- See more at: http://tutorialgeek.blogspot.com/2010/11/how-to-change-your-blogger-domain-url.html#sthash.sezFio1Q.dpuf

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Gray Entry Bench

I’d like to introduce you all to my new entry bench:

It’s the Safavieh American Collection Benjamin Bench (in grey) and I bought it from Amazon. At the time of purchase, it was $172.99 plus free shipping.  It’s available in four other colors, but the price varies by color. It’s also available on other sites, but Amazon was the cheapest.

I had originally planned on a white bench, but I couldn’t find one that I liked, so I decided to order the grey. I don’t love the grey in person, so I’ll probably end up painting it white. This same bench is available in white, but based on the pictures it’s a creamy, off-white and that wouldn’t look good with the rest of my white furniture.

I will admit that I’m not sure if I like it in this spot or not. I think it might be too large for the space…or maybe I’m just not used to seeing anything in that spot. I’m going to live with it for a couple days and then I’ll decide if I want to keep it there, try it somewhere else, or send it back.

What do you think? Maybe it just needs a couple pillows?


Friday, September 26, 2014

The Friday Five

One – Doggies

Let’s kick off this post with an updated picture of Ringo and Abby! It took more treats than I’d care to admit to get this picture, but it was worth it. They are just so damn cute!
Two – Bridesmaid

I’m going to be a bridesmaid! I don’t have that many close girl friends (and no sisters), so I thought it might never happen; I’m so excited! Plus my boyfriend is going to be a groomsman, so it should be a good time. They are getting married in the upper peninsula of Michigan next July, so it’s still a long way off, but exciting none the less. And actually, we’ve already ordered our dresses. They are from ModCloth, so we wanted to get them before they sold out. I guess I can’t gain or lose weight for the next 10 months…
Three – Spicy Sausage Pasta

This Spicy Sausage Pasta recipe from Emily Bites is one of my boyfriend’s favorite meals. I made it for dinner on Tuesday and it turned out amazing as usual. Oh, and if you don’t like spicy food, you can use mild Rotel instead of the original kind. I love that it can be made in one pot, so there’s not a lot of clean up. I use my cast iron skillet, so that I can put it directly under the broiler to melt the cheese. Delicious!
Four – Bowling


I just joined my boyfriend’s bowling league! Earlier this year my boyfriend and three of our friends from work joined a recreational bowling league and they ended up finishing in second place. One of the guys doesn’t want to bowl again, so they asked me to join. Luckily they use a handicap scoring system, so I just need to bowl consistently, which is a good thing because I don’t bowl often and I probably only average about 100 points a game. It should be an interesting 8 weeks…
Five – New Girl

A couple weeks ago I started watching New Girl on Netflix and now I’m slightly obsessed, even my boyfriend thinks it’s funny. Although we both agree that Schmidt is the best character and we probably wouldn’t watch if he wasn’t on it. We’re about half way through the third season and we are recording the new season, so we should be completely caught up soon.

I will admit that I almost gave up on it after the first few episodes because I thought Jess was the most annoying character ever. I’m glad she toned it down as the season went along. So if you haven’t seen it and decide to start watching, don’t judge it based off the first few episodes. It gets better, I promise!


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Travel Gallery Wall

A couple weeks ago I showed you all my new console table and I mentioned that I was inspired to start working on the living room again. I decided to start with the wall behind my new console table. I love the DIYabstract art that I painted, but it’s just not large enough for the space…especially with the new, longer table.

So I decided to build a large gallery wall to showcase all of my travel photos. Unlike my previous gallery wall, I decided to buy new, matching frames for this project. I liked the idea of using a few different colors/styles, but wanted them to look a little more cohesive. I also wanted to use larger frames this time because smaller frames can look too cluttered. Anyway, as you know, frames are expensive and I didn’t want to drop hundreds of dollars on this project. Well, I lucked out and I ended up finding almost all of these frames on clearance at Michael’s!

I wasn’t a fan of the bronze and gold colors, but the small frames were only $6 and the larger frames were only $8. So, I decided to buy them and just spray paint them. The bluish-gray frames were a combination of clearance and sales. I ended up paying $12 for the largest frame and $10 for the others. I also had to buy mats for 4 of the bluish-gray frames, but the rest of them came with mats.

Now that I had the frames, I had to decide how I wanted to arrange them. I used painter’s tape to mark off how large I wanted the gallery wall to be. It’s a great way to visualize what’ll work on the wall without actually hammering any nails.

After I decided on the size, I pulled the tape off and laid it on the floor. It took up almost the entire office floor space. I used that area to arrange the frames into a layout that I liked. It took FOR-EV-ER plus a few trips back to Michael’s to buy more frames before it was full/completely arranged. As you'll see later, I ended up making a couple more changes once I started hanging the frames.

I started picking photos for the frames while they were still laid out on the floor, but I kept changing my mind, so I figured I might as well get them hung and worry about it then. Plus I wanted my office back. I could hardly walk in there! So I hung two of the pieces of tape back on the wall and used that corner to hang my first frame.

From there I just hung the frames going up and over until all of the frames were hung. After that I started picking pictures for the frames and spray painting the bronze and gold frames. I decided to paint the bronze frames black and the gold frames white. I love how they turned out and I love how the three colors look together. They tie the main colors of the room together.

I think picking pictures for the frames was the hardest part of this project.  A majority of them are from our trip to England and Paris last year, but I also included pictures from Alaska, New Orleans, Hawaii, Japan, Maine, Colorado, Catalina Island and my most recent trip to England.

I love how it turned out and I love being able to see pictures from our vacations every day.

Anyway, I ended up spending about $150 on the frames and mats, which isn’t chump change, but is a killer dealer compared to how much I would have spent on 18 regular price or even 40%-off sale frames. I had all of the pictures printed at Wal-Mart for about $45. Plus the cost of spray paint, this project ended up costing about $200. Not my cheapest project, but I love how it turned out and I’m so happy to have that large wall finally filled. Now I just need to decorate the console table and I’ll finally be done with that wall!

http://www.artsyfartsymama.com/   http://www.shineyourlightblog.com/

Monday, September 22, 2014

Tour Through Blogland

Last week I was nominated by Samantha from Designer in Tealto participate in a Tour through Blogland. It’s really just a chance for bloggers to share more about themselves, their home, and their blog. Plus it’s a fun way to meet other bloggers and find new reads.   

Before I start talking about myself, I want to introduce Samantha from Designer in Teal. Clearly we were meant to be friends because we’re both named Samantha, we both love Mexican food, and we now own the same console table. Anyway, Samantha and her husband bought their first home earlier this year and are fixing it up room by room. Right now they are working on the master bathroom, which used to be a horrible lime green color, but is now a very pretty blue. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

OK, let’s get to the questions:

1) What am I working on now?

Right now I’m working on decorating the large wall in our entry/living room. I just finished hanging a gallery wall above my new console table (details later this week), but I’m still looking for accessories to decorate the tabletop. I’m also looking for a bench for the entry. After that I have a few other projects/purchases on my list for the living room, but I’m hoping to finish it this year…we’ll see…

However, the One Room Challenge starts next week, so I’m starting to shift my focus to the master bathroom. I’m currently updating the mood board I put together last year and ordering any items that have to be custom made or shipped, so I’ll have them in time for the challenge. 

2) How does my work differ from others in my genre?

I feel like a lot of bloggers are either full-time bloggers, stay-at-home moms, or work in some sort of creative profession (or a combination thereof). I work full-time as a financial analyst…probably one of the least creative jobs you can imagine. This blog is my chance to work on something I truly enjoy and use all of that creativity that I don’t use during my day job. That being said, this blog is just a hobby so I probably don’t finish projects or write posts as often as some people would like.   
Also, my blog isn’t strictly about one topic. It’s mostly DIY projects and crafts, but I also write about traveling, food, and an occasional personal story. I just write about whatever I want to. You never know what I’m going to post about on any given day! 

3) How does my creative process work?

In one word: scattered! I have a hard time focusing on one project or one room at a time. I have a lot of supplies for projects I keep meaning to start and half-finished projects around the house. Once the inspiration fades, I’m onto the next thing regardless if what I was working on is finished or not.

A good example of this is the travel gallery wall that I just finished. I started it over a month ago. I spent a whole weekend on this project – buying the frames (multiple trips to Michael’s), arranging and hanging them, and getting pictures printed. I ended up a few pictures short and instead of taking like 15 minutes to pick a few more pictures, I lost interest and it sat unfinished for a couple weeks. Seriously, I only needed to pick/print 3 more pictures and the project would be done. But I lost interest and it sat unfinished for a few weeks until I was ready to work on it again. That's probably why I only have 1 “finished” room in the house even though I’ve been here for over 3 years.

4) Why do I write/create what I do?

As I mentioned above, this blog is my creative escape from my day job. It also forces to me to start/finish projects so that I have something to blog about. I don’t want to know what my house would look like if I didn’t have this blog to hold me accountable…

Plus it’s been fun meeting people with similar interests. I’ve met some amazing people through this blog and have formed some really great friendships. Most of my friends don’t care about decorating, so it’s been nice to have people to brainstorm and share ideas with. 

And just for fun, here are a few before/progress pictures of my living room: 

Oh, and lastly, I want to nominate Meaghan from This MessyBusiness and Ericka from This Crazy Thing Called Life to continue the Tour through Blogland.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Flashback Friday: September at The Junk House

Can you believe September is more than half over? This year has gone by so fast! Anyway, today we’re looking back at some of my favorite September posts from years past.

OK, let’s kick this off with a flashback to September 2013 –

A year ago today my mom and I were flying home from our two week London/Paris vacation. We spent the first day of our trip touring Stonehenge and Bath. Surprisingly, Stonehenge ended up being one of our favorite spots. When I was in England a couple weeks ago we drove by Stonehenge on the way from the airport to my hotel. That was pretty exciting!

Last year I knocked off this fishing sign for my boyfriend. It’s still hanging on his side of the gallery wall in the office. Although, I had to add a metal hanger to the back because the double stick mounting tape did not hold up.

Let’s rewind another year and look at September 2012 –
Two years ago I completed one of my most time consuming projects. I stenciled fabric and used it to upholster a headboard for the master bedroom. We still use the headboard today, but I’ve been thinking about replacing it. The white in the fabric has not held up well to two dogs. Well, just Ringo mostly. He’s obsessed with licking one particular spot, so as you can imagine, that spot looks pretty dirty.

Two years ago I was busy working on my craft room. I didn’t finish the room, but I painted it and organized everything. Too bad it’s a complete mess right now! Like seriously, it’s bad – possibly worse than the original before pictures. The shame…

Time to go WAY back to September 2011 – my first year of blogging!

The guest bathroom was the first room makeover that I finished in my house. Actually, it’s the only makeover that I’ve finished…haha! I have been thinking about changing the rug, artwork, and towels for something a little brighter and cheerier, but I figured I should work on finishing the other rooms in the house first. The best use of my time/money is probably not redoing the one finished room, especially since I don’t use it that often.

And finally – Three years ago this month we brought Ringohome! Some days I didn’t think we’d make it this long. He was such a shithead puppy, but he’s gotten so much better as he gets older. I mean, he’s still a troublemaker (remember my poor fiddle leaf fig), but he’s mostly sweet now.

So that’s what I’ve been up to in September for the past three years. It’s been fun looking back at old projects and seeing how much I’ve accomplished in our house over the past few years.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Yeovil and Portsmouth, England

Well, that was a whirlwind trip to England! I left Phoenix on Saturday night and arrived back in Phoenix on Friday evening. I stayed in three different cities and drove (was driven) around most of the southern coast of England.

I was traveling for business , so unfortunately I didn’t get to do much sightseeing or exploring. Although I did get to fly business class on my way there and back, so that was pretty amazing. Plenty of legroom, seats that recline into beds, better food than coach plus free drinks…awesome!

Anyway, I spent the first two nights of my trip in Yeovil. The hotel wasn’t very close to anything and I was too jetlagged to figure out the bus route or find a cab, so I pretty much just stayed around the hotel after work. I did see some cows…

The next two days we stayed in Portsmouth. Luckily there was a lot more to do there, so I finally got a chance to get out of the hotel. Unfortunately, I didn’t leave work until after 5 p.m. each day, so I didn’t have much free time to explore. However, I finally got some free time after work on Wednesday, so I decided to walk around and do some sightseeing. We were staying near the Royal Garrison Church, so that was my first stop. It was closed by the time I got there, but I still stopped to take a few pictures. It was originally part of a hospital founded in 1212 by the bishop of Winchester. The nave was badly damaged during a fire raid in 1941, but the chancel remains roofed and furnished.

From there I followed the sea wall/walk that runs along the coast of Portsmouth. It was a great walking trail and it eventually lead me through Clarence Pier to the rocky shore.

I ended up walking around that for a couple of miles because I was determined to see Southsea Castle. I mean, you have to see at least one castle while you are in England, right? Of course it was closed by the time I got there, but I was able to get a peek through the gates and take a couple pictures.

If I had been there earlier, there’s also the D-Day Museum and an aquarium nearby. I did get to see the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.  It was built to commemorate the members of the Royal Navy whose lives were lost at sea (and therefore have no known grave) during WWI and WWII.

I loved the lion and unicorn statues that were guarding the entrances. Someday I’m going to buy a big house and put cement statues out front…I’m sure my neighbors and HOA will LOVE that...

I spent my last day at the Wattisham Airfield and at our hotel in Ipswich, but I don’t have any pictures of those places =(

Although I didn’t get to do much sightseeing, I did get to do a lot of eating. Hooray for a generous business travel per diem! I think my favorite meal was the lamb lollipops at Jamie’s Italian in Portsmouth. My favorite dessert was the banana toffee crumble tart with honey and fig ice cream at the Yeovil Court Hotel and Restaurant. I also had an amazing parma ham, fresh mozzarella and pesto baguette sandwich there.

Even though it was a quick trip I still had a great time and I’m happy I had the opportunity to visit England again. Hopefully I’ll get to make another trip there within the next few years.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pinterest Recipe Week 6 Review

Last Monday I announced that I was going to cook dinner for the whole week based only on recipes that I’ve pinned on Pinterest - aka Pinterest Recipe Week.  Everything turned out pretty good, but not all earned a spot in my recipe binder. Before I crap on any recipes I want to say that these are just our opinions. You might like something we didn’t like or vice versa. That’s what makes food fun; everyone is different. Oh, and sorry for the non-staged food pictures. I was more concerned about eating the food while it was still hot rather than getting good pictures.


Steak Tips with Caramelized Onions and Grilled Red Potato Packets with Pesto Ranch Sauce

Overall, I’d say everything was good, but could use a few tweaks in my opinion. We liked the steak tips, but I thought the marinade had too much A-1 sauce and the flavor was a little overpowering. The recipe also makes way more marinade than you need and it’s kind of a waste of ingredients. I could have halved the recipe and still had plenty. I love caramelized/grilled onions, so I thought those were amazing and could have eaten the whole pan. Also, as you can tell in the picture, I accidently cut my steak pieces a little too small, but they still cooked up well. I would consider making these again, but with the marinade changes listed above and I’d cut my steak into larger pieces as instructed.
The potatoes were good and I loved the idea of cooking them in foil packets on the grill, but they were too oily. Butter + olive oil + oil from the pesto was way too much. However, I did love the foil packet method and I would definitely cook potatoes this way again. It’s nice that you don’t have to dirty any pots or pans. Other than that, the flavor was pretty good (although next time I would try different ingredient/spices combinations) and I loved the crispy ones stuck to the foil. Oh, and as you can tell from the picture, I forgot to add the chives. I chopped them up, but just forgot to sprinkle them on…oops! 


Creamy Shrimp Enchiladas with Cilantro Lime Rice and Pinto Beans

Let’s start with the enchiladas – they were good, but really rich. I don’t think you could eat more than two without feeling sick. That being said, the two I ate were really good. I really liked the shrimp mixture and would definitely make that again. I think next time I’d use the shrimp mixture from this recipe and top it with the creamy salsa verde from thisSkinny Taste recipe.
I’ve never ate at CafĂ© Rio, so I don’t know if this rice tastes similar or not, but it was tasty and paired well with the enchiladas.
Ugh, now let’s talk about the beans. They were definitely the biggest disappointment for the week. The 20-minute cooking time is WAY off. My beans definitely weren’t soft enough after 20 minutes, so I cooked them another 20 minutes, but they were still kind of crunchy. By then I had to move on and finish dinner if we wanted to eat at a reasonable time, so I let them sit for an hour as instructed, but still no. I ended up just throwing out the whole pot of beans. Next time I’ll just cook them in the crockpot like I usually do.  


These burgers were seriously tasty! Next time I think I’d crumble the bacon and add it to the cream cheese-jalapeno mixture instead of putting it on top of the burger. And I think I’d add lettuce and tomato too, but those are the only changes I’d make. I really love the idea of stuffed burgers and I loved the ranch avocado sauce. Mmmm, definitely a tasty burger! The waffle fries are just Alexia seasoned waffle fries. I didn’t make those – I just baked them according to the directions.

Thai Chicken Skewers with Peanut Sauce and Crunchy Asian Slaw

The chicken skewers were good, but they tasted just like every other marinated chicken recipe. That's not necessarily a bad thing and like I said, they were good, just not standout chicken skewers. As far as the peanut sauce goes, at first I didn't like it, but it grew on me after a few bites. 

I think everyone has their own version of this recipe. I'm partial to my version Crunchy Asian Slaw, but since this was new recipe week, I decided to try a different one. I have to say, this version is really good. I really liked the buttery, seasoned ramen noodles. The dressing is really good too. It's similar to the one I make except this recipe calls for red wine vinegar and I usually use apple cider vinegar. I'm definitely going to take a few ideas from this recipe and incorporate them into my own. 


Broiled Salmon and Roasted Garlic Cream Noodles withCrispy Cauliflower + Toasted Pine Nuts 

We still have a lot of salmon left from our Alaska trip, so I've been trying to find new recipes and tips for cooking it. I usually bake it (375 degrees for 15-18 minutes), but I liked the broil method from this recipe. I'll definitely cook it that way again. We also really liked the roasted garlic cream noodles. Although next time I'd use shell pasta because I don't really like regular spaghetti noodles (I know, I'm weird). Oh, and if you want to save a few bucks, you could leave off the pine nuts. They are good, but they don't make or break the dish. 


Country Gravy Breakfast Casserole

I know the picture doesn't look that appetizing, but this casserole is seriously delicious! My boyfriend and I ate almost half of the 9x13 pan by ourselves in one sitting. I followed the recipe exactly as directed except I ended up making gravy from the sausage grease using this recipe instead of using package gravy mix.

This was really good! I ended up taking the leftovers for lunch one day – yes, I ate chips and dip for lunch. It wasn’t spicy at all, so next time I think I’d add a couple more jalapenos because I think this would be really good with a little kick, but it’s definitely not necessary if you don’t like heat.   


Golden Oreo Strawberry Cheesecake Bars 

It's cheesecake so of course it's delicious! I love the golden Oreo crust! It might be my new go-to cheesecake crust. You could also skip the crumbled Oreos and just make strawberry cheesecake. That would be delicious too! Yum!

Has anyone else tried a recipe they've pinned? Leave any recommendations in the comments section - I'm always looking for new dishes!

You can see these pins and other food related pins
You can read previous Pinterest Recipe Week reviews here

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Friday Five

One – My New Favorite Pants

The main reason I’m writing this post is so I can tell everyone about my new favorite pants - the SONOMA life + style Straight-LegSlim Knit Pants. They are ridiculously comfortable, but still appropriate for the office. I wore them working in England last week and I’ve worn them a couple times to work this week. I’ve been pairing mine with my usual work blouses and flats and love how they look.  I already own two pairs, but I’m planning on buying at least two more. Seriously, they are like wearing comfy, stretchy pajama pants.

Two – High School Reunion

My 10-year high school reunion is this weekend...My boyfriend and I are going to the family picnic tomorrow afternoon, but my cousin is getting married tomorrow night, so I’m going to miss the reunion dinner. It should be interesting to see everyone. Although, thanks to Facebook I already know what a lot of my classmates have been up to over the past decade – lots of weddings and babies!

Three – Rainy Day

It started raining in the Phoenix-area around 2 a.m. Monday morning and didn’t stop until almost lunch time! You might have seen picturesof the flooded freeways on the news. Let’s just say the area was not built for that much rain.  We were lucky because the storm didn’t cause any damage or flooding to our house, but our backyard looked like a lake and our pool was only a couple inches from overflowing. It was pretty crazy! I’m just glad I had my laptop, so I could work from home for the day. 

Four – One Room Challenge

I just wanted to give everyone a heads up that the next One Room Challenge (hosted by Linda at Calling it Home) starts Thursday, October 2nd. I would definitely recommend joining in if you have a room that needs a makeover and you need some motivation. Participating in the last challenge is probably the only reason my laundry room is actually painted. I’d probably still be procrastinating getting the drywall repaired if I hadn’t participated (although I still haven’t finished the counter).

I’m still trying to decide which room I want to work on this time. I can’t decide between the master bedroom, master bathroom, guest room, or pool area. I’m leaning towards pool area (even though it’s not technically a room) because the weather will start cooling down by October and it’d be nice to finally get some work done outside. Regardless, I need to make a decision soon, so I can start planning and ordering any long-lead items.

Five – Divergent

I watched Divergent while I was on the plane to London and I loved it! I wanted to sleep, but I couldn’t turn it off. I definitely wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. It doesn’t hurt that Four (Theo James) is ridiculously good looking. I bought the movie when I got home and I can’t wait to watch it again. Now I want to read the books before the next movie comes out. Have you seen the movie or read the books?

Hope you all have a great weekend! I'll be back Monday with the results of Pinterest Recipe Week!