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!

DIY: Make Your State Wall Art

Home.

Can I wax contemplative for a minute? Home is both where I’m from and also where I am now. My Midwestern roots feel less like home in some ways, now that I’ve lived in a major city for almost seven years. I’ve found that living in a city changes you – the way you see the world shifts to a wider angle lens as you come into contact with a vast variety of perspectives. At the same time, I’ve felt more homesick for the Midwest over the last couple years than I have in the entire time we’ve lived in Arizona, because once I had Edison, I realized just how important roots are for support. Sometimes I feel like a branch with a heavy burden tied to it, that’s just been stuck in the dirt, struggling to stay upright.

But as I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I’m working on this whole “rooted” thing by reading This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live. One of the practical takeaways so far has been that people who love where they live act like they love it – just think of “Don’t mess with Texas” pride. People who love where they live do things to take care of their place and show a sense of ownership. I’m pretty sure that Texans are the only people to get tattoos of their state on their bodies.

I’m not ready for that level of commitment yet, but I did want to pay tribute to my roots as well as all the amazing experiences and adventures Arizona has brought me in the last seven years – pretty much all of which I’ve documented on this blog, in fact!

At a local mom-made craft and business fair (side note: another habit of people who love where they live is shopping locally) I bought this wooden outline of Iowa for about $6. As soon as I got home, I started kicking myself for not getting a matching one of Arizona. But then, I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to figure out how to DIY one – no scroll saw required! And, it only cost a few cents to make!

You will need:

  • A square piece of wood, or a square canvas for your background. I happened to have some leftover square pieces of wood from our kitchen shelf project.
  • White paint for covering your wood or canvas background.
  • Sandpaper. This is optional, if you like the distressed farmhouse look. 
  • Metal picture hanging bracket.
  • Super glue. I used Loctite 411 because it’s what I found in the garage.
  • Balsa wood – I got a piece large enough to make 5 or six states for $5 at Joanns.
  • Craft knife.
  • Watercolor paint in black and brown (you’ll see why!).
Step 1: Paint your square piece of wood or canvas white and let it dry. I also painted the edges of mine copper, because … copper. 

Step 2: Sand your piece of wood if you’d like a distressed farmhouse look. 

Step 3: Use your super glue to attach the metal bracket to the back. I know what you’re thinking, but yes, this Loctite 411 glue will absolutely hold. It’s crazy strong, and this was much easier to me than trying to find little nails to attach the bracket, but you could go that route if you really wanted.

Step 4: Google “*Your state here* outline” and print off one of the options. I found one of Arizona that matched the size of the Iowa one perfectly.

Step 5: Cut out your state, and place it over your piece of balsa wood. Trace around it with a pencil, and cut it out with your craft knife. I cut out two, so that I could match the thickness of the purchased Iowa cutout.

Step 6: Carefully sand the edges if they’re a bit rough. Balsa wood is extremely soft, so proceed with caution. Glue your pieces together if you’re doubling up like I did. I used Elmer’s glue, and put a book on top of the state while it was drying so that it didn’t bow.

Step 7: Now it’s time to break out the watercolors. Make a dark brown mixture, and paint the edges of your state. This gives it a lovely wood-burned effect.

Smudge the edges with your brush to mimic the effect of wood-burning, basically allowing the super dark edges to bleed over a bit. Then, wet the surface of the state with your brush, and go over it with a light brown wash.

It looks a little dark initially, but it will dry lighter. Place a book, or something flat and heavy, on top to prevent bowing while it dries.

Step 8: Glue your states onto your canvas or wood background! I used good old Elmer’s for this again. Once it dries, you’re ready to hang your art!
Now this wall begins with where we’re from, ends with where we are, and has some aspirational locations in the middle. 
I still have plenty of balsa wood left, and used mostly things I already had, so this project probably cost me less than a dollar to make! 
If you were going to make state art, what state would you choose? Let me know in the comments below or on social media!

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: How to Make This Easy Copper Heart Art from Contact Paper

You may be noticing a trend. I’ve been a big fan of rose gold/copper for a long time, and it’s finally starting to show up all over my house, starting with my kitchen shelves. 
I’ve also found ways to incorporate it into the rest of the house, thanks to great finds from Anthropologie and Target.
I made a mini version of this artwork first, for Brian’s Valentine’s Day gift. 
I liked how it turned out so much, that I made the bigger version.

You’ll Need: 

  • Blank canvas. I bought a two pack from Hobby Lobby, for less than $15.
  • Copper contact paper. I used this from Amazon, and love it.
  • Scissors.

Steps: 

1. Cut the contact paper into strips. Mine are about two inches wide. 
2. Cut the strips into squares. Cut the squares into triangles. 
3. Layout your heart, marking rows lightly on your canvas with a pencil. 
4. Peel and stick the triangles to the canvas. 

Simple, elegant, and easy –  just the way I like my DIY. 

If my copper obsession continues at this rate, I may need an intervention. 

You could of course create something like this with gold contact paper, marble contact paper, or wrapping paper, wall paper, or scrapbooking paper and glue. The possibilities are endless!

Happy February!

Happy first day of February! Earlier this week I gathered several links from across the blogosphere and pinterest-world into one awesome Valentine’s Day Decor, Gifts, Food and Freebies post over at Newlywed’s Bliss. It’s a giant love-fest of hearts, roses, chocolates, and goodness, so I hope you’ll check it out!

If you’re looking for more inspiration, try my tutorial for my Easy Valentine’s Day Banner from last year. Tragically, I can’t find it anywhere, which means I’ll have to make a new one.

And, if you’re looking for more gift ideas, this post has something for everyone.

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?
A penny for your thoughts? To leave a comment, click on “Links to this Post” below.

29 Dorm Room Decorating and Organizing Ideas

Welcome to part two of our decorating series. As I mentioned in part one, even if you don’t have a dorm room to deck out, many of these ideas are adaptable for an apartment office, bedroom, child’s room, or other small spaces. For those of us decorating on a budget, I’ve included wallet-friendly options with Pottery Barn style.

Planners and Calendars

Fail to plan =  plan to fail. Lucky for you, there are lots of tools available to help you manage your time well, and keep track of your assignments and social life.

1. Splurge: All the heart eye emojis for this gold foil pineapple planner ($58.00) from Emily Ley!
 

2. Budget: You’re almost guaranteed a lovely day with this floral ban.do planner from Papersource ($20.00). It comes with stickers!

 

3. Splurge: Set up a command central with one of these chalkboard wall calendars! $31 at Pottery Barn.
4. Budget: This chalkboard is peel and stick! $5.24 for four 9 x 12 sheets. Add four cork board tiles for $7.99 – you can always cover them with fabric if you’d like.

 

Whiteboards and Message Boards

Make it easy for someone to let you know they stopped by, or just say hi.

5. Splurge: Make a great first impression with the Victorian Frame Dry-Erase Message Board Decal from Pottery Barn Teen for $59.00.

 

6. Budget: Buy a picture frame from a thrift store, and instead of a photo, put fabric or pretty paper on the inside. Or, cover the glass with a whiteboard sticker. 

 

Hang out Space

Most likely, our favorite memories after four years of school will be the times you spent with friends. So make your space comfortable, and memorable!

Deck the walls with some decals!
7. Splurge: Apartment Therapy has this post on decals and removable wallpaper, with lots of options.

8. Splurge: When I went to college, I really liked the look of the blue and green bubble decals from PB Teen. But I didn’t have $50 to spend on them.

 

9. Budget: I got the same look for just pennies. I traced around cups and a plate to create three different sized circles … on tissue paper! Then I taped them to the walls in a bubble pattern. I loved it, and visitors always complimented it!
10. Splurge: Along the same lines, today Pottery Barn has gold circle decals for $45.
Wall Decal, Metallic Dottie, Gold
11. Budget: If you can’t find gold tissue paper, I mentioned in part one of decorating ideas for your dorm room that you can buy a roll of gold or copper contact paper that will stick to the wall for around $10.00 a roll, then just cut out or punch your own circles or triangles.

Seating

These round chairs might be the best reading chairs you’ll ever sit in. They are SO comfortable.

12. Splurge: these chairs from PB Teen cost over $100 each.
13. Budget: They might be a little smaller, but the price difference is enough to convince me they’re worth it. $50 for Dish Chairs on Amazon.

Storage

When living in a small space, making the most of storage space is crucial. Let’s start with your closet:

14. Splurge: This classy shoe rack holds 18 pairs ($40.65).

15. Budget: I used one of these for my shoes, but you could use it for extra drawer space, storing books, towels, or whatever fits in the compartments ($14.99 on Amazon).

hanging organizer
This one from Target costs a little more, but it adds space just for shoes ($21.99). And if that’s not enough room for your shoes, Carrie Bradshaw, this might do the trick: 30 Pair Shoe Rack ($23.79).
16. Double your hanging space with a closet doubler ($6.95)!

17. Make the most of your closet shelves with these dividers. I think these are pretty much genius! Use them to maximize your vertical shelf space in any closet.

 

18. Splurge: Canvas storage boxes with lids allow for easy stacking. This set of three is $33.39.

19. Budget: For literally just a few cents more, you can buy TWELVE of these plastic shoe boxes. I can’t seem to have enough of these: they’re the perfect size for holding everything from craft supplies to all the cords to and chargers to various electronics to school supplies. And of course, actual shoes.

20. Here’s a tip I wish I’d known earlier: make use of your door space! You can always hang a shoe organizer over it. Apartment Therapy has 10 ideas for ways to use an over the door shoe organizer.

21. But what about an over the door ironing board ($36.00)?

22. Or an over the door pantry for all your ramen?

 

 

24. A clothes hamper?

 

26. Or a towel rack for your bath towels?

Bet you wish you had more doors.

If you don’t have a loft bed, you can also make the most of the space underneath your bed.

27. Get more space underneath by putting your bed on risers, like these 6-inch black bed risers from Amazon.com, a set of four for $9.95.

If you don’t have much closet space, underneath your bed is a great place to store out of season clothes, extra bedding, or towels. Or, you could store art supplies, books you aren’t using, or anything you don’t want out in the open.
28. Splurge: Underbed storage boxes with hinges, a set of two for $51.90. 

29. Budget: Underbed storage bag, for $5.99.

 

What are your storage or decor ideas? Share them in the comments below!

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18 Decorating and Storage Ideas For Your Dorm Room

In addition to new school supplies, something else that makes going back to school exciting is getting to move into a new space and redecorate. My little sister is going to college for the first time, and I thought that perhaps some of you readers might be in a similar situation. Then I realized that many of these ideas work for decorating other small spaces, so even if you don’t have a dorm room to decorate, you might be inspired by these ideas for decorating your apartment, office, bedroom, or child’s room.*

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