10 Affordable Finds From IKEA You Didn’t Know You Needed

IKEA_Ft

We all know IKEA is basically a magical Scandinavian wonderland full of entertainingly-named, reasonably-priced stuff to spruce up your house, and if you don’t find what you’re looking for you can always find solace in a cinnamon roll on your way out the door.

But IKEA can be overwhelming just because of the sheer amount of shelving units, pillow covers and bed frames there are to sift through. Before you know it, you start panicking and either give up completely and bolt or grab a bunch of random stuff and hope for the best.

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Easy DIY Vertical Herb Garden

DIYHerbGarden_FT

I’ve never really considered myself Pinterest savvy. In fact, more times than not, my Pinterest projects turn into laughable Pinterest fails. I just accept it as part of my life now, and there is no shame in that. However, not every one of my projects I find through Pinterest fails, and I’m sure you’re wondering how. Well, the common denominator to all the successful ones is my husband.

Yeah, that’s right. He’s an engineering wizard that can help me take my Pinterest projects from fail to hell yeah in about three cuts of a table saw. This is primarily because I’m too scared, and probably too clumsy, to use a table saw on my own. So anything that involves heavy duty work like that needs an extra hand from my husband.

But have no fear! I don’t ever stop looking for cute, unique ways to flex my crafty muscles, and that’s why this super easy DIY Vertical Herb Garden is perfect for haphazard people like me!

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Your First Time: Buying a House

Your First Time: Buying a House

When my husband and I started looking for a house, it was an exciting venture. It was going to be a place for us to just make a life together, but we had no idea how to even start that process. Other than stalking Trulia and making a wish list, we weren’t really sure where to go first. Beyond it being a fun time in your life, it can be stressful if you’re doing it alone or never had to handle a transaction as large as this.

So, here’s what I learned after going through the process, and what I wish someone had told me when we started looking to buy a house:

Know what you need in a house.

This is important and something that I think might be overlooked. What you need is different than what you want. You might want lots of land, a pool and an in-home movie theater, but you don’t necessarily need that, especially in a first home. Think of how many bedrooms and bathrooms you’ll need to be comfortable, the style of house, the location, what kind of amenities you want near by. These are the things that you need to keep in mind, and if you decide you want a pool you can always add that later.

Know your financial limits.

Just because you can afford a $1200 mortgage payment doesn’t mean you should. Many websites will have calculators that will max you out or tell you that you can afford half of what you make towards a mortgage payment. But I think we all know that’s crazy, and you need to remember that life happens. If you max out your budget or give half of it to the mortgage, you’ll be in a pinch when you need some extra funds. Lay out a budget and see how much money you could comfortably handle without feeling paycheck to paycheck. So to sum it up, if the calculators say you can afford $1400, look for something at the $900-$1100 range to ensure you have enough of a financial buffer for “life happens” moments.

Interview your real estate agent.

There are hundreds of agents out in the world looking to help you find your house, but not all of them are going to have your best interests at heart. Don’t be afraid to go in and interview your agent. If you don’t like them, try someone else. The right agent will make the process seem stress free and fun, instead of a stressful nightmare. Our agent was wonderful, and always said what she would do if she was in our place, rather than giving us the typical jargon.

Shop around for loans.

There are so many types of loans, and many banks will offer them. Every bank will have different interest rates, some better than others, so make sure you don’t just choose a rate because you don’t want to research. There are loans made specifically for people in the military, people looking to buy in rural communities, and even no-money-down loans. One word of caution though: any loan that says you don’t have to put down money for a house sounds great but the reality is you’ll be paying no-money-down mortgages.

Have a solid down payment.

This might seem like a “duh” moment, but it’s very important. Most places will recommend that you have about 20%, and that’s a very smart thing to do. Not only will that help reduce your mortgage payment, but it also avoids having to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). PMI is basically insurance that the loan office takes out to ensure you don’t skip out on payments and leave them with a huge debt. This happens when you pay anything under 20% of a down payment. My husband and I put down a little under 15%, but we were fortunate to have our PMI paid off at closing. The more you can save, the better you’ll be when you go to buy a house.
But the biggest tip is just to have fun. You only buy your first house once – duh – so make these moments the best you can. Do your research, understand what you need for a house, and enjoy your new home.

DIY leopard print gold leaf tray

DIY Leopard Print Gold Leaf Tray by A Creative Day

DIY leopard print gold leaf tray

(Image Credit: A Creative Day)

Beautiful do-it-yourself projects that are so simple I wonder why I never thought of them always catch my eye. This DIY Leopard Print Gold Leaf Tray by A Creative Day is one such DIY. All you need to make this project at home is a gold leaf pen, a little creative flair and a tray that is in desperate need of some leopard spots!
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Apple and Cucumber Cooler Recipe by Girl Cooks World

(Image Credit: Girl Cooks World)

Nothing is better on a warm summer day than a light and refreshing beverage. The Apple and Cucumber Cooler by Cate of Girl Cooks World is a healthy and incredibly easy way to quench your thirst. Cate’s been kind enough to share the recipe for this delicious two ingredient wonder with us and I can already hear your taste-buds thanking her!

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Your First Time: Ordering Sushi

Your First Time: Ordering Sushi

One of the most intimidating things I have ever done was order sushi for the first time. I remember sitting at the table at my favorite Chinese restaurant and internally debating if I really wanted to attempt it or not. What if I didn’t order it correctly? What if I didn’t like it? What if I accidentally ordered some with raw fish (I know a lot of sushi is raw, but not all of it and I prefer my fish cooked)??! Continue reading

DIY Confetti Tumblers by Radical Possibility

(Image Credit: Radical Possibility)

(Image Credit: Radical Possibility)

Stores like Anthropologie make me wish I had an unlimited home decor budget (as opposed to the reality that buying even one item there could break my budget). Lots of DIY’s claim to replicate items from the store, but leave me wondering who do you really think you’re fooling? Either the look of the final product is all wrong or  the quality is so poor I rather go without than bother doing it myself. But that is NOT the case with these stunning DIY Easy Anthropologie Confetti Tumblers by Radical Possibility!

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Making the Case for Pawternity Leave

Ronin

A little while back I did two separate articles about furbabies becoming part of the family. However, the one I want to direct you to is the What to Expect When You’re Expecting: Puppy Edition. Puppies are hard work, and while they grow up faster than human babies, they do have a fairly strict first couple of weeks that you need to follow.

This includes early morning potty breaks, crate training, teaching them the boundaries and easing them into their new environment. They also have several vet visits that need to happen very soon after they turn eight weeks old. Of course, this doesn’t have to stop at puppies, it can also include kittens, and new adoptions from a shelter in both the canine and feline realm.

All that extra work that comes with a new pet can really throw you off your groove, and when you’re set in your ways it can be exhausting. When you’re exhausted, your work will suffer and your mood will suffer, and that’s never a good thing. So I want to talk about a little concept that our wonderful friends from across the pond are starting to slowly introduce in some professional places.

The concept is fairly simple. You’ve heard of maternity and paternity leave before; you get a specific amount of time off to care, love and recover from bringing a new baby home. Well, imagine when you got a new furbaby, you could go to your employer and ask for a few days off to acclimate the new animal and get used to the new schedule you’re going to have.

In a purr-fect pun, this concept for your new furbaby addition is called pawternity leave, and I think we over here in the States need to hurry up and make it a reality.

I can’t tell you how many hours of work and school I have missed due to vet visits or furbaby emergencies. It became increasingly difficult to explain to my bosses and professors that I needed more time off to take care of routine vet visits or to monitor a pet after a procedure. And when I first got my little bundle of fur-joy, I felt horrible leaving him alone so soon after getting him, and I was exhausted from the late night potty breaks and early morning play sessions.

I would have loved to have had a week off to just adjust to my new commitment and also allow my puppy to learn the ways around his new environment too. I know, it seems a little strange to think that people should get paid time off to deal with new pets, but I think that it’s something we should definitely begin slowly introducing into the  workforce.

Now, before you start to whip out the torches and start rioting – no, this is not to take away from the wonderful miracle of bringing a child into this world. And it’s not to take away from the fact that babies are much more work than a pet, but let’s remember that pets are part of the family too. Some people may only ever have furkids, and they should be allowed to not feel guilty for skipping work for pets, or guilty for not being able to properly care for the furkid.

We’re moving towards a new world, times are changing, and I think allowing furmoms and furdads to be granted an appropriate amount of time to deal with that transition would help boost the work-life balance and increase workplace happiness.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s make pawternity happen. Like, yesterday.

How to Iron Like a Pro!

(Image Credit: Flickr User It'sGreg)

(Image Credit: Flickr User It’sGreg)

Depending on your personality, ironing is either a relaxing task or annoying chore. I’m the kind of person who thinks that if you’re going to do something you might as well do it right, so even though I tend to feel like it’s an annoying chore, I’ve taken the time to learn some of the best ironing tips and tricks. Not only has it helped me learn to iron better, but it also helps me get the job done faster, which I’m all for! Continue reading

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Sweet and Spicy Walnuts Recipe by Cookie + Kate

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Sweet and Spicy Walnuts (Image Credit: Cookie + Kate)

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Sweet and Spicy Walnuts (Image Credit: Cookie + Kate)

I dare you to look at that salad and tell me it doesn’t look delicious. On a hot summer day, a light refreshing salad is my go-to lunch (for some reason the thought of eating anything heavy with the heat bearing down on me makes my tummy very unhappy) and this Strawberry Spinach Salad with Sweet and Spicy Walnuts from Cookie + Kate tastes even better than it looks. Continue reading

7 Pinterest Hacks That Aren’t Worth It

Pinterest

There are some truly great Pinterest hacks out there. Where else would I go to figure out how to maximize my storage space or fix a broken bronzer? Along with the life-saving hacks out there, though, are the not-so-useful ones that seriously make me question the logic of people sharing their advice. To avoid trying out a hack that might do more damage than good, check out the below list.

 

Use cotton to lengthen eyelashes.

If you’ve ever gotten one of those irritating little strands of cotton in your eye, you’ll know that the absolute last thing you should be coating your eyelashes with is cotton. For the sake of your eyeballs, buy yourself a lengthening mascara and some false lashes and leave it at that.

 

Break off clips from the ends of hangers to use as bag clips.

I guess if you are really desperate for a clip to hold your chips together (is anyone ever though?), you could break off the clips on the ends of your hanger to use, but who really thought that this was efficient? Save your clip hangers for hanging your pants – it will be way cheaper and easier to just get a bag of clips intended for your food.

 

Mix cocoa powder with lotion for an instant fake tan.

I actually tried this one, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that it’s not worth your time. I ended up with completely uneven streaks all over my body and a ruined container of lotion. This might work out ok if you spend hours mixing the lotion and blending into your skin, but you’re definitely better off with using something actually intended for fake tanning.

 

Make grilled cheese in the toaster by turning the toaster on its side.

Yeah, sure, if you want burnt cheese all over the sides of your toaster, go ahead and melt away. There are so many more efficient ways of melting cheese on toast that won’t end up with a mini fire, though, so maybe pass on this one.

 

Put a lighter to your eyelash curler before using for a longer-lasting curl.

Please do not try this at home. When I first heard someone suggest aiming your hair dryer at your eyelash curler before use to heat it up, the thought of hot metal near my eyes got me nervous, but actually bringing a flame to the curler for the sake of beauty? Not worth it.

 

Contour your face with utensils.

Why is this necessary? Aren’t there flat-edged brushes on the market made for this exact purpose? And why does a line so sharp it needs to be stenciled out with metal need to be drawn onto your face in the first place? Your utensils should stay in your kitchen, not in your makeup bag.

 

Create marble nails in water.

This is a nice idea in theory, but I can’t imagine this would end up with anything other than strangely mixed nail polish colors all over my hands… and probably furniture. I’ll leave the designs to the pros.

 

It’s definitely tempting to test out every Pinterest hack you come across, but please try to Pin wisely, and let us know what hacks you’ve come across that nobody should try!

Infused Water Recipes to Get You Enthused About H2O!

Infused Water Recipes to Get You Enthused About H2O!

As the summer heats up it’s easy to reach for a carbonated or sugary beverage to chill the parch, but there’s a much healthier option that’s just as tasty. Infused water. So what exactly is infused water? It’s water that’s had fruits, vegetables, extracts and/or spices soaked in it for a long period of time to infuse it with the flavors they provide. The resulting drink is a beverage that will make your tastebuds do cartwheels without all the sugar and chemicals of store bought beverages. And before you ask, no you don’t need a Magic-Ninja-Keurig 5.0 to make it. All you need is fresh ingredients, a pitcher (or some other water holder device type thing), and the patience to let the infusing happen. Continue reading

What We’re Loving Right Now: Constellation Glassware by The UncommonGreen

(Image Credit: The UncommonGreen)

(Image Credit: The UncommonGreen)

I wouldn’t really call myself an avid lover of astrology, but there is just something about space and astrology themed home goods that really gets me excited. Perhaps it’s because I think it’ll make me seem fancier than I am, or just a degree smarter than the average person. Whatever the reason behind it, when I came across The UncommonGreen’s new Constellation Glassware, I instantly fell in love. Continue reading

Celebrate National Cheese Day with a Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese by FoodieCrush!

Jalapeno-Popper-Grilled-Cheese-foodiecrushIt seems like there’s a day for just about anything nowadays, but this is one I can get behind. National Cheese Day is June 4, and I’m pretty excited to finally find one that speaks to me on a spiritual level. With so many delicious recipes that include cheese, you might be wondering where to start on your tasty journey, but look no further. FoodieCrush has you covered with their Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich, the only dish you’ll need this National Cheese Day. Check out the full recipe below! Continue reading