Monday, January 23, 2017

goals: 2017

I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions. I work out year round and eat fairly healthy most of the time, and I'm already obnoxiously organized so why force the label maker to work overtime. I like my job and the amount of time I commit to my friends and self, and when I really want to do something, I just figure out how to do it - no timeline needed.

So for 2017, I'm taking a bite size approach to the resolution game by committing to a goal every week and fulfilling a bigger goal of writing more often by posting my progress here. And in the process of making more small goals, I hope to establish lasting habits (an approach my friend KBD takes with her simple resolutions). 

I'm a little late to the game so I'll catch up now in the hopes that I can inspire you as well.

I know, it's kind of silly to give yourself a goal that you're going to take on anyway, but it's not easy going back to work after a nice break and that Christmas tree still staring at you. Plus, it's rewarding to purge unused holiday decorations, give away lights that were barely working (someone said they would fix them, power to you brother!), and getting your furniture back into place. I just wish the neighbor with the lights still framing his house would take on a similar goal.

Networking is important all of the time, but we often don't think about it until we really need it - we lose a job, we're interviewing for a new one or someone asks at the wrong time! Leaving a LinkedIn recommendation for a colleague is the modern day "dropping a nice note" that ultimately brings good results. I committed to write at least one recommendation every day this week and hope to continue this little habit all year!

Reading is my favorite pastime while commuting in and out of the city. I have recently been so distracted and my current book was not initially peaking my interest! So this was the week that I buckled down and read through The Fortune Hunter: A Novel by Daisy Goodwin (it turned out to be a great ending!). And while watching the New England Patriots win the AFC championship, I finally finished and am ready to start Love Warrior (Oprah's Book Club): A Memoir by Glennon Doyle Melton.

What are your 2017 goals?

Monday, January 9, 2017

home: start cleaning with these resources

I wrote a blog post nearly (gulp) five years ago with recommendations on how to clear the cutter and start the new year with a clean house and conscience - old paint, clothes, electronics. Over the years, new groups and sites have popped up to help you de-clutter and some actually add a few dollars to your vacation fund. Here are a few additional favorites:

I’m a member of local Facebook Buy/Sell/Trade groups and if you’re hoping to unload quality clothes, kid supplies and furniture, this place is a playground. Each group has different rules but in summary, you post what you’re selling or giving away, offer it to the first person that comments, and you can coordinate a porch pick-up or drop off. Just like that, your house is already starting to shine and you're making some cash.

Besides sharing neighborhood watch style information, this is a great site to unload extra lemons from your tree, invite neighbors to a garage sale or give away furniture. You join your “neighborhood” as it’s set-up on the site and share as needed. 

I mentioned this free platform in my 2012 post but I still swear by it for big ticket or free items. We recently had our bathroom redone and the contractor left all of the remaining supplies. I posted them on Craigslist's free section and - GONE! I even gave away our team's gingerbread houses after the contest ... there is something for everyone out there!

Tried and true reseller of sports equipment! As a kid, my mom picked up supplies for us because you better believe she wasn't going to invest in equipment that we were going to dump in a week. We recently sold quality running clothes, ski equipment and tennis balls that were just sitting around. You know you've outgrown that 5 pound dumbbell.

If your clothes tend to be on the higher quality side and you don't want to deal with posting and coordinating pick-up, send them to Thred Up. I've only done this once but I was able to unload suits, trousers and button-up wovens in one bag. You sign-up online, request a postage-paid bag, and once you receive the bag from Thred Up, you send it back with your items. They then offer you a price per item for the clothes you sent in. Too easy not to try!

You've seen the commercials but have you tried it? We tried selling a surfboard on this site before the holiday without any bites. There aren't any disco balls (again, see the commercial), but plenty of gently used kids' clothes and toys. They do have an app and uploading pictures and content is super simple, so totally worth a try.

I recently signed-up for this service but don't see much activity in my area but plenty in the larger Bay Area. Users are selling everything from big ticket items - cars, furniture, tools - to teddy bears. It's a growing network and I'm curious if you have tried it; let me know in the comments.

Safety - the first thing my friends ask is if these "transactions" are safe. How can I let someone come to my porch and know where I live? That's why I feel safer using the Facebook group, Play it Again Sports and Craigslist. It's important to begin a dialogue with the buyer and use your gut - sometimes, I just don't follow-up because my gut tells me that this isn't the right person.

How are you purging in the new year?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

craft: start 2017 with a creative purpose

Happy new year friends - finalize those resolutions and let's get started! But before running off to locate your gym card and make green juice (got a Vitamix for Christmas, eh?), here are craft projects to help with some of those resolutions.

A few years ago, I got the girls together to start the new year with creativity, and the result was a fun day with my friends and 20 less t-shirts in my drawers. This t-shirt blanket project helps you clear out the clutter while spending more time with friends (done and done).

I like to refresh the images in our picture frames from time to time, and if it's not a fantastic picture of me during the younger days, then I try to get creative. This easy DIY watercolor project still hangs around the 929. Also, visit Etsy to find items to showcase your personality (like these prints of our college towns).

The holiday decorations had a nice run, but it's time to start packaging up the village. Not sure what the front door said to your guests before the holiday because we want to welcome everyone in 2017 with open arms! Here is an easy DIY wreath that you can finish this afternoon with your favorite (or leftover) fabric. 

I love to reuse and upcycle. If I have no use for it, it's gone in a second (and I'm likely making a few bucks off of it). If one of your resolutions this year is to lessen your footprint on this great earth, then I recommend creating your own notepads and journals. Here is an easy DIY notebook to jot down your genius ideas.

And to be a little proactive in the new year, there is a lot we can do to protect our finances, personal property and health. This post was written after our home was robbed and I listed a few tidbits to keep in mind when hiding valuable and important items. (Boots: seems that thieves know you hide grandma's jewelry in your uggs.)

There's so much more to motivate you! Check out my Pinterest page for ideas and start creating today. You only have 52 weeks ...!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

holiday: deck the halls with DIY projects

Unpacking boxes of Christmas decorations has me reminiscing on all of these projects that I was so excited to sew, paint, build over the years. Here is a little roundup of my favorite Christmas decorations still going strong.

And a walk down memory lane with these previous mantels from years past:

 - 2012 -

- 2013 -

- 2014 -

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

home: shiplap living room fireplace solve

The wall above our living room fireplace cracks every two years and regardless of how much effort I put into repairing it, the house is still going to settle itself and bring that crack back. After some deep Pinterest research, I found the solution to this pesky house challenge: shiplap.

My DIY guidance came from the ever fabulous Jenna Sue and her directions for creating the shiplap look on the cheap with inexpensive plywood (watch her YouTube video). Cut it down to the right size, place on wall and paint, and you have some killer shiplap treatment without the pain points. I was ready: I measured, I walked into Home Depot, I got lost twice ...

... And I saw it: a single piece of plywood siding panel that looked exactly like shiplap, and with two measured cuts, I had the exact size I needed. Now if only I could find someone ... SIR?!

After the struggle to fit it into my little SUV, I spent a bit of time sanding it down to get a smoother finish. You may want a more weathered look and not need to do this, but since my mantel is more classic, I needed to put in the work.

Originally, I tried screwing the panel to the wall. Fail. Here's what worked:

  1. Identify the studs and mark them where they won't be covered with the panel (in this case: on existing mantel).
  2. Add Liquid Nails LN903 10-Ounce Heavy-Duty Liquid Nails Construction Adhesive on the back of the cut panel.
  3. Measure each side of the hanging mantel to make sure the panel is perfectly centered.
  4. Place in final location and nail the panel into the studs. 
  5. Use DAP 543 Qt Natural Plastic Wood-X w/Drydex to cover up the nails (and the holes leftover from trying to get screws in there); let dry and then sand down.

After I knew that the panel wasn't going to crash down, I added interior pine shoe trim to the left and right sides with liquid nails. I waited a day for everything to dry, and then finished off the edges with DAP INC 18152 10.1oz White Alex Plus Acrylic Latex Caulk with Silicone (make sure it's paintable!!).

Paint, paint, paint. After adding a primer coat of paint, it took an additional four coats of semi-gloss white paint to fully cover the wood. And then my mantel looked dingy so that needed another coat to blend into its new partner. And don't get me started on my crown moulding ... that's a project for another weekend.

Need more shiplap inspiration? Here is a post from HGTV featuring Fixer Upper inspiration. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

holiday: open the door for fall

Sorry I've been gone for so long. This weather has fully inspired me to pick-up the glue gun and take my creativity to blog, home and soul. It's time. And with the burlap prepped, I'm ready to share again. And this time, I'll give it a little more energy.

Monday, February 1, 2016

home: 929 kitchen now completed!

This is my last kitchen renovation post; 598 days after taking sledgehammer to old cabinets. With a fresh start to the year - and multiple empty threats to my brother - we are finally done.

The last few projects were just cosmetic and we were living just fine with running water, electricity and an oven for more than one year. And I finished the backsplash exactly one year ago during the NFL playoffs (when the Pats where in a better place). But staring at me were small unfinished projects. I'm happy to finally take these pictures (and breakdown expenses below)!

But before moving on, let's remember where we started:

Again, let's return to this beauty:

For those of you eager to know how we did it on a tight budget, here is the breakdown:
  • Home Depot Hampton Bay Shaker Cabinets = $1,030 (a lot of my counters came damaged and we received additional discounts)
  • Electrical upgrade including needed permits: $6,000 (this included more than just the kitchen)
  • Insulation, dry wall and supplies: $467
  • Sink and faucets: $454
  • LG oven and microwave (Best Buy): $1,000
  • Crown moulding and supplies: $412 (see post here)
  • Quartz counters (Granite Expo in Emeryville): $1,170
  • Marble backsplash and supplies (Lowe's): $600
  • Hardware knobs and cup pulls (Home Depot): $50
  • Ikea floating shelves (2 cut into 4): $30
  • Disposal fee for old cabinets, counter: $43
  • Other supplies and labor: $1,250
  • TOTAL: $12,566
We already had the refrigerator and dishwasher, and the recessed lighting and skylight were already there, so we walked into this project with a few perks in place. Ultimately, we finished the bulk of the work in 4 months, and then the other projects took time and a little patience. But today, we are done!