Paper Bag Skirt DIY

Happy DIY Friday! I keep thinking I need to come up with an official title for this DIY series this year. So far nothing has jumped out, so if you have any ideas, let me know! The concept is one material per month, and we’re working with cotton in January. This week I used cotton fabric to make a simple paper bag skirt for myself. This is a beginner project that turns out great every time, so if you’ve been waiting for an nudge to pull out that old machine, it is time. The paper bag skirt is characterized by the little bit of fabric that sticks up above the elastic casing, giving the look of a paper bag grabbed in the middle. This has been a very popular style for the last several years, finding its way into lookbooks for most major brands and onto runways. I even found an older version super similar to this one I made at my favorite store.

It’s versatile to dress up or down, wear with a belt or without, tucked or untucked. Of course, any way you wear it it is comfortable and with the essential addition of pockets, I’ve made it a skirt you can wear all year round. That type of versatility is exactly what I’m looking for in my capsule wardrobe, and this is a really great addition.

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Christmas in Marfa, TX

I don’t remember when exactly we decided to spend Christmas in Marfa, Texas, but once it was planned we didn’t look back. We had visited Marfa twice before, once as a couple and again with our kids. Both times we came away feeling like we could have stayed longer. It’s a fascinating, curious and magical place. The combination of the vast desert and the unique, vintage art and design vibe that fills the town creates very good vibes. 
Part of the true Marfa experience as far as we’re concerned is staying a night at El Cosmico “nomadic hotel and campground”. The shelter offerings vary from teepees and safari tents to yurts and vintage trailers. All of the different buildings and shelters sit along pathways dotted with beautiful native plants, community outdoor bathrooms with amazing farmhouse fixtures, and a few separate hammock hang out areas. It’s magical.

We have stayed in the teepees both of our previous visits, and really loved the coziness and novelty. For Christmas Eve, however, I decided to book the Imperial Mansion vintage trailer. Being the middle of winter we didn’t know what to expect for weather and considered middle-of-the-night bathroom trips with the kids to be much easier with the bathroom inside, especially if it was freezing temps. We also loved that it had two separate sleeping areas so that we could make sure Santa had somewhere to visit.
The trailer turned out to be everything we needed. A huge cozy bed with American Flag curtains to separate it from the living and kitchen areas. The indoor bathroom was hot pink and amazing. The back bedroom was just big enough to become our Santa headquarters in the middle of the night, and the of course everything had such good design.

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Necessity Inspires Creativity

One week into our no buying stuff experiment and all is well. I haven’t had any major obstacles to overcome, and have generally stayed clear of stores. I’m not an excessive shopper anyway and have definitely gone weeks before without buying things, so I expected this first couple weeks would be pretty easy.

We did have an interesting experience the very first day we were officially doing this. It helped solidify the feeling that we have more than enough stuff and made me remember the excitement of using some thought and creativity to solve problems.

Milo had just received some Pokemon cards for the holidays. It was his first set, and he was over the moon with excitement. Kids in second grade at his school trade Pokemon cards at lunch and recess. They’re a pretty big deal. He took his cards to school in a ziploc bag for one day, and after school informed me that he needed a binder for his cards so he could trade them more easily. I had seen some kids with binders of cards when I had lunch with him a couple weeks back, so I knew exactly what he was talking about. Three ring binder, Pokemon design on the front, clear plastic card holder sheets inside.When brainstorming what things I could possibly NEED this year that I couldn’t figure out how to make with items I already had at home, those clear plastic card holder sheets didn’t come to mind. Shoot.

I felt stuck for a minute. I did have binders set aside from my dest cabinet organization that I had held onto for just this type of situation…but what would I do about those sheets? It didn’t seem to make sense to have Milo wait a whole year to buy some card organizers to play with his friends at school. They maybe could count as consumables, or fall outside the lines of the experiment because I hadn’t thought of them?

But wouldn’t that negate the whole idea? Of using what we have, being creative, being grateful, being patient, and thinking outside the box? Read More »


COTTON // DIY Sunburst Rope Basket

Each week in 2017 I’ll be sharing a new DIY using the material of the month, and in January I’m working with cotton.  I wanted to reach outside of my comfort zone of sewing and making with fabric, and was really excited to try something beautiful and useful with cotton rope. This sunburst rope basket is simple and quick to make with a zig zag stitch on a sewing machine. It turned out to be the perfect catchall for our entry table, and of course has a million other possible uses because, it’s a basket.
This cotton rope has been sitting in my craft closet from some macrame projects I did last year. It’s a beautiful 100% natural cotton twisted rope, similar to rope or clothes line you might have in your craft closet or garage. The basket uses about 3-4 yards of rope. More would make a larger basket, and less a smaller.
Using a sewing machine with a zig zag stitch will be the fastest and easiest way to make this basket, although I’m sure that it could also be done with a needle and thread and a whole series (or two) on Netflix.

Rather than finish the top edge with a classic handle or two, I decided to add some sunburst loops. They give the basket a fun, bohemian vibe that I love and make it truly unique. One of my favorite things about making things myself is being able to play with the designs and make variations on more common projects.  Read More »


Cabinet Organization // Corraling the Stuff

As the calendar turned over and the New Year’s organization bug hit, I dove into some cabinet organization. Boy, did I find more than I was expecting. I mean, I knew that the shelves were stacked to the point that something fell out almost every time I opened a door. But, I was overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I had stuffed up there. (Maybe that’s why we call it stuff?) It felt so good to get it all organized and arranged, and the whole space feels more welcoming, useful, and lovely.
One nice thing about closed cabinets is that they hide the mess. One hard thing about the mess being hidden is that it rarely is cleaned up. I love this built-in corner of our kitchen where I spend a lot of time working and writing, and it usually looks pretty put together at the expense of actually being organized, because I used to toss all the extra piles that end up on the counter into those cabinets for a quick clean-up before hosting.

Do you want to see the before? Befores are always fun. Read More »


More Than Enough Stuff // A Year Without Buying Anything

We have so much stuff. More than enough stuff, and I am fairly certain that we can live without more for a long time. So, this year we aren’t going to buy any more. No clothes, shoes, accessories, home decor, sporting goods, kitchen gadgets, furniture, or anything else that can’t be used up completely. No cute little office supplies and jars that suck me in completely in the Target Dollar Spot every time. We’ll buy food and household items that are truly consumables like toothpaste and laundry detergent. It will be an experiment in creativity and an exercise in using what we own. Practicing abundance by living with our abundance, USING our abundance. And I am so excited.The idea of minimalism and  living with less is not new to me. I’ve been working with a capsule wardrobe for over two years and really loving the way I appreciate my clothes, it’s easy to get dressed, and when I wear something out it’s actually been used up. Over the last couple years the ideas of slowing down, focusing on what is important, and removing the excess have become central to the way I try to make choices. Intentionally, deliberately, and thoughtfully bringing things into our lives.

Of course, I make lots of random, impulsive purchases as well, and hang on too long to some things that I don’t love. But what hit me the other day as I cleaned out my kitchen office cabinets, and went back and forth to the store to buy more baskets and bins to organize my stuff (the irony) was that I have so much that I don’t use. Things I’ve had for years and never pulled out. Cards unsent, pens uncapped, movies unwatched. We keep buying and layering without thoughtfully using the things we already own. More than enough stuff.

A couple days later we sat and watched The Minimalists on Netflix, and what really resonated with me was to use what you have. I think a lot of people think of minimizing by decluttering, organizing, and creating space in their homes and lives–which certainly feels like a big piece of the process to me, and something we do here at our home pretty often. But what usually happens after the purge?

Maybe a little binge to fill up that emptiness?

Getting rid of all that we don’t love to turn around and fill ourselves back up with new, shiny stuff that we do love…at least for awhile.

As I watched, and read, and read, and pondered, and remembered the feeling I get often when walk into stores filled to the brim with beautiful things that no one really, truly needs. That feeling of overwhelm combined with an unexplained twinge of sadness. And this quote that hit me so hard a couple years ago that it pops into my head weekly when I’m faced with choices of to add or not to add to our stuff: “There is no end to what the world has to offer, so it is critical that we learn to recognize when we have enough.” (source)

We have more than enough stuff.  Read More »


Cotton // Pocket Pillowcase

I’m kicking off a new series this week that I’m really excited about. Each month of 2017 I will be exploring a new medium, and every Friday I’ll have a new DIY for you using the featured material. I’m beginning with a basic: cotton.  Cotton is a soft, puffy staple fiber that has been used in textiles for thousands of years. It grows natively in countries all over the world, including in wide fields here in Texas, where I gathered these beautiful pods while road tripping last year.

The plant is beautiful even before all of the processing that separates the fibers from the husk, then spin it into yarn for weaving into fabric. Aren’t they gorgeous?

I love the versatility of cotton, and am excited to explore a few fun ways to use it this month. However, as it’s the first week of this exploration series, I thought I’d begin at the beginning with a cotton pillowcase.

And not just an ordinary cotton pillowcase, a pocket pillowcase. Because everything is better with a pocket.
For years I have been tucking the ends of the pillowcase in over the end of the pillow to create a pocket that covered the open side and kept the pillow nicely in place. Then some recent store bought pillowcases I bought had a sewn pocket end and I realized that was the only way to make a pillowcase. Read More »


New Uses for Copper Moscow Mule Mugs

Copper is on the rise, and these darling copper Moscow mule mugs are a perfect way to bring a little bit into your life! They are traditionally used for Moscow Mule cocktails, whose 1940’s inventors used the mugs as a marketing idea and took photos with bartenders and their cool, copper mugs to advertise the new drink.
Even though I’m not a cocktail drinker, the copper Moscow mule mugs sure are cool, and can be used for so many other purposes!

An obvious one is a mocktail. I love a good mocktail and make up new ones all the time. Basically anything with a little sparkle, a little fruit or flavor syrup, and a pinch of fresh herbs does it for me.
This little drink I invented is called the Sweetmint Mocktail and you can find the recipe over on the World Market Discover blog, where I also shared DIY’s for these other two ideas, the mini cactus planter and a chocolate mug cake.  Read More »


New Year, New Resolutions

There is an excitement in the air with the turning over of the calendar pages each January. New year, new start, new resolutions, new you.

I love setting and achieving goals year-round, and had the value of goals drilled into me as the child of a Franklin Planner Father. As a kid I learned about SMART goals, the importance of writing goals down, telling others about our goals in order to hold ourselves accountable, and checking back in every so often to stay on track and ensure progress toward achievement. I get a certain thrill from dreaming up new ideas and setting my sights high for the places I’d like to go, and dreams I’d like to chase.
This year I brainstormed a bunch of goals that feel very much more like goals than the typical resolutions. Goals and Resolutions are pretty similar, and I identify more with the idea of setting achievable, trackable goals than with a simple resolve to change that makes up some classic new years resolutions.

My first inclination was to do everything at once, and as I planned and pondered I realized I would do much better staying on track if I separated my goals for the year out a bit. So, I’ve divided them by quarter, and tried to keep it realistic and pretty simple.

I do have one overarching resolution: to quit caffeine. I also have chosen one word of the year to focus on: gratitude.

Here are my goals for 2017: Read More »

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2016 Year in Review

Deep breath. As I look back on the year, I feel a little bit like I did last year around this same time.

“What did I do this year? Did I do anything?”

The lack of major changes like moving, changing jobs or having a baby give the year a cozy, familiar feel. That, combined with my terrible memory, make me wonder how I blinked myself to another December.

When I go month by month back through the year, I remember that it was incredible. Not without trial and obstacle, however also full of overcoming. I feel more than ever how life is a continual process that can’t truly be divided or compartmentalized by time and dates, although we try. We build upon experiences with other experiences. We are all in the journey of becoming, slowly, slowly.

A few big things that jump out from 2016 are these: We got a dog! Our home was featured on Glitter Guide! We celebrated ten years of marriage with a trip to Portland! (Post about our anniversary coming soon because I haven’t even finished writing it, yet!)

There are a lot of little things, too. Milo started taking piano lessons and had his first recital, Eliot learned to read, Plum was potty trained (and then not, and then again, and then not. Again with the process.) I read a lot of great books. Dave got some personal bests at the weight training gym. We went on lots of dates. We camped and hiked together as a family. We jumped on the trampoline and biked around the neighborhood. We made 7 meals 52 times because we’re still living our minimal meal plan. We decorated a bunch of rooms and watched a bunch of Netflix. It was a good year. Here are a few of my favorite posts I shared on this blog:

This DIY watercolor caftan, that is one of my favorite pieces of clothing.

This beautiful tea and toast spread. Makes me excited to go back to Palm Springs next month.

5 Tips for a Perfect Patio. Many an outdoor hang-out and meal happened here this year.

How to smooth textured walls…and Jackalope wallpaper!

This DIY leather butterfly chair cover (with a free pattern). Such a great project.

A three-day Austin Girls Trip Itinerary. Lots of my favorite things to do and see and eat.

Our Cozy Master Bedroom. This space is like an oasis in our home, and the post received such love (plus a re-post by Emily Henderson who must have known that my love of blue couches and open shelving was inspired by her.)

Houseplants 101. My indoor plant collection has continued to grow and thrive, these tips help!

The Indoor Patio Room, where most of the plants live. And these hammocks are basically the favorite piece of furniture in the house.

The Kid’s Studio. We did a lot of home projects this year! Whew! This one is my kids favorite, for obvious reasons.

I loved working with World Market this year, and these Fall Inspired Mason Jar Salads were so fun to style and shoot.

And during our visit to Portland I fell hard for my brother’s Vintage Eclectic Home. It’s so cool.

And in between those there were baked pinwheels, and a gingerbread party, fabric organization and the importance of outdoor play. I revisited my capsule wardrobe, tried the primal diet (for two weeks in which I created this cheat bark), organized the garage and the pantry, and sewed some Jedi Robes. I had my first surgery and shared my face cleaning routine. We made and ate many chocolate cakes.

So, not nothing.

Headed into 2017 I am over the moon about a few changes that will be happening. This space is going to get a long-anticipated makeover, along with a new name, shop (which has already soft-launched), and a landing page for the regular craft and sewing workshops that I host locally.

I am working on a master plan for the content I’ll be creating, including more DIY’s, home inspiration, and tips for slow, simple living. The newness of it all, combined with the newness of the upcoming year gives me happy butterflies. There is so much potential for good in the year ahead.

Happy New Year to all of you wonderful people who support, uplift, inspire, follow, keep tabs on, trust, and walk with me on this incredible journey. Cheers to more learning, growing, sharing, and loving in 2017.


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Gingerbread Girl Birthday Party

Last week my baby girl turned three and we celebrated with a Gingerbread Girl Birthday Party!

Having a birthday to celebrate near Christmas wasn’t something I ever planned on, and as busy as this time of year can be I want to always make sure that Plum’s birthday feels special and separate. It turned out to be so fun to plan her party with Christmas in mind and I settled on a Gingerbread Girl Birthday theme, in part because of her red hair. We lovingly refer to her as “our ginger” and gingerbread and Christmas go hand in hand so it was perfect!Christmas is a busy time of year for people so I wanted to keep it short and sweet. This was her first party to invite friends, and because they’re all still so little and not quite ready for a drop-off party I decided to make it a “Mom and Me” event with hot cocoa, gingerbread girl cookie decorating, photos with the cardboard gingerbread house and birthday cake.

Since I don’t have a gingerbread girl cookie cutter ( I had actually never seen one until I looked it up just now and see they do exist) I made a simple gingerbread girl pattern out of cardstock and cut each one out by hand. Luckily, with only four friends invited it wasn’t too much work. The recipe I used was this one, which is so delicious, I highly recommend it.Knowing we would be sitting and decorating around my kitchen table, I decorated that corner of the kitchen with some pretty white and gold pinwheels and a gold pendant banner from My Mind’s Eye. I’ve had them in my party closet for a year and was excited to finally have occasion to use them. The oversized confetti balloon came from the darling local shop Pretty Goods ATX came delivered all blown up. I had used it to take a birthday photo a couple days before the party and it fit right in with the decor. (The window wreaths were a DIY I did earlier in the month.)

I thought it would be fun to have the little girls dress up in their Christmas dresses, since there was a little tea-party vibe to the party. The moms didn’t need to worry about frosting and cocoa on dresses because I provided aprons for both moms and girls, and then sent them home with them as party favors. Read More »

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Nationwide SmartRide Program

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. I purchased my own insurance at normal prices. All opinions are 100% mine.

Nationwide provided me with information regarding its SmartRide program.

A few months ago I shared that Dave and I had signed up for the Nationwide SmartRide program. We have been Nationwide auto insurance customers since we were married, and I was interested to find out that they offer a program where we have the potential to earn discounts on our policy according to our driving habits. We’re currently about half-way through the program, which typically lasts for one full policy cycle, and so far we’re on track to earn great discounts and have learned a lot about how we drive.

The basic overview of the program includes Nationwide sending a device to plug into a port on the car that collects your driving data and then calculating the potential discount based on the following four driving factors:

  1. Miles Driven, statistics show that on average, the more miles driven the higher the chances of an accident
  2. Hard Braking, considered as decelerating faster than 7.7 mph per second
  3. Fast Acceleration, considered as accelerating more than 7.7 mph per second
  4. Night Time Driving, miles driven between midnight and 5 am

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