Bad Blogger!

I’m such a bad blogger–2 weeks since my last post!  There are many reasons for my absence (several graduations, staying in Dickinson for a week, moving into a new place) but still, they are all excuses.  I’ve gone on a couple more OkCupid dates and I’ve been doing a lot of DIY in the new apartment.  I also started my first week of my summer job this past week.  So yeah, life has been crazy over here!

Unfortunately, I’m going to continue my streak of being an awful blogger.  There are a lot of things to update on (specifically, dates and DIY projects) and I need to figure out how I want to approach everything.  In the meantime, I will leave you with some pictures of what I’ve been doing in my apartment.  My bedroom is the only room that is complete, because my sister (who is living with me) is in Dickinson for the summer and I promised I wouldn’t decorate the common areas without her.  Any decoration you see in the pictures below are things I had in my old apartment and will potentially be replaced when Sis comes to town.  Hope you enjoy–I’ll be back to explain things in more detail later!

 

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I like this view of the living room–makes it look less sparse

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This big blank wall stresses me out…hopefully Sis and I can figure out what to do with it

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Bedroom!  I count 5 DIY projects in this picture, so get ready!

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Other wall (did I do too much?)

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The room looks claustrophobic in this picture, but I promise my bed is just large!

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Graduation on a Budget

Time for a complete break from my posting themes of late!  I’m all half-marathoned out and have nothing more to share (well, I did get an email yesterday containing the proofs of pictures that were taken of me during the run and they are funnyyyyyy but they all have PROOF stamped on them in giant red writing so I won’t share–and sorry but I’m not spending $25 for the rights to one picture).  I’m going to shift gears today and write another DIY post.

I am the media specialist at a high school.  One week from tomorrow the 74 seniors at my school will be graduating.  I’m not sure how high school graduations work where you live, but here’s how things go in North Dakota: several weeks before graduation, students begin sending out graduation announcements.  These announcements almost always include invitations to the student’s open house/after-grad party.  Teachers often receive several/many open house invitations.  This is where I think North Dakota is weird, because my friend from Chicago did not understand that at all–maybe it has to do with the smaller school size and the fact that we are able to get to know more of our students.  

Anyway, as of today I’ve gotten several open house invitations.  I will not be able to attend any of these open houses because many of them are Memorial Day weekend and my youngest sister is also graduating that weekend, so I will be in Dickinson celebrating her.  Since I can’t make it to their parties, I want to give them a gift beforehand.  I know my dad (who is also a teacher) usually gets a card for every student who gives him an announcement and puts $10 inside.  That can get expensive reallyyyyyy quickly, and since I’m a new college graduate living on a teacher’s salary, I needed to think of a different option.  My thoughts immediately went to DIY, and I took to Pinterest.

It took about 7 seconds and I found a solution to my problem:

ImageDon’t you seriously freakin’ love Pinterest?

When I clicked the picture it just took me to a static image (one of my major pet peeves) but this was simple enough that I could figure it out.  I made my list and was off to Hobby Lobby:

-Mason jars (one for each announcement received)
-Black cardstock (I got one sheet for each student but that ended up being way too much–better safe than sorry)
-Ribbon
-Candy (I had to go to Target for that)

That was it.  It was probably the easiest and cheapest Hobby Lobby trip I’ve ever made.  I took my supplies home and got to work.  

First, I used a piece of ribbon to measure the circumference of the jar.  It ended up being about 10 inches, so I cut strips of cardstock that were 10 in long and about an inch thick.  I debated on what to use as a connector, and ended up going with good ol’ Scotch tape. I taped the strips in a circle and then cut the top of the motarboard.  Here’s where this project gets a little embarrassing.  I’m a perfectionist, so I laid my ruler across the top of the jar and figured I wanted the diagonal of the square to be about 5 inches.  I broke out the formula for a 45-45-90 isosceles triangle and determined the length of the sides of the square (if you do this project you don’t have to be quite so OCD, but fyi for a 5-inch diagonal the sides of the square are about 3.53 inches).  I cut my squares and taped them to my circles.  Then I just filled the jars with candy, tied a ribbon around the top and voila!  My graduation gifts:

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I think they are pretty damn cute.  Unfortunately, my Hob Lob was out of the 2014 ribbon so I just went with red (one of the school colors).  I hope my students (girls and boys) will like them, and best of all they were cheap.  I also got these gift bags at 50% off, tissue paper, and a card for each student.  With all those things included I spent about $6/student.  I took the time to write a pretty heartfelt message for each student.  The gifts aren’t much, but I think my students will think they are cute and appreciate the effort!

Movin’ On Up

Guys, my string of bad luck in 2014 is getting almost comical.  This happened yesterday:

ImageI was lifting weights at the gym, set a 20-lb dumbbell on a bench and went to change the song that was playing on my phone.  As I did this the dumbbell rolled off the bench and landed on my foot.  My doctor was shocked it wasn’t broken because it was so swollen and tender.  I’m so relieved, because I only have to wear the boot for 1-2 weeks, meaning I should still have enough time to train for the half.  Six weeks in a cast would have forced me to withdraw my name.  I was scared to go to the doctor, because this is what my foot looked like after icing it for a solid 2 hours to bring the swelling down:

ImageNotice how my right foot is twice the size of my left?  Yeah, that’s why my doc thought it was broken

Now that I’m stuck gimping around in a boot, I needed something to cheer me up.  I texted my sister and asked if she wanted to go shopping to start getting ideas for our apartment decor.  Let me tell you, that was a great call.  We had so much fun wandering around Hobby Lobby and Gordmann’s, getting ideas and inspiration for our new place.  It’s really nice living with your sister because your tastes usually match up (and when they don’t you have no problem telling her that thing she likes is ugly).

Because we are working with a teacher’s and college student’s budget, we will probably want to do a lot of DIY in our place.  DIY is also nice because it means we could start working on projects now to help hold our excitement about moving at bay until June 1.  Here are a few of the projects we want to get going on:

1. Giant Letter Wall Art

We have a fairly long, blank wall in our living room.  Nikki had the idea of creating a giant letter “G” (our last initial) and putting it on the wall as a focal point.  Our vision would look something like this:

Giant Monogram  Wall Decals  Your Choice of Letter  by DaliDecals, $40.00

We don’t want to do the vinyl sticker thing, so we have to figure out what we want to use to create our letter.  Right now I’m thinking of using a large sheet of thick posterboard or balsa wood (any other suggestions?).

2. Jewelry Organizer

I’ve been wanting to do a project like this for a long time, but it was always pushed to the back burner.  I don’t have a very big jewelry box, so a lot of my jewelry is stuffed into random boxes.  I often forget about a lot of the pieces I have because they are scattered all over.  I REALLY like this idea that I found on Pinterest:

jewelry organizerI really like how this has a place to hang necklaces but also has little boxes for earrings and rings and such.  So many of the other organizers I’ve seen just create space for necklaces and dangly earrings.  I want all my jewelry in one place if possible.

3.  Wine Bottle Decor

Like many other kitchens, we have about a foot and a half of space between the top of our cupboards and the ceiling.  I refuse to put fake plants or ivy up there, but it also looks too plain with nothing.  I came across this picture on Pinterest and was immediately inspired:

Wine bottle diy decor. I'm loving this bottle idea to decorate.I‘m not sure if I would wrap the bottles with yarn or just paint them, but I like the idea.  And I have access to PLENTY of empty wine bottles (I studied abroad in Rome, it’s not my fault I’m a wino).  Simple, easy, and looks adorable.

These are 3 projects I plan on starting ASAP (like I said, I’m getting really impatient to move in!) but I am sure there will be plenty more that come about as we get settled and see what else we need.  I’m glad I have this little crafting outlet.  I’ve said before that I’m not an overly crafty person, but I am pretty decent at finding tutorials that are simple enough for me to take on.  

I’m not sure if this shopping trip helped ease the excitement about moving or made it worse, because now I think I am even more impatient to move in!

A History of DIY

I’m going to change the tone of what I’ve been posting lately.  I’ve been doing a lot of heavy emotional stuff, and today I just need a break from all of that.  At the beginning I said part of this blog was going to be about some of my crafting attempts.  Introducing, my first DIY post!

I’m currently staying at my aunt’s house because I gave up my apartment after I was robbed by my ex’s junkie friends.  There were too many memories there and I no longer felt safe.  Because my stay with my aunt is temporary, I only brought the necessities (clothes) and haven’t decorated my room or anything.  I’m jonesing for some DIY.  I decided a good solution would be to share all the ideas I had for decorating my old apartment.  

That apartment was the first place I’d lived in as a working adult and as such I no longer was ok with having the type of decor that is typical of college housing.  I wanted things to match and look nice.  However, I was also on a pretty tight budget.  I think I managed to do a pretty good job of making my place look nice without breaking the bank, so here are my tips for decorating your home on a budget:

1.  Ask friends/family if they have any furniture they want to get rid of.

I started stockpiling furniture early.  My grandparents gave me an extra coffee table they had in their basement.  When I was still living with a roommate my aunt told me she wanted to get rid of her dining room table that came with 2 leaves and 6 chairs.  We had my roommate’s table in our apartment but I knew I would eventually need my own, so I took it and put it in storage.  A few months later my cousin got married and used the wedding money to buy a new sectional so I took her old couch.  I was having trouble finding an entertainment center (I wanted one that fit into a corner so it saved space) so I went to Facebook.  It turned out my dad’s cousin had JUST bought a new entertainment center and sold me his old one for $20.  This furniture was all pre-owned but still in great condition (and nicer than anything I’d had in my college apartments).

2.  Be thrifty

I love going to garage sales.  Most of them are filled with junk (I went to one last summer that was selling candles that were half burned) but every once in a while you find some gems.  Last summer I was at a garage sale and found the most comfortable recliner I’ve ever sat in.  It was in great condition, and I managed to talk the owner down to $50 for it.  I vacuumed and Febreezed the chair and it was good to go.  

I also like going to thrift stores (the thing about junk vs. gems holds true for thrift stores as well).  I had very little in terms of wall decor, so I had to get creative.  At one thrift store I found this picture frame thing that had slots for 16 4×6 pictures and some swirly wire edging.  I popped the back off, removed all the glass (so the slots were just empty), painted the wood, and hung it on my wall (unfortunately I don’t have a picture).  Another find (this time on Craiglist) were a couple small endtables.  I bought them for $5 each, sanded them, spray painted them, and now have nightstands.

3. Pinterest.

Enough said.  Pinterest is an AMAZING source of ideas for decorating on a budget.  My projects don’t always turn out the way they look on Pinterest, but I will share a few of the success stories:

-Wall art: I don’t have a headboard so I wanted something large to hang on the wall above my bed.  The only prints that were big enough yet affordable were regular posters (and remember, no more college decorations) so I knew I would have to DIY.  I found this picture on Pinterest:

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My ex found a discarded pallet, popped the boards off, nailed them together, and I painted it.  This is what the finished product looks like:

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Not bad, and it looks really nice hanging above my bed.  The only costs for this project were the paint, so I got a wall hanging for about $4.

Another DIY project I did for wall art was painting my own canvases.  Trust me, I am not an artist in any sense of the word.  I cannot draw/paint.  Instead of creating magnificent works of art, I created something much more simple.  I bought two 12×12 canvases at Hobby Lobby (for like $7 total).  On one canvas I measured out a chevron pattern.  I didn’t even want to mess with painter’s tape, so I just made a grid of 2×2″ squares and then used a straight edge to draw diagonal lines through the squares (for you visual learners it looked like this:)

Displaying photo.jpgI painted half the stripes a mint green, then used black paint to freehand the word “joy” across the top.  Simple, cheap and adorable.  I used the second canvas to make a similar piece of art (this time using red spray paint over a criss-cross pattern and wrote the word “faith”).

-Table decor:  I found that I needed to have something centered on my dining room table or else it became cluttered with junk (and it looked really naked).  I found this simple and inexpensive idea on Pinterest, and it made my apartment smell amazing:

http://interiors-designed.com/2013/07/07/coffee-beans-and-vanilla-candles-instant-heavenly-aroma/ 

I did a lot more DIY when it came to Christmas decorating, but seeing how that’s not really seasonally relevant right now I’ll leave that off.

These are just a few ideas that I had time/funding for before I left my apartment.  As soon as I find a new place I’m sure I’ll be embarking on a few more projects (can I keep a wall hanging my ex and I made together, even if I reallyyyyyy like?) so I’ll be sure to post along the way!