Desk Makeover

OctMono

My bestie and I moved to Koreatown in Los Angeles back in August, but our efforts to make the place homey have been less than stellar. With Thanksgiving on the horizon – and the promise of visiting guests – we’ve started to put the place together. I hung art in my room, she organized her bathroom, and jointly we bought a cute recliner on sale from IKEA.

About a month ago, I was poring over Craigslist in search of a dining room table when I stumbled across an ad for old student desks. You know the ones – metal body, fake wooden top, made you squirm in first grade. Apparently the seller had a ton, and the more you bought, the better the deal. My DIY instincts kicked in hardcore, and I texted the number listed.

Flash forward a week and I was dragging my roommate across town to meet the guy I dubbed Craigstlist Carlos (CC for short). CC led us to a shabby backyard that was, as promised, filled to the brim with these old desks. We picked the best looking two, I paid him in cash, and were out of there like cats in a lightning storm.

IMG_5130

Before it received a little TLC

The makeover I had planned was largely inspired by a link my cousin // collaborator Jess sent to me on Pinterest. My roommate and I had previously agreed on an ocean // mint-esque color scheme, and so even though I was drooling over the gold, I settled instead for Rustoleum’s Ocean Mist and White Gloss.

IMG_5131 IMG_5143

After separating the tops from the bottoms, I followed the instructions on the spray paint. Every 48 hours I would give each piece another coat. Spray painting is harder than it looks, I’ll tell you! Get too close and you cause it to run. Go too far away and you’re just painting the air. It took me 3 cans of Ocean Mist and 2 cans of the White Gloss to finish the project, which was completed over the span of a week and a half. Additionally, I finished the desks with a clear gloss protectant spray.

Midway through coats

Midway through coats

Another thing you learn along the way – the paint comes off very easily. One morning, after having painted the night before, I was moving the lids // desks together in my arms when they bumped up against each other, leaving a small tear in the paint. You have to be very careful, lest they be jostled in any way.

Though slightly imperfect, the desks turned out better than I’d hoped. One we are currently using as an entryway table, the other I’m temporarily utilizing as a mini desk.

IMG_0549

Our new entryway! Baskets courtesy of Target

IMG_0550 IMG_0557

I’ve got the feeling it’s going to be a creative fall // winter!

Signature

Fall-Ow Your Passions

OctMono

This year is the first time in a very long time that I have Halloween off to do whatever I please. Last October 31st, I stood miserably at the front of a restaurant I was hosting at – my second job – as I watched children in costumes happily frolic about with their parents and steal the candy off my stand. In fact, I’ve spent many holidays stuck at work, wishing I could be celebrating the time with my family and friends.

But not this year! 2015 saw my one year anniversary at my current full-time job, as well as the end of my time working a second position. I have been lucky enough that one job supports me enough to only work five out of seven days. Many people work two, even three jobs to support their families, and it wears you down quickly if you’re not careful.

Too often in my adult life, I’ve let a lot of time slip by not doing the things I want to. This past summer came and went without a blip. I dreamed endlessly about hosting a beach BBQ with friends, but never set the time aside to make it a reality.

When fall rolled around, I decided this wouldn’t be the case. I was determined to get out there, enjoy the weather (which is most definitely not fall-esque out here), and celebrate the season. With a little digging, I found an apple festival about three hours north of the city.

I grabbed my brother, and we spent the drive talking and singing along to old Disney tunes. The festival turned out to be a big flop – instead of 140 booths, as advertised online, we saw about maybe 20. The day was drizzly, the crafts were few, and there weren’t as many apple themed foods as we thought there’d be. Afterwards, we toured around the town looking at yard sales, but they were disappointing as well.

Nonetheless, we had a lot of fun, especially on the haunted hayride we rode back in LA that night! I wished the fair had been as engaging as the ones back home are, but I’m so glad I took the chance on it. Had I not gone, I know I would have regretted the decision immensely. As it stands, I was able to spend some quality time with my little bro AND face my fears and sit in the back of that hayride without crying.

I want to continue this streak of DOING rather than WISHING — and so far, it’s paying off! I spent the weekend working on  my apartment, finishing a DIY project, and getting some artwork hung. Stay tuned for updates! And in the meantime, remember that wishing doesn’t get you a cool hayride t-shirt.

Signature

Half-Assing All the Way

Last week at work, I had a revelation of sorts. That afternoon, we had just wrapped up feeding forty or so people Indian food and were in the process of cleaning it all up. In a nutshell, it’s a super sloppy job to do. I kept bouncing back between wrapping up leftovers, wiping down the table, organizing the dishwasher, etc. Eventually I noticed how frustrated I was getting with my lack of progress. The place had remained messy, despite my efforts.

That’s when the eureka moment hit.

I have never before known Indian food to be a stand in for my life, but there it was. In cleaning as in life, I had been putting myself into too many tasks and not been seeing results. I had been half-assing everything from my DIY projects to my coupon cutting to my writing and fitness goals. The intentions were there, but my many and varied plans had fallen by the wayside.

My word for 2015 was ‘follow-through’, as I’ve been known to flit from idea to idea without ever finishing it. My closet at home is full of dead craft projects and unfinished story ideas; when the going got tough, I quit and started something new.

Thanks to my goal setting workbook that I completed last month, I have narrowed down my official goal “categories” to writing, getting in shape, being financially responsible, expanding my resume, and traveling. Having this list taped to the inside of my planner has been instrumental in keeping my ambitions focused, but now is the time to revisit them and re-plan for them afresh.

Words to live by!

Words to live by!

It can be overwhelming to take on such a task – especially if you are revisiting your goals only because you were getting overwhelmed by them in the first place. I recommend that you:

1) Take a deep breath, grab a refreshment (may I suggest a giant cup of caffeine) and find a quiet place to settle in for a while.

2) If you haven’t already, I recommend you figure out your top five goals like I did using this workbook. Once you have them, take the goals and break them into smaller chunks by category.

3) One by one, focus on each chunk and come up with a plan to see it actualize into something that’s achievable. Under my category of “getting in shape”, I wrote that I wanted to be able to run two miles without stopping. To achieve this, I’ve created a workout calendar that’s devoted solely to my exercise routines.

4) Implement those plans, but one at a time! Instead of trying to run two miles and learn how to dead squat, I’m going to focus on them one at a time, at least until I feel comfortable enough to move on or add more to my goal.

This slower pace can seem incredibly frustrating. After all, we live in a world where the McDonald’s drive thru can have a delicious McFlurry awaiting you in a second’s notice (I don’t recommend those if your goals include fitness…or living past 25). We – myself included – want things and we want them now!

But taking it one goal at a time can ensure a success that half-assing everything can never do for you. The wisdom you can find in Indian food!

Signature

Standing Standing Everywhere, and Not a Place to Sit

Monogram

There have always been – and most likely, will always be – health crazes and fads. From early tonics that promised instant cures, to the Shake Weight, there are new trends starting every day. This time around, I’ve decided to board the bandwagon on one.

At work lately, there have been a string of my coworkers who have begun to use standing desks. It started with one guy in the creative department, M, who claimed that he preferred standing to sitting when he drew. He propped up his laptop and accouterments on some cardboard boxes and voila! A standing desk was born.

M’s desk remained homemade until work hired a new executive, who had back problems and couldn’t sit for long periods of time. And as an executive, there was no way he was going to be greeting clients with his desktop sitting on a Goldfish box. Several standing desks were purchased, along with some mats to ease the pressure on their feet.

The craze was moving along at a solid pace when my coworker, B, and I finally thought we wanted to give it a try. I

My homemade standing desk, don't mind the mess!

My homemade standing desk, don’t mind the mess!

actually prefer to stand to work – it makes it easier to dash out the door when anything arises (and let me tell you, a lot arises).

Because we were only testing the waters, we took the homemade route; my keyboard is resting on a paper holder, while my mouse is on a plastic drawer set. B’s setup involves several boxes at key heights. Luckily, the company had ordered some extra mats for us to stand on.

After a week of no-sitting, B and I agreed on a few things:

  1. Our legs weirdly feel more toned. Though in my case, I emphasized they were a little more stiff.
  2. It does make it easier to walk in and out of our office to do tasks.
  3. We don’t feel as sluggish and bloated in the afternoons following lunch

Screen shot 2015-04-08 at 6.34.45 AMSo far so good. Then B texted me the link to an article one night about the real health benefits of standing desks, versus the hype. It spells out that standing desks aren’t the magic antithesis to sitting. In reality, too much of anything will kill you, and standing too much can be painful and cause heart problems and varicose veins. Yikes.

Standing desks can be apart of a solution, though, when placed into a life routine that additionally include
low-intensity physical activity. The key is to make sure you’re doing it correctly! After reading the article, B and I adjusted our setups to make sure our standing – and sitting – positions were correct.

As she and I begin week two, we’ve begun to allow ourselves to sit whenever we feel uncomfortable or tired. The key is balance, balance, balance.

Until tomorrow, when B brings in her new weighted hula hoop for us to try. 😉

Signature

Wanted: {Inspiration}

Monogram

Well hello everyone, and welcome to 2015! If you’re anything like me, you’ve been struggling to get your head back into your typical routine. I had such a magical time on the East coast with my family that it’s been surreal being back at work trying to remember how to do my job (the key, really, is to make sure the executives have caffeine).

It wasn’t until I picked up my copy of Grace Helbig’s The Art of Pretending to be a Grown Up (a really funny, relatable read by YouTube personality Grace Helbig) that I realized that I was lacking inspiration! In her chapter on balancing work and play, one of Grace’s points is that in order tokeep motivated in any capacity, you should seek inspiration. Grace’s suggestion was to look up child prodigies on YouTube. In case that isn’t doing it for you, I have a few ideas of my own:

  1. Follow your idols on social media. I’m on Instagram everyday, and someone I’ve subscribed to is Reese Witherspoon. Her account is positive, bright, and chock full of inspiring quotes/photos (every Monday she posts a #MondayMuse). Seeing her accomplish her goals makes me want to do the same!
  2. Surround yourself with things that inspire you. When decorating your bedroom or cubicle at work, or even picking out a desktop for your computer background, think in terms of what is going to bring out the best in you. Maybe it’s photos of family and friends. Maybe it’s a vision board covered with photos of your goals. Or, it could simply be a quote that energizes you.
  3. Find someone who is better at something than you, and use it to motivate yourself. I went to college with a young woman who is a perpetual volunteer and defender of women’s rights. My volunteering record is sketchy at best. Learning about her exploits and reading her blog make me want to be on her level.
  4. Celebrate your accomplishments! Sometimes I look at my to-do list at the end of the day and am disappointed by all the things I didn’t get to. It’s then that I have to remind myself to be proud of everything I did do! Life is short, chores stink, and we’ll never get them all done. We might as well celebrate what we did manage to accomplish.
  5. Be your own best cheerleader. As adults, we don’t always have people patting us on the head and saying, “Good job!”, nor do we always have a personal trainer egging us on to do better. At the end of the day, you are the only one responsible for how you feel and how much you get done. I used to rag on myself whenever I didn’t get up early enough to go to the gym – it would ruin my entire day. Then, I decided to adopt a more forgiving attitude, one where I would cheer myself onward towards waking up during the wee hours of the morning. And if I decided to back to sleep? Not the end of the world.
  6. Immerse yourself in activities that make you excited to jump out of bed every day. Read Amy Poehler’s new book. Look at this article about celebrating women’s bodies. Listen to a song that makes you want to jump up and down. Try your hand at creating something. See a pretentious art film that makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time. The possibilities are endless, but what counts is that it makes you happy and re-energizes you to take on the world!

Also…don’t forget the cheesy Pinterest quotes!

At any given moment you have the power to say:  This is not how the story is going to end today.     #motivational - you have the ability to make a difference in your life.

Signature

Back to the grind

UntitledI am back-back to my normal schedule! (who knew I would long for it as much as I did)  On the road, I am was deprived of all my wonderful de-stressers: family, friends, boyfriend, and creative time. While I was away, I made a list of things to catch up on. Most of these things included bills, chores, etc. But the most important was to see my lovely, long-distant boyfriend.

Being long distance can be extremely tough, but it forces us to get creative. We love doing things together especially cooking. We are privileged by the fact that he still lives at home and gets home cooked meals every day. However, this really limits the opportunity to cook together, since most of the cooking has already been done. My solution: Pintrest. 

Cutest cooks in the kitchen!

Cutest cooks in the kitchen!

Yes, this magical portal holds all the inspiration for a quick and easy cooking extravaganza. It is also, as expressed tirelessly before, is my addiction; which is comparable to the boyfriends Clash of Clans addiction. Scrolling through the pins, we had so many options. Pumpkin cheesecake, piña colada cupcakes, Christmas bark, these pins could go on forever. We were looking for something specific, something that could be done at 7 pm after a long day of working, and something that the boyfriend could do on his own. (he can get flustered with complicated activities)

Untitled design (5)After pinning some prime contenders, we found the perfect recipe: Oreo balls! This recipe is found on the blog Pip & Ebby which is a cute foodie blog with extremely easy to follow instructions. For us, this was required just the right amount of focus and energy. The ingredient list was simple: Oreos, cream cheese, and white chocolate. The recipe called for something different, but we were hankerin’ for some white chocolate.

Let me tell ya, these are AMAZING. They are extremely decadent but gives you that right amount of sweet you were looking for. The best part? This required zero cook time! Just smush it all together and throw it in the fridge. These will forever be on my list of quick go-to’s!

Jess (2)

Scrub-A-Dub

OctMono

Ahh, Sundays! My one and only day that I have to myself – no work, no meetings, nothing. Usually, it’s my day to grocery shop, do laundry, see friends, and recharge my batteries for the week. More than anything, I love to cook up a real dinner and pamper myself with a home facial.

This week, I noticed my skin was looking quite shabby, shall we say, especially my face! Blame it on the full moon, blame it on November, but I was in need of some serious exfoliation.

Hello, Pinterest! Perusing my boards, I came across this incredibly simple, three ingredient recipe for a facial scrub. I decided to try it out before I met up with a friend for the afternoon. All you need is fine, organic sugar or brown sugar, vanilla extract, and coconut oil – all things I had laying around my cabinets.

photo 1

I wish I'd thought to have put it into a cute jar. Oh well.

I wish I’d thought to have put it into a cute jar. Oh well.

You mix them up in a small bowl and voila! Instant scrub. Happily, I took it to the bathroom for a test. Here’s what I learned:

  • It hurts. Maybe it’s because I used brown sugar that wasn’t fine enough, but holy moly does it exfoliate. Perhaps a bit too much, even. My skin being a little tender, I probably wouldn’t recommend using this every day.
  • It’s messy! Be sure to hold your face directly over the sink, because you’ll have little sugar clumps falling everywhere.
  • It feels like it works. After I rinsed off my face, I was amazed at how smooth and moisturized my skin felt (coconut oil is AMAZING, btw, you can use it for anything). And, I smell like a delicious sugar cookie.

A happy Sunday to all, and to all – get scrubbin’!

 

Signature

 

Putting Your Pinterest to Work

OctMono

Let’s be honest here for a moment – we all have stuff. It might be a little, it might be a lot, but America is a nation of consumerism, and we are the ones doing the consuming. I try to be very conscious of how many possessions I have, and what purpose they are serving. In college, I even wrote my sophomore thesis on hoarding as a spectrum disorder (but more on that later). If I bring something into my house (new shoes, new decor, etc.), something also has to go out in its place. Does this always work? No, of course not – as any New England girl would know, you can’t have too many sweaters. Or pairs of riding boots. In general, though, this serves as my rule of thumb.

Which is why I am so flabbergasted at my own behavior when it comes to my Pinterest page. For those of you not currently obsessed with the website, it describes itself as “a visual discovery too that you can use unnamedto find ideas for all of your projects and interests”. Scrolling through, you can find hundreds upon
hundreds of ideas and inspirations for everything from fashion to DIY to cooking to tattoos. Should you ever see something you like, you “re-pin” the item into your own virtual collection, where it’s saved.

Admittedly, I hadn’t been overly rambunctious in recent months when it came to pinning things. Suddenly, though, I had an entire apartment to decorate and furnish! Pinterest was the go-to site for me to look up tutorials on building a bed frame and de-anting our kitchen.

Your first question is most likely, “How did that go, Aub?” Funny you ask, because it hasn’t! Interestingly enough, the rules I so strictly abide to in the “real” world in regards to accumulating things hasn’t translated well to the digital realm. Just yesterday, I observed that I have 40 pins on my recipes board. 40 pins, and I couldn’t tell you what kinds of recipes are stored there, nor have I even attempted to make any of them. I’ve become a digital hoarder, entranced by the idea that if I pin something, obviously I’ll make it at some point. And forget about deleting the pins – what if I needed one of them one day?

Enough was enough, I finally decided. Reluctantly, I chose to delete those pins I hadn’t looked at in months. Gone are the outdated outfits from My Style board that can no longer be found in stores. That tutorial about transferring images to wood? I’ve lost interest – deleted. As were the room inspiration pictures selected prior to my current apartment as a lot of them don’t match the space. I even deleted an entire BOARD that was dedicated to workouts I’ve never looked at and never will.

Obviously, there were things I didn’t and, quite frankly, wasn’t ready to get rid of yet. There are a lot of craft projects I have added there that I plan on doing for Christmas, and recipes I want to try for Thanksgiving. The trick will be to delete these pins if their allotted time frames come and go. Keeping everything current is my goal, in addition to actually taking the initiative to try these projects out. Otherwise, it’s sayonara, pins!

1c18cdf67bbfe24854ab17273581f92f

Pulled directly from my Pinterest, this is a main inspiration for how I’d like my room laid out when finished!

Signature

Fall is Dead.

Monogramtumblr_mtr9n67beE1qhoe3vo1_1280

 At least, it is in SoCal. While everyone in New  England is celebrating the return of sweater  season, we here on the West coast are  experiencing record highs. Apparently September is a hot month, and it doesn’t start to cool down until around November. When it gets down into the 70s. And stays that way until next summer.

Well, I’ve been craving a little fall in my life, and so I turned to Pinterest and found this tutorial by Sweet Something Designs that uses old potpourri to make an autumn wreath! Inspired, I ran out to the local craft store after work and picked up an empty woven wreath, a couple extra fall-ish decorations, and a box of cinnamon-smelling potpourri (I sadly didn’t have some old stuff lying around. Luckily, all fall decor was 40% off!).IMG_3898

After about an hour of burning myself on hot glue, dropping the hot glue gun everywhere, and stressing over the symmetry of the orange slice placement – voila! Admittedly, my wreath is a bit more bare bones than the one I imitated, but there are only so many little walnut-shaped things you can put everywhere.IMG_3900 IMG_3902 IMG_3903

Quite happily, I hung my fragrant and autumnal wreath on our front door this morning. Just wait ‘til the neighbors get a load of this!

IMG_3907

Happy fall! ❤

Signature

Starting new with something old

UntitledHappy Saturday! As the fall rolls in, I love to take time and reflect back on everything I have done over the summer(or simply figure out where the time went!) This was the first summer that I was an adult (aka I was working full time). No more were the days of  deciding which friends pool I was going to lounge by or figuring out whose pegs I would ride on en route to said pool. For those who don’t get the “peg” reference, please don’t judge my following story.

Back in the glory days, young 8th graders would ride their BMX bikes around neighborhoods coral-ing their friends to be audience members. Then they preformed for us with some sub-par wheelies and peg stands. Pegs refers to small, metal attachments that can be put onto the tire frame. I believe they were meant to grind rails and do tricks-I saw them as my free mode of transportation for the summer.

My first adult summer consisted of more mature adventures: work, antiquing, work, fun weekend getaways, work, and more antiquing. Antiquing takes on many different types of meanings for myself and my roadies (aka family). It can range from the classic Saturday yard sales to the huge antique barns that litter the back roads of Maine.

For those readers outside of Massachusetts, there are two distinctions between where people spend their summers. You are either a “Cape Cod person” or a “Maine person”. The classic beach or camping debacle. For me- its Maine all the way!

This brings me to my favorite and easiest DIY project: my milk glass lamp. Before I do, here are some basics that brought me to the discovery of this wonderful lamp.

Antique-ing101Be open-As you can see from that image, antique stores are often a jumbled mess. If it is not-your in the wrong place. Take in the cluttered landscape and look for what stands out.

Trust your gut. Just like men and other life decision, your gut can be the keeper of truth or at least the keeper of your taste. If something stays on your mind, then it was meant to be.

Get creative. I like to think there is beauty in everything. Sometimes it will take some paint, a new set of wires, or even some love to make it beautiful.

The moment I saw my lamp I knew….it would take some work. As a rookie, I neglected to take a “before” picture, but I will paint the image for you with my words. At first, it was a lamp with very undistiquishable look. To me it was dirty and rusty-with little appeal. After seeing the price tag, I instantly fell in love. I fell in love with the idea of negotiation-not the lamp it self. To back up-my mom and I (more my mother), love to see how little we can pay for something. To be fair it is always things we want and they are often over priced for their condition. I was determined to use my keen negotiating skills to get this lamp for a price worth it’s sad condition. With some elbow grease and a little help from mom, I was able to walk away with this lamp for half the price! Win!

The biggest challenge with this project was re-wiring. Getting over the intimidation of rewiring was harder than the actual task. Though being a product of an electrician, I had some idea what to do. Here was my process:

  1. Disassemble-Unscrew each part of the lamp and discard all of the electrical mechanisms and wires. Luckily for me, they were all connected!
  2. Clean- Like most things found during an antiquing expedition, this lamp had mounds of dust and dirt caked onto it. I used warm water and dish soap to wash the glass and metal components. Depending on the level of rust and dirt, a stronger solution might work better.
  3. Rewire- I used a kit purchased at a local hardware store. Here is an example from Home Depot! The instructions are excellent and very easy to use. They give you a ton of stuff- you don’t have to use all of it.
  4. Voila!  Here is the final product!

Untitled design

Jess (2)