An Easy Winter Cocktail Featuring Sugar Island Spiced Rum

IMG_6789

Having Monday off thanks to the snow was such a dream. I read two books and started a third, cooked a healthy dinner (Brussels sprouts from the farmer’s market + Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocci with vodka sauce + roasted corn), and got to try out this new cocktail recipe (which I’ll hardly call a recipe because it’s so darn easy!).

(A quick note: a wonderful PR company that I work with for the blog kindly sent over a bottle of the rum for me to try, but all reviews are my own!).

I usually just set out wine when I entertain at home and would love to be better at cocktail making, so I’m always happy to try new spirits and mixers. Sugar Island Rum is full of caramel and vanilla flavors, as well as a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove (what better combo for winter?) and is said to be similar to Captain Morgan spiced rum. I wasn’t sure what kind of cocktail I wanted to whip up, but I know that rum and ginger beer go great together (who doesn’t love a dark and stormy?), and since I keep spotting ginger beer at Trader Joe’s, I figured I’d pick up a pack of it. FYI- ginger beer is nonalcoholic and is a great drink on its own if you’re doing dry January or just trying to cut back on alcohol!

IMG_6800

To create this super yummy dark and stormy variation, all you need to do is fill a glass halfway with ginger beer (one bottle was enough for two people–my roommate tried the cocktail, too!) and then top it off with a shot glass portion of rum. Then, just stir everything together and add a squeeze of lemon or lime to your liking (I happen to love adding lime to drinks, alcoholic or not), and that’s it! Super easy and delicious and perfect for this time of year.

IMG_6780

What’s your favorite rum based drink, and what are your go-to cocktails to make at home?

Continue Reading

An Amazing Cane Headboard DIY Inspired by Serena & Lily

IMG_6727

I’m so excited to share this post with you guys, because I know how much everyone loves a good DIY- and while this one is a little more advanced, the end product is absolutely STUNNING!

As you may remember, the other day I rounded up some Serena & Lily lookalikes that I found while browsing TJMaxx.com. Soon after, a reader named Alicia messaged me on Instagram sharing her own DIY replica of a Serena & Lily headboard. From the moment I saw her pictures of the piece, I was blown away!

Alicia fell in love with the Harbour Cane Headboard on Serena & Lily’s website, but she wasn’t thrilled about the price tag and figured she could make her own instead. (As she put it, “Who doesn’t want to save $1,150 plus?!).

IMG_6726

First things first, she did a search for DIY caned headboards on Pinterest and found this tutorial, which she ended up modifying slightly. With the help of her dad, Alicia recreated the look using a roll of woven caning (six feet’s worth to fit her queen bed) and crown molding/baseboard, which she painted using this shade from Home Depot). She and her dad then added a center piece of wood to make the result appear more similar to the Serena & Lily product and used these to secure the corners. Alicia says she also used lots of staples to hold the caning and make sure everything was tight!

Alicia then shipped the piece up to DC from her parents’ home in Florida via Greyhound bus! (I’ve heard of people doing this and was always curious about how the process worked, but that’s a post for another day). She’s since attached it to the wall above her bed using command strips.

While the project isn’t beginner level (as Alicia put it, “There were definitely saws involved!”), it’s so worth it given that the total cost of making this beautiful piece was $100 (minus the Greyhound shipping!). Alicia, you have me SOLD. Definitely check out the full tutorial for more detailed instructions (I also found this one on Apartment Therapy that’s also Serena & Lily inspired), and let me know if you decide to make this yourself!

Continue Reading

Recent Winter Buys

7
Image

I’m writing this post while watching the snow fall out my window after having had the laziest start to the morning, and it’s kind of the best thing ever. While I spend a lot of time making my home someplace that I want to be, I admittedly like to cram a LOT into my weekends (especially in the mornings), and I don’t spend much time just lazing around in the apartment (unless I’m taking one of my glorious 2.5 hour afternoon naps, which is totally a thing on the weekends). On a typical Sunday morning, I’d probably be out the door early heading to a workout class or running errands or doing fake “errands” (like browsing the Georgetown Flea), but it’s definitely nice to have an excuse to sit around and do nothing but read, nap, and write.

I thought this would be the perfect time to write about some of my favorite cozy winter items, as it looks like there may be some more snow in our future this coming weekend (woo!), and the chilly weather in general is definitely here to stay.

I first wanted to share these weighted products that a PR company kindly mailed my way last week–and they’re AMAZING. I was gifted a small, fuzzy weighted blanket and a weighted eye mask, both sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, and I immediately put both to use after opening the package on Saturday afternoon. If you haven’t heard about the weighted blanket trend, you’re definitely missing out–they’re said to help with anxiety and insomnia, first and foremost, but they’re also just super cozy and make you feel a little more snug and “glued” to your bed, if that makes sense (I’ve always been someone who likes sleeping with a lot of layers, so I like this feeling). I had ordered this weighted blanket off of Amazon over the summer and definitely like it, but the fuzzy one I received (while smaller) takes things to another level because it’s just so warm and perfect for this time of year. And the eye mask, omg- I napped while wearing it on Saturday afternoon, and it was so peaceful and the pressure was just right–totally soothing without feeling too heavy. It’s also said to help relieve headaches and sinus pressure, which is a total win. In general, I haven’t really been able to sleep with eye masks (and I tried wearing this one for a full night but woke up with it buried under my sheets), but this was perfect for a quick rest. I already am looking forward to using it again during my next nap!

Speaking of fuzzy items, I wanted to share this super soft vest I just ordered from J.Crew factory. With sales, the total cost came to like $23, which is such a steal! It likely isn’t something I could wear it work, unless I kind of kept it at my desk to throw on when the office gets cold, but I think it would be ok in many more casual workplaces, and it will be perfect for lounging around on winter weekends. It’s also gotten great reviews!

IMG_6240

Last but not least, while this isn’t a purely “winter” buy, this modern-looking black sconce is recent purchase of mine that’s made such a difference during these dark evenings that I figured I would share! I knew I wanted more light in my little sitting area upstairs, and I’d tried different variations of lamps and sconces, but nothing was really cutting it. As a caveat, sconces can be pretty expensive, and I shopped around a lot before coming back to this one, which I had first spotted on the Urban Outfitters website over the summer. Once I settled on this one, I knew I would need some professional help to hang it up (I pride myself on being able to do a lot of home-related tasks, but using a drill is a little beyond my capacity), so I hired a TaskRabbit and less than 45 minutes later, the sconce was hanging in my room! I’ll need to get some nicely-lit shots the next time I have someone take photos for me, but above is a picture I took when it was first hung. The look is definitely a little trendier than I often go for, but so far, I’m loving it, and it’s really brightened up the space and isn’t purely aesthetic. (My only complaint is it looks like maybe in an older iteration, the sconce arms were able to be bent into different positions, but that is definitely not the case now–although the image on the Urban Outfitters website suggests otherwise. Also, the size of lightbulb mentioned in the description is incorrect–you’ll need an E12, just as one of the reviewers luckily noted!).

What products are you loving this winter, and have you been taking advantage of the time indoors to make any new home improvements? xo

 

 

Continue Reading

All About Anthropologie’s Sister Store, Terrain!

Happy Friday! This week has been a busy one, and this weekend should be, too! On Tuesday, I grabbed drinks with a girl who I met at the Michelle Obama book talk back in November (we both work in higher ed and learned we were both former sociology majors, so we had a lot to talk about!); on Wednesday, I had my volunteer orientation at N Street Village, a local women’s shelter in DC (so many new volunteers showed up, and I can’t wait to get started!); and last night, I saw Jen Sincero at Sixth and I, which didn’t disappoint! Tonight I’m grabbing dinner with a friend and then taking it easy before attending the Washington Winter Show with a few design blogger friends on Saturday morning–can’t wait!

I wanted to pop in and share a bit about a new-to-me store that I think many of you will LOVE–Terrain! Terrain is a sister store of Anthropologie with limited brick and mortar locations (though there’s a new one in Bethesda if you’re local!), but it has an extensive website full of gardening and home supplies (so basically perfection for all of you #plantladies out there). I recently wrote an Apartment Therapy piece on it, so I’ll let you go over there to read more!

A few of my favorite Terrain products at the moment:

I love this heart serving board, which is perfect for Valentine’s Day!

This is supposed to be a dip bowl, but I think it would also make a beautiful jewelry dish on a dresser or nightstand.

I bet this hot cider candle smells amazing, and I love that you can reuse the mug after you burn it through.

I shared this watering can in the Apartment Therapy article; it’s so pretty!

 

Continue Reading

Shop Serena and Lily Lookalikes for Less at TJ Maxx

I’ll start this post off by noting that I love shopping at/browsing high-end home stores like Serena and Lily just as much as discount places like TJ Maxx (and this post is not affiliated with either place!). Serena and Lily’s pieces are so “relaxed chic” (if that’s a thing) and stylish without being too overboard in terms of color and pattern, making them versatile and classic. (Oh, and I own these stools and absolutely love them). That said, most items run in the triple digit range, and as someone who enjoys decorating their space very often, it doesn’t make sense to make a splurge unless I’m sure that an item will stick with me forever (I also live for the hunt and kind of feel let down when making a big purchase directly off a website, if that makes sense, because it doesn’t always feel that exciting or unique! However, I know that I’m in the minority and most people prefer convenience and reputation over scouring the internet–or traveling around the city in real life–for an item on a used or vintage site that may be a gem but may not be so great in person!).

Anyway, when it comes to places like TJ Maxx and HomeGoods there’s kind of a happy medium, because the store isn’t filled with dozens of one particular item, so the “thrill of the find” element is still there, but returns and exchanges are also super simple, eliminating the uncertainty that many people experience when thrifting.

I say all this because…drumroll, please…I’ve noticed lately that TJ Maxx (or TJ Maxx online, which I browse pretty frequently because they send out tons of emails!), has been filled with tons of pieces that look like Serena and Lily items (like, scarily so…) but are priced at so much less. I’ve rounded up some of my favorites to share with you guys (some of which I’ve ordered already), and you’ll have to let me know what you think! Honestly, these are just a few of the similar items I noticed–there are tons more! This throw is very Serena and Lily, for example, and better yet, it’s an amazing price.

As for my TJ Maxx roundup:

TJ Maxx

Chair//Wicker lamp//Dyed ottoman//Candle pillars//Moroccan pouf//Woven basket 

As for the prices, the chair is $300, the lamp is $50, the ottoman is $60, the candle holders are $40, the pouf is $100, and the basket is $50.

GRAND TOTAL = $600 (still a lot for a “discount” store, but less than the cost of the ONE CHAIR below!)

Now onto Serena and Lily:

TJ Maxx-3

Chair//Wicker lamp//Dyed ottoman//Candle pillars//Moroccan pouf//Woven basket 

And the prices this time (not including any added handling fees, for simplicity’s sake)…the chair is $678, the lamp is $248, the ottoman is $598, the candle holders are $188 (for a small), the pouf is $498, and the basket is $78 (for a small).

GRAND TOTAL = $2,288 (I’ll let that number speak for itself).

Thoughts:

First of all, isn’t it crazy how much the products look alike?! TJ Maxx definitely copies well-known designers, but I didn’t realize Serena and Lily was so high up on their radar.

Secondly, I know there’s a lot to be said for quality over price (it’s not worth it to buy something cheap just because and have it fall apart a few months later), but the prices for most of the Serena and Lily pieces just aren’t realistic (I’d rather spend $678 on a flight to Europe than on a single chair!). Most of the TJ Maxx pieces I’ve owned have been just fine in terms of quality, and while I am happy to splurge on a S&L piece (well, some of them–and the stools were a pretty good price all things considered), I definitely wouldn’t pay $500 for something like a pouf that isn’t going to be a “forever piece.”

Continue Reading

My 2019 Wellness Purchases

I've been addicted to acai bowls lately after years of thinking I was allergic/negatively affected by them--so good for a post-workout snack!
I’ve been addicted to acai bowls lately after years of thinking I was allergic/negatively affected by them–so good for a post-workout snack!

On Sunday, I talked about organization tips to kick off the year, and today I’m focusing on physical wellness and a few of the ways I’m trying to improve this area of my life!

First things first, finding a gym. This has been a DILEMMA for me since moving to Dupont, seriously! When I first moved to my current place, I had already belonged to a popular gym chain with a few locations throughout the city that I used when I was living in Georgetown, but the location closest to my new apartment was still about a 15 minute walk away. I just didn’t think I would go (when you live in the city, who wants a 30 minute commute to the gym?), so I cancelled that membership. I spent fall 2017 mostly doing spin classes (and thanks to Groupon and the like, I found some good deals) and using ClassPass. Then, around this time last year, I decided to free trial a few gyms in the area before joining a very low key one right in my neighborhood. That worked out well until I started working at a gym this summer and learned I would get a free membership there. However, I still found myself choosing spin classes over the free gym (crazy, I know), and when I stopped working there a few months ago to focus on my freelance work, I resumed using ClassPass (switching over to the lowest credit option and simply adding more on as needed). I was also walking to and from work, which was about 45 minutes of exercise in itself. Then in mid-November, my office moved to a new location, which is overall more convenient during the workday but is about 10/15 minutes of additional walking uphill from my apartment. I now take the bus to work and have been relying on…guess what…spinning for workouts. But one of my goals in 2019 was to find a cheaper option that I still love, so I decided last week that I would rejoin my neighborhood gym from last spring (which is actually undergoing renovations, so in the meantime, they have a partnership with a super fancy gym nearby #nocomplaints). If you’re still following, this has basically been a long-winded journey of finding a workout option that doesn’t eat up all of my precious decorating money but still feels enjoyable. I think that convenience is key when it comes to working out and like that I’ll have the option to run to the neighborhood gym before work and come back home to shower and get ready, in addition to the fact that having a gym membership right nearby makes it difficult to make excuses not to go!

Kind of an aside, but…I also know several people who have recently gotten Peloton bikes over the holidays–and as someone who loves spinning, I’m intrigued, but I guess my thoughts on this are mixed. Price aside, I definitely don’t have space for one in my current apartment, for starters, although the idea of working out from home is obviously appealing, especially in winter months (my cousin in Utah just got one and I’m sure he’ll get a ton of use out of it!). That said, my coworkers were commenting on how I definitely have a “class personality,” and it’s so true–I love the social and motivational aspect of working out in a room full of people (even though I don’t really talk to people in the class unless I run into someone I know, it’s still fun to make conversation and be inspired by others). So I don’t know! Same thing about “workout from home” programs like BBG- I have several friends who are starting them, but I like the gym/class atmosphere a bit more (even if it means venturing outside in the cold!). Would love to know your thoughts on both of these things if you do at-home workouts!

Next up is this portable light therapy energy lamp. I am definitely someone who is affected negatively by the lack of daylight during winter, and I don’t know what took me so long to think of ordering one of these. I’m not sure if I’ll use it at home or in the office or both (I work in a corner with no windows!), but it just came in this weekend and I’m excited to see if it makes a difference. Spending time in Florida and being in the sun over the break definitely helped my mood, and I have a friend who has a large one of these that she sits in front of while she meditates each morning, she swears it feels like she’s actually sitting out in the sun–wellness goals! (I also picked up a bottle of Vitamin D pills when I placed my order, since I figure the real thing can’t hurt, either!).

Lastly, this is a boring (but very practical) purchase–I ordered this cordless water flosser off of Amazon and it also just arrived over the weekend. I’ll report back on if I think it makes a difference hygiene-wise, but I’m one of those people who is terrible at flossing (I blame it on just being over it after years of oral surgeries/appliances), so I know I need to make a change and this device has gotten great reviews. I actually first saw a similar one for sale on Prime Day and should have just snagged it then!

What are your wellness goals/purchases for 2019? I always love to hear what other people are doing and using!

Continue Reading

5 Easy Ways to Get Your Place Organized for 2019

IMG_6468

I’m normally a pretty organized person, but there’s something about the new year that makes me want to do an even deeper dive and get everything in order at home (plus, Tidying Up–Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show, which I and seemingly everyone else I know started last week–provides even further motivation!). But if you don’t have a ton of time to tackle your entire place–or really aren’t a fan of decluttering and don’t even know where to begin–these tasks are all pretty quick and manageable and will put you in the right direction should you decide to begin a full blown KonMari organizing spree!

1) Clean out and organize your pantry. This is a simple task that can be so satisfying, because honestly (even if you’re like me and don’t really enjoy cooking), who doesn’t love an organized kitchen?! After ordering these plastic containers off of Amazon last week, I spent no more than 15 minutes filling them up with pasta, granola, and even marshmallows (hoping they’ll stay extra fresh, I feel like marshmallows always get gross!) and then sorting through the other contents of my shelf in the food cabinet that I share with my roommate. I’ll be honest- I’m not normally a huge proponent of spending money on fancy kitchen storage, but I know that plastic jars not only look nice but are the best way to deter pests, too, which is essential when living in a city apartment. And in sorting through my dried goods, I came across food that I didn’t even know I still had and that won’t go bad for quite some time, meaning that I found some new meal inspiration for the week, too!

2) Revamp your closet. No, not by buying new clothes…but by trying out new hangers! (Honestly, it’s more satisfying than it sounds, promise). I’d been using soft fabric hangers for the last several years but then, while scrolling through Meg Hall’s new Facebook group, which is all about mindful spending and decluttering–definitely join if this appeals to you–I saw that someone had posted about these white wooden IKEA hangers, and I loved how they looked. I ordered five packs of eight and they arrived within two days, which meant that I could tackle my closet on Saturday afternoon. With shipping, the total cost was about $40, which is definitely a lot for hangers, but they have already made SUCH a big difference (I shared a bit on Insta stories over the weekend). I don’t live near an IKEA and don’t drive, so ordering online and paying the $9 for shipping was totally worthwhile. I love how my closet looks and need to order more for the remainder of my dresses and winter jackets. (And of course I had to share a pic in the Facebook group, where everyone was very supportive and equally excited about trying them out!).

3) Go through random drawers and cabinets. We all have random drawers that are meant to serve a particular purpose (even if it’s a frivolous one–I legitimately have a half a drawer dedicated to cute cocktail napkins) but end up getting a bit cluttered over the course of the year. Spend five to 10 minutes tackling a drawer and tossing/donating stuff that you no longer need or haven’t used in recent months. Getting rid of excess stuff (that just becomes junk) can feel like such a relief!

4) Move furniture around. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m the biggest proponent of changing up a space every now and then (or, like, every weekend if you’re me). This isn’t really an “organizing” task per se, but it definitely counts as a refresh. If you don’t like how a certain area of your home looks or it isn’t living up to its full potential, try switching up furniture placement or hanging up some new art. It can really make all of the difference!

5) Go through your beauty products. I see so many bloggers with beauty product collections that could rival a major magazine’s beauty closet (seriously!) and most of us don’t have the space or need for that much stuff but continue to accumulate it anyway because we think we need to try every single new serum or nail polish color (definitely very guilty in this department, I have a drawer of about 30 Essie bottles…). While I love to try out new products, I also do frequent cleanouts of my bathroom drawers and toss anything that I haven’t used in several months. If you have bottles that are unopened or products that are gently used, consider donating them to a shelter or similar organization (my office collects hygiene/bath products that we then donate to an organization at the university where we work–everyone brings in mini shampoo and conditioner bottles from business trips or their collections at home). In terms of organizing the products themselves, I have a little drawer system where I sort items by category (ex: face masks and creams, lip products, nail polish, travel-sized cosmetics) so that I know what I have on hand at all times.

What are your organization goals for 2019, and have you watched Tidying Up on Netflix? I’d love to hear!

Continue Reading

Top Posts of 2018

It’s always fun doing these roundups because it’s obviously super helpful to see which posts resonated with you guys the most but it’s also a neat way to look back on the various topics I’ve covered this year (and in year’s past–click to see my top posts of 2016 and 2017!). Several of my posts from 2016 and 2017 continue to remain popular (my Bumble BFF recap, for one!), but below are your 2018 favorites.

1) One Kings Lane Home Tours + How to Recreate the Looks. I wrote this post early in 2018 and am glad that it remains relevant! These home tours are so classic and stylish that I still frequently turn to them for inspiration when I’m in a bit of a decorating rut or want to change up my space, which is basically every other week. 😉

IMG_7660

2) Your Craigslist Questions Answered and How to Use Taskrabbit. I spent a long time writing up this post, so I’m glad it was useful–and it featured questions that I had received on Instagram, so maybe I should do another post like this in 2019!

IMG_1352

3) Winter Workout Essentials. I need to do an updated version of this post, as I’ve recently been loving my new Outdoor Voices pieces (thanks, Cyber Monday sale!), though I continue to use the Lululemon workout tote that I received as a gift last Christmas, so scoop it up if you need a new gym bag. Keep this post bookmarked as you prepare to kick your 2019 workouts into gear!

4) Our Houzz Tour is Live + FAQ. This post is a special one for a few reasons- it was amazing to showcase our entire home online and provide more information about our space, but also, it was our Houzz tour that prompted Small Space Decorating Magazine to contact us about doing a spread with them! The editors reached out to our photographer, Ryan, in late August after coming across this tour online, and we quickly scrambled to schedule a new shoot over Labor Day Weekend! Seeing this feature in print was one of my favorite 2018 moments, so I’m grateful that everything came together, albeit quickly!

5) Gift Guide: Best Presents for Your Sister or BFF. Bookmark this post for the rest of the year, as birthdays, bridal showers, graduations, and the like are constantly popping up and these gifts remain useful and relevant. I love putting together gift guides and am glad that this one was useful–a few people told me that they ordered the Women’s March puzzle, which is still in stock at World Market!

Continue Reading

Hollar Favorites: Stocking Up on Home Basics for CHEAP

Hello from Florida! I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays and relaxing away from their computers…but if you’re at work or feel like popping in, today’s post is a useful one!

I discovered the website Hollar a few years ago and wrote this post about how I scored Essie nail polish on there for WAY cheap (like 8 bottles for $11 cheap). I hadn’t ordered from Hollar since then for no real reason other than that I can find pretty good deals at places like Target and TJ Maxx, but I decided to check out the site again recently and am so glad I did.

You guys- the grand total for ALL of the below (plus $3.99 shipping and with a $5 off coupon applied) was $17.99. So the actual total for the products themselves was $14. What?!

IMG_5946

The key is to be patient with shipping (it took about a week and a half for the box to arrive), shop the $1 deals, and understand that the quality of some of the stuff on here isn’t necessarily going to be as great as your favorite brand names. That said, if you’re not picky about what kind of kitchen wipes or toilet paper you use and don’t mind doing a bit of digging to find the best items, this is the site for you.

In this order, I received:

-Four rolls of toilet paper

-Two rolls of scotch tape

-A pack of disposable razors

-Two Essie nail polishes

-A set of sponges

-Kitchen germ-free wipes

-A 5-pack of toothbrushes

-A bottle of dish soap

-Two packs of makeup wipes

-A 12-pack of trash bags

-A set of hair clips

-A pack of sandwich bags

-A box of tissues

-A large pack of bandaids

How’s that for less than $20?!

Continue Reading

The Best Items at Target Right Now

Text placeholder-11

TGIF! Happy Friday, and most importantly, happy last day of work before the holidays! Tonight I’m seeing one of my best friends from high school who’s home for the break, and starting tomorrow I’m excited to unwind in Florida next week. I will likely be popping in with posts here and there, but I figure most people will be largely offline until after the new year (if you have to work between Christmas and New Years, hang in there–I did last year and know how hard it can be coming back on the 26th, whether you celebrate or not!).

My post today was inspired by Grace’s post last week, which was a roundup of her favorite Target finds. Her post prompted me to do some digging on the site (I’m always amazed with what you can find online versus in-store sometimes!), so I figured I would do my own version of a Target product roundup. Happy shopping!

1) This mini tulip table is too cute and is on clearance right now at an amazing price! I wish I had room for one (or two) of these!

2) If you can’t find a chair like this at a thrift store, this is the next best thing! While it’s not actually vintage, it for sure looks the part and would look adorable with a white furry throw draped over it.

3) I need to find this sparkling bottle–yum! I tried the regular wine last spring (mainly for the bottle, let’s be real) and it’s great!

5) Undereye brightening strips = gold, literally.

5) I’ve shared this leopard print belt on here before and may need to just pull the trigger and order it. Too cute!

6) I have way too much glassware, but if I had room in my cabinet for these, they’d be in my shopping cart.

Continue Reading