jewelry vanity desk

For what feels like the 20th time this fall/winter season, I am sick. It’s just a cold, but it’s a bummer. Luckily it’s a three-day weekend for me and I can just stay home and sneeze, clorox stuff, repeat away from the office and get a few little things done in the meantime.

My cute yellow roll top desk has a new home in our bedroom. Love it!


I decided it was far too cute to be stuck in the basement after I moved it out of the dining area this summer so I decided to come up with a new purpose for it. Jewelry organization! It certainly isn’t space-saving {everything in here once fit in a small trunk on my bathroom counter}, but it’s pretty, and it’s reversible, and it was free. Plus it’s pretty awesome.

Let’s peak in the drawers, shall we? {Pay no mind to the imperfect paint job inside the drawers!}


This drawer contains bracelets, and a couple flower pins. The front row of bracelets is sorted, from left to right, by beaded, charm, metal, and shell.


My earrings are sorted by color in little plastic trays from the Target dollar bin section {there’s always something awesome there}.


Studs are on cards in a bowl, and some of the largest earrings are corralled in a little teacup in one of the small top drawers.


My rings are all in the other small drawer. I made the little ring box with a paper mache box from JoAnn and a cloth napkin. I found the genius idea via Pinterest, here. {My ring collection is much smaller so this little box was perfect.} A couple big rings wouldn’t fit, so they are in the green votive holder.


Under the roll top, I put my small bags/clutches, and a few amber glass pieces I have collected to hold the things I wear the most often. I might move those to my bathroom counter to be more convenient and find a way to store other accessories like scarves, in this area. I haven’t decided yet.


I’m mulling over a few other ideas. I would like to fit some paper to line the top drawers {I ran out of contact paper scraps}. I would like a little mirror on a stand for the inside. My necklaces are still hanging from the mirror on the other side of the room, but some hooks or pegs on the wall near the desk might be a better location.

For now, this is a really fun way to display my sparkly stuff and use this desk. Gotta love free projects!


dining room inspiration board

Last week I posted some house updates, including this picture of my dining area:


What to do with this area of the kitchen has kind of alluded me. I don’t want to buy new furniture {switching up the chairs was fun}, or spend a lot of money on anything for the house right now, because I am saving my house budget for the yard this summer. But I also think it’s time to start making some small changes, using things I have, and adding a few things that will make it prettier and more functional.

I have been pinning images that give me fun ideas for this room. I love this one; simple white curtains and lots of plants. I’ve been meaning to plant lots of herbs indoors {kicking myself for not bringing some in from the garden at the end of the summer!!!}. That will definitely be on the agenda in a couple months {I’m afraid bringing them home from the nursery in this weather will cause them to go into perma-shock}.{Image Source.}


This dining area’s a little too shabby chic for my tastes, but I love the mismatched chairs (duh) and mostly neutral palette with a few pops of color. The mismatched candles are fun, too. {Image source.}


This eat-in kitchen is awesome (I covet white cabinets!). The red chairs are perfect. I think I need more red in my life. {Image source.}


I made this little collage incorporating some of the ideas I want to get around to for the dining nook, because it’s my idea of a good time, and I like arranging ideas visually to get them outta my head and into (semi) action.

dining room update

Here’s what’s happening:

  1. Some breezy white curtains from IKEA would be a great way to make the bay window a bit less boring, but without spending a lot (four panels can really add up elsewhere). If I do nothing else on this list for a while, I should at least get to this one soon!
  2. Even though I spray-painted the light fixture to a better color, a pendant with a drum shade would balance out that side of the room a bit more.
  3. Mismatched chairs – I should paint one red.
  4. A great rug makes a room. I love Persian rugs. I want one in every room. But for the budget, I could probably find a fun rug at Urban Outfitters or IKEA.
  5. Plants! Herbs, mostly. I want to plant every type I use on a regular basis.
  6. I’ve always wanted a terrarium like the one in the middle of the table.
  7. That hanging box-shelf is from Urban Outfitters and would be perfect for above the dresser. I think it would be a pretty easy DIY hack, though. There’s a junkyard near my house that has old wooden ammo boxes that may just be perfect…
  8. A little framed mirror or art. I’m sure I could find something around the house for this.
  9. Metallic baskets! I have a few I could spray paint with metallic paint. I did that with a few smaller baskets and I love them.

Anyone else have any suggestions for this space?

practically free friday #18 – organize with berry containers

This is a pretty silly project – basically a fast organization upgrade achieved while the pasta was boiling for dinner last night. I saw this photo on Pinterest a while back.

I think I was looking for things to do with berry containers because I always throw so many in the recycle bin! This is a really obvious way to use them, but I really like the look of clear bins so I guess that’s why the idea was in the back of my head.

I decided to organize a couple drawers in my yellow desk, finally. Here’s the before:

Nothing too horrifying, but could use some sprucing. I used some of the shelf liner from another desk project and corralled items into berry containers with the lids cut off. They make the perfect shallow trays, and allow me to see the pretty shelf paper.

Both lower drawers look nice and tidy now.

Hope everyone has a happy weekend!

buy nothing new for 60 days.. checking in.

Anyone joining me on this – how’s your buy-nothing-new challenge going? I hope you’re still plugging along finding creative ways to satisfy those spending impulses!

I thought I’d recap my first two weeks of the challenge. It’s been pretty easy, quite honestly, because I have had plenty of distractions that cost nothing – work, study, workout, work, study, work out, study, clean house. It’s boring, but it’s affordable.

I’ve had a couple (small) money-saving victories on the necessities I wanted to blog about, however, because even though the following are “approved” expenses for the next two months, I still found ways to save a few pennies, and it’s added up! {And yes, I’ve been keeping track of these silly things – this stuff matters!}

  1. Week of April 1: Packed breakfast and lunch every day. {Approximate savings: $8 – I generally only eat one lunch out per week, but still worth noting}.
  2. 4/2/2012: Used grocery coupons: {Savings: $11.30}
  3. 4/3/2012: Purchased a Groupon for 6 oil changes, plus safety/emissions inspection for $59 {Approximate savings: at least $150 in the long run on this expense}
  4. 4/6/2012: Cashed in a Christmas gift card for a dinner date. {Ended up paying for tip only. Savings of $25.}
  5. 4/7/2012: Paid $6.50 for a haircut/style plus $10 for a brow tint at a local beauty school {Approximate savings even after tip:  at least $40}.*
  6. 4/9/2012: Needed a few greeting cards to send and was prepared to stop at the store for some. Realized I have a ridiculously large stash of really pretty note cards at home and they’d be totally sufficient. Duh. {Approximate savings of $8.}
  7. 4/14/2012: Attended 40th birthday party for a friend’s husband. Instead of a gift card or something we brought him a 40 oz from the gas station {complete with paper bag of course}. You have to know your crowd when giving a cheap joke gift but in this instance we knew the $4 gift would be well-received. He loved it, and thought it was super clever. 40 for your 40. Har har. Don’t judge, we also brought a very nice fruit tray! {Approximate savings of $21}.

Approximate Total Savings: $263.30!!!

*This one comes with a fair warning that you get what you pay for sometimes. I’ve had plenty of great experiences getting my salon services done on the cheap at a beauty school. The only real sacrifices generally are atmosphere (totally chaotic and unprofessional at times!) and not always quick (stylists who are still learning are often suuuper slow and careful). I’m willing to put up with both of those things to save a lot of dough. However, last week’s experience was rather disappointing. While my eyebrows turned out great, the haircut wasn’t fantastic. I had to touch it up myself at home, which really isn’t a big deal. I roll with it. If you aren’t the type who can I’d suggest paying the extra and going to a real salon. 🙂

Another thing I wanted to mention is my strategy for dealing with my “wants.” Cuz, don’t get me wrong, I still totally have them. It’s surprising what I come up with to purchase in just 14 days. My strategy is really simple. I keep a running “want list.” It’s on the same Word document I keep my little money saving victories on, above. When I think of something I want to go buy, I put it on the list. If I still want them when the challenge is over, I’ll probably go buy them. I’ve already taken many of them off simply by finding an alternative so I didn’t have to wait until the 60 days are over.

I didn’t add those items to the list above because that list is only what I saved additionally; they are approved expenses and I still trimmed them down. I will do a post later down the road of some of the ways I satisfied some pure wants for FREE!

Finally, found this via Pinterest and thought it was really great. It really is this simple!


I’m extremely visually inspired, so I made myself a little fitspiration pin board to hang in my closet. My countdown to goal weight, little positive messages, and pictures of stuff I want to buy when I make it to my goal {or maybe before..}

As a bonus, hubby gets to check out VS models without having to sneak it. Ha.

This was just a cheapo art canvas I stapled some fabric to a long time ago. It was hanging in our old house in the basement and I just dug it out from a closet for this purpose. Push pins go right in and keep everything up securely. I could even hang some jewelry if I wanted to.

This will probably change a lot as I find things to pin. It certainly isn’t close to done now. But it’s a nice little reminder to get myself down to the workout room and put in my time.

Not to say I don’t love me some virtual pinboard, too! I have a board of things I collect online that also inspire me.

This one’s my favorite. So blunt, simple and empowering:

It’s my new mantra.

up to stuff, spring edition..

It’s yard-planning season at mi casa. Collecting ideas, sketching and sitting right in the middle of the backyard gazing into the distance in deep-thought {when it’s not raining}. That’s what I’m up to right now.

And I reeeeeallly want to post on it, an actual plan and pictures and stuff, but I just don’t know how to even begin to shape a real plan yet. I’m dizzy with ideas. I’m exhausted just thinking about all the digging. All I know is, we have got a LONG way to go and we do have a priority list for this spring//summer. Wanna see it? Sure ya do.


  • Plant a garden {we already built the raised garden boxes and I’ve purchased everything required to get my little seedlings growing. This week’s projects include staining the wood boxes and getting those starters going!}
  • Build a shed. We put in the shed pad last spring. Something like this, perhaps?

  • Build a compost bin.
  • Build a fence around the garden to keep the puppy out and to maximize cuteness.
  • Put in drip irrigation in the garden area.
  • Plant several more trees {we already planted 12 last spring and fall, but many are dwarf and most are in the front yard. The back yard needs the shade and height now}
  • Paint the deck.
  • Get some new outdoor lighting.


  • Build deck out to make it larger.
  • Put in a decorative/herb garden along the back of the house.
  • Install a stone path from the deck to the side gate.
  • Paint garage doors.

We are into outdoor entertaining and didn’t get much of a chance to do that last year, so I’m really excited to force my black bean burgers on more of our friends and family this summer. (: What’s everyone got planned for the springtime?

fall shopping

Today I am working on my fave fall project – the seasonal clothing switch out! In the process, I am culling the closet immensely, pulling out what I never wear, then determining if it can be 1) modified, 2) given to someone I know or 3) just donated. I do this about twice a year.

Also in the process, I’m determining my want-to-have shopping list. I am going to do a bit of fall shopping this weekend but I want to go armed with a list of things that will make my wardrobe more versatile. Turns out I have a LOT of black pants and skirts. What I am lacking, really, is shoes that are both practical and stylish, variety in my work pants, and tops that aren’t cardigans!

This year I am going to focus on buying earthy warm neutrals that go with blacks and browns, a few go-with-everything pairs of shoes/boots, and tunics that can be worn as dresses, over leggings, or over pants. I don’t have the budget to buy all of this stuff, but here’s my “want list” to keep me focused.

PS: I’m fullfilling 2 of my organizing goals for September with this project {cull the closet, put together 10 work outfits}. (:

What’s everyone loving for fall?

a new monthly challenge

{image via Pinterest.}

Something about September apparently makes me want to take on a new challenge. Last year I did a 30/30 remix challenge  in September (30 items of clothing remixed into 30 different outfits). This year it wasn’t clear to me what fun type of challenge I should embark on until it dawned on me – despite moving into our place four months ago, I’m still completely unorganized. You’d never know it. My house is super tidy. But it requires so. much. effort. There’s no landing strip for mail/keys/phones. I am still getting mail forwarded from our old address. I have no idea where to properly store my gift wrapping supplies. My recycling “system” is throw everything into a pile in the garage and haul it once a month. You know those things that just make life easier? I don’t have that down.

So my September challenge is to get super organized! And because I like a nice tidy list to tick off, rather than an ambiguous goal, here are 30 things I want to improve by Sept. 30:

  1. Create a go-to list of 20 easy, healthy, frugal, vegetarian meals, to hang in the pantry.
  2. Start my gardening notebook.
  3. Streamline the ol’ bag collection in the trunk of my car. How many reusable bags does a girl need?
  4. Come up with a composting system. Inside and outside.
  5. Find a local tire place and oil change place. Take care of necessary business, and write in my planner when it should be done again!
  6. Ditto on haircut, dentist, doctor, etc. Create a reminder system and put contact info in address book and phone.
  7. Clean out my car. Glove boxes and everything.
  8. Find a way to organize coupons so I actually have them with me (I have the cutting them out part down – haha).
  9. Create a “landing strip” in the laundry room (where we enter from the garage).
  10. Organize the year’s photos so far. Back up all to hard drive. Put it on calendar to do this every 3 months.
  11. Make a list of Christmas gifts I will need to start planning for, and jotting down ideas.
  12. Get my recycling under control! (can you believe we don’t have curbside pickup???)
  13. Organize the garage with the hubby’s help. This is going to be a huge ordeal.
  14. Organize the painting supplies and leftover paint.
  15. Tidy up the basement. There’s not much down there but it’s willy-nilly.
  16. Cull the closet.
  17. Come up with at least 10 nice work outfits.
  18. Organize dog stuff.
  19. Organize the office closet/office supplies.
  20. Find a solution for storing gift wrap.
  21. Make a memo board for the office.
  22. Organize the file cabinet.
  23. Organize recipes. Sort through cookbooks!
  24. Organize the freezers.
  25. Create a cleaning schedule.
  26. Create a workout schedule for the next 30 days (with the intention of doing this monthly).
  27. Organize kitchen sink area.
  28. Put a clock in the living room.
  29. Prioritize home to-do projects.
  30. Prioritize yard to-do projects.

There you have it. Some big, some small projects, all with the intention of making me less crazy when it’s all over! I’ll be back with updates!

a minor complaint, some housekeeping, and some house progress.

Hi. Blogging is a lot of work, and I no longer have a nice cozy (familiar) place to do it in my new house so I’m always finding myself avoiding it. It’s true. Blog, you have become a chore to me. I don’t want to feel like that, but I do. However, I’ve been busy prettifying my world and want to talk about it. I’m a fair-weather blogger. That’s true, too.

Some updates, first, on house in general:

  • We had our first overnight guest in the new place, in the form of my vagabond friend literally passing through town and needing a place to crash.  I hadn’t seen her in 13 years but it wasn’t even awkward! In fact, it was awesome. We were in the middle of painting a bathroom we’ve already since redone because I picked a totally wacktastic green paint the first go-round (oopsie), so she stayed in our guest room and used a bathroom that didn’t have a mirror. Or light.  Ha. Hospitality, what? Snapped a shot of the horrid green for posterity- that’s my O-M-Green face.

  • I am becoming a totally amazing vegetarian chef. I want to blog about it desperately but I can’t take pictures of food no matter how beautifully I can arrange it on a plate. But I try.

  • I am still doing the photo-a-day challenge, it’s been 6 months, and I’ve missed one day. And that was like a week ago. And I was devastated for a few minutes. You can see them here. I’m a slacker about updating Flickr (shock!), but I eventually get around to it. I’m not a good photog. (sad face)
  • We have grass, kinda. It’s growing. There are a lot of weeds mostly. GREEN weeds.
  • I am a maniac with a few packets of fabric dye and some paint lately. You’ll see. …

I’m pretty pleased with the house progress! Of course painting the place was a HUGE improvement, but I love how it’s the little things that really tie something together and make it your own. For example, I was struggling with the open layout a bit, because I didn’t want to buy new furniture to fit the space (which is entirely different than the layout and style of our last home).The space was just feeling a little blah.

Luckily for me, working with what I have isn’t a bummer, it’s a challenge that I love to take on. I’ve been pinning and jotting ideas and moving things around, I took note of things I really liked, things that were feasible in my space, like a piece of accent furniture in a funky color or global prints, gallery walls and boho touches.

After painting our bedroom a bold teal, I was inspired to give the rest of the house at least some small doses of bold color. I found this gorgeous interior inspiration on Young House Love – that orange I love, and a very similar open living room/kitchen configuration. LOVE THIS!

That teal couch is to die for and probably out of reach for little ol’ me, but I was inspired by this palette because it incorporates teal and I’ve been wanting to paint something orange for fun! Paint, fabric dye, and a few new accessories did the trick to make the place a little more homey.

Here’s how the place is shaping up now:

Despite his reluctance, I convinced JB to paint our exterior doors black, and we LOVE how it looks, from inside and out. It just pops! And better balances the dark cabinets and counters on the other side as well. I painted our (formerly white) kitchen table grey.

I used a small piece of decorator fabric and some curtain clips to make a super simple (and cheap) valance on the kitchen window. I dyed my (formerly tan) rugs teal (along with the scarf that’s functioning as a table cloth on the kitchen table). I mixed one packet of blue iDye brand fabric dye and one half packet of green to create a teal hue, and followed the instructions for dying in a top-loading washing machine. Success! Happy dance! Woop woop! New shiz, for like 2 bucks.

And my favorite switch-up on the cheap is our lil’ TV stand upgrade (you can see the before up top…)

I really love how it turned out! The color is Tibetan Orange from Behr. I used a dark brown color mixed with Bahr Faux Glaze over the paint to give it a worn look. Here’s a close up:

Ahhhhh-yeah!… super cheap upgrade on an otherwise throwaway piece of furniture, but warning on painting fake wood – it takes forever. I sanded, primed once, painted three coats of paint, sanding between coats, and then glazed. It was a process. But I love how it turned out. I love re-vamping what I’ve already got. I always feel so clever. And new hardware really makes it snazzy.

I did pick up a few new things to tie it all together, like the large rug in front of the kitchen sink, blue IKAT pillows (outdoor pillows on clearance- shhh), little IKAT tray on the coffee table, terracotta-colored pot, etc, using birthday giftcards! So other than the paint and fabric dye, this was free (to me)!

By the way, the entryway looks super swanky with the black front door, too:

There are still lots of yet-to-dos. Like build a mantle above that fireplace, and fill in some blank wall spaces (above the fireplace, on the right-hand wall in the entryway, and above the stairway, but I have big plans for those…. All in good time.

That’s what I’ve been up to! Thanks for taking my little tour! Anyone else making any cheap but statement-making changes to their abodes? Did that veggie burger pic make you hungry, too?

How I Yard Plan

When we lived in our old how, the answer was, I don’t. I worked with what already existed, worked around the issues as they came up, planted lots of things people gave us for free, and kind of just dug. And re-dug. I didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t know what I really liked, and kind of was never inspired to keep it up too well. It was SUCH a source of guilt when I wasn’t doing yardwork, and SUCH a painful chore when I was.

Aren’t there people who like this crap? I would think that all the time.

Our new house has even more space to work with and it was weed-and-spider infested. There wasn’t much worth salvaging so we didn’t salvage anything. Cuz it’s fully fenced, has a nice deck and is nice and large, you could say it’s got good bone structure.

My husband has already abolished the weeds on the left side of the house and laid down gravel for an RV parking space, poured a cement pad for a shed in the future, tilled/leveled the entire yard, put in rain gutters and yard drains, put in sprinklers, and had gates put in on the sides to contain our doggy. In related news, he’s already lost 8lbs on his already-skinny frame.

We are seeding this week which means in 6 weeks we should have some grass growing! Then the fun starts for me, but this time around I’m going to have to plan better.

So here’s my super-scientific yard planning strategy:

1.       Determine our must-haves. That is – patio under the deck, shed, fire-pit area, room for badminton and other yard games, shade, veggie garden. Yard should be relatively low-maintenance and nice for entertaining. Probably a good thing to consider early-on is a budget as well, but I’m not going to bother because we are doing it all ourselves, as we can. If we can only get 2 trees per year, so be it! 😉 I don’t expect to have a perfect yard in 3 years, but rather keep working on it in phases and enjoy the process because that’s what fits our budget both time and money wise.

2.       Sketch. This isn’t to scale, not even close. But this is the general idea of how I want our backyard to look:

3.       Figure out what “style” or “look” I’m going for. After lots of pinning (here), I’ve pegged my style as rather cottage-y, maybe even a little folk-arty. That is – wildflowers, sitting areas, fences made from found-objects… those are the things that appeal to me. Nothing overly manicured/neat but not over-crowded. I also really like COLOR! Painted wood mixed in and bright flower patches and bright pots. Fun!

4.       Research! I prefer talking to people over reading books, but I’ve been doing both. I am asking co-workers and neighbors for suggestions, not to mention relying on my green-thumb parents for advice and ideas. What trees/shrubs to plant and where to get the best deal, namely.  Also looking at lots of books and mags and blogs.

5.       Document. I bought a pretty book to hold ideas, lists, sketches, tags from trees I buy, list of what I’m planting and where (for future reference- I now know I WILL forget, literally within weeks). –This was a genius suggestion from my boss and I think I will get a second book for indoor home details – paint colors, window measurements, etc.

We may not get much growing in the yard this summer, but I want to plan and prepare for the future of it now (knowing I’ll still be doing lots of it by trial-and-error – we are still newbies!)

How about you? Does anyone have any yard-planning tips to share with us rookies? What are your yard projects and plans (now and future)?