An Easy Look to Recreate in Your Living Room

You all know how much I love my gallery walls, but lately I’ve come across a new look while browsing on Pinterest…and I kinda like it (still love gallery walls more, though, don’t worry).

However, we all know how frustrating it can be to put together a gallery wall, at least sometimes (I’m definitely among the more impatient and just go ahead without cutting out pieces of newsprint and taping them to the wall, which is what you’re supposed to do).

But, I mean, how easy it is to recreate this look?

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Have a cool accent chair you’re looking to show off? Place it against the wall and hang two or three eye-catching pieces of art above it, and you’re done. That’s it. Then you can plop down in the chair and read/scroll through Instagram/whatever you do when you have a couple of seconds to actually sit down.

Here are a few more pictures for inspiration:

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5 Places to Buy Last Minute Gifts in DC

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It’s almost November, which mean gift-giving and gift guide making season is about to commence. A coworker of mine was scrambling to find a gift the other afternoon, which make me think about all of the great places in DC that sell cute items that are 1) fairly low-cost and 2) easy to pick up the same day (read: no scrambling around a store to find the perfect thing). Here are a few of my local picks, which will come in handy as gift-giving season amps up shortly!

  • Little Leaf. This is an adorable plant/card shop in the Dupont/U Street area that is the sister store of Salt and Sundry, which I also love. Grab your friend a succulent and you have the perfect little gift! Carrie recently purchased a plant from there for her bedroom, and it’s looking great so far, and last weekend, I picked up a small aloe plant for upstairs. The plant, pot, and saucer only set me back $16!
  • The Paper Source. You really can’t go wrong at the Paper Source. I used to spend way too much time browsing in there when I lived closer to one, especially in New York, because surprisingly, there just wasn’t anything else like it! Pick up a Rifle Paper candle, a cute journal, or a handy travel pouch for no more than $20 or $30.
  • Anthropologie. Good old Anthro. Like Paper Source, this obviously isn’t unique to the DC area, but I’m including it on here because their in-store pickup system is so easy. I did it a ton when I lived in Georgetown and didn’t want to pay for shipping! Grab a cute mug, a set of bowls, or check out the sale section for great hostess gifts. Bonus: Right now, all of their sale items are an additional 40 percent off!
  • Urban Dwell. This is a relatively new-to-me store, but it sells a bunch of home goods and paper goods (like the famous DC prints I wrote about here). It would be a great spot to pick up a housewarming gift!
  • Trader Joe’s. Hear me out, ok? Honestly, when can you ever go wrong with a pretty bottle of wine and a sweet treat to go with it? I was browsing the other day and noticed how many adorable bottles they have (they even sell Whispering Angel for way less, though the season for that has passed!). Pair it with a personalized note or a candle, and you’re all set!
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Easy Last Minute Halloween Costume Ideas

It’s Halloweekend! So excited to celebrate in Dupont this year; it’s been very festive walking around the neighborhood these past few days! Shelby is coming down from West Virginia and we’re going out on Saturday. I’ll be dressing up as the “queen of hearts,” aka wearing red, a tiara, and tons of heart stickers. Punny, simple, and comfortable = just the way I like it.

No matter what you’re doing for Halloween, a punny costume is always great because it’s 1) generally easy to put together last minute and 2) easy to do for little or no cost, and 3) always a natural conversation starter (because people will either recognize your costume and think it’s clever, or have absolutely no idea what you’re supposed to be and ask you tons of questions…I’ve had both happen). For this year’s costume, I purchased my red shirt for $3 at a thrift store, ordered a $5.99 crown from Amazon Prime, and grabbed my stickers from the Paper Source when I was in Georgetown earlier this week. I’ll snag a picture this weekend and put it up here or on Instastories at some point, but for now, here are a few of my punny costumes from the past few years.

Shelby and I dressed up together and had a blast as deviled eggs. She snagged the devil props and made the shirts with her crafty sister, and we wore white pants and were super comfy all night long.

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The year before, I was Kimmy Schmidt, because…it was also easy and comfortable (not to mention, I love the show). I was bummed because the floral shirt I ordered that looked a lot more like Kimmy’s didn’t come in time, but I think I still pulled it off. 😉

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Not Halloween, but had to share because it was such a hit. A friend in grad school threw a 90s-themed New Years Eve party (super random, but incredibly fun), and my friend Anna and I were CatDog (not the best shot of our costume, but you get the idea). Again, all we needed was a bit of felt and some craft store t-shirts.

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In 2014, I was “blackmail,” which involved wearing all black and a bunch of postage supplies (I think I had some old stamps and then got the rest of my supplies at the post office!). My friend Allison was in need of a last-minute costume, so we stopped at the Benjamin Moore store down the street and she picked up tons of paint chips to be 50 Shades of Grey (it was a popular one that year!).

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Senior year of college, two friends and I did Three Blind Mice, which was a perfect simple group costume. Again, Amazon + clothes we already owned to the rescue!

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What are your favorite easy costume ideas? In my first job out of college, my two coworkers and I dressed up as different New York City subway lines for our office costume contest (I was the 4,5,6 and wore all things preppy, because Upper East Side, ha).

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A Few Things to Try, Thanks to Pinterest

I know we’re all busy people here…but just in case you find yourself with a spare hour or two (ha!), here are a few fun things to try, courtesy of good old Pinterest. Do them this week or save them for later…cold, dark fall/winter nights = tons of time to get stuff done around the house, right?

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1) If you have a lazy weekend morning, scour Craigslist, Goodwill, or even the sale section of Target for a rattan bar cart that’s in need of a bit of a makeover…then paint it bright blue or another fun color, as seen in this tutorial! I’m absolutely in love with how the finished piece turned out and would love to recreate this look. I still need to find a good space to spray paint in my new place…maybe on the roof, but I’m skeptical. My last apartment had a big outdoor area by the trashcans (so glam, I know) where I could lay down newspaper for smaller projects, but I always did bigger things at my parents’ house!

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2) Master the art of the perfect cheeseboard using items from Trader Joe’s! I’ve always wanted to lay out a perfect-looking setup, but it never really happens….Although everything always tastes good, so I guess that’s all that matters… 😉

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3) Explore a new cafe or bakery, then bring treats home for your roomies/family/significant other. I’ve recently discovered Bakeshop, which is conveniently located right near my spin class, and yes, I’ve already tried a Nutella macaron, their banana pudding (yum), and a chai tea latte…oops!

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4) Use items you already have to make a pretty home display. Hang your straw hats on the wall, get a nice silk scarf professionally framed, or display old family photos to make your space both meaningful and vintage-y.

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5) Make a reservation (or plan a road trip) to try the best brunch in your state (DC, where you at?!).

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My 5 Favorite Organization Products from Amazon

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Can we just take a moment to swoon over how perfect this closet looks? While mine may never look quite like that, I’ve worked over the years to make the most of whatever closet/storage space I have, and Amazon Prime is superb when it comes to organizational gear (no, this post is in no way affiliated with them…I’m just a very dedicated customer!) Literally in order to write this, I just went through my entire Amazon order history from the past year-ish…let’s just say I had to scroll through pages on pages!

1) Wire shelf: I saw that Carrie had ordered some of these for our food storage shelves, so I ordered one of my own, and it works great! I need all the space I can get since our cupboard is pretty small. I had previously used something similar in Philly to keep all of my coffee mugs organized (I have a ton of them!). It would also work well in the bathroom–place one under the sink for toilet paper storage. At under $8, you can’t go wrong.

2) Velvet hangers: I used to not be too picky about hangers but have become a fan of these over the years. I’ve ordered several sets since my move in order to keep my closet orderly. It’s quite large with some built-in’s in the back that I use for shoes and other storage! Since I have a lot more space to hang things, I’ve taken some of my “going out tops” out of my dresser drawers, which will hopefully keep them wrinkle-free and ready to wear.

3) K-cup drawers: This is a perfect storage system for k-cups because it keeps them 1) organized, 2) out of sight, and 3) can fit under my actual Keurig machine, which is an amazing way to save space. I’ve had mine for about a year and it’s held up super well. It takes up such little actual/visual space that I won’t go back to anything else!

4) Under bed bag: This is perfect if you have limited storage. I’ve used under bed bags and boxes for everything from books to winter accessories…they don’t just have to be for sweaters/blankets!

5) Spice rack: If you’re a big cook and like to keep things handy, it couldn’t be more convenient, and the clear style is super modern. This could also double as a cute nail polish rack!

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How My Decorating Style Has Evolved: My Apartments in NYC and Philly

Over the years, my decorating style has changed quite a bit as I’ve moved apartments and gone from being a (barely) 22-year-old recent college grad to a 26-year-old professional.

My first apartment in New York was filled with tons of IKEA and fun wall art. I’ve always been (and probably always will be) a huge sucker for gallery walls, and they’re one constant that I’ve kept from apartment to apartment. My NYC apartment was a studio but was quite spacious and had a calming, airy feel. I decorated mostly with blue and white and kept the space nice and open. Ignore the crappy iPhone photos, but they’re all I have! I figure icky photos from 2014 are preferable to no photos, right? 😉

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In this apartment, I loved being able to have friends over in the living area. I hosted a lot of small get togethers and never felt cramped. I never actually sat at my desk (I’ve always been big on working from the couch/my bed), but it added a nice touch. I will say that at this point, I knew I liked gold/bamboo, but I didn’t know much about specific furniture brands and styles. It was in Philly where I fell in love with faux bamboo chippendale chairs, campaign furniture, and the like. In New York, I didn’t really add much furniture or subtract stuff from my apartment after I’d moved in. I was beyond skeptical of Craigslist and thrift stores in the city due to bedbugs, but I started to explore these resources in Philly and became hooked!

In Philly, I lived in an apartment off campus, which was actually much more affordable and much nicer than Penn’s recommended student housing. Even though I was in a studio, my apartment once again felt sufficiently comfortable (although my kitchen space was TINY–one countertop, an oven, and a fridge = chaos). I actually kept my microwave permanently on my kitchen table because that was the only place it could fit! In this apartment, I still made the space pretty girly (and #basic) incorporating fun bar carts (yes, I had multiple, but used one as a nightstand!), decorative pillows, and lots of color-coded books. Again, I have some iPhone photos handy (#cringing)…I had submitted these to Best Friends for Frosting who wanted to do a home tour but unfortunately couldn’t find a photographer to come to Philly! 🙁

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A friend was getting rid of this bar cart, so I was eager to scoop it up. It was a little big and worked great as a nightstand! I also purchased my trusty Target headboard, which was a great decision and has held up wonderfully.

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Again, never really used the desk and wasn’t even going to bring it with me from NYC, but the movers said they’d take it for free. I built it wrong and it was kind of falling apart the whole time! I barely worked in the library in grad school and preferred getting everything done in my room or in the office where I did my graduate assistantship. I do miss this apartment because it was so cozy and I really made it feel like home, even though I was only there for a year and a half (although thinking about it now, that’s longer than I lived in my place in Georgetown!). I also was spoiled with a walk-in closet, but that meant that I didn’t have a separate storage spot for cleaning supplies and coats.

All I can say is…no, these photos really don’t do the places justice, and omg, thank goodness for professional apartment photography in my DC home! I’m working on getting a shoot together for my new place but would like to figure out a few more things first…in my Dupont home, I have opted for darker, more gender-neutral, antique-looking, “grown up” pieces. Think less quirky wall art (though I still love it) and more classic-looking pieces. This is a first coming from a girl who was once obsessed with white furniture! While my current space doesn’t have the same crisp, girly look, I’m loving how it’s turned out so far and can’t wait to share a full reveal with you all!

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FRIDAY FEELS, #14

A snapshot of one of the nooks in my new room!
A snapshot of one of the nooks in my new room!

Bookmarked: Now that I live just a few minutes walking distance from a Trader Joe’s, it’s become my go to spot for everything under the sun (seriously, I even picked up toothpaste and makeup remover there the other night…I love that they sell those things!). These yummy Trader Joe’s dinners that you can easily make for yourself or for a group are just what I need. Thanks for sharing, Cup of Jo!

DC to-do list: So many fun things, including a long-awaited brunch at Le Diplomat tomorrow! My good friend Allison is coming down from NYC and we’re planning on doing allll the DC things (a lot of which involve eating). We’re also hoping to carve pumpkins on my roof while eating pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and drinking Trader Joe’s spiced apple cider (I think it would be delicious to mix it with champagne) because, fall. Also, fun fact about Allison: we met on the first day of college (woohoo!) and she’s visited me in each and every one of my post-grad apartments (the NYU dorm I lived in while interning the summer before senior year, my summer apartment in NYC where I lived right after graduation, my “real” NYC apartment, my place in Philly, my place in Georgetown…even my parents’ house! Can’t wait for her to see my new spot and be one of my first visitors!). Tonight, my friend Catherine is coming over after work for wine and catching up. I’m excited to show her my new spot, too!

Pinning: I purchased a gold trunk for my place via Craigslist (and I guess I’ve been talking about it on here a lot, because one of my friends saw it when she came over and was like, “Ohh, that’s the trunk!” I love how this one is styled…you really can use a trunk in any room and have it look classy!

Tackling: I’m trying to make my closet and bathroom all pretty thanks to some storage supplies I ordered from Amazon and Bed Bath and Beyond. I’m thinking of using little rolling tray in my bathroom because I need somewhere to set my hair straightener while it’s heating up (the side of the sink isn’t cutting it). Luckily, BB&B had the cutest option—I mean, this could even work as a mini bar cart, and the price can’t be beat (I ordered the gold). It’s quite small, but it looks adorable!

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When You’re Feeling Busy…

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The past few months have been some of the busiest I can remember, and looking back, I’m glad that I figured out when to cut back and when to still say yes. In September, I was working full-time, working part-time in retail, freelancing, apartment searching and preparing to move, wrestling with some personal decisions, and oh, trying to maintain a social life and workout routine! There were also extra things that, sure, I didn’t have to do but still wanted to do—helping edit a good friend’s business school essays and working with a woman from my church who wants to redesign her living room, for example. During this busy time, I did a lot of self-reflection and came away with a few points, which I’ll share below:

1) Understand what you want to prioritize. I think one of the biggest things I realized is that everyone prioritizes differently, and what might make sense for you would absolutely drive someone else insane. Take this example: even when I’m super busy, I still make an effort to be plugged in to my phone and social media. And this isn’t because I’m “better” at staying on top of these things than other people—it’s because honestly, I feel more overwhelmed if I don’t do these things! I hate feeling behind and out of the loop, and by texting with friends, checking Facebook, and watching an Instagram story or two, I actually feel a little more sane (call me crazy). For other people, workouts may be a top priority (and I really should be in this camp, because working out does so much for me mentally). And then there’s another set of people who may thrive on social things like events and happy hours after work in order to stay grounded (whereas I rarely do social activities during the week because it makes me feel too exhausted!).

2) Saying “I don’t have time” isn’t always going to cut it. Going along with the above, I’ve learned that there will always be time for things if you make them a priority. Whenever I tell my mom something like, “Ugh, if I just had more time, I’d finally be able to start that book I’ve always wanted to write,” she’ll remind me that if that was truly a priority of mine, I would’ve found a way to start. Harsh, but kind of true.

3) Planning ahead is your friend, as is keeping up with a hobby. This next point isn’t anything groundbreaking, but I’ll keep it on here anyway. I’ve been able to stay on top of blogging by scheduling posts several days in advance. I often feel a creative streak coming on and am able to crank out post after post and then schedule them for the next few days (even weeks). However, blogging in general is a lot of fun for me and a big stress reliever, so it truly doesn’t feel like a chore! As a related point, I’m a firm believer in keeping some things purely as hobbies. Just because I love interior design, for example, doesn’t mean I need to pursue it professionally (at least for now). My friends who run 5k’s and marathons don’t need to drop everything and become professional runners (this is an example I use a lot when people ask me why I don’t just work in the design field!). Having a hobby can be a great distraction from day-to-day expectations and pressures.

4) It’s ok to cut something out of your life. I loved my part-time job, but it was meant to be more of a summer commitment for when I had shorter hours at work. I really enjoyed the social aspect and the extra cash, but after awhile, I realized I valued my catch-up time on weekends more. Since I don’t enjoy cramming a ton of activities into the work week (although I’ve definitely been doing this lately for whatever reason), weekends are truly my social/errand/workout/sleep in/freelance/blog/family time. As a result, I decided to quit my part-time job in order to have a little more “me time.” While I hate saying “no” to anything, it was the right decision for me.

How do you stay grounded during particularly busy times? I’d love any additional advice!

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Score a Gray Malin Print on Sale

If you’ve been looking to pull the trigger on a coveted Gray Malin print, you’re in luck! You’ve seen them on blog after blog or maybe even own Gray’s coffee table book (side note: I popped into his super crowded event at Salt and Sundry for a hot minute last week and was thrilled to see Gray IRL). Just need to add one to your home? Here’s how…from time to time, Gilt City offers deals where you can purchase a credit to shop at GrayMalin.com, and the savings are huge! I purchased a $249 print credit (this is how much most of his prints cost at minimum—eek—though the famous balloon art starts at $199) and only paid $129 thanks to the promo and applying an additional 20 percent off coupon for new Gilt City users. I still had to pay an additional $15 out of pocket for shipping via GrayMalin.com, but I was able to score an amazing print (after some deliberation, I picked this one) for about half the price! This is really a steal because the website rarely offers sales of any kind, and when they do occur, they’re often limited to a specific collection.

I absolutely cannot wait for it to arrive—my balloon art picture that I purchased in May already has a spot in my new apartment, and I can’t wait to add a signature beach photograph to the mix!

The next step is framing, which is tricky, because the print I ordered is 11.5 x 17, aka not a traditional frame size. Unfortunately, anyone who loves wall art knows that finding a good frame that doesn’t break the bank is half the battle. I’m not usually a big fan of custom framing due to the cost, but if you’re going to shell out $$$ for a nice piece of artwork, it seems reasonable to treat it to a special frame that will hold up over time! Rather than spending an extra $160 to have my print arrive pre-framed from Gray Malin, I did what I did last May, which was purchase a Groupon that I can use at a local frame shop. The one I purchased this time around only cost me $33 but covers up to $150 worth of framing costs (I’m hoping I won’t have to pay anything additional out of pocket!) and is good for use at a store right in Dupont! While framing can take two to three weeks (or longer), it’s worth the wait to have a nice-looking, professionally-framed print that you can keep for years to come.

Who’s ready to order a (or another) Gray Malin print via Gilt? If you get one, let me know what you pick!

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This and That

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Happpppy Monday! I always enjoy a good personal post and especially love when other bloggers do little Q&As, so here’s one of my own. Chime in with your own answers if you’d like!

Song that always pumps you up: This may seem silly, but it’s been Countdown for the past several years (since I was a junior in college, to be exact!). I think I heard it at just the right time (a particularly insane point in my life/the semester) and it gave me the boost of positivity I needed (thanks, Bey!).

Song that makes you laugh: Ok, this is definitely a nontraditional one, but I’d have to go with Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. My sister and I both love it to the point that we’ll randomly text each other, “Jade?” and the other person will always respond with “Alexander!” without a pause, haha. But I remember telling this to a friend another time and she was like, “Uhh, this was my song with my ex boyfriend.” To each their own, hahaha.

Song that never fails to make you cry: Oh gosh. Lately it’s been The Luckiest by Ben Folds. I first heard this song in high school (I think someone sang it at our talent show) and thought it was sweet, but lately it’s made me tear up every. single. time. I think the lyrics can be interpreted in a lot of ways (I love the message about fate/chance), but…omg, sob.

Website that’s your biggest time suck: Honestly for me, it would be Pinterest (follow me here!). I love hopping on there whenever I have some extra time and always leave feeling insanely inspired (and wishing I had time to do a DIY/redecorate my entire home, haha). I think it’s a great site for when you only have a few minutes, because you can easily bookmark items for later and don’t have to worry about emailing yourself links, saving pictures, etc.

Dream road trip destination: It’s embarrassing for me to say this as a DC native, but I actually have never been to Richmond or Charlottesville and would love to make a trip down there soon! It’s easy enough to hop in the car and get to both of these places within a couple of hours, so I just need to coordinate it with someone.

On my DC to do list: Brunch at Le Diplomat! It’s embarrassing to say that I haven’t done this either…but now that it’s right around the corner, I have no excuse! I may have to go there when one of my college friends visits in a few weeks!

Craving: I seriously had a dream the other night that I was in line at CAVA…but honestly any Mediterranean food sounds amaze right now.

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