Home Office Reveal | Making the Most of Extra Space

Now that I have been working from home for about 3 weeks, I’ve really begun to settle in to this new lifestyle. I love everything about working from home. I miss several of my former co-workers turned best friends, but the pros certainly out weigh the cons in this life change decision list. I began to set up my home office months before actually “working in it,” ending up guessing what I might need, what I might use, and how the day would play out based on my previous experiences working in a brick and mortar setting.

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I can say I didn’t do a terrible job guessing in these areas; however, I did discover a few extra things that I would need to fix. It’s interesting looking back at my original blog post, Designing a Home Office and see what I’ve changed just since this first post. My office was functional, and it gave me a sense of segregated space, even though the only extra space we found for my base camp was in our bedroom. This has actually worked out to my benefit. For some reason, a master bedroom never receives the same tender love and care in the decorating department as the rest of the house. Perhaps it is because we focus on those areas of the home where we spend the most time. Prior to this job, I simply spent the 6-8 hours of sleeping time in this room. There is no television in our bedroom, nor is there any additional furniture to sit on or read at. Ironically, this empty space is a significantly large space, and for the first 3 years living in this house, has always felt like an incredibly wasted space.

Originally I had long-term plans of expanding the tiny old bathroom that the girls and I share to create more of a master bath, and utilize the extra barren space in our bedroom. Creating a base camp work space would also never have been an option with my husband’s former work schedule. He works in one of those industries where you’re always on call, make your money in the ridiculous amounts of over time, and basically get sleep when you can. Fortunately, the stars have aligned in our favor over the past year, shifting him to an office, and home each night for dinner. This shift also opened up new possibilities in regards to repurposing the space that has done nothing more than collect dust bunnies for several years.

Our bedroom has also been the home to the, and I quote my husband, “most expensive clothes hanger we ever purchased,” a.k.a. my treadmill. Yes. The two plus years of dust that this little piece of equipment has collected over my time of pregnancy, anti-work-out phases, and frankly overwhelmed and unmotivated months, has since been removed. This little gem hidden in the corner of the room, calling out to me for months and months, while I continue to tell myself that if I don’t make eye contact with it, we can continue to play the “it’s not there and I have no possible way to really work out whenever it’s cold”, game I’ve been playing for about a year and a half.

Yes, all of these things were about to change drastically. Because while I am in this room for a significant portion of my day, my extra time is no longer filled with rethinking classroom layouts or unit decorations, remembering where I might have placed the most recent stack of writing samples or any of those extra thoughts I filled my days with in the classroom. Nope, all of that is gone, and alarmingly quickly. I really believed this would be a difficult transition, that working from home would take some time and self-motivation to really get used to. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. This change, this shift back to the home, came so naturally, so easily, that I have spent the past three weeks wondering why I ever doubted this decision for even a second.

Every morning, I wake up about an hour before my family, get ready for the day, go downstairs with a solid 15 minutes to myself to organize bags that might need to go to the sitter, put stray dishes away that were left on the counter to dry, place random toys back where they belong, and just mentally wake up. Once my oldest daughter is awake, I sneak through the first bedroom where our youngest is still soundly asleep and share a few moments of peace and morning snuggles with this little lady who is growing up all too quickly. We then pick out her outfit and braid her hair (she’s in a “braid my hair like Elsa, Mommy!” phase) all before her sister wakes up. I then repeat this routine with our youngest, and the three of us head downstairs just as my husband has finished getting ready himself.

It’s so strange what a difference a simple shift to your morning routine can make in your entire day. Once everyone has shoes on, the four of us head out to the car, my husband now present and able to assist in loading kids and just like that, we are off to work and the sitter’s house. Just the fact that I am the one dressing my girls and doing their hair, has made all the difference in my day. I no longer lug sleeping children to the car at 5:45 in the morning, racing to get dressed and do my make up in 20 to 25 minutes just to avoid having to get up any earlier than I already have to.

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Upon my return to the house, I have 10 to 15 minutes free to make breakfast, a REAL breakfast each day. That has also drastically improved my mood, and focus throughout the day. After this has all be completed, I head up to my office with a fresh cup of coffee and log in to my “classroom.” During the first week I had a significant amount of down time listening to trainings and feeling my way through things, so I began to really multi-task, analyzing my surroundings and trying to determine how my office could become more complete, and less like a corner of a bedroom. I already invested in several great items making my life all the more easy, but I knew I would need a few more pieces and some items rearranged to feel complete.

And so, after all of my ramblings I present to you, our finished Home Office and Master Bedroom.

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To begin, the desk is a piece I purchased from Target about a year and a half ago, needing some space for all my clutter, bills, and whatever else crossed my path to land on, especially heading into my post-graduate work accruing my administrative paperwork. You can find that desk HERE for White Desk on Target’s website. God I love Target. The filing cabinet is just your basic black two drawer with additional top storage, and I’ve also given you that link HERE for Black Filing Cabinet.

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And then of course my favorite part. I am in love with pink hanging file folders! I hate the green, which I left in the photograph just so you could see the difference they make in a bright white crate. You can find these Pink and Gold Hanging Files HERE. They also have the same files in Black and Gold, along with a Grey Marble Hanging File Folder. The Marble would go great with the UBrands Marble Dry Erase Board with Gold Frame hanging above my desk. Of course no hanging file folder is complete without some motivational 3-tab white and gold folders.

Now, lets talk about this lamp pictured below. The Desk Task Lamp with Touch On/Off in white. This lamp is actually part of the infamous Pillowfort line Target has strategically designed to make Moms swoon and children indulge in magical room themes. I must admit I am totally sucked in by the creativity this line brings to both of my girls’ bedrooms.

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Going back up to the planner and pens, I have always utilized a desk calendar in the brick and mortar setting, and felt the need to continue this with a book planner than can be neatly tucked into my drawer, saving space on my desk top since I typically have two laptops running at all times. The AT-A-GLANCE WorkStyle Monthly planner was the perfect thin, planner that gave me the monthly view I needed and was accustomed to. Now those darling pink and purple pens you see, are perfect for the thin paper in this planner, as I typically write with Paper Mate Flair Marker Pens, and you can see from my pen organizer, I’m a junkie for them. But these Paper Mate Ink Joy Gels were a parting gift from a newly acquired work friend. They write so nicely, that I might just have a new favorite pen! And the best part, the actually write in pink and purple! (Can you say… #teacherproblems ?!)

And of course, my desk wouldn’t be complete without my better halves. From my new found best friends, to my lifelong best friend, to my work friend/mom/inspiration to be the best at whatever I strive for in life. Yes these mounted photographs give me the friendly faces I need, and the motivation to continue to work my hardest.

You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams” – Dr. Seuss

That quote says it all. If you haven’t had the opportunity, I strongly recommend researching some of the information behind Dr. Seuss. What a brilliant man. I think I love this quote because it applies not only to my marriage and family, but now to my career as well. Such simple but powerful words. Finding a quote that reminds you daily how precious life really is, is so worth reading.

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Now, as we continue to travel around the room, I have added several new pieces to the space, because when you spend your entire day in a room, you want the whole thing to feel complete and pretty. At least, that’s what I need to function. Yes, yes, I am aware of my weird issues.

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Now I have to get very specific regarding our “night stands” because I was tricked once by this. The cubes you see in the night stands were purchased about a year ago, with the intention of using them in my cube shelves shared between my daughters rooms. One major problem: these cubes are not the same standard size as the Closet Maid Brand. These specific ones are Threshold Brand 4 Cub Organizer and are 13 inch cube spaces. Now the individual cube storage bins: I purchase two Fabric Cube Mint, turning one backwards so it was solely mint, and leaving one forward facing with the gold, mint, and coral pattern, and one Fabric Cube Coral.  I purchased a Threshold Brand 2 Cube Organizer to function as my husband’s night stand.

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On my night stand, I purchased this new lamp because the one I had before was the last remaining from one of those boxed “get every lamp for your house in one kit” sets we originally purchased for our very first dumpy apartment 8 years ago. While it held it’s own for a long time, the curvy silver base and tapered white shade really needed to exit the scene… like a few years ago. This sweet little Geometric Accent Lamp was also another excellent Target find, adding sense of warmth to the space. And the flowers were miscellaneous clippings from previous artificial blooms, and an older white vase, originally purchased at target, but no longer available so I have provided this link to a similar White Vase option.

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Our bedding is not a new purchase, but a re-organization of several other sets of bedding. I love when you can pull items from various placed around your house to create a new space. The Pinch Please Comforter Set from Threshold is by far my favorite comforter yet. It’s simple and can easily be updated through the various seasons by changing throw pillows and blankets, but ultimately keeping the same bed set. The current arrangement really pulls at the spring vibes with the hints of light minty blue in the Micromink Printed Blanket by Room Essentials and the soft mint throw pillows and ruffled white throw pillow for a little texture and character.

And of course, we cannot forget these Gallery Wrapped Canvas prints, hanging above the bed. I just love both of these photographers who have so meticulously documented milestones in our lives. Please take a moment to look at these stunning women’s portfolios and craft. Sonia Levy Photography, the photographer to the right of the sign, has documented our engagement, wedding, countless weddings of our bridal party members, the newborn session to both of our daughters our first family photoshoot, and our oldest daughters 6 month and 1 year photos. We will forever cherish these priceless moments she has captured in our lives.

 

And then of course, Vanessa Huey Photography, who began photographing photographing for us with our youngest daughter’s first day in the world, a follow-up updated family session after her birth, some gorgeous photographs of our oldest daughter in the snow, and then of course, the photo session that became the face of Shimmering Twig in it’s initial phase, our most recent family picture. Both of these women have given us irreplaceable gifts of time, art, and talent.

So here we are, 2,000 + words later and another completed room, in the on-going project I like to call my home. Please feel free to pin, share, and replicate anything you see here, because the best part about this digital world of inspiration is just that, inspiring each other to try new things, create new ideas, and refresh our lives whenever things get a little stale. Enjoy the week!

Cheers!

  • Whitney

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G-PA Survival Kit plus Free Printables

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Working in the Special Education department with a group of people who chose this profession to help struggling students day in and day out, gave me the opportunity to meet some wonderfully talented individuals. During my first few years teaching full time, I met six amazing people in my department who all played a part shaping me into the teacher I am today through their wisdom, guidance, personal life experiences, and sense of humor. I will never forget my first day of work. It was July in 2012 and I was all of 48 hours into a state of newly post-wedding bliss and blur. This lady called me on the phone to invite me to a scheduling work day. I couldn’t remember her name, but she told me that we would be meeting at the high school at 9:00 that upcoming Thursday to build our master schedule. So I thought to myself… my first work day, is the week of my honeymoon. Awesome.

And so I went to work on that Thursday in July, nervous to enter the room and face my first REAL job, with REAL co-workers. I met 6 individuals that day who would make up my learning support co-workers. The first face I saw was a younger man, I guessed late 30’s at the time, and I recognized him from my interview team. He re-introduced himself as we walked down the dimly lit and intensely 70’s styled hallways. It smelled of cleaners and humidity and we walked to the “conference room” which felt more like a utility closet, the same one that happened to be my interview room. It felt much less intimidating with the warm welcome my soon-to-be mentor provided. The next to arrive was the voice from the phone. She was tall, looked young, but had the respect from others as though she had taught for quite a while. She was kind, and introduced herself as Holly again, only this time I made an effort to remember. She brought with her a white haired and incredibly tan man. Apparently they carpooled at times. I predicted when I went out to the parking lot there would be a convertible car he would get into. I was right.

The next two to arrive were both younger and neither spoke a word, but sat quietly nodding and agreeing with all decisions made during the scheduling. The last to arrive was super pleasant, immediately shook my hand and brought an undeniable heart-warming presence in to the room. I remember how comfortable he made everyone feel. His name was Dave, and every time I would walk into his classroom he still had that effect. He took a seat at a computer in the corner to type the schedule as we built it. This task would eventually become my job in future years.

The next two hours passed with discussion and thought process too abstract for my inexperienced mind. I listened as they spoke of classes and course requirements that were so foreign to my high school requirements I simply continued to follow them and watch as my schedule was built. Once a skeleton of a master schedule was set up we were to hand schedule the students on our caseload. Still floating in that blur of post-marital bliss I was focused on getting home to figure this puzzle of scheduling out in the comfort of my own home, away from the hovering and experienced eyes surrounding me.

This memory has been floating around in the back of my mind as I hit the ending point in my count down to a career shift. The voice on the phone turned out to be the kindest woman I have ever had the privilege of working with. She has been a motivator on those rough days to always stay positive and remember everything we do is for the kids. She is so wise and keeps everyone on task at whatever meetings we hold, and has the sweetest voice. She also forces me to work-out on our non-school-related dates… We really need to work on this aspect of our relationship! I know she will forever hold a place in my life. I’ve spoken countless times about my mentor and his heavy presence in my life. The super tan gentleman who arrived with the lady from the phone call ended up being an undervalued and phenomenal presence in our students lives. He is greatly missed by both students and fellow teachers.

And the kind soul who went above and beyond, to introduce himself and show me to my classroom ended up also falling into the irreplaceable friends category. He has inspired me to fight for what is right. His first piece of wisdom shared with me during my first year was, “Your wealth with always be in your time…” as a 25 year old, it held little value, but I appreciated that it would grow over time. As my little family grew one child at a time, I truly began to understand the weight behind his wisdom. He will forever be an additional mentor, role model and inspiration in his crazy unconventional ways. The time we spent joking, along with the stories we have shared will forever hold a place in my heart.

The fifth person who developed a strong influence in my life didn’t come in to play until my third year teaching when our middle school and high school combined to become a Junior-Senior High School. She was also one of those treasures that a district develops anxiety at the thought of losing. Her job is so intense and requires such a highly qualified personality to be successful in and she does it. Just like that, she is focused, and dedicated, and meticulous, and I just love her. I was so sad at the thought of leaving her along with my handful of close friends I have developed over my time working there. But I was comforted in the fact that she would understand. She is that all-balancing mother first, teacher, escort to her children, coordinator of family schedules, reminder of to-do lists, and supportive friend. She would get it. So when I was making this incredibly difficult decision, I found myself confiding in her, weighing the pros and cons, because she is the type of mother want to get the chance to be. She is involved and her kids will always come first to her.

Which leaves me with just one last critical person in my department who truly shaped me into the teacher I am today. My boss. Luckily, I feel fairly safe in writing this, knowing he’ll never read it, so I will be frank, I knew the moment I walked out of my interview, I wanted, correction, I needed to get this job. Some unidentifiable force was pulling me to this district, and I truly believe a higher power was at play drawing me in to these people, these life long friends, hard working and dedicated people. Each person described above holding a wealth of knowledge and wisdom, each so readily available to share with me, whenever I needed them. These people became a family to me. Kind, devoted, and at times a little crazy, but family. That unspoken love was tested just a year ago when a family member was sick. So we pulled together, prayed for a miracle, and were blessed with just that: A Miracle.

Now that we have survived the emotional roller coaster of my sentiments, I present you with the most recent creation my work family and I put together. Our boss recently became a G-Pa for the first time ever. He and his wife have the most perfect little man to spend the rest of their lives celebrating and watching him grow. We wanted to help celebrate this little bundle, but in a very “our department” fashion.

Let me introduce to you, The G-Pa Survival Kit:

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After spending WAY TOO MUCH TIME over-thinking this gift, we developed a list of essential items to survive the first month of G-Pa life. The kit included:

 

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The list held as many hunting reference as we could come up with, along with some universal diaper changing jokes. Hunting is critical in our Western Pennsylvania life style. We then passed little size 1 diapers around to all who contributed giving each participant a moment to write funny little messages for our boss while he was on “Poop Doody.” The supplies were all found locally minus some specialty details, which I will provide links to the products in this post towards the end.

It is this positive environment for little comical jokes, that sets our department apart from most. We know every statement typed into an IEP is legally binding, and that every word spoken during an IEP meeting is critical. So perhaps it is the weight and importance behind these tasks that drives us to find the humor and enjoyment in these small moments.

The gift was so enjoyable to give, watching each item bring out a new level of laughter. Seeing the sweet little man in his tiny Muck boots all but sent me over the edge ready for another little peanut in our house!

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The items we included started with Rubber Gloves, Safety Goggles, Metal Tongs, Disposable Face Masks, Zip Lock Bags (written on with Sharpie “Caution – Hazardous Materials”), Camouflaged Pacifiers (baby silencer), Camouflaged Bibs, Toy Rattle (Baby Rattler Call), Diaper Supplies: Diapers, Wipes, Butt Paste (because it has the best name…!), Daniel Boone Baby Coon Skin Cap (this was the clincher gift…!), My First Muck Boots,  and of course some iron-on personalized baby body suit designs. We even included a turkey call as Baby’s first turkey call; however our boss claimed it as his own.

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Turkey Call

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I have seriously tossed around the idea of opening up an Etsy shop offering personalized printable gift ideas, but for now I will stick with simple, free ideas you can download and share. Please do not hesitate to use and share with me your gift giving stories. I can only hope it brings you as much joy as it has our little “family.”

Cheers!

  • Whitney

GPA Item Labels

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GPA List Printable

 

 

Shimmering Twig | Hello Logo, Welcome Home

As a former artist, I fully understand the weight behind an image. At my current state, I’ve been monopolizing on my friend Vanessa’s beautiful photographs of our children to place a face to the name Shimmering Twig along with the initial inspiration photograph of those icy trees on my mountain commute to work.

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A particular website was recommended by my brother-in-law who is, as far as I am concerned, the last word in design. He is  the most creative artist I have ever met. His mind works in such unique ways and the products he produces are unreal. When I was planning our wedding, I went straight to him with a few inspirations for invitations, programs, etc. He took our wedding theme and turned those ideas into personalized, beautiful pieces of art. So when I first began to toss around the idea of giving Shimmering Twig a logo, I immediately ran the idea by him looking for guidance on how to approach the task.

He recommended the website Logo Tournament and briefly explained how it worked. It’s a website where you hold a competition to have designers come up with ideas for your logo, rank them, provide feedback, and ultimately choose your favorite design at the end. This was such a fun concept!

Once I began the contest, I was allotted 4 days of a blind phase where designers would submit ideas, I believe I ended up with 40 designs during the initial phase. I then chose my top 5 designers at that point, and they were given an additional 2 days to fine tune their submissions, requesting input, and tweaking designs to meet Shimmering Twig’s needs. By the end of the first day in the finalist round I already knew which design I wanted. This particular designer was in contact with me immediately, continuing to improve her design even during the blind phase. Janis Aydelette was somehow able to capture my style and ideas for Shimmering Twig right of the bat. But she didn’t stop at just the initial design, she continued to revise and improve until finally, going above and beyond my expectations in the first few hours of the finalist days.

And so, it is with extreme excitement that I present you with Shimmering Twig’s new logo:

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Today I will be replacing it on all of my social media pages: FacebookPinterest, Instagram. Check them out! Cheers and have a great weekend!

  • Whitney

Gray and Pink Big Girl Bedroom

My baby is growing up. It’s as simple as that. At an age just shy of two and a half, we switched her to a “toddler bed” which was nothing more than a missing side to the crib. I can clearly see why the packaging spoke of the conversion but didn’t show it. I was not impressed in the least. Now that she is 3, we have been tossing around the idea of a “big girl bed” for a while. So I began to browse all websites offering free shipping, great discounts, and guaranteed quality. I just wanted a bed that was pretty. I wasn’t looking for high quality, amish-carved, hardwood that would cost me an arm and a leg. I am sticking to this spend less, value more theme for the year, and while I did invest in my daughter’s room, I was able to balance it out with money brought in at the same time.

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I have been falling in love with the cross between slightly vintage and clean line inspired with a slight farmhouse feel. The space needed to be a room that would grow with my daughter. I settled for a pink and gray theme, knowing that a neutral wall could easily be updated with new decor or bedding throughout the next 15 years of her life.

I started the room on a binge spring cleaning, decorating, and organizing weekend while my husband was off looking at hunting property. My favorite type of project weekend: one where I am left to my own devices, uninterrupted by the husband who is slowly learning to trust my decorating style. My parents graciously offered to have a sleep-over on the chosen Saturday evening to allow me a solid 24 hours for the transformation to take place.

I can still remember the day spent painting my daughter’s baby room in our old home, Benjamin Moore blue paint, paint rollers, round belly and all. I spent a solid 3 hours recapping this experience in the post, Painting Away the Baby Blues if anyone is interested in my ramblings about how quickly time passes. Her room was so darling with it’s blues and pinks.1610776_10202449172093566_6772120460429108894_n

My Mom hand-made the bedding for this little princess, and for that I will always be grateful! My very good friend now owns it with her sweet little peanut nestled in to it.

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Since vamping up my quality of decorating materials, I have become a devout Benjamin Moore Paint fanatic. I travel a solid forty five minutes to get the paint, and every mile is worth it because the quality of this paint is incomparable, as are the shades of colors they offer. I settled for a beautiful shade of A la mode which is found in the current Whites handout in the store. You can see photographs of my inspirations along with my daughters room on my Pinterest board, Gray and Pink Bedroom. I was so excited watching the simple paint transformation take place. My daughter’s bedrooms are small to say the least also lacking in closets. It took me a matter of 2 hours to cut in and roll the four walls slowly, therapeutically going through my process and listening to Pandora into the wee hours of the night. (Ok… I was done painting by 10:30, which is way later than I ever stay up.)

Getting excited about the progress in the room, I couldn’t hold out until morning without putting my daughter’s bed together, so my next task was moving the furniture I was selling out of the upstairs and brining this darling metal framed bed in pieces to assemble in the room. It was a simple project and I was able to complete the assembly by myself.

I bought the DHP Bombay Metal Bed in White for $99.00 on Amazon. You can go directly to link above to see the bed itself. It was a simple assembly and a good quality bed. My daughter loves the swirl details in the head and foot boards.

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The pink floral balls hanging from the ceiling were from the previous bedroom theme but transferred nicely into the new room. I liked being able to keep a few items from the previous decor to help with this heart-breaking transition to a “big girl.” I believe they were from T. J. Max and cost around $10.00 a piece.

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I spent the next morning adding in all of the details, arranging the furniture and hanging this gorgeous Pink Canopy Tent I also found on Amazon earlier in the week. for under $47.00

While the owl rocker doesn’t exactly match her bedroom anymore, it was so cute, I couldn’t take it out of the room! My mother in law gave all three of her newest grand daughters those for their first Christmas two years ago.

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Now for this mirror. I Love this mirror! I stumbled across this on a spontaneous T. J. Max shopping trip the day before my renovation project. It cost me 45.00, but as far as I am concerned, was worth Every. Single. Penny.  I was able to find a similar version on Amazon by Little Colorado HERE. My daughter loves looking in the mirror and checking out her outfit for the day! I still want to find a cute little hook and pretty hanger to lay her outfit out the night before.

 

The mirror leads me to my next favorite detail: the Gold Vinyl Dot Wall. I love, love, love this detail!!  This one simple little accent wall completed the room. They were easy to attach and only cost $10.00! (All blue links will lead you directly to each product)

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I considered an even spread of dots, but loved the look of dots being shot out from the corner, like stars falling gracefully from the sky. This won me some major points with my daughter, let me tell you!

The bedding is a whole different story. I struggled to find this bedding. It is Pillow Fort by Target, and was incredibly difficult to track down. They are out of stock every where you look. You can find it from some sneaky Amazon sellers who quadrupled the price. I, however, was not willing to pay 100.00 for a bedding that was 25.00 originally. I was able to find two fairly reasonable distanced stores selling the bedding and pleaded and begged a shipment out of the store.  I also found a perfect match set of sheets from the Better Homes and Gardens collection at Walmart. It’s a coral floral set that is so stinking cute!

Update* The pinch pleat bedding by pillow fort can now be found HERE on Target’s Website!

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As for the accent pillows throughout the room, they were a series of accent pillows either pulled from other bed sets used in our bedroom, the living room, and one perfectly pink and white pillow with gold dot accents came from a spur of the moment T. J. Max find.

The wooden crate was a repurposed crate I had laying around the house. I am a crate junkie and cannot be held accountable for any crate purchases made. You just never know when one will come in handy!

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It made the best little stuffed animal holder, and pillow holder once we discovered our daughter is not interested in sleeping with pillows!

The clean white lines of the metal bed really balanced out well with the rough wood of the crate and were pulled together with this super cute sign I found at Jo Ann Fabrics.

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The three items together, along with the white wooden mirror helped to pull the entire room together!

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The final touch added to the room was a set of sweet little white Christmas lights that added that final little soft sparkle to a space designed for one sweet little lady.

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By the time the room was complete, I could not wait for the girls to return and for my husband to get home to see the finished product! I spent the next several hours pacing the house, rearranging spring decorations and cleaning every nook and cranny of our house!

There are so many spaces in my house that I never thought to clean, which is incredibly gross, but I managed to take care of each one during my 24 hours of peaceful project work. Seriously, what did any of us do with all of our time before kids?

So lets break down the Budget:

Prior to renovations I sold our crib and changing table netting us + $100.00
I also sold the travel play pen we used for our babies + $50.00
A set of baby toys were also sold + $65.00

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+ 215.00

From that we spent 99.00 on a bed frame and 85.00 on a mattress leaving us at:

+ 31.00

I also purchase the canopy, mirror, and bedding

-25.00
-45.00
-47.50

Miscellaneous decorations and pillows totaled up to:

-50.00
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Leaving me with a grand total for my bedroom renovation of:

$136.50!

I feel that is spending less and valuing more, please don’t hesitate to share any ideas or renovation projects you’ve taken on recently with me! I love to see start to finish projects!

Cheers!

  • Whitney

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Designing a Home Office

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Whenever designing a home office there are a few things to consider before jumping head first into your project. I have been considering a home office space for about a year now. But since I haven’t had a real need for one until recently, the idea just kept getting brushed aside. We live in an incredibly old farm-house. It has the old farm house charm, but was freshly renovated before we moved in. When my husband and I walked through it for the first time, incredibly pregnant with our first child we both immediately fell in love with the space, the location, and the PORCH. Seriously, the massive porch on our house is a second living space in the warm weather seasons.

The house is set up in an L-shape floor plan with a brightly lit living and dining space and an impressive sized kitchen just off the dining room. A mud room, laundry room, and 3/4 bathroom were added after the original home was built and they are located just off the kitchen.

The second floor replicates the L-shape with a master bedroom above the living room. Just outside the master bedroom is an open hallway at the top of the stairwell with a bathroom and a door to the bedrooms. The one unusual thing about the floor plan is that you must go through each of the additional bedrooms to get to the next bedroom. Our house is considered a 4 bedroom residence, but each of the girls’ bedrooms are slightly narrow and lack closets. Very inconvenient since we have all daughters. But we make it work.

The first of the three adjoining bedrooms has been primarily dominated by my husband, turning it in to his western-Pennsylvania “trophy room” full of every type of mount you can imagine. We all win with this arrangement: he gets a man space, and I get a dead animal-free first floor. The girls bedrooms are just beyond this man case, which concludes the floor plan explanation.

Having talked you through my house, you may have noticed, every space is being used by a dominating purpose. There is no real spare room or office space in our home which meant I needed to get creative on my placement of my home office. I considered placing the office in the corner of our dining room; however, this space already has a lot going on and is just on the edge of becoming over-cluttered. We have a fire-place, staircase,  two doorways and even a closet door. The room also holds a dining table that seats 12 limiting the extra space.

My next thought was to utilize the additional space in our bedroom. The master bedroom is a bit large and a slight waste of space. In the future I would like to see our small bathroom expanded into the extra space. Unfortunately this construction project is not in the near future, so I settled on this space. The other plus to this room, is the amazing lighting. We have a windows on 3 of the four walls making it such a bright and welcoming space, particularly in the morning hours when I will be spending the majority of my time working in here.

I decided to use the smaller desk that was currently acting as an entryway table, (which lead me to redecorating the entryway… see how my mind works?!) as my desk. I love this simple white desk that worked well with the white woodwork throughout our home and had the simple clean lines that I like, without giving it a modern feel. I also received my equipment from the Cyber School I would be working for and knew the printer I received was massive, clunky, and black. I found a black filing cabinet to put the beast printer on to help blend that bad boy away from becoming an eye sore.

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Getting the equipment in place, the basic furniture set, I felt I had a good foundation to add the fun pieces. You want your workspace to be cute, but it needs to be functional and suit your specific needs. I will be teaching from this station, so I needed to make sure the backdrop for my lessons was simple. Since my husband’s side of the room would be behind me, it is very plain. Perfect. Next I would need to find ways to organize my daily supplies and make my bland view, a little more fun.

By the way, the color of my walls is Palladian Blue by Benjamin Moore. You will never see a room in my house painted in anything but Benjamin Moore paint. I Love the quality of the paint, the thickness and the ease of cutting and rolling such rich paint.

After leaving my office alone for a couple of days to think about what items I really wanted I used an inconveniently scheduled doctor’s appointment and made the most of the day browsing the sale isles of various stores. My super creative friend showed me this darling sign she found at JoAnn fabrics and I immediately said “I need that for my office!!” Knowing they were having a 50% off sale I started there.

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I also found this great little glass milk jug holder there, and I’ve linked a similar product HERE for you if you are interested in this style of organization. The art teacher comes out in me when I organize. I can’t help but place all warm colored pens together, cool colors together, and blacks separated as well.

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If I am going to function well in the digital classroom, I need only a few items right at my reach, a planner located in my drawer, a notebook to write down to-do lists, and easily accessible pens.

I also am a “hanging file junkie” and will be using this as not only my classroom but finally a home office space, where I will keep all bills, family documents, and resources that might come in handy from my former teaching position. I plan to use the filing cabinet for bills, family documents and older resources that might come in handy in my new position.

I found these really cute crates at T J Max on clearance and decided I would use them as an additional filing system for all documents needed while teaching online and writing IEPs for my new caseload.

I love hanging file crates! How cute are they? Plus they distract from the ugly shade of green on the hanging file folders. Here is a similar product on Amazon you could use in youor own home office. Large Crate and Small Crates.

I also found this sweet little gem as a little reminder to myself each day why I chose this career and how fortunate I am to jump on opportunities like this digital career shift. Everyone needs a little reminder to Dream Big, so why not have one right in front of you every day?

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While my bedroom is fairly large, I didn’t want to add too much to distract from the simplicity of the room or look too bulky. So I began searching a series of chairs, from slipper chairs to crazy finds at TJ Max and discovered, once again, in the clearance isle a simple adjustable office chair that was less than distracting.

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I found a CLEAR OFFICE CHAIR! It literally blends into the space when rolled in, fits neatly in its place, doesn’t distract from the simple space, and is, believe it or not, comfortable!

You can find a similar chair HERE for your own office space.

Now there is one last piece I need to share. Every time I start a major career, I have one piece from these two particular girls. When I was starting my first teaching job, I took a vase and flowers made for me by my nieces as a little piece of home. That vase has stood the test of time and is still on my desk. I recently received a beautiful little cross stitch from my one niece and felt that I needed another good luck charm as I start my next career adventure.

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And that brings me to the finished product. My functional, personalized office space:

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So lets recap. There are several critical things to consider when designing an office space that works for you:

  1. Spacing and Location – If you have a designated room for a home office, your creative opportounities are endless; however, if you have limited space, as I did, you need to create an environmenet that utilizes the space efficiently
  2. Functionality – What will your office be used for? Will you be storing significant files? Or will you be primarily digital and simplified. These are all critical factors in laying out your space. Determine what items you need to be your most efficient self.
  3. Style – Find a style that fits your personality. If you aren’t sure what that is, Pinterest is always a great starting point. I wanted a style that held the farm house charm, but still reflected simple clean lines

So, whenever tackline your home office:

  1. identify your space
  2. repurpose furniture you may already have laying around your house
  3. determine what your purpose will be for the office
  4. find an effective layout for your office
  5. shop the clearance isle for cute accents
  6. have fun with it!

Cheers!

  • Whitney

Groceries | How to Simplify Your Shopping

Grocery shopping is usually the most dreaded task of the week. Whether it’s the idea of dragging two little children through several stores to get everything on your list, or the idea of planning meals with zero assistance from fellow food critics in the house, the fact is grocery shopping sucks. Period.

With this new mental shift to spend less and value more, it has been my personal goal to find ways to save on our grocery shopping. I have an amazing sitter who clips diaper and wipe coupons for me all of the time, but I’ve recently discovered a way (and yes… the rest of the world has been doing this for a couple years already…) to earn the benefits of coupons without the hassle of searching, cutting, saving clippings, and not to mention actually remembering  to use them at the check out isle.

With my new approaches to weekly grocery shopping I have successfully dropped our weekly bill from almost 200.00 a week to my most recent success of $87.56!! This is literally the lowest I’ve ever spent to cook for a week!

If you have a Walmart near you, I strongly recommend downloading the app on your smart phone or device. At the bottom of every receipt you’ll find a code to scan. Using the Savings Catcher app in your device all you have to do is TAKE A PICTURE of this code and your receipt is automatically logged in your account. Walmart then does all of the leg work for you searching local promotions and actually GIVES YOU MONEY BACK. No joke.

Again, I am very much aware of the fact that the rest of the world has been doing this for a couple years now, but I was the type of person to blow that off thinking I was “too busy” to worry about these types of things. But the reality is, no one is too busy  to do half of the stuff they claim to be too busy for. You make time for the things in life you want to do. I find the statements “you have too much time on your hands” or “I’m way too busy to do things like that” incredibly insulting, although I am aware those statements are not meant to be insults.

The reality is: If you want to do it, you will. If you do not have the desire to accomplish a certain task or goal, the statement “I’m too busy” is a safe cover. Life is about priorities and how we use our time. Trust me there have been countless weeks where I have wasted ridiculous amounts of time and used the line “I’m too busy.” Everyone is busy in these crazy times we live in, its just a matter of prioritizing what you want to accomplish in that busy life. My goal for this year is to actually accomplish the things I set out to do.

So back to this annoying task of GROCERY SHOPPING. Ugh, even the words make me sigh. I have found a routine that really seems to help me, and perhaps it could help someone else as well, so I would like to share it with you. Before I shop I make a list starting with the meals I want to make for the week. I try to think about the groceries I have already in my house and the ingredients I bought for recipes from the previous week that were never used or never made. If I have a roll-over meal from the previous week I put it down first and then try to fill my list with 5 quality meals. By quality I do not mean highly organic or super healthy, just real meals I know my family will eat, and perhaps even re-heat as left overs.

This is one of those habits I learned from my mother. She was like the epitome of organized shopping back in the 90’s with her sweet pre-fab word document lists printed ahead of time. She then went through the regular items she bought routinely marking what was needed and eliminated what she didn’t need. All of her meals were listed on the side of the grocery list.

Once my meals have been planned I write down the groceries I need for the week, making sure not to miss a single ingredient. (I usually suck at this part, but have been consciously trying to improve on this task.) The goal is to go to the store ONE TIME. I find that when I begin making random frequent trips during the week, I spend way more than I planned on. My lists usually look something like this:

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I’ve also started a habit of putting my lists and menus in the same notebook each week, so when I’m really struggling for meal ideas and I don’t have my recipe book close by, I have previous menus and lists to flip through for ideas.

Now, I have tried grocery shopping on a variety of days during the week, but have discovered that the most efficient time to accomplish my goal of sticking to my list is after work on Fridays. Fridays for me are like the fresh start that some view Monday as. The work week is done, but the weekend is just beginning. I used to grocery shop first thing Saturday morning after breakfast, and before morning naps. While this time worked well too, I don’t enjoy shopping for groceries and hated to start my weekend out that way. I also don’t enjoy making myself presentable that early on a weekend.

When my girls are at the sitter, I swing in and pick them up first before heading to the store. On the off chance they are spending the day at the grandparents I definitely capitalize on this and go without them. One of the parenting decisions I made early on and will never regret was incorporating my girls into shopping trips from an early age. Both are excellent shoppers and behave wonderfully (most of the time…) because it’s normal to them. Actually, my three-year old is super disappointed when she misses this weekly outing.

Once I return home I make a point to WRITE MY MENU DOWN in my kitchen… and yes, almost every time someone comes to my house to visit I get some funny little menu adjustment to my chalk board (Rob… we know it was you!) This may seem silly, but if I don’t write down what I planned, by Tuesday I can’t remember any of the meals I bought groceries for!

I have these three boards in my kitchen in a neat little row to help keep track of menus, upcoming events, daycare hours, and appointments. I cannot stress how much more organized my life has become since purchasing this chalkboard, cork board, and dry erase board!

So lets recap:

  1. Make a Menu – planning from items you already have in the house
  2. Pick a specific day that works for YOU – Mine is Friday, but this might not be the case for you.
  3. Stick to the List! – Hold strong while in the store and avoid tempting isles like the chip isle, snack isle, etc. where you may be tempted to throw in those extras.
  4. If children are involved, stay consistent! – My girls shop frequently with me, and while they are expected to behave, if I have a particularly long to-do list, I try to reward them with something small for being extra good.
  5. Do not return to the store! – Once you’ve finished your weekly shopping, make sure you have EVERYTHING and do not return to the store! No exceptions!
  6. Once you’ve finished, scan your receipt! – At this point, I have been using Savings Catcher for 3 weeks, and I’m up to 7.00 in extra money returned to me!

If you don’t shop at Walmart there are plenty of other savings options for you, particularly if you hate the idea of coupon clipping.

iBotta is another great savings tool you can use online or as an app in your smart phone. My sister in law introduced me to this over a year ago, but I didn’t really get into it until recently. The part I like about this app is the community approach. You can look at others who have referred you to see how they are using the app and what savings they’ve found. And let me tell you, that girl can SAVE! She’s a big part of my motivation to try to be a little more budget conscious this year.

Use my referral code: vsfqjix
when signing up and we both get extra money to start out! There is no expense to you when using this application and no spam associated with it. You simply log into the app and browse the current promotions going on at your favorite store, select them, and verify the purchases by taking a picture of your receipt.

Ebates was also recommended to my by a friend who is fantastic with saving money. I am a big time online shopper, so when I heard exactly how Ebates worked, paying you to go through their app prior to shopping online, there was no down side to me! You can now shop in stores and earn the same money back with Ebates.

Use my referral code: Click here

and get started saving while you shop! My first pay-out was only 30.00 and I used the app 3 times to earn that. If you refer a friend you get a nice little promo chunk added to your account!

I hope some of these time saving tips help you out going forward shopping! Again, I probably wouldn’t be so motivated to really step up my budgeting A-game if it hadn’t been for the motivation from my sister-in-law who is AMAZING at this! So thanks girl!

Cheers!

  • Whitney