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Give Your Office Space Style with Martha Stewart

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This is a partnered post with Martha Stewart. All opinions are honest and my own.

Y’all. Don’t judge.

This was my home office space a few weeks ago. I managed, but as you can see my desk was cluttered and not the most appealing place to get work done. It had good bones, but it was calling out for a makeover.

Before-Office-MarthaStewart

The workspace is in our master bedroom, and giving it a facelift was the first step in giving our whole room an update (stay tuned for more posts to see our progress)!

Martha Stewart has a line of products available at Staples, and the moment I saw the collection I was absolutely in love.

MarthaStewart_Items

Even just looking at the thumbnails of various setup options you can see these are colorful and striking pieces that create a graphic and bold impact no matter which way you arrange them. I love (like love) teal, and was excited to add some of the color to my workspace.

MarthaStewart-Binders

Check out these great filesfolders, and binders. I can keep my work stuff separate from blogging and freelance materials, and thanks to the great bookplates, I can easily see at a glance where to find anything I need. I love the metal accent – it provides a great high-end look.

MarthaStewart-Notebook

And oh my word, the Discbound customizable notebook is practically made for me. Like I mentioned earlier, the teal color speaks to my organizing heart. And the dividers you can add make it easy to set the notebook up just how you want it.

MarthaStewart-Notebook-Inserts

It’s so easy to change things out. And friends, there are pockets so I can have everything I need right at my fingertips. Perfect for work lists, for home lists, for grocery lists.. for anything I need to jot down. It’s a must-have.

MarthaStewart-Organizer

MarthaStewart-Drawer

This organizer is another favorite. The way I have this set up actually combines three pieces in the Stack+Fit line: the desk organizer, inbox with drawer, and small item holder. There are great compartments for pents, paper, paperclips and more.

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Gourmesso Coffee – Affordable Espresso at Home

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My husband loves espresso. When we go to the coffee shop, he gets two shots of espresso put in his coffee. Of course, the drink costs him nearly $5 each time we go!

There are alternatives to coffee shop espresso that are great for home use, like Nespresso machines. We were really excited to get one for our home, because that meant Brian could have espresso whenever he wanted (and it’s great to be able to offer espresso to your guests when entertaining)!

The capsules that come with the machines, though, can still be somewhat pricy. Cheaper than the coffee shop, of course, but the frugal person in me would like to save as much as possible without sacrificing quality.

That’s where Gourmesso comes in. Their capsules are available from just 45 cents each, and they’re compatible for Nespresso machines. The Gourmesso capsules are pictured in the front below next to a Nespresso capsule – you can see they’re the same size & shape.

Gourmesso-Pods-Nespresso-Pods

Did I mention they’re fair trade, too?

We tried out five different flavors:

Gourmesso-Flavors

The flavors are rated on a scale of 1-10 to show how bold/strong they are:

Gourmesso-Coffee-Varieties

Since Brian likes really strong coffee, the etiopia blend forte is perfect for him. My mother-in-law is visiting this week, though, and the decaf perú dolce was perfect to make for her. Let me show you how easy it is! Just load your machine with water (we keep ours full so the machine is ready to go whenever we need it), and then place your capsule in, then close the handle and select your size.

Gourmesso_Pod-Machine

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How to Increase the Value of Your Home

If you’ve saved up money to invest in your home, you might be wondering: where’s the best place to spend your money to get the best return in terms of the value of your home?
There are a number of areas that can significantly increase the value of your home. Where you spend your money will depend on what how updated your home is in various areas, and, of course, your budget.

The Kitchen

If there is one room that should be shipshape and looking sharp in order for the best value, then it’s the kitchen. For many, it is the heart of the home. It’s where we cook, where we eat, where we do homework, watch television or have parties. So, the better it looks, and the more “mod cons” – modern conversions – it has, the better.
There are a number of points to consider when it comes to the design of your kitchen including the kitchen triangle; if you haven’t heard of the triangle, it’s where the sink, the fridge and the stove are all within easy reach of each other. Install up-to-date equipment, but make sure that the kitchen matches the price bracket of the house. A new kitchen could add up to 4-5% on to the value of your home.

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Make Mornings Easier

Our mornings are always busy. Between getting the kids ready, making lunches, taking the dogs out, making breakfast, and finally getting ourselves ready, we end up rushing around most weekdays. We’ve talked about shifting tasks around so that there’s less to do in the morning, and here are some great ideas for things you can do to make your mornings less stressful – we’ll be trying some of them ourselves!

Check out What to Do in the Evenings to Make Your Mornings Easier

by Tend Editor at Mode

When We Needed Extra

I have, over the years, developed a love for traveling with minimal baggage. I used to over-pack for trips, thinking of every possible thing I might need while away. Now, though, I pack the bare minimum. This is largely because I know we’ll also have luggage for four other people in our vehicle, and because I know that whatever I pack will eventually have to be unpacked upon our return home.

There’s one exception to this rule, though: supplies for cleaning up. Napkins, towels, wipes… we’re prepared, folks. And it’s not just because I was a girl scout. It’s because we learned from our experience. From our oh-so-unpleasant, toddler-puking-all-over-dad-in-the-middle-of-a-restaurant-and-then-again-in-the-car experience in the middle of a different city, right before we were supposed to get back on the road to head home from a day trip. We had to make not one but two trips to the store to get a bucket, a change of clothes for both my husband and son, paper towels, and trash bags.

There are just certain things, certain necessities, you want to make sure you have extra of – because you definitely don’t want to run out of something crucial when you really need it.

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Three Tips to Decorate Your Home Without Breaking the Bank

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When one area of your home starts to look worn-out and outdated, it’s easy for it to make the rest of the house feel outdated, too. Especially when you have kids around, things can get a little “loved” and need replacing. Or if you’re like us, you’re so busy that you don’t decorate much to begin with!

You can resolve this dilemma by redecorating your room with something as simple as its drapes, or as intensive as replacing the flooring; of course, putting in new floors can get expensive really quickly. For those of you on a budget like us, here are some inexpensive ways to add some pizzazz to your humble abode without going beyond your budget. None of these take much time, but each one make an impact on the overall feel of your home.

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  1. Artwork. Hanging a painting on a blank wall can add personality and uniqueness to a room. You might think of paintings as being something expensive, but that doesn’t have to be the case. You can find great bargain pieces in your local markets or art fairs, and it’s a lot of fun being on the hunt for a great piece to give your room a special flair. Unlike buying art from department stores, you can find a wider variety of art if you expand your search. And if you want to spend even less, you can also create art with your children. Not only can it make your place look splendid, but it’ll give them a sense of pride to see their art hanging on the walls. You can do something as simple as giving them paint and a canvas, or you can always look on Pinterest for more specific ideas that fit your taste.

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Don’t Miss the Fixer Upper Marathon This Saturday!

Well, I know what my DVR will be recording this Saturday!

HGTV has been allowing fans to vote for their favorite episodes of Fixer Upper,  and now viewers can settle in for the network’s first fan-driven programming marathon this Saturday, May 23, from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Central.  In addition, fans of the series can live tweet with the show’s stars Chip and Joanna Gaines from 6 p. m. to 7 p.m. Central using #FixerUpper.

If you’re like me, you’ve gotten hooked on HGTV’s series Fixer Upper. Chip and Joanna are kind, funny, and uber-talented; you watch to see the homes’ transformations, but you keep watching because Chip & Joanna are just so relatable. As a Texas girl myself, I love that they’re based in Waco – I foresee a trek to the Magnolia shop somewhere in my near future.

Beyond the beautiful designs and charming talent, Fixer Upper stands out to me because of the potential seen in less-than-attractive homes. It’s a great notion in an era where items are often discarded, and new neighborhoods are rapidly constructed. Initially these homes seem like lost causes, but time after time we’re shown that pretty much any home has the potential to be fixed up – and turned into something pretty spectacular.

Don’t forget: HGTV Twitter party with Chip & Joanna Gaines is this Saturday from 6-7 p.m. Central, using #FixerUpper.

Sterling Prevail Shower Door with ComforTrack Technology

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sterling for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

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With three kids in our house, we give lots of baths.  We’ve learned over the years that we can save a lot of time by washing everyone’s hair first (which always seems to be the hardest part of bath time – the kids hate getting water in their eyes, so they’re always a little whiny during hair washing and rinsing), and then focusing on each child one at a time to get the rest of them clean while the other two kids play.

We’ve gone through our fair share of bath toys, and after all of the different toys we’ve tried, we’ve learned that kitchen utensils (ladles, measuring cups, funnels, and colanders) make for the best bath entertainment. All three of our kids love making “soup” and other concoctions. You can find kitchen items at the dollar store and have some dedicated for bath play, and you’ll be all set.

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Three Tips for Sprucing up Your Space

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We love our home, and one of my favorite things to do is to find ways to make it unique and special for our family. We’ve added a reclaimed wood wall and a large vintage-style chalkboard as just two ways of making our house our own.

Decorating is fun, but it can also be hard to find time to do lengthy projects. Since we’re so busy, it’s crucial for us to find ways to make an impact without having to spend a ton of time working on the updates.

Even if you don’t have a lot of time, you can still use these three tips to give your home some style:

1. Add style to necessities. Things like hand soap, salt and pepper shakers, and even Kleenex can impart your aesthetic. Kleenex Perfect Fit Tissues are one of my new favorites – they’re cute and compact, and they fit in well with our decor.

Kleenex_VerticalKleenex_Horizontal

If you want to snag your own Kleenex Perfect Fit Tissues, they’re available at your local Sam’s Club only through this month so be sure and get to Sam’s by May 31.

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Tips for Spring Cleaning Success!

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Spring is the perfect time to clean up the clutter and dust that accumulates over winter and set yourself up for a productive remainder of the year! Tackle your project with the following three-step formula from Laura Stack, aka The Productivity Pro.

1.       Get ready… Before you begin cleaning, be ready to tackle the clutter.

  • Prepare for a spring cleaning spree. Start by labeling five large boxes: Put Away, Give Away, Store Away, Shred, and Trash. Select an area, such as a drawer, desk, or room to organize first.
  • Use a timer. Don’t view spring cleaning as an all-day task. Take an hour here and there to get the job done over several weekends. When you’re ready to begin, set your timer for 50 minutes. When it buzzes, use the last ten minutes of your organization session to handle the boxes: put things away, place charity items in the car, put items in storage, shred and toss out the trash.
  • Focus. Concentrate on organizing one area at a time. If you don’t focus, you’ll end up with multiple “half-organized” areas.

Donations

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DIY Dollar Tree Spring/Summer Centerpiece

Note: This is a partnered post with Dollar Tree. I hope you enjoy this DIY decor project – it is my concept, and all opinions in this post are mine as well.

Spring is in the air, and I’ve been having fun helping our home decor reflect the change in seasons. Our Easter decor is put away, and there aren’t any more holidays we’ll decorate for until the Fourth of July, so I was on the hunt for a table centerpiece that would work through spring and the first half of summer.

I don’t want to spend a ton on decor items, and it can be easy to spend upwards of $40 to end up with something cute, so I decided to shop Dollar Tree for some stylish and affordable options.

I knew I wanted something colorful, so a blue woven placemat jumped out at me as the perfect base for our centerpiece.

Next I looked at vases – they have a TON, which I knew because I’ve shopped their vases for an office party before. But I hadn’t seen these bud vases before, with a fun orange chevron print. The orange contrasts against the blue perfectly!

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Tips for Successful Apartment Living

Back when I was in college I lived in an apartment for two years. I’ve lived in a house for over 10 years now, but I’ll never forget my apartment days! Whether it’s a luxury apartment, or a vintage walkup, apartment living has its challenges — be it noisy neighbors, sketchy landlords, or that dude who keeps hogging all the dryers. Although challenging, apartment living doesn’t have to be a nightmare. In fact, there are several ways you can actually make apartment living pretty awesome.

Get in Good with the Landlord

This doesn’t necessarily mean sucking up to the guy, but rather keeping things on good terms with him and being the kind of tenant that landlords like. Look at it this way, in order to keep renting out apartments and make his money, your landlord depends on all of the units being in good condition. He also depends on the common areas looking good so that they look attractive to potential renters. Doing your part to keep your space in good condition, and not letting your living area spill out into the hallway will go a long way toward harboring good will with your landlord. For example, if you have a dog it means cleaning up after it when you go out for walks. It also means keeping your apartment clean to avoid vermin infestations, and using air fresheners so that cooking smells and other odors don’t drift out into the hallway, and it means keeping loud noises and other unpleasant sounds within the walls of your apartment. It also means reporting to your landlord if other tenants aren’t doing their part.

Be a Good Neighbor

Living in an apartment means that you have your own space, but you also have to share space with others. A log of the things you do to stay on the landlord’s good side would also keep you on good terms with your neighbors. No one likes to be woken up at 2AM by loud parties, loud arguments, or dogs that bark all night long. It’s also difficult to live with people who mess up common areas, like leaving spilled detergent spills in the laundry room, or treating the hallway like your personal ashtray. It also means respecting any assigned spaces. For example, if your building has assigned parking, don’t park in other people’s spaces, or block them in, even if it’s closer to your apartment and you’re only going to be there a short while.

Ultimately, cultivating good relationships with your neighbors means respecting that other people have to live in the same space and treating them the way you would want them to treat you.

Protect Your Stuff

You might be surprised to discover that if your apartment is damaged by a natural disaster, a leaky pipe, or a fire, your landlord’s insurance won’t cover your personal possessions. If it’s worth having, then it’s worth protecting. Renters insurance is kind of like homeowner’s insurance for renters. It doesn’t cover the property, but it will cover your personal possessions in the event that they are damaged or stolen. It can also protect you if a visitor is injured inside your apartment, something else your landlord’s homeowner’s policy might not cover.

Some landlords actually require that all renters carry insurance as part of the terms of the lease. This is designed to protect you in the event of an incident, and to protect your landlord as well.

Make Your Space Your Own

As a renter, you are often limited in how much you can customize your apartment, and those limitations depend on your landlord. Some places might have strict rules about how you hang artwork, while others might give you a lot of latitude for making changes, as long as you get permission from the landlord first. However, temporary changes are often OK with most landlords, as long as they are easy to reverse. For example, installing a luxury shower head is easy, and only takes minutes to replace if you ever move out and you can use non-marking adhesive hooks to hang your artwork. Instead of installing shelves, you can use pieces of furniture that can also double as storage.

It may require a little creativity, but by making your place your own, you will be more comfortable and more likely to stick around.

Keep Looking Forward

Keep in mind that circumstances change. That apartment that was really awesome a year ago could be too small and cramped now. Buildings change hands, and management, which can mean rent increases and changes to the lease. No matter how awesome your space is, keep in mind that you might have to leave one day. Every now and then check apartment listings in your area, to keep abreast of what’s available and what kind of rents they’re charging, long before you ever have to start looking. Keep some money set aside so that you can easily handle the deposit plus first and last month’s rent on a new place.

When it does come time to move, make sure you have satisfied the lease and that you give your landlord plenty of notice. That, and all the work you had done previously to be a good tenant, should go a long way toward getting you a good reference for your next place.