5 Ways to Dress up your Gifts this Holiday Season

Today marks Day 4 of my 12 Days of Christmas blog series and I’m already having to much fun!
I’m just about done with all my shopping and hopefully you are too. Every year I try to make a point of finishing early to avoid all the chaos and overcrowded parking lots. Is it just me or do people all of a sudden forget how to park during the holidays?!
With 98% of all our gifts already purchased or enroute, I got started on the wrapping two weeks ago because I worked so hard to finish my shopping early, the last thing I wanted was to get stuck wrapping all the gifts into the wee hours of Christmas morning. #aintnobodygottimeforthat
This year we really made an effort to spend less and to not get carried away in the mass frenzy to buy a bunch of unnecessary “stuff”. While in most respects, I think we were successful, I still wanted to give a little extra attention to the packaging. Even if what we’re giving equates to less – the packaging (I hope) and the thought behind it more than makes up for it.
Today I’m sharing with you 5 different ideas to dress up your gifts this holiday season. A little bit goes a long way and your recipient will definitely notice! Everything I used to dress up any of the packages you see below are items I already had on hand. Nothing new was purchased – and that’s what I love most about today’s post! You don’t have to go out and buy a whole slew of trinkets and toppings to jazz up your gifts…just use what you already have and I’m sure you’ll be surprised.
The layered look

This look was inspired by all those leftover wrapping paper trimmings that are too small for a package but it makes you wanna cry to throw them out. I started with a red buffalo check base, used a length of craft paper down the middle as a “runner” of sorts and black grosgrain ribbon I had lying around from this project to finish it off. I used double sided tape on the underside of the craft paper and ribbon to adhere it to the package. 
The entire look was finished off by some grey and white twine left over from this project in a simple, understated bow. Th craft paper runner acts as a perfect place to jot down your to and from. How awesome is that?
Fabric scrap ribbons

This next package uses some left over fabric from this project to tie together a pretty little package. I started with a stack of gifts all wrapped in craft paper and tied together using a length of black buffalo check fabric from this project. 
To enhance the package a bit I used some polka dot washi tape on the edges of each package and used a sprig of evergreen for a pop of color. A package that looks good but smells good too!

Big Ole Bow

This next gift is a base of black and white hounds tooth (#classic) and literally just a big ole bow. I wrapped the package over and over with some grey and white twine left over from my closet makeover project and affixed the giant red bow. I don’t think I got it quite right but to make the bow I folded the ribbon back and forth in my hand until I had 5-6 loops on either end. I secured the middle of the ribbon loops with a knot, attached it to the grey twine and fluffed until I was semi-satisfied. Please excuse my poor bow making skills. I really tried, I promise.

Craft Paper Ribbon

This next package was a happy accident. I started with a polka dotted craft paper base and paired it with the red buffalo check. When I trimmed the excess paper while I was wrapping the craft paper package I noticed how tightly rolled it was. So I cut tiny strips from the length of paper and instantly had craft paper “curly ribbon”. 
My little furry friend made himself at home among the packages. I don’t blame him. This rug turned tree skirt is oh-so-cozy.
I secured both packages together with black grosgrain ribbon and wove in the craft paper ribbons for an instant gift topper that ties in perfectly the bottom package. I love happy accidents!
Add an Ornament

For the last package, I just put it all together and let it fly. Mix prints, patterns, textures, you name it…its all fair game! Worried about the outcome? Don’t be! Make sure you have a repeating color throughout – in my case, black – and it’ll all morph together effortlessly into a gift that’s not only fun and playful, but beautiful too. I paired my hounds tooth and red buffalo check and topped it off with a glittery ribbon. Instead of leaving the ribbon tails loose, I left them long and taped them to the underside of the package for another take on a classic bow. Never mind all the rogue glitter that has embedded itself into my carpet! Oye! 
To top it all off I added a dollar store nutcracker ornament I had hiding away. Sometimes it’s great to be a hoarder! Plus he totally matches my paper choices! Add your recipient’s name to the bottom of your ornament for a built in name tag!
I had so much fun creating these packages and putting together these ideas for you. It’s amazing what can be done with a little creativity and the stuff you already have on hand. It makes me want to wrap more and more and more…and maybe I just will!!

3 Ways to Decorate with FREE Greenery

Welcome back to Day 2 of my 12 Days of Christmas blog series! Today I’m talking about the best thing ever – FREE holiday decor! Are you sold yet?
This time of year I love decorating with greenery. It’s brings so much movement and life into a room and especially now, it’s seasonally appropriate. We stopped by our local home improvement store where they were selling Christmas trees and asked for any stray branches they had leftover from trimming up the trees. The employees kindly pointed us to a designated bin and we left with an armful of branches without having to bust out the wallet. How great is that?
When we brought the branches home I filled the tub with some cold water and let the branches soak for about an hour before I got to work. Ready to see what I came up with? Let’s take a look!
Make a Door Swag
This little project couldn’t be easier. I took 3-4 branches, trimmed them up, and bound them together at the top with a little electrical tape. Add a big sparkly bow with long tails and call it done.

Create a Centerpiece
Layer a bed of evergreen branches in the center of your table, mix in a few candles, and sprinkle a few jingle bells all around for a festive and free centerpiece to your holiday table!

Fill Out Your Fake Tree
Snip off longer sections of branches and pop them in all around your tree to instantly fill it out. Nothing is prettier than a full and lush tree! Adding the real evergreen branches brings in a added dimension and layer and no one will ever know the difference! Can you?

With just a handful of free branches from our local home improvement store, I was able to decorate 3 different areas around our home and I still had some to spare! I hope this little tip and my few examples will show you that decorating – especially for the holidays – doesn’t have to break the bank because sometimes the best things in life are free!

Home Hack: Rug Pads

I’m really excited to share with you this awesome little home hack I just put to use a few weeks back. I have absolutely no clue if someone else has already discovered this and blogged all about it but I thought I was pretty bad-a$$ when I thought of this and wanted to share the awesomeness with you too!

It all started when my Mom took me to a fabric shop here in Orange County that was having a store closing sale. Not only did I walk out of the store with some great fabrics that I cant wait to do something with but I also walked away with a great vintage-looking rug. When I bought it, I didn’t have any idea where it would end up in my house, but at $13 – who could pass it up? No one! That’s who!

After bringing it home, I realized that it was the perfect fit for our guest bathroom. I’ve been wanting to switch things up in there and thought that adding an unexpected rug would take things up a notch in there. The only problem? The rug didn’t have that rubberized non-slip backing typical of normal bath mats. The new rug (sans backing) and paired with a slick (and ugly) lineolum floor was a recipe for disaster.

I knew that in order to keep this rug from slipping and sliding all over the floor that it definately needed a rug pad. I went looking for rug pads and discovered that I’d have to purchase a $20 rug pad and cut it down to size to fit my odd size rug. It just seemed like a waste of money and rug pad when I quickly realized that the non-slip rug pads are the same product used to line drawers in a kitchen.

After a quick trip down the kitchen aisles, I left the store with a $5 roll of drawer liner. For my rug, it needed the entire length of drawer liner and required absolutely NO CUTTING! Plus I saved $15. Two thumbs up!

The drawer liner was the perfect substitution for a rug pad and has kept my pretty vintage-looking rug from slipping and sliding all over the place.

The dog tested it out for good measure too.

So maybe this little home hack is old news or maybe you’re just discovering it too for the first time but now you know and what’s that saying about knowledge is power?

Plant Pots and Paint Pens

Say that 10x fast!
As I mentioned at the end of this post, I’m slowly trying to ease my way back into the blog and chip away at all those projects we put on the back burner for a bit. While we’re still knee deep in the raw every day emotions of this new life we’re adjusting to, staying busy helps.
Outside of this blog I work a regular ol’ 9-5 except instead of 5 – 8 hour days, I work 4 – 10 hour days with every Monday off. Having Mondays off is great! While everyone else in the world is at work, I’m able to accomplish a whole lot of blog related stuff and tackle a few projects around the house unless I turn on the TV and get sucked into a Gilmore Girls marathon – then all productivity goes out the window. Over the last few months, that sorta became the norm as I wasn’t very mobile towards the end but I’m slowly redirecting my focus and I have to say that it feels good.
This last Monday was a very productive one after many, many unproductive ones. I worked on and/or completed 5 new projects – all of which I’ll be sharing here sooner or later. High fives for me!
This first one is more so a facelift than it is a project and takes zero skills whatsoever. One of the things I love most about decorating is incorporating live plants into every room. I think plants just brighten up the space and when you add any sort of natural element it just brings the room to life. Unfortunately for me, I totally suck at keeping anything alive. That’s why I always tend to gravitate towards low maintenance plants – usually of the succulent variety. But even I’ve managed to kill quite a few of those too. Most recently I killed a snake plant…or most of it…which is considered to be virtually indestructible. #GOme. I think I have a chronic case of over-watering but I’m working on it.
I woke up one morning to find that 95% of my snake plant was water logged and the stalks were falling over, so after feeling like such a failure, I removed the dying stalks and was left with a whopping 3 stalks. Sure made for a wimpy plant. So while I’m trying to bring it back to life, I went to Home Depot and brought home my next victim and plopped it in the pot that the previous one vacated.
Except the pot totally sucks. Just like my plant caring abilities. It was just a plain white ceramic pot I picked up from Ikea and thought that maybe…just maybe…if I jazzed up the pot a bit the plant would last longer. #Ainthappening. But I went ahead and did it anyways because that’s how my crazy mind works. I could use all the help I can get.
The ceramic pot already had some raised detailing so I just took a paint pen and enhanced the details. Looks like a totally different pot – and much more expensive too might I add! Don’t you agree?
Here’s a side by side:
And the best part? You don’t have to have these pots with raised details from Ikea to achieve the same look. Any plain ceramic, or terra cotta pot too for that matter, can be transformed with a paint pen and free-handing a super simple pattern…think dots, crosshatch, grids – the options are endless!

So what do you say? Think this super cute pot will help keep my plant alive? Probably not but #Onecanhope.

Living Room Changes – Part 2

Last time I checked in I showed you guys the beginning stages of some small changes that we’ve been making in our living room over the past few weeks and today I’m back to show you what else we’ve been up to.
The next set of changes we recently made involves a part of our living room the blog hasn’t even seen yet – our media wall. Decorating your home to accommodate that uber important TV is often challenging, and in our case, was only made worse when we purchased a larger, more obnoxious television to replace our old, on the edge of death, TV. After purchasing the larger TV, we were forced to do some furniture musical chairs when it became clear that the wall that used to house the TV, was way too small.
The previous media wall, as seen in this really bad cell phone pic, shows just how cramped the previous situation was to begin with. The TV and media cabinet were smashed up against the curtains and sliding glass door leading out to our patio leaving no extra room to accommodate a larger TV.
So…with a new TV and the realization that the existing wall was too small, we did some rearranging and moved the TV, the media cabinet, and Anthony (the antelope) to an adjacent wall with a really annoying nook that I’ve hated since the day we moved in but since it was the only other place for the new TV, we had to make it work.
The nook is off center on this wall and for a person that really gravitates towards symmetry, it’s always been a nightmare for me to decorate around. This little nook has seen quite a few changes in the 2 years that’s we’ve lived here which I plan to document in a future post, but this go-around in the nook is by far my favorite.
After moving everything over into the nook, the entire wall felt visually heavy on the left and really empty on the right, making the nook all that more prominent and irritating!
I didn’t have much space to work with on the left but I knew that it definitely needed something to visually balance everything out and with all the craziness going on to the left, I thought something clean and symmetrical would be the best solution to both my problems.
I decided to do a gallery wall of frames filled with pictures from some of our most memorable travel adventures. The inspiration for this came directly from these two awesome bloggers as seen on their sites here and here.
Ready to see how it all came together?
For the gallery wall I chose to go with these warm wood toned frames that I scooped up at Ikea. I’ve been on a mission to bring in some wood tones and textures into our home to warm things up a bit and balance out our other black furniture pieces and I think these frames did just that!
I chose vacation photos that were bright, bold, and full of vibrant colors! It’s the perfect way to display our personal memories in a very subtle way while bringing in some fun colors at the same time.
To put my own little spin on our travel adventures gallery wall, I used my all time favorite (but sadly discontinued) Martha Stewart bookplate labels on the glass of each frame to name the travel destination pictured. Great thing about this is no matter what picture you showcase, the label can always be updated easily as you add more destinations to your passport! And for those with a short term memory, you’ll always have a handy reminder of where your photo was taken!
To hang the pictures, I used every renters BFF – 3M Command Strips (you can see the little bump out of the Command Strip on the top of each frame in the photo below). Using 3M Command Strips saved me from putting 16+ nail holes in the wall and from having to patch all those holes when we leave. Plus, 3M Command Strips are re-positionable and made it easy to make sure my grid lines were nice and straight. Can’t beat that!
All in all, for all the challenges this wall & the larger TV presented us with, I’d say I’m smitten with the results! Plus I think Anthony is enjoying the new scenery too…
There’s still one more change I’m working on to round out our living room refresh, be sure to check back soon so you don’t miss out!

15 Minute Fix – Bar Tray

Hi friends!!

I’m back from our Hawaiian vacation, very well rested, and cant wait to share all the fun we had basking in the sun! With all unpacking and laundry that needs to be done I thought the best first project back post vacation would be another project in my 15 Minute Fix series where I tackle a project or something on my to-do / want-to-do list in 15 minutes or less because sometimes all we have time for are quick little projects, am I right?

This project is all about reinventing an ordinary, every day item. My favorite kind of DIY! I spotted this pink mirror at the thrift store and although I didn’t need a new mirror, the mirror was inset in a deep frame and I thought it’d make the perfect tray. Just so happened that I needed a tray because one can never have too many trays!
To change my thrift store find from a mirror to a tray, I started by taping off the mirror with some computer paper and painters tape and then sprayed the entire frame white.


 After the frame was painted, I removed the hanging hardware from the back of the frame. Once the hardware was removed, I covered the bottom of the tray with craft foam sheets that I found at Michael’s. To adhere the foam to the back of the mirror, I used spray glue and let it cure for a full day.
To add some interest to the mirror turned tray so that it wasn’t just a boring white tray, I attached these brass corner brackets on each corner.


 Once completed, I loaded up my new mirrored tray with all our bar essentials. The mirrored tray is reflective and looks great with all our decanters we’ve collected. Since the tray is mainly stationary and really just meant to define a space atop our buffet and to corral all our bar necessities, I never have to/need to move it while all loaded up. I don’t suggest transporting the tray fully loaded as the mirror may crack under the weight of the items.

How’s that for a quick 15 minute project? This project was so, so easy and the perfect post vacation project while I’m knee deep in laundry and vacationing from my vacation!

15 Minute Fix: Updating Dollar Store Vases

Hey there! Sorry for the brief hiatus…it’s been a busy, but productive, few weeks (ahem…patio! I’m talking to you!). The patio makeover has literally eaten me alive but I’m rounding the home stretch and can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel so for now I don’t have any other patio updates except to say that the chairs arrived and they’re all kinds of tooshy heaven, but I wanted to pop in and share a quick little project I checked off my to-do/want-to-do list recently.
With summer knocking on our door, or at least here in CA it is, I’m loving the longer daylight hours and what that means for the blog and the endless amounts of projects I have going at any given time. The extended daylight hours sure make it easier to work on projects and photograph them after a long 10 hour day at the office but even with the added convenience that Daylight Savings brings, sometimes all I really have time for after work, traffic, dinner, clean-up, and all that jazz is a quick 10-15 minute project. Anyone else feel the same? And heck…let’s be honest…sometimes I have no desire to do any of the aforementioned tasks and instead just plop myself down on the couch and watch HGTV on repeat. Feel me now?!
If you’re anything like me, your brain never shuts off and there’s always a to-do list a mile long. When I sat down to actually write out what I wanted/needed to accomplish, I realized that a lot of these items were quick, easy, and something I could easily get done in 10-15 minutes…if only I actually set aside those minutes to actually do them. What a concept! Sometimes something as easy as putting pen to paper puts things into perspective and makes all those to-dos a whole lot more manageable.
So because I thought many of you might be in the same boat as I, I thought I’d start a new series of sorts with quick 10-15 minute projects straight off my own to-do/want-to-do list that even you might find useful when time is limited.
Please don’t judge me on my to-do list prioritization because as you’ll see when you come back for the next post in this series, I chose to paint dollar store vases first before I tackled the disaster that is my purse because obviously gold vases are way more important than organized purses. Moving on…
Over the years I’ve managed to accumulate close to 50 (#youthinkimkidding) dollar store vases. How? I have no idea, but yeah…it happened. If you need a few vases, holla at your girl! They’re the perfect vessel for so many things around the house and because I have so many, I thought I’d have some fun with a few.
All I did was tape off a portion of the vase using some blue painters tape. You can get all kinds of crazy or creative with your pattern, just mask off the area that you don’t want painted and leave the area you do want painted exposed. For my vases I just taped off an asymmetric line. Sorry, no pics of this! Then just spray the vase whatever color you fancy. I chose gold…because well…duh…I’m obsessed with gold.
Once the paint is dry, remove the tape and ta-da! Dollar store vases look like they cost $1.50 now!
This is literally the easiest project on the face of the planet. I didn’t re-invent the wheel, this project isn’t going to break the Internet, and you’ve probably seen it done a thousand times a thousand times better, but it’s been on my want-to-do list for-ev-errrr and now…it’s not.
That’s all for today – just a quick little 15 minute project for ya! Enjoy my friends! And be sure to check back soon for the next installment of 15 Minute Fix…or if you’re lucky, you’ll get a patio reveal soon!