Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Garden Stool End Table

One of the things I love the most is when a project is easy, it takes very little time, and it requires very little moo-la. This past weekend I worked on a bunch of small projects that didn't take too much of my time and by the end of the weekend I felt like I had accomplished so much! Don't you love it when that happens?! I know I sure do.
Let's talk couches for a second, shall we?
 Did you know that the average couch measures anywhere from 6-8 feet long? Our couch measures just over 11 feet! That means our ginormous couch far surpasses the average by a third! When we moved into our previous apartment, the main wall was a whopping 16 feet long!!! Both the couches we had previously owned prior were worn, dated, and just looked disproportionate up against the massive wall. So...we went couch shopping, found a great no-interest for 16 months deal, and purchased this 11 foot beast. We paid it off in 12 months thanks to my financially smart guy and it really is the most comfortable couch in all the land. What we didn't anticipate or take into consideration (our bad) was if/when we ever moved (which we eventually did) and how this massive couch would dictate which apartments we could/could not live in.  Our apartment search was brutal. All because of a stupid couch. We looked at and had to turn down so many other apartment communities all because the main living area didn't have a space large enough to accommodate our couch. #lessonlearned
All in all everything worked out, as most things do, and we decided (settled?) on the apartment we're in now. Our couch barely fits along the main wall, but hey...it fits. Which brings me to the project I'm blogging about today.
The main wall in our current apartment is approx. 13 feet long. Our couch clocks in at a tad over 11 feet. Which means that on either end of the couch I have about a foot of space to work with, if that. Immediately after moving in and placing the couch, I realized that end tables just weren't going to work. Bummer dude. I tried shoving the couch to one side and having an end table on the other but then my OCD kicked in and I just wasn't having it. Out went the tables.
Last summer I was in HomeGoods and found myself in the garden section when I spotted the solution to all my problems. Garden stools. The new end table for small spaces. They're small, compact, they offer a flat surface albeit a small surface, but hey, beggars cant be choosers so into my cart it went and decided to give it a whirl. The only problem? It was green. Mean green.
Didn't exactly go with my black, white, grey, navy color scheme I have going on. But nothing a couple new pillows with some green couldn't fix, right? Right!
Well...not so fast.
I searched. I scoured. I came up empty handed. There are a ton of pillow options out there but none that I absolutely loved that would help make this green little stool apart of the family. So it's sat here in the living room just waiting. Until now.
I'm working on the lamp situation too...in case you're wondering. No side tables, no table lamps = it's a hard life.
I found the perfect pillows but the green would have to go. Nothing a little spray paint cant fix! I tell ya, pillows and spray paint can solve just about any decorating dilemma! This mean green garden stool not only got a fresh coat of paint, it also got a tabletop! Wanna see?

I ordered a plain pine wood table top online because I couldn't find one the perfect size at any local hardware or hobby store. It cost me less than $10. I followed the same steps to stain the tabletop as I discussed in this previous blog post and it turned out great!

Once the top was stained in my favorite Walnut stain, the garden stool got a few coats of Rustoleum's Candy Pink in Gloss.

Originally my initial thought was to permanently adhere the table top to the garden stool but then I decided against it. If ever down the line I want to repaint the stool or actually use it in a garden some day, I'd be wishing for an easy way to remove the top and restore the stool to it's natural state. That's when I had my little light bulb moment and decided to attach the top using my forever favorite command adhesive strips.

Worked like a charm!

The pink may seem odd now, but it will when I show you the recent changes to the living room, it'll all make sense. My uber supportive boyfriend didn't even flinch a muscle at the pink. What a keeper!
The table is a lot more functional now than it ever was and can now hold drinks without the fear of them toppling over from sitting on an uneven surface. For a little over $10, this quick little DIY project solved our space issue just perfectly.
I always love finding ways to use things in unexpected ways or to use them in ways in which they weren't originally intended. This project personifies that to a "T"!
Did any of you purchase a giant couch and had to forgo end tables because of it? What did you do to solve that dilemma? Do tell!

Friday, March 20, 2015

DIY Tissue Paper Tassels


Today I'll be sharing with you a super duper inexpensive project for a room that you haven't seen on the blog yet with material you probably already have in your home. Cool, right?!
Let's not waste any time...let's get started!
If you haven't already guessed by reading the post title, today I'll be sharing with you how I made tissue paper tassels out of...you guessed it...tissue paper! Not only did I make tissue paper tassels, I turned them into a garland for a playful swag in Little Miss's room.
These tissue paper tassel garlands are so fun and spunky! They add a great pop of color, whimsy, and fun to kid spaces and would be so fun for birthday parties, baby showers, the list goes on and on! Oh, and did I mention how inexpensive they are to make? A few dollars...if that!!! This is my kind of DIY. Big impact on a space, small impact on the ol' pocketbook.
Here's what you'll need to re-create these cuties:

Tissue paper in as many or as few colors as you'd like


String / Ribbon / Twine

I browsed a few different tutorials but this is what worked best for me and produced the results I liked the best.
For my garland I settled on 4 colors. White, yellow, pink, and orange. Little Miss is such a fun and sweet little girl with a bright, bold personality and her love for color (especially yellow) runs deep.
To start, take piece of tissue paper and fold it lengthwise (like a hot dog).

 Next, fold it width wise (like a hamburger...I'm starting to get hungry here...you?)

 Fold it again width wise so you end up with this:

 Now, with your folded edge up top, use your scissors and cut your fringe from the bottom up however thick/thin you like leaving approx. 2-3" up top, uncut.

 Once all your cuts have been made, unfold your tissue paper sheet and lay flat. Taking your scissors, cut down the middle crease to make so you are left with 2 fringed pieces.

 Take one fringed piece, open it up, and turn it so that the creased middle runs vertically. Be sure to untangle your fringe so it lays flat like so:

Now, starting from the bottom, begin rolling the middle section while making sure the fringe on both ends stays nice, neat, and untangled.

 Once you have rolled your middle section now it's time to twist the middle section until the twist reaches the top of the fringe cuts.

 Take your twisted middle and form a loop.

With the loop formed, twist the loop a few times...sorta like you're twisting a key to unlock a door.

 With the loop formed and twisted, cut off a length of washi-tape and wrap it around the base of the loop to secure it.

 And that's it! One sheet of tissue paper should make 2 tassels. I've seen some tutorials where one sheet makes 3 or 4 tassels but I tried that and the tassels were a little too wimpy for me. I prefer my tissue paper tassels to look fuller so the steps above is how I achieved that fullness.

 Follow the steps above to make all your tassels until you have enough to string them up and make a garland. The steps may be a bit tedious and repetitive, but for my 4 foot section where I plan to hang this garland, I needed 9 tassels and it took me about 45 mins to an hour from start to finish. Not too bad.
Once all my tassels had been made I used some simple twine I had on hand to string them up. I started by placing my middle tassel (a yellow one), knotted it into place, and worked my way out knotting the tassels into place about every 6 inches.
The polka dotted washi-tape is so fun and gives it that extra bit of playfulness. Plus washi-tape is just generally awesome, don't you agree? I found this polka-dotted design at our local dollar store. Score!
All in all, I think this project cost me about $5.
The garland is the perfect complement to the colorful and vibrant drapes and really just brings the fun factor up a notch.

These tassel garlands would be great for birthday parties, baby showers, and hey...obviously spaces for those little ones. The best part? They're dirt cheap to make! Love, love, love!!

Please tell me you adore these as much as I do!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Outdoor Living

As I'm sitting here at the dining room table to write this post, I take a look around and I feel like the apartment walls are closing in on me. I'm surrounded by stuff. Stuff without homes. Those 2'x2' canvases that I picked up at the thrift store for .50 a piece (a total steal of a deal). Christmas lights I still haven't put away (I know). Wroght iron railing I picked up at the flea market last weekend (just you wait and see).
Stuff = clutter and clutter = apartment walls are closing in on me ala Princess Leia in the trash compactor in that one Star Wars movie. #nerdalert
We've officially run out of room people. The cabinets are full. The drawers are stuffed. All these things...this stuff without homes is driving me bonkers. So until I pretty up those canvases that are totally stuck in another era into some beautiful wall art, or figure out how to safely secure these heavy railings to the wall, here they sit. Smiling at me and suffocating me all at the same time. 
I need space. And then it dawns on me. The answer has been in front of me this whole time. Literally.
Sitting here at the dining room table, the view directly in front of me is that of our patio. I remember while apartment hunting over a year ago that the patio on this apartment layout was one of the things we oohed and awwed over when we first saw it. It spans the entire length of our living room and our master bedroom. It boasts a full size washer/dryer in the laundry closet and still has feet to spare with gorgeous California views of palm trees and bright blue skies. By apartment patio standards, it's massive! But as I sit here, I realize just how little we've utilized this available living area. And it makes me sad.
Our patio has the potential to be additional living space, a place to enjoy dinner on those warm summer nights, a place where I can go to escape all the stuff, heck...it can even be a pseudo office, because I don't really have a desk or a place to blog. It doesn't just have to be the place where I go to do laundry and die (kiddingnotkidding). The only source of natural light into the main living areas of our apartment is the sliding door that leads directly to our patio which has never ever been particularly esthetically pleasing to look at.
Seeing as we just settled on another year here at the very least, and with summer just around the corner, now's the perfect time to amp up this space and use that once neglected square footage to maximize on our livable real estate sorta speak.
I'm so excited to take on this little patio makeover and see what I can come up with. As always, I'll be DIY-ing my way through and ballin' on a budget. But before we dive head first, how about a few little before pictures to see what we're working with, yeah?

And from the other direction...

Complete with leftover barstools from our previous apartment when we actually had a bar, my makeshift spray paint/stain table, and cat condo for our sweet Zurgy who likes the view out here from way up high.

Inside those double doors is our laundry closet. 
Ugh. So bad. This is getting a makeover of it's own because well...it totally needs one and I'm totally embarrassed by it!
The before shots are always so, so bad! But hey...at least we can clean our undies, right?!
So there it is...not much to look at now, but it's got great potential and a lot of room to work with. I've already made a little progress out here and I'm loving it already even in it's unfinished state.
Maybe I'll even invite you over for some margaritas afterwards to break in the new patio! Sound like a plan?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Jamaican Jerk Marinade Recipe & Skewers

Aside from decorating my home and DIY-ing my way through life, I also enjoy cooking. I don't cook nearly as much as I should, but when I do, I love to whip up something new, different, and if it's easy, well then...that's a bonus!
As I was scrolling through Pinterest the other night, and as my boyfriend lurked over my shoulder, he saw a picture of some shrimp skewers and excitedly asked me to pin it. He loves shrimp but me...not so much. I willingly obliged anyways.
I'm not much of a seafood fan, so naturally I tend to cook food I'm familiar with and food I love but I'd like to make more of an effort to cook food he loves too. So when he asked me to pin these shrimp skewers, I knew that I wouldn't eat them but I also knew that I could make a chicken version that I'd love just as much as he'd love the shrimp and we'd both be happy campers.
After being re-directed to the site for the shrimp skewer recipe the only ingredients listed were shrimp and jerk marinade. Huh? That's all? No breakdown of what's in the jerk marinade? Or can you buy a bottle of the stuff? I was clueless.
That was a total bust. But even though I had never had "jerk" anything, it still sounded good, and certainly looked good. So I improvised and decided to make my own. After Googling for a jerk marinade recipe and coming across what seemed like a million variations, I pieced together my variation and I have to say...it was mighty delicious!
Jerk marinades are often used as a dry spice rub or as a wet marinade and for this recipe, I made a wet marinade for my proteins. The jerk marinades are made up of numerous seasonings and spices which I surprisingly had most of them on hand. But enough with the talking...here's what you'll need to get your jerk on:
1 lb. raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb. chicken breast, cut into cubes
3/4 c. vegetable oil
2 habanero peppers, seeded and chopped 
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. ginger
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 tsp. course sea salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
(ginger and chili powder not pictured)

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the proteins (shrimp/chicken). Habanero pepper, jalapeno, garlic, and cilantro do not need to be finely chopped. You'll see why in a second.
**Just as a word of caution - we love spicy food and therefore added 2 habaneros and a jalapeno, but even then it wasn't all that hot for us. If you're unsure or do not like spicy food, just stick to the jalapeno or omit both all together**

With all ingredients in the bowl, give it a quick stir.
It's starting to come together!
After all your ingredients have been quickly stirred, pour everything into the blender and puree until your marinade is no longer chunky.
At this point you'll want to place your proteins into Ziplock bags and divide the marinade between the two. This recipe should be enough for 2, 1 lb. proteins.
Once finished pouring your marinade into the bags, gently massage the marinade into the meat for an even coverage and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours. The longer the better!
While your proteins are marinating, you'll want to prepare your skewer sticks. Start by filling your sink with water and place let your skewer sticks soak.
Soaking your skewer sticks will help prevent them from burning or catching fire when you place them on the BBQ later.
Once your proteins have marinated and your skewer sticks have soaked sufficiently, it's now time to assemble your kabobs.
I just used red onion and green pepper cut up into decent sized chunks but you could also use tomato, jalapeno, or even pineapple would be great too!
For the skewers, I layered red onion, then green pepper, shrimp or chicken, and repeat, then layered everything into a baking dish to take down to the BBQ.
We started by placing the chicken skewers on the BBQ first because they take longer to cook through. If you're cooking chicken and shrimp be sure to take this into consideration to plan your cooking times accordingly.
Once the chicken was cooked through about half way (approx. 7 mins) we added the shrimp skewers to the BBQ so that they would finish about the same time. Cooking times for your chicken may vary from ours depending on how thick/big you cut your chicken cubes.
After everything was cooked through and had a nice char to it (the best part in my opinion) it was time to eat! (OK...this was the best part)
I served the jerk shrimp and chicken skewers atop a bed of cilantro citrus white rice (recipe coming soon) and garnished with a little extra cilantro. Deeelicous!
Man o man, this was good and looking at all these pictures is making my mouth water!
It definitely didn't disappoint and I'm so glad that I was able to give my man the seafood he so loves while adapting the dish to accommodate my taste too! I just love it when a recipe can pull double duty like that!
Think you'll give this recipe a shot? Do you love spicy food as much as we do? Whatever you do, be sure to make extras...trust me...you'll be glad you did!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Look for Less - Spring Living Room Edition

Spring is just around the corner and I'm loving all the pops of color and floral prints plastered all over the blogs and Pinterest. I'm eager to incorporate a little bit of Spring into my living room but until I do, this living room caught my eye:
I love the teals, pinks, and crisp whites all while feeling cozy, eclectically gathered, and collected. This living room totally screams "spring" to me in all the best ways possible.
I searched the Internet for the original source of this living room but was left empty handed so if you know who I should credit, please let me know and I'll be happy to do so! Since I wasn't able to find the original source for this living room, I really have no idea where any of these furnishings came from but often times I see gorgeous rooms and they just look lavishly expensive. And while I'd give my right arm, and probably my left, to live in one of those pin-worthy homes, this girl on a budget just doesn't have the cha-ching to be as fortunate.
So what do I do? I do what I do best! One of my favorite things to do is to take an inspirational image like the one above and recreate it for the girl on a budget (aka me!). It's so fun to see something you love, but probably can't afford, and find something similar for much, much cheaper. Great design doesn't have to be expensive! That's the absolute best part!
Wanna see my rendition? Take a look and see:
Source List: 
Chevron Drapes - H&M Home - $24.95 for the pair
Round Mirror - Ikea - $14.99
Teal Tufted Sofa - World Market - Reg $699.00 (this was just on sale for $499!!)
White & Blue Polka Dot Pillows - Etsy - $60.00 for the pair
Floral Pillows - Wayfair - $106.00 for the pair
Coffee Table - Target - $135.99
Blue Vases - World Market - $14.94
8x5 Rug - Rugs USA - $86.00 (currently on sale for 75% off)
Art - Etsy / Minted / Artfully Walls - Approx $25.00 ea
White Sofa Table - Ikea - $199.00
Lamp - Target - $39.00
Total Cost: $1454.87

Here's the side by side:

Not exact, but pretty darn close, no? I love that the re-created look has the same vibe, and colorful spirit as the inspirational image all while standing on it's own.
It was so much fun trying to re-create this spring living room look with items I found on the cheap. And the best part? A lot of these retailers offer sales all-the-time so any of these items can be purchased even cheaper! But a living room for less than $1500.00? I'd say that's  job well done, don't you?


Friday, March 6, 2015

30 Day Entryway Closet Check-In & a Quick Little Project

Hi friends!
I'm back today to give a 30 day check-in of our entryway closet organization project and to let you in on what's worked, what hasn't, and how I addressed it.
Remember a month ago when I shared this before and after?

With a few organizational additions installed and some visual de-cluttering, it's amazing how so little can go such a long way. However, as we continue along our organizational journey, sometimes things could use a little tweak, a little umph, to really take it to the next level.

This little closet organization project has done wonders for our family but after using this space for a month, I realized that one area of this space, needed a little extra organizational help.

I have a confession...

We suck at mail. We pay most all our bills online and who doesn't get truck loads of credit card offers and junk mail? So needless to say, we procrastinate when it comes to opening and sorting through the mail and as a result, we would just shove all the mail in the inbox until it couldn't hold no more.


The inbox on the door was/is an awesome idea, and really, truly has worked wonders. It just needed a little help to help us be better at sorting the mail. My solution?

I took some generic binder clips that I had on hand, added some washi-tape to the front & back, and labeled them with a permanent marker. Now we can clip the mail with these washi-tape clips into self-explanatory categories.

They've really helped to corral the mail and prevent it from getting out of hand. So easy to make too!
And when we're not using one of the clips? They easily clip to the edge of the basket just waiting to be used...like so:
The only other addition is a chevron file folder that holds all our coupons and gift cards that staying in the "Outgoing" mail box that we can quickly grab anytime we're heading out the door.
With these 2 small additions/tweaks, our coat closet is working like a dream and we're no longer combating a messy inbox and overflowing mail.
I love quick and simple projects like these washi-tape binder clips. I wonder where else I could employee these cuties? Any suggestions? Where would you use some in your home?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Gallery Wall Changes

 If you're anything like me, then you love a good gallery wall and that also means you're a frame hoarder too. I'm guilty as charged. In our small apartment alone, we have 4 areas where gallery walls have emerged and 4 gallery walls means A LOT of frames.
Gallery walls can make a huge statement and bring life to blank apartment walls but they can also go very stagnate, very fast. That's what I'm currently struggling with at the moment. In my haste to hang something, anything, on the walls when we first moved in, I did so without much thought or intent and now I'm left feeling meh about most of it.
I haven't quite landed on my ideal design solution for any of these areas so while I'm pondering over my options, you know I just can't leave well enough alone. So! I decided against ripping everything down and starting from scratch, but believe me I considered it, but then where would I store all the frames? Instead I just decided to tweak a few frames throughout the house and see what sticks because who knows...maybe I'll end up loving it all over again.
So while I'm busy giving my gallery walls a mini-makeover I thought I'd share with you a few quick and simple ways to tweak a boring ole picture frame.
Ready to see the results?
The first frame tweak I worked on was this "all of me loves all of you" print I had framed in my go-to Ikea frames. I downloaded this print from an Etsy shop a while back and I think the bedroom is the perfect place for a print like this. Just not sure I'm digging the whole composition of the gallery wall above the bed just yet...I have nightmares about giant earthquakes and the gallery wall crashing down on our heads as we sleep blissfully unaware.

Just as a reminder, here's what the gallery wall above our bed looked like pre-tweaks:
The print had a white background and basically just blended right in with the white mat, which for me was no bueno, so I took the mat out and gave it few thin coats of my favorite gold spray paint. Although I love the look of this gold spray paint in other applications, I'm not so sure I love it here. But hey...it's just paint, right? And speaking of paint...did you know that mats can be painted for an instant new look? No? Well now you do. And not just with spray paint...with any paint! Just be sure to let your painted mat dry ample time before re-installing it in the frame. This frame tweak was easy-peasy!

The next tweak happened in the kitchen and although these frames aren't technically part of any of our 4 gallery walls, they were still fair game.
To jazz these bad-boys up I picked up some cheap flat corner braces from my local home improvement store and screwed them into each frame corner for an instant campaign style look. Just be sure to remove the glass before doing this to ensure you don't accidentally crack the glass as your brackets are going in. For less than $5, these cuties were looking better already.
The verdict? Dig the frames, hate the kitchen. Faux maple cabinets with dark speckled granite countertops? Bleh.
 Next up...
A pop of color! Using my go-to Ikea Ribba frame, I painted the inner edge of this extra deep Ikea frame a coordinating pop of color to match the print I downloaded here. The pop of color gives the print an extra layer of dimension and interest.
This extra deep frame from Ikea has a square insert that can be removed or kept in place to allow for different picture display options. To achieve this look, I removed the insert, primed it with some spray primer, mixed up some pink, red, and white craft paint to mimick color of the flamingo and then painted all 4 inside edges of the square insert. I let the insert dry for a few hours before re-installing it.
Here's the result! You like?
I'm loving the pop of color this little update adds to the space. Can't believe it took me this long to make such a simple & easy update to a boring frame!
All 3 of these "tweaks" took me less than 10 minutes to complete, not including dry time. While I'm not head over heels in love with the gold painted mat, it's an easy enough fix, and these tweaks may just hold me over until I figure out what to do, or not do, to these spaces.
What do you think? Will you try any of these ideas out in your own home? Do you love gallery walls just as much as this girl?