Friday, February 28, 2014

My Friday Five

How was everybody's week?  This week was interesting for me, that is the best word I can choose to describe it right now.  I'm still trying to digest bits and pieces of it, there was definitely a lot of material in this week, with more to come!

Here are my tops moments of this week, so far at least!

1.  If you remember last Friday I mentioned I was desperately looking forward to my weekend simply so I could sleep in.  I managed 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep for 2 nights in a row, it was amazing and I can not remember the last time I did that.  Unfortunately I will probably be losing more sleep this weekend, but that's how the table turns!

2.  Last Sunday I walked into this aisle at Target and my heart melted.  It was full of neutral and white and it was just clean and crisp and fresh.  I could have taken everything home with me!

3.  I love Trader Joe's!  Unfortunately we do not have one conveniently near us, but there are several in the Chicagoland area so when I find myself close to one I make an effort to go and stock up.  I got to stock up Monday evening.  I feel like they have the best stuff for the best prices, and you can always comes home with an affordable bunch of fresh flowers!

4.  I was running around getting ready for work the other morning and I walk into my dining room to see this.

First, don't judge.  Yes this is the current state of my dining room table, it is horrible, I know.  Second, it just made me laugh.  Of all places, in the middle of my pile of crap is where he chooses to hang out, ok cat.

5. New vacuum cleaner!  We have been needing one for awhile.  It is amazing how much of a difference clean fresh carpets make, and it is disgusting to see everything that was sitting there leftover from the old vacuum not working to the max!

Hope you have a great weekend!  I will be traveling for work, so I have another busy weekend ahead of me.  But I am still desperately hoping to wrap up my work on my office on Monday and put my "done for now" stamp on it!  Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Spring Mantel Inspiration

I don't know where you are as you read this, but if you are somewhere that is warmer than 40 degrees consider me extremely jealous!  Here in Chicagoland this appears to be the winter that never ends.  It has now come to be that a typical exchange with most people on most days includes the phrase "I am SO over this!".  Without a doubt we all have spring on the brain.  Even if it will be too long till we feel the warmth outside, we can start channeling it inside, right?!

I have always wanted my own mantel to decorate.  It is the perfect little place to display some nice seasonal decor and add a little variety to what you are used to seeing on the everyday in your home.  Only problem was, I didn't have a mantel.  No fireplace in this house, but that didn't stop me.  Since a mantel is really technically just a shelf I could create my own, and that I did!

This winter I followed the plans from Ana White on how to build a Barn Beam Ledge.  I made some slight modifications, using 1x6's instead of 1x4's, and creating a custom length to my space I was filling.  The instructions were clear and straight forward, and this is what I was left with.

I was so excited to finally have a mantel!  I got to decorate it for the holidays, it was great.  Now since all the holiday decorations have long since been packed away it is sitting empty waiting, waiting for spring!  I have one major challenge, in that there isn't that much room between the mantel and the ceiling, so I do have to take that into consideration.  Where else to go for inspiration but Pinterest.

Here are a few of my favorites.




I love the abundance of flowers and greens mixed with fresh white objects.  I was liking everything I was seeing, but nothing was it yet.  You know when you just see it, and you absolutely love it.  And then I found it, and I was in love!

I love the simplicity of this mantel.  I love the milk glass in varying heights.  I love the hydrangeas.  I love the mirror with the wooden decal in front.  I love it.  This is my inspiration for my spring mantel, now I just have to get on it!

If you want to see all my spring mantel ideas that I have pinned hop over to my Pinterest board, I am sure things will be added along the way!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Easy Cooking: Chilaquile Casserole

Cooking is something I definitely enjoy, but find I don't feel like I have the time for it.  With my schedule I am most often eating both lunch and dinner at work.  With constantly eating away from home I like to try and find easy recipes that I can put together at the beginning of the week, casseroles work just great for that.

I came across this recipe for Chilaquile Casserole several years ago, I don't even remember where.  It's simple, very inexpensive to make, and it tastes great.  I make it a few times a year and it gives me several meals throughout the week.

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 12 6 inch Corn Tortillas, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 4oz. cans diced green chile peppers, undrained
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sour milk (to make 2 cups sour milk, put 2 tbsp lemon juice in a glass measuring cup, add enough milk to make 2 cups total and let sit 5 min.)
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. black pepper
  • 1/8 t. cumin
  • 1/8 t. dried oregano

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large skillet, cook onion and garlic in oil until onion is tender.
  2. Next, grease a 2 quart rectangular baking dish.  Spread half the tortillas in the bottom.  Top with half of the cheese and 1 can of chile peppers.  Sprinkle with onion and garlic mixture.  Top with the remaining tortillas, cheese, and chile peppers. 
  3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sour milk, salt, black pepper, cumin, and oregano.  Pour evenly over ingredients in dish.
  4. Bake, uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes or until center is set and edges are lightly browned.  Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
It is great to eat just plain, or you can add salsa, avocado, or sour cream.  Sometimes I like to do slight variations, like throwing in shredded chicken between the layers.  It also reheats great, which is a bonus for me.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Finding Elegance: Decrapification Chapter 1

I have a secret confession, I really want all of my closest to be super organized,  like how I imagine all of Martha Stewart's closets to look.  Everything pretty and in place with labels, I think that would be awesome.  I have been on this mission to purge the extra crap that I don't need, Mission: Decrapification (my spell check tells me this is not a word, I disagree).  Some how I just keep acquiring more and more stuff, but I feel like I never stop getting rid of things.  Someday I have to catch up, right?

Chapter 1 starts under the bathroom sink.  I had two motivating factors.  The first being the current conditions under the sink.

Please tell me yours has looked like this too?  You can see I had made some organizational attempts.  The baskets just were not cutting it.  The over the door basket is newer, and that has plans to stay.  The second motivating factor was this.

A few organizers I picked up a few weeks ago at Home Goods.  They have been sitting right there, in front of my landing since I brought them home a few weeks ago, and I was sick of them sitting there.  Time to get on it already!

I started with emptying everything out of the cabinet.  Sorting like things together, and purging anything that I did not use anymore or couldn't remember when I had bought it, aka too old to be using.

Then I wiped everything down and had a nice clean slate.

I was going to start loading things back inside, but I remember some left over shelf paper I had from when I redid the big cabinet in my office.  I figured it would add a little pretty and keep it easy to wipe down in case of any spills.

So much better already.  Now just to put things back together.  The over the door hanging basket was staying.  Since that was oil rubbed bronze, when I came across some matching baskets/drawers at Home Goods I scooped them up.  Not without some hesitation though.  I have been searching for ever for something that would truly maximize this space under the sink.  Most everything either seems to little, or ends up being like a half inch too wide.  These containers were on the smaller side, and what seemed pricey to me for storage containers.  But I justified them, if it made my life easier and more organized it would be worth spending a little more on them, right?  And by pricier, and spending more I mean more then the few bucks that were invested on the previous containers that had been living below my sinks since, umm. . .college?

The medium drawer was $12.99, and the large drawer $14.99.  Under $30 for the whole cabinet is not bad, and I figured I could always return them if they didn't work.

I loaded everything that was staying back in, with room to spare!  I initially was going to store all my hair appliances on the top rack, thinking it would be easier to just reach in and grab since I use them on a daily basis.  It turned out most of my products were too tall for even the large bottom drawer, so I just did a little reverse of plans.  Everything is nicely tucked away, except for my too tall can of hairspray.  I'm thinking I'm going to add one more basket/tray in the empty area to store my makeup bag that currently spends most of its time on the bathroom counter.  I love having extra space and not feeling like I'm full to the brim with no extra place to put stuff.

And for a final before and after comparison.

So much better!  Are you on mission: decrapification?  If so, what areas have you tackled lately?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Everyday Elegance: Nails

If you are finished with your weekend, I hope you had a good one.  Happy mid-weekend to me! :)  Today I thought I would share with you my everyday nail solution.  To me there is something about having your nails done that adds a little extra elegance to the everyday.  It can make you look that extra bit of polished and put together, even when you don't feel it!

Me and regular nail polish don't get along.  I usually can't even get through it drying before ruining it.  I either smudge it right away because I am too impatient to spend my time waiting for them to try.  Or if they actually make it to being dry, they chip within the first day.  Needless to say I didn't really do my nails for years.

About 2.5 years ago I got on the no chip band wagon.  I first treated myself on my birthday.   I loved it.  I loved that they were dry when you left the salon, I loved that they lasted for 2 weeks, it was great.  I kept up with the no chip for quite awhile.  I started to notice that my nails were getting more brittle, and there were a few other things I didn't like.  It wasn't a cheap habit, costing me $30 every two weeks or so, and I felt like I was wasting so much time because they always felt like they took forever to do.

I started looking into the DIY no chip kits, and was excited when I saw Sally Hansen had one.  This was when they first came out, maybe a year ago or so.  This is the one I picked up.  I found it at Target for about $60 (they are now cheaper) and figured it would pay for itself in just a couple uses.

I had pretty good success with it.  The color that came with the kit looked pretty dingy after about two weeks.  And it did not come off easy at all.  Over time I feel like I have come up with a good DIY no chip formula.

I use the LED light that came in my Sally Hansen kit.

I then use the Sally Hansen base coat (because I still have it left), followed with color and top coat by Red Carpet Manicure.

I really like the Red Carpet Manicure Polish for a few reasons.  It is thinner than the Sally Hansen Polish and therefore removes much easier.  It always holds up great over two weeks, and it comes in so many great colors.  They carry this polish at Ulta, for $9.99 a bottle.  What I love is that if you are an Ulta Rewards member they are always sending you coupons for $3.50 off $10, which works on the polish making it a great deal.  And making it too easy to stock up on way too many colors. (Right now they are buy 1 get 1 50% off!)

I am not sure how much money I actually save by doing it myself since I am always buying new colors, but I know that I do save.  I am also saving my time, since I am now able to do my nails in the comfort of my own home catching up on Netflix shows.  I don't have to try to get to a salon when they are open, instead I can do them at 11pm if I want, which is what happens most of the time.

Color: What A Surprise

I have been doing my DIY gel polish for over a year.  I am constantly getting compliments, no one is any the wiser that they are not done in a salon.  My nails are no longer brittle, but strong and healthy feeling.  And it helps to add a little bit of elegance to my everyday.  It's easy to do it yourself, give it a try!

Friday, February 21, 2014

My Friday Five

Friday, finally!  That means one more day until I can sleep in, you don't know how excited I am about that.  Why is it that whenever you get to sleep in, you never can.  The universe knows, it always knows.

This has been a whirlwind of a week for me, but here are my 5 moments I enjoyed along the way.

1.  I have finally been blogging from my desk in my new office.  The room still isn't finished, but it is in working functioning order and it is fun to have my own little space.

2. My Industrial Jewelry Storage project was featured on Tuesdays at Ten June.  It was the first time I have had something featured on another blog and that was super exciting for me.  I feel like I am slowly starting to become a part of a bigger network, which I enjoy!

3.  It hit 40 degrees this week, not once but twice.  It felt like it was actually spring, despite the massive piles of snow still everywhere.  It was like there was a glimmer of hope this winter wasn't going to last forever.  Not so sure about that anymore, but it was nice while it lasted!

4.  I am excited that I still managed to have a week full of new blog posts despite the fact that I didn't have a real weekend last week to get any new projects started and I don't know that I made it home before midnight once this week, small victories!

5.  I discovered Sea Salt Carmel hot cocoa mix at Target.  This stuff is seriously amazing.  I might be slightly obsessed with sea salt caramels, have you had the giant tub from Costco?  I can't buy it because I will eat them all!  This is so good!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!  I plan on enjoying some much needed rest and relaxation!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

House Tour: Guest Bedroom

Welcome to another installment of my house tour, the before.  If you haven't been following along we started with the floor plans, then we visited my laundry nook, and most recently I shared the paint colors used throughout my home.

The next room we visit on the tour is our guest bedroom.  This room is primarily used for cat naps and place to hang dry laundry, since it is right around the corner from the laundry nook.   It is also a gathering place for bulk items and odds and ends, and occasionally it hosts guests.

Again I apologize for lack of before pictures, but I really haven't done too much to this room besides a coat of paint.  So really you are still seeing it in it's before stages.

The guest bedroom has become the land of leftovers.  My husbands old bed, my old duvet, nightstands from my apartment, etc.  There is nothing wrong with that, and luckily they all work pretty well together.  But there are still things left to do to unify the space.

My task list for this room:
  • Raise the right nightstand, you can see in the pictures above it is significantly lower than the one on the left.  I think it looks funky.
  • New lampshades for the lamps in the room.
  • Figure what to do on that big space of open wall above the bed.  Plank wall?
  • Get a rug for under the end of the bed to ground and pull the space together.
  • Fix the mirror on the dresser so it doesn't always flip in, if the dresser stays - not sure on that one yet.
  • Hang the second set of curtains I have for this room.  You can't really tell in the pictures above, but I only ever got to ironing and hanging one set for the two windows.  Each window has a panel framing it from the outside.
  • Hang crown molding.
And finally the biggest eye sore in the entire room.

Those closet doors.  I hate them.  They are the only doors in the house that aren't six panel doors.  I am guessing that these are original to the house and that the previous owners replaced all the other doors, except for some reason these.  You can tell that they are oak bi fold doors painted white, and if you look closely the knobs are white ceramic with a yellow gingham print.  Usually these doors stay open because I think it is less of an eye sore then these doors.  Needless to say these doors are going.  Somehow they have survived for the several years I have lived in this house, but not for much longer!

Thank you for joining me on this edition of the house tour.  Any ideas for the blank wall space above the bed?  I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Elegance Obsession: Radiant Orchid

clockwise from top left

When Pantone released the color of the year for 2014 I was actually excited about it, is that weird?  It seemed like I had already started adding the color into my wardrobe the last few months, if felt like I had a little intuition that it was already a great color.  It has been popping up everywhere and I thought I would share a few of my favorites.  I own a few of the pieces above, as well as a few more, of course.  The one thing I am on the hunt for is a great pair of Orchid earrings, I haven't found the pair yet.  

Check out Pantone's Press Release for when they announced Radiant Orchid as the color for 2014.  I love the statement they make about the color in beauty.
"A modern and surprisingly versatile shade, Radiant Orchid enlivens the skin, making all who wear it feel more healthy and energetic. Blending both cool and warm undertones, purple is an appealing hue for distinctive combinations and flattering to many hair, eye and skin tones."
Are you a fan of Radiant Orchid? Where have you used it, beauty, fashion, decor?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Simply Elegant: Aveda Skin Care

Finding the best skin care routine is something I feel like I have struggled with over the last few years.  Last week I shared my night time routine that has been working well for me this winter.  I feel like I never know what the right plan of attack is.  Should I be using something to maintain, something preventative, there are just so many options out there - too many!  I don't want to break the bank, but I do feel like the cost does reflect the quality of the ingredients the products are made of.

A little while ago I was redeeming one of my holiday gift certificates by treating myself to a facial at Asha SalonSpa.  I got an Elemental Nature facial which is an Aveda Signature service and it was by far the best facial I have ever had, not that I have that many to compare to.  The whole expedience was great, not only did I receive a great facial but as a part of the service I also had leg/foot and shoulder/arm massage.  It was very relaxing and my skin felt amazing afterwards.  Seriously amazing!  My only disappointment was that this was probably the first time I wasn't sold on any of the salon products.  Usually I wouldn't consider that a disappointment, but my skin felt so great I wanted to know what was used on it.  At least I knew that Asha is an Aveda salon, so I headed to the Aveda website to check out there skin care line.

Again, there were a ton of options.  I saw that they had starter kits and was excited about that.  If I am going to invest in new skin care, I would like to make sure it works for me first.  I did a little online reading on the different products and then I headed to the Aveda store at our local mall.  I wasn't sure which kit I wanted to try and didn't want to just order what I thought sounded best.  At the store I spoke with the sales associate, he asked me a little about my skin needs/concerns.  He recommend a few different products from a few different lines.  What I didn't like was that I couldn't purchase any of the products in trial size, unless I was buying one of the starter kits.  Because I didn't want to invest in a full size product that I wasn't sure was right for me, I wanted to stick with one of the started kits.  I ended up going with the Botanical Kinetics Set for Dry/Normal skin

The kit included purifying cream cleanser, exfoliant, toning mist, and hydrating lotion.  The sales associate warned I may not be a fan of the cream cleanser, and I'm not really.  I think the cleanser is just ok.  I use it in the morning, it almost feels like lotion.  It doesn't really feel like it's cleaning my skin.  I can't say it has caused any adverse effects, but I think I would like to try the gel cleaner.  After I cleanse I have have been misting my face with the toning mist and using a pea size amount of the hydrating lotion.  The moisturizer is very light.  The instructions say that the toning mist helps to prepare the skin for the moisturizer.  When I apply it all my face is very damp, but it soaks in within minutes and leaves my face feeling hydrated all day.  I use the exfoliant at night, as it instructs, you can read more about that in my night time skin routine.  It is my first experience using an exfoliant, in fact I had never heard of it before.  I think it's just another version of a toner, but I like how clean it leaves my skin feeling without drying it out.

I have been using the started kit for about a month and I am only about half way through most of the products which would lead me to believe that the full size of the products would last me for a good amount of time.  I would purchase the full size of the exfoliant, tonight mist, and hydrating lotion without hesitation.  In fact I plan to do so.  I am happy with the look and feel of my skin after the month of use.  Though I do plan on going back for a repeat facial and finding out what all the products they use on my skin are.  Seeing as I still have a good amount left of the starter kit, I hope to do so before I run out and need to invest in more.   I want to make sure I'm not missing out on anything!

Do you have any skin care products you swear by?  I'd love to know what they are!

*Thanks to Michelle at Ten June for featuring my Industrial Jewelery Stand in her Tuesdays at Ten June, check it out!

Monday, February 17, 2014

House Tour: Paint Colors

Happy Monday!  My favorite day, if you remember from last Friday's post :)  My extra favorite day this week because we had a work event yesterday, so today is my weekend.

A few weeks ago on the House Tour I shared the floor plans to my house.  I mentioned I have painted every single room since moving in.  I thought I would pull together all of the colors used throughout to give a general feel of my home.  I do know that right now I have a few too many colors and plan to simplify a few rooms in the future.

This is the current color scheme of my home.

Behr Candlelight Ivory: Master Bedroom
Behr Squirrel: Dining Room
Behr Cup of Cocoa: All of the common areas, the living room, hallway, staircase leading upstairs and upstairs landing
Behr Irish Mist:  Office
Glidden Water Chestnut: Upstairs Bathroom, soon to be changed to Irish Mist (I think).
Behr Castle Path: Man Cave
Glidden Spring Cactus: Kitchen
Glidden Martha Stewart River Mist: this is the closest match I could find to the "custom" paint color in my house.  In all actuality I had bought a color, that I can't remember and when I started to put it up it was way too dark.  I ended up mixing the color I had with a gallon of white.  I have used this "custom" mixture in the downstairs bath, laundry nook, and guest bedroom closet.
Glidden Barely Jade: Guest Bedroom

I have to admit, I thought it would be a little more crazy and haphazard when I pulled all the colors together.  I'm glad to see that it feels pretty coordinated, at least to me.  You can see the overall feel is pretty calm colors.  I like to keep the base of the rooms pretty neutral allowing me the freedom to change up the accessories when I feel bored with a space. 

The Spring Cactus brings a nice cheery punch to the kitchen.  And my favorite color of the whole house is the Squirrel in the dining room.  I have used every shade off of that paint chip somewhere in the house, on various pieces of furniture or decor.  The Irish Mist in the office is actually off of that same paint chip as well.

We will see how things evolve and spaces get made over and changed.  We are planning a major overhaul for the upstairs bathroom, which I can't wait to get started.  Most of the supplies have been purchased, I will share the details soon!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Five Valentine's Edition

I love Valentine's Day.  Not for the sappy romantic flowers and candy part of it.  But for the sharing love and happiness and just letting people know that they are special and that you care.  It is a day where everyone puts forth their best efforts to be nice and kind, something I think we just need more of in general.

Here are my 5 of my favorite moments of the week. . .

1.  I baked organic gluten free carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  The 'baking' part wasn't all that exciting, especially since I used a mix.  Though It was a great mix, no strange ingredients, great taste.  It was by Simply Organic.  The best part was that I got to try out my new decorating kit and make fancy frosting tops.  I think it makes them look that much better, right?

2.  I spotted some Philosophy body washes at Marshalls the other week.  I have read about them, and the review is always that they smell so great.  I've always thought they we're kinda pricey, but I picked this one up for a Valentine's treat for myself.  And it does smell fantastic!  I thought ok it's pink and girly so I'll have this all the myself, my husband won't use this - wrong!  I love that the smell lingers, and every time I walk into the bathroom I can smell it!

3.  I have always gotten the best Valentine's from my parents.  I can remember when I was little we would always wake up to a Valentine's suprise.  Once I got older and moved away, I still got Valentine's suprises - they just came in the mail!  It is always a fun surprise I look forward to filled with fun little things like pj's, decorations, candy and jewelry.  Thanks Mom and Dad!

4.  Today the second season is released on Netflix for House of Cards.  My husband and I got into that show last year and have been waiting for the new season.  If you haven't checked it out this show is great, a little bizarre but good.  And it's something that Martin and I are able to enjoy together which doesn't happen often in regards to TV shows.

5.  Mondays.  I love Mondays, I kind of just realized that.  Which is kind of funny because most people hate Mondays.  See my work week is Tuesday through Saturday.  I love that Mondays are my relax/catch up with the world day, especially when most of the world is off back at work.  It makes running errands awesome because there aren't a million people around.  I look forward to my Mondays.

I hope that everyone has a lovely Valentine's Day and a fantastic weekend!