garage entry

My sister-in-law recently purchased a new home (super exciting) in Carlsbad, blocks from the beach… and yes, we plan to visit a lot! :)

Walking through her new home she mentioned that she’d really like a place for the kids to keep their back packs, jackets, etc… to keep things organized (and since there are 4 kiddo’s it’s even more important to keep a handle on all the “stuff”).

Her original idea was to do some sort of a locker system, built-in style, near their main entrance. The house has an alcove already there, however my sister-in-law wasn’t sure of the cost and she wants to be budget friendly until they’ve had some time to actually live in their new home.

Upon walking around the house I saw a strange yet perfect space, just off the main living room and near the door to the garage entrance. I pointed it out and mentioned that I thought the space would be perfect for her backpack/jacket/locker area. She was a little thrown at first but as I explained that most of the time they’d be coming in through the garage and not the front door, this may be a better place. In addition to that, this area may become somewhat cluttered, and that kind of mess wouldn’t be nice next to the front door.

Here is the picture she sent me of her space, in it;s current state:

Her living area and kitchen are open to this room. The garage entrance is to the right of this photo, and her dining table is going to be to the left of this photo (if that helps to give you a better idea of the space… maybe not).

And here is what I came up with for her… as a starting point for this area.

#1  - Need a bench! I advised that she could make a simple farmhouse bench and it could be the exact size of the space for a reasonable price. I especially love this plan here. Paint it or stain it… almost any color would work here. I think a stain like this would look really cool.
#2. – Chalkboard paint (I am thinking less than half the wall, want to make the hooks easily accessible to the kids).
#3.  - Trim for the hooks – Purchase 1x8x8 and get it cut to size (length of your wall, it’s only one cut and they will do it for you at Home Depot or Lowes, etc.), then paint it the same color as your baseboards (you’ll already have the paint, so that’s a freebie… whoo-hoo!). Sample piece of wood is like this.
#4.  - A picture or canvas – I think a nice, large canvas print of the entire family (or framed photo), above the hooks, nice and high, will look great!
#5.  - Hook it up! – The hooks I put up are from Room and Board, they come in multiple colors, but you could do any hooks. I think 5 is good, always nice to have an extra hook for yourself or a guest and I like to decorate in odd numbers! lol! :) These hooks are fun and will be easy for the kids to use, large and wide. See the hooks here.
#6.  - Storage – Some baskets for under the bench, maybe one for each kid. I just used plastic ones from here.   These baskets are sturdy and come in multiple colors (that could be fun for the kids), I just used white. BUT, if you do a white bench, do colored baskets.
#7. – Personalize It – Those letters are faux metal letters like these, that you can make. Or these would work too! One letter or number for each kiddo would be fun & makes it personal.
#8. Label It! – Cute chalkboard tags for the baskets. I am loving this store on Etsy with all the super cute chalkboard tags like these.
#9. – Rug – Last but not least, a runner or rug for the area, to help define the space and give the gids a clear boundry of where they need to remove their shoes. I love this rug. And I love this one too (fun colors for the kid space).
That’s my idea! :) Kel said she loves the idea and REALLY loves the space I picked out. She would have never thought to use that space in that way so I guess it always helps to have a set of fresh eyes! I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.
Total Cost for this project would be as follows:
Chalk Paint – free, already have
1x8x8 board cut to size for the hooks – $22
White paint – Free, already have
Bench (by Ana’s plans, for all materials and stain) $57.00 (10% added for misc. doesn’t include tools)
Chalkboard Tags – $24 (or we could make these for Free, but going to include them in this estimate)
Baskets (set of 4 ) – $40
Hooks (5 hooks) – $20 ( I used these hooks instead. They are functional, easy for kids and more cost effective for this project)
Rug (Kel’s space is just under 5 feet so a runner is too long, I thing this one in a 2×3) $33 (and wait for free shipping deal)
WOW!! A fun, functional space that will be used every. single. day. AND for under $200!! That’s a steal!
Make it a great day!

party decor + tissue paper

I love to throw a party but more than that, I love to plan and decorate for a party! Unfortunately I haven’t really found the time to party much lately (like in the past three years).  The last big party I threw (2010),  with DIY decorations and all (as in I went all out) was for my son’s 6th birthday. We were leaving San Diego + leaving a lot of our family and good friends so we made a big splash for our final hoorah. My son had a candy themed pool party, and it was totally awesome.

Here are photos from that super fun party:

We really went all out on this one.  I was purchasing bulk candy months ahead of time, it was fun to shop and prep for this theme. This was a really fun party to throw. In addition to candy I made tons of cool stuff: labels, belly bands, banners, lollipop invitations, candy centerpiece and tons of other super cute things.

I put pictures of Collin in plastic frames throughout the decorations, for a personal touch & I matched his invitations + pictures+ decor with coordinating striped paper. There was so much candy I couldn’t give it all away. After the party we had tons of left over treats (and that’s no good for my thighs, seeing as how I’m a major sweet tooth).

Now, on to the present and my reason for this post. ANOTHER PARTY!!! Whoop! Whoop! And this one is going to be fabulous too! My niece (who I totally adore) and my mom (greatest woman on earth) share their birthdays. This year, my niece is turning sweet 16 and my mom will be 60! So fun! My mom is a bit on the down-low about a major celebration and she isn’t into crowds and/or lots of people, but she will party on my nieces behalf. Luckily, I am the party planner for this event, I can keep it low-key + fun. Holla!

To keep everyone happy, it’s a family affair + a few of my nieces girlfriends (of course, can’t turn the b-i-g 16 without a few good friends in attendance).  I am just starting to plan this party, and I don’t have much time but I work well on a tight schedule. The big difference between planning this party and the one I did for Candy-land, I work a 50/hr week job in addition to everything else. Keeping my fingers crossed that I can still pump out something fabulous!.

My first project…. why decorations of course! I love DIY decor and cheap, affordable Dollar Store stuff that I can make fabulous. So here I go.

Tissue paper pom-pom balls (or whatever they’re called). I have seen these all over Pinterest and the web so I thought I’d give it a whirl.


Supplies:  * I used what I had. Luckily I have a ton of tissue paper (great Dollar Store buy, I always stock up on tissue paper).  Scissors, tissue paper (multi-color or all solid) and yarn (or string or wire or whatever you can find that you already have… I have a ton of yarn).

I made a purple, multi-color tissue ball first. I used 8 sheets of tissue paper, in different shades of purple.

Accordion fold the (stacked) tissue paper until you have what looks like a fan. Tie your string/yarn/wire around the middle. Tie it firm but not too tight. Will look like this.

Trim the ends. I did my first few balls with rounded edges. ** My boys ended up helping me make a few of these too, and they wanted to make the ends into points, and so we cut triangular, sharp-looking ends and those turned out super cute too!

Ever-so-gently start to separate your tissue papers. As in, lick-your-finger style. Separate each sheet on each side of the tied center. As you start to pull and separate, the ball magically begins to form. These are so awesome!! And my boys enjoyed helping too. Fun project for the whole family!

For now, we have made 6 tissue balls and I am officially our of tissue paper! We have them hanging from our pendant lights in the kitchen and they look adorable! I made some smaller ones too, I used four full sheets of tissue paper, cut them in half to have 8 smaller sheets and did the same thing to make a smaller scale ball (like the solid blue and purple one you see in the photo).

This is just the beginning of my decorating frenzy!

More to come!



favorite things – kitchen

A while back I posted on some of my favorite things (see that post here). That post was more specific to things I like for me. I thought it was fun to share those things and I love reading other blogs that also share their favorite things. SO I figured I try another favorite things post but with a twist… the kitchen edition. Not too exciting, I know, but hey… still fun!

The little things (and usually the most essential):

1. Ikea carries these nifty and colorful scrub brushes. They are only $1.49, I mean seriously, how could you go wrong here? I stock up on these bad boys (and Ikea is a 2 hour drive, one way, for me so it’s months before I can get back to get more). I use these brushes to clean dishes (duh), and I have one in every bathroom, under the sink, for cleaning. I use one for cleaning the eggs too. I just love these dang things. Plastis at Ikea (not a promo here, just my opinion and no I wasn’t paid for this but I wish I was!)

2. Mini colander in fun colors. See my colander in this kitchen post here, it’s an aqua color. I keep it on my sink and it store our fresh eggs. We use our eggs within a week so it’s not necessary to refrigerate them, hence the cute little colander I picked up here. I love the color, I love that it’s metal (easy to clean) and I love that it’s small and fits perfectly on my sink.

3. Glass storage jars. I purchased my jars at Wal-Mart and I have loved them ever since. They look beautiful and add charm to the kitchen. Someday I think it would be stellar to have a pantry full of these, similar to this awesome one here (like an old general store). See my post here about my super awesome glass container.

The Middle Sizers:

4. Pendant Lamps are SOOO great for kitchens! I love pendant lamps. Sure, I really wanted something along the lines of this or this but lets be realistic, I want a lot of things so I need to keep a budget. The Ottava pendant lamp at Ikea totally fits the bill with it’s big design on a low budget, perfect! Eventually I think I may paint these brass but I’m not entirely sure just yet. However, because of the great price I won’t be afraid to try something new with this pendant. I love it.

5. Do I need to say more? Isn’t the Kitchenaid a staple in every kitchen? Well if it isn’t this mixer it is probably one similar. I’ve had my mixer since 2000 and it’s still going strong as day one. My parents bought a white Kitchenaid for my grandmother when I was a kid, 30 years later that thing is still taking a beatin’ and my gram uses it every day.

The BIG ticket Item/Splurge:

6. When we moved into our house it was stripped bare of all the appliances, so a fridge, dishwasher and range were must haves on our list. The hubby does all the cooking and was super stoked that we had natural gas in this home. So we decided that we’d buy a professional gas range. We went cheap on other things to justify our big purchase for the range. I bought the range hood ,and painted it Aqua, at Habitat for Humanity for $5.00! Total steal. See a post on that here. We bought a stainless dishwasher at Costco for under $600 (with a rebate), awesome! And we borrowed a fridge for our first two years, which I painted in chalkboard paint…(update: we have drawer refrigerators in our kitchen now, but please do notice that those DID NOT make my favorites list).  And because I like to think of myself as somewhat thrifty, I scowered craigslist and found a professional appliances resale store in Phoenix (a 2 hour drive away). They sell appliances that were floor models from showrooms all over the city and they sell damaged and refurbished appliances too. We paid… wait for it… $1780 for our DCS 30″ professional range. It was a floor model so we scored! It was 2 years old and had never been used {swoon}. We received a 1 year warranty with it too. Such a steal! See here for our stove on sale via the web…. Lets just say we were more than happy to save nearly $3,000!

What’s in your kitchen?

Tour our kitchen

Our kitchen has gone through a lot of DIY renovation since we first moved in back in July of 2010. Here are some photos right after we bought the house, no appliances, bare bones, before we moved in.

And then there we many, many times when we were living on concrete in a total chaos area, like this:

And times where we weren’t sure how to organize/decorate the kitchen, so it looked different quite a few times, before we finally decided on what worked best. We still think we are going to make some changes, I guess the kitchen will be ever evolving!

Here are some more before shots, one of the kitchen right after we finished installing the wood floors, then a photo after we put in the pendant lights (baby steps but it all came together quite well):

And here is another shot of the living room space that is shared with the kitchen:

And FINALLY, for the good stuff…. here is what our space looks like now:

It’s come a looooong way!!

New floors, base boards, lighting, rearranging the table, new island (was a trade for photographs), paint and more paint and the list goes on!

A few m ore photo’s of the kitchen (and living room space):

Looking at these photo’s really tells me how much we’ve done. there are so many times when I feel overwhelmed and wonder if we’ll “ever be done”, then I see these photos and I feel sooooo much better.

I will post more home photo’s soon!

Have a great day!! :)




Summer entry

My home is looking summery! Here is my front entry… I’m loving it. And since these pictures were taken, we’ve planted many more flowers!

This is a very small section of our front porch. My favorite part… THE FLAMINGO! I love her and all her pink goodness! My rain boots are a close 2nd!

Here is what we walk into every day. A fresh, yellow bench with a colorful family collage on canvas. It makes me smile every time I look at it. And that’s a sneak peak at our kitchen straight ahead.

And this is another view of the front entry. Those stairs lead up to all the bedrooms. It’s quite a small space but it has multiple functions for sure. Shoes go next to the door. Kids backpacks and jackets hang over on the wall and the yellow bench is always multi-tasking too.

And one last peak of the front entry, from a lower level. Yes, I staged the shoes… those orange shoes are my most favorite shoes EVER! ANd a little teaser of the dining room there in the background.

I LOVE SUMMER! Make it a great day!


I am a color-lovin-junkie. I admit it!

Lately I have been lovin’ on Fiestaware. I currently have a stock pile of white dishes, I love my white and they have stood the test of time (they really are timeless). However, I am just dying (yes, I am dying) to get my hands on some Fiestaware. White is great but truth be told, it gets a bit boring, it’s very ‘safe’.

My “other” mother (she’s been my moms bff for 30+years and always been in my life) has collected Fiestaware for years. She has an amazing collection. Her mother collected Fiestaware too. Sandie (my “other” mother) has a lot of timeless, discontinued pieces that are just amazing.

I too want to be a collector of something, maybe it should be Fiestaware?! And it’s made in the USA, so that’s a perk too!

Here are some great ‘inspiration’ photos of the lovely, eye-catching, drool worthy Fiestaware.

source: Dillards


source: fiestafactorydirect

source: Macys

Wouldn’t this dinnerware make a great addition to my kitchen (or any kitchen for that matter? I think it would for sure! it’s lovely and the color options seem plentiful. I am really digging the new flamingo color. I also love the tangerine and turquoise.

Do you have Fiestaware? Do you love it and has it stood the test of time (not only in quality but function and design)?

And here is a great link to some background information on Fiestaware.


Jonathan Adler Love

OH MY GOSH!!! I am smitten! Jonathan Adler has a BRAND NEW collection at JC Penny! Holla! {me: jumping up and down like a 5 year old on their birthday}.

I saw most of the items in the photo above on line at the JC Penny web site: loving EVERYTHING they have!!! Honestly, Jonathan Adler is my style icon, I admire him SO, SO much. And now he has this affordable, quality line at of all places JC Penny! Awesome! The two sofa’s (one is pictured below) are freaking beautiful and so stylish and classy. I didn’t find the plates (shown in the photo above) but keeping my fingers crossed that more kitchen items will come available.

Loving the living room set up in the photo above. Especially those retro styled nesting tables with that sleek, modern sofa. I want to jump right into that photo and live in the room! Sweet and sexy… it’s soooo me!!

Here are a few things I window shopped for on the web site:

I am in LOVE (as if you didn’t notice). JC Penny is quickly becoming one of my favorite on-line shopping stops (see my JCP sofa deals here). And now that they have my man Jonathan, I am sure to be buying something VERY soon. EEK!! SO excited!!

Visit/see more here.

* PS… I wish I was paid for this, but I wasn’t and I am in no way, shape or form soliciting for JCP. These are solely my opinions… and they are pretty awesome (IMO)!! 

Kitchen Armoire

I have a black armoire. It has two matching sets of bookshelves to compliment the armoire. I saved up my money for months, back in 2008, to purchase the lovely Ballard Design armoire/computer hutch that I so desperately needed wanted. It was a beautiful thing: fitting ever so perfectly into a large open space in our house that was full of ‘open, empty space’. I loved that computer-armoire set as much as anything else (okay, maybe not as much as my kids or husband, etc… but you get the point). It was perfect for doing my photography and design work. I especially loved being able to close the doors and the mess magically went away, POOF, all clean.

Fast forward to our big move in summer of 2010…

Smaller house, not a single spot for my big, beautiful armoire and flanking bookshelves. I thought about separating the book cases but I just couldn’t bring myself in allowing them to part ways… I HAD to find somewhere for my big beast beauty, I JUST HAD TO! Game on!

Here is a hint… look and see if you can guess where I decided to put that armoire AND those book shelves:

See the **HINT** ??

I know, that is where the refrigerator is suppose to go, but hey… who needs a fridge when they have a beautiful computer armoire (with matching book shelves) that they saved their $$ for for MONTHS? Frigde, smidge! I got this covered.

And here is how I explained it to my husband:

Needless to say, he wasn’t really on board. Guess I can’t blame him.

But lets fast forward to present day… wood floors are in, cabinets are painted (and a lot of them removed), Ikea butcher block counters, a stove, etc… see how it looks now: (I am patting myself on the back right now)…

Thoughts? Well you may guess what I think… I LOVE IT! Not only does it look great and almost like it was custom built for that space, it is a MAJOR MUTI-TASKER! Double Whammy on this project! I do have to fess up however, the handy hubby did have to cut off the crown moulding on the book cases, on each side, as there was not enough room … it was a sacrifice I had to make… & glad I did!!

Some more eye candy:

These pictures really don’t do it justice… I will take some in the daylight for the kitchen reveal, and it will really show how awesome the armoire looks in this space. And… I can show you where our refrigerator is!

My favorite things about having this armoire computer hutch-turned-kitchen-cabinet…

#1. looks custom, adds style and drama to a dull space

#2. it was free (paid for years ago… see my story above)

#3. it always looks clean, just have to shut the doors

#4. all the extra space we got and being able to hide most of our kitchen appliances (mixer, toaster, microwave, etc)

#5. the little custom items we added: pencil sharpener that pulls out (what use to be the desk top for a key board), cork board, pull out shelf for the mixer.

What do you think?



Mustache anyone?

I love Valentine’s day! It’s the one holiday when I go all out for cards and t-shirts. Usually I make t-shirts and help the kiddos make some unique/fun valentine cards. Don’t know why, just find it super fun and creative to get ‘fancy’ on Valentines day.

Here are the super cute “I DIG YOU” valentine’s that we did last year. And here are the “Heartbreaker” shirts I made for the boys last year too (pssst… the template is free and you can download it right off my blog if you want to make your kiddos a heartbreaker shirt too).

This year we are doing a mustache theme! I know, this one’s been done a hundred times over and we are a little late on the trend but we still thought it would be fun to make these “I Mustache You a Question” Valentine cards.


The Kids were SOOOO excited about the mustache on a stick (which I found in a discount store near the scrapbook section for a whopping $2 – score!). I took a few snaps of the boys together and then a few more of them separately (some Valentines for school & then some for family and friends). Nothing fancy for the backdrop or anything like that. I sat them on the kitchen stools in front of the black armoire (for a dark background) and snapped away, it was super fun, they were loving it!

This is what we have so far. Aren’t they adorable? I LOVE them!!!

I used this template here for the photo strip, I liked the simple look and easy use of the template.

I had these printed at the 1-hour place, onto an 8×10 sheet (saved $$ that way). Now we need to cut them out. I am thinking about gluing them onto pink or red construction paper so the boys can write their names on them. I will keep you updated.

Love day in the making!! So fun! And then, the boys wanted me to be in the pictures too, so I ever-so-gently handed my camera over and took a few shots with my sweet boys. We had too much fun goofing around.

Kilim Rug Envy

I am loving the persian/oriental/turkish rug style and how it is being used in the home in the 21st century. I never would have guessed that I’d be bummed about getting rid of a few of my old rugs from when I was first married. Looking at some of these insperation photo’s I am just drooling over a fun, colorful rug.

Source: The Colby Chronicles

Source: La Dolce Vita Blog

Source: Inspiration Jar

Source: Pinterest… please let me know if original source is available

Aren’t these rugs just beautiful? I don’t know how much longer I can hold out! Oh wait… I don’t think my pocket book is fat enough for one of these bad boys (sad face). Well, like I always like to say “where there’s a will, there is a way”.

Until next time… {dreaming about a Kilim rug}