Browsing Tag

household tips

Organization

Simplify All the Things!

Hello, hello! I’m so glad you’re here! Can you believe it’s already a new year? I’ve been pretty quiet around here for a while, but I think you’ll be hearing from me a bit more from now on… I have some great stuff planned!

So anyway…as I type this up, it’s the end of the first week of the year. I have been off work this week, which is always great, and it’s motivated me to get a bunch of things done around the house. I always like to take this time to reset. I’m known to purge all kinds of things and organize like crazy right after new years. Each year, I do a little more or do something a little different, in hopes that eventually my home will be perfectly organized. It may take me ten years, but I’m getting there, right?

On New Year’s Eve, I picked up this book, A Simplified Life by Emily Ley. First of all, the book cover is my style to a T. Of course I’m not one to judge a book by it’s cover, but the cover was speaking to me! So the premise is, get rid of all the excess in multiple areas of your life and live simpler. Sounds good, right? Y’all. This book has got me so motivated to clean, simplify, and get rid of all kinds of things. I have set out to purge my entire house of stuff, and even though I’ve only just started, it feels amazing!

I started in the bedroom, just cleaning trash and getting rid of all kinds of things. I got a new set of sheets (totally not recommended by the book, but just so happened to purchase at the same time that I was reading) so things feel fresh and clean, and then I cleared my nightstand to have more room for a book, or my phone, etc. It looks bare, but also so clear, like there’s room to breathe.

That’s my overall goal for my home this year. Less cluttered, more room to breathe. My decorating style can lean toward the cluttery side, even though things are just as I planned them to be, I know it can look busy. I want to be more intentional about creating spaces that aren’t as busy looking. If nothing else, it’ll give me less dusting to do!  Last year (or was it two years ago? yeesh.), I read this book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Also a great read if you’re looking to get organized this time of year.

That’s all for today, friends, have a fabulous day!

*This post may contain affiliate links, but as always, all opinions are my own.

 

Home Decor

Home Decor on a Budget

Hello all! Happy happy Tuesday! I hope you’re doing well. Today, as I was driving home from work thinking about setting up some more fall touches around the house, I started to calculate how much money I could spend on making fall happen around here. Now, if you know me at all, you know that there are two things I’m very passionate about: home decor and budgeting. Most of what I do here is super budget friendly, and it’s a part of everything I do, but I realized I’ve never shared exactly how I budget or why. So today I wanted to share with you a few things you can do to decorate on a budget, but more importantly, why you should keep a budget.

Now, this blog is not about money. It never has been. But I know most people feel like they could use some more of it (me included), and it seems like there’s never enough for extra things at the end of the month, especially for frivolous things like decorative pumpkins. I get it. But hear me out.

I budget absolutely everything. Ethan and I start each month with a written gameplan of what we’re going to spend our money on for the upcoming month. And because we’re like most millenials with a mountain of student loan debt, most of our extra cash goes there. But that’s not what’s important today. At the beginning of the month, each of us get a certain cash amount to spend on whatever we feel like spending on that month. For me, this usually falls into the frivolous decorative pumpkin category.

But here’s the cool part. I have cash that I get to spend on decor each month that is totally accounted for. It’s written into our budget, and so I can shop for house stuff completely guilt-free! If I want those curtains, or that pumpkin, or those candles, I can buy them because there’s a certain amount already set aside for that type of spending. Of course, it’s pretty tiny, but it’s there nonetheless.

Now, while we’re talking about tiny budgets, I have learned to get pretty creative when it comes to decorating. Here’s how:

One. DIY it. Almost everything in our house is made or refinished by me. Our headboards, most furniture, candles, signs, wall art, just about everything. I can’t even calculate how much this has saved us throughout the entire house. Our headboard was made from fence posts our neighbors were replacing. Seriously! It cost me nothing! Getting creative with the things around you is my biggest advice to someone wanting to decorate on a budget.

Two. Shop after-season clearance. Since I was a little girl, my favorite shopping day has been the day after Christmas. It’s the best time to stock up on things for the next year because as soon as December 26th rolls around, everything is 50-80% off. This can be a little annoying because you have to wait an entire year to use it. But it is a pretty fun surprise opening the things you bought and forgot about a whole year later. It’s like getting gifts for yourself!

Three. Shop the flea markets and the thrift shops. I went down this weekend to our local thrift store where I realized when the owner approached me asking about my family, that I am now a regular. I mean, I’m in there all the time. But I’ve gotten a heck of a deal on many occasions. My favorite type of thrift store is one where you can negotiate prices, especially after you’ve built a relationship with the staff. I can talk down just about anything when it comes to flea market and thrift store shopping. And if the seller isn’t willing to come down, just walk away! Someone else will have something just like it who is dying to get rid of it! It’s all about patience.

Four. Allow yourself some spending. Seriously. Picture it as an allowance to yourself. I have bought almost everything in our house with my spending money, and I never have to worry about feeling guilty or saving for priorities. The essentials are taken care of, and this money is free for the spending!

fall-dining-room

My house is certainly not very big or fancy, but I love making it my home. Sticking to my budget when I’m decorating is something I take super seriously. While I would love to go out and spend a ton of money on new furniture and rugs and all kinds of things, I piece things together super slowly as time and money allows. Here’s a sneak peek of our fall dining room. Those flowers? I picked them from the side of the road. They’re just weeds.

If you take away one thing from this, let it be this: I don’t spend a lot of money on my house. At all. But that doesn’t keep me from trying to make it a house that I love. I hope this inspires you to be able to decorate your own home on a small budget. I promise it can be done. That’s all for today, friends. Have a fabulous day.

Home Decor, Organization

How to Make Your Guest Room Guest Ready

Hey y’all! Don’t mind me over here just eating Hershey’s Kisses and listening to Johnny Cash records because #summer. Seriously someday I’m going to have responsibilities in the summertime like children, or a job that doesn’t have the summer off, but for now I’m going to soak up my precious freedom to do nothing!

This weekend my mom and my sister are flying in from New York to spend a week with us, and I’m super excited! I’ve been getting the guest room cleaned out because let’s be honest here: it’s the most neglected room in the house and we all know it. Our guestroom is super weird. We live in an old southern house, and apparently back in the day it was custom to have two front doors to a house. One for the family to enter, and one for guests to enter. The guest entry would lead into a nicer parlor than the family entrance. All that to say, we have two front doors to our weird little rental, and one of them leads directly into the guest room. It’s sealed, but it’s still weirdly there. It’s also the biggest room in our house, bigger even than our bedroom. Anyway, it’s usually filled with loads of furniture and drop cloths and paint until we have overnight guests and I’m forced to clean it out. Like now.

So that’s what I’ve been doing the past few days, and so I thought it might be a good idea to share some tips on how to make that poor neglected room a little more comfortable for visiting guests. So here’s a few things you might want to consider next time you have people staying.

guestroom

One. The most obvious thing: clean the room. Make sure the sheets are freshly washed, the floors are cleaned and the dust bunnies aren’t too big. Unless you intentionally use it for storage, check under the bed and in the closets. Make sure there’s no trash or random items that don’t belong.

Two. Lay out towels for your guests in the guest room, even if you don’t have an attached guest bath. I try to think about how I feel when I stay overnight at other people’s house, and sometimes you don’t know where fresh towels are, or which ones you’re supposed to use. Make this easier for your guests by simply placing a few on the bed, or on the bathroom counter if your guest bath is attached.

guestroom2

Three. Post the wifi password somewhere. I have seen some really cute printables online that are for posting the wifi password. You can make your own, write it on a chalkboard, or find one online and print and frame it yourself. This way your guests don’t have to ask, and it’s just another thing you can do to make them feel at home.

Four. Do something about the smell. No, I’m not saying my house smells, nor yours. But have you ever noticed that every house you go into has a slightly different scent? Not even a bad one, just individual to the people that live there. It’s more noticeable the first time you walk into someone’s home, but if it’s your own home, you probably don’t even notice. Place a yummy scented candle or fresh flowers in the room to give it a pleasant smell. I’ll be burning one of my own homemade vanilla candles when my mom and sister arrive, but any candle or flower will do. If you’re really feeling festive, do both!

guestroom1

Five. Keep extra blankets and a fan available. Everyone has different sleep preferences when it comes to temperature, so have you’re guests covered either way. Make sure they’re comfortable whether it’s hot or cold at night.

Six. And this is just above and beyond. (And mom, if you’re reading this, don’t be expecting this one, since, you know, you’re my mom, not the president.) Have a tray of bottled water or drinks, and a bowl of candies. Bonus point if you have some local goodies for out of towners. Nothing better for your guests than to have something to drink or snack on at night without having to tiptoe through an unfamiliar house in the dark looking for the kitchen.

Well, that’s about it. I’ve got to get back to doing some laundry, and vacuuming out the guest room. What do you do to make your guests comfortable? I’d love to hear about it! That’s all for today friends, have a fabulous day!

Personal

Six Ways to Work More Creatively

I have now been on summer break for about a month. I had some serious plans of working on a ton of projects, blogging a bunch, and being generally productive. I laugh in the face of my plans. Because, let’s be honest. I have done absolutely nothing thus far this summer. Unless you count Netflix binges, in which case, I have been super productive.

I’ve been struggling this past month or so, because I haven’t been able to work creatively on just about anything. I’ve felt pretty unsuccessful because I haven’t done anything new, and the longer it has gone, the more of a creative rut I feel myself slip into. I realize this sounds pretty dramatic. All I mean is that I have been unable to create or make things. We are working toward a pretty big financial goal, and so for the the past few months we have been intentionally super tight. Which is fine, because we’re really excited about future possibilities, but there hasn’t really been any extra cash for house/decor projects.

So I thought it might be a good idea to share with you guys some ways (simple ones) that I have found helpful to get some creative juices flowing.

lemon water

One.

Go for a walk. If you are like me, and it’s a bajillion degrees during the day, you might want to do this in the evening. But a simple walk around the neighborhood can do a body good. I love to walk and look at homes around the neighborhood, admire people’s gardens, and wave at the older woman who lives down the street. It just feels good.

Two.

Clean things up around the house, and move things around. The classic “shop your home” strategy to make new vignettes by moving things from your home and moving them around. I love doing this because it’s free, but also because it forces me to get up and think outside the box.

Three.

Go outside and water the plants. Or grass if you don’t have any plants. I kid you not, there have been a few days this summer when the only thing I have done in the day is go out to the front yard and water my hydrangeas. (The bush is growing, but the flowers are all dead. I’m not sure what that means, but hopefully it’ll bloom next year.) Standing there with the hose makes me feel like I’m doing something.

Four.

Pick some flowers. Pull some branches from a tree. Whatever. Get some alive thing, and put it in a vase. I feel better with fresh flowers around. It helps me think, and it doesn’t hurt that it looks pretty too.

Five.

Slice up some lemons and put them in a glass of water. I think I’m a little overly obsessed with lemons right now (blame summer), but for me, there is something soothing about slicing lemons. Put in a glass of water, combined with a long sit on the porch, and it’s just perfection.

Six.

And this is the one I’m still telling myself. Turn off the dang TV and do something else. Anything else. I have wasted so much time this summer sitting on the couch watching mindless shows. Now there’s nothing wrong a little R’n’R, but I just feel so unproductive when I’m not doing something. So this is definitely a goal of mine for now.

So I’m feeling a little bit more creative and ready to get to work! Have you ever felt like you’re in a creative rut? What did you do to get through it? I’d love to hear about it! Well, that’s all for today, friends! Have a fabulous day!

Recipes

Homemade Strawberry Pie

Hey y’all! It’s June and you may not know what that means, but in my world, that means it’s strawberry season! I don’t know about you, but I love me some strawberries. I love them because they’re so sweet they’re not even like fruit, they’re more like candy. Which is exactly why they are incredible.

When I was growing up, every June we would go strawberry picking at a local farm. Now, we were not farm people at all, we could best be described as extreme suburbia. When strawberry season came around though (in New York where I grew up it was usually the last week of June), we would head out the the farm to do some picking. My mom and my siblings and I would fill up basket after basket, eating yummy berries as we made our way through the rows. After we loaded our trunk with berries, we would head home where we would make strawberry jam for the rest of the year, pies, shortcakes, and of course some just to eat. Those were some good times.

The last time I picked strawberries myself was two years ago when, two days before our wedding, Ethan and I picked fresh berries for the chocolate covered strawberries served at our wedding. I haven’t been picking lately, which is fine because I don’t have a need for a ton of berries. When they’re in season though, they’re super cheap at the grocery store and so I stock up and get baking.

Today I want to share with you guys my homemade strawberry pie recipe. This is the first (and pretty much only) recipe that I have tweaked and changed myself to truly be able to call it mine. Now, I’m sure there is someone else out there in the world who has the same recipe as me, and that’s totally fine. I can honestly say though that this is my own recipe from my own baking experience. And I make everything from scratch. The crust, the filling, and the whipped cream. I know that some people can get overwhelmed by making their own crust. But let me tell you a secret… it is SO EASY. And it’s way tastier than store-bought crust. I promise if you make your own crust, you’ll be wondering why you didn’t do it sooner.

Strawberry Pie3

The first thing you’ll want to prepare is the crust. You will need:

2 cups flour

2/3 cup shortening

1/3 cup cold water

So, you add your shortening and flour info a mixing bowl. Mix it around with a fork until the shortening is in small, pea-sized bits. Then slowly add your water, a little at a time. Pour some water in the bowl (about a tablespoon or so), and mix into the flour mixture. Continue to add water until a dough forms. Toward the end, you will use your hands to form a dough ball. Then. on a floured surface, flatten the dough with your hands. With a rolling pin, roll it until it is about 16 inches across. You will want this to be as circular as possible. Once it is rolled out, fold the dough in half, and then half again. It should basically look like a fraction (1/4) of a circle. Lift the folded pie dough into a pie plate, and unfold. The folding is just a trick to transfer it from countertop to pie plate. Use your fingers to mold the crust into the dish. I usually use the back of a spoon to create a pattern around the edge of the crust. Poke holes in the crust with a fork. Now you’re ready to bake! Place the empty crust in the oven at 450 for 5 minutes.

Strawberry Pie 2

Once the crust is done and cooled, you’ll get started on the filling. Here’s what you will need:

8 cup strawberries

1/2 cup water

1 packet of strawberry gelatin

1 tbsp cornstarch

2/3 cup sugar

First, you’ll take six cups of strawberries, and set them aside. Cut off the greenery, and cut the berries into quarters. Some people like to put whole berries in their pie, I prefer smaller pieces. That’s totally a personal preference though. Place these strawberries into the pie crust.

With the remaining two cups of strawberries, cut them (this time you will want them to be in pretty small pieces) and place them in a bowl. Using a berry masher, mash the berries until they are as pulpy as possible. It should basically look like juice with some small chunks mixed in. Transfer these into a pot.

On medium heat, add your water to the strawberries. After you add the water, you will add the sugar, gelatin, and cornstarch. Continue mixing until the sauce thickens and begins to boil. Once it is boiling, take it off the heat, and pour over the fresh strawberries in the pie plate. You will want to make sure the sauce is poured evenly around the pie.

Strawberry Pie 4

Once the dish cools a bit, place it in the fridge for three hours. Just before serving, you’ll want to make the whipped cream, which in my opinion, is the best part! You will need:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

approximately 1 tbsp sugar

approximately 1 tsp vanilla

I say approximately because I don’t actually measure these, I just kind of pour them into the mixing bowl. I leave them in the Kitchenaid for about five minutes, or until the cream starts to thicken. You can add more sugar or vanilla, depending on your taste preferences. It’s totally easy and totally up to you!  Scoop a little on your pie, and enjoy!

Strawberry Pie1

And that’s pretty much it! The most time consuming part is cutting all the strawberries, but overall, it takes me about 40 minutes to prepare. Guys, I seriously love this pie. I’ve experimented with a few different factors, and this is what I’ve found to be the best! I cannot recommend this one enough, especially now that strawberries are in season and super fresh. Well, I’m off to enjoy some pie! Have a fabulous day, friends!

Strawberry Pie

DIY Projects, Home Decor

Rusty Porch Bar Cart

Good Morning, friends! Today is my first official day of summer break, and as I’m typing this, I’m lounging around in my pajamas. I’m ready to have a nice refreshing break from work this summer!

Now that summer is officially here, I have lots of plans which include porch sitting, painting things, lounging, and not much else. 🙂 I’ve been working on making our porch a little bit more enjoyable this season, and I wanted to share a new addition to the front porch. A month or so ago, I added our cable spool table to the porch, and it has been wonderful! I knew that I wanted to add more, so when my father-in-law sent me a picture of a rusty old bar cart asking if I wanted it, I jumped at the chance.

Porch Barcart  7

I’ve been desperately trying to keep a few plants alive (not very well, I might add), and I knew an old bar cart would be the perfect thing to house my little plants. The problem was that it was so rusty, I couldn’t even tell what color it was originally. I wanted it to be rusted, but I wanted to see if there was a way to scrub some of the rust off so that some of the original paint was exposed.

I didn’t really want to buy anything to remove the rust with, knowing I would only use it for this project (assuming it even worked) and would then be destined to cluttering the back of my cleaning supply closet. So, I figured I’d do my own thing. Recently, I shared my DIY all-purpose household cleaner, and I’m happy to report that it truly does work for all purposes. You can check out the full article in the link above, but it’s what I used to expose some of the original paint on this little cart.

I generously sprayed the cart completely. I let it sit for about an hour, spraying a bit more at that time (the Texas heat didn’t quite allow for a soak, as it just dried it up). After about two hours of the solution on the cart, I began scrubbing with the same brush we generally use to clean the grill. As I would scrub a certain spot, I would hose it down. If it needed more scrubbing, I would spray a little more solution on it, and immediately continue scrubbing.

Porch Barcart 6

Eventually I began to see little spots of green paint emerge from behind the scrub brush. I’m not going to lie and say this was super easy; it took quite a bit of elbow grease. I did intentionally stop at this point, since I wanted the cart to keep a bit of it’s rusty charm. If you have a bit more muscle than I do, you could certainly scrub off more rust than I was able to.

Porch Barcart 5

Porch Barcart 2

Porch Barcart 8

This little cart makes the porch just a little bit more cozy! And I’m absolutely thrilled with how it turned out, with it’s rusty, chippy goodness. I think once I get up from this couch, I’ll make my way out there to enjoy this little spot. Do you have something old and rusty? I’d be willing to bet you can clean it up a bit with some elbow grease and some items you have around the house!

Well, that’s all for today, friends! Have a fabulous day!

Organization

DIY Household Cleaner

Hi friends! Long time no chat! I’ve seriously been so busy lately I haven’t had a spare moment to update here and I feel terrible! I’m so glad I could finally carve out a little time to stop by and say hello! School (which is work for me, since I’m a teacher) is moving full steam ahead into the end of the school year and I’m struggling to keep up. Thankfully in just two weeks I’ll actually have some free time!

Well, I’ll be short and sweet today, but I wanted to share with you a little homemaking tip for you fellow budget conscious friends. If there’s one thing I hate spending my money on, it’s cleaning products. They can be so expensive, and it seems like you need a different product for everything! I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend my money on pretty things for the house than boring cleaning supplies. A while back, I shared my DIY laundry soap, which has saved me tons of money over the past few years. If you didn’t catch that post, you can read all about it here.

Recent’y I’ve started making an all purpose cleaner, something that takes the place of many of the bottles that I previously had under my sink. So here’s the super easy all purpose cleaner that I make for my home.

diycleaner1

I use about 1.5 cups of vinegar and put it in a jar, and then add one small lemon, thinly sliced. I place the lemons in the vinegar, and leave the jar to sit for a few weeks. This will allow the lemons to fully soak into the vinegar. I don’t really know much about chemistry (I barely passed that class in high school), but I know both lemons and vinegar have some super strong stuff in them, so working together makes them doubly great I  suppose? Who knows. I just made that up.

After two weeks, I pour the liquid into a spray bottle, and that’s about it! My spray bottle has a pretty narrow neck, so I don’t bother trying to squeeze the lemon slices into it. I just throw them away.  My spray bottle was something I picked up for a dollar or so in the cleaning section at Walmart. Lemon and vinegar are both pretty inexpensive, so this is something that comes out to be much more budget friendly than typical cleaners.

I use this spray for just about anything. Countertops, stove top, sinks, shower walls, and even the inside of the fridge and microwave. The lemons take away the strong smell of the vinegar, and it smells more like citrus than like vinegar. I absolutely love using this method because it saves me a couple dollars, and I do enjoy making the things I use in my home. It’s also chemical free, which I know is a big deal for a lot of people. Safe for expectant mamas, and easy to make!

I told you I’d be short and sweet today, but once my summer vacation has started, I’ll be around much more frequently. I hope you enjoyed this little post, and that you’ll give it a try. I would definitely recommend this one, I can’t stress enough how easy it is! Well, that’s all for today, friends! Have a fabulous day!

diycleaner

Organization

DIY Laundry Soap

Hello friends! I hope this week has been treating you well! Spring Break is winding down for me, and I am silently crying tears of regret after not having accomplished everything that I had planned. Just kidding. Sort of.

We did have a super fun and relaxing week of camping for a few nights, which was wonderful! Even though we were only about twenty minutes from home, it felt as though we were truly out of town. And it just feels good to get away! Coming home from camping, everything in our bags smelled like campfire smoke. Which is wonderful while you’re actually out, but once you come home, it’s not so great (in my opinion anyway). I had a bunch of laundry to do, and I realized it would be a great idea to share my homemade laundry detergent recipe with y’all.

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I’ve been making my own laundry soap for about three years now, and I have not had to re-buy supplies since I first started. Talk about thrifty.

So here’s what you’ll need: 

3 Tablespoons of Washing Soda

3 Tablespoons of Borax

2 Tablespoons of Original Dawn Dish Soap

Any scent of essential oils (this part is totally optional)

Here are the (super simple) steps:

First, you’ll mix your washing soda, borax, and dish soap together in a gallon size container, adding about one cup of hot water. No need to boil the water, I just use the hottest water I can get out of my faucet. This amount of water is just enough to dissolve the power into the water. You’ll need to shake well until everything is dissolved.

Next (and you will need to do this in your sink), you’ll fill your container with the cold water. I just use the tap water from my faucet. This process will create a mess load of bubbles, so I cannot tell you how important it is to do this in a sink! Once the container is filled, I close it up and shake again. This will allow any particles that didn’t disolve before to fully dissolve.

Last, and this step is optional, I like to add a few drops of essential oil. No need for the expensive stuff, I just bought one bottle of lemongrass oil from my local grocery store, which may have cost about five bucks. The oil will make the laundry soap scented, which I prefer in a laundry soap. It is totally optional though. The cool thing is that you can make it any scent you want. After adding a few drops, I close it up and shake thoroughly.

That’s it! It really is that easy. like I mentioned before, I have been making this laundry soap for about three years, and I have yet to buy new supplies. I would estimate the total cost at about fifteen dollars, but for three plus years of laundry soap, I would say that’s a pretty good deal! Now, I use this recipe mainly for economical reasons, and not necessarily for all-natural health reasons, so if you’re looking for an organic or suchandsuch-free product, this is probably not for you.

Personally, I love it. It takes just a few minutes to make, and my clothes and linens smell and feel just as fresh as with any other laundry soap I have purchased. I use about a cup of the soap per load, and one “batch” will last me a few weeks. I would definitely recommend making your own laundry soap!

Have you tried making your own laundry soap before? If so, I’d love to hear about it! That’s all for today, friends. Have a fabulous day!

DIYlaundrysoap