wallpaper!


madebydrawstring on Etsy


Astoria Rust at Jo-Ann Stores

Flamingo at Jo-Ann Stores

Formal Hydrangea at Jo-Ann Stores

Temporary Wallpaper

Swag Paper
From these options, you can probably tell I want color and pattern. I’m leaning towards a light purple, which is why the Distressed Trellis temporary wallpaper is in the lead. I do like the Astoria Rust fabric from Jo-Ann’s, though. It brings color without being too bold. I think I’m bold enough in other areas of my apartment.

As far as pattern goes, any suggestions on what pairs well with ikat? I’ve seen recommendations for geometric shapes as well as sparkle and subtle polka dots.

You might be able to tell by reading this blog that I’m not one of those people who can design a room from scratch! This is why I add little things over time - I have to see what the room looks like after each piece is added, then I get inspiration for the next addition or modification.

What color would you add to this black and white palette?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Best of the Blogosphere: 7/26/13 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: Do you have CDs you want to get rid of and also make a bit of money? Try Amazon's Music Trade-In. The money comes in the form of Amazon gift cards.

Best Financial: Katy, from The Non-Consumer Advocate, is now debt-free aside from her mortgage. Congratulations! It is always fun to read debt-free blog posts - inspiration!

Best DIY: What should you do with old maps? Turn it into wall art! Better After shows us how.
Best Before & After: Hooked on Houses features an amazing first-floor renovation.

Best Random: Holy can make bread in your crock pot!? This changes my life. Via The Kitchn.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My New Magical Bedroom

Check out this before and after:


I fell in love with the half-canopy bed route and decided to go for it! The two best parts of this are 1) I got the overall look for pretty cheap and 2) My dad was here to help me install it.

Cost breakdown, all items from Ikea:

2 Racka curtain rods at $2.99 ea. = $5.98
2 Vasentlig finials at $4.99 ea. = $9.98
2 Betydlig wall brackets at $1.49 ea. = $2.98
2 Betydlig curtain rod holders at $0.49 ea. = $0.98
1 pair of Lill sheer curtains = $4.99
1 Dignitet curtain wire = $12.99

Grand total = $37.90 plus tax

A small price to pay for a great outcome!

I bought two curtain rods and installed both so that eventually, I can put a colorful panel behind the sheer curtains. I also installed the curtain wire at bed-level to tuck the curtains into. This helps keep them from falling out as I toss and turn at night. I'm loving it so far!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Debt Update: Less Than $10k to Go!

It is with great happiness that I share the following news: I’ve hit the major milestone of being under $10,000 owed on my student loans!
I'm as happy has this guy!

Current debt total = $8,873.02

This gets me closer to my goal of being debt free by the end of the year - hallelujah!

How did I get below $10,000 so quickly? By sticking to the following principles:

  • Put any extra money/unexpected income towards my debt
  • Stick to the budget
  • Sell stuff
  • Make easy substitutions that impact your cash-flow, such as check out books/movies from the library instead of buying them, or walk to work on nice days instead of take the bus/train.
As my grandmother used to say, "'It won't be long now,' the monkey said as his tail got caught in the lawnmower!"

Friday, July 19, 2013

Best of the Blogosphere: Vacation Catch-Up

Every Friday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. This week, I'm featuring my "catch-up" posts - the articles from the last two weeks that I missed while I was away in Europe! Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: I'm a huge fan of Freecycle. So is Unclutterer - read their take on this awesome community organization.

Best Financial: investigates this thing called "austerity." It is really just living within your means and not succumbing to consumerism. In order to get out of debt, I'm following many of the principles of austerity. It is working!

Best DIY: What do I do with those city maps I accumulated while on vacation? DIY them into a cool project! Via Apartment Therapy.
Best Before & After: Amazing makeover of a crappy shed! Via Relaxshacks.

Best Random: NPR has an interesting article on what motivates a person to by brand-name medicine when generics are readily available. I buy generics for everything medicine-related. Same ingredients, same results! The one exception: tissues. Give me soft Puffs or Kleenex any day over the generic. Blowing your nose with something next to sandpaper is horrible! Although I should just take a page from my dad's playbook and use handkerchiefs....

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Back from Vacation

I'm back! I've got a lot of catching up to do at home and at work, so this is going to be a fairly short post. For your viewing pleasure, and to make you insanely jealous, here are some pictures I took while in Ireland and Germany:

The Rhineland, Germany
Dingle Peninsula Coast, Ireland
In the coming weeks I'll update you all on the recent changes I've made to my apartment. A few of them are:

  • I put something on the bedroom wall. That's right, I finally made a decision!
  • The gallery wall I talked about a few months ago is now a work in progress.
  • The closet is coming together a bit more after making a very simple change.
  • I've added one LARGE piece of furniture to my place. It was an adventure to get this item into my apartment. What is it, you ask!? Wait and see!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Spotlight on Germany: Hamburg


Did you know?
  • The Speicherstadt warehouse district is the world's largest former warehouse complex.
  • Hamburg has more than 2,500 bridges. 
  • The Beatles launched their career here in the years 1960-62, playing in several clubs throughout the city.

Sources: Wikipedia, International Programs, Guide 2 Germany

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Spotlight on Germany: Bonn


Did you know?
  • Bonn was once the capital of West Germany.
  • Beethoven was born here.
  • Composer Robert Schumann is buried here. 

Source: Wikipedia

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Spotlight on Ireland: Dingle

Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland.
(c) Flash Parker
Dingle Pubs Via Idgie

Did you know?
  • Dingle is the only town on the Dingle Peninsula
  • It is also the western-most town in Europe (locals say "the next parish is in Boston")
  • The name "Dingle" is not printed on any road signs. This is due to the Irish government requiring that regions in the "Gaeltacht," or the Irish-speaking regions, to only issue signs in Irish. Currently, all signs for Dingle feature the Irish translation "An Daingean" or "Daingean Uí Chúis." Locals have taken to spray-painting "Dingle" over these signs in protest.

Sources: Wikipedia, Rick Steves' Europe

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Spotlight on Ireland: Dublin


Did you know?
  • The Brazen Head is supposedly the oldest pub in Ireland. A pub has been on that site since the 12th century. 
  • Bram Stoker of Dracula fame was born in Dublin. Legend has it that his vampire book comes from the Irish words "Droch Ola," which means "bad blood."
  • Phoenix Park is the largest city park in Europe. The only park bigger worldwide is Central Park.

Sources: Stay City, Go Ireland