Weekend Thrifting

I was itching to go thrifting since I started following Better Homes and Gardens East Coast editor/producer Eddie Ross on Instagram and he posted three to-die-for finds in the past few weeks. You can see them here, here and here. That bar cart and those shelves painted white or a fun bright color? Yes, please. Sign me up.

I’d love to have a lengthy list of thrift stores to hit up on the regular, but I haven’t uncovered many stores in my area. Why can’t there be a database of these diamonds in the rough? Wait, is there? Am I totally missing out on some amazing black market thrift store list? Is ‘thrift store’ a section on Yelp? If so, you better bring me up to speed in a comment!

Goodwill

My options were limited, so I headed to the good ole Goodwill last Saturday afternoon with visions of vintage treasures dancing in my head. As is often the case, reality didn’t live up to  expectations and a quick pass through the furniture section was sorely disappointing. A few folding chairs, an ugly TV and some sad 80s lamps were all that was left in the desolate section that’s usually packed with piles of quirky cast offs. It must have been an off day. But as you can tell from my photo above, I didn’t leave empty handed.

Old Books

Some of my favorite things to look for at a thrift are cheap, beautiful hardcover books, and I found three that fit the bill during my shopping trip. Those plastic covers can be very deceiving, so you have to look behind them to see what you’re really working with.

Hardcover Books

Hardcover Book

Ta da! How great are they?! The spines are even better.

Book Spines

Pair a stack of these beauties with a frame and a piece of glassware (hello, Mason jars) and you’ve got a stylish shelf in no time. I like to choose books based on their color and title. If the title resonates with me in some way, I’m smitten. These books ended up on a shelf in my dining room.

Books on Shelf

The best part is the thrift store price. I got all three books for just over $8. You can’t beat it! That’s what I call affordable decor. Have you scored some awesome thrifting finds lately? How have you been styling your shelves?

Freshening Up the Laundry Closet

There weren’t many things I really loved about our old apartment. The position of the laundry closet five steps outside our bedroom door was probably one of the best perks of our one-bedroom place, so when I climbed the stairs of our townhouse while we toured it for the first time I was elated to see the laundry closet positioned just steps away from our master bedroom. A second floor laundry was one of those perks I wasn’t expecting to find in a house but quickly became one of the many reasons I knew this was the place for us. Now, nearly a year after moving in, it was finally time to give this functional space some much needed TLC.

This is what I started with…

Laundry Before

I know, right? Yuuuck. This closet looks the same way it did just weeks after we moved in and I shoved all those cleaning supplies and other random stuff on the shelf. Not functional at all. Nope, the clutter and dust had to go.

Speaking of dust…

Dusty Shelf

And in the spirit of keeping it real, here’s a close up.

Dust Close Up

Yup, totally horrible. I knew it was bad but when my clutter was no longer hiding this grime I was pretty appalled to find this shelf such a mess. G-to the-R-to the-O-to the -S-S. I was suddenly SO GLAD I decided to spend a random Saturday afternoon tackling this closet.

Cleaning Supplies

After emptying out the closet and sorting through all the cleaning supplies, light bulbs, sewing gear, detergents and even a spare shower head, it was time to de-dust all up in there. Thank goodness for the super suction Dyson handheld vacuum that my Mommom got me as a housewarming gift. I like to think I’ve adopted her knack for keeping these sparkling, though you wouldn’t know it by the state this closet was in. Ugh…

Dyson

The walls and floors were just as dusty as the shelf, so I spent quite a bit of time vacuuming before I was ready for round two. I mixed together a trusty concoction of hot water, bleach and Fabuloso and wiped EVERYTHING down – from the shelves and appliances to the walls and floors. It was sparkling!

Laundry Closet Progress

With the dust gone, I was determined to make the closet way more functional than it had been before. I really can’t stand clutter and I’m a big believer in not storing anything that I know I won’t use. I’m a vicious purger of unused things and I’ll tell you what – I rarely miss things I give away. It’s freeing. I recommend it.

I picked up two plastic storage bins at Target to wrangle the things I decided to keep in here.

Clean Laundry Closet

The bigger bin houses all of my cleaning supplies.

Big Bin

And the smaller one keeps my rubber globes and scrub brush out of sight.

Smaller Bin

So, there you have it. All in an afternoon’s work. I’m pretty proud.

Laundry Before & After

I’m even more proud that I’ve kept it this way for more than a week now, through at least three loads of laundry and one bathroom cleaning spree. That’s what happens when you make things more function. You stop. The. Chaos. I love it!

Oh, and this happened too.

Master Closet Before & After

It was a good Saturday, that’s for sure. I have big plans to add even more style to both the laundry closet and the master bedroom’s walk in. I know these spaces are rarely seen by guests, but they’re spaces seen by me every single day – so they’re definitely worth some beautification. I’m thinking about adding a stripe of color in the laundry closet for a fun surprise hiding behind those bi-fold doors, and maybe painting the ceiling of the walk-in closet a moody navy blue and adding a fun light fixture for some added panache. We’ll see what happens. But either way, I’m happy to have these spaces clean and organized for now. That’s more than half the battle.

Have you undertaken an organization project lately? What are your favorite tips for keeping closets clutter free?

Here Comes Cupid

I decorated the house for Valentine’s Day! What a cheery task. I had so much fun framing a few love-themed art prints, digging out my heart-shaped plates and gathering all the pink and red decor I could muster from around the house to create cute little nooks.

Here’s what I came up with for the kitchen. Notice the poinsettia leftover from Christmas? It matches my kitchen so well I figured I’d keep it for a while longer and I love how cute it looks in this Valentine’s Day vignette.

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Bee mine art print

And the dining room. Ready to serve a Valentine’s Day cocktail fit for Cupid himself at a moments notice.

Love, Love, Love art print

And finally the living room. Spotted: another squatting poinsettia. I had to let him stay, too.

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Happy Valentine's Day art print

I also love how a few pieces of existing decor ties so well into my Valentine’s Day pieces making the house feel festive and sweet without being overkill or corny.

Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it. But first up, the Super Bowl! Are you excited? I can’t say that I am, but it’s usually a fun day nonetheless. Go team!

Small Victories

Winter is in full swing on the east coast. And so is my lack of motivation. I’m sure you can tell by my absence here that I just haven’t been feeling very inspired lately. The difference between ‘try’ and ‘triumph’ is just a little ‘umph’, they say, but there’s no ‘umph’ to be found ’round these parts.

Lazy Cody

There are plenty of things on my to do list, but lately it seems like the only items that actually get crossed off are the bare essentials – just barely. There are closets to be organized, walls to be repainted, trim to be caulked, and a tricky elongated living room begging for just the right furniture placement that I haven’t quite come up with yet – not for lack of trying. I’m coming for you, 21×14.

It doesn’t help that our third snow storm of the winter just left town. My commute home from work on Tuesday was 4. hours. long. 4 HOURS to go 35 MILES! The snow started much earlier than predicted and by the time I got out of a meeting nearly an inch was on the ground. The swiftly falling snow compounded by the early rush hour that started around lunch time due to the fact that everyone and their mother was trying to make it home before the heavy stuff really hit made for the commute from H-E-double-hockey-sticks.

Snowy commute

The snow is becoming less of a novelty and more of a schedule-ruining pain in the behind with each storm. I love working from home once in a while, but I’m starting to feel cooped up, and the more I sit at home the less motivated I become. It’s a vicious cycle that has me counting even the smallest victories as a win this week.

I kept the whole house clean, cooked homemade meals and had a nice dinner out with friends. Win, win and win. I mean, c’mon, who wouldn’t want poached eggs on a toasty slice of whole wheat baguette topped with mango salsa, Sriracha and cilantro for dinner on a Tuesday night? Amiright?!

Poached eggs

It’s all about the small, wholesome, delicious little wins this week. And I’ll take it.

Clover Leaf is the New Stripe

I’m definitely suffering from a case of the winter blues. The weather has been swinging between 50 degrees and raining to freezing single digit temperatures. Yuck. I just can’t deal – but I must. With the holidays behind me I’m refocusing my attention on the house, and I wanted to update you on some new additions to the master bedroom. I love how small details can really help pull a room together.

pillows

I was given a giftcard for Homegoods for Christmas and I was chomping at the bit to use it. Mike and I were furniture shopping last Saturday so I twisted his arm to stop in and see if anything caught my eye. I happened upon a pair of white pillow cases with a gorgeous graphic navy pattern on sale for $14.99. Score! I had picked up a pair of velvety navy throw pillows by Nate Berkus at Target a few weeks ago and I knew the new pillow cases were just what I needed to pull the whole look together. I’m SO happy with the result!

pillow close up

bed

I’m equally excited about the second new addition to the master which was a Christmas gift from Mike. The stool that I DIY’d to upgrade by vanity back in September was just a little too tall (note to self, keep a measuring tape in my purse while shopping). I needed something a little more comfortable and this cushioned cloverleaf stool was just the ticket! How cute is it?! I love how the white of the cushion ties into the drawer pulls and the wooden legs match my gorgeous 1920s cherry dresser perfectly. So it was in with the clover leaf and out with the stripes. Don’t worry though, the striped stool is currently being repurposed in the office (post to come).

clover leaf stool

vanity stool

Much better than my old setup, right?

New Navy Vanity

Next up on my project list? I want to tackle some smaller finishing touches like closet light fixtures and paint touch ups, and we’re also saving up for some new living room furniture. I can’t get enough of customizing our house to make it really feel like a home.

What are you doing to beat the winter blues? Any projects of your own in the pipeline?

Easy Breakfast Cups

Work is back in full swing, and so is my attempt at prepping meals to get us back on track after a holiday season full of heavy food. Making three meals a day from scratch (two of which that are also portable enough to drag into work) is nothing short of a miracle. I’m trying to make an effort at providing us with three balanced meals to curb cravings and keep hunger pains at bay throughout the hectic work week, so I put on my thinking cap and came up with an easy breakfast that’s perfect for our busy lifestyle – using ingredients I had on hand, no less!

Easy Breakfast Cups

I’m sharing the deets of this genius idea with you, just in case you struggle with healthy meal planning like I do. Okay, maybe not genius (I’m sure there’s hundreds of pins on Pinterest with similar breakfast recipes), but I’m pretty proud of myself. These breakfast cups were inspired by a crustless quiche recipe that I got from my Mommom, but even more lightened up. I used a cupcake pan to make 12 yummy breakfast cups using just six eggs and three small links of sausage. A serving size for Mike and I will be two cups, so one egg and a quarter of a sausage link each, but they’ll taste yummy and curb our cravings for a heavier breakfast sandwich. The protein should stick with us throughout the day, too.

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to make them yourself:

Ingredients

  • Small Sausage Links, sliced (3)
  • Eggs (6)
  • Paprika
  • Garlic Powder
  • Chives

Process

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a cupcake pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cut the sausage links into very thin slices (or use ground sausage) and sauté in pre-heated skillet until cooked.

Crack six eggs into a medium-sized bowl. Sprinkle a generous amount of paprika, garlic powder and chives (dried or fresh) onto eggs and beat with a fork until combined. Feel free to add a little milk to this step for fluffier eggs if you’d like. I didn’t have any on hand, so I omitted it for this recipe. I also omitted adding salt and pepper to the eggs because the sausage would add enough seasoning combined with the other herbs and spices.

Divide cooked sausage slices among the 12 cups in the greased cupcake pan. Pour egg mixture over sausage until cups are half full. Place in oven and bake until eggs become fluffy, about 10 minutes.

Cooked Breakfast Cups

Allow breakfast cups to cool in cupcake pan and divide into grab-and-go single-serve freezer bags. Freeze until ready to eat. Then, pop them into the microwave until warm and enjoy!

Salt, Moonshine and Cupcakes

That pretty much sums up my New Year’s Eve. Our friends Tasha and Steve were gracious enough to invite us with Joe and Laura to their new home to ring in 2014. Dinner was served, drinks flowed, salt was thrown and we watched the ball drop. Wait, one of these things is not like the other.

Cupcake countdown

We exchanged gifts with Steve and Tasha on New Year’s Eve and they got Joe and Mike each a Bug-A-Salt gun. And, since boys will be boys, they turned the fancy fly swatter on each other and shot salt across the room. Awesome gift, guys! Sorry for the mess, Tash…

It was a very fun, relaxed New Year’s Eve and we all had a great time. If you saw the holiday fête I put together you know I appreciate even the smallest details when it comes to throwing a party, and I loved how much thought Tasha put into the evening, like the countdown cupcakes shown above. She had also just attended a whiskey tasting with Steve in the city and they served special moonshine champagne cocktails that were different than anything I’ve ever tasted.

Moonshine Champagne Cocktail

Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a try:

Ingredients

  • 1 shot Moonshine Whiskey
  • 1/2 shot lemon juice
  • 1/2 shot simple syrup
  • Champagne

Process

Pour whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Mix until chilled and well combined. Pour mixture into glass and top with champagne. Serve immediately.

As you can see in the photo above I drank my champagne with a festive gold-striped paper straw. They always add a fun touch to a special drink without breaking the bank.

I didn’t get a ton of pictures throughout the night, but here’s a snapshot of our celebration. Cheers to 2014!

Laura and I before we headed out for the night.
Laura and I before we headed out for the night.
Our last selfie of 2013!
Our last selfie of 2013!
Girlfriends!
Girlfriends!

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Enjoying that Moonshine Champagne Cocktail!
Enjoying that Moonshine Champagne Cocktail!
Bug-A-Salt = Bug Assault, get it?!
Bug-A-Salt = Bug Assault, get it?!
Midnight champagne toast!
Midnight champagne toast!

So, I ate a fish eye…

I know, totally gross, right? It actually wasn’t that bad, and Mike was proud of me for fulfilling a family tradition in his great grandfather’s footsteps to eat the eye of a fish when it’s served whole. The flavor tasted kind of salty like an oyster, but the texture wasn’t as benign. Think jell-o meets a contact. Not that I’ve eaten a contact lens, but that’s what I imagine it would feel like. Check out Mike’s vlog of our Christmas Eve celebration to see the deed go down. I take the fateful bite at around 6:30.

The fish eye was actually my second food adventure of 2013, preceded by my first taste of veal tongue about a month earlier. A true foodie takes risks, right? Hey, Anthony Bourdain espoused the deliciousness of the veal tongue at the EXACT SAME RESTAURANT where I tried it. I walked, er, ate in Bourdain’s footsteps. You have to give me some sort of foodie props for that, people!

Though I don’t think I’ll be trying fish eye again anytime soon, I do want to keep up my adventurous foodie momentum in 2014. What do you recommend I try next? What’s your most adventurous food risk?

Bye Bye, Christmas

Our Christmas decorations are finally down, and our house feels so empty. The end of the holiday season comes with both a feeling of sadness and a feeling of relief. Sadness because weeks worth of planning, organizing, shopping, cooking and cleaning has culminated in a few short-lived days of revelry. And relief because all those weeks of planning, organizing, shopping, cooking and cleaning are over, for now.

Goodbye Christmas

The hectic pace of the holidays kept me from blogging (sorry about that). As a brand new blogger I’m still trying to find my groove, and I was enjoying a holiday break where I could be more unplugged than I usually am. I’m blessed to work for an agency that closes between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and though I was checked into email throughout that time it was nice to come out from behind my computer screen for some much needed R&R.

That said, the Christmas decorations are put away and I’m excited to be actively blogging again. How was your holiday? Are you sad to see the holidays go or are you looking forward to a slower pace this month? I have a hunch my winter hibernation will include some fun projects around the house. Who’s with me?!

Christmas Greetings

Choosing a Christmas card totally snuck up on me this year. December had already arrived when I stopped to realize I hadn’t even given it a thought yet. I spent some time scrolling through dozens of designs and sifted through photos to find one that was card worthy, but I just couldn’t get excited about it.

Then, we woke up on Sunday, December 8 to our town transforming into a winter wonderland thanks to a storm that unexpectedly dumped nine inches of snow on South Jersey. I’m not kidding, they were calling for a dusting to one inch – and this is what we were left with.

Snow Storm

Let me also specify that this was ONE HOUR after the flakes started falling. I’m not kidding. The snow started around 11:00 am and by 12:00 pm it looked like this. As soon as I saw how beautiful the snow looked outside a light bulb went off in my head. I had an opportunity to get REAL SNOW FLAKES in our Christmas card! How perfect is that?! So we got all gussied up and headed outdoors (in some not-quite-warm-enough clothing, might I add). Our first attempt at a picture was the one above which our sweet neighbor Lou snapped for us in the middle of the storm. How many people can say their neighbors are willing to don snow boots and a scarf to take a picture for you? Yeah, we’re pretty lucky. I liked the way the colorful Christmas balls popped against the snow white background, but it wasn’t quite working for me, so we moved on to plan B.

As I mentioned in my post about our outdoor decorations, we had hung colorful C9 light bulbs on our fence in the back yard. I thought it’d be playful to add them into our shot so we wrapped a few strands of bulbs around us and snapped a few pictures before we were so frozen that we had to head back inside. The snow was falling so fast that my hair was totally covered in less than 10 minutes – but it was SO worth it! Here’s what we ended up with.

Christmas Card Photo

It’s kind of a miracle that we ended up with such an awesome shot, especially since Mike took it himself and we didn’t have a third person behind the camera. I love the glow of the C9 light bulbs and the snowflakes in our hair. As soon as we came inside I plugged the photo into the template I had picked out on Tinyprints and ordered them right away! This is what I chose.

Christmas CardCan you believe I found a Christmas card with gold glitter AND chevron? I know, right? SO BRIE! And luckily Mike liked it, too.

When the cards were ordered we decided to run to the grocery store since we didn’t have any food in the house. We were planning to be out all day at Longwood Gardens with my mom and we weren’t expecting the large snow fall at all, so I definitely wasn’t prepared. The grocery store is 10 minutes away from our house. 45 minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot. This is what we were dealing with.

Snow Road

Again, this was NOT in the forecast! Can you believe that? We kept getting stuck and having to back up and gain traction before moving forward again. This is Mike’s worried driver face.

Mike Concentration

And this is the shameless selfie  I took while waiting for us to get to the store. Can you tell we had been in the car for a while?

Snow Selfie

Two hours after we had left the house we were home, pantry and fridge fully stocked. I ended up working from home the next two days because another snow storm rolled through on Tuesday, though we didn’t get hit quite as hard that day. We’ve had four snow storms since December 8, so I’m a little nervous that this winter is going to be VERY snowy. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Anyway, did you send holiday cards this year? Did you take a photo for the occasion or did you have a great one from earlier in the year that you deemed card worthy?