Thursday, March 28, 2013

My First Giveaway-- "Getting It Together" e-book by Kayse Pratt

Woohoo! I can't believe that I'm actually conducting my very first giveaway! If you're a mom, dad, home-owner, baby-sitter, blogger, or anyone else who has information to keep track of, this one's for YOU!

Kayse is a witty wife and momma of one (soon-to-be two!), who had the same problem I have-- figuring out how to keep all of her important info (meal plans, cleaning schedules, account information-- including web usernames and passwords in a concrete, non-hackable format-- yes, even blogging post schedules for all us bloggers!) in one, CUTE place!

Her solution? A Home Management Notebook!

In Kayse's words:
An organized home is a happy home.
Well, it’s at least a happiER home.
And my home? Well, it needed some organization, no doubt about it. As wife, mommy, and homemaker, I desperately needed to get it together.
I have a few issues, as far as homemaking goes:
  1. I stay home with my daughter, work full-time from home, and write on the side. Time is this elusive concept that I never actually have.
  2. I DO have a toddler who likes to tornado through the living room, topple the towers of folded laundry, and throw her unfinished food on the floor.
  3. I am emotionally allergic to cleaning.
But I DO love organizing.
And I get a tad obsessive excited about systems. Planners, schedules, calendars, I love them all.
Enter the Home Management Notebook.
Basically, a Home Management Notebook is a resource for your home, keeping all your important paperwork and organizational wizardry in one place. I’d read about them on other blogs, seen all kinds of printables, but I could never find anything that totally worked for me {read: I couldn’t find all the documents I wanted in matching fonts and coordinating colors}.
So I made my own.
Meal planners, cleaning schedules, babysitter cheat sheets – I created everything I needed. And I’m more than excited to share it with you.
In this e-book you’ll find a few things. First, my soapbox on why having a Home Management Notebook will change your life. Then, a complete tutorial with step-by-step directions on how to create your own notebook. And finally (my favorite!!) – over 30 printables for you to download and use within your notebook. All in matching fonts and coordinating colors, of course!
No, being organized won’t accomplish world peace. It won’t make you love cleaning, and it won’t counteract the tornado-toddler issue.
But it will most definitely bring a little more peace to your home.
And we could all use a little more of that, am I right?
Right, sista! So when Kayse gave me a copy of her e-book to review, and one to giveaway, I was sooo excited! 

See my cute little binder? Thanks to Kayse's simple instructions and easy printables, this baby now holds EVERYTHING I could ever need (including the phone # for Poison Control, which I have needed several times lately for Little Monkey-- thankfully nothing serious!)

Kayse even shows you how to cover your dividers with scrapbook paper to add that extra "cuteness" factor! 

Want to find out how to put together your own Home Management Binder? Getting It Together includes…

  • The top 5 reasons why you need a home management system.
  • A step-by-step tutorial on creating your own home management binder.
  • 30 printables that you can put to use immediately!
  • Kayse's witty sense of humor. ;)
Even better, you can enter to win one RIGHT HERE by using the easy-peasy Rafflecopter widget below! I'll be (randomly) picking one lucky winner only 5 days from now, on Tuesday, April 2nd!

Don't want to wait to find out if you won? Here’s how you can…

  1. Purchase Getting It Together as a PDF! For just $3.99, you can immediately download the book and start using the printables. Easy peasy! Click here to buy now.
  2. Purchase Getting It Together for your Kindle! Also just $3.99, you can get this wirelessly delivered immediately. This version includes a link to the printables, so that you can download the PDFs onto your computer and print them off. Click here to buy now.
So what are you waiting for? Enter away!!! ;)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mirror Mirror on the Wall...

My long-awaited Joss & Main mirror is certainly the fairest of them all (in my humble opinion, anyway!) Yes, it's HERE!!!

For a cheapskate like me, who prides myself on how 99% of my house came from thrift stores or garage sales, it was quite a jump to spend $85 on one item! But since I had done a lot of "testing" and "research" to nail down my personal style, it was actually a pretty easy decision. They say every room needs a "statement piece"-- something brings the entire room together and "finishes" it. And this is just the piece I needed!

Be still my heart... look at those layers of rustic wood!

And I'm completely crushing on those nailhead details on the fabric accent details...

... even if my hubby calls it a "porthole", and Monkey #1 says it's a "life preserver" ;) Which doesn't bother me at all, since I consider my style "casual coastal chic!"

The wood is actually quite a bit darker than I expected, and when I first opened it up, I thought I was going to have to whitewash it to make it lighter... but I decided to hang it up and see how I liked it first.

And I'm glad I did, because it ties in perfectly with the other scattered dark wood tones around the room, without being too dark!

Oh, and did I mention it's a whopping 3 feet wide? I knew any mirror I found would have to be at least 31", because this wall is 14 feet wide! Most mirrors this size run in the $200-$500 range, so $85 for a 36" mirror was really not too shabby of a deal! And you know how I love deals... ;)

I do think I'm gonna have to give that "cherry" end table a paint treatment, though, so there's not so much "dark" in one corner-- I'm thinking light blue, and maybe some stenciling? Any ideas?

Here's my living room now...

This room is SOOO hard to photograph... in real life, the couches are sage green, but apparently the light from my north-facing windows makes them read gray/brown in EVERY picture I take! :/ One of these days I'll just have to mess around with my camera awhile longer till I can figure out the right settings, so that I can actually give you a real room reveal!

So there's my first-ever "splurge" for my home. :) Though, I don't really consider it TOO much of a splurge, seeing that:

  1. It's something I had been keeping an eye out for a loooong time!
  2. I knew I couldn't make one (trust me, I tried... it was my first epic DIY fail-- maybe someday I'll tell you about it) ;)
  3. It was a much better price than other mirrors of comparable size (I did my comparison shopping!), and,
  4. it fit my decorating style perfectly!

So what do you think? Are you more willing to splurge on a "statement piece"-- something that you know will tie your room together? What are your criteria for big decor purchases?

P.S. I'm soooo excited... Thursday I'll be doing my first giveaway!!! If you are a parent, homeowner, babysitter or anyone with information to organize, you'll want to enter!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Is It Spring Yet? Only In My Dreams (And On My Mantel!)

I'm beginning to think someone needs to find and throttle that groundhog (if he's not frozen to death already)... because, does THIS look like spring to you???

I mean, the kiddos are cute playing in the snow and all, but even THEY are getting tired of having to bundle up in a million layers to go and dig their swingset out of the 4-foot snowdrifts! Despite what the calendar says, the only spring around here is INdoors, on my Spring Desktop Mantel!

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I think Mr. Superman thought I was a bit crazy, digging out spring decorations when there's still four feet on snow on the ground. But, hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do... and when I start hankering for spring, I gotta get it one way or another!

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The moss balls from Joann's were a bit of a splurge. I had my heart set on making some, but when I saw that the plain foam balls were $5.99 apiece, and these lovely pre-made moss ones were $4.99 each, it wasn't too much of a struggle (oh, and here's a tip-- while they won't let you use two "40% off one item" Joann's coupons in one transaction, they do honor competitor's coupons... so I was able to use a Joann's coupon on one and a Michael's coupon on the other-- bringing the total to just over $5 for BOTH!)

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 My little mirrored star seems to hang around for every mantel I've done... I think it adds just the right sparkly, metallic touch ;)

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 Trying to convince myself that spring, and the return of green "nature",  is really just around the corner...

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I snatched the turquoise bird up a few weeks ago on a trip! We were traveling home from the in-laws' place in Lower Michigan, and passed through Gaylord-- home of the nearest Hobby Lobby (only 2 1/2 hours away)! My sweet, beloved Superman was persuaded to let me run into the store for 10 minutes, and OH MY SOUL! My heart was enraptured by all the decorating loveliness-- I could hardly decide what to buy! But I finally settled on a few things, including this lovely birdie, and a sign that now hangs in my living room (which I plan on showing you SOON!)

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The little aqua and gray birdie on the left, and the green one below, are both from Michael's (the nearest Michael's is "only" an hour away, so I get there a bit more often... they just don't have near as many decorating items as Hobby Lobby ;) (If you live near a HL, you are my new best friend... may I send you a shopping list?)

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If you can't tell, I've been having a fun time playing with my new camera-- the Sony Cybershot DSC-HX100V! While not a true DSLR, it has just enough settings for me to get totally lost ;) (And enough settings for me to play with it for hours...)

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So that is my tiny little oasis of spring in the midst of the snow! It will have to do, at least until what's outside my window catches up ;)

So what does your "spring" look like? Do you have a crush on any particular store?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Overcoming Style Indecisiveness (Part 2)-- The Pin Is Mightier Than the Sword

(Read Part 1-- Finding Your Personal Decorating Formula here.)

2) The Power of Pinterest

Everybody knows that "a picture is worth a thousand words." Along that same line, when it comes to identifying your personal style, I think you could say that "the PIN is mightier than the sword!" But believe it or not, Pinterest has been both a good thing and a bad thing when it comes to finding my style. Good, in that there is soooo much inspiration out there, it's easy for me to find something I like. Bad, in that there's soooo much stuff out there, that it's hard to narrow it down to what I really would want to live with! But I've found that the more I pin, the more I can look at my boards and see what the pictures I'm pinning have in common.

If you've been "pinning" for any length of time, chances are you'll be able to see common threads in most of the pictures you've chosen. If you took the style tests I shared yesterday, how do the results you got match up with what you see? If you look at my home decor board, it's pretty easy to tell that I'm drawn to light walls, neutral bases, lots of texture, and pops of color (particularly blues and greens)-- all elements of coastal style!

"But I'm not on Pinterest!" I can hear some of you say! Well, then what in the world are you waiting for?!? Just kidding, I'm sure you can survive without it (though I'm not quite sure how...) ;) But fret not-- there are other ways of finding your favorite styles...

3) Read, Read, Read


I know it seems like it nowadays, but decorating inspiration is not confined to Pinterest! From decorating magazines, to home catalogs, to (of course) blogs, there is sooo much inspiration out there! (I still have a huge stash of my old magazines, just because...)  Again, use the abundance of information to help you identify the things that you especially like! As you flip through their pages, do you find yourself more drawn to the photos showing formal spaces, or minimal, streamlined areas? Do neutral palettes resonate with you, or rooms filled with color?

The important thing, though is to gather your favorite pictures together.  I keep a binder full of magazine pages I've clipped (not to mention all my Pinterest boards!). You may even want to follow Shayna's directions to make a digital "signature style board". Either way, collect them all in one place, so you can see your favorite inspiration pics at a glance and identify their common elements.

Now that you've gotten your favorite decor photos in one place, your assignment is to write down five to eight words that describe them: words like traditional, modern, homey, airy, light, industrial, frilly, global, classic, colorful, comfy, neutral, bright, wood, coastal, glossy, feminine, French, western, rustic, sleek, chic, or classic. Now hold on to that list, so that whenever you go to make a purchase for your home, you'll have a good "measuring stick" to go by!

My list looks something like this: casual, coastal, neutral (with pops of color), bright, airy, classic, textured. Let's take another look at that mirror I ordered, and see how it "measures up" to my style description: :

Casual? Check. Coastal? Check. Neutral? Check. Bright? Check. Airy? Check. Classic? Check. Textured? Check! (Oh, and $75 for a 36-inch mirror? Double-check!) It's so much easier to overcome that pesky "Decorating Indecisiveness" when I have a good idea of  my personal style description! ;)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Overcoming Style Indecisiveness (Part 1)-- Finding Your Personal Decorating Formula

I'mmmmmm baaaaacccck! As you may (or may not) have noticed, I took an unofficial blogging hiatus during the month of February-- partially due to an overabundance of family "stuff", and partially due to decorating/DIY burnout (February Funk, if you will)! But the good news is, I am back, and I may actually have a  room reveal to share with you soon! Well, hopefully as soon as this beauty arrives:

Source: via Kathryn on Pinterest

This beautiful Joss & Main wall mirror is my first "expensive" (i.e. over $20, brand-new) home purchase EVER! Six months ago, I would have never had the courage to actually purchase something this big and dramatic. You see, I suffer from a terrible case of "Decoratingis Indecisionis" ("Decorating Indecision"), which, as I only recently realized, was a direct result of not knowing my personal decorating style.

"Like it" vs. "Live With It"
See, six months ago, if you would have asked me to label my decorating style, I probably would have said something like "thrift store chic" or "cottage eclectic". To tell you the truth, I love so many facets of different styles! But I am coming to grips with the fact that just because I like it does not mean I really want to live with it! :) I can drool over tiny powder rooms with dark, glossy walls, or frilly French toile bedding, but honestly, I would probably hate it if that were in my house (okay, I might like the toile, but my hubby definitely wouldn't)! So I've been working on narrowing down my style from "everything I like" to "what I want my house to be."

Source: via Kathryn on Pinterest

Style is a Formula
 I've also realized that decorating style is not limited to one narrow "genre" (like farmhouse vs. modern)-- rather style is a cohesive formula, a recipe blend of several different types.  And just like any good recipe, the ingredients need to be properly identified in order to have a result that you will enjoy. Over the next week, I'll be walking you through the steps I took to find my "personal formula"!

1) Start with a quiz-- or two or three!

 Yes, I was the nerdy kid in school that thought tests were fun! :) These actually are, though... I promise! (and they're not graded!) While these style questionnaires are certainly not the "final word", they do help you begin to understand how your personal likes and dislikes translate into decorating. And the more "windows" into your style preferences you can get, the better you will be able to define your personal style formula!  Here are my favorites:

This is a pretty easy one-- pick your favorite item from each of a series of "multiple-choices"! (Just go by your gut, and don't over-analyze.) Keep track of the results of each question, and at the end you'll find the key to decode them and find your primary decorating style!
My Results:
Primarily "Cozy Casual," with a touch of both "Sophisticated Classic" and "Modern Eclectic".

 This style finder shows you about a dozen different rooms, which you rate by "love it," "like it", "just OK", "dislike it", or "hate it."
My Results: 

If you can only take one quiz, take this one!   Definitely the easiest style quiz ever-- simply select your favorite 5 pictures, and the Stylescope will pinpoint your primary and secondary styles (since most of us have more than just one)! This quiz doesn't stop with the basic "country" vs. "modern, but it defines the nuances of your style-- are you a Boho, an Urban Funk, a Classic, a Set Sail, a Socialite, a Spa Life, the Traveler, a Vegas Baby, a New Country, a Farmhouse Glam, a Modern Metro, or a Sassy? 

My Results:

Find your formula.
Everyone has touches of different styles that add up to your own unique "personal formula". But do you see how we find common threads through the test results? Add together the results of each of the tests to find your personal "style recipe". (For instance, if two tests say you are primarily "Elegant/Sophisticated" and one says "Modern", then your formula would be Elegant with a touch of Modern, or "Modern Sophisticate".) My personal style recipe is "Chic Coastal Classic ": 2 parts Casual Coastal , + 1 part Classic, with a dash of Chic.

"But what if the results don't fit?" 
When I got "Set Sail" as my primary type in my first Homegoods test, I was really quite surprised! I had been focusing more along the lines of "country cottage", and I hadn't even realized how much I really did love nautical style! But after I took a hard look at my Pinterest boards, I realized how much coastal decorating had crept in without me even noticing it! (But that's tomorrow's subject...) That's why when it comes to decorating (including quizzes), I live by the motto, "If one is good, then two is better, and three is just right!" :) 

Go ahead, take the tests, and let me know what "style recipe" you came up with! Did the results surprise you?

(Oh, but you can't just stop with a quiz or two... Tomorrow we'll look at one of the best helps (and one of the worst hindrances) to discovering your personal style: PINTEREST!!! Stay tuned....)