Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Crushing On: Floral Prints

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I don't consider myself to be a super girly girl, but there's something about the charm of florals that bring out my uber-feminine side. They can actually be quite versatile and they don't have to be sticky sweet, as Tory Burch proves with her newest arrivals (which include this shift dress sitting at #1). I was  recently shopping for black ankle-strap sandals when I discovered this floral version, and now I'm completely distracted and have obviously forgotten about the black ones (or maybe I just need both). 

What puts you in the mood for spring? Floral prints definitely do it for me. And that bikini might actually convince me to rock a high-waisted bottom this summer...

Monday, April 7, 2014

Recipe: Homemade Oatmeal Creme Pies

Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies appeared many times at the apex of my childhood. Before moms cared about nutrition (or, before MY mom cared about nutrition) I used to get one of these bad boys in my lunch for "dessert" almost every day. And I wonder where my sweet tooth came from...

It's been years since I had one and the craving hit me while grocery shopping this week. I resisted buying a box and instead found this recipe to make my own. These were actually very easy to make and have all of the soft, chewy goodness of the original. I followed the recipe exactly and was sure to slightly underbake the cookies to keep them really soft. Head over to Cooking Classy to find out how to make them yourself!

Do you have a childhood snack you just can't resist?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Tribe Home Opener! Here We Go!

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It's been about five months since the Indians played in the Wild Card game (last October!) but that night hardly feels so distant. Spring training came and went and now the Indians are coming back to play on our home turf. The playoff vibes last season were electric and I think everyone is cautiously optimistic for another exciting year. Being downtown the night of the Wild Card game with so many fans (and non-fans there to catch the buzz...I don't blame them) was something I won't ever forget. 

Winter has no choice but to pack its bags and hit the road. It's baseball's TRIBE let's eat our weight in hot dogs and drink some beer!

I'm off to the game today – if you are too, stay safe, say hi if you see me, and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Still Life Lately

Happy April, everyone! I seriously can't believe how fast this year is going.

Lately I've been busy working on new projects and getting new products ready for springtime, but I've tried to make time to stop and smell the roses (or, in this case, tulips). Some snaps from life lately...

The J.Crew spring style guide is killing it – I wasn't crazy about their clothes the last few seasons but I'm really loving what's out now.

I scored these Sam Edelman boots at Nordstrom Rack on crazy sale, after lusting after them for years. Sometimes things are just meant to be! I'm also really pumped about adding these crazy cool mirrored Ray Bans into my rotation.

I had a few days home alone this week, and took the opportunity to finally page through this book and eat cookies for dinner. Ooooooooops. It's pure eye candy. Kate Spade is such a young, but iconic brand and it was fascinating to see how their aesthetic has evolved over the last twenty years. The book is also a graphic designer's dream – lots of great photography and bold color.

 Doing some brush lettering for a project...I love painting letters because things are so accidental. It can be frustrating at first, but once you learn to give up control, you get those "happy accidents" that all designers seek to have. But you can't seek too hard, or they won't happen! That's the conundrum.

What have you guys been loving lately? 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring Decor: Planters + Vases

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As stated in my last post, one of my favorite ways to refresh my space for spring is with flowers and plants. I also have a very bad, bad addiction to shopping for vases. I impulse buy vases like it's my job. So, at least I can make myself feel better about my purchases by sticking some beautiful flowers inside them!

I didn't shop for planters much until we moved into our house, and realized we needed more plants around our outdoor hangout spaces. Having potted plants on your patio, steps, or porch add depth to your landscape and make the space more welcoming. Plus, it's a great excuse to get a cute watering can (holla)! Right now I'm really digging these utilitarian concrete slanted planters from CB2.

A wide, glass vase is my go-to favorite for spring flowers, especially tulips. They spread out so perfectly and droop over the's a great look. Crate and Barrel has THE BEST basic vases. You can't go wrong, and they're so affordable.

Are you a vase addict like me? What decor just gets you every time?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

First Day of Spring: Spring Cleaning Checklist

 { photo source; lettering mine }

It's the first day of spring! It sure doesn't feel like it (it's 40 degrees and cloudy) BUT it's a step in the right direction.

When the snow starts to melt, I always get the spring cleaning bug. Opening the windows and cleaning seems to clear out the winter blues and wash away the stuffiness of being trapped indoors. It's been a long and brutal winter and I think I speak for all Midwesterners when I say that we can't wait for spring. This year more than ever.

Here are some of my surefire ways to remove winter blahs and get the house ready for spring:

Clean your windows – Inside and out. It's a task, but don't skip the outside (if your windows allow). When the sun starts coming through, you'll want to see the flowers outside, and not salty streaks left over from the snow and slush.

Get under the furniture – Move your couch, tables, chairs, etc. out of their usual spots, and vacuum up the critters living underneath. I didn't do this much in the past, and it led to some embarrassing discoveries upon moving (it was like someone dumped a box of Nerds under our couch. What can I say...I love Nerds). So now I say NO MORE under-the-couch Nerds, and we clean under there at least twice a year. Plus, now that we have Cooper, we rediscover a lot of his old toys as well. He's a big fan of this.

Facelift the floors – If you have hardwood floors, vacuuming is a weekly thing that just has to happen. Ours don't get mopped every week, but I try to do it at least once a month. This is something I'm always sure to do in the spring, especially since I tend to go barefoot when the weather gets warm. If you have carpet or rugs, renting a steam cleaner is a great way to remove stains or refresh a rug that's become a victim of high-traffic walking. Locally, I've rented them from Drug Mart (because seriously, what can't you get at Drug Mart).

Bring nature in – Houseplants do double duty: they look great, while purifying your indoor air. Bring some into your home and you'll feel great with nature around you, even when things aren't quite yet green outdoors. Fresh flowers also never fail to boost my mood. If you don't have a yard, an indoor herb garden is also a great thing to start in the spring. I find that having herbs on hand makes meals much easier to plan, and I enjoy finding new recipes that incorporate the herbs I have.

Clean painted walls – Over time, walls will acquire scuffs that you might not notice until you look. You can use a damp sponge or a Magic Eraser (my personal fave) to remove marks and smudges from your walls. It's amazing how many you'll find once you start looking.

Wipe down your lightbulbs – This is weird, but satisfying. Just look into each of your lamps – I bet there's dusty ass lightbulbs in there.

Scrub the bathroom – Our bathroom gets a good clean every weekend, but sometimes the tub and grout need extra attention. Here are some homemade, natural cleaners for tubs, showers, and tile that utilize baking soda and vinegar for non-toxic power. Some of the tile cleaners I've used (such as Tilex) smell so strong that they really irritate my nose and eyes while cleaning. I can't imagine it's a good idea to be inhaling that stuff anyway.

Organize your closet – Out with the old, in with the new. My rule for weeding out clothes is that if I haven't worn it in two years, it's out (unless it has a sentimental value, or was purchased on a vacation, etc.) Donate your clothes and shoes, or sell the unworn/more valuable items through consignments shops or sites like eBay or Poshmark. Or, as my friend Emily has done, throw a clothing swap party with your friends. You can trade and end up with things you really want! Also, new hangers make a world of a difference. I had mis-matched plastic hangers for years and recently bit the bullet and replaced them with all velvet hangers. I LOVE them. Nothing falls off, and their slim profile gives me more closet space.

What do you do to freshen up your space for spring?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Black + Blingy Bachelorette Invites

This year seems to be the year of the wedding! I'm busy with invites, save the dates – you name it. Good thing I just love love.

My pal Jenna was planning a winery bachelorette party for her friend, and wanted a bold, blingy invitation to match her inspiration. The party will incorporate black, gold, glitter, and hot pink – which is a color just made for bachelorettes. I love it.

{Sources: clockwise from top left 1 | 2 | 3 | 4}

I took her inspiration and created a double-sided card with the night's itinerary on the back, which kept the front clean and simple. Add in some faux glitter letting and elegant font mixing, and you've got yourself a chic, penis-free invitation (though I can't speak for the party itself..!)

I always adore working with Jenna and especially love designing custom invites and paper suites. If you or someone you know is having a bangin' party, bachelorette, or wedding, I'd love to discuss your project with you! I also just completed some illustrated save-the-dates for one my high school BFFs, which I also can't wait to share.

Hope you guys have a great Monday, and HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY! Go drink some green beer.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Spring Beauty Picks

1) Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, 2) OPI Nail Lacquer in My Vampire in Buff, 3) Chanel Chance Eau Tendre, 4) NARS Blush in Sex Appeal, 5) Library of Flowers Hand Creme in Linden, 6) St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse, 7) Tarte Matte Lip Stain in Lucky, 8) Stila Eye Shadow in Cloud

When it comes to spring beauty, I like to keep things fresh and light. Although I hate letting go of fall and winter colors (I'll miss you, burgundy lipstick!) I think we're all ready for everything to be all flowers and bunnies and sunshine. I know I am.

I always switch out my usual foundation for a tinted moisturizer (this stuff is the best) and add a weekly faux-glow with this St. Tropez bronzer. It lasts for days and has no sketchy orange undertones. As Midwesterners we're all coming out of winter looking like ghosts, so bronzer is the only way I allow myself to start wearing t-shirts! Nude nails look especially great with a little color on your skin.

I save shimmer for summer and opt for a matte blush instead, and pretty peaches are my current favorite for cheeks. I also love the look of a soft neutral or gray eye shadow, paired with a pretty pink lip. This lip stain is like a crayon, and goes on just as easily. I have it in a hot pink color and love how simple it is to use. My hands are always still dry from winter, so I keep a hand creme on hand (hah) at all times. This one from Library of Flowers is divine– it smells like a garden (in a good way). Not to mention the packaging makes it such a visual treat.

What do you change about your routine in the spring? And are you as pale as I am right now?

Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Links

1 | These bins need to make their way into my office immediately. 
2 | A decorating tip I support fully. This and many more great home tips here on House Beautiful.
3 | Brownie cookie sandwiches filled with caramel creme – enough to break my willpower. 
4 | Cooper is in desperate need for a new leash. I love this marbled rope one from Grey Paw Design.
5 | J.Crew's March style guide is killing it. These sandals are on the top of my wish list!

Happy last day of February! Good riddance. It's 10 below with the wind chill right now. GET OUT OF HERE, COLD.

Stay warm, friends, and have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Home Series: Before & After | Master Bedroom

When it comes to naming which room in our house got the biggest overhaul, our master bedroom takes the cake—although just our hallway is a close second. You'd never think a hallway could be so much work, but that's a post for another day.

The inside of our house felt every bit of right and looked every bit of wrong. It's amazing how after seeing dozens of houses, you develop this ability to not take anything at face value—and I don't mean just looking beyond paint colors. You can look at an ugly room and feel like the space is right, or you notice how cool a corner is, or you feel how firm and right the floors are beneath your feet. Which is good, because we had to look past one pretty ugly bedroom.

This was the bedroom before — so sad and heavy:
As you can see in our progress post from our first week, we cut that small closet door open, installed new bars and shelves, ripped up the carpet, refinished the hardwood, and replaced that sad, cheap ceiling fan. The closet itself was quite big, but had that "cave closet" problem where the door is small and the closet is impossible to utilize fully. We expanded the entrance, replaced the doors, and actually reused the old closet door for our linen closet in the hallway. We really wanted to keep all of the original doors to the house, so I'm glad the door fit!

A nice master closet was something we hadn't seen in any of the Lakewood homes we looked at, so we knew a remodeled closet would be a great selling point someday (and a necessity for us now).

This is the closet after, with our DIY rope mirror:

Our progress at one year:
Curtains: DIY | Gold Tortoise Shell: Target/DIY | Nightstands: IKEA | Reading sconces and table lamp: IKEA | Duvet: CB2 (old) | Rug: Overstock (old)

For some reason, every single room in our house had {bad} ceiling fans, which we promptly replaced with semi-flush mounts, but we repurposed this one in our room for a little summer breeze. We might switch it out with something more fun (maybe a new DIY) but for now it fits the bill.

I really love the drama of dark walls and wanted to pull it off in our room with a super rich navy. We get a ton of light in our house so I knew it wouldn't be too dark, and we balanced it with lots of white and texture. The room has a tiny touch of nautical inspiration, but it's more relaxed and less literal.

There is still so much we want to add and change about the room (we're wanting a stylish new bed frame) but after a year, we're really happy with the progress. As it is with all spaces, "there's always something to do!" For now, it's an incredibly relaxing, rehabbed space that we're just enjoying.

Candle hurricane: DIY | Anchor dish: Furbish | Glasses: Lookmatic

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Home Series: Before & After | Outdoor

Welcome to our outdoor home tour! In the spirit of thinking spring, I need some sunny memories of our green grass and garden to restore my sanity. It's hard to remember that things looked like this only a few months ago! We worked all spring and summer long to give the exterior of our home a facelift, and we're relieved the majority of the work is done. Let's get to it, shall we?

Here is our "after": with a fresh coat of paint on literally every surface, newly built columns and railing, landscaping, and new hardware (mailbox, light fixtures, etc.) The gray is Sherwin Williams Dovetail and the mint is Waterfall. The house is sided with aluminum, so we had to bring in the pros to paint it for us – we hired Neubert Painting to do it. It was incredible to see the house transform a little more each day. They painted the exterior of the house, but we painted the columns, railing, and porch floor ourselves. Pretty much every day after work, I was coming home, grabbing a beer, and painting something on that porch. It was actually kind of wonderful...

This was the house before. This was taken in the late fall, so the dead plants definitely make it look worse. The color scheme, symmetrical bushes, and shutters looked straight out of the '60s. We were itching to paint it all of last winter. The inside was so warm and charming, the outside did the house no justice. In fact, when we did our first drive-by, Jim pulled up in front of it and I said "oh my god NO" (this was in our "choosy" phase of house shopping, which is a post for a different day). But remember kids – when it's yours, you can change it! 

We also did a number on the backyard. The garden beds were overgrown, which you can't see here since everything was dead at the time, so they needed lots of TLC. The pointless baby fence also had to come out, and also there was THIS:

A big, pointless concrete "patio" of some sort in the back of the yard. The baby fence had a gate that opened up to this "patio" and the previous owners had an adirondack chair on it (because when I want to relax and drink lemonade, I want to do it here?). It had been there for years, so I'm sure they were just trying to make the most of it, but...just rip it out. Which is what we did. 

We rented a jackhammer and towed away tons of solid concrete, while ripping out the other stones and the small tree that was in the middle of the yard. We planted grass where the patio had been and hoped for the best! It was terrifying to think the grass might not grow (first-time jitters) but obviously, it was fine. We watched it grow in and followed up by planting some new shrubs along the fence. 

The beds along the fence were also filled with Yellow Loosestrife, which is basically the devil and has a very dense and invasive root system, so we spent hours digging the beds up and removing these roots.  It was awful, but worth it. 

Here is the "after" at the end of the summer. We still have some more shaping to do to the beds, but the work that's been done has made a huge difference. We've gained a ton of yard space by removing that slab, which Cooper loves! It looks more opened up, and I'm relieved to not have to look at that dumb fence anymore. 

Last winter, we were so anxious for spring to come so we could tackle all of these projects. We moved into the house in October of '12, facelifted the inside, and sat waiting to do the rest. We are really happy  with how it all looks and can't wait to do more a bit more relaxing this summer – although there is definitely always something to do. Our next project is to furnish the front porch, and furnish our second-floor balcony that's situated off the office. You are all welcome to join me for summer drinking in any of these areas :) Are you planning any home projects for this spring? 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Home Series: Why To Buy

Today starts a little series of posts dedicated to all things HOME – specifically: homeownership, home buying, and our home's before + after. I have so many photos to share and thought the spring itch would be the perfect time to kick off this series on the blog. It's almost the peak time of year for listings to hit the market, so hopefully some of this will help + inspire any of you potential buyers out there!

As a relatively young, unmarried couple we were cautious about jumping into buying – in this economy homeownership has become more of a luxury than a necessity. However, on the other side of a burst real estate bubble, you have a rock-bottom market that's steadily on its way up. The timing couldn't have been better: home prices were low, interest rates were low, and our neighborhood was maintaining its value. In so many ways, it was the right thing for us and I'm glad we dove in and never looked back. 

These were the major and minor factors we considered when deciding to buy:

Investment – Really, this was #1. You're never too young to invest in your future. Homes follow the same rules as stocks: buy low, sell high. And we had a chance to buy low, on a house that we knew we could sell high just by sitting in it. Add in low cost/high-value home improvements, and you're sweetening the deal. After years of renting and tossing money down the drain, buying became the non-insane option. We knew we were staying in the area for a bit, so renting just made no sense.

Landlords – There's nothing like having total control over your space, and we are project people. If we don't like something, we want to change it. Asking permission? UGGGGH. On the flip side, the control comes at a price. If your pipes start leaking, it's your problem. Furnace breaks? Ka-ching. For some people it's ideal to not have to deal with this stuff, but any replacements you make can add value to your house. And you're the one who gets to choose what pipes/furnace/etc. go into your house, so you can make choices based on energy efficiency/performance that can lower your bills. We've been lucky, but it's still important to have to have a little cash pile somewhere for when these things come up.

Basement – As I said, we work on stuff. We needed space. We actually got in trouble many times at our old apartment for hammering too much and spray painting in the parking lot (would they prefer me to spray paint in our apartment? How am I supposed to DIY this lamp? #whitegirlproblems)

Basement Fridge – Yeah, maybe one of my favorite things ever about our house. A basement fridge full of beverages. You open it and BEER is bountiful. I might be a man.

Neighbors – Trust me, even in a house, you can (and likely will) have annoying neighbors. But I'll take anything over hearing my downstairs neighbor get screwed by a guy twice her age every night. Yeah...NOPE. TOO CLOSE.

Yard – We still joke that we bought our house for our dog. He has plenty of room to run, and I don't have to leash him each time he has to go potty. I'm lazy about that so I guess it was more for my convenience than his. Other obvious yard perks: we get to have a garden, grow herbs + veggies, and don't have to head to the bar to drink on a patio (although of course we still do).

Customization – This relates to the "landlords" you want to wallpaper that nook? Rip those bushes out? Re-tile the bathroom floor? Guess what –  you da boss, baby.

Noise – As a couple who favors music of the bass-heavy variety, we are quite happy with our freedom to crank it up.

Neighborhood – We love being a part of a neighborhood, and there's nothing like handing out candy on Halloween. For some reason, that's one of our favorite things to do and it's a reminder of how much we love where we live. We wanted to be more than transient members – by putting hard work into improving our house, we feel like we are helping to improve our community as well. We wanted to give an old Lakewood house some TLC and leave it better than it was left for us.

Everyones wants and needs are different, so I would love to hear about what motivated you to buy (if you have bought) or why you are hoping to buy in the future. Has it been a good experience? A tough one? Buyer's remorse? I'll be back next time to share some before + afters, and some tips/lessons learned about the buying process.