An Org-travaganza

I’ve been neglectful.  Well, really only of the blog… I’ve been totally rocking it in life and at work!  Mike, Phoebe and I went camping this weekend with his friends and their two insanely smart kids, while Gus went to play with his friends at Camp Bow Wow (he was on his best behavior there, unlike last time!).  It was so nice to have some time to de-stress, which is exactly what I did amongst all the corn.  Seriously, there was corn for miles!

photo-6And because I’ve been so busy this week at my new job, I’ve missed blogging.  So I’m jumping in with both feet this weekend to tackle a huge organization project… an org-travaganza, if you will.  But first, let me introduce you to the project at hand.  My craft room/closet.  My Achilles heel…

Please don’t judge me on the sheer craziness happening in this room.  I figured that cleaning before taking pictures and a video would constitute cheating.  So I snapped the room as/is.  Since I’ve kept this shame of mine hidden for so long, you might only recognize the dresser.  If you can’t watch the video above, just take a quick gander at the train wreck in picture form below:

What we have here is a catch-all room.  As in, anything that looks like it could be mine and doesn’t have a home just gets thrown in.  But it never gets viewed by friends, since it’s upstairs and the door is always kept closed.  So why bother fixing it up?  Well, it’s reached the point where it’s making me absolutely crazy.  I have no real designated place in the house to do schoolwork, craft/sewing projects, or to just get ready for the day.  And since we’ll be staying in the good ol’ Greater Akron area for the long weekend, now seems like the perfect time to get started!

I will update you this weekend on everything that goes down.  Whether I post 5 times a day, 1 time a day, or only once this weekend is still to be determined… I predict it’ll be based on how crazy this project ends up making me.  But either way, the big reveal will be on Monday, and I personally cannot wait to see how it’s going to turn out!

Anyone out there tackling organization projects this weekend?  I want to see some pics (bonus points if your “before” pictures are even more disorganized than mine!)!

Xo, Laura

Seriously, How Great Are Fridays?!

Can’t you just feel the happiness in the air today?!  Fridays are always amazing, but this Friday is particularly fantastic, as I have just transitioned into a new role at work, which I think will fit me like a glove.  And I get the whole weekend to celebrate with the love of my life! :-)

I’ve also just won this beautiful apron made by Katherine of Pillows A-La-Mode!

Can you believe that she sewed it on her own using a pattern from One-Yard Wonders??  And she did it with a recycled vintage dress, which she was able to transform into 5 amazingly crafty projects!

She took fabric from this:

…to all this!


The woman is so gifted it’s unbelievable!  Check out details on how she did it over on her blog.

I’m so happy the apron is now mine! :-)

Tell me in the comments what you are happy about this beautiful Friday!

Xo, Laura

P & B (No Jelly)

image (42) I am going to be quite honest… I am still stumped as to how to make this kitchen look decent (you can see me slowly improving it here, here, and here).  But in the meantime, I’ve decided to make it at least look like OURS.  So when I found some cardboard letters for 30% off at Hobby Lobby ($1.73 each), I decided to take the letters for a kitchen test spin.  In the above picture, you can see how great they look above the sink.  And in the below picture, you can see how great they look on their own! photo (11) Wanna know how I did it?  Follow along as I work on the ampersand! image (43) Step 1: Gather your materials.  For this project, you will need some cardboard letters, scrapbook paper, scissors, Mod Podge glue, and a brush for application.  I poured my glue into a bowl (I know, I know… not exactly eco-friendly, but it made clean-up so easy!).

Step 2 (OPTIONAL): Make sure you have a little dog on your lap to help with the project. image (45)Step 3: Apply a thin coat of glue to the largest flat surface on the cardboard letter.  Place the sheet of scrapbook paper on top and smooth in place. image (44) Step 4: This is the hard part.  And also the most slow-going.  You need to cut the paper in order to fold it down over the sides.  This is much easier if you’re working on a shape with straight edges, like L or E.  But with rounded edges, you just have to go slowly and make sure you smooth the sides out as carefully as possible.  With the ampersand, I found it easiest to cut the paper in about 1 inch increments, lay down some glue, and fold it over into place.  You’ll need to do the same with any holes (in letters such as P or B), and this may even involve adding separate scraps of paper.  For this reason, I was happy I chose a pattern that doesn’t really need to match up perfectly (this would be much more difficult with patterns like polka dots or stripes). image (39) Step 5: Once you’ve covered up the front, sides, and any holes with scrapbook paper, it’s your decision whether or not you want to completely Mod Podge over the whole she-bang (for instance, if you want it to be glossy).  I decided to skip this step, and simply left the letters out for 2 hours to dry. Step 6: Turn the dry letters over and put 3M velcro strips on the back. image (40) You can see in the above picture that I overlapped the scrapbook paper around to the back in order to leave the edges looking clean and smooth.

Step 7: Hang them in place, and you’re all set! image (41)But why did I chose ‘P’ and ‘B’?  They’re the initials of both mine and Mike’s last names.

And why did I decide to put something above the sink?  First of all, the wide-open strip is practically begging for some kind of decoration.  But more practically, SOMETHING had to go there, since there was a random 2-prong outlet embedded awkwardly right above the sink. image (38) The landlords had placed an ugly, awkward, non-working clock to cover up the outlet.  Even though its redness matched our tomato of a kitchen, the clock wasn’t working for me.  Take a look for yourself at how dingy and blah it is:

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Needless to say, it had to go.  And I am so much happier with the space above the sink now!  What do you think?

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Xo, Laura

How the Disorderly Became Orderly

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I love organization.

The last time I was home visiting my parents in Connecticut, they loaded up my car with things that no longer fit with their home’s decor.  I was lucky enough to snag a mail organizer that my mom bought at TJMaxx for $39.99 many years ago.  Mike mounted it on the wall in kitchen, before the pass-through to the living room, and there it remained in all it’s disorderly glory for about a month. photo (6)I had no idea how to organize this… I kept shifting and re-ordering the mail in the slots, but everything looked too messy.  And then Mike made a simple suggestion that we give some order to the slots by putting like with like (top slot for Mike’s mail, 2nd slot for bills, 3rd and 4th slots for whatever I wished). I was in Target for a hot minute before I spotted some adorable file folders in the Dollar Spot.  At 3 folders for $1, they couldn’t be more of a steal! image (18) And they even look cute turned inside out. image (19)I wanted a greater sense of cohesion in the mail slots, so I alternated between the herringbone pattern, and dark gray.  About 4 magazines or a million bills can fit inside one while still maintaining the shape.  The insides of all 4 of my files are lime green, so I cut out 4 “labels” using a 5th lime green file.  They slid down into place, and suddenly all was right with the world! image (20)But these bad boys still needed to actually be identified.  The folders are glossy, so I used a dry erase marker on the makeshift labels, hoping that if the contents of a slot changed, we could easily adjust the label.  And I was right, it works perfect! image (17)   image (21)No more unsightly wrinkled mail!  Hello, glorious organization!

Xo, Laura


Laura’s Stairway to Heaven

Some exciting stuff went down around here today:

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But to start with, times are hard around here without Mike.  Gus and Phoebe have been breaking the rules left and right.  Actually, Gus was extremely helpful last night, when he woke Phoebe and I up at 4 am to notify us that the Wall Street Journal delivery man was actually a Dexter-style serial killer.  I may or may not have been extremely grouchy.

But I DID get to FaceTime with my sweetheart tonight!  Sometimes he talks, but most of the time I talk:

And in other exciting news, I finally took care of our boring stair situation.

Natural wood is beautiful, but too much can be too boring.  And I LOVE the way that painted stairs look:

(More examples can be seen on BHG, Real SimplePickleePainted Therapy and Bees Knees Bungalow.)

I wanted to replicate the look of painted stairs, but I needed it to be renter friendly…. especially since our landlord’s ONE inflexible mandate was that we not touch ANY of the real wood (fake wood paneling excluded) in the house.  I knew that contact paper was the solution.

The only problem I faced was what color/pattern of contact paper to use.  I’ll save you the soul searching I went through to arrive at a decision, but ultimately I chose to go with plain white contact paper.  I decided against any colors or patterns because I worried they would detract from everything going on in the living room and kitchen, two rooms visible from the stairs.  And actually, I initially decided to go with beige contact paper to match our antique white walls.  But on second glance, the color was too far off to actually be pulled off.  White has always been the classic color for painted stairs, so I figured it would work for us.

I set to work with a roll of white contact paper purchased for a little under $8 at Lowe’s, a pair of scissors, and an exacto knife.  The look is extremely easy to replicate, since all you need to do is measure the stair, cut the paper, line it up, and pop it in place!  Because the contact paper is fully removable, you can lift it back up to smooth out any bumps.  Or you can simply take the easy way out and piece any air bubbles with a needle, then smooth the spot over.

Occasionally you may mess up and cut a piece that’s much too short without knowing quite how you did it (was it that glass of wine?).

image (14)But you can just peel it off and start anew.  Eventually, you end up with the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen: a 100% renter-friendly, faux painted staircase!

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?

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?



Mad About You

Somehow I ended up the luckiest girl in the world.  I get to spend every day with the love of my life; my best friend, Mike.  He’s very adored by me and the pooches, and that love carries over into our home.

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Even though our house is still too rough-looking to give you a video tour (hopefully coming soon!), we’re beginning to fill the place up with fun and sweet momentos.  A perfect case in point is our TV console: we have absolutely no idea where we should put the TV, since the living/dining/kitchen is all too open.  So it just sits awkwardly in a tiny space between the living room and the dining room.

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See how close that leather couch is to the TV?  It definitely makes for difficult viewing!  But that console is holding some serious love!

In the back right corner is the Himalayan Salt Lamp that Mike bought me for our 6-month anniversary.  I’d been wanting one for a while since I had read that they improve the air quality in your home.  And look how beautiful this lamp is, to boot!  There are a whole bunch for sale at varying prices on the internet, but I think Amazon carries them pretty reasonably at around $24.

You might also notice our beaver skull.  I spotted that this past weekend at a sidewalk sale in the town of Chassell, up in the Keweenaw Peninsula, and just knew I had to have it.  I have a future project in mind, but for now, our $15 head is resting on top of two books.  I found “Blind Date” for $1 in an antique store in the Keweenaw, and knew it was perfect for our collection, since Mike and I met on a blind date of sorts.  I found “Laura” for $3, and am still looking for a book called “Mike” to complete our collection.

And then you have our Bete Grise jar.  It’s just a random jar that I picked up for $5 at an antique store called The Yard Sale, in Laurium, MI.  I stuffed it with anything pretty that I found while wandering the beach in Bete Grise, which is famous for its Singing Sands.  The sticks, pink rock, and rock-shaped wood chunks have no particular meaning; they are just from a special place.

For now, I’ve placed them on the ever-evolving fireplace mantle, next to a big picture of the Mendota Lighthouse in Bete Grise.  You can tell that nothing on the rock mantle is set in stone (pun intended!), since there’s an abundance of random frames sporting anything from birds cut from a 2013 calendar to a 5-year old Laura in a hammock to one that is completely empty.

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So there you have it.  Decorating love.  <3