They’re charming. They’re horribly painted, with maybe marble here or there. They’re a free shelf. A fake bed frame. Character. Pretend or real. Maybe 120 years old. In any case, they’re here to stay, and you gotta figure out what to do with it. Here’s what we did with ours. Print is from the National Gallery of Australia. Bottles are from a flea market + and an old kale juice pressed. Salmon pot from Target. Books, sadly, and most likely, Amazon. Ooh lala.
I began writing this on the first day of spring. It was snowing. Which means that for the majority of the last — FOUR MONTHS — I’ve stayed inside, hiding from the hideous winter elements. Which is hilarious because that means that 1/3 of the year I’m staying inside a tiny space while living in a huge, ridiculously amazing city. So, I can’t be Carrie and keep my shoes in the oven. I can’t live in an ugly box that I pay too much for, only to be outside and enjoying the world every day. It means I need a space that’s warm, organized, comfortable – home.
So here’s my first list. If I were to move ANYWHERE, especially in a city, these are the items I know I couldn’t live without. Maybe because of how they look, mostly because of their practicality (even if just for my mental health), take a look, and let me know what you think.
1. Speakers! Even if you can hear your cell phone on vibrate in each part of your house, that doesn’t mean you don’t need speakers. Music sounds better with them. Bravo TV arguments will intensify. And, no, silent discos weren’t invented for single dance parties at home. I have these Harman Kardon ones, and they’ve lasted forever. A bit pricey, but for $170 they look nice, are clean, won’t add clutter, and sound great.
2. LIGHTING. Even if your apartment has ceiling lamps (lucky), you still should find some table and floor lamps, or more overhead lights to create a warm space that can help define areas, corners, and cubbies. I found this great floor lamp at the Brooklyn Flea (the best!) that I use as a reading light in our living room. The table lamp was also a favorite find from Eastern Market in DC. Helpful hint: Buy a good lightbulb. It WILL pay off. I prefer the softer lighting bulbs like the GE White Hybrid Halogen. They’re energy smart and eco friendly! $12 each but they really do last forever.
3. Plants. Please don’t say you can’t because you just kill them. That’s why succulents and cacti were created. Plants keep your space bright, beautiful, feeling clean… and some even clean your air (yes, fact). Add a couple, take them to your new home, and they’ll make any space look good. It’s genuinely the easiest, cheapest way to decorate. I love this Target Home find, a cement planter that could easily (stupidly) sell for $50, but was $13. Not everything needs to be a Pinterest DIY, where your supplies cost an obscene amount of money.
4. Extra Seating! I love having extra chairs around the house to make sure that if we do have a lot of guests around, everyone has somewhere to sit. We have a wood folding one that I stash behind the closet, a couple cute side chairs… Small chairs are super easy store and move apartments with. They can have a pattern, texture, unique wood… It’s a simple way to add decor to a space without feeling too “done”, and they don’t clutter. I love our West Elm John Vogel chair in charcoal. The second one I bought from a previous tenant at an apartment I used to live in.
5. A good (electric) tea kettle. This seems random, but after living with an Australian, I’ve learned the power and beauty of a good tea kettle. Beyond making a cup of tea, an electric tea kettle will boil water for your pasta, french press coffee, rice, potatoes… EVERYTHING. It’s so much quicker than a stove top kettle, and I literally use it every day. I love this Capresso clear glass kettle. Buy it from Bed Bath and Beyond with a 20% off coupon, and it’s $50. Yes, you can get a cheap plastic one, but I prefer glass because you’re not ingesting toxins every time you heat the plastic, it’s much nicer to look at, and easier to clean because the kettle is separate from the electric plug. It’s also a good, small size that won’t take up too much space in your teeny kitchen.
6. A magic bullet. If you have a teeny apartment, this is a LIFE SAVER. Beyond making that delicious kale juice we all pretend to love, you can also blend soups, yogurts, even use it as a food processor. It’s SO easy to clean, and is much smaller than a blender. I love our Nutri Bullet especially because I do think it breaks food down better than the other brands. Again, use a 20% coupon ala Bed, Bath & Beyond and buy it. The steel design also makes for a nicer looking appliance.
7. STORAGE. I mean, obviously, right? That is the dream. But you can do storage right, and then you can do storage wrong. For example, do you need your winter coat in your closet, taking up space all year long? No. In fact, it doesn’t need to ever be in your closet. Get a hook, hang it by your door for four months (this also allows it to dry properly). Done. And when you don’t use it, buy these ridiculously smart (and REUSABLE) Ziploc vacuum hanging bags, put your stuff in it, and then either store them in the back of your closet or better yet, under your bed. They keep stuff clean, won’t ruin the filling of your coat, and pro tip: You don’t need a vaccuum to suck out the air. You can literally sit on em, and push out the air (like rolling a sleeping bag), until all the air is out. Fact. (No personal picture because sadly we are still using our coats. :P)
In addition, because we really no longer need DVD players, DVDs, or really any TV equipment beyond a ChromeCast stick, use your “entertainment center” for other things! Serving dishes? A “linen closet”? A mini hardware tool box with your tools, extra lightbulbs and batteries? This is such an easy way to keep organized and clean. (You’ll never know what’s in our “entertainment center”. Another Eastern Market find:
That’s all I’ve got. What are your “not living without” items? Share em in the comments!
So many blogs and posts – DIY this season! Make your own gifts! First off, I don’t have time to print out every Instagram photo and make coasters. Nor do I have time to try and crochet a scarf again this year. (I can never remember how to start.) However, I figured I would try to make lip balm. Simple enough. You can make a bunch in a short amount of time, and awesome. You have lip balm that’s cheaper than $4 a tube at Target.. You can buy everything you need at Amazon.com and Whole Foods. Again, Amazon prime this, and you’ll be ready the next day.
First – buy some tins. Or plastic containers. Whatever you want to put the balm in. You’ll also need:
1. Beeswax! I bought the small pellets – it’s easier to melt, and cheap!
2. Oil – I made two batches, the clear one has coconut oil, the rose tinted has a mix of olive and vegetable oil
3. Raw honey
4. Essential oils – for the clear one, I used rosemary, lavender and peppermint. Ha – kind of a weird mix, but it worked out well. For the rose tinted balm, I used rose essential oil and peppermint. About 40 drops of each
5. Pipettes! You can buy 100 for $5 on Amazon – They make pouring the liquid balm into the tins a whole lot easier.
6. I also took a couple Vitamin A liquid pills, sliced em open, and added them to the mix. Good for your skin. I added Vitamin E, but naturally forgot to photograph. These were just in my medicine cabinet – as were the oils.
Next you’ll want to use a double boiler. Since I don’t have one, I used a frying pan, and then put a glass pie dish on top. Pour water into the pan, and let it start to boil. While waiting, in the pie dish, add all of the ingredients. Depending on how much you want, you will want a 3:1 ratio of oil:beeswax. A tablespoon or so of honey. And 30-40 drops of each essential oil. If you want to add color, buy a tube of natural lipstick, and add half of it to your mix. When the water is boiling, put the pie dish on top, and let everything melt. No sense in starting to stir, because everything will just stick to your spoon. So wait, and use the time to remove all the tops to the tins.
When all of the ingredients are melted, take the pie dish off the burner, and use a spoon to stir everything together. Then, use the pipette to put the liquid mix into each tin. About three squeezes per tin.
The mix cools and solidifies super quick, so if it hardens before you finish, just put the pie dish over the boiling water/pan and let it melt again. And there you go! I am going to give the balms away in pairs – it will be a nice little gift. Everything total – and I still have more than half of what I originally purchased – cost under $75. And I made 50 tins of balm. Boom.
This is my spice rack –
It seems organized, consolidated, and just dandy. But good grief, I’m a lady in a studio with absolutely no space. Especially for spices! The cabinets aren’t tall enough to just stack spices, plus let’s be real, I’m way too OCD to have little containers all over the place. When cooking, you want spices readily available, and ideally in front of you. I also like the beautiful colors of spices… so let’s get creative, and find a way to show em off, without taking over my (no joke) 2X3 foot kitchen. Sad. Anyway, here’s what I did – test tubes! I chose glass ones with cute corks – ten for $10 on Amazon. (And if you have Prime – please, please, use Prime, it only makes sense – free shipping!) Anyway, I bought these, and made a little paper filter to pour the spices in each tube. I’m storing them in an old spaghetti sauce jar, and currently figuring out a way to hang them on the wall. Or, I might just keep them in the jar. I kept the rest of the spice jars under the sink in a box until they run out – when I need to buy new spices I’ll buy from a shop that sells in bulk. This saves space AND it’s sustainable. I’m also starting to think of ways to use the old spice jars in ways other than bringing salad dressing to work.
Sidenote: If you don’t know the smells of spices, make sure you write their names somewhere on the tubes. Use a Sharpie marker or something. That could get things messy.
Woohoo! So much more space!
While Hurricane Sandy did prevent my office from having our Halloween party on Tuesday, October 30th, we really can’t complain – our families and friends were safe, and our homes, unlike many in New York and New Jersey, were left in one piece.
That said – I wasn’t about to not have our Halloween party. Especially after buying decorations and makins for delightful food.
Here are a few pics for some party creation inspiration.
Make cupcakes. I prefer mini. They are cute. Little. Fun to decorate. Plus, large cupcakes go to waste and are messy to eat. This is also a decoration, so dress em up. People aren’t crazy about dessert at parties – they want something sustainable (pizza) to go with their beverage (whiskey). So make this fun, but don’t stress out!
Buy a mini cupcake tin. They also work for mini quiches, mini whoopi pies, cookies, and something bacon-wrapped – I’ll leave that to you to decide.
Next. Decorate. Mentioned in a previous post, I bought everything I needed from Amazon. com and Party City. Again – look for coupons online! You don’t need fancy noise making monsters or large cemetery displays to make your decorations rad. What I bought –
a couple bags of cob webs – make sure to spread em out!
black fall leaves
table netted cloths – black, blood-stained, and creepy
Something to hang – I chose paper lanterns and cheesy bats
This year, I found plastic wall decorations of zombies and creepy frames-these were fun and spooky
crepe paper. duh.
For food – I bought pizza and beer. Alright. I also bought a load of things to make for appetizers. Buy some apples, cheese, cured meat, and some veggies…make your own display tray. Cheaper than buying one, and this way you can decide what to include. Make sure to have veggie and vegan friendly options. Surprisingly, there are some options in the freezer aisle – spring rolls, falafel balls. Chips and guac. (a classic) Also – artichoke dip. Everyone loves it. And I know you do, too.
** Note – Yes. I would normally cook more items to share. But given this was a work party, after work, after the storm… time is everything. Choose your battles.
Another note – Make your spread pretty. Use bowls and plates to display everything. Bags of chips makes me think frat party. Ok for a Netflix Breaking Bad marathon. Not ok for a work event. Additionally, I always save the catering trays that places like Au Bon Pain use when catering. We work with them a lot for big meetings – wash em, reuse em. Win.
Lastly. I created a photo booth for folks to take pics in their costumes. Set the scene, and create a frame out of decorations that will be a nice backdrop. Check out what I’ve done here. Super cheap. Definitely worth it. For the photo booth – set up your laptop (I’m a MAC user), and use the photo booth app. You can change the settings to snap four pics in a row – hilarious.
That’s it! Have fun – don’t give yourself a lot of work. Set things up in advanced, and enjoy the party!
I love Halloween. Working as an office manager, I get the privilege of decorating our office… and you better believe I’m taking that opportunity. At some point I’ll blog about the space and how I’ve designed it. Until then, check out the start to decorating for our Halloween party next week. All items were purchased at either Amazon.com or Party City – all were on sale. Huge recommendation – before you EVER buy something online, Google coupons for that store. I searched for discounts for Party City and found a $30 off if you spend $100 – Plus free shipping. Discounts are out there, you just need to take a moment and look.
I love a great center piece. I love bringing basic pieces together to create a nice, final display. Here I bought I basic black netted cloth, a couple paper lanterns, cob webs (most important), gourds,and a paper, sparkly candle piece. It’s a little cheesy – but it’s Halloween, and it’s fun. Add a few sparkly, black leaves… perfection. One tip on cob webs. A little goes a long way. The best cob webs are the spread out ones… fine strands, super creepy.
Normally, I prefer making crafts, getting creative… but let’s be honest, some years there is just no time. Instead, get creative with the cheaper Halloween decorations – no need for the $150 Vampire – and see what you can do.
I’ll soon be building a photo booth stage, layout the makings of a good pumpkin carving station, a couple recipes for amazing cider, and everything else that makes a Halloween party amazing.