Hi Everyone! It's been a while since the last time I created a blog post, and the whole world has changed drastically! I hope that all of you are safe, healthy, and taking things one day at a time. Truthfully the only thing that gets my mind off of the total disregard for Black human lives is to be creative. Now more than ever, we want our homes to be havens, a place where we feel safest in this world. 

With all of house-bound time that I've found on my hands, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the improvements I want to make to our home. Most recently I've been focusing on our bathrooms. Our home actually has 3-1/2 bathrooms (yeah we probably don't need four toilets between two people, but here we are) and only one of them is tolerable to me from a design stand point. 

Since we've moved into our place, I've gathered inspiration here and there, and let most spaces come together organically. However, now that I've lived with these spaces for some time (it was actually five years at the start of the quarantine) I now have a feel for what we need in order to make them function and look their best. Today I'm sharing the plans for our 1/2 bath. 







Truth time - I've had this mirror for about two years. It was a impulse buy that I discovered new-in-the-box at West Elm for only $50. After I secured the mirror, I searched FOREVER for a decent sconce. I knew I wanted at least two bulbs because there isn't an overhead light in this space, but I needed it to be taller than the current one to take advantage of the 9 foot ceiling. I like the idea of using something vintage in the space, and a small Kilim rug would do just the trick. Above are just a few options that coordinate with the wallpaper, but I haven't quite decided which one I want quite yet. Of course I would be remiss if I did not mention the toilet paper... I mean, it's funny, and I don't feel bad about it. Let's just say that it will definitely be a conversation starter with guests. 

In such a tiny space, I thought it would be cool to have a chic design moment and apply a wallcovering on all four walls. I scoured the internet looking for a fun wallpaper that wasn't going to break the bank. Eventually I landed on the Reverie pattern by Albany in the purple colorway from Wallpaper Direct. It's only $59 for a double roll, and I only need four rolls for the space. Below is a sample!





Honestly I ordered about 5 different samples, but in the end, I had to go with the one that made me feel happiest (plus it didn't hurt that it was also my hubby's favorite). This one had just enough bold color and curiosities mixed into the pattern to keep things interesting. I'm looking forward to guests finding new items in the pattern every time they visit.

Design Tip: When figuring out the color scheme for a space, I like to find one piece of inspiration in which to build from. This can be a rug, pillow cover, patterned curtains, artwork, tile or in my case with the bathroom - a colorful wallpaper. From there, I selected a ceiling color (for a little unexpected pop), artwork, and a rug. Having a piece of inspiration that you love gives you guidance for selecting other pieces for the room that coordinate well together.


Our half bath is tiny - barely 36" wide! As you can see, I had to use a wide-angle lens just to photograph it. 




Right now the powder room isn't bad, just not as great as is could be! Everything feels extremely temporary, and I'm beyond ready to get rid of the builder's-grade sconce, mirror, and faucet.  We also need upgraded storage in this area, which will replace the Kartell Componibili-style storage that we have currently. I'm considering some bamboo under-the-sink shelving from IKEA that I would paint black like the background of the wallpaper. 



Here's a quick little sketch of the sink wall elevation. Just switching out a few key elements would make such a big difference!




I love the current artwork, but it was always a make-do solution, especially because I know of a better location in our home where it could really make an impact. 




The back wall is completely blank right now, and I think that the new wallpaper with a cheeky piece of art would be awesome. 

So what do you think? I would like to start this project soon! The next step is to see how much it would cost for a professional to hang this wallpaper because it's definitely not a project that I want to attempt on my own. Are there any stay-at-home makeover projects that you are working on or would like to tackle? Leave me a comment. I'd love to hear about it! 


So I'm trying something new. Instead of keeping my thrift treasures relegated to Thursdays, I thought I would switch up this series and call it - Thanks, I thrifted it! It's what I say most often when people compliment me on my home, or my fashion. :)  Today I'm sharing how I added style and function to my nightstand with items that are second-hand.


I managed to come across all of these items on 3 different trips to the Goodwill. Whenever I'm Goodwill shopping, I do my best to keep a mental inventory of what items I already have that I can coordinate with future finds. Black, white, and gold are classic together, so I kept that in mind while looking for great pieces.



First I came across this hand. I liked that it could serve as a sculpture on its own, but it can also hold my wedding rings and various bracelets when I'm too lazy to put them away. This hand was only $1.99 at Goodwill and has some decent weight to it.


Next I came across this cute Kate Roebuck "Haha" cereal bowl from Anthropologie. It was super cute, and I knew right away I could give it a home. I like that it's deep enough to hold my chunkiest necklaces when I'm getting undressed. Apparently this was a special series for Anthro, because I found identical bowls selling for $24 on Ebay. This bowl was only $2.99 at Goodwill.


The last piece I came across was this cute ceramic and brass faux succulent planter. This really serves no function other than for aesthetics, but I couldn't pass it up. This piece was just $3.99 at Goodwill (which honestly I thought was a little pricey, but I really wanted it, and I know that it definitely retailed for more probably at Target or Home Goods.)


All together, these items coordinate beautifully, and I think it added much-needed style and function to my bedside table. Add a few books, an agate slice (also thrifted many years ago), and a glass of water and you've really got some beautiful, yet functional Goodwill style. 


So what do you think? Not bad for less than $10 with tax, right?


What should I thrift next?

If you were here for Herb Garden Pt. 1, welcome back! If you're like, "What? There's a Part 1?" You can catch up here!

So when we last left off, I mentioned that we are currently using two different methods to make leafy vegetables and herbs - an AeroGarden (inside) and a wall pocket planter (outside). Both methods have been effective, but I can tell you that both methods have their pros and cons.

AeroGarden



Pros
  • Convenient, controlled environment so you can grow any time of year
  • Has a timed LED light source
  • Yields very quickly from seed
  • No soil needed, just install the pod
  • Notifies you when you when it needs additional water and plant food through an LCD display
  • Seeds are engineered for the space of the unit (which means plenty of room for the roots)
  • You don't have to step outside to harvest
  • Plants in the adjacent area benefit from the extra light 
Cons
  • Light is on for several hours  day (this took some time getting accustomed to)
  • Takes up counter space in our kitchen (but you could put this almost anywhere with an outlet)
  • Tall plants can get scorched by the light source if you don't harvest fast enough
  • Sometimes a pod may not produce (our thyme an parsley pods did not produce enough to eat)
  • Delicate plants may not transplant well outside (we transplanted ours, but only because we were ready to  
  • The machine is an investment (we were lucky to catch an Amazon Treasure Truck deal for $60)

Wall Planter



Pros
  • Great for places like ours that don't have a back yard (we use our privacy fence to hang them)
  • You can purchase plants that have already started and add them to wall pocket to grow
  • Herbs are usually only $3.99 from Home Depot, and the wall pocket was  so minimal investment start up
  • Directly benefits from natural sunlight and rain when hung in the right place
  • Feels super gratifying to see plants get bigger and and spread (a green thumb feeling)
Cons
  • It's hard work tending an outside garden (rain, dirt, scorching heat, bugs, etc.)
  • Plants more susceptible to infestations and weeds
  • Requires regular pruning (notice in the photo above that some pruning needs to be done)
  • Soil dries out quickly, especially in this GA summer heat 
  • Can be a challenge to water (we started with a container, now we use a hose)
  • Additional materials and tools are needed to plant and maintain
Of course most people will go the traditional route and just grow herbs using soil, water, and sunshine, but I just wanted to make sure that you're aware that you have options! Now that we've talked about the pros and cons of each, let's talk about what I use to grow and maintain these herb babies outside.





Herb Garden Essentials (outside)


Currently We're Growing:
  1. Rosemary
  2. Purple Basil
  3. Genovese Basil
  4. Thai Basil
  5. Tarragon
  6. Lavender
  7. Sage
  8. Yerba Buena
  9. Mint
  10. Italian Oregano
  11. Thyme
  12. Lemon Balm
  13. Parsley
  14. Dill
  15. Chamomile
We were also growing Kale, Kolrabi, Mustard Greens, and Purple Cabbage. Only the Cabbage survived (I don't think that the others appreciate the space constraints of a wall pocket). But I did cook what we yielded in a skillet with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. It was great.

*Bonus time*

My favorite super simple ways to use herbs:

Pesto
When we got ready to transplant our basil from the AeroGarden, I used Purple (from outside), Genovese, and Thai Basil to make homemade pesto. In fact I made 3 separate batches using each type and they were all wonderful. My recipe - at least 2 cups of basil, grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese, a clove or two of garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, and some red pepper flakes. Blend well in your food processor, and you feel like a Top Chef.











Cocktails
Lemon Balm - It pretty much goes with any light or dark concoction I've crafted and you get extra points for presentation. Smack a few leaves to release the oils and stir them into to the drink. Then use a few pieces on the stem for a garnish.  

Mashed Potatoes
Rosemary - Put a few sprigs in the water while the potatoes are boiling. When you finish, drain the water and mash the rosemary with the potatoes. It's super easy and add so much flavor! Add salt, pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and you're done! 

Pizza
Italian Oregano - I like to dress my pizza up with mixed greens and a little olive oil before putting it in the oven. Adding oregano to the mix amps up the flavor.

Chicken Salad
Dill - This herb can be slightly challenging since it's usually reserved for fish, but I recently added a few fronds to my Blue Apron chicken salad and it was super tasty.

Water
Yerba Buena - I was giving my Yerba Buena a trim outside and unfortunately cut off a few healthy pieces by mistake. I ended up putting it in a water bottle that has a little built-in infuser and the favor was lovely. I felt extra boogie and healthy that day! I want to try lemon balm and lavender next.


Do you have an herb garden? If so, what kind of herbs are you and your family enjoying this time of year? 

If you remember my 2018 Summer Bucket List, one of my goals was to start an herb garden... and I did! Because our townhouse doesn't have a back yard, I decided to try a little wall pocket that a great friend had gifted me and it was perfect for a petite garden.



Our little herb garden was sweet and humble, boasting a collection of 7 herbs and yielded until the last cold snap of Spring 2019 (late April). Though a few of our herbs held out (they were pretty scraggly and crunchy by that point) I decided that an herb garden wasn't as scary or difficult as I originally anticipated and therefore I was ready to expand on our collection. I purchased a new set of planter wall pockets and waited for the gardening bug to bite me.


Here's what everything looked like when I brought it home. :)

 Little did I know that eventually I would double our humble garden of 7 herbs to 14, and add 4 leafy greens to the mix because I happened to be strolling Home Depot on a day where herbs were 5 for 10 bucks. I guess it's safe to say that I got a little carried away. 



But don't worry, it gets a little more ridiculous.

Brandon is one of Amazon's most valuable customers. Like on the real, we had Alexa at least a good year before it was ever available to the public, and Brandon's purchased pretty much everything they've ever invented. We also have 6 Alexa devices in our home, which means that we're super careful about any potential Pinky-and-the-Brain-type conversations we engage in while cooking dinner or getting ready for bed. So it was only natural that Brandon would be a huge fan of the Amazon Treasure Truck.

If you're not familiar with the concept, Amazon offers great time-restricted offers on random products (usually based on the season) where you can reserve and pick them up at a particular location where the Treasure Truck is parked. Our truck is always parked at the Cumberland Mall, and we've gotten a Nintendo console, a live Christmas wreath, roses and chocolates for Valentine's Day, a box of live succulents (oddly enough around my birthday), and even a pack of prime steaks and beef patties for Summertime. Anyhoo... this past spring the Treasure Truck was offering an Aerogarden. Brandon purchased it without telling me, and while I cringed at the idea of allowing an appliance to live on my kitchen countertop (yeah, no toaster, no coffee machine, and no blender reside on Casa Cook's counters) I held my reservation until I could see what the little garden system could do.

Brandon designated a little corner next to the pantry and got everything set up. To be honest, we were both quite skeptical of what the Aerogarden claimed to yield, but boy were we in for a surprise! This little baby pumped out more herbs than we realistically knew what to do with.



And this photo was taken after these herbs had been trimmed and harvested several times!

Long story short, I couldn't cook enough meals to utilize all the herbs we were producing. In fact they were growing so much that they were touching the LED lights and starting to scorch. Thankfully we know people who love cooking with herbs, so we started gifting them to our friends and co-workers which kept the herbs from going to waste. Then we thought, "You know what? Why not put transplant these herbs outside and try growing something we can eat on the regular - like lettuces!" So I purchased another wall pocket planter (the burlap planter gift from the year before had taken a nice beating, plus we needed more room). 




Brandon bought a new set of lettuce pods for the Aerogarden and here they are with two weeks of growth.



Did I mention that I also needed to fill the new pockets so I purchased a few more herbs to round out our garden - I know... it's crazy. This time I added more basil because a good deal of the basil we grew in the Aerogarden did not survive the transplant. I also added lavender and tarragon. Now the wall pockets are looking good and we're excited to see how everything will flourish.

On "Herb Garden Pt. 2" I'll dive into what herbs we're growing specifically, our herb garden essentials, tips and tricks we've learned along the way, and even some of my favorite ways to use what we've grown. Stay tuned!

For several months, my husband, Brandon and I have been talking about how we would like to treat some of our friends to a nice brunch in our home. But here's the thing - the idea of planning parties has always felt a tad bit overwhelming for me. Just the thought of creating a guest list, making invites, managing RSVPs, planning a menu, and making sure that our home is ready for guests is enough to make me wish that I had just stayed in the bed and watched a movie! This time around I want to easily integrate party planning into my busy life, so that I don't have to worry about being completely overwhelmed by all the details. So when Paperless Post reached out to me about working with their invitations, I figured it was a perfect time to pull the trigger on a party!




I'm a list person, so breaking down all of the details into list format helped me to create a comprehensive overview of what actually needs to be accomplished before the big event. From this, I came up with 6 main steps that I need to follow in order to simply plan this chic shindig without it feeling like a huge chore.






Planning a chic party in 6 steps

Step 1 - Decide on the what, who, where, when, and why
  • What type of event are you having? 
    • We're having a bagel brunch because it's easy, and guests can build their own meal. I also heard that giving your party a great name increases the likelihood that people will attend. Our party name? Boogie Boozy Bagel Brunch
  • Who is invited? 
    • Brandon and I collaborated with the guest list. Ultimately we decided on approximately 24 people, but this invite is strictly for our friends without children Why? Well, we don't have children, and sometimes you just want to party with your child-free friends. Mmm-kay?
  • Where and when will your event be held?
    • Our town home will be the site of the brunch, and we've tentatively decided on a date for next month.
  • Why are you doing this?
    •  Well, this is more for your own personal buy-in, but I find that remembering why you want to throw an event in the first place helps to keep all of your feelings in check. We are throwing this event because it has been a long time since we've celebrated life with our friends, and we really want to entertain them all under our roof. So if I ever I start to stress, I'll just recall the why, and simply remind myself... it's just bagels and mimosas! 
Step 2 - Create and send your invites

Once you've selected your guests, it's time to send out an invite to the party. I've found that by far, the easiest way to accomplish this step is to use Paperless Post. Paperless Post specializes in beautiful online invitations and flyers which can be customized to the style and specific details of your event. I have used them several times for gatherings in the past, as well as a wedding shower this past spring. I went searching for a great brunch invite for our party, and OF COURSE I found an invite that was absolutely perfect for the occasion. Check this out!




With just a few clicks I was able to customize the invite and add a cute gold confetti background... because why not? It's a celebration!




Below are a few more reasons why I love using Paperless Post.
  • No printing, addressing envelopes, crumpling said envelope because you spelled something wrong, or ran out of room (is that just me or does that happen to everyone?), no purchasing stamps, going to the mailbox, checking the mailbox - in short, no snail mail activities needed 



  • You can choose from a myriad of customizable designs, envelopes, and backgrounds which give your party extra cool points well before your guests ever arrive at your door step 
  • You are able to track which guests have completed his or her RSVP and send out reminders if necessary
  • All the details for your party are included (even a Google map with the address), and you can update your guests with additional information as needed
  • You can even activate a comment wall for the party so that you can get all of your guests hyped up! 




  • Plus, typical adults spend an inordinate amount of time on their phones, so your guests will be MUCH MORE LIKELY to respond to your invitation as soon as it hits their inbox! In short, it's super easy to use, and we like easy. 
Step 3 - Create your menu

Just call us old-fashioned, but we are definitely the 'you don't have to bring anything to the party' kind of hosts. We just want our guests to show up, have a great time, and leave happy. Here's what we've decided to serve for our brunch menu:
  • A Bagel Board Spread
    •  The spread will include various types of bagels and lots of toppings
  • Breakfast Ham and Cheese Sliders
    •  These sliders are super easy to make, pop in the oven, and serve on a tiered stand
  • A Fruit Bowl
    • The easiest dish by far... just purchase a large bowl of cut fruit from the grocery store, and transfer to a serving dish with a nice serving spoon 
  • A Mimosa Bar 
    • Four types of juice, several bottles of prosecco, nice glasses, and garnish
  • Sangria
    • A stronger wine based punch as an alternative to mimosas that will be placed in a drink dispenser
For each menu item, I create a shopping list, so that a few days before the event I can go grocery shopping, and a huge task can be out of the way. Also notice that there isn't much cooking involved with this menu besides the sliders, which are very easy to prepare. I don't know about you, but the less cooking I commit to, the less stressed I'll be.

As for the drinks, I decided to offer a make-your-own option, as well as a pre-made option, that way guests can have a few choices for their beverage.





Step 4 - Determine your support supplies 

In addition to groceries, there will inevitably be a few more items to add to your shopping list. Let's call these items support supplies.

  • Plates and flatware 
    • These will be disposable, but to cut down on waste I'll be using our vintage glassware collection for drinks, and our stash of cloth napkins.
  • Carafes and labels for the mimosa bar
    • I'll need 4 new carafes and labels so that guests can distinguish the types of juices available
  • Fresh flowers  
    • I'm just one of those people who can not entertain without flowers, but I always find great deals in the clearance section next to the floral counter at my grocery store
  • Bags of ice and bottles of water
    • I'll keep the prosecco and bottles of water in buckets of ice to keep everything chill




Step 5 - Prepare your pad

I know that this seems like a given, but a clean home creates a happy home in which to host. I grew up in a home where we had "company" instead of guests. This meant that the entire house had to be spotless from head-to-toe before anyone came to visit. I still maintain that idea of formality (for better or worse), however in addition to cleaning I also like to do a few extra things to make guest feel welcome.

  • Establish a place where extra jackets, keys, and purses live temporarily during the party
  • Put out extra rolls of toilet paper where they are easily accessible
  • Place disposable towels in the guest bathroom and make sure the soap pump is full
  • Remove the chairs from the dining room table (it politely forces guests to stand up and mingle)
  • Designate a camera for taking photos, that way guests won't feel the need to reach for their phones

Step 6 - (Finally) Execute & Enjoy!

  • Go grocery shopping 2-3 days before the event to purchase all perishable items
  • Set up everything non-perishable the day before the event (stations, tiered stands, etc.)
  • Get plenty of sleep the night before
  • Start preparing your spreads 2-3 hours before guests arrive so that you're not stuck in the kitchen during the party
  • Make your drinks 30-60 minutes before the start time so that you have a chance to get one in your system before the party begins
  • Have fun, and live in the moment :)

Whoo! I know that was a lot of information, but breaking any huge task steps makes it so much more manageable! I'm super excited to get started, and I feel so much more at ease knowing that I've basically planned everything for this brunch in advance. I can't wait to share it with all of you! So tell me, do you have any tried-and-true methods to party planning? Any tips or tricks that I need to try?

*I received Paperless Post coins in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.*