Category: DIY & Projects

14 Days of Valentines

You’ve heard of The 12 Days of Christmas? Well, here we’re doing The 14 Days of Valentines.

Because I don’t live with a small child (I suppose this is arguable), Dan tends to be the one to benefit from these silly little projects that I get myself all excited over. Side note: STILL upset about not having an Elf on the Shelf and am thisclose to buying one for next Christmas so I can create obnoxious and un-kid-friendly scenes all over our apartment. I’m not even sure if I would rather be the one hiding the elf, or the one finding him, so I would have to coerce Dan into participating at least half the time. I know there must be other 30somethings out there that hide elves for each other even though they have no children and one of them is Jewish. Please email me and we can start a support group.

Anyway.

This project came about while I was shopping at The Paper Source and finding millions of cute things for Valentine’s Day. I originally thought of putting together a little basket, similar to a Christmas stocking, but hey, why do that when you can complicate things and do 14 days of gifts instead of just one?

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Each gift was under $5 with the exception of the coffee above and a cute little book from The Paper Source that I will show you below. Lesson learned = do not step foot into Paper Source unless you are prepared to want EVERY.THING. Oddly enough, I had never been to a Paper Source before this shopping trip and figured it was mainly stationery. Surprise! It’s not. Tons of small little gifts, games, home decor, food items, etc. I used to think the same thing about The Paper Store until I actually went inside and discovered they sold books, clothes, shoes, jewelry, and candles there, too. I kept confusing The Paper Store with The Paper Source, but now that I’ve been to both, I know it doesn’t matter because I just want all of it.

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These books are just adorable. There are 50 pages with fill-in-the-blank phrases and sentences where you can personalize everything for the person you’re giving it to.

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Positive reinforcement, right? Dan actually IS very good at vacuuming and goes over places multiple times and even does the closet, which I would totally be lazy and skip.

There are several different versions of these little books, and I actually bought the one above for Dan and the What I Love About Mom journal for….wait for it….my mom.

Every gift had a Valentine’s Day theme to it, or was red and/or pink, except for Dan’s favorite kind of muffin because they’re blueberries, not redberries. I can’t change nature.

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A few were food-related because, hello, have you met me?

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Others were more practical.

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Some were fun!

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Some ended up being a bit disappointing.

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And some were cute, if you can consider The Dark Side cute.

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Today’s gift was a Valentine’s Day card.

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Does that seem lame after all of the other gifts? Like I should have ended with a grand finale of pink confetti and stuffed (or live) snuggly animals with a trail of rose petals to the door where one of The Avengers was waiting with flowers? Oh well. But! We will also be going out to dinner later at a new restaurant we’ve been wanting to try and food is always exciting, right?

I knew we were internet friends for a reason.

The 2014 Organization Olympics

So I didn’t actually go to Sochi or anything, but I did go to The Container Store. This is hard to type because I have to alternate between sitting on my hands to keep from jazz-hand-ing all over the place and tucking my legs underneath me to keep from jumping up and down. This project made my LIFE. It made it so much better, so much easier to deal with opening a cabinet in this place, and just so much nicer to be at home.

Shall we begin?

My main goal was to organize our pantry cabinet because it’s a nightmare, as you will see in a minute, but when I was walking around The Container Store, there was this freak earthquake and all kinds of things just kept falling off the shelf into my basket. It was so scary. The craziest part was that an ice storm was happening outside at the same time and I needed something to weigh down my car in order to keep it from sliding. Once I placed the giant shopping bag of organizational tools in my back seat, I was safe. The Container Store saved my life!

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First up was our baking pan cabinet. There is not a cabinet in our house that requires more noise to remove one item. Somehow, the pans we use all the time seem to end up on the bottom (science?) and then you have to play Jenga with them to get one out.

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I wanted a way to organize individual pans so that it was easier to get things in and out of this cabinet and not send the cats running for cover every time. I like the result, with two small exceptions.

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Looks great, right?! The only things I’m not sure about are the pizza pans on the top right and the glass lids on the top left. We use the pizza pans the most out of anything in that cabinet, so I was hoping to make them a little more easily accessible (picking up a frying pan is sooo hard), but they don’t fit standing vertically. The glass lids just seem like an accident waiting to happen when someone puts one back too quickly and they bang into each other.

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I think I can deal with both for now, but I’m keeping my eye out for other solutions.

Next up was the cabinet under the kitchen sink. This is another place where everything we use seems to end up underneath/behind something else, and I had no idea what was even in the back.

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Two simple shelves and this cabinet looks neat again. And I can see everything in the back!

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Underneath the bathroom sink was another problem area. We are going to quickly look at a before and after here without paying too much attention to what’s in this cabinet, for obvious reasons.

Under sink before after

I know it doesn’t look shockingly different, but having my straightener and curling irons standing in that little basket rather than having to untangle them from a pile has been amazing! The best part is that I was able to fit so much more underneath here that I cleaned off a whole other shelf in my bathroom. I’m still struggling with what to put above the towels, but I’m sure I will find something.

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I also bought two small gift boxes for under $1 each and turned them into dividers to organize the little things floating around in this dusty drawer:

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and turn it into this:

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On to my final project. I saved this one for last because I thought it would be the most time-consuming and overwhelming, but it was surprisingly easy.

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It doesn’t look too bad in this photo, but that’s because of two things: I forgot to take a before picture until about three minutes after I started, and most of the mess is in the back because the cabinets are so deep.

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In order to get anything from the back of a shelf, you pretty much have to take everything in front of it out, only to realize that what’s in back is so old that it expired months ago.

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A good chunk of things from this cabinet ended up in the trash, but what’s left is so neatly organized that I have to keep opening it and exclaiming to Dan that I can see all the spices! And why do we have so much cinnamon sugar?!

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In addition to the Lazy Susan, I added a small container to hold all the little items like icing and honey sticks, and then some larger, longer baskets so that we can pull out a basket when we want something instead of an entire shelf’s contents.

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I literally want to live inside this cabinet. Which is totally possible with all this room!

So that’s my Olympic-sized post about organizational projects taking place around here. There is still plenty more to be done, but I need to wait for my wallet to catch up and then I’m going for the Gold!

Let’s Play 1,825 Questions!

A few weeks ago I saw this book in a friend’s Instagram photo and I was intrigued. This was back when I was still trying to figure out whether I wanted to do weekly resolutions again (spoiler alert: nope.), and before I decided on my goals for 2014. This seemed like a fun idea that wouldn’t be too time-consuming, but would also get me through the entire year (five times!) with a small little daily project in case I missed my weekly ones.

Because I can’t just enjoy free time, I have to plan something/start a project/make a to-do list to fill it. There is probably at least one neurosis currently residing in my brain.

Anyway, I ordered a Q&A a Day journal of my own and am loving it so far! Some of the questions can get pretty deep and you find yourself needing a LOT more room, and some are just cute, simple questions like the ones below.

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I keep the journal on my nightstand and have written in it every night since. It really only takes a minute or two to answer the question, but I think it’s going to be so much fun to go back and see my answers, especially five years from now!

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You know, when I’m old. I’m sure I’ll be mortified by some of the answers my SO 5-years-ago self wrote down.

In case you’re wondering, waking up was rough, and what I’m obsessed with right now is organizing (post coming soon!), Homeland and the CIA (which explains the other book on my nightstand), and filing my taxes (I’m a geek.) What are you obsessed with?

Electronic Vision Boards

Vision boards are a fitting segue from a year full of resolutions, right? I think so.

I have never actually made a vision board before. Honestly, I didn’t even know what they were until a few years ago. At first, I kind of found the idea a little far-fetched, like something people who also believe in psychics and feng shui would do, and I am not one of those people. How is a picture on a piece of paper going to get me my dream job and a trip to Italy? That’s the thing about us science/math-minded people, we’re too practical sometimes.

Then I started hearing little anecdotes here and there about friends who made vision boards with goals big and small that were actually…happening. I was definitely intrigued, and I have read The Secret, so I know the idea behind it is that you’re sort of allowing these things to happen by focusing on them and giving them attention. In the end, it was really the allure of a fun, new craft project that made me decide to give it a try.

And Lord knows I have enough magazines.

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I spent an hour one night paging through a stack of magazines and only ended up with a handful of photos, but millions of ideas floating through my head of images that I wanted to print out and add to my board. Then I read this post by one of my favorite bloggers and it’s like a light bulb went off (or “on”, right? why is that expression so weird?) Electronic vision board (see #5 on her list)? Genius!

I was able to scrap the paper project without feeling too bummed because I think my obsession with love of Pinterest rivals my love of projects and crafty things. Right now, my 2014 Vision Board is a *secret* board on Pinterest, so even if you follow me, you won’t be able to see it, but I’m going to share with you some of my pins and goals for this new year.

First up: my camera. I want to make it a priority to use it more often, learn more about it, and teach myself how to edit photos better. I plan on taking it with me when I go somewhere, and leaving it out at home so that it’s more likely I will grab it and use it to capture certain moments.

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The next thing I want to do more of is organize my entire life. It’s no secret by now that I am extremely OCD about things and pins like these make me happy:

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I might not go quite as nuts as that last one, but it’s inspiration to use my planner more and organize my lists.

I also want to take at least one trip this year. Dan and I have been doing one big trip a year for the last several years, and I really want to continue that. There are so many places we want to see! Dubai, England, Italy, and Southern California are topping our list right now.

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Learning to cook is another thing on my list. I would really like to focus on making healthier meals at home, packing lunches for the week so that I spend less money out, and maybe making a big holiday meal this year. Maybe.

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There are loads of other things I want to focus on this year, like blogging

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relaxing, and enjoying moments instead of worrying about all of the other things that need to be done

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creating a style for myself and shopping for outfits rather than pieces that I don’t really need, but like

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reading more often, which means carving out time at night to curl up with a book before bed, and having the library’s online catalog bookmarked

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and finally, making a conscious effort to take steps towards things Dan and I want in life, like a bigger, nicer place and an eventual family. I’m stressing eventual here before I start any rumors.

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There are also a few pins reflecting the usual mantras about workout motivation, flossing my teeth regularly so it doesn’t look like a murder scene at the dentist, and just general quotes that inspire me.

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So, there you have it. Those are my goals for this year. Not quite 52 of them this time, but a good amount of things to focus on. I plan on adding to this board every time I see something that inspires me, or if I think of something else that I want to give attention to.

Do you have a vision board? Has one worked for you? I’m curious to hear your stories!

A Use for All of Those Socks the Dryer Leaves Orphaned

Earlier this year I decided I wanted to be blond (again). I don’t know why my 2012 self hasn’t learned from my 1995, 1997, 2000, and 2009 selves that doing anything different to your hair, especially on your own, is BAD. Several hundred dollars and a few trips to the salon later, I’m finally back to my natural color and never dyeing my hair again (2013 and 2014 selves, take note).

I think this is why I’m now actively avoiding the salon. I can’t bear the thought of spending another 10 cents on my hair this year, no matter how long, snarly (it’s a word.), dry, and split-endy (it’s not.) it gets. Instead I will just keep putting socks in my hair and pretending that it’s a fancy new hairstyle.

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That’s right. The Sock Bun. There is a sock in my hair. IN my hair. Because without it, that bun flops over and you can just tell that I took about 30 seconds to tie it up in an effort to leave the house before reaching for the scissors…

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Side note: I had to take the morning of my Junior Prom off from school to go get my hair fixed after I tried to give myself layers while sitting on the floor of bedroom. Those pictures will not be appearing here.

For a tutorial on the sock bun, watch this video. And no, I have no idea why she is called Mr. Kate. And yes, she is a tiny bit annoying.