Lighting It Up

This post is a long time coming. Robert and I installed our globe pendant in the living room spring of last year, and I’ve been promising a tutorial ever since.

It’s probably no secret that I can be horribly picky when it comes to light fixtures. I have debated the subject before, and I think the only light we’ve installed without modifying it in some way is the Flat Stock Flush Mount light from West Elm that Robert bought me for my birthday in 2011. (Sidenote: If they ever bring that light back I will buy at least one more in a heartbeat.)

If you follow me on Pinterest, you might have seen me pinning a lot of globe light fixtures last year. (Clearly it was before I decided to use more search-friendly pin descriptions.)

I had a few issues with all the lights I pinned. Even though the West Elm Globe Pendant was on sale for $79 at the time (and currently is again), I felt like Robert and I could make something less expensive that we liked a bit better.

So I searched online for quite a while until I found this 12″ clear globe for $27.32 a (the same globe is sadly $67.32 now).

I paired the shade with a 4″ threaded “uno” threaded fitter, a keyless brass socket with “uno” threads, and gold cloth-covered wire. I can’t remember exactly which fitter and socket I used, but I know that if I were to do things over again I’d likely either use this socket from Grand Brass instead of the standard press-in metal shell kind, or this fitter with a ceramic socket. Together with an $8 Edison bulb, this project ran us around $80. We also have some cloth-covered wire left over since Sundial requires a 10 foot minimum order.

When it came time to think about a light for the laundry room, Robert and I liked the look of the Carlton Pendant from, and the Azusa from Schoolhouse Electric, but not the price tags. The Carlton Pendant is $276, and Azusa says it starts at $99, but the pictured light is $153.

We decided to DIY something similar, so I ordered this shade from Antique Lamp Supply, a brass fitter (with socket) and ceiling canopy from eBay, and Robert picked up some black 18/2 wire from his store (he runs an auto part store). Robert actually called it “trailer wire”, but it’s 18-gauge, 2-conductor wire. We got it from his store because Lowe’s didn’t have what we were looking for.

Of course, as soon as the shade arrived we decide it would look awesome over the sink (replacing a $20 seeded glass pendant from a few years ago), so we ordered supplies for a second light. Then once we installed it we started wondering if the second light would be bright enough for the laundry room. Ultimately we decided to put the second light in our pantry, and we’re back to square one on the laundry light. D’oh.

The lampshade was $39.90 (closer to $50 with shipping), the canopy was roughly $8, the fitter with socket was $18, and I have no idea how much the wire was so I’m estimating $3 for the foot or so that we used. That means this light came in right about $80 as well.

Anyone DIY any lights lately? Or have any ideas for our laundry room light? I can’t decide if a 60w Edision bulb will be bright enough.

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5 Things I Love About Florida

Please don’t hate me too much if you’re currently up to your waist in snow and negative temperatures…

Friday seems like a good time to write a brief ode to my beloved Florida, so here are my current Top 5 Things I Love About Florida. Being winter, they’re mostly weather-related. In the fall this list tends to include more football/tailgating, in the summer it’s (even) more about the weather, seafood, and water sports.

1. The Weather – Florida weather can be nutty sometimes. It might be in the 80s one day, and a freeze warning the next, but just about the time you’re sick of the current weather and longing to lie on a beach somewhere it will do a 180 and be sunny and perfect again. (We always say “Don’t like the weather? Wait 15 minutes, it’ll change”.) We basically have three seasons, Hot, Hotter, and Chilly. Just enough sweater/coat weather so we don’t get sick of it, and no shoveling snow.

2. The Water – I’m pretty sure that when anyone thinks of Florida the ocean, or water in general is not far behind. The river here is pretty massive, at least compared to other parts of the country. It’s really nice to have an ocean (and the Intercoastal) on one side and a wide river on the other. Having lived in Tallahassee during college, I know that I start going stir-crazy in more “land-locked” places. (Also, in Florida “land locked” means the beach is 2 hours away instead of 20 minutes or less).

3. Sunsets – Yes, every place has sunsets, but there is just something about a Florida sunset, especially over the water, that melts tension away like nothing else. It doesn’t hurt if you’re gazing at that view with a cocktail in hand, either.

4. The Beach – I’d be remiss if the beach didn’t get it’s own number. Whether it’s winter or summer, there is nothing quite like a walk on the beach. Winter storms bring seaglass and bigger waves, and summer is perfect for soaking up some vitamin D, boating, and long walks. Our local beaches are not quite the white sandy beaches & clear water of South Florida, but they have a breathtakingly rustic beauty all their own. Check out Yellow Brick Home and Katie Bower’s posts about nearby Amelia Island if you don’t believe me.

5. Relatively Inexpensive Real Estate – Obviously this is subjective, but after a few Twitter conversations I’ve come to learn that the South has pretty inexpensive real estate compared to the rest of the country. Not as inexpensive as some parts of the Midwest, but definitely affordable. Things I consider expensive are apparently dirt cheap. Houses in our area of Florida (at least moderately sized ones like our 1850 sqft house) are in the mid-100s. $400-600k will buy you a McMansion on the river, or if you have more to spend (think the $1mil range) you could buy a larger McMansion on the river with acreage for horses and still be close to everything in town. $1-3mil would buy the same McMansion on the ocean. A more modestly sized beach house starts around $600k. Rentals are very reasonable, too.

What are you loving about where you live? Would you believe I’ve only seen snow twice in my lifetime? (And that if you even count the dusting we had here when I was 2.)

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Wishful Thinking, Take Two

My birthday is coming up next month, and while I’m terrible at making birthday suggestions to family, I always enjoy daydreaming about the things I would buy for myself if money wasn’t an issue. Usually I at least try follow it up by making a more realistic wishlist, too.

  • Tamron AF 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 – Last year I was lusting after the Nikon version of this lens, which is pricey even for daydreaming. This one is slightly less, gets good reviews, and would be nice for blog photos & travel.
  • Nest Thermostat – We installed a digital programmable thermostat made by Honeywell about a year ago, and then this came out. Curse my timing.
  • West Elm Reclaimed Wood Floor Mirror – If you follow me on Twitter you know we recently had our electrical panel replaced, and that I’m having trouble finding a mirror to cover the larger panel. I’d love to DIY one like this if I could find a builder-grade mirror for less than $187.
  • Target Fretwork Flat Weave Area Rug – The 8×11′ version is incredibly pricey, but would look lovely in our library or in the living room once we have our wood floors and that “step” in the middle of the room is gone.
  • Target Azzure Toss Pillows – As is usually the case, the fabric I fall in love with gets picked up by Target for pillows & ottomans. This fabric that I wanted to make curtains out of is still out of stock, but the gold color does make lovely pillows. Sidenote: I’m thinking about these curtains now

And the more realistic wishlist, most of which is hard to wrap.



  • Lowe’s giftcards – Drywall is hard to wrap, and that is the next/last big purchase for the guest bathroom.
  • Octagon Dot Floor Tile – We need about 30 sq ft of this tile (I think our local Lowe’s also has some as well) for the guest bathroom.
  • CB2 Big Dipper Floor lamp – I think this would be perfect in the living room.
  • 32gb 1st gen iPad, wifi – I have no need for one of the newer iPads, and I certainly don’t want to add another thing to our data plan, but something like this would be great for surfing the internet from the couch, or even for taking to freelance client meetings. They often pop up around $200 on eBay and Amazon for a gently-used one, which is a plus.
  • Hall Bath Vent Fan – We already bought the fan, but we haven’t installed it yet. It wouldn’t make any sense to fix the ceiling just to leave the under-powered fan. Maybe our new electrician friend can make this happen?
  • Guest Bathroom Wiring – We have the fan up, and we already bought the lights and Romex, so in an ideal world the electrician could wire that the same day as the hall fan, right?
  • Hardwood Installation – You may know we bought some reclaimed hardwood from our local ReStore a few years ago, and that it has yet to be installed in the guest room or the living room.
  • Ceiling Repair – I would love to have the crack in our library ceiling repaired. And the peeling hall bathroom ceiling. I think the guy my parents usually use is busy until at least March, though.
  • Concrete Counters -  Robert has a friend who does concrete counters, and we (ok, I) would like to try to get that ball rolling as quickly as possible.
  • Cabinet Hardware – So… I bought some zinc hardware from Lee Valley for about $28 last year. It was similar in style to the Restoration Hardware Aubrey Pull, but I’m not loving it anymore. I listed it on eBay, and am thinking the Top Knobs Asbury line of handles & knobs would coordinate with the bin pulls I bought.

Ok, so maybe that’s not very realistic either.

Honestly, I don’t need anything for my birthday. All I really want is to finish some projects that have been dragging along (like the pantry and the guest bathroom), and spend time with family. I’m fairly certain Robert and I can tackle the hardwood, but I’m considering hiring out for the wiring, and definitely for the ceilings. Anything else on my list would be icing on the metaphorical cake.


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Design Assistance: Jess’ New Place

Today is my sister’s birthday, so this post seems appropriate. Happy birthday, big sis!

Back in December I posted about my sister’s apartment. I mentioned that Jess had semi-recently moved to Philadelphia, so I was thinking of some ideas for her apartment. (Yes, past tense.) When she sent the pictures I mentioned a few of my suggestions, and she said she wasn’t really attached to her new place, that it felt too big and not like her style. You can probably guess where this is going.

The sofa and curtains belong to her landlord, the nesting tables are from Ikea, and the tv console & red cabinet are from Target. I’m not sure where the bar height table & chairs are from, but I’ve seen similar sets online at Target,, and Wayfair.

I think you can see from the kitchen why she chose this apartment, the dark cabinets are reminiscent of her last apartment.

Initially this is the board I came up with, before I saw her photos. I had a laugh when I saw the blue curtains from her landlord, though I’d add a set or two around the sofa. I believe her Kivik lives in the office/guest room, and J’s bedroom wasn’t quite organized enough to show.

curtains | rug | pillows | pouf | slipcover | print

I think a darker slipcover for her Kivik sofa bed might stand out a bit more from typical apartment-beige walls, and the blue-yellow-gray color scheme would tie in with the pieces she already has.

About the time I came up with these ideas Jess posted this:

“Doesn’t look like much right now, but that’s the window to (what will be) my new studio apartment!”

What can I say, girl moves fast? (Or I’m horribly behind on everything. But let’s go with the former.)

curtains | nesting tables | rug | pillows | slipcover | pouf | print

After seeing that, I quickly tweaked things to create a studio-inspired board. The curtains are very similar to the Ikea ones, but rod-pocket instead of grommet. I’m actually considering them for our living room. They also have a similar pair that are thermal, which could be a good option, depending which way her apartment faces. The other rug I considered was the Porter Rug from Crate & Barrel, but I think it’s a tad out of her price range.

I have to say, I’m a bit jealous of her soon-to-be studio already. I can’t wait to see the inside!

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Meet the Blogger

Last night I was drafting a style post (I know, quite a departure from the usual posts around here), and I realized that y’all probably don’t have any clue what I look like, since I rarely post pictures of myself. Just to be sure, I mentioned it on Twitter.

It turns out, a 65×65 pixel photo of myself on the sidebar is not enough. Noted.

This is me.

The whole conversation made me realize that if y’all have no idea what I look like then my personality probably doesn’t come across quite as clearly as I assume it does. I know I’m pretty terrible at writing about myself, but maybe I can work on posting more photos and sharing a few facts. Some of which may be old new for those of you who follow me on Twitter or who actually read my rambling posts tagged Life from 2011/2012 that were rife with quotes found on Pinterest. (Y’all, 2011 was a bad year, and 2012 wasn’t much better.)

  • I’m 25 (26 next month. Robert is 26, 27 in May)
  • I’m brunette with dark brown eyes.
  • I’m also nearsighted.
  • I like to say “I’m 5’4 on a good day”. I might be shrinking, it’s hard to reach the upper cabinet shelves. (Also, if 5’4 is the average height for a woman, why do I have to buy petite/short pants? My best guess is that I must be long-waisted.)
  • I’m a graphic designer. I graduated from FSU (Florida State University) with a degree in studio art, emphasis on graphic design. Apparently they have an actual graphic design major now, which wasn’t an option when I was in college.
  • My 9-5 job is editing images for the website of a sports merchandising company.
  • If you’ve read the About section you know that Robert & I met in while volunteering at  the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity in order to meet the community service hours for our IB high school.
  • I drink a lot of coffee & lattes. I know caffeine is considered the devil and whatnot by most people who do their best to eat healthy, but I cannot give up my coffee. I have started drinking brewed coffee black, though (I’ve always drunk skim lattes).
  • I worked  at Starbucks during college, and for a year after college graduation.
  • I do my best to drink my 8-10 cups of water a day (though I’ve fallen off the wagon about this recently).
  • Last year I challenged myself to learn to like more vegetables. Dusty’s 80/20 plan sort of sums up what I strive for, although this past month R and I have been eating out too much.
  • I used to do gymnastics, but instead starting competitions in 4th or 5th grade I gave it up in favor of horseback riding (which I started when I was 9).
  • When I was 16 I got a horse rather than a car. His name is Charger, he’ll be 25 in April. We used to belong to our local Pony Club, he came to college with me, and he now lives on Robert’s aunt&uncle’s farm in Tennessee.
  • In the span of one week in 2011 I had strep & an ear infection, my paternal grandmother passed away, and Robert and I were shot at while outside our best friend’s house (by the neighbor, not the friend). You can read more about that here and a little bit here.
  • We’re not currently close to that friend, and I miss him every single day. He understands (understood?) me better than anyone ever has, even Robert. That’s probably not the sort of thing you’re supposed to admit about a guy you aren’t married to, but there it is.

That’s all I’ve got for now, but maybe I’ll make this a series, and work on thinking of some more interesting facts. Also, feel free to ask questions. I’ll do my best to answer, assuming it doesn’t make be blush too badly.

Feel free to snag the graphic from the top of the post if you’d like to re-introduce yourself to your readers as well! Or the one below, if you prefer.

More about me: More Insight Into Who the Heck We Are; Things You Can’t Tell Just From Reading My Blog

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2013 Goals

I’m not usually one for making yearly resolutions, but Robert and I are certainly no strangers to setting goals (and usually failing to achieve half of them). For a while I was setting seasonal goals, as our enormous To Do List was discouragingly slow-going, but we never successfully completed any of those lists. Then we set “short term” goals for house projects, which I suppose you could say has been a little more realistic. It helps a bit in

We’ll continue to chip away at that list, and I’ve set some additional budgeting goals for 2013.

  • Pay down debt (credit cards, mortgage/car loans)
  • Refinance house
  • Build savings accounts

These budgeting goals kind of go hand in hand, if you consider the fact that paying down debt will reduce monthly payments and allow us to contribute more money to savings each month. Refinancing the house should do the same thing by lowering our monthly mortgage payment (or at least lowering the interest rate over the life of the loan, which will save us money in the long run).

Happily I’ll be able to tackle part of the first bullet point this week, and we’re looking into our options the second. A few weeks ago I asked on Twitter if anyone would be interested in a post/series about our experience with refinancing, so I’m drafting that as well.

I suppose you could say the third point is an on-going goal. I have an IRA that my parents set up when I was in high school & a 401k through work, Robert has a 401k through his work, and we each do our best to contribute to our savings accounts with each paycheck. There have been some setbacks to our savings over the years, and the internet has a funny way of peer pressuring us to buy more, renovate more, etc. This year I’m challenging us to be more diligent about contributing to our savings/emergency fund, which will force us to be smarter about which house projects we tackle. I guess we’ll see how things shake out, considering that a lot of the things we have planned tend to be big-ticket projects. Robert and I have done our best to keep things budget-friendly. Completion of our guest bathroom, for example, is estimated around $1,500, and that includes a lot of the components we already purchased.

With any luck these goals will snowball into the rest of our 5(?) Year Plan.

I’ll leave you with these poor quality iPhone photos of the fridge surround we’re building. So far it has cost around $130 for the cabinet grade plywood, paint, screws, etc. We still need to buy one or two sample size containers of paint for the back of the shelves, and some trim pieces.

Hope you all had a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year’s!

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Design Assistance: Jess’ Apartment

A few years ago (yes, I’m horribly behind), my sister signed a lease on a 500 square foot studio while in graduate school. She asked me to help her decorate, requesting a modern design featuring dark wood and a blues-green color scheme to coordinate with the kitchen. I believe the other instructions were basically that it had to be very budget friendly as she was up to her ears in student loans, and she needed a sleeper sofa.

This was the preliminary design board I sent to her. We later found a nicer tv console, so she chose to go with an A-frame bookshelf and a less expensive rug. Normally I would also suggest paint colors and maybe a few accessories for customers, but we knew J couldn’t paint and wasn’t planning to stay in the apartment long term (also she wouldn’t be home much with clinical rotations). Even having said that, we wanted to make the place comfortable and find pieces she could take with her to her next apartment.

Here’s another photo of the kitchen, after she moved in. Check out the book shelves above the cabinets, I love them! The backsplash is amazing, too.

Here’s the living room. There were French doors leading to a small balcony to the right of the tv, which I think would have looked lovely with something like these curtains from Ikea to add some more color. I’d hang them on an oil rubbed bronze curtain rod, and since she was renting I’d probably pull the vertical blinds open and tuck them behind one of the curtain panels.

Ideally a darker colored slipcover for the sofa would stand out from the wall color better, since she wasn’t allowed to paint. I’d also love to see a more colorful rug, but this one did the trick of keeping the couch from scratching the wood when it was pulled out into a bed.

Here’s the dining area, which was on the other side of the French doors. I love the bar height table she chose. (Also, get a load of all those running medals. She’s a marathoner. #mysisterisawesome)

I’m thinking about doing a follow up now that she’s moved, showing how the pieces progressed in her new larger place.

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Laundry Room Tweaks

I posted about a month ago about how a rat chewed through a PEX pipe in the wall of the laundry room, meaning we were starting our third simultaneous reno.

As I mentioned last month, we already have the washer, dryer, and laundry tower in the room. The paint was purchased a while back, and we already own the shelving unit, sink & faucet as well. Taking advantage of this mostly-free (ok, previously paid for) spruce, I ripped out some old wire shelving, then panicked about the 9 trillion screw holes/anchors still in the wall, called my dad in, and together we spackled & slapped up the first coat of paint last week. (While I’m not above ripping things like airboxes and shelves out myself, apparently I prefer help putting things back together. But it was a nice father-daughter afternoon!)

After my dad went home, I put the metal shelves together and moved things out of the mini-warehouse back in from the neighboring guest room. We do need to add a second coat of paint, but I wanted things to be more “together” when Robert got home.

My dad and I didn’t paint around the washer/dryer or water heater, because 1) we couldn’t really reach it, and 2) Robert and I plan to make build-ins on this wall down the road, so we may not need to paint this area anyhow. Something like this, but built around a water heater, since we plan to move the washer and dryer to the wall where the shelves are currently. (At which point the metal shelves will be used to better organize tools in our shed.) We’d love to be able to use a tankless water heater, which is why I’ve left it on the board for now – wishful thinking, but the likelihood is that it won’t work out. To be honest I wasn’t listening when Robert explained the physics-y reason it won’t work for our house, I was busy coming up with Plan B.

Initially we planned to replace the peeling linoleum with inexpensive vinyl plank flooring like we used in the kitchen, but after visiting the nearby The Tile Shop showroom we may have changed our minds.

apologies for the funky angle, I had difficulties photographing the 6×12 room

We both love these 12×12″ sheets of Gray Small Pebbles from The Tile Shop. They’re a little out of our budget, but maybe we can work something out. I do have a few DIY ideas, too, in case the cost of these sheets is a total deal-breaker.

So that’s where things stand with the laundry room. Next step (well, after the second coat of paint) is to build a platform for the washer and dryer, sort of like this. We have to finagle things around a few inches of concrete foundation(?), and if possible we need to eek two more inches out of the wall. I’ll keep y’all posted on our plans for that.

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Soft Opening: Design Assistance

Maybe you noticed this page when I updated it last week? It’s been up for a while, but I’ve never really formally introduced the fact that I’m now offering Design Assistance.

Though I don’t have any formal interior design training, I seem to have a knack for picking colors schemes and tracking down the perfect components for a room. I’ve been told I have almost an encyclopedic knowledge of things, from where to find affordable curtains for a nursery to paint colors. I love making design boards and coming up with room ideas for people.

I also have a graphic design degree, and would love to create blog graphics for anyone in the market for affordable, custom headers, social media icons, or other graphics. For more information on services please visit the Design Assistance page, and for pricing information please contact me at

Chatting with readers is my favorite, and I’ll still do my best to promptly answer any quick email or Twitter questions (as well as all blog comments!), but I hope you understand that part of my five year plan includes using the blog to help fund some of our projects. I may also consider opening up the blog to sponsors in the way of sidebar adds and/or sponsored posts. At this time I’m still not sure I’m interested in giveaway posts. I know they’re popular, but they seem like a huge hassle. Am I wrong?

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Five(?) Year Plan

the rules of the internet tell me I need a photo, so this is from last month, taken on Robert’s dad’s boat. consider it symbolic or something.

Alternate title: Whoa, Dream Big! (name that movie)

Preemptive apology for how rambling this post is about to get.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what the next few years will hold for us, in terms of working on the house, and working in general. I think it started when I signed Robert up for his second-to-last semester of college courses. Maybe we will get into the why of things later, but Robert is, as he likes to say, on the ten year plan.

The idea of not having to plan projects, vacations, or family gatherings around Robert’s school schedule coupled with his recent frustration with his current job sent me into a tizzy of “but what will we do when we’re both college graduates?” The resounding answer from my gut was that I want to work for myself, or at the very least have a job with a more flexible schedule and the ability to work from home. (Robert on the other hand wants to be a Project Manager.)

When you add in the fact that we’re dangerously close to actually having walls in the guest bathroom, and maybe even laying the reclaimed wood we bought at ReStore two years ago I also had an “ohmygosh the house is going to be ‘finished’*, what are we going to blog about?” panic**. (Maybe I’ll blog about all the projects I never finished talking about, like the globe light and the pendant over the closet desk.)

All of that brings me to my Five(?) Year Plan, which I’ve broken down into two sections: House and Life.


  • Finish guest bathroom & refi the house – hopefully way, way sooner than 5 years!
  • Remove carpet & lay hardwood – also hopefully way, way sooner than 5 years!
  • Add a door & window(s) to laundry room
  • Add more windows or skylights to guest room
  • Add small, frosted window to guest room closet
  • Stucco the parts of house with T-111 siding
  • Put a new roof on the house
  • Enclose the porch into a sunroom
  • Build a half bathroom off the living room


  • Set up personal/portfolio website finally up! and only 4 years after graduation! (sarcasm)
  • Grow freelance business (graphic design and interior design)
  • Grow the blog?
  • Watch R graduate & walk at graduation
  • Take real estate classes
  • Buy a rental/investment property
  • Start a family

You may have noticed that the Life section includes what is basically three very different career paths for myself – graphic design, interior design, and real estate. I think that the real estate and interior design could sort of go hand-in-hand, and I’ve always been able to make time for freelance graphic design projects. That will probably change in the future (especially as we get closer to that last item on the Life list), but for now I’m going with it.

Over the next week or so I’m going to talk about how possibly growing the blog fits into all of this.


* I know houses are never really “finished”. By the time we get “done” we’re going to have to make changes to accommodate kids, or at the very least we’re going to hate all our paint colors.

** Don’t even get me started on the “We always said we’d start a family when Robert graduated, but I’m not ready. My eggs are going to dry up (if they’re even good to begin with) and we won’t be able to have biological kids. Our parents are going to hate me.” panic. Granted I’m pretty sure none of that will actually happen, and even if it did our parents wouldn’t hate us, right? (Mom?) I always said I was going to adopt kids anyhow… Especially after that whole where-babies-really-come-from discovery. We’ll see.

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