Monday, November 23, 2015

Project House Update: Mirror, Mirror, On the Table...

The trend has continued of phasing out the hand-me-down furniture of our house to pieces we actually want/chose. Again, this one was one of those things that had been sitting on a list and a good sale came along and I couldn't resist.

In our guest room, the guest bed was flanked by two side tables. One of them I found at an antiques shop and gave a coat of paint. The second was one I stole from my parent's when I moved out over eight years ago.

It was beaten up pretty badly (probably from me as a child, but it has looked this way for as long as it was in my care). The veneer was chipped off and it had decades of grim stuck in all the grooves. I had debated many ways for how to fix the top, either with putty or paint or a new top. Like most house projects, though, the longer it sits undone, the less likely it is that it will actually happen.

So, two weeks ago, I was at Target, per usual. And sometimes it annoys me when they have their Christmas decor out in early November, but since their stuff this year is very art deco and glam and I cannot resist. One of the items that struck me was a mirror end table. I took a picture of the label so I could talk Dan into it once I got home. Weirdly,  this end table is not on Target's website. There is a similar one, but the one on the website does not have a drawer, the one in store does and is cheaper. My plan foiled, I decided that I would watch the prices and perhaps force Dan into the store to see it if it went on sale after Christmas.

Once I came across a $25 off of $100 in Home Decor coupon, however, I couldn't wait any longer. I grabbed Dan and we headed back to Target. With the cart filled with items I'd been lusting after to get to over $100, including my table, a gold turtle box that finally came back in stock, and an embroidered pillow, I was as happy as a clam.

While it's a little smaller than I had hoped compared to the height of the bed, it's everything I wanted.

Really leaning into the art deco look, I swapped out my broken dollar-store lotus touch lamp for my naked lady lamp (another fine steal from my mother).

One of the things I really love about this table is I feel like it could work in just about any space. Maybe this is something I think about more as I learn more about home decor, but I now try to look into the future to see how the piece would fit into my house as it evolves over time. To make sure the table could work in the guest room or the master bedroom or the living room. I like the possibility of it being able to shuffle to another room if need be. That seems so simple when it's worded like that, but it can really be a difficult concept for me to grasp if I love something too much.

The biggest challenge now is what do I do with all of the furniture I'm phasing out. It's taken over the guest room and it's not like I have family coming to town for Thanksgiving or anything...

Sounds like we'll be making a big donation run here today or tomorrow. {Sidenote: I asked my mom if she wanted the table back and she couldn't even remember which one I was talking about, so I feel very little guilt for stealing it for so long.}

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Project House Update: Chairs from this Millenium

You know what has strangely become a symbol of having your shit together? Having chairs. And look who, by that logic, must finally have her shit together.

I don't know why chairs are such a large portion of my 'adult' equation, but they just are. Maybe it's because chairs are freakin' expensive. And you need so many of them. And they are flat out boring, too. It's just something adults buy.

Up until now, we had been using free chairs. Well, not entirely free I suppose, but a set of six chairs that came with our house. Free with purchase!

They had to have been from the 80's and were beyond hope. Half pleather, half knit, all wheely terribleness. If there had been a way to DIY to greatness, or even not-half-badness, I would have tried.

But, they worked as chairs and we were in no rush, so they lived in our house for over four years with us.

The purchasing of chairs was a snow-ball sort of situation that started several weeks ago. My sister and I went to World Market to hunt for bits and bobs for her place since she just moved. In our shopping, I mentioned to her that I liked one of their chairs, the Verona Side Chair.

My sister is a great resource when it comes to World Market stuff because she used to work there. She knows which products are good and will hold up, which ones are crap, and when the sales will happen. She thought the chairs were good quality and told me that they rarely went on sale, though. Since they are a staple item, they don't get clearanced out, you just have to wait for an all-furniture sale.

About a week later, she sent me a text that World Market was having a sale, so Dan and I headed down to the store. It was pretty easy for me to talk him into it. With the sale and some coupon codes, it ended up being the cheapest option to buy them online and have them delivered to the store.

The turn around was ridiculously quick and he surprised me on his day off by having them all put together by the time I got home from work.

It was dangerous timing because it almost convinced me that we should host Thanksgiving this year. Good thing I have too much sense for that.

So far, they do seem to be cat-proof. The old ones were not. They were probably the opposite as the material turned them into big cat scratch pads.

It feels like a complete set since our dining room table is also from World Market. I am a bit worried that the room is becoming a little matchy-matchy, but I'm always on the look out for a feminine, over-the-top chandelier to counteract the masculine table. It could go farmhouse or industrial very quickly if we aren't careful.

We're starting to reach the point mentally where it's ok to phase out the free furniture and hand-me-downs and start growing our own collection. It's an exciting feeling and there are many more changes on the horizon.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Post 500: What I've Learned about Blogging

Guess what? This is my 500th post. Some bloggers celebrate anniversaries. To me, that date hasn't really been important. What is important is the fact hat in some four years of blogging, I've managed to hit 'Publish' five hundred times.

In the course of those posts, this blog has dramatically shifted in tone. It started as a place where I passive-aggressively whined about how I thought I could make better content than other people on the internet and, ironically, images I stole from other sites. It was about quantity over quality and posting things I thought would get views. Over time, it became less about everyone else and more about me. It became more positive. It became less about writing and more about documenting.

My 500 posts have covered the entire spectrum. There are probably hundreds that you could delete and I would never notice, but there are so many that I am incredibly grateful for. They are the ones that probably mean nothing to anyone else but me, but I'm so glad I took the ten minutes, an hour, sometimes even a day or two, to create.

And there are posts I wish I would delete. There's only ever been one that I actually deleted, because it was too negative and too mean and it wouldn't have accomplished anything. It's been a lesson in 'If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all'. It's been a way of analyzing afterward the type of energy I put out.

Alright, enough with the sappy stuff. Let's get on to all the stuff I've learned about having a blog through 500 posts.

1. Every post should have a picture. Like this one:

It's not great, but it took me 15 minutes and each time I make one of these, I'm getting better at it. 

It's important to include an image for three reasons. One, the all-mighty Pinterest. Two, many blog readers/feeds have a thumb-nail of the first image from the post and it can weirdly be a make-it-or-break-it image. Three, that little 'Recommended Posts' feature at the bottom of posts works much better with images.

Basically, it can be summed up as images draw people to click.

2. Find out what makes you unique.

When I first started, I just copied and regurgitated all the same crap I was already reading on other people's blogs. It was a comfortable starting point, I suppose, but I wasn't contributing anything meaningful to this space. It wasn't until I started blogging about the random things that make me me that I really started to connect with people.

My most popular posts to date are about two subjects: Stitch Fix reviews and my Mara Jade costume. They have one hundred times more hits than any other of my post. Both are popular for one reason: a unique point of view. If you google 'Stitch Fix review', thousands of posts come up. Most bloggers write raving reviews, get referral credit, and start all over. However, I didn't have such great experiences. I'm one of the few blogs that pops up if you google 'Stitch Fix review negative'. I wasn't intentionally being negative as click-bait, I was just being honest to my experience. And it connected with some people who either had similar experiences or wanted the full picture before trying it themselves.

On a different note, my Mara Jade posts make me incredibly happy. Before I made my Mara Jade costume, if you searched the web for costume ideas, only one post came up. Now, two do. And it may not seem like a lot, but I've had at least a half dozen people email me for the 3D prints of the harness buckle so they could make it for their own costumes. That's amazing! There could be other people out there wearing something I designed, thinking, 'How cool am I in this costume.'

3. Stretch yourself.

As weird as this sounds, I like to treat my blog like an odd, little course. I'm the teacher and the student and I try to give myself a structure and assignments to help myself grow. If you're going to put so much time and energy into something, you might as well try to get something out of it in the process.

My blog initially had a very negative tone. I had a lot of emotions and opinions I needed to express them and a blog was a healthier outlet than my new husband. In order to reign it in and force myself to be more optimistic, I started writing 'Fan of Friday' posts to focus myself on the positives of my week. Surely, I could find one thing a week that made me happy. When you frame it like that, it became really easy. Although I don't post 'Fan of Fridays' as often as I used to, I still make notes and drafts of posts about things that make me happy when I find them.

I also have plenty of experience on the other end of it when I've pushed myself too far. Every year, I try Blogmas, where I post every weekday to get me in the holiday mood, trying to force my blog into making me more 'festive'. However, I have yet to successfully complete Blogmas and post every day. It just burns me out by the end of it. I may try again this year, but it is slowly making me see that it may not have the affect I was hoping it would have.
On a related note...

4. Understand the line between 'Consistency' and 'Obligation'.

One of the most common tips I come across in 'how to grow an audience' for your blogger in the advice to post consistently.  I guess that's probably important if you're trying to turn your blog and yourself into a brand, but I've always struggled with it. Sometimes, my life has had so much going on that I've been able to post every day or three times a week and schedule posts long into the future. Other times, I got absolutely nothing. At first, early in my blog, when I had nothing, I should have just acknowledged the nothingness and not posted. Instead, I 'filled'. Hence, why I have so many purely deletable posts in the archives. Now, four years later, I understand that writing pointless posts was, in fact, pointless. Maybe if this were my business, having a schedule and handling the obligation to post on regular intervals would be important, but I would much rather write only when there is something to write about.

5. Lastly, don't feel the need to have a point of view.

Most articles I've read about blogging talk about the necessity of having a focus. There are beauty bloggers, fashion bloggers, food bloggers, travel bloggers, etc. It's OK to not have a point. To write just to write. To write about everything. To write about nothing. Over time, maybe your blog will turn into something. Maybe it won't. But if you're only blogging for followers, what are you trying to prove?

For me, this has never been a 'business opportunity'. I never wanted or expected to have thousands of followers and be able to make a reasonable wage off selling ads. There's always the dream it will go viral and it could become that, but I don't act like that's the case anymore. This blog has become a place where I try to express myself. It's a place where I hold myself accountable. It's a safe place to explore who I am, who I was, and who I want to become.

I've never been able to keep a journal this long before, but I hope I manage to keep this one going long into the future. So here's to many more posts to come. Thanks for being a part of it.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Halloween 2015: Nancy Drew

I know I'm behind, as usual. But, time for a post on Halloween!

I've had this costume in the works for almost a year. I don't remember how the idea got planted in my brain, but it stuck pretty good. And it was a straight-forward costume. For me, being a Nancy Drew nut, I went with the original 1930's version, not the revamped 1950's one.

The only items I didn't have for the Prohibition-era look were the hat (available here) and a magnifying glass. The make-up was simple: LOTS of eyeliner and sharp, lined red lips.

Nancy Drew Costume

The hair became very complicated, though. After two attempts at hot rollers and another failed attempt Hollywood waves, I ended up using a small curling iron to make ringlets and then immediately pinning them to set. It ended up looking like pin curls, which was fairly time period appropriate.

This year was pretty low-key. My friend Bekah had another party. She's so good at them. And every year, she has a photo set-up. Here are some of my favorites.

Dan and I in character

Dan with matching hair

Nancy Drew saving Agent Coulson's hand from the Terrigen crystal

And when Nancy became a bit more like Bonnie from 'Bonnie and Clyde'

It was definitely a fun costume. I highly recommend it.