The Stores You Forget About When Buying Home Goods

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Every time I walk down 14th Street in DC I’m bombarded with tons of places to buy home decor, including major brands like West Elm and Room and Board and smaller, local favorites like Miss Pixie’s and Salt and Sundry (I live dangerously close to all of these spots!). However, there are tons of more off-the-beaten path (and national) retailers that I often forget to scope out because I’m so used to my go-tos (Target, HomeGoods, and the like). Here are a few of my more “forgotten” favorites:

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1) H&M Home: I remember when H&M Home opened in New York–I was still living there at the time and was thrilled to scope out the collection. I still make a point to check out the newest arrivals online, as their selection changes fairly frequently. Their decorative items were perfect when I was styling our bookshelves, and I’ve also picked up some fun pieces for my bedroom while shopping in-store (the Georgetown location has a huge home section). Prices are great, especially when you consider how West Elm/Anthropologie-esque some of their pieces look. I snagged the mini gold mirror for my dresser shown above for only $7 (on sale, but still!).

2) Zara Home: I actually don’t shop at Zara much, even for clothes, but I know many people who LOVE their items. Zara Home ranges from being affordable to pretty expensive depending on what you’re buying, but make a point to scope them out when they’re having sales–I picked up a lot of fun pieces this way, as I mentioned here. Shipping is free always, which is also a major selling point!

3) Hobby Lobby: This is more than your basic arts and crafts supply store, trust me! While we don’t have any Hobby Lobby stores nearby in DC, it’s easy to shop online for wall art, furniture, accessories, and more. Seriously, you could get lost in their website for hours–the selection is huge. Definitely take a look around if you’re building a gallery wall or need some accent decor that won’t break the bank…you’ll have to filter out some of the cheesier items, but there are certainly some hidden gems!

4) Nordstrom: Obviously Nordstrom is a go-to for clothing, footwear, outwear…you name it! But their home items are pretty good, too. Check back frequently and browse the sale tab–I’ve snagged some cute throws/pillows as well as fun wall art from their site (also: they’re another place that always offers free shipping!). I’ve noticed their selection can either turn over/sell out super quickly or items will remain on the site for months. Oh, and another major bonus? Nordstrom Home now sells Anthropologie items, which means you can snag the things you’ve been wanting without having to pay for shipping!

5) Chairish: I would describe Chairish as somewhat of an upscale Craigslist (and it’s much more curated!). The resale site offers tons of different home items at a range of prices and is always fun to browse. Just pay attention to hefty shipping fees, as those can certainly be a dealbreaker. However, it’s a good place to scope out if you’re in the market for a specific kind of item or really appreciate vintage pieces.

Photos by Heather Bien

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My Dupont Area Guide

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Now that I’ve lived over here for six months (seriously, time flies!) it’s about time I do a post on my favorite neighborhood spots (I did a smaller one about a month back, but this one will be a little more comprehensive!). I’ll preface this with two notes–1) I honestly call the entire area surrounding me Dupont even though parts of it are technically Logan Circle/U Street-ish…our apartment was listed online as being in Dupont, but we’re very close to these other two areas, so I kind of describe my place as being in the middle of all three! 2) These are just a few of my personal recs and this definitely isn’t a comprehensive list. I’m also writing this kind of on a whim and am likely forgetting something! Lastly (sorry…I’ll stop rambling!), I really don’t go out to eat that much, so my restaurant guide is a little subpar–I feel like in previous cities, I honestly tried lots of restaurants through various boyfriends because going out to dinner was always our go-to date night activity (I’m sure many of you can relate!), and now that I’m not part of a couple, I’m like, oops…I’ve barely been to any of these!

Anyway, with all of that aside, haha…here are my favorite spots for…

Shopping: 

Starting this on a practical note…Trader Joe’s is my go-to spot for grocery shopping and I love being able to walk to one of the DC locations now. I barely ever made it to TJ when I lived in Georgetown even though the Foggy Bottom location was relatively close, although that’s partly because I lived near such a great Safeway that was about a three minute walk from my apartment. There’s still a Safeway near us now, but it’s known as the “Soviet Safeway” (the DC ones all have nicknames) and it definitely lives up to its reputation of being run down and often lacking in certain areas. (But if you live in Georgetown, seriously go to the “Social Safeway”–it’s amazing!).

In terms of shopping shopping, I think this post pretty much covers it–Miss Pixie’s, GoodWood, and Salt and Sundry are my go-to’s when it comes to weekend browsing. Also, Little Leaf is a spot that I frequent pretty often–I have several of their plants in my room! Plus, 14th Street is also home to chains such as West Elm, Room and BoardLululemon, and many, many additional stores.

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Happy Hour/Dining/Bars: 

I honestly don’t make it to HH as frequently as I would like, but Zorba’s is one of my favorite spots (I’ve been there on dates, with friends, and even alone–it’s super casual and is perfect for dropping in quickly or sitting down for a couple of hours). It’s a Greek spot that’s located right off of the Dupont Metro, making it super convenient whether or not you live in the neighborhood. The owner now knows me and sometimes honors my requests for extra happy hour wine even when it’s past 7:00. 😉 If you’re the kind of girl who appreciates no frills $3 wine, all of the hummus/dips, and delicious french fries, this is the spot for you!

Le Diplomate is a beloved French spot on 14th Street and is perfect for everyone–my friends and I love it, my parents and their friends love it, and for good reason! Go for brunch, drinks, dinner…everything is delicious and this is a highly-recommended spot that you shouldn’t miss if you come to this area (or to the city in general!).

El Centro is delicious for brunch and dinner alike. They also have a Georgetown location, but I really like this one as well. At brunch, you get a ton of food and unlimited drinks for a pretty good price, and if you go for dinner, definitely try the Chipotle BBQ chicken salad at some point–it’s so good, and I promise you won’t feel weird for ordering a salad at a Mexican restaurant; this isn’t a lame one and is super yummy! I also love Lauriol Plaza for Mexican food–start out by ordering one of their delicious swirl margaritas and then grab a platter of tacos (and some queso!). Lastly, there’s Mission, which is located right next door to Zorba’s and also has great happy hour specials in addition to regular dinner and brunch options.

Brick Lane is relatively new to me but has a great brunch menu and is reasonably priced. Alero, a Mediterranean place, is right down the street from Brick Lane and is another popular brunch spot, but be sure to make a reservation, because they definitely fill up! I ate there a few weeks ago and have also been to their happy hour–order the cheese plate and a cocktail! And of course, Duke’s Grocery is also right down the street, and I’ve been told you have to try their burger (although I can attest that their sandwiches are great as well). If you’re in the mood for a wide selection of American food, Ted’s Bulletin (a local chain) is a great option–I always want everything on the menu and am also obsessed with their famous poptarts!

A few of these places (particularly Mission) also double as popular places to go out at night…Ghibellina is another restaurant (delicious Italian) that also fills up on Friday and Saturday nights. I went to Sotto, a speakeasy-ish bar below it, a few weeks ago (overpriced wine = no thanks) and have also had a blast at Pearl Dive and Barcelona. If you venture out to U Street later at night, The Brixton, Provision 14, Hawthorne, and The Fainting Goat are all faves and are a great place to bring out of town friends who want to go out (just prepare to feel like you’re 23 again). That said, you can totally sit and have a drink there and actually hear each other if you get there early enough! Finally, for a real dive/1 am stop, head to the Codmother…just prepare yourself for sticky floors and angsty ’90s music–one of my friends and I call it “the Scotty Doesn’t Know Bar” because they play that song on repeat, and that about sums it up! Oh, and if you want a real speakeasy, definitely try The Sheppard–you may have to put your name in and come back, but the drinks are amazing (the bartender kind of just whips up whatever based on your preferences) and the atmosphere is classy and relaxing.

Coffee/Dessert: 

Colada Shop has a cult following and is conveniently located right off 14th Street–stop in for Cuban eats and good coffee. It’s right next door to Ice Cream Jubilee, an ice cream place that I tried the weekend I moved in–I’ve been meaning to go back, because all of their flavors looked super good! Jeni’s also opened this past fall and has amazing ice cream as well (plus super Instagrammable decor).

If you’re more of a froyo person, I love Mr. Yogato…it’s a super hole in the wall place and a little overpriced, but I swear the plain tart yogurt is among the best I’ve had (and they usually offer one additional flavor as well). Just note that the offerings are somewhat limited, and it also isn’t serve yourself as most froyo places are nowadays.

Activities: 

Kramerbooks and Afterwards is a super energetic bookstore and restaurant (though I’ve heard the food is pricy) and is open pretty late. Someone recently told me that they price match with Amazon, which I didn’t know!

If you’re in more of a game night mood, the Board Room is a super chill bar that lets you bring in your own food (because they don’t sell any!) and offers a wide selection of board games and seating. I went last year with a few high school friends and caught up over Cards Against Humanity, which was the perfect relaxing night out (if there is such a thing!).

Whew–this is everything I could think of for now, but I’m sure this will be updated soon! Anything I definitely need to try? I’m always up for more area recs!

Photos by forbetterdays4@gmail.com

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5 Ways to Practice Self Care

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I’ve been thinking a lot about self care lately–obviously because of all the books and blog posts and articles devoted to it, but also because it’s just so darn important (and doesn’t need to be done “for the ‘gram”). In fact, most of these tips involve unplugging entirely and just focusing on what’s around you and your goals (though trust me, Netflix IS key!).

1) Open a new book or start a new TV show and immerse yourself in it. Ah, the power of binge-watching to distract yourself. But seriously, whenever I start a new book or show that I totally love, I find myself thinking about it during the day (is anyone else like this?) and it helps me escape a bit from whatever is bothering me. Shows I’m loving lately are Hart of Dixie (which I’ve mentioned on here before), Emily Owens, MD, and of course my regulars like The Middle and Modern Family (please don’t tell me I’m the only one still watching!). Pick something lighthearted like one of these or pick up a dark thriller; either way, you’re guaranteed a bit of an escape, even if it’s only for 30 minutes.

2) Simplify one aspect of your daily routine. If you never like your outfits in the morning and run late because of this, pick them out ahead of time–or better yet, devote a weekend to a closet cleanout/shopping trip to end this problem once and for all! If you’re trying to be better about bringing lunch to work but can’t fathom waking up early to pack it, schedule a weekly Sunday evening meal prep session–or just grab cheap, healthy frozen meals from the grocery store and stock your freezer with them for an easy grab and go option. Think about what’s bothering you and try to fix it–for me, I recently did this by picking a gym near my apartment so that I wouldn’t have to worry about shuttling myself across town to work out.

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3) Pick one area within a specific category to improve upon and focus on that for the month.  You don’t necessarily need to overhaul your entire budget or diet or fitness routine or whatever you’re targeting (I think we’re all always focusing on all three of these things to some degree!) at one time. Start simple–for example, at the end of February, I added up how much money I’d spent on Ubers/Lyfts/public transit for the month and was astonished at the total–especially because I always, always opt for the cheapest ride (Uber Pool express, y’all!)–but $3 here and there can really add up. I made a goal of how much I would spend maximum for transportation each week during the month of March, and I’m proud to say I’ve achieved it (and if the weather hadn’t been so awful for a week followed by me being sick for a week, I would’ve been in an even better position). I now look forward to my walks to and home from work (extra steps, woohoo!) both for the health benefit and the financial benefit and am excited to do an even better job managing this in April (warmer weather will definitely help!).

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4) Do something alone. I’m not saying you have to cancel your plans for the next three weekends, but make time for yourself once in awhile (even if you live with your BFF/significant other/family and find yourself with a constant companion). I may be biased because I genuinely love doing things by myself, but treating yourself to a (free) museum, wandering around a new neighborhood, grabbing coffee at that place you think looks cool but your friends haven’t been free to try, etc, can actually be fun and relaxing in its own way.

5) Stop trying to count on other people to improve your mood. This is a hard one, but it’s true. Other people often won’t give you the response you’re looking for, are too caught up with their own issues, or are just plain busy. Learning how to fight your own battles yourself is definitely difficult but is part of growing up. Being in touch with your own emotions and letting yourself just be sad or think or grieve is just as important as having cheerleaders and support systems in your life–those are great, but other people can’t be there for you 24/7 and will get sick of listening to the same  thing over and over. This is something I’m still working on myself, but I’ve definitely tried to implement it a little more into my own life over the past few months!

What’s on your list of self care habits? Obviously I’ve left out the fun beauty/pampering-related ones, but those are important, too–my biggest guilty pleasure is treating myself to a massage!

Photography by Heather Bien 

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A Few Things to Try, Thanks to Pinterest (Round 5)

Whoops, it’s been way too long since I posted one of these roundups! I’m still guilty of turning to Pinterest several times a day for a little extra dose of inspiration, so I wanted to share a few of my favorites:

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1) Tackle an IKEA hack, like this one. I love the wood drawer and the touch of glam that the gold pull adds.

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2) Whip up this pizza (save me a slice, please!). It looks amazing and is a fun alternative to your traditional tomato sauce and cheese.

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3) Give your bathroom some love. Even if not too many people will see it, you’ll feel a little happier getting ready in a well-styled space. I recently ordered the print shown above (you’ve probably seen it all over Instagram) and can’t wait for it to arrive! Check out more of my bathroom styling tips here.

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4) Plan ahead for your next vacay (I’ve been looking up all things Savannah). Start making a list of things to do a few weeks out so that you don’t feel so overwhelmed in the days leading up to the trip! If you need inspiration for things to do in a particular city, just search Pinterest!

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5) Find a cozy spot and finally open those books that have been stacked up on your shelf…I’ve been tearing through a bunch of thrillers lately…#cantstopwontstop.

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Savannah (ooh na na) + Life Updates

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…sorry about the title of this post, but literally every time I hear the word “Savannah,” the “Havana song starts playing in my head. No bueno. But the good news is that a few college friends and I are traveling to Savannah at the end of April! One of my friends is in her second year of med school and has boards coming up, so we’re taking the trip right after to celebrate. It’ll definitely be nice to have a warm weather getaway with close friends to look forward to these next few weeks (especially as I write this while snow is falling outside–this post is scattered with pictures of the snowy walk I took earlier today!). Plus, I haven’t been on a real trip since the summer (which may seem like a shocker to all you travel bugs!). Moving this past fall and then settling into a new job in December has kept me in DC, but I honestly like it a lot (when I studied abroad, I was one of the people who mainly stayed in town and explored the city as much as I could, as opposed to the person who was flying to a new destination each weekend. I really like getting to know my hometown–and my new neighborhood–better and really feeling at home somewhere!).

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I’ve already gotten some great Savannah recs thanks to Facebook and Instagram, but if you have any others, I’d love to hear!

As for what else has been going on…

  • Life has been super busy lately, so I feel like I haven’t been great at keeping up with blog posts. I’ve essentially been in two roles at work since mid-January, so tackling all of my assignments has been my main focus. However, I’d much rather be busy at work all day than feel as if I don’t have enough to do–I’m sure many of you can relate. I’ve definitely learned a lot in my new role(s) despite having a never-ending to do list!
  • I’ve also struggled a bit with really carving out a community in DC. I feel like I’ve made a ton of effort to meet new people and am SO thankful for the friends that I have down here. It just sometimes seems like it’s impossible to make plans with people, and I was definitely spoiled in college having a group of friends who all knew each other (it doesn’t really happen that way once you hit adulthood!). However, I’ve loved introducing some of my close DC friends to one another these past few months. I’m such a girlfriends girl that feeling balanced in this area can honestly stress me out more than dating! I think a lot of my college friends feel the same way in their cities, though. It can be really hard to find people to do things with (although I love doing touristy things/shopping alone, too, haha) if you aren’t in the city where you went to college or have left somewhere and moved back.

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  • I never get sick (I missed two days when I was working at a K-12 school, and both of them were during breaks, which means I didn’t even catch anything from the kids!), but this week I was home one day with a migraine (my first “real” one ever–it sucked) and now kind of feel like I have a cold. I get really paranoid about getting sick and if I am, I don’t cope with it well (just ask my mom) so this has been a struggle, haha. A few people sent me migraine-related tips on IG the other day and I’ll definitely keep them in mind if this happens again…but I hope it won’t anytime soon, ouch.
  • These past couple of weeks have been a fail because of the cold weather, but I really enjoy walking to work now! It takes me 20-25 minutes and is such a nice way to start and end the day. I’m really trying to amp up my fitness routine in general to be in good shape for a few events this summer, so I’m hoping that April will be my month of workouts/eating healthier. Now that I found a gym I love, I just need to keep incorporating it into my schedule (which may mean going before work sometimes). Trust me, finding a gym that’s convenient is everything!

What’s going on in your world lately? xo

 

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Artist I Love: Juniper Briggs

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Have you heard of Juniper Briggs? I discovered her art last year and promptly ordered this print off of Minted, which made an appearance in my AT home tour (above). She’s also a local, working out of Bristow, VA. I’ve since wanted to expand my collection after seeing how gorgeous her work looks in so many different kinds of rooms, from offices to living rooms and more.

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Note that the work on her website is pretty expensive, so the best way to snag a piece of your own is going through Minted (unfortunately, the options are limited, but I’m loving this black and white face piece and may have to add it to my own cart…).

I love the below examples of how people have styled her art in their homes:

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My Wellness Picks on Amazon

amazonIt seems like I can’t stop sharing my love for all things Amazon Prime lately, but I know that most of you are equally obsessed, so why not?! I was talking a little bit about my acupressure mat on my IG stories the other day and wanted to include a link to the actual product here. As I said the other day, it definitely does hurt at first/take some getting used to, but it has a cult following for a reason! Here are a few other of my wellness-related picks that you can snag on Amazon:

1) I was reading MyDomaine (love this site!) the other day and clicked on an article about sample sized items sold on Amazon. Uhh, who knew?! I immediately added this eye steam mask to my cart and am excited to use it (I love trying different products like these). Will report back with how it works!

2) I know you’re supposed to chug a tall glass of water immediately upon waking up, but let’s face it, how many of us really do this? Since I live on the second floor of my apartment, I usually don’t make it downstairs until after I’m done getting ready. However, I’ve definitely woken up thirsty too many times and decided it’s easy enough to keep a carafe by my bed (a nalgene also works, but I wanted something a little more stylish!). This one has done the trick and looks super classy for being under $20.

3) I’ve never been much of an sleep mask girl (I always wake up with them halfway across the bed; I have no idea how people can keep them on all night!), but if you’re a fan, these have gotten rave reviews.

4) Curling into bed with a good book after a long day can work wonders, and I’ve found that I equally enjoy fiction and nonfiction as long as I’m interested in the subject matter. I just read this one as part of the Girls Night In March book club, and I can’t wait to discuss later this week.

5) This is the biggest “splurge” on the list. I have a couple of NEST candles (I actually grabbed the larger one at Nordstrom Rack!) and they’re great. I always love lighting a candle at night while I read or watch Netflix; it’s become a part of my bedtime routine!

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This Week

I wanted to share a mix of “real life” photos from the week (and maybe I’ll make this more of a thing), as I always am nosy and enjoy seeing a less curated snippet of what people are doing.

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On Sunday, I had a home photo shoot with Heather (can’t wait to share all of her pics sometime soon!) which meant that I was running around like a crazy person preparing on Friday evening/Saturday (plus I totally slept in longer than I intended on Sunday morning due to the time change, oops!). However, it was nice to finish the weekend with an even cleaner apartment than usual (I’m a neat freak as it is, but fresh flowers + freshly dusted surfaces always help). On a whim, I decided to spend Sunday afternoon playing tourist and headed down to the United States Botanic Garden and the National Gallery for a few hours. I never do things like this on my own–not because I don’t like to go alone; I actually love it!–but because it seems like there’s always so much regular life stuff to do that touristy stuff only happens when friends are in town.

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The Botanic Garden was beautiful (we always went to see their holiday displays growing up) and was the perfect warm, sunny spot to visit. I also finally got to see the famous cakes painting at the National Gallery (and obviously left with a postcard and print).

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On Tuesday, I walked down to The Coffee Bar during lunch to see what all the hype was about (it’s been popping up on my Instagram feed a ton lately), and the space is adorable! I grabbed an iced vanilla latte to go and drank it on my walk back to the office–side note: the cold weather this week has really disrupted my walking to work routine. I usually walk at least one way if not both, but it’s been freezing in the mornings and then I’ve often had plans after work that have taken me off my normal route. While at first I wasn’t a huge fan of my 20/25 minute walk each way, it’s come to feel more like 10/15 minutes and has been a great way to start/end the day. I honestly am so excited for spring weather just because my commute will be that much more enjoyable (though don’t get me wrong, you’ll likely never hear this girl complain about a commute ever again…going from 1.5-2 hours to 5-20 minutes depending if I walk or drive has been INCREDIBLE).

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On my list for this weekend? Visiting the new Amazon bookstore in Georgetown (I’ve been to one in NYC and while I wasn’t necessarily blown away–I prefer used/independent bookstores any day!–it definitely is a neat concept) and potentially checking out this coffee shop. TGIF!

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Quick Home Decor Updates

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As a fairly impatient person, I feel like I’ve kind of mastered ways to make home updates happen quickly! Whether you’re in the mood to finally check stuff off of your decorating list or have house guests/a party/a photo shoot on the agenda in the near future, sometimes you just want to make things happen in a matter of days. Here are a few of my favorite ways to make quick home updates.

1) Print your own art. I used to be skeptical of digital downloads on Etsy because I never thought the prints would actually look that great if I had them done on my own. Then, in grad school, I lived right next door to a print shop and decided to give the whole digital download thing a whirl. I was super happy with how fast the prints were ready, how good they looked, and best of all, how inexpensive they were to print (usually $2 or so each). I was in the mood to jazz up my bedside art situation before my shoot with Heather over the weekend and ended up printing out a few things at the FedEx store near my office. I was able to upload the files online, select a store location, and pick them up within a matter of hours, making it super easy–no flash drive needed! If you have a Staples/CVS/FedEx nearby, try it out–I always opt for glossy paper and then pop the print into a frame I already own. This is a great way to cheaply switch out art prints and to get a new look without waiting days for things to arrive in the mail (while I love Society6 for prints, I find their shipping to be very slow most of the time).

2) Amazon Prime. As I mentioned in my post earlier this week, Prime is a lifesaver on all accounts and I’ve found that sometimes items arrive within one day instead of two! I’ve also found that Prime sells home items that are often available on other sites like Wayfair and Overstock, but they obviously ship much faster on Amazon. Be sure to do some searching via Google if you’re looking at an item that may be sold in multiple places.

3) Task Rabbit. I’ve used Task Rabbit a few times for things that I just can’t do myself, which, I’ll proudly admit, isn’t much (although I’m not saying that’s a good thing…I definitely could stand to be a bit more cautious when it comes to carrying furniture pieces up my spiral staircase!). One of my friends was jokingly giving me a hard time for using Task Rabbit to hang a shelf in my bedroom, but in reality, I do all my own spray painting, lifting, and hammering the rest of the time…I just don’t trust myself with a drill! I’ve always had pretty good experiences with the service (if you’re not familiar with it, you type in your task–which can range from standing in line to building a bookcase–receive a list of various “Taskers” and their rates and reviews, and then select someone based on mutual availability. I know the service is available in cities like DC and NYC although I’m not entirely sure if they have it elsewhere. However, I definitely recommend it to knock out things that you’ll just never get around to on your own, as slots are open all the time and it’s generally fairly easy to find someone to help you.

4) Plants/flowers. Plants really add so much life to a room–I just got a new one for the shelf over my bed (which my Task Rabbit installed!) and I LOVE how it looks up there. Whether you pick up succulents or a lemon tree, I guarantee you’ll notice a difference in your space! If you don’t live near a plant store and need a cheaper/faster option, Trader Joe’s bouquets always save the day and are so affordable!

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Home Decor Articles I’m Loving

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Whenever I read an interesting article, I’ll email it to myself to post it on the blog, but that doesn’t always happen…whoops. However, I’m popping in with a quick post today because I wanted to share the articles below (and maybe this will become a regular thing!). I hope you enjoy them as much as I did…

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