I'm Ba-ack!

I just wanted to pop in to say I was on vacation, but now I'm back! I didn't say anything before I left - my hubby is wary of telling the internet our house would be nice and empty for 11 days - but fortunately for you I had some posts lined up so you were none the wiser.

I'll have a nice wordy post for you once I get all my pictures uploaded, but for now just know that I went somewhere where the sand was white, the water was clear and the relaxation was (more or less) endless. The more or less part is a story for another day. Jealous yet?

Mantle Gets A Makeover... Twice

This is a prime example of how terrible I can be about blogging regularly. When I wrote the first draft of this post it was shortly after New Year's and I had just packed away the holiday decorations and given my mantle a new look for the new year. Well, it is now April and I have since tweaked the mantle design. Ideally I would have posted about each layout on its own, but it feels wrong to write a whole post about what my mantle used to look like so I'll include them both in one post. Consider it a freebie.

Here's what the mantle looked like for Christmas. A little holiday cheer with lots of simple neutrals. Riveting stuff but let's jump to the present, shall we?


This mantle-scape is a little bland but serviceable. I was trying to go for quirky and (believe it or not) asymmetrical. But looking at the photos, this is anything BUT asymmetrical. I have true symmetry on the ends and in the center, with what I can implied symmetry in between. And above it all is my winter wreath. I didn't design it this way, but the wreath has nothing going on in the way of Christmas or snow, I figure it can hang around for a bit.

On the end I have a wicker votive holder that I grabbed before Christmas and a glass hurricane with some tall, elegant sticks. The hurricane was originally bought to use at my wedding reception and the sticks are from - where else? - my yard. Only losers pay money for stickly vase fillers.

My next mini-vignette has a short stack of vintage National Geographic mags, an owl that was my great-grandmother's and a vase with pennies in it. Why pennies? It's because my great-grandmother (the original owner of the owl) had the nickname Penny and I thought it would be a nice little tribute. I'm a sucker for unique and sentimental decor. I got the idea for using National Geographic magazines as decor from Apartment Therapy a while back and it was just a matter of time before I snagged some on Freecycle.

On the other side I have another wicker votive and stick-filled-hurricane - twinsies! - that add balance and symmetry.

This mini-vignette has more National Geographics, an empty vase (from a thrift store?) and a stack of rocks that I stole brought home from a beach when we went to the west coast a few years ago. For added stability I glued the rocks together with some clear liquid nails. Those rocks aren't splitting up anytime soon.

In the middle I have the pair of check-envelope prints I made last summer and this silver-toned peanut my mom got for me at an estate sale.

Like I said, it wasn't hideous or anything, but it wasn't as dynamic as I was shooting for.


Before I show you the new mantle design I want to start with the cast of characters. Partly to heighten your sense of anticipation, but mostly because I don't want to write things the same way twice. It's all about me.

New Players:

blue ombre vase I just snagged from Home Goods for $7
sterling silver Jefferson cup my parents got as a wedding gift
white vase, also from Home Goods for $7
mercury glass bird on it - $8 from Home Goods
Returning Cast Members:

holiday wreath
wicker votive holder (still using two of these)
just one hurricane full of sticks - the only difference from before is I doubled up on sticks and vase filler (which is uncooked rice, by the way)
vintage owl
estate sale peanut which - surprise! - is a storage box (nothing in it just yet)
stack of rocks (and the same National Geographics)


I paired the new vase with the vintage owl because I liked how the vase pulled out the blue details on the owl. And those two play nicely with the glass hurricane and one of the wicker votives.

On the other side I sat my cheerful little bird on the magazines, put more sticks in my new white vase and filled in the little spaces with my west coast rocks and the other votive.

In the middle I centered one of the envelope prints under the wreath and flanked it with the silver peanut and Jefferson cup. Then I just added 2 glass vases I've had for years because they fill the space nicely without being visually intrusive. I haven't added the pennies back in yet, but I'm trying to figure out where to put them. Maybe in the vase behind the peanut?

And now, the big reveal...


Much better, right? I just love this arrangement. It's balanced without being so on-the-nose symmetrical. I think putting all the magazines on one side went a long way toward creating more visual interest. I also like how the two stick arrangements have such different shapes. I can't take credit for that - it's all because one vase has a bigger opening than the other - but since I'm the one that picked the vases, maybe I can take full credit. I still have one big craft project up my sleeve that will eventually replace the wreath, but for now I think the mantle is pretty settled. I'm not one of those people that likes to shake things up by swapping out decor all the time so the mantle will probably look like this for a while.

We're almost done here, but I can't let you leave without a backstage pass into my crazy. When I went to my yard to get more sticks the trees were wet from a recent rain which meant my sticks had to dry before I could put them on display. So what's a girl to do? Hang some sticks from a laundry rack, that's what.

Stones May Break My Bones, But Sticks Are Great For Holding My Purse

Allow me to explain that bizarre title. I just got the Sticks multi-hook rack and I love it. Love, love, LOVE it. And for just $20 you should, too. The Sticks is designed by Umbra and sold at The Container Store (among other places). It easily ups the cool factor of my foyer by at least 50%.

When it's not in use I can return the pegs to their upright and locked positions and this coat rack could pass for some sculptural wall art. But when I need a place for my purse or hubby's lunchbox I just flip down a peg for some much-needed storage space.

With 5 operable - and strong! - hooks that works out to a measly $4 per hook. How could you not want one? If you were ever inspired to do something I did, this should be it. This is way cooler than crafting with the contents of your recycling bin.

I May Have A SLIGHT Shoe Problem

And by slight I mean crippling. I constantly feel the need for new shoes to satisfy some requirement that has cropped up, whether it's shoes for running, shoes for work or shoes for being sexy yet also in pain.

Most recently I decided I needed new shoes for my new on-my-feet-all-day retail life. I survived my first 3 months wearing only my Asics running shoes. They were (and still are) supremely comfortable, but I was getting a little tired of wearing the same pair of shoes every day. That's just not appropriate behavior for a shoe hoarder like myself. I had also been thinking that I wanted to get some tennis shoe sandal things* that still provided foot support and were close-toed for work, but that also allowed me to go sockless. Seriously, I HATE wearing socks when it's hot out. I've been planning on buying some work shoes for a while and it's a small miracle I held out this long.
*official industry term

Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to my newest acquisitions, which were all purchased at DSW:
J-41 Tahoe - $60

J-41 Dash - $60
Naturalizer Yarkona - $42 (on clearance, down from $75!)
Puma Imani Shimmer - $38 (on clearance, down from $70!) -- the link goes to the silver color, but I got the purple as pictured 

When I buy shoes, I BUY SHOES. I mentioned I have a problem.

Now before you judge me for buying old lady, orthopedic shoes, I'm already judging myself a little bit. But, DUDE, they are so comfortable. When you're on your feet all day, comfort is key, so you make a few concessions on aesthetics. And I must say, for comfortable shoes they're fairly cute.

As usual, I am not of the magnitude to have sponsored posts. These are just shoes I own and adore.

Skinny Jeans On The Cheap

One of the perks of working in a hardware store is getting to wear jeans and comfortable shoes everyday. Don't get me wrong, I love getting dressed up in pencil skirts and heels, but my feet and back are loving their current gig.

The one downside to wearing jeans everyday is that I needed more pairs of jeans to fill out my rotation. When I started at Lowe's I had only 2 pairs of skinny jeans and 4 pairs of flared or bootcut jeans. Being the slave to fashion that I am (har har), I only wore the skinny jeans while the others sat in the drawer, untouched. I tried to wear them, but I've found that once I get used to seeing myself in a certain cut of jeans (skinny, in this case) it is very hard to "approve" other silhouettes on myself.

As much as I would have loved to just drop some cash on new jeans I knew that wasn't in the cards. But I did have some perfectly wearable jeans and a trusty tailor at my disposal. So after a little pinning and a lot of sewing I had converted my old jeans into skinny jeans. TA DA! Obviously if you have some sewing skills and a machine that can handle denim, you can skip the tailor and save even more money. This solution works in several situations:

- take dated jeans and turn them skinny, like I did
- if you've lost some weight take the opportunity to slim the legs AND take in the waist, for a double dose of skinny
- if you're just jonesing for some new skinnies, grab a pair of jeans from a thrift store and have them skinnied, for less than the cost of a new pair - as long as the waist size and rinse/color make you happy you're good to go

If you try to do this allow me to make a suggestion. Bring a pair of skinny jeans you already own to show the tailor. It is very hard to pin the pants tight enough during your fitting and you may have to return them to be taken in again. This happened to me and thankfully the tailor corrected the mistake at no extra charge. But if I had taken a pair of pants they could use as a guide this would have saved me - and the tailor - an extra step.

Come on now, get to skinnying!

Garden Sneak Peek

The hubby and I are working on revamping our garden this year. I'll have a nice long post for you once it's completed, but I couldn't resist sharing a little peek with you.

Instead of traditional edgers we are using concrete blocks to fill the gap between the fence and the ground. Not gonna lie, I got my inspiration from Pinterest. Just today we filled the blocks with soil and added some bean seeds. I can't wait until they sprout and we have some lovely bean plants growing up our fence!
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