Category: Uncategorized

DIY coasters from ceramic tiles

February 21
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While prepping for our holiday party we knew that we would want to have a favor to give our guests when they left the party. We wanted the favor to be a custom item related to the party, but also inexpensive and useful. We landed on this coasters made from the same design we used for our party invites.

I had tried making these coasters before but was not 100% successful as the Mod Podge didn’t seem to fully set the design. I ended up with a coaster that got sticky and stuck to my cup when met with condensation.  Not good! Especially if we had tile floors!

 

Anyways, my lovely husband looked into it and decided that if we used a shellac then we might get a better result.  We tried this out and were super happy with the results. The final product will need several coats, but it is an easy process.

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Supplies:
Ceramic tiles
Mod Podge 
Scrapbook paper or printouts
Shellac 
Brush (Just about anything will do)
Felt feet (Amazon seems to have the best deal.)
Newspaper
Well ventilated space

 

Note: Purchase your tiles at a local home improvement store. Amazon will try and change you like $1 each when they are $.10 each at Home Depot or Lowes.

Start but cutting out 4 in squares of whatever paper you want to use to cover your coasters. If you have extra scrapbook paper on hand this is a great time to put some cute pages to use. We have also had luck with printed pages from both our inkjet printer and laser printers.

Once you’ve got your squares ready to go place them on your tiles to make sure you are happy with them.  Good?  Good.

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Lay out your newspaper (Or don’t if you’re brave like me) in your ventilated space and place your tiles on the sheets.  Using your brush spread a thin layer of Mod Podge on the tile and then place your paper on the tile. Adjust the paper so it lines up as you want it and then cover with another thin layer of Mod Podge.

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Let this sit for a few hours. When dry it will be time to begin the Shellac process.  We did 4  coats on our coasters.  We did one coat in the morning and another in the evening.

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For the party favors we added g sprinkle of glitter half way through. If you are brave enough to have glitter in your home feel free to try this too. I am not that brave, but luckily the husband is.  Go him!

Alright. Once you have enough coats you can add the felt feet to the four corners of your coaster. After that you’re done.  I like to let them rest a day or two just so that the shellac can cure completely.

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Need an easy gift? Make a set of four and put them in a cute box or tie them up with a ribbon. Done!

 

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. I gathered inspiration for this post from The Cottage Mama.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. Enjoy!- Amber D.

 

Valentine’s Day ideas

February 12
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Image from @shaycochrane

It’s Feburary, so you know what that means, Valentine’s Day. Personally, I am not a huge fan of the holiday. Not because I don’t love love, but because I hate the expectations and ridiculousness that over commercialization of the holiday has brought.  I love the idea of celebrating love; reminding your special person that you love them; even little gifts or trinkets. I just don’t think we should expect our SO to take us to a fancy meal or buy candy that nobody actually likes.

 

Today I wanted to share a few ideas and things my husband and I have done to share the day without getting caught up in hype.

 

  1. Prepare a new meal at home- Use this as an excuse for you or your SO to try out a new meal from a cooking show or pinterest. Splurge a little on nice ingredients and a bottle of wine and call it a night. No crowed restaurants and you don’t have to worry about having that extra glass of wine as you are already home!
  2. Get dressed up and go out for fast food- We did this on our wedding. We stopped by Tijuana Flats in our full wedding gear to grab a meal before the after party. We had a blast and enjoyed our tacos and the price tag.
  3.  Due to his line of work, my husband often works the evening of Valentine’s Day (to be honest, I always try to get him to work.) Last year I contacted one of his coworkers and gave her a little goodie bag of treats/gifts for him which she delivered to his work area. He loved being surprised by these little goodies when he arrived at work that evening.
  4. Have a pajama night- Buy junk food, snacks, and your favorite drinks and spend the evening on the sofa watching your favorite movies and eating junk. There really is nothing better than enjoying a movie and junk food with your favorite person.
  5. Exchange children’s valentines- Pick up a box at the store and give your favorite’s to your SO. Bonus- use a marker to edit your favorites. *wink wink*

 

Do you have any great alternate Valentine’s Day ideas? Share them in the comments

 

 

What I read- January 2017

February 8
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If you read my post from last month then you know I have some new reading goals for 2017 as well as a new way to visually track my reading.  I have been using Goodreads for a few years now, but I wanted a way to see the number and types of books I am reading in my planner.

This year my goal is to read 65 books with at least 12 of them non-fiction and 12 books that could be considered classics.  Here is how I am doing this month:

 

Here is the list of what I read:

The Husband’s Secret– Liane Moriarty

Liane Moriarty has been super popular as of late for good reason.  In December I read her newest, Truly, Madly, Guilty and realized she is a great writer. She is able to weave a tale that includes, life, love, suspense, and really lets you feel the characters.  This book is another great display of her work. I actually got my mother a copy of this book for Christmas and when I visited her last week she was about 3/4th of the way through it. She loved it too and totally involved in the characters and what was going to happen next. I can’t wait to read more of her books.

The Case Against Sugar– Gary Taubes

This was one of my non-fiction picks for the month and it is a good one. I have been meaning to read Why we Get Fat, also by Taubes, but hadn’t had the chance. This new book came out in December and is the first book I’ve seen that really explains the history of sugar over the last few hundred years which really puts our current consumption into perspective. If you have any interest in nutrition or the history of food as it relates to diet then this book is for you.

Hillbilly Elegy– J.D. Vance

After Trump was elected the New York Times came out with a reading list that was meant to help the other half understand why small town and southern American voted the way they did.  As a person from the south I did not find this book to be too eye opening, but it was a great read and helped me to better understand my own life and how I got to where I am.  If you are looking for information about the south and how it became what it is today I strongly suggest White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg which is a much more scientific look at the subject.

Small Great Things– Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is one of those authors that has been around for awhile but I haven’t sat down and read anything by. Small Great Things, her newest title about a black female nurse from conneticut who gets caught up in a murder case due to racism both overt and subtle. This book is a real tear jerker, but also a great insight into life for so many blacks in America.

 

Night– Elie Wiesel

This was my choice for a classic title this month. Night in a 1958 autobiography about the author’s time in Nazi death camps where he lost is entire family. Although a short read, Elie does a great job expanding on his story and sharing what it really felt like to live in is world. A great topical read in today’s world. 
Well that’s it.  What did you read last month? Share  below! 

Winter beauty faves

January 31
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Winter Beauty Favorites

 

Hey friends, I wanted to take a few minutes today to share a few of my favorite products for winter.  Now yes, I know it does not feel like winter AT ALL in Florida this year, but I did spend some time in Chicago this year and have fell in love with a few new things that were perfect for dry damaged skin and hair.

 

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Ponds Dry Skin Cream– I actually bought this accidentally thinking that it was cold cream but was pleasently surpirsed by what it was.  Although not what I was shopping for, this lotion is like an intensive night cream that is so rich and luxurious feeling you’d think you’d spent ten times as much.  Because there is no SPF in this product I only use it in the evenings.  Looking for my favorite daytime moisturizer? Check out CeraVe AM lotion with SPF 30. Perfect for year round use.

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Carmex– This is of course the best lip product for dry lips. Try one with SPF to combat that winter sun.

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Nivea hand cream tins– I have several of these little tins. One at my desk, one in my bag, and one in my nightstand. The cream is a thick hand cream, not a lotion and really moisturizes my hands on the spot.  Bonus: The tins are super cute and yes, the lids do stay on tight.

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NARS Hilighting Blush- When my skin is super dry and lacking color I like to grab a nice hi lighter to bring it back to life. This one from NARS is perfect.  I always prefer a power to a liquid product in this department.

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Tarte Amazonian Butter Lipstick– When I’m dealing with dry winter lips I switch from my holy grail Kat Von D Liquid Lip to a product that is more moisturizing and covers the problem more. This Tarte Lip butter totally does the job.

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Nexxus Humectress Moisture Restoring Masque– Hair a dry mess? Try this mask from Nexxus.

What I keep in my work bag

January 13
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What I keep in my work bag- all the essentials I keep in my desk at work to handle all the little things that come up during the day.

Although I sometimes wish I was a full time blogger, I do in fact have a “read job.” I am a the head of the reference department at a decent sized public library. I love my job, and I enjoy going to work every day, but it always seems like I forget to bring something.

Because of this, I put together a little work essentials kit.  This kit stays at work and contains all those little things you just might need during the course of a day or would just make the day go that much better.

What I keep in my work bag- all the essentials I keep in my desk at work to handle all the little things that come up during the day.

My kit contains
Face palette
Lipstick
Chapstick
Hair ties
Bobby pins (These are my favorite brand)
Deodorant
Tampons (or pads)
Panty liners
Hand cream
OTC pain medication

You may also want-
Pads
Rubbing alchohol
First aid supplies
Makeup

I also try to keep a few snacks in my desk to munch on when my blood sugar gets low or in case I forgot to bring something.

What is great about these little kits is that fit nicely into a desk drawer or a locker so you can leave it at work and have a little more peace of mind knowing it is there. Of course none of the items mentioned are required and your kit should only contain items that you would need within your work day. Don’t waste your time, money, and space, filling it with anything you might need, its not worth it. Just stick with the essentials that you’ve found yourself needing in the past.

As far as bags are concerned, check around your home and see what you have. I used  a freebie from an Victoria’s Secret order but anything will work as long as it fits in your locker or desk.  No locker or desk? This could also be kept in the car as an all around emergency kit, just make sure the lipstick doesn’t melt.

 

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. Enjoy!- Amber D.

What I keep in my work bag- all the essentials I keep in my desk at work to handle all the little things that come up during the day.

New blog design

January 8
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Hey everyone, I wanted to post a little update about the changes around here.  I’ve been doing some work behind the scenes and have finally published the changes.  It is not anything too major, just the formatting and look of the blog. I have made some changes to the sidebar as well.  If you notice anything that seems off or did not transfer correctly please let me know.  My hope is that this new design will be a little more pleasing on the eyes and easier to use.  If you have any questions please let me know!

 

 

Have a great week!

2017 word for the year: THRIVE

January 1
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thrive

In 2016 my word of the year was Leap. Last year I challenged myself to “Take chances, make mistakes and get messy.”  (Thanks Ms. Frizzle) In 2016 I did make leaps in several area of my life; I started a new job, we purchased a new home, met great people, and I furthered this little blog into something pretty cool.

This year I am focusing on taking what I have done, my relationships, and myself and growing them to be the best they can. I want these, and all, areas of my life to thrive.

From Marian-Webster’s Dictionary

thrive

verb
  1. (of a child, animal, or plant) grow or develop well or vigorously.
    “the new baby thrived”
prosper; flourish.
“education groups thrive on organization”

These are the areas I am focusing on:

What I have done:
My blog is going well, my (new) job is going well, and my new home is finally in some type of order. This year I want to take the time to make these the best that they can be, instead of just getting by,. I want to make great blog posts and provide awesome content. I want to be a great supervisor and librarian in my job. I want to make changes to my home that make it the best it can be. I want these areas in my life to flourish.

My relationships:
My husband and I have been married two years as of December. I of course love him to death but I know that if we do not take the time to focus on and nurture our relationship that we could lose it. The same goes for relationships with family and friends. It is so easy to just ignore these people when life gets rough, but instead I want to nurture these relationships as well and take the time to meet new people and grow my circle of friends.

Myself:
Self-care is important. As I get older I do feel that I am getting better and better at it, but there is still so  much room to improve. I will be turning 30 in July and it is time I really start taking my physical and mental health seriously. I eat fairly well and am good about drinking water, but I need to start getting to bed at a decent hour. This year I want to focus on getting into bed early  so that I am not dead tired when I get home from work. When I get home from work tired the whole evening snowballs: I am too sleepy to cook so we eat junk, I don’t complete the tasks I have planned, and I don’t get to spend quality time with my spouse because I am half asleep on the sofa all night.

I know that these are harder to measure goals and I am ok with that.  Instead of changing habits I want to shift my lifestyle into one that really produces the best in these areas.

 

Do  you do a word of the year? Share it with us or post it on instagram and tag me! I’m @_amberdowns.

2017 reading goals

December 30
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For the last two years I have participated in the Goodreads reading challenge. In this challenge you give yourself a goal of how many books you’d like to read over the year and then you add them to the site when you’ve read them. I love that it keeps track of how you are doing and lets you know if you are ahead or behind in your reading.

For 2016 I challenged myself to read 50 books. FYI: I count YA and adult books, not kids books. I do not count picture books or small children’s books. I actually met my goal by the beginning of December and as of writing this (December 30th) I have read 58 books!

When I select my books i try to read across a variety of genres as well as both fiction and non-fiction. This year I want to make a better focus of adding in classics as well. I have been saying this for some time, but haven’t really acted on it. This year I am going to be writing down the titles in my planner and making a chart to count how many of each I read; fiction, non-fiction, and classics.

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This sheet was made from a simple sheet of Mambi classic size planner graph paper.  You can use whatever paper fits in your planner, or use an extra notes page. Also, several months ago I made a reading log insert for the Happy Planner so that could be used as well.

 

My reading goals for 2017 will be to red 60 books, 12 of which are classics and at least 12 non-fiction titles as well.  I plan to continue to focus on adult fiction titles as they are popular with my patrons at the library and give me titles to refer them too. I also want to continue to explore books that may not be fun but will help with gaining a better understanding of the world around us and our community. Although I have, and will continue, to enjoy fiction, I think its important to also read for information and social education, now more than ever.

 

I hope this post has inspired you to set a reading goal for 2017. A goal can be anything, even five or ten books, we all start somewhere! If you do set a goal let me know in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe to my emails and follow on Instagram to get updates on what I am reading.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. Enjoy!- Amber D.

Hot Cocoa Station

December 19
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Over the last couple of years it has become a trend to have a cute little coffee station in your home. A little more than just the pot and a sugar bowl. I created one of these cute little stations in our new home and then  when the holidays hit this year I noticed everyone was converting these to hot cocoa stations.  Well, you guessed it, I joined the band wagon.  Living in Florida we don’t consume tons of cocoa, but we were holding a party so I figured it would be a fun addition and a great alcoholic choice for our guests. Because we have a Keurig I decided the easiest thing to do would be to get the cocoa K-cups that way guests to make cups as they please.  They are more expensive, buy we’re paying for convince here. We also set the station up with a jar of mini marshmallows and candy canes for stirring. As you can see from the photo I keep my coffee K-cups in a drawer under the brewer so  I added a vintage strainer for the cocoa k-cups as a way to highlight them.  . On my coffee/cocoa cart I keep a stack of all-season mugs and a tray of additional mugs below.  If you were expecting a large group you could also purchase disposable cups.

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I did not do another other decorating of this space as I plan to keep it up after Christmas and therefore want it to be just a seasonal station but a cute print or framed art would look great about this area or even a little banner.

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My cart is a vintage Cosco cart which is in dire need of refinishing. The mustache mugs (similar) were a gift from my sister a few years ago. Because this is also a coffee station I have sugar and my homemade coffee creamer available as well.  The mugs on the tray are part of a dish ware set by Oneida which is no longer available. A similar set is available at Kohls.

 

Do you have a coffee or cocoa station in your home? How do you set it up for the holidays?

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. Enjoy!- Amber D.

Holiday Home Tour

December 10
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holiday-home-tour

 

One of the things I love about the blogging world is the way we get to peek into the lives and homes of others. I love how during the holidays bloggers open up their homes online and share how they have decorated or prepared for the holidays. I know it sounds simple, but this little glimpse into the lives of others always feels special to me and a great way to feel closer to the blogger.

Today I want to share my home with you via some photos of our holiday decor.  I had planned on sharing more of our new home after we moved in, but I really hadn’t felt that it was anywhere near done until this past weekend when we finished decorating and held our holiday party. It really does not feel like our home which really does fill my heart with joy.  <3

How about we get on to the photos?

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I’ll start with the front porch. I don’t do the big beautiful front decor that some do. Lets be honest, I am lazy and cheap, but I do like to add seasonal flowers and a wreath. As you can see my door is in need of a new coat of paint, but that is a project for 2017.  The wreath is from Wal-Mart of all places!

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Our home has a fun little foyer that I am still getting the hang of decorating. When you open the front door you are greeted by a large mirror. I currently have a love-hate relationship with the room and the mirror; I feel like it might be weird and dated and yet I also feel like it is a cool aspect of our home that is fun. So I leave it there. When we viewed the home the prior owner had a cute glass table which my husband loved, but I haven’t gotten around to looking for one of those, and this one was $10 at a thrift store. I plan to refinish it, but haven’t yet, that is why we have two place mats as a little tablecloth on it.  Sneaky, I know.  The marque is the Heidi Swapp Lightbox (which we LOVE) with the holiday wreath pack.  We keep this light box on the table and decorate it with images or text based on the time of year. It ads a great personal touch. I also filled our decorative bird cage with extra tree ornaments as a way to add some color and pop. I think it worked. Of course we also added a fall candle to add some welcoming scents to the entryway.

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Our living room is done in tan and red so it already has a “Christmas-y” feel to it. I love how warm and cozy these colors are, especially in the winter.  After the recent addition of the rug this room was really coming together…(yes, the rug really tied the room together 😉 .)  Last week, right before our party the coffee table, that I had been planning on replacing, broke when we tried to move it with too much weight on it. It was perfect timing really, as it opened up the room for the party and got me moving on getting it replaced. So the room is a little more open that usual, but it works for now.

When we purchased the home I immediately pegged that front corner as our tree location. I love trees that are visible from the street; it reminds me of driving around and seeing the lights on homes as a child and seeing the tree inside and how happy the family must be.  This led me to always wanting my tree in the front of our home.  We do our tree as a traditional family tree. We do not pick a color scheme each year and generally only add the few ornaments we have purchased or been gifted. Many of our ornaments hold special meaning to us we enjoy putting them up together each year. Maybe next year I will share a few of them. 😉

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When we purchased the home, one of the selling points was this beautiful stone fireplace in the living room. I know it doesn’t make a ton of sense in Florida, but it really makes the house a home. As you can see the fireplace does not have a mantle so we used 3m command strips and hooks to hang the stockings.  Worked perfectly.  I also decorated the fireplace with a cute little banner from the Target dollar spot, a lantern from Kohls and some crackers a friend brought for our party. (More on that later)

Because of the design and color of the room this is just about all we do for this room.  We put out a few little holiday knick·knacks on the tables and call it a day. This year we did not decorate the top of the TV cabinet as it was already in holiday colors.   I usually put out something on the coffee table, but like I mentioned, we don’t have one right now so that solves that problem.

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Because of the party I did a little more decorating than usual in our dining room. The dining room is a very central part of our home and I knew our guests would be spending quite a lot of time in this room. Because of this I wanted to a few little things and of course not go out and spend a lot of money.

Our old home had white pillars out front and I had this lighted garland that I wrapped around them. We did not use this in the outdoor decorating of the new home so I doubled it up, added a ribbon, and draped it onto the curtain rod for the patio.  Perfect, and all I had to do was purchase the ribbon.

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I generally add something to the buffet mantle and this year this is where i added some new items. I picked up the candles at Michael’s as a fall clearance item knowing that gold is a year round color and that I could use them for whatever I wanted. I purchased the “Cheer” sign from Jo-Ann Fabrics and the table runner is from the Target Dollar Spot. (I think it was a fall item as well.) I purchased the poinsettias seen around the home at Lowe’s on the weekend after Thanksgiving. Pro tip: The $.99 flowers sell out fast on Black Friday but the sale lasts for several more days. Check back in a few days and your store may have another batch in. I purchased these on Monday after Thanksgiving.  These are great to add color to the home or for gifts.

The bar table is actually an outdoor table that we brought in to use for the party. I added an old tablecloth and it worked great.  We decided to leave the table up until after the holidays as I am sure having a beverage station and extra table will be helpful throughout the holiday season.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little peek into my holiday home.  My hope is that this brings you a little insight into my life as well as some holiday cheer and inspiration.

-Amber D.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. Enjoy!- Amber D.