GIVEAWAY: Painted Fox (Home Decor Awesomeness)

***This giveaway is now closed– Kelly, congrats on your win!!***

A few weeks ago Painted Fox started following me on Twitter and I ended up spending a good long time gazing longingly at all the amazing stuff in their store, so I put on my big girl pants and sent them an email asking if they’d like to collaborate. And they said YES! 🙂

The girls behind the store, Christine and Jen, are lovely and so so friendly- I’m thrilled to be able to offer one of YOU  a $50 gift certificate to their store.

giveaway painted fox treasures freeFrom their website:

Painted Fox is an online retailer, specializing in fabulous farmhouse décor! Our eclectic collection of vintage styled treasures has been hand picked for all of the spaces where you live your lovely life…and is sure to add a touch of farmhouse swag to your homestead!    At Painted Fox, it is our mission to offer you an unbeatable selection of home treasures at incredible prices.  


They sent me a few cute products to review, but their inventory changes constantly as they hunt down bargains and treasures to share so be sure to visit their site and take a look!

elephant ring holder painted fox

This little elephant now sits above my kitchen sink to hold my rings while I do the dishes, and when he’s not holding rings he still looks neat perking up the window sill.


small dish with heart logo

This past weekend my girlfriends and I went to Newport, RI and stayed in a little condo above a beauty shop. The shop was kind enough to leave us each little bags of samples, so now this dish holds them all on my sink. And when the samples are used up, it can switch gears and hold my jewelry and glasses while I shower.


small blue painted plate

This plate is absolutely perfect adding a splash of color to our bar while holding wine charms and a bottle opener.


And now on to the good part- THE GIVEAWAY! Literally all you need to do is leave a comment below (about anything! tell me how you’d use these accessories, find something on their site you love and share what it is, or just say hi!).  

Make sure to enter your email address so I can get in touch with you, and you’re entered. Winner will be notified Monday July 7th. 



Homemade Lavender Lotion

Gift certificates are my favorite, easy, go-to presents for people… but I hate to just hand a card to someone without giving them something to open so I try to add a little trinket to go along with it.

For my sister-in-laws birthday a few weeks ago I went with a little jar of home made lotion, and it was so so easy. If you’ve been following along for a little bit, you know I partnered up with Stephenson Personal Care to develop DIY soap recipes- they recently asked if I wanted to give lotion making a try and I was allllll over it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

home made lotion ingredient recipe

As far as the jar goes, I used a glass jar leftover from some roasted red peppers and just painted the lid with craft paint. I think a salsa jar would work well too– anything with a wide enough opening that you could reach your hand in. It’d work with a pump too, the lotion isn’t super thick.

You can really use any scent you want, and make it any color you want. I went with lavender because I recently gave her some DIY lavender soap so I thought they’d pair well together. Then I followed the instructions on my food coloring box to color the lotion- but don’t worry, it doesn’t make your skin lavender too. 🙂


how to make home made lotion

Once it’s in the jar and colored I add just a small amount of aloe vera gel to give it a little more conditioning (especially in the summer time!) and enough lavender drops that it was even throughout but not overwhelming. You can stir with a spoon or whatever you have on hand.

easy DIY lotion

I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out a monogram for the lid and a label for the jar, and it looks so so cute. I can’t wait to make a batch for myself!!

home made DIY lotion recipe

So what do you think? What scent would you make it? I was thinking I might try lemon, but something about yellow lotion is a little… unappealing… so maybe I’ll color it blue 😉



Disclosure: I received the Stephenson’s Personal Care lotion base for free but paid for the other ingredients and created the recipe myself. And as always, this is something I’d love doing, and recommend to you, with or without the partnership.

Built In Shoe Organization

My closet is in a constant state of disrepair, I have A LOT of clothes. And shoes. And purses. And honestly, if they don’t have an easily accessible place to go they’re going to end up either in the laundry basket forever or on the floor. I’m sorry, clothes. I can’t help it.

closet before

The plastic draws are a real hassle to tuck in all the way, and they leave my shoes in a jumble, and I can’t see them all. The wire shelves all the way to the right are awful because I have a lot of stilettos and they fall through, so I added a rag towel and now the cats push off the shoes to nap there. No good. So I decided to turn this little section of my closet into an organized shoe heaven.

Yesterday the ReStore had old wood shelves for $1 each, so I bought three (and only ended up needing 1.5!). I used my jigsaw to cut them down both length and width wise so they’d fit in the wasted space on the righthand side of my closet (a circular saw would have been better but I don’t have one). Then, I took the scrap wood from cutting down the newel posts on my salvaged endtables and used my miter saw to chop them into braces.

in process closet update

A laser level and some painters tape helped me figure out the spacing for my shelves, and the impact driver was awesome for pilot holes and screwing everything into the walls. I tested for studs but there were none, so I just used some long heavy duty screws…. these shelves aren’t holding more then 5 pounds of weight so I’m not too worried about it.

Since I had to cut the wood I bought width wise, I realized that in addition to shelves I would have enough wood to make some ledges for my heels as well.

built in shoe organization

The shelves have a brace on either side with the shelf on top and caulk along the back and they’re not going anywhere. The ledges each have 3 screws to hold them into the wall and they’re on there firmly as well. Then I’ve got one little green container for my Old Navy flip flops and one of the plastic draws to corral my flats and nicer sandals.

I could realllly used one more shelf so I don’t have to pile my wedges, but it would have taken away from clothes storage so that’s a no go.

easy DIY built in closet

One day I’ll clear out the whole closet and give it a fresh coat of paint, but that seems more like a dreary winter day project you know? This only took about 2 hours, I made all the cuts outside so I didn’t have to sweep up loads of sawdust and then organized it all right away.

I am IN LOVE with those shoe ledges, I’m so glad they worked out!

easy DIY shoe ledges

Now, in addition to painting, I need to continue working on replacing hangers (death to plastic hangers!) and pick up some cute cloth or woven baskets to replace the plastic ones on the floor… but those things will come in time. I have more important things to spend my money on right now.

State of Me

My friend Ashlie at Simple Mama in Massachusetts posted today in response to a journal prompt, and I really liked the idea (perhaps because I require all my students to respond to journal prompts throughout the semester? haha),  so I thought I’d respond too.

The prompt is from Danielle from Sometimes Sweet and says: 

This week, write a “State of Me” address. Write about how you’re really doing- what you’ve been thinking, what you’ve been up to. What have you accomplished lately? Where is there room for growth? Where are you right now in life and where are you headed? Current joys, currents sadness…write it all out. Discuss the current state of YOU. 


I have a LOT to say about this,  I’ve been really working on me a lot and now that summer’s here I’m working on me even more.

live create tell the story


I’ve been getting allergy shots since January. Sometimes I feel like nothing at all is changed, some days I feel ok. Some days I get wild reactions and feel like death. I’m sticking with it though, for at least a year, and then we’ll see. My allergies are so severe that it was never going to be a quick fix, as much as I wanted it to be. I just want to snuggle all the dogs and cats in the world and still be able to breathe. I’d also like to maybe be able to mow the lawn someday. Without an epi pen.

don't give up

I have made a huge and conscious effort to be more deliberate about what I put in my body. This is partly because of my allergies and partly because I’ve gained like 20 pounds in two years (UGH! WHY!). I have gotten reallllly into going to the local farms and eating what’s in season, as well as choosing organic foods at the market whenever possible (expect some recipe collaborations posts soon!). I also downloaded the MyFitnessPal app for my phone so I can force myself to look at what I am eating and how much I am sitting around. I’m not interested in a wild diet and fast radical signs of change, I’m looking for steady improvement that can become a lifestyle. It’s hard. I basically love eating and tend to disregard whether or not I’m actually hungry.


Life is, despite the previous 2 bullet points of frustration, really good right now. In fact, I would argue that this period in my life will end up being one of my favorites and best. I have been “finished” with my formal education for years and feel confident I’m on the right career path, I’m in a positive and healthy marriage with the best man I know, I have a house that I love, I have long term friends that are kind and generous, and I have figured out my hobbies. Woah. That’s a lot of good stuff. I am as at peace as I can be with the fact that within the next 5-10 years I’m going to lose loved ones, welcome new loved ones into the world, move to a new house in an undetermined location, and at several points have panic attacks about my finances. So I better soak up all this awesome while I can.


And on a much simpler note, summer is bringing some real good times:

  • I’m headed to the Grossology exhibit at the Museum of Science this weekend
  • I’m headed to Newport, RI next weekend with some super fun girl friends
  • We have some really fun, relaxed weddings on the docket
  • We are pretty much always ready for a BBQ
  • We are taking my nephew for 2-3 days next month and I have SO MANY fun things planned


So now why don’t you join in… how are you doing? 🙂


Easy DIY Compost Solution

In my last post about my garden I mentioned that I’ve been mulling over compost ideas and locations, and I took a quick poll on Facebook to get some input as well. This past weekend I put together a solution, for free (my favorite!) and so far it’s working out great.

Like my garden, it’s not the most glamorous set up… but I mean, it’s basically a giant bin of decomposing trash so how pretty is it going to get:

diy compost bin

About a year ago my city changed their trash management system and everyone got new bins so our old trash cans were sort of just hanging out next to our shed. I decided to use the one without a cover to hold our leaves and grass clippings and the one that has a cover for the actual compost. It’s just the two of us so we’re not creating a huge amount of compost- lots of tea, fruit/vegetable scraps, and old bread. I’ve also read that you can add nail clippings, pet fur, shredded toilet paper rolls, and cotton balls so I’ll add those in slowly as well. Here’s a handy printable I found:

I surrounded the buckets with some cement blocks we already had on hand because we get some pretty rough weather and I wanted to make sure they weren’t going to tip over at any point, and I put the whole set up right next to the garden so it’ll be nearby when I set up the garden next year. The metal gate around it is, I think, an old dog pen. I found it in the shed when we moved in and thought it’d be good to keep the dog and any kids that come over from investigating too closely.

home made compost bin

For ventilation, I used my power drill with a spade bit to randomly drill holes all over the bucket- especially the bottom because you want worms and little bugs to be able to get up in there and do their work. This was super easy and took about 15 minutes. There’s a lot of different opinions about how often to stir it- for the first few days I stirred it everyday just to make sure it was mixed and now I’m going to start just once every week or two. That’s what the giant branch in between the two buckets is for. 🙂

We’ve got what we jokingly call the “slop bucket system” going to add compost each day. Basically, we put all the scraps in a metal bucket throughout the day (which we keep in the fridge so there’s no odor in the house and the cats can’t get to it), then at night when I water the garden I dump the bucket and leave it outside the door until morning.

So far so good, and no animals have gotten in that I know of! I’m excited to see how this comes together throughout the year, and how it’ll help my garden next year. Isn’t it such a bummer that everything you do outside takes so long before you see results?

But speaking of results… look! Tiny little tomatoes are happening!



If you have any tips/recommendations for composting, please share them in the comments!



My Ugly Awesome Garden

This garden is not going to make it to Pinterest. But I am so so excited about it. Two years ago I eased into gardening with oregano, parsley, and basil. Last year I added 2 kinds of mint and chives to the mix. This year I went big league with some vegetables

Half the garden is potted and half is planted.

small space backyard garden


In the ground:

  • Sage (year 1)
  • Spearmint (year 2)
  • Oregano (year 3)
  • Chocolate mint (year 2)
  • Chives (year 2, in the ground year 1)
  • Tomatoes (year 1)
  • Cucumbers (year 1)
  • Blueberry bush (year 1, won’t yield until next year because it’s a transplant from a friend)

In pots:

  • Red bell peppers
  • Hot peppers
  • Basil (not pictured- I keep it on the front steps because it’s so finicky)

diy garden marker

The potted plants are layered as so: rocks (for drainage), then leaves/lawn pick up (compost-y), then sand, then soil. They’re all staked and tied up with embroidery floss because that’s what I had on hand.

Marigolds will help keep bugs away, and the will chives too (I don’t even eat chives but they’re awesome at repelling bugs, I keep some in a pot near the basil as well). I also added broken up egg shells on top of the soil so the crawling bugs will stay away, they don’t like the feel of it.

Everything got a good meal of Miracle Gro, which I’ve never used before but I heard such good things I thought I’d give it a try. It seemed to work on the herbs almost instantly, and the peppers have grown a lot in just one week too. My cucumbers haven’t really started to climb yet, but I’m hopeful- they look healthy.

The cement pavers were just pulled up from another area of the yard and I use them as stepping stones for the garden and to keep the potted plants on, and the fences are from Home Depot and KMart (so

backyard garden for beginners



I’m working up some plans to add a compost near the garden and hopefully that’ll go in next week. I know we’ve got possums and skunks because I’ve seen them, and I assume we have raccoons too so I just want to work up an inexpensive solution that’ll be easy to maintain and won’t attract critters. I’m thinking one barrel (that we already have on hand) full of leaves and another next to it for the actual compost, that way as soon as we add food I can scoop some leaves on top and keep odors and appeal down. What do you think? Any compost tips?

Salvaged Windows into End Tables

I am so so excited about this project, and it isn’t even for me. My friend Beth has a window hoarding problem (like I have a chair hoarding problem… ahem). She can’t drive by one without screeching to a stop and throwing them in the trunk. And she hit the jackpot with these two old windows. repurposed windows   She nabbed these two quarter circle windows off the side of the road and they were a bit worse for the wear so I brainstormed a bit for her on how to make them AMAZING. image First, I washed the street filth off them. Then, I primed them with a mold and mildew resistant primer (leftover from my bathroom makeover) just to be extra careful. Next, I picked up newel posts at the Habitat Restore… for 50 cents each. FIFTY CENTS EACH. I used my miter saw to cut them to the correct height, which meant trimming off a bit from either end to preserve the shape in the middle. To figure out the height I just measured my own end tables (22 inches) and mimicked that. The legs were then attached with wood glue and wood screws (2 screws per leg, using an impact driver). repurposed windows  Once everything was attached, I sanded and sanded to make sure it was smooth, then added one more coat of primer to the whole thing. No need to tape off the window glass, you can just scrape paint off with a razor. I did just one coat of pure white paint, then I glazed them black to get them looking antique-y again. My technique with glaze is to add it slowly and in multiple layers- it’s a lot easier to go over everything again then it is to try to get rid of a glaze overload. glazed end table     They’re a little tacky still, but I’m thinking a coat or two of polycrylic just to seal them up and they’ll be done! I absolutely love these things and can’t wait to see how they look in Beth’s house. reclaimed upcycled window turned to end table These end tables are definitely oversized but will look great flanking her couch and armchair, or even paired together as a sideboard to her dining set.. I added some furniture pads I had on hand to the bottom so they can slide around without scratching up the floors.

Since I already had the paint and tools on hand, both end tables combined cost under $5. Can you even believe it? salvaged mirror turned end tableOh, and if you’re interested you can read about the Morroccan stencil wall here (done with a Sharpie paint pen!) and the sunburst mirror here (made out of wood shims!).