Christmas Break To-Do List

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

I’m officially on Christmas Break for the next two weeks! I’m so excited!

As I have in the past, today I’m sharing my to-do list for the break (you can see the previous lists here). I’m hoping that putting this out there will motivate me to actually finish some of these projects. Of course the chances I’ll finish all of them are slim to none, but I purposely make my list long so I’ll have projects to choose from based on my mood. For example, obviously I’m not going to get my entire backyard landscaped in two weeks, but I’m hoping to finally get some estimates and a crew started on landscaping back there. I also have some serious weeds growing in the seams of my concrete patio, so I’d like to take care of those too. If I can get that done, we’ll call that one a success.

OK, let’s take a look at my Christmas Break to-do list:

Install Baseboards in Living Room
Build Laundry Room Countertop

Re-caulk Master Bathroom Shower
Refresh Guest Bathroom

Replace Office Outlets and Switches
Touch-up Paint Around the House
Landscape the Backyard

Update Office Gallery Wall

Finish Pantry
Hang Travel Art Gallery Wall in Master Bedroom

Should we take bets on how many I’ll actually finish? Based on past years, I’d say 3-4 is a safe bet. Anyway, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and wonderful holiday season. I’ll be back in 2016 to share my finished Christmas Break projects and other fun projects!

Christmas Home Tour 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

I’m sure you’re all sick on seeing Christmas posts by now, but I promise this will be the only one and it won’t have multiple pictures of decorations from just slightly different angles. Honestly, I almost didn’t share my decorations this year because it all looks pretty similar to last year (see last year’s decorations here). I mean, I’m using the exact same decorations, so I’m not sure how different it could possibly look. I just don’t see the point in buying all new decorations every year. Ain’t nobody got money/storage for all of that!

Anyway, let’s start with the mantle. I used the same stockings, glitter letters, garland and twig snowflake as last year. The angel candleholders are from Wal-Mart like 4-5 years ago. I spray painted them white a few years ago and they are still a couple of my favorite decorations.

OK, let’s talk tree:

There are a lot of similarities from last year, but I did add the wooden bead garland (from Michael’s) plus some additional ornaments that I bought after Christmas last year. I also skipped the poinsettia blooms this year.

I love how the tree turned out, but I think I’m most excited about my new angel ornament. I bought it at a Vatican gift shop while we were in Italy. For no additional charge, they’ll have your item blessed (by a member of the Vatican clergy I assume) and delivered to your hotel later that night/next day.

I do want to brag a bit and say that I had all of my Christmas shopping done and everything wrapped two weeks ago. That’s definitely a record for me! 

One of my favorite and easiest Christmas decorations this year is my chalkboard. I used this picture as inspiration for drawing the ornaments and I love how it all turned out. I’m not very artistic, but I think it looks pretty cute! 

Other than that I just have random decorations around the house. I love decorating for Christmas and having all the festive decorations around me (especially the lights outside and on the tree), but I’m already getting sick of the clutter. I think I’m going to go on cleaning/organizing spree once the holidays are over.

Of course I have to end this post on a cheery Christmas note, so here’s a picture of Ringo and Abby in front of our tree! You don't want to know how many treats it took to get this picture...

Guest Bedroom Updates, Source List + Budget

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thank you so much for your kind comments on my guest bedroom reveal last week! I’m so happy that this room is no longer a junk room and I can’t wait for my mom to come down and see it in person. Anyway, as I mentioned in the post, I still had a couple changes/things I needed to finish in the room before I could call it complete. Today I want to share a couple of the updates I’ve already made.

As you can see, I bought a different mirror and added a second botanical print. I’m so much happier with the changes. I think these pieces are better scale for the room. The only thing left on my to-do list now is to add hooks between the door and closet.

OK, now let’s talk about where I bought everything. You might notice that a lot of the pieces are from Target. If you are buying any home items at Target, I highly suggest checking for a sale online. Most of the items I bought were 15%-off, plus an additional 15%-off with a purchase of $100 or more, so I saved 30% just buy purchasing online and then picking up at the store a couple hours later. Below is a source list for everything in the room. If I missed anything, let me know:

Paint Color: December Sky by Dunn-Edwards
Bedding + Sheets: Kohl’s
Euro Shams: Kohl’s
Euro Inserts: HomeGoods
White Ruffle Pillow: Target
Gray Throw: HomeGoods
Nightstands: Yard Sale (previously in master bedroom)
Lamps + Shades: Target 
Tobacco Basket: Décor Steals
Boxwood Wreath: Target
Curtains: Target
Curtain Rod: Target
Framed Botanical Prints: HomeGoods
Mirror: At Home
Chair: Salvation Army (previously in living room)
Hello Pillow: Hobby Lobby
Chalkboard: Target

OK, now let’s talk budget:

Paint and Supplies: $121.49
Bedding, Sheets, Pillows, and Throw: $157.62
Lamps + Shades: $90.52
Boxwood Wreath: $13.99
Curtains and Rod: $68.19
Framed Botanical Prints: $14.99 each
Mirror: $39.99
Hello Pillow: $12.98
Chalkboard: $41.99

Total $576.75

So less than $600 for the full room makeover. Luckily I already had all of the furniture on hand and some of the accessories so I saved quite a bit of money that way. I’m so happy with how the room turned out! I can’t wait for my first guest! But now I really need to get moving on the master bedroom. I can’t have the guest room looking nicer than my own room!

Travel Tuesday: Venice, Italy

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Ciao! Today I’m sharing our first (and favorite) stop on our Italian adventure: Venice! Warning: lots of pictures and lots of stories ahead!

Before I get into the pretty pictures and stories from our trip, I want to talk about the tour we went on. When my mom and I went to London and Paris two years ago I planned the entire trip myself. Everything worked out perfect and we had a wonderful trip, but it was a lot of work. For this trip my mom wanted to go with a tour company. To quote her “I’m getting old and I don’t want to drag my luggage all over Italy. I want someone to take care of my luggage and I want to just ride on a bus to each location”. She’s my travel buddy and I did have her dragging luggage through the underground, train stations, taxis, random streets in London and Paris, so she definitely had a point. 

I spent a lot of time researching tour companies. I was looking for a company with good reviews, an itinerary that covered all of the areas we wanted to see plus free time to explore on our own, and something not too expensive. Eventually we decided to go on the Venice, Florence & Rome plus Sorrento Extension with Go Ahead Tours (here). I was a little hesitant about going with a tour company, but I have to say that we had a wonderful time. The tour itself was perfect (our guide was fantastic) and the people on our tour were so much fun. We had a great time with everyone…I might have even gotten a little teary when we all departed at the end of the tour. Luckily, there’s Facebook, so we can all keep in touch.

OK, let’s get back to Venice! We arrived at the Venice airport at noon on Sunday after traveling for almost 24 hours (3 flights…ugh). We were exhausted, but so excited to be there. After we met with our tour group and they took our luggage, they sent us off on water taxis to our hotel. It was a fun way to kick off our stay in Venice.


We stayed at the Hotel Riviera in Lido. It’s a separate island from Venice and at first I thought staying away from Venice was going to be a pain, but it was actually nice to escape the crowds at the end of the day. The water bus is cheap and really easy to use, plus it’s kind of fun taking a boat everywhere, so we ended up really liking our stay in Lido.

Anyway, the next morning we met for breakfast in the hotel lobby and then took a boat over to Venice. We met with a local guide who showed us the highlights of Venice, such as the Bridge of Sighs, the Doge’s Palace, and St. Mark’s Square.

Our guide took us down the narrow alleyways to the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge, which was under construction.

After walking along the canal we made our way back to St. Mark’s Square to tour St. Mark’s Basilica. By that time, the high tide had started to rise and was beginning to flood the square and basilica. That was pretty shocking to see in person.

After touring St. Mark’s Basilica we were given free time for lunch and exploring. We had some amazing pasta at one of the many restaurants tucked down one of the alleys. Of course we did some shopping too, I bought the cutest blown-glass pink elephant and by some miracle it survived the entire trip through Italy and 3 flights home without breaking! We had signed up for the optional gondola ride excursion, so we had to meet up with our group in the afternoon. By that time, the entire square was flooded with a few inches of water. Crazy!


We opted to go on the “group” gondola because it was cheaper and it’s not like my mom and I really needed to go on a private, romantic gondola ride. We were grouped up with our new friends from Chicago and we had a great time with them. Yeah, it’s a little cheesy, but spend the money…a gondola ride is a must when in Venice!

Our gondolier didn’t sing, but there was a guitar player and singer in the boat behind us, so we got to enjoy their music on our ride through the canals. The white building is where George Clooney was married.

Once we were done with our gondola ride, we did a little more shopping and then took the boat back to our hotel. We had pizza for dinner and a little too much wine, but it was the perfect way to celebrate our first full day in Italy.

Our second day in Venice was a free day. We started by taking a waterbus over to San Giorgio Maggiore. It’s only one waterbus stop from the San Zaccaria (San Marco) stop. The island is a nice escape from the crowds in Venice. The church is beautiful inside and so peaceful.

I read online that the top of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore’s bell tower has the best views of Venice, so we had to check it out. It did not disappoint. Oh, and there’s an elevator to the top, no stairs.

After that we rode the water bus around a bit, did more shopping and eating, and then returned to Lido. The island is long and narrow, so it was just a short walk to the beach from our hotel. Of course we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get our feet wet in the Adriatic Sea. We even found a few small seashells to bring home.

That night we had the best calamari ever, tried “the best meatball in Venice”, drank more wine, and saw the oldest bridge in Venice. I guess now would be a good time to mention that we ate gelato and drank wine every day we were in Italy. Good thing we walked a lot!

We had such a wonderful time in Venice! We both completely fell in love with the city and agreed that we would buy a place there if we ever won the lottery…so, fingers crossed haha.  As you can see, we ended up with a lot of beautiful pictures to remember our time there. We also brought home some great souvenirs from Venice. I bought a couple original prints there and I’ll be sure to share them once they are framed and hung. 

Next Stop: Florence!

ORC Week 6 – Guest Bedroom Reveal

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Happy One Room Challenge Reveal Day! After you finish up here, be sure to check out the official participants’ rooms here and the other linking participants’ rooms here. There are some beautiful rooms out there! Great work everyone!

OK, let’s talk about my guest bedroom. The past couple weeks I was freaking out that I wasn’t going to finish in time, but I’m happy to say that besides a few small things, this room is done!

Before we get too into the after pictures, let’s look back, way back, at how this room started. When I bought the house the room was painted these two very bright shades of pink and blue.

My mom and I re-painted the room a nice frosty blue color. I also put my old bed and bedding in there (after I upgraded to a king in the master bedroom), but that was the extent of the decorating. For a few years it was my ex-boyfriend’s junk room, but once he moved out, it was ready to become a real guest room.

So here’s how it looks now!

Today I want to focus on the pictures and not ramble too much, so I’ll be back next Thursday with a source list and budget breakdown. If you have any questions before then, leave them in the comments and I’ll answer them. *UPDATE: See source list and budget breakdown here*

The only thing I have left to do in the room is to add hooks on the wall between the door and closet. I just haven’t found exactly what I’m looking for and I didn’t want to buy something temporary just to finish the room. I’m also considering a different mirror and hanging a second leaf picture above/below the current one. I also want to put together a basket of goodies (shampoo, lotion, toothbrush, etc) for guests in case they forget something. And now looking at the pictures, I'm thinking that the basket/wreath are too small for the space above the bed, so that might be switched out too.

*UPDATE: I ended up changing the mirror and adding a second botanical print - see the changes here*

Lastly, I want to thank Linda for hosting the challenge again. I wouldn’t have even started working on this room without the ORC, but now I have a finished guest room and I’m so excited! My mom, the main person who stays in this room, is also really excited. I can’t wait for her to come visit and see it in person!

ORC Week 5 – The Final Week

Thursday, November 5, 2015

It’s the last week of the One Room Challenge! Of course that means that next week is the big reveal and I’m FREAKING OUT! There’s a very good chance I won’t be finished in time. I’ve been unusually busy (or away) for most of the challenge, so I just haven’t had time to do much of anything in the room. I still have a lot of projects and shopping left to do and I only have one weekend left for all of that! I guess we’ll just see how far I’ve gotten by next week…

OK, let’s talk about the progress I’ve made since last week:

I started hanging items and artwork on the walls. This is the first time since I’ve bought that house that I’ve hung anything in this room, so it’s a big step. It’s fun to actually see the room decorated! The tobacco basket is from Décor Steals and the boxwood wreath is from Target.

I also bought a big chalkboard for the large empty wall by the door. I still need to hang it and add some chalk art, but I think it’s going to be super cute and an easy/cheap way to fill such a large space.

I also painted one of the two nightstands for the room. Although I went a little overboard with the distressing, so I have a couple spots to touch up before this one is done. 

I don’t want to give away anything else before the big reveal…and there’s really not much more progress to share today, so let’s look at the updated to-do list: 

Paint walls
Buy new bedding and pillows
Paint nightstands
Buy/hang/hem curtains
Hang artwork/chalkboard
Draw chalk art
Add accessories (lamps, frames, baskets, etc)
Finishing touches

Don't forget to stop by Calling it Home and check out the other rooms! I'm really excited to see the reveals next week!

ORC Week 4 – PANIC!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

It’s week 4 of the One Room Challenge and I’m officially freaking out! I’ve been out of town three of the past four weeks, so I’m seriously behind schedule. I need to kick it into overdrive this weekend or this room definitely won’t be finished in time. OK, before I completely start panicking, let’s talk about what I accomplished since last week.

I pulled out all of the new bedding and pillows so I could put the bed together. I’m seriously obsessed with this set. I love the print on this side and it’s reversible with a cute print on the other side too. Kudos Lauren Conrad…too bad I’ve sworn off Kohl’s after my last terrible experience and will never be able to buy your products again.

I hung the new curtain rod and curtains. Of course they are too long, so I have to add ‘hem curtains’ to my to-do list. Regardless, I’m happy with my choices and it’ll all look even better once the curtains are the correct length. Rod and curtains are from Target.

And yeah, that’s it. My grand plan from last week of refinishing the nightstands and finding/hanging artwork by this update didn’t happen. Yikes! The clock is ticking!

Don’t forget to stop by and check out the official participants here and other linking participants here. There’s some really good stuff happening out there!

ORC Week 3 – Freshly Painted

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hello from Philadelphia! I’m on business travel this week, but I do have some progress to share today. I mean, it’s already the third week of the One Room Challenge, I better have something to share this week, amiright?! The clock is ticking! Anyway, let’s talk progress – the walls are painted!

After much deliberation, I picked December Sky by Dunn-Edwards. It’s a nice light gray color and I’m happy with my choice. Luckily the ceiling and trim was done somewhat recently, so I didn’t have to mess with either of those (except for a few touchups). All I needed to do was paint a couple coats on the walls. Of course easier said than done, but it was definitely a quicker project than when I painted my bedroom.

I got my new sheets washed and on the bed, so now I just need to wash the rest of the bedding and buy inserts for a couple of the shams. That’s my goal for next week plus I want to get the curtains hung, paint at least one of the nightstands, and find some artwork for the walls. I get back from Philadelphia tomorrow night so hopefully I’ll have enough energy to tackle the room this weekend.

With three weeks left, let’s take a look at the to-do list:

Paint walls
Buy new bedding and pillows
Paint nightstands
Buy/hang curtains
Paint dresser
Hang artwork
Finishing touches/accessories

Don’t forget to check out the official participants here and the other linking participants here!

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