Friday, August 30, 2013

Best of the Blogosphere: 8/30/13 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: Wish you had the convenience of a frozen meal, but none of the salt and mushy taste? Learn how to make your own stir-fry freezer meals at theKitchn.

Best Financial: Confessions of a former stock broker, from Get Rich Slowly. My favorite line: "stick with my investing plan and passionately pursue my financial goals." Amen!

Best DIY: Wish I would have thought of this myself - a desk/shelving Ikea hack from Ikea Hackers.
Best Before & After: Two chairs DIY'ed into a bench! Happy thought, indeed! Via MacGIRLver.

Best Random: I can't exactly sum up what this website is, but it is worth checking out just to make you think about life: Big Think.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Choosing Curtains

I’ve been scouring the internet for curtain options that would match the color scheme I’ve started in my bedroom. So far, I've found both regular curtain panels and shower curtains. Here are a few of the shower curtains:
Bed Bath & Beyond - $40
Heart Locked - $50
There are also a few "regular" curtains:

Anthropologie - $70-100
Urban Outfitters - $19-24
Urban Outfitters - $20
Urban Outfitters - $34-49
Urban Outfitters - $34-49
Here's my bedroom, to refresh your memory:

The curtains would be off to the side on the left. Which do you like best? I'm liking the Urban Outfitters options, myself!

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Furniture Experiment

Last weekend, I tried a little experiment. I switched the layout of my desk and dining table. I’ve been thinking about what to do with this area for a while and came up with a hypothesis: That the two pieces of furniture would look better switched around. Was I right?

Original Layout:

Reversed Layout:

The result: I learned that if I’m going to like this space, in either configuration, I need to get a smaller table that folds up, such as this one from Ikea. I also need to de-clutter the desk asap! It just doesn't look neat or organized. The problem is the big, chunky printer/scanner. Methinks this will go in the closet soon.

Which configuration do you like best?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Best of the Blogosphere: 8/23/13 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: For some peeps I know who are having babies: Via the Everyday Minimalist.

Best Financial: 10 Characteristics of Debt-Free People, from Len Penzo. Even though I'm not quite debt free, I like to think these describe me.

Best DIY: Sigh, I wish I had a garden full of tomatoes to make homemade tomato sauce! Via theKitchn.
Best Before & After: Some cool chair-renovations via DecRenew Interiors.

Best Random: An app to learn about color! Via Design Sponge.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Homemade Granola - A Cooking DIY

Last weekend, I made granola for the first time and it was YUMMY! I typically buy granola at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, but I decided that since I have a bunch of oats, it was worth trying to make it on my own. I was also curious about the cost. Would I save money making it myself? The short answer to that is not really (see a good analysis of this at TheKitchn). But, it was fun and best of all, it was delicious.

For recipes, I tried two from My Whole Food Life. The Maple Almond Vanilla and the Nutella.

I won’t repeat the recipe here, but I’ll give you a few tips and pictures:

I had to search three different Whole Food stores for almond meal. You can apparently make your own too!

Be careful not to burn the batch. You can see from the edges here that I left it in a tad too long.
I took the picture of the jar after I ate some. It really did make more than this!
My handwriting with chalk the tip here is to be better at writing with chalk than me!

Nine times out of ten if you make something at home it is cheaper than store-bought. In this case, it is pretty much a wash. The most expensive items were the nuts. And surprisingly, I didn’t find the rolled oats to be overly cheap either. I’ll have to cost compare to see if I can get a better deal somewhere else in the city. Or maybe buy a TON in bulk. I might be making a lot of granola now that I love these recipes, so maybe it is worth buying large quantities. Oh, and the really great thing is it only takes about a 45 minutes to make and then your house smells amazing for the rest of the day!

PS - Did you notice the awesome new mason jars?! Here are a few more. I bought a bunch at TJ Maxx using a gift card I got for my birthday. Happy birthday to me!

Monday, August 19, 2013

It's Color, Ladies and Gents!

Time for a bedroom update. Here is where we left off:

Last week I received a lovely item in the mail and, wow, did it make a difference in my bedroom. I've got color!!

As you can see, I went with teal. I love it! I also think it makes the room less harsh, which is a good thing. As for the other small additions, I already had the striped pillow - you might remember it from an earlier iteration of the bedroom. The matching teal tray is from West Elm.

The panel curtain behind the tulle curtains is from ZGallerie. Can you tell that it is also "tufted" - just like the duvet cover? When I saw it I knew immediately that this would be the perfect backdrop. It is subtle, yet it accents the bedding perfectly! Added bonus: the curtain panel was on sale. Double win!

I ended up taking down the navy blue curtains (not in frame here - but would be on the left) because I want to get new ones that better match the new decor. Now I'm thinking about a third color accent to finish off the color palette. What goes well with teal and black? Should I bring in another color or pattern with the curtains? Decisions!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Best of the Blogosphere: 8/16/13 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: "The ghosts of desperation and lust and envy hide in the shadow of our yearning." If you like that quote, read more from The Minimalists.

Best Financial: If you are into canning and want to save a ton on mason jars, check out Specialty Bottle!

Best DIY: I'm going to attempt to make granola for the first time this weekend. Here's the recipe, via My Whole Food Life.
Best Before & After: A lovely dining room transformation for only $400. Via Design Sponge.

Best Random: I really enjoyed looking at these "40 Maps that Explain the World" via The Washington Post.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Blog Changes

You might have noticed a tab bar has appeared at the top of this blog. I added two new sections: an "About Me" and a "Studio Tour." I finally have enough before and after shots of my studio to make this a mainstay section of the blog. I'm going to be playing around with these tabs and may add a few more. Stay tuned! 

In the meantime, take a look at the Studio Tour to see the changes I've made over the last 9 months.

Monday, August 12, 2013

It's a Gallery Wall!

I'm sitting in my apartment on Sunday night, extremely exhausted after a long day spent outdoors. Writing a blog post is actually the last thing I want to do right now because it requires some coherent thought (I just had to spell-check "coherent" - that's how tired I am).

But - I did want to get some pictures posted of the gallery wall my dad helped me assemble. Long story short, I got the material for the shelves from Home Depot without my dad's help (small victory!) and I didn't do half bad! It was incredibly cheap too, $20 for 16 feet of wood that I had cut in three separate pieces for each shelf.

Before I left for my Euro vacation at the very end of June, my dad helped me put up the shelves. This is what the wall has looked like for the past month:
Tired of the shelves being so bare, I started buying cheap frames from thrift shops and TJ Maxx over the last month-and-a-half. And viola, I have a much better looking gallery wall!
Each frame was no more than $5 - win!
I still have one or two photos that need to be framed, but so far, I love it! I've gone with black, white, and silver frames and I think the cohesion of color allows me more freedom with the sizes. Aside from framing a few more photos, I need to sand down the edges and paint them white to match. You can't see it from this picture, but the edges are not painted white.

And there's my update! Now back to relaxing and enjoying the few hours of weekend I have left. Have a wonderful week, everyone.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Best of the Blogosphere: 8/9/13 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: A helpful post from Unclutterer on how to clean up computer disk space.

Best Financial: Apparently, half of the $1 trillion of student loan debt is unpaid. The $40,000 I will have paid off soon is just a drop in the hat. Via Politico.

Best DIY: Do you have unused fabric? Use them for jars you give as gifts (i.e. canning)! Via theKitchn.
Best Before & After: What a cute kitchen nook! I want to eat there. Via Design Sponge.

Best Random: Another article on student loan debt. This time, the topic is how hard it is for women to pay off loans. Via The Street.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

End of Summer Goals

Now that summer is almost over (it is almost mid-August!), I’ve thought about the projects I want to get done before fall arrives. As I sat down to write this post, I thought of probably a dozen projects, but then I realized that I won’t be able to get more than 3-4 done before the end of this month. With that in mind, here are my goals for the end of the summer:

1) Sell Stuff
I bought a new-to-me MacBook last April, but haven’t sold my old HP yet. What am I doing? That’s at least $100 in my pocket. I need to do some research to see what kind of money I can get for it on Craigslist before I list it, but this is a super-easy way to make some money! I also have a few collector items I can sell on eBay, although I’m not sure how much they are worth. Again, I need to spend some time researching.

2) Donate Stuff
When I transitioned my wardrobe from winter to summer, I put some clothes and other miscellany into a box to donate. It is sitting in my closet taking up room that could be used to start my closet renovation.

3) New Curtains
Since moving into my studio last year, I’ve been annoyed by the curtains in the main room. I loved the curtains in my old place, but my current windows aren’t as big (height-wise), so the curtains drag on the floor. Plus, I’ve gone with a new color scheme. Of the curtain styles I've looked at, this is my favorite so far. I would have to hem them, though, since they only come in one size:

4) Finish Gallery Wall
I haven't yet showed off the start of the gallery wall, so that's coming in a future post. In short, I need to hit the hardware store and TJ Maxx to finish this this project up!

Do you have any end-of-summer-goals? Share them in the comments!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Net Worth Update: What a Difference a Year Makes!

In an attempt to get inspiration for today's post, I looked back on some older entries to see what has changed in the last year. I stumbled across this one - the day I hit a positive net worth. This was nearly a year ago. Back then, I still had close to $30,000 in debt. With some retirement accounts and my car as my only assets, my net worth was $259.14.

Today, almost one year later, my debt total is down to $8,300 and my net worth is up to $32,000!

How did this reverse so quickly? Mostly, because I hit my debt payoff really hard. I had already saved some for retirement, so by eliminating my debt I'm boosting my net worth every time I send a payment. I also made some great strides with putting more towards retirement this year.

If you enjoy seeing your wealth grow, I suggest you track your net worth. I explain how I do so here. If you are a nerd like me who loves truth in numbers, you'll really enjoy watching your net worth get bigger and bigger!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Best of the Blogosphere: 8/2/13 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: Can limiting your time on social media lead to greater happiness? Yes, because you eliminate FOMO (or fear of missing out). Via The Minimalist Mom.

Best Financial: Get Rich Slowly offers an interesting perspective on saving for retirement over paying down debt. I wouldn't change anything about my approach, but it is interesting to read another point of view.

Best DIY: I've seen song-lyrics-pillow-stencil DIYs, how about a song-lyric-painting DIY? Pretty cool, via My Pretty Pennies.
Best Before & After: If I had a mudroom, this would totally go in it! Via Better After.

Best Random: Does anyone else find this creepy? Via Apartment Therapy.