5 Friday Finds: Inexpensive Fall Decor & Style

1. Gold frames from Dollar Tree

These frames look way more expensive than the one dollar that they are! I bought two 8x10s and two 4×6 frames, and I could use a few more.

2. Glasses from Warby Parker

I’ve written about my love for Warby Parker glasses before, but my loyalty was recently renewed after my eye appointment last week. My eyes have gotten worse, a symptom of now being in my late twenties, and they tried REALLY hard to get me to buy glasses in the store. Even with my vision insurance, the glasses were still more than Warby’s, and they weren’t as cute! Nor did they give one pair away when you buy one. The sales lady was skeptical of my $99 glasses, and sniffed, “These are way better quality that what you’re buying online.” I told her they have the same anti-glare, anti-scratch coatings and the frames are acetate – which is exactly what the ones they sell are made of – but oh well. I’m shopping for some new frames tonight, although I might stick with my “Wilkie” frames. Brian called them “sexy librarian” style, and I’m ok with that.

3. Target Dollar Spot Pumpkins and Towel

I always love the fall stuff in the Dollar Spot (or Bullseye’s Playground? Whatever it’s called) bins, and I couldn’t resist the velvet pumpkins. I bought all they had left, three of this light green color, for $3 each. Some stores apparently have navy blue ones, and I’m very jealous. These mini porcelain pumpkins are too cute, and were $1 each. Here’s a link to similar-ish ones online. The towel has stitching in rose gold/copper, so that’s going to look stellar in my kitchen!

4. Zoya Purple Nail Polish

I’m going to the dark side, and trying this on my fingernails. Zoya nail polish doesn’t contain the “big 3” most harmful chemicals. This color is called “Debbie,” and it’s perfect for fall. Tip: if you’re not sure about a bold or dark color, I find that I typically like using it on my toes.

5. Fur Pillow from TJ Maxx

Maybe this pillow looks a little ridiculous, but I don’t care. IT’S SO FLUFFY I COULD DIE. So cozy and soft, it’s perfect for cuddling with my coffee and a good book. Here’s couple more options if you’re interested in adding some texture to your couch: Amazon fur pillow, TJ Maxx patterned fur pillow.

What’s one thing you’re loving? Let me know in the comments!

Edison’s Taco Twos-Day Birthday Party

Welcome to Edison’s Taco Twos-day party! 
Edison turned two on the 21st, so last Saturday we had a little fiesta for him. My sister-in-law was able to come, and some good friends of ours. My idea was just to have a casual pool party, no stress and no work. But what fun is that? Somehow I ended up with a whole theme, decorations, and special cakes. Thanks Pinterest. 
Overall though, I was able to use a lot of things I already had, kept the purchases to a minimum with a few high impact decorations, and decorating and making those special cakes was super fun. 

In the entryway, I changed my letter board to reflect the theme, and added this very cute cactus light. Over the fireplace, I added this cactus banner. I expected it to be made out of paper, but it’s actually felt! I think it will stay up year-round somewhere in my house.

This giant #2 gold balloon made a big impact everywhere we put it. Apparently, there were several size options on Amazon that I missed, and I bought the 40″ one. Go big or go home!
Although he doesn’t look too excited about it when I made him hold it for photos, Edison calls it “Shiny” and talked to it the whole way home from the grocery store (where they filled it up for free!) and cried when we put it inside before we went to airport to pick up my sister-in-law. It’s still going strong after a week.

Outside on the porch, I brought out all of my blue metal kitchen chairs, and bought a folding table from Target. The aqua plastic tablecloth I already had, leftover from a bridal shower I threw a year ago. I decorated the table with some of my little succulents on tiny cake stands, which I already had also.

I bought an outdoor rug, something I’d wanted for awhile, and this seemed like the perfect occasion for it. I also bought the “Papel Picado” Mexican tissue paper banner and Fiesta fans, and mixed in some of the honeycomb balls from the bridal shower. I used a Mexican blanket for a table cloth on the food table.

The menu: 

  • Walking Tacos. Apparently, this is a Midwesterner thing, because no one in Arizona had heard of this. You take individual bags of Doritos or Fritos, open them, and put a scoop of taco meat and all your usual fixings inside the bag, mix it up, and eat it from the bag. These are the original Doritos Tacos – but deconstructed. I cooked the taco meat in the crock pot to make life even easier. 
  • Guacamole, sour cream, cheese, shredded lettuce, salsa – all purchased and packaged, again, making life easy.
  • Fruit from a handy fruit tray.
  • Peanuts and M&Ms – Conley family tradition. 
  • Fanta, lemonade, and lime La Croix as well as bottled water. I wanted brightly colored, kid-friendly beverages. Although the La Croix was really all for us non-soda drinking adults.
  • Taco Cakes!!! I’m still so thrilled with how these turned out. I made two round cakes, cut them in half, and stacked them to make the taco shape. Then I frosted and decorated them to look like a taco with fillings. Here’s a tutorial that I based my cake on, but instead of using crushed Oreos, I used the star shaped decorating tip and chocolate frosting for the taco meat. I didn’t create the tomatoes and cheese from separate frosting either, I just used the small round tip to pipe them on.


Other Items: 
We did it! High-five!

4 Steps to Up-cyle a Trader Joe’s Bag to a Trendy Paper Storage Bag

For a #FridayFinds post a few weeks ago, I mentioned the new paper bag trend. Initially, I was confused. Why are white paper bags cool? Why are they all over Pinterest? And why are they selling all over Etsy? 
If I had to guess, I’d say these are the new fabric cubes and bins. Maybe the reason they’re becoming popular is that storage solutions can be pricey, and this is a way to reuse what you already have. I’m still not sure why someone would buy one, but with some paint, I’m planning to DIY some Trader Joe’s bags and use them for storage in my closets. They do have a cool texture, and you can customize them easily. 

You will need: 

  • Trader Joe’s bags
  • Paint – I used white, gold, copper, and black to decorate mine
  • Foam brushes
Step 1: Paint your bag white. I think the white paint on the craft paper texture almost looks like canvas when it’s dry.
Step 2: Decorate your bag. This is the fun part! I looked at paper storage bags on Pinterest, like the ones I included in this post above, for my inspiration. For my first one, I painted copper metallic crosses.
Step 3: Fold down the top of the bag. This is by far the hardest part – I couldn’t seem to do it without tearing the top of the bag a bit. My only advice is to roll slowly, giving it a good crease now and then, and use some tape if it tears too noticeably. 
Step 4: Fill and display!
I had so many ideas for more bag designs – I made three more from Trader Joe’s bags, and then painted a few other smaller paper bags as well. I love how the metallic ones turned out!

The metallic ones are my favorite. 
What am I going to use these for? What WON’T I use them for? Currently, I’m using two in the linen closet to hold washcloths and extra toiletries, and one to hold craft supplies. I might use some of the smaller ones for some plants. I’ll post it on Instagram when I find them all a home 🙂 
So, what do you think of the paper storage bag trend? Are you in?

DIY Christmas Decor: Marble and Gold Letters

So, I told you marble contact paper was addicting. 
Last week was Thanksgiving, and despite the contentions and deep divides around us, I hope you had peace around your Thanksgiving dinner table, and you were able to be truly grateful for those with you and your many blessings.
I think “peace” is especially applicable this Christmas season. As Advent begins, the season of expectant waiting, it’s a reminder that the Prince of Peace did come to this world as a baby, and live with us. He’s the Healer, and ultimate King.
Also, I’m writing this post before Thanksgiving, and I may or may not be listening to Christmas music. Ok, I’m definitely listening to Christmas music. 
Have you seen the Christmas decorations at Target? I fell in love with the marble Christmas trees. Marble matches everything, and is so classy.
I took that marble idea, and expanded on it for these marble and gold letters!
You’ll Need: 

Step 1: Fold your contact paper so that right sides are together, like it is in the image above. 

Step 2: Then trace and cut out your letters. You may need to use a craft knife to cut out some shapes, depending on what letters you choose. “JOY” would have been a bit easier!

Step 3: Peel and stick the contact paper letters to the cardboard letters. Smooth out any bubbles under the surface. This part is the most fun!

Step 4: Paint the edges of the letters gold. I’d tried to use my copper contact paper, but without success. Paint is much easier, and I love the finished result!
Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s now acceptable for me to take down my fall decorations and bust out the Christmas stuff. These will find a new home on my mantle. 
(And if you like that painting … I made that too, and I can post a tutorial for that also. The premise behind it is so easy, anyone could do it.)
So bust out the Christmas music with no shame, and get to spreading that Christmas cheer! Peace on earth, good will to men!

DIY: Make A Faux Marble and Copper Mousepad

In the last post on our office, we were still using a kitchen table and black desk. Someday I’ll have the finishing touches ready and I’ll share the rest, but *spoiler alert* we now have white desks.

I can’t tell you how much I love my desk, but the white surface did create an issue with my computer mouse. For weeks, I couldn’t figure out why my computer would turn on, but the mouse wouldn’t respond. Finally, I mentioned it to Brian, and in five minutes he diagnosed the issue – no mouse pad. He let me use his, which is covered with lovely photos of car parts and Motocraft products. But I wanted something a little more me.

I was inspired by the lovely marble mouse pads I found on Etsy for $20, and figured out how to create my own.

You’ll need:

Step 1: Cut your craft foam to size. 

Step 2: Trace your craft foam onto your marble contact paper. We’re going to add a section of copper, so mark how far you want the marble to come. Then cut it out.

Step 3: Slowly, peel and stick the contact paper to your foam, smoothing out any bubbles.

Step 4: Trace and cut out a section of copper contact paper to fit, and repeat – smoothing out any bubbles.

And that’s really all there is too it!

Want other ideas for using your contact paper? You can trace your laptop and apply it to the back of the screen, use it to give an upgrade to a bland desk lamp, wrap your pencil holder, and add some pieces to your desk accessories, like your stapler or table dispenser. 
Soon, I’ll post a Christmas decor idea using the marble contact paper. But I’d love to hear from you, have you used contact paper in crafts? What other ideas do you have for cool uses for it? Share them with us in the comments below!

DIY: Book Page Headboard

Our bedroom has been one of the most neglected spaces in our apartment since we moved in last September. Since not as many people see it as the main areas, I haven’t put much effort into decorating it. But, I really want a romantic, peaceful room, so I’ve been taking baby steps to get there.You might remember from my easy embroidered pillowcase tutorial, this is how our bedroom looked:

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Four Frugal Home DIY Decor Projects

Happy Monday! Let’s start the week off with a frugal home decor post by guest blogger, Mark Russell.

In these tough economic times, everyone is looking for new ways to save a few bucks here and there. A lot of people have started cooking their own meals every night instead of going out to dinner. Other people have sworn off movie theaters in favor of renting DVDs at home. Still others have stopped buying themselves new clothes or home décor, relying on what they already own to get them through. But just because you are trying to save money, does not mean you cannot have fun with your home décor and update it for the New Year. 2013 is a great time to do some great DIY projects in your home that are easy on your budget but make a big impact in your home. Are you tired of the way your bedroom looks? Think your living room could use a face lift? Don’t worry, there are plenty of home décor projects for the frugally minded. Below are four DIY home décor projects that you can use to get started.

HOME DÉCOR DIY PROJECT #1 – Paint the walls.

Wall castle
By Jolante on Flikr

Want to totally change a room without having to do the work or pay the money to really totally change it? The easiest, cheapest, but yes, time consuming; way to really make the room look different is to paint the walls. This can be done on the cheap, but you have to be ready to put the time and physical energy into the project. First go down to the hardware store and pick some swatches you like. Bring them home and look at them in the designated room at different times of day to make sure you always like your chosen color, no matter the lighting. Once you’ve made your choice, go buy the buckets, the brushes, the drop cloth, and the tape. Move all the furniture either out of the room or into the center, cover it all up, cover the floors, tape the edges of the walls, and start painting. It can take time, but it makes a huge difference!

HOME DÉCOR DIY PROJECT #2 – Turn old sheets into a quilt.

Emmett's Quilt
By Quiltsalad on Flikr

If you have a bunch of old linens that you don’t use anymore but can’t bring yourself to throw away, consider turning them into a quilt. All you need are some scissors and some basic sewing skills. You can pick and choose the parts of the sheets showing the least amount of wear and tear and you can also add other fabric sources like old t-shirts, old aprons, or even pieces of your old couch. It’s up to you!

HOME DÉCOR DIY PROJECT #3 – Paint a mirror.

[ B ] Louise Bourgeois -  Mirror Cell (12 Oval Mirrors) (1988)
By Cea on Flikr

Whether you already own a mirror, or you need to pick up a cheap one for $20 or less at a nearby home goods store, painting it can take it from boring and non-noticeable to beautiful and interesting. And the best part is that you really don’t need to be very artistic. Simply paint a pattern around the edges in your favorite colors, or choose one corner to paint something pretty like a flower or a tree.

HOME DÉCOR DIY PROJECT #4 – Reupholster your chairs.

Small Slipcovered Sofa with Outdoor Fabric
By Posh Living, LLC. 

Putting new upholstery on furniture is surprisingly inexpensive and easy. All you need is the new fabric (which can be repurposed old fabric, too!) and a staple gun. Simply pull the new fabric over the old fabric and staple it on! Yes, it’s that easy. Just try to hide the staples so that they are not visible when looking at the newly upholstered chairs. 

About the author: Mark Russell is an author for Apartment Guys of Chicago. Mark enjoys writing about apartment living and home décor. Mark spends his free time playing baseball and going on walks with his girlfriend.

DIY Quick and Easy Curtains

Happy Monday friends! Last week I finally crossed of a DIY I’ve wanted to accomplish for a long time: living room curtains! 
I knew exactly what I wanted. Navy and white horizontal stripes. It can go modern or nautical, and it would tie together all the blue and white china, as well as the blue winged back chairs. The only problem was that I couldn’t find any such curtains. I looked everywhere for an affordable option. Then one day, as I was browsing the home section of Target, I saw it. 
A navy and white striped shower curtain! 

Here’s what you’ll need to turn a shower curtain into the curtains of your dreams: 
  • A shower curtain. Double check the measurements to make sure it will fit your window, but keep in mind, if you need to you could add extra fabric to make them longer. My curtain cost $15!
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Sewing machine
First, lay the curtain on the floor, and with the measuring tape, find the middle. Use pins to mark the middle, and cut the curtain in half. 

Then, pin the edges you just cut to create a hem. 

Sew the hem.

Since it’s a shower curtain, it already has slots at the top for hanging. I had to cut the slots to make them a little bigger. Then, just thread the curtain onto your curtain rod, and you’re done!

It’s so easy, and yet it makes me so happy every time I look at them.

Not bad for $15! I think it’s a great improvement to the room. What do you think?

The moral of this story is that if you need a low cost option, don’t be afraid to think outside the box!

The DIY Dreamer

How to Make A Couch Slipcover From Sheets


When some friends offered us a free couch, I hesitated before accepting it. We’d had free couches before, and I hoped that this time we could get ourselves a new couch, one I’d had my eye on for some time.
I liked the classic lines of the Ikea couches, and I also liked the gray, since it would work as a nice neutral with our black furniture.
In the end, we couldn’t afford a new couch, so we took the free one, in all of it’s plaid glory.
In it’s defense, it’s very comfortable, and has been well taken care of. So, I decided to attempt a daring project: slipcovering. Slipcovers cost anywhere from $50-100, and I wanted to make mine for considerably less. Here’s what you’ll need:

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