Wednesday
Nov072012

Mail Stop: Or, How to Organize Your Mail

Sometimes, things get a little crazy around my house.

Sure, I post pictures of my house looking all nice and put together ... but whenever things get out of control it's usually because of a few pesky items.  Clothes, shoes, dishes ... and mail.

Mail...

Mail...

Mail...

It seems to pile up everywhere!  Regardless of how often I go through it, it just keeps coming, day-in-and-day-out.  Flyers, pamphlets, campaign ads, weekly specials, coupons, bills, subscriptions, letters, and notices ... all stacking up out of control!

At work we have these nifty little things called "Mail Stops."  Essentially, they make up an internal postal system, getting mail to and from various buildings throughout the organization.  A bin for "incoming" and a bin for "outgoing" mail.  Nice, clean, simple, and effective!

The other day, I started thinking about the mail situation in my home and I realized that I needed my very own mail stop system.  I needed a place to toss incoming mail, and to sort out important items that we needed to keep handy.  I wanted it to be in a high-traffic area, where it would be easily accessible, but also where it would make logical sense.

So naturally, I installed a few bins beneath the bulletin wall in my house...

Originally, I was planning to use these bins as storage in my studio -- but considering they had been sitting in a closet for over a year, I figured it was about time to put them to good use.  These bins were an early purchase from Home Goods, and if I remember right they were about $25.

This is just the first step of the updates I'll be making to this space.  I plan to add more artwork on this wall to even out the look a bit.  It needs more frames to the right of the bins, and possibly even below. Plus, I'm thinking about extending the display up a bit higher toward the ceiling.

Haven't quite figured it all out yet ... but I knew the organizational needs of my home couldn't wait any longer.  Man, it sure is nice to have a dining table again...

Just for fun, here is a little blast-from-the-past for how the wall used to look...

Perhaps you noticed from the before-and-after photos, but we've also added a bit of color to this area over the last few months.  I just haven't gotten around to posting about all of the color updates that have been taking place lately.  You'll see a few more pics of the updated color in the dining room later on this week.  And maybe ... just maybe ... someday soon I will get around to shooting another Tour My House video.

What solutions have you found for managing clutter in your home?  Does anyone else use sorting bins as a catch-all for their mail?

Next, I need to rally up some ideas for a "Shoe Stop."  One of our weaknesses is kicking off our shoes around the house, so if anyone has ideas for tackling shoe clutter, I'm certainly open to suggestions!

Tuesday
Nov062012

Happy Democracy Day

When I started this blog, I made a mental rule to never use this site as a platform to promote any political agenda.  This blog is about finding happiness in this maddening world that we live in ... and I don't know about you, but politics these days seem to make me everything BUT happy.

No, this isn't the place for political views, and you'll never find me pushing one campaign or another. But that doesn't remove the importance of a day like today.  A day that only comes around once every four years.

A presidential election day!

One thing about politics that does make me happy is my right to vote.  I hope it makes all of you happy too.

It makes me more than just happy ... it makes me humble.

When I think about the great sacrifices that have been made over the years to protect our freedoms, there are no words I can express.  When I think about all of the people who gave their lives fighting in wars for civil rights, liberties and the pursuit of happiness, it makes driving down to a polling booth feel like such a small act of patriotism.

Though it may be a smaller act than some, it is still one of the most important acts that we as American citizens can participate in.  Please never say, "my vote doesn't matter."  It does matter.  It will always matter.

I don't care who you vote for -- but I hope that you will vote -- and I hope that you will vote with pride for our country, hope for our future, and prayers that we may always live with the freedom to pursue the things that make us happy.

Today, I will vote.  Will you?

Monday
Nov052012

The Anniversary Thrift

It’s a bit ironic that in my intro Q&A with Kelli, I mentioned that I would love to go to a hotel with just my husband and me to relax, because we did just that recently.  And although I enjoyed the time that he and I got to spend together, it was not as enjoyable had I imagined it.  Mostly for the reasons that like you all, I love my home!  I like the way my home smells, feels, and looks.  A hotel has no match to the home that I have created with my husband and children.

However, the advantage of the time that we had in a kid free zone is that we got to do kid free activities.  We ate at a wine bar for dinner, had breakfast at a modern restaurant, and bummed around all of the thrift and antique stores that Downtown Phoenix had to offer.  It was awesome, over-whelming, and completely relaxing. 

I am lucky that I grew up in a family that believed in the value of an item much more than the price tag.  I have a true love for the consignment store, the yard sale, and all that is second-hand.  How cool is it that we can recycle household items, save a little cash money, and look good while doing it?  

The craziest part of my experience is that I swear that nearly every item that I saw somehow came from my grandmother’s house.  It was completely nostalgic and humbling to see items that were from my childhood, from the house that I loved to visit so much.   I stood, silently kicking myself in the rear for not snagging more items when I had the chance.  She had everything from when my mother was a child, and to have it today would be absolutely glorifying and priceless. 

And although, I could have purchased nearly every item that I saw, I did go thrifting on a budget.  (Remember that wine bar I mentioned- eek!).  I was out not to just buy, but to purchase things that I knew could possibly be passed to my own children.

We didn’t buy anything from the first few stores that we went to, which I blame mostly on the fact that we did not go thrifting with a plan, just to peruse and stumble across what we found was missing from our home.  I do suggest this to anyone, as going with a purpose may help ease the strong feeling of being over-whelmed.

Around our fourth store, we went into a huge antique mall.  Looking at a case of kitchen items, I stumbled upon an older woman packing what seemed to be about three dozen books.  She welcomed me, asked me about my day, and offered her books for free!  I grabbed a few of the Harry Potter books that I do not have, Fahrenheit 451, and a coffee connoisseur book.  While going through her collection, I spotted this bread box.  My grandparents had a breadbox in their home and my kitchen is accented in yellow, so I thought it to be a great piece to add.  Plus, it was only $6!

After getting coffee, and visiting a few other shops, we stumbled upon another antique mall filled with a variety of vendors.  Complete with everything you could imagine, I stumbled upon a booth filled with items that caught my eye.  Having a bit of a clearance sale, I picked up both of these teapots for $5 each.  One that is going to be a Christmas gift and the other, you will all have to wait and see its purpose.

My husband and I drove separately to our hotel and were both exhausted from our three hours of thrifting (it went by fast), so we separated to head towards home.  Driving, I realize that I had never been in the antique store by own home.  My friend often talks about the same store, as she has one on her side of the valley, so I opted to check it out.   And good thing I did.

While looking at a cute, purple nightstand, its seller offered it to me at 20% off.   I felt it like a sign, as I was on a mission for something to add to my daughter’s recently upgraded “big girl” room.  $15 later, she was mine. 

Walking out, I noticed this cute coffee container for $3.  Um, no question it was coming home with me. Like the book says, I am a coffee connoisseur!

Total cost: $34!

I call that a thrifting win!

How do you go to thrifting?  On a whim or with a plan?  What are your favorite thrifty finds? 

Sunday
Nov042012

Scentsyfied

Ladies and gentlemen, I've been Scentsyfied!  Or, in other words, my Scentsy order has arrived and now my home smells like roses!

A few weeks ago I mentioned the scent situation at my home, and all of the air-freshener products I've gone through to keep things sniff-friendly (let's just say, when cats are a part of your family air-fresheners are never a bad thing).

Well last night I put my new Scentsy fresheners to the test, and let me just say, I've got a really good feeling about them so far.

First, let me give you the details of my order.  In my home, I feel like there are three key problem areas...(1) the laundry room, (2) the kitchen, (3) the master bathroom.  We keep the litter-box, cat food, etc. in the laundry room, the garbage can in the kitchen, and there's just something about rooms with moisture, like the master bath, that spread a musty smell throughout the entire house.  These are the three main problem areas in my home, so these were the areas I kept in mind with my Scentsy order.

That's a lot of boxes, I know...but those boxes hold my large warmer, mid-size warmer, and my outlet plug-in warmer.   Here's how I used these warmers to tackle my home's scent-sationally challenged areas...

Laundry Room Solution:  Plug-in Warmer

Master Bath Solution:  Mid-Size Warmer

Kitchen Solution:  Large Warmer

So far, I am absolutely in love with all three of my Scentsy warmers!  Here's what I like about them...

  1. They are decorative, so they fit right in with my existing home decor.
  2. They project the scent further than any other air-freshener I have tried.  The large warmer in the kitchen is by far the most powerful.  When it gets warmed up, the scent spreads throughout all of the main living areas in my house, and almost through the bedrooms too.
  3. I can already tell they are going to last me for a very long time before I ever need to purchase new scents.  We only turn them on when we are home, which means the scents are not wasted while no one is around to enjoy them.  It's a novel concept, I know.

The only down side to the warmers that I have noticed thus far is that they come with a very long cord. It's not really a valid complaint, I guess.  I mean, how else would they work without a way to plug in, right?  

I'm just extremely phobic of cords.  Maybe phobic is not the right word...perhaps, intolerant.  I can't stand them!  So, you can only guess the great lengths I went through to keep the cords as hidden as possible.  I even tucked the cord from the large warmer inside my utensil crock!  Ha!

Considering that is my only complaint, I'd say these warmers are winners.  They are definitely investment pieces, but if you choose styles that are relatively transitional, you should get several years of use out of them.

It's a good thing that I had already placed my order before I saw this little guy in their catalog... 

Wouldn't that be such an adorable piece during the holidays?  Especially since the way your home smells is very important while entertaining.  Not sure what scents to try?  I've smelled them all, so stuff that turkey with a few wax pieces from my recommended list of seasonal scents.

You can check out more Scentsy products, here.  It looks like they have a lot of new warmers for the upcoming holidays, which could be great gifts for you or for someone on your list.

PS...Top photo, and turkey warmer image were found in the Scentsy catalog

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Saturday
Nov032012

Feeling Pretty Fab

Ever had one of those days where you just feel pretty darn good?  Well, today was one of those days for me.  For the most part, at least!

My ego usually starts to shine whenever I realize that I've scored an impressive deal...so, when I browsed through one of the latest Fab.com deals and found this...

...you can imagine that I sat just a little taller in my chair!

Anyone who caught my How to Hang Pictures With Ease post probably caught what deal I am referring to.  But for those of you who are just joining in, allow me to zoom in a little closer...

No, I'm certainly not referring to that $585 price tag as a great bargain -- I'm actually referring to the fact that I found that same exact print on Craigslist for only $25!  Let's do the math, shall we?  I like to see my savings in large print!

$585-$25=$560 in savings!!  Woot!  Woot!

Take a look at mine, and you tell me if you think the Fab version is $560 better...

That was what she looked like on the day I brought her home, and this is what she looks like finally hung in place...

Minus a few differences in the framing and mat selections, I think it's a pretty close match, don't you?

Okay, okay...I know I get excited by the most simple things sometimes, but what can I say?  I guess I'm just a sucker for seeing all of that hardcore thrifting actually pay off!

In other news -- I've got another bun in the oven, so to speak.  Somehow, I know that I'm going to regret using that phrasing immediately after hitting publish, but I'm actually referencing my What to Expect When You're Expecting post where I shared the experience of my first purchase from Joss & Main.  Well...look who's due in a couple of weeks...

Perhaps that's a face only a mother could love, but like any proud mom I'm still going to show you as many photos as I can once she arrives!  Alright, enough with the baby puns...I'm seriously going to give my family members heart attacks if I don't stop...that lovely gal will soon be hanging right over the island in my kitchen!  Excited does not even begin to describe how I feel!

What about you all?  Has anyone seen a really expensive item that looked just like something you picked up at a thrift store?  Or, has anyone finished a great knock-off to save some cash?  I'd love to see it!

This week, or more like this month, has been down-right crazy -- and once again, I find myself feeling guilty about my unreliable posting habits.  But, in case you missed it...things should be picking up around here now that my friend, Jana, has joined me.  Did you all catch her first post, summing up her Halloween activities with her kids?  It looks like it was a blast!  Tell us how your holiday went - leave a comment below.