I had an incredibly productive afternoon despite Mike being away!

I like to get my cooking/baking done when Mike is away, so that I have ready-made meals to pull out of the fridge when I’d rather spend time with him than cook (which is pretty much always…).  Up today was banana bread.  I used a recipe I’d found online, but modified it a scooch, since I used frozen bananas I’d thrown in the freezer sometime last month, Smart Balance Light instead of butter, Splenda instead of sugar, and 2.5 teaspoons baking powder since I was out of baking soda.  It came out absolutely delicious, and I had an extremely difficult time putting it away to share with Mike!

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While the bread was baking, I started a few projects around the house.  And I worked hard to get all of the items from my old apartment and everything from Mike’s childhood home incorporated into our home together.  We were so lucky to get such amazing home goods from his parents!  Some of them include: a laundry hamper, a medley of frames, a workbench with circular saw, and new storage containers for my yarn.

But my favorites include a set of wicker lawn furniture,

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two wicker baskets for under-the-bed blanket storage,

image (10)and a beautiful cluster of succulents!

image (7)Phoebe was very opinionated about certain items.  She obviously prefers the lawn gnome

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Look at her running to her gnome love!

And is pretty upset that I switched out “her” body pillow at the foot of the bed

image (8)for two vintage vanity stools.

image (9)The stools are in rough shape at the moment, with scuffed wood based, wobbly gold feet, and worn/stained velvet cushion.  They need to be painted and reupholstered… but in the meantime, they look pretty darling with a $5 Ikea faux sheepskin throw on them.

What are some of your favorite family hand-me-downs?


Spiders, Not Poop, and Furniture

Good morning!  I’m baaaack!

My over-a-week-long hiatus was part of my quest to enjoy the summer more with my incredibly handsome boyfriend (who just left for a business trip this morning), and our little sweeties (one of which unfortunately has canine influenza at the moment).  Yesterday we went on a 5-mile bike ride and 6-mile kayak trip on the Tuscarawas River in Canal Fulton, Ohio.  It was so beautiful and peaceful.

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I joked to Mike that all he had to do to get me to stop talking was to put me in a kayak or on a bike… so I’m getting a bike!  I’m looking to see which cruiser I like best (Jamis, Torker, Schwinn?).  Any of you have any recommendations?

Oh, and I can’t help but show you this picture of the world’s biggest spider, discovered yesterday while kayaking.  If you’re squeamish about spiders, I suggest looking away now, cause this bad boy was about 3.5 inches in diameter!

imageOne last gross picture and then I promise I’ll be done with the rambling.  This is a collection of mushrooms found in our yard yesterday… and it almost looks like dog poo.  I have searched long and hard online, but cannot find the name of these mushrooms and whether they are poisonous.  Do you happen to know?

Not poop!

Not poop!

But on to the important stuff.  While Mike and I haven’t been as busy with the house this past week as we should have been, we have been super productive.  My old apartment is officially cleared out and ready for my lease to end mid-August.  In addition, Mike’s childhood home was sold this weekend, and we helped clean that out.  We made off with a ton of amazing hand-me-downs from his parents, and are slowly working them into our decor.  I will post more on that tonight.

Also, Mike has been hard at work refinishing our dining room table, which was stained a little too red for me.  While Mike is away on business this week, the table will be taking some time out to dry and get ready for sealing.  Look what an expert refinisher this guy is!

photoAmidst all the moving and refinishing, Mike managed to find some time to remove the TV and sound equipment from a console (we think it’s circa 1950-1970?) we bought on craigslist for $20.  My task is refinishing this bad boy:

image (2)Looks like the dogs and I have a busy week ahead!  Want to keep us company while Mike is gone?

Ruly Jewelry

My earring situation went from unruly earlier today to totally ruly tonight.

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Earlier today you heard about my failure of an earring wrangling system.  Well, tonight I remedied that with a cardboard box, cork board, hot glue, and tape.

Basically,  I started with a huge piece of metal sheeting.

Laura & Metal Sheet LoveBut I cut about 1/3 of it off to create this flop of a masterpiece:

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So tonight I was faced with the choice of either using the tiny piece of metal I had left over from earlier today, OR using the other part of the sheeting, which was much bigger.  I went with the latter.  This meant that I couldn’t use the same frame.  But I unfortunately didn’t have one on hand that would work… so I made one out of a cardboard box left over from a recent dress order.

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I started by cutting the outside flaps off, and then I folded them in half to cut evenly along that line.  I continued this process until I had 6 evenly sized pieces.  1 each for the top and the bottom of the frame, and 2 for each of the sides.  In order to make sure these were secured properly to the metal, I used a hot glue gun as well as packing tape.

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Here is my manly version of Vanna White modeling the new handmade frame against the rejected one (you can really notice the size difference in pieces):

Hot glue dries almost immediately, so I set to work cutting out pieces of cork.  I used fairly thin rolled cork that I have had forever.  I used it most recently on a map project for Mike.  It’s super easy to cut, but can also rip if you’re not carefeul… you just have to be sure to go slow and be steady.  I cut 4 evenly sized pieces that were so long they overlapped on the edges.  I wanted this overlap so that the frame would look bigger than it actually is, but also so that there was some room for error in case an edge ripped or needed to be evened out.  When all of the pieces were cut and laid out, I carefully attached them with hot glue.  Then I had Mike hold it up to make sure all of the sides were even and neat.

It looked great, so I attached 3M strips on the back.  As always, I cut bigger 3M strips in half to save money, but then I worried that the frame wasn’t thick enough to lay flat on the wall.  So I made sure there were 4 pieces to hold it on the wall (two 3M strips cut in half).

image (46)And then I hung it up!  I think it looks SO much better, but the best part is that it holds studs (in the frame) just as easily as dangly earrings!

Unruly Jewelry

This week has been insanely busy.  So busy that we have to keep farming out the dogs to doggie day camp, which they love.  Every night, Gus is so tired that he can barely keep himself from falling off the couch.

photoSince we’ve been so busy, today’s posts are going to be a little different.  This morning’s is all about how DIY projects can sometimes fail… and tonight’s post will be all about how I rectified the situation.  I guess these posts can be considered a metaphor for life – sometimes things don’t go as planned, but you have to take those lemons and make them into lemonade!  Or at least, that’s the situation with my earring storage.

My jewelry has always been out of control.  As in, constantly talking back, breaking curfew, and just generally being a hot mess.    I have to say that I at least TRIED to corral everything together by storing earrings in bowls, drawers, hanging them on ribbon… I even tried to use an old cheese grater, similar to this post that I found on Pinterest.

cheese grater

But no method was attractive and easy enough for me to maintain.  Until I saw this beautiful metal sheet for sale for $10.  And then I started brainstorming how it could hold my earrings.Laura & Metal Sheet Love

I thought it would look amazing hung behind an ornate frame I’d taken off a mirror (to use for another project).  I planned on spray painting the frame a fun color.

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But unfortunately, the metal sheet was a tiny bit too narrow for the frame.

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Luckily, I had a piece of plain white cardboard left over from one of my other frames.  You know, the white piece you can put between your picture and the glass?  It seemed like it would be perfect!


The metal was surprisingly easy to cut with plain old scissors.  I trimmed it up and set it aside.  In the meantime, I turned my attention to the frame.

I love working with washi tape, as illustrated by my pencil-beautification project.  I’d purchased this beauty at Michael’s awhile back, and was so excited to use it, since it would coordinate perfectly with my green pencils without being too matchy-matchy.

See how pretty it is?

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See how well the color matches the green pencils?

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It took me about 10 minutes to tape up the frame.  In order to get neat edges, I made sure to always leave tape overlapping the edges, and then I cut a bit off to create a smooth corner.

Eventually I was left with a totally professional looking frame.

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I flipped it over and attached the metal sheet with clear packing tape.  I used a generous amount so that it would lay flat.  You don’t need to worry about the fact that the green washi tape looks messy on the back; it won’t show in the finished product.

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I wanted to hang it on the wall, so I cut some 3M strips in half, and attached them.  As I explained in this post, I like to cut them in half for light-weight frames in order to save money!

And then it was time for wall hanging!

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At this point, I started to slightly panic.  It’s too busy!  It’s too flimsy-looking!  But I thought maybe hanging some earrings would pull it all together.

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Nope.  Still too crazy.  I mean, what was I thinking?

And it’s not just the busy, clashing patterns.  Where do I hang the post earrings?  Major fail.

…But all is not lost!  Tune in tonight to see how I remedy the situation!  Leave your guesses in the comments :-)



Generous Bloggers

There are a lot of generous bloggers hosting giveaways at the moment that I think you should enter!

  1. Stencil Giveaway – In celebration of their newest sponsor, Olive Leaf Stencils, the blog House on the Way is hosting a stencil giveaway.  All of the stencils are fantastic, and some of my favorites include damasks, flowers, and an octopus.
  2. KOHLER Sensate Touchless Kitchen Faucet – The people at Young House Love are giving away an amazing faucet perfect for germaphobes and clean freaks everywhere!  Seriously though, who wouldn’t love this sleek, easy-to-install kitchen add-in?  It’s gorgeous!aab53058_sensate_story_741x381
  3. Hair ties and a headband from 6 Degrees Hair Ties – Okay, so this one has nothing to do with the home, but come on, how cute are these hair ties from 6 Degrees?  Written in Fashion is giving away a bunch of handy yet adorable hair ties in honor of Jaclyn’s birthday.  Wouldn’t you love to win them!?

  4. Dream catcher – Design Love Fest and Torchlight Jewelry are teaming up to give away a gorgeous dream catcher.  Aren’t these the best things you’ve ever seen??  Hurry and enter before it closes later today!

Seen any other giveaways you’d love to share with me and the Makeshift Living readers?  Please share in the comments below so we can all have a happy humpday! :-)



Spicing Things Up

The kitchen may still need some organizing, but the spices are all set!  Tucked away safe in this metal card catalog, they are as good as gold.

(Please ignore the ugly brown kitchen cabinets. They definitely need a coat of paint… we’re just waiting on the landlord’s approval!)

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How’d I fit all them spices in, you ask?  Good question!

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I bought a twelve-pack of 4-oz. quilted canning jars and just dumped the contents of one spice container in a jar, screwed on the lid, and then wrote on the top in permanent marker.  I ended up with a beautiful array of colorful spices!

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In retrospect, permanent marker was definitely not the best idea, since they don’t wash off easily.  So when a spice runs out (probably in about 6 months to a year, except for essentials like curry and garlic powder), I’ll just have to replace it with the same thing, OR put on one of these snazzy Avery labels I found in my collection of office products.

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No, I’m not proud of the fact that I bought so many office supplies at the start of grad school last year that I have no recollection of what I even purchased.

The best thing about these card catalogs is that the back is expandable.  That means I can buy another 12 pack of mini jars and almost all of the jars will fit in the drawers.  At the moment, I’ve shortened the drawer depth so that the spice jars fit nice and snug without shifting around.

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The entire card catalog also fits pretty perfectly on top of the microwave and underneath the kitchen cabinets.  It’s like it was meant to be.  All the spices I need available whenever I want them!

A few notes about this project… I had a LOT of help.  First, I didn’t come up with this idea on my own.  I saw the exact same type of metal-card-cabinet-used-as-spice-holder on Young House Love, and oooh boy do I love organizational projects!    So I started scouring craigslist for the perfect one, and was just over the moon excited when Joe from Play-Haus Design offered to help me out!  He has the most amazing studio in Cleveland where he takes wood and metal and turns the combo into the sleekest home furnishings imaginable!

I’d love to poke around his studio and see what else I can find – everything he makes and sells maintains the perfect balance of industrial qualities while still being warm, homey, and inviting!   You can follow his blog here or find him on Twitter here.



Broken Pencils Are Pointless

These pencils aren’t actually broken… And even though they aren’t sharpened, they’re not pointless!  They make an excellent office accent piece!

Basically, this project was started because I can’t sit still ever, and I therefore always need projects to do while watching TV.  I knew it was project fate when the Barnes & Noble on campus was having a 50% off sale on pencils.

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I grabbed two packs for a little over $1 total.  Using washi tape that I had laying around (if you don’t have any at home, you can usually find some at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s for around $1.50), I wrapped it around each pencil, starting near the eraser and working my way down.  The washi tape is easy to rip, and you can get a close edge by using a pair of scissors or a knife.  I wrapped 10 green, and 10 blue.

If the above photos confuse you a little bit, allow me to explain: the room was very dark when I tried to take photos.  And I was feeling very lazy.  So the photos are terrible.  My apologies!

Also, the green washi tape was snapped after I’d already finished the pencil project… And the blue one could  not be photographed since it was already in Gus’ belly.  Yup, he chewed up about half a roll of blue washi tape.  Didn’t seem to bother him one bit!  For the record, he also enjoys 3M velcro strips.  And he’s tried to go for the beaver skull quite a few times.  The boy will chew on anything.

Anyway, keep wrapping the washi tape around each pencil.  It’s fine if it overlaps.  And it’s also fine if some yellow pencil shows through.  It’s a very forgiving project.  And after all, they’re only pencils!

So after all 20 pencils were complete, I needed a vessel to put them in.  I found the perfect one, too!  A Classico pasta sauce jar, with the label removed.

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You might remember that I used the same type of jar (spray painted gray) as a vase back in this post.


But alas, it was too tall.  It kept the pencils corralled too tightly together.  So I used an old canning jar:

image (28)It’s perfect!

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Hang Ten!

This week we finally got some stuff hung on the living room walls… ten things, in fact!

1, 2, & 3. In the left corner of the living room, I’ve hung three things that I’m calling mirror bursts.  I bought them over a year ago at Value City Furniture for about $20 a pop, and they add a nice burst of reflective light to the darkest corner in the room.  Here a closeup:


4, 5, 6, 7, & 8. On the other side of the couch on the same wall, I’ve hung a fun little collection of frames.

The green frame was purchased at Target around Christmas for $7, and the rest came from Ikea.  Everything in this quintuplet has meaning.  The two lovebirds, as well as the blue picture to its left are from a Charley Harper 2013 calendar that I bought on  vacation in the Keweenaw Peninsula for $4.  It was on clearance for 50% off!


The two pieces of copper were discovered in the gift shop of the Delaware Copper Mine, when we took a tour.  They were two separate pieces of copper that together looked totally like lower and upper Michigan.

Both of them together set us back $10, but I think it was worth it!  P.S. Here’s Mike’s selfie before our tour…


…and a shot of me down in the cavernous mine.


P.P.S. after the tour we discovered that the mine owners keep skunks as pets (don’t worry, they’ve had their stinkers removed!).  Someone else discovered this in 2008:

And I got to hold one in 2013 (please ignore the lack of focus in the first one and the lack of balance in the second one… skunk-holding was an exciting time for everyone):

Alright, back to the frames.  The beautiful vintage blue flower pattern is actually contact paper that I ripped out of the kitchen cabinets.  I thought that framing it would be a sweet way to remember this house after we’ve moved to another one.

Contact paper

Contact paper

And lastly in the quintuplet hanging, the old-timey building is actually a postcard that we got during our overnight stay at Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio.  Ghost hunting with my man made the best birthday ever!

Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio

Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio

9. Opposite the couch, at the foot of the stairs, I stuck up a map that I made for Mike.  I pretty much stole the idea from Young House Love, except that the map I chose was from 1912, and was purchased on Etsy for $13.50 including shipping.  I’ve marked out with blue pins the places we’ve traveled together, and the green pin shows where we live now.


10. On the stair landing (that still counts as the living room, right?), I hung a little heart thing I made back in May.  I’m not too crazy about it anymore, so am thinking I might re-vamp it in some way.  But until I figure out what to do, here it will stay!

And just like before, I used 3M strips (either cut in quarters for the little frames or halves for the two bigger frames).  You can read more about my hanging method here.

My favorite is the cluster of frames above the couch.  What about you?



Inspirational Ideas: My Favorite Blogs

I have been spending a lot of my free time (waiting in grocery store check-out lines, while making dinner, when a TV show is boring me…) checking up on what other people are doing online.  And I’ve come to a conclusion; there are so many great blogs out there right now!  So many, in face, that I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you.  These are the blogs, posts, and projects that have been inspiring me lately:

  1. Sugar & Cloth.  I have just recently discovered this one, and I am just absolutely in love.  Look at how adorable (and easily doable!) this Stump Side Table is!

    Photo by Sugar & Cloth

    Photo by Sugar & Cloth

  2. Camille Styles.  I must be on a wood kick today!  I think these DIY wood and leather suspended shelves would be perfect for Mike’s office.

    Photo by Camille Styles

    Photo by Camille Styles

  3. Paper & Stitch.  I think we all know how much I love succulents, as evidenced by this post.  So it might come as no surprise that I adore this craft idea from Paper & Stitch.  Check it out here and fall in love for yourself!

    Photo by Paper & Stitch

    Photo by Paper & Stitch

  4. Young House Love.  This has been my favorite blog for just about forever.  Lately, their focus has shifted toward major remodeling jobs (AKA less doable DIY projects), which I can’t really use in my everyday life.  But I do still draw inspiration from their site, most recently in their recommendation to check out Workbench Magazine’s free builder plans.  There are so many awesome DIY furniture diagrams, and they make everything easy to figure out on your own.  After spending forever trying to buy a headboard for cheap, I can’t believe how easy it would be to just make one on my own!  You can browse all of the builder plans yourself here.  And you should also check out the YHL blog when you have a chance, since they have some awesome ideas in their archives.

What are some of your favorite blogs?  Do you have your own?  If so, leave the URL in the comments section, please!  I need some more reading! :-)


His and Hers Artwork

This weekend M & L absolutely dominated the getting-stuff-done arena.  For starters, the living room is beginning to come together.  But more importantly, we made a teensy change in the bathroom that has really pulled the whole room together:

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Our homemade his and hers artwork was done late Sunday afternoon.  We spent the rest of the weekend completing a ton of projects around the house, all of which we will show to you throughout the week.  To name a few, the kitchen has been partially organized, we installed an under-the-counter trash/recycling system, the half bath has a new toilet seat to replace the puffy/padded one, and the dining room light underwent some beautification.  Like I said, lots got accomplished.  But the one I’m most excited about is our new homemade art.

It all started back in Mike’s old apartment.  The kitchen was so blah that I framed 3 teal scrapbook pages as a back splash.  I totally meant to stick them on the beige wall, but never got around to it.  Instead, I just propped them up against the wall.  And voila, a quick pop of color.  They were super low maintenance since they never fell over, were easily wiped down if any drips or splashes got on them, and they were incredibly easy to remove if I ended up needing extra counter space.  I definitely recommend them for anyone nervous about doing anything to their rental’s kitchen.  You can see two of the three leaning against the wall in this old picture from this post.  I wish there was a bigger picture of the whole kitchen, but you get the idea.


As you can see, one of the three teal sheets has a vintage-looking chicken theme on it, similar to those on my favorite bowls, just barely visible in the background here (you can read more about the succulent plants on this post):

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Here are the weird chickens side-by-side:

Anyway, we carried these three frames pieces of scrapbook paper with us to the new house, but the teal didn’t really work with our crazy red backsplash.  Somehow they ended up in the bathroom, and sat around testing out counter space.  After I decided I didn’t fully appreciate them in this space, I just sort of tucked them away behind my makeup trunk.

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But on Sunday I was feeling positively inspired.  So I grabbed the two frames holding the plain teal paper (ignoring the one with the crazy chickens), some tape adhesive, gray paint strips, and a heart punch.  Since I had all of the materials on hand from previous projects, this craft session cost us $0.  I used the heart punch (purchased at Michael’s for around $10) to make a bunch of little hearts.  Mike grabbed some and immediately glued down a pile of hearts.  It took him all of two minutes.  Maybe he’s a creative genius, or maybe he just wanted to be done with craft time, since it’s not really his jam.  But either way, I think his looks absolutely adorable!

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Mine took a lot longer to do, only because I had no idea what I was going for.  I first tried a horizontal line of hearts, but I didn’t like it.  Then I tried some kind of gradient wavy thing.  Wasn’t really working.  What I needed was a different punch besides heart.  But I didn’t have one.  So I decided to cut the hearts in half and just sort of stumbled into this gradient design.

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Pinning down the exact order of the broken hearts and gluing them down took all of 3 minutes.  The reason I went with crafter’s tape was because it requires no dry time, so the pile of hearts and the lines of broken hearts were re-framed and ready to go within minutes.  I used 3M medium-sized velcro strips on all three frames.  The strips are perfect because they cause absolutely no damage to the wall or the frames, and when you move apartments/houses, the velcro side stuck to the frame can be re-used.  I also buy the medium strips so that I can cut them in quarters, which saves a ton of money.

This was a super simple project that only took about 15 minutes total, but makes the bathroom look much more complete!

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