Monthly Archives

February 2016

Aesthetic DIY

DIY Marble Tray

February 29, 2016

In my estimation, marble is so pretty. It is chic and timeless. I’ve been looking at marble pieces for ages and like to add marble touches into our apartment when I can. One thing I’ve been lusting over is the marble tray below. It is so pretty and can be used for holding trinkets, glasses, and more.


marble tray ballard


Marble pieces can be expensive though. So when I stumbled upon this DIY marble tray tutorial from the lovely Jen.

I really do think Jen’s tutorial does an awesome job of explaining the process so I’m not going to steal that thunder. It was soo informative.

After following the tutorial, I made a tray for both my mother-in-law and myself. The look a tad different because they have different handles.

DSCN0239 (1)

Here is an image of the one I kept. I use it as a jewelry holder and display tray. My mother-in-law typically uses hers to put snack bowls on when guests come over.


For a whopping $25 bucks for materials for two trays, this was a fun way to add one of my favorite elements into the space.

Aesthetic Home

Picks from Ballard

February 25, 2016

Ballard Designs is one of those stores I didn’t really know about until my early twenties. I lived in an isolated world where home decor could only come from Pottery Barn (which I still love) or HomeGoods. While I very much like both of those places, one of my new favorites is Ballard. Ballard has a fun mix of classic and trendy. There are a ton of prints, feminine elements, and pieces that can layered in the home.

Here are a few of my current favorites.


Trestle Hitop

HiTop Trestle Table

I mean come on, this table shouldn’t be allowed! It is so cute. The high-top coupled with the rustic design make me so happy. If I ever had a space that allowed for this type of table, I would buy it in a heartbeat…after saving my pennies of course. Those stools are fantastic as well.


Ballard Etagere

I want an etagere so badly. I have absolutely no need for one (or space for that matter), but I think they add instant elegance to a space. This one also happens to be on sale!

antelope rug

Antelope Rug

Some of my pals may know that I have a faux-deerhide tote from Barrington Gifts. It’s vinyl and an optical illusion. I love that bag because it’s a neutral in its own right. This rug reminds me of the bag. Though it mimics an antelope’s fur, it is natural and can blend with so many other colors and patterns.

rattan scallop

Scallop Rattan Basket

I don’t have an extra $150 bucks for a basket, but if I did…

This basket is so darling and classic.

metal shades

Metal Shades

One of the biggest things I have noticed while watching home decor shows or looking at Pinterest images is that lighting can make or break a space. These pendant covers are super cute and fun for a variety of spaces (kitchen, laundry room, office). As the shape is classic, I think they would work with a space for ages.

So there are my favorites from Ballard Designs. Such great items if you are looking to add some flair to your space.


Trend I’m Loving

February 24, 2016

Trends typically come and go. With this in mind, I try not to fall prey to too many trends. I want my choices to reflect style that will last over the years. But…. there is a recent trend that I am totally taken with.


I never thought I would say it, but I love clothing pieces, accessories, etc. with fringe elements. Though kind of a 1970’s vibe, what really attracts me is the texture.

Here are some current Fringe Favorites:

fringe1fringe earrings

Fringe Earrings

fringe cardigan

Fringe Cardigan

fringe rug

Fringe Rug

fringe earrings2

Fringe Earrings Anthro

tassel necklace

Tassel Necklace

fringe dress

Fringe Dress

What are your thoughts on the fringe trend?


Show I Love: Fresh Off the Boat

February 23, 2016

I will probably shame myself and my family as I admit this, but I love T.V. I watch so many types of shows and like the background news that T.V. offers.

I have shows I watch every week, but one in particular just makes me happy; Fresh Off the Boat. This show is just so great.



This show makes me happy for a variety of reasons. The first is that it’s set in the 1990’s. It revisits some of the things that were culturally pertinent to me then and now, (never grow up). The second is that the family is so likable and funny. They have whims that they act on and flaws, but they also learn from their experiences. The final reason this show makes me happy, is that the oldest son, Eddie, is super into 90’s music. He takes on the personality of the music groups he likes and it just cracks me up.

On top of it all, this show is so well-acted. It will keep you laughing and loving on the Huang family.

This show airs Tues. 8/7c on ABC. Definitely check it out.

Aesthetic DIY Home Music

Lyrical Art

February 22, 2016

Piggy-backing off of my February Mixed Tape post, I thought I’d talk about how you can take some of your favorite lyrics and add them to your home decor.

A while back I saw these oversized book pages on a Pinterest image.


Sugarboo Designs Book Art

The framed book pages come in various sizes up to 3 feet by 4 feet and there are many different page selections. They are made by Sugarboo Designs and are just really cool and unique.

They are unfortunately also out of my price range for the time being.

I super liked these prints. I wanted to recreate one for my own space but was lacking a wall space big enough for such a print.

I liked the dark look (seen above) with text and thought I could create a chalkboard on which to put some text.

Using a precut 2’x4′ chalkboard from Home Depot. For under ten dollars, It was a good size for the wall space I had available. I also purchase some oak molding to form a frame around the chalkboard, (roughly 12 feet).

I can’t really take credit for building the chalkboard/frame combo. My husband somehow managed to staple the chalkboard to the molding. How, I may never know.

When the chalkboard was finished, I looked around for my own book quote to etch onto it.

As I was originally enamored with the book page idea, I chose an excerpt from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I liked the excerpt I chose and even put a page number at the bottom of the chalkboard.

Eventually, I decided to change the words on the chalkboard and chose some of my favorite lyrics for the board.

In the most current photo, I have lyrics from Kacey Musgraves Biscuit on the board. I love this song. I also really appreciate Kacey Musgraves’ music. Her lyrics are so descriptive and witty.


Each time I look at it, it brings me back to growing up in Kentucky. It depicts southern mannerisms and wording in many ways.

It’s just a little way that I like to add some of my current lyrical favorites to our space.

Authentic Music

Mixed Tape

February 19, 2016

I am no musician. I super struggle with rhythm and the dexterity required to play an instrument. I can’t even play an air guitar..I always strum in the wrong direction lol. Though no musician. I love music. I love the feelings that music draw out of us.

I remember watching The Holiday in my teens and thinking that the character Jack Black plays has the coolest job. He composes music for movies. How cool is that!?! To be able to give background to a storyboard seems just amazing. I would so love to do that if I had the skill.

My civilian equivalent of that job is making a mixed tape- or a playlist as the young kids call it- to depict the moods and moments of life.

So without further ado, here is my February 2016 “mix tape”

  1. Ophelia- The Lumineers
  2. Pillow talk- Zayn
  3. All Night Long- My Morning Jacket (I only listen to this on YouTube)
  4. Sweet By and By: Miranda Lambert
  5. With a Little Help From My Friends: Joe Cocker
  6. Cry to Me: Solomon Burke
  7. My Church: Maren Morris
  8. Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked: Lennon and Maisy Stella
  9. Darlin’: Houndstooth
  10. Don’t Let Me Down: The Chainsmokers
  11. Southern Girl: Amos Lee

I do tend to listen to the same songs over and over again until I get sick of them. So, you know, take this with that in mind. I also like to pull some oldies, some country, alternative, pop, etc. I am not music specific at all. I like it all- except jazz and death metal. I strongly dislike both of those genres in general.

What songs or artists would you recommend?

Kid Activities Recently Read

Favorite Books to Read With Kids

February 18, 2016

Recently,  my cousins, siblings, and acquaintances have started having kiddos. It’s that life stage. While I am certainly not there at all, I do have a little experience nannying for kids from 2 months old to middle school. My favorite age group is probably the 1-4 year-old range because they are constantly learning and develop such vivid imaginative stories.

To help the kids I work with develop their imaginations, I like to start reading with them very early on and asking them what might happen next. – Kids are super smart you all. That should go without saying, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t realize that kids can tell you, create, and understand more than we imagine. – end of preach

With this in mind, here are three stories that I like to read to young tots/preschool age and activities that you can do with each story.

1. bear hunt book

Via Amazon

I love this book. It has a linear path for kids to follow and a rhythmic pattern to the words. Additionally, as the family makes their way on the hunt, they go through obstacles and each obstacle has a sound that you make like “swishy swashy” for grass.

To really amp up the story, I like to calm read most of it and then get louder and more   active when the family meets a bear.

Some activities I do with this book:

Draw your own “bear hunt” journey. Ask the child what might you have to go through to find a bear. The stuff that he or she comes up with may align with the story or be super imaginative. Each way is a great way to explore reading comprehension and critical thinking.

Talk about the bear and what he may think. I like to ask the kiddo I’m with what she thinks the bear feels or wants. Usually her response is “sad because he wants friends” which is adorable and really possibly true given the book’s illustrations. This activity helps to develop emotional understanding with a child and empathy.

Act out a bear hunt. As you read the story, you can pretend, (especially with older preschoolers), that you are going on the actual hunt. You can just pretend and imagine or add props. This makes it fun and exciting for kids. It also gives a kid that likes movement a chance to experience the story without just sitting.

2. chika

Via Amazon

Great book and great intro to letters. This book has a nice rhyme and rhythm to it.

Kids often pick up on the rhyme scheme if you read it a couple of times. This makes it a great pick for 2-4 years as they tend to like rhymes that they can learn too.

Use a magnetic easel or board with alphabet letters to tell the story. I like to draw a tree on a dry erase board and have the child help tell the story with magnetic letters. We go through the book and she helps to find the letters and put them on the tree. If she needs help, we search for the letter together. At the end we erase the tree and scatter the letters. It’s a fun way to tell the story.

3. good dog carl

Via Amazon

The “Carl” books are quite possibly my favorite books for kids. The illustrations are very pretty and really tell the story. There are typically a couple of words on the first and last page, but the middle is just images.

This is a great book for beginning literacy and comprehension. A lot of what kids infer comes from images. Talking about the images with them helps them learn what might be happening or even allow them to give a voice to what is happening. This is such an important skill!

Ask the child to tell you the story. Again this comes back to comprehension. You may prompt the child here and there saying, “Tell me what you think is happening” or “Look what is happening here, what do you think is going to happen next?”.

-Take other familiar stories and have them retell the story without reading (just images). Kids can gain a lot of confidence from retelling stories that they are familiar with. Ask them to look at the illustrations and to tell you the story and what is happening. This helps them to realize they don’t always need to know the words to know what is happening. Eventually, you can add in how the words tell the story too.

I hope these three books help you as you interact with or love on a kid around you. There are so many fun activities that you can do with stories to help kids grow and learn. Be creative! These are just suggestions from my experience but know they are not all you can do.

What suggestions would you make to new parents, educators, neighbors, or friends with kiddos in regards to stories and books?

DIY Home

Making It New: Floor Pillow

February 17, 2016

Happy Wednesday! Halfway through the week- phew.

Today’s post is on taking something old and making it new.

When I first started dating my now husband in college, he had this olive green (floor? bed? miscellaneous?) pillow that he used all of the time.

When he graduated and found his own place in Chicago, I figured the pillow had probably made its way to a new home or magically disappeared.

I was wrong.

The pillow not only made it to his bachelor pad, but it also made it into our now apartment.

He loves this pillow. He at least said so when I talked about donating it. As there are few things he really takes to, I figured I might be able to keep the pillow and recover it.

A few years ago I sewed a cover around the existing pillow.

Floor Pillow Process

Sorry for the grainy image but you get the idea.

This was before I was gifted a sewing machine. I hand stitched this thing- bad, bad, tedious idea.

How he ever let me put a girly pattern over it I will never know.

When it was finished, I liked the size and the utility and was smitten for a while.

However, back to my Pillow Tips, I realized I could get so much more use out of this pillow if I had a cover I could switch and wash if need be.

To be honest, I hid the pillow behind our couch for a while. I just wasn’t into the pattern anymore and felt like as my style developed that I’d picked incorrectly.

Then one day, as I was digging through a pile of pillow covers at the Crate and Barrel Outlet, I found a huge zippered pillow cover for $2. No lie.

I went all territorial and made sure that cover was in my hands at all times. A lady asked where I found it (last one mind you) and I directed her toward the bin then quickly checked out. – Survival of the pillow cases man. Okay, I may have a little shame. I am sorry lady.

When I got home, I took the hidden floor pillow from behind the couch and placed the cover on it.


This cover is approximately 22″ by 22″. It is pretty large. I was instantly smitten again and the pillow has continued to get good use.

So here’s the main idea: when in doubt, keep on trying and playing around with objects. You can make something new by covering it, painting it, adding adornments, etc. It may take a while to figure out how something can work in your space, but be willing to wait and be creative.

Believe it or not, this pillow is the oldest accessory that we have in our home (that wasn’t passed down). It has withstood college, bachelorhood, my recovering skills or lack there of, and now a new case. This olive green, flowered, stripe pillow is our old renewed.


How about you? Any tips or tricks you have for up cycling your items to keep giving them life in your space?


Home IKEA buys Smart Buys

Simple Solution for Undergarment Storage

February 16, 2016

Yesterday I mentioned that our closet has a lack of places to store miscellaneous items.

Though we have a dresser for tops and pants, I have never liked having my undergarments in a drawer. It’s harder for me to find what I need and I always have that issue where my socks get stuck on the drawer slider and then I am tugging away for a long time trying not to lose my religion as I dislodge the sock. Clearly I have some clothing struggles. 🙂

As I prefer to keep my undergarments elsewhere, I developed a system to use that allows me to easily gain access to each piece.

The system I use: the IKEA RÅSKOG utility cart.


Real life image.

This cart fits well under my summer tops and dresses. I have a shelf for scarves and bras, a shelf for tights and socks, and a shelf for scarves and underwear. I roll it out of my closet if need be to reach something or see something better. It is such a simple solution to being able to organize and access my items.

This is the cart that you see in a lot of home magazine posts and Pinterest photos. Often people use it for craft supplies, bathroom items, or a bar cart. It comes in cream, aqua, and gray and is $29.99. It is a really good solution and a really good buy.

Though I use it to store socks and more right now, I know I could reuse it elsewhere in the home. That’s a furniture piece I can get behind.

What storage solutions do you use in your home to make life just a little bit easier?



Home Smart Buys

Why I Dumped My Plastic Hangers (A Valentine’s Day Story)

February 15, 2016

Happy Monday! I hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day.

We opted to stay in and made crockpot braised beef polenta. It was awesome.

While the crockpot did the work for me, I took on another project.

Our closet.

Though not messy, our closet can be a tad frustrating at times. It’s actually a decent size, (Harry Potter would’ve thought it a step up from the Dursley crawl space), but there is no shoe storage or items to hold miscellaneous things like purses, man bags, etc. There’s also this one thing that majorly bugs me…plastic hangers. I should really include their close pals wire hangers as well.

My clothes had been continually sliding, falling, and even snagged by my hangers. I’m typically pretty tidy, so this continual saga ate away at me. My clothes were not easily visible, (half hidden as they slid partially off of the hangers), and the hangers themselves were taking up a ton of space.

*I realize this is an annoyance and not a real life problem. Just trying to keep myself grounded. – an annoyance nonetheless.

So this weekend I decided to make an investment. I went to HomeGoods and bought a ridiculous amount of thin velvet hangers.

velvet hangers

Velvet Hangers


Let me tell you. They are awesome and here is why:

-They look nicer. Visually, not seeing chunky hangers is somehow pleasing to me…this may be weird. I don’t know.

-They take up less space. This means I can actually see my clothing options. This also means I am less apt to buy new things because I forgot about the other thing I have that looks exactly like it.

-My clothes are not sliding, falling, or snagged. It’s only been a day but there’s been no movement. WONDERFUL.

All of these things have made me a believer in dumping my plastic hangers. – I say dump, but most actually made it to my husbands side of the closet. Insert worst wife award.

If you are looking to better organize your closet or to change some things up, I would recommend HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, or Bed Bath and Beyond for cheaper velvet hangers. You can also check some options out here.

While I was shifting my clothing around I also took the time to assess what things could stay and what things should go. I usually make two piles. One pile is Goodwill and the other pile is for friends. I always like to check to see if anyone I know wants something before I donate it. It makes me happy to see someone really like something I no longer reach for or ahem…fit in 🙂 Both piles find a good home, but there are always churches taking clothing and donations like that. So don’t be afraid to give stuff away!! It will find a good home.

Tomorrow I will be back with a simple solution to storing undergarments. Spring cleaning is real you all.