Accessible accessories

There is something to be said for organizing your "stuff" in hidden-away drawers, cabinets, and bins.  Especially the ugly stuff -- and we all have some of that.  But equally so, it is great when you have beautiful things that, while requiring some type of organization, can be displayed openly in a beautiful way.  Enter -- jewelry. I will admit, I have an ugly oak 80s-style jewelry cabinet. I wish I could say it is retro-cool, stylishly primitive, or shabby-chic. But alas, it's just plain ugly!  Plus, every time I need something out of it, I fight with tangled items in rickety drawers.  Its one saving grace is that it is in my bedroom closet so no one but me need be subjected to its inadequacies. Still, it is getting on my nerves, and I have been inspired by some very practical yet lovely ways to organize jewelry and display it in a highly accessible way. jewelry screen bestThis framed jewelry screen is the creative product of my friend, Lori, who reports that this was a simple project which cost next to nothing. She purchased the decorative aluminum sheet at a local craft store for about $6 and used scissors to cut it to size and fit a frame (after she removed the glass). Kudos, Lori! Even if you decide not to use a sheet such as this, you can use burlap or other material to create a "backing" to complete the look.  Then, hang or post your earrings. jewelry storage 2To the right is a similar approach, with the addition of a coat rack, using the knobs to hang necklaces and the shelf for bracelets, brooches, or boxes. The below idea uses a cutlery organizer, with hooks to hang long pieces in vertical fashion and horizontal compartments for bracelets and other items needing to "sit" on a shelf.  Use multiple cutlery dividers to accommodate more pieces and to create a wall-art look. Jewelry+Storage+1If you still like the idea of putting jewelry in drawers, here are two interesting ways of organizing your pieces in a novel way -- using an antique or decorative baking tin or using small teacups.  The latter of which can hold bracelets and necklaces in the cup portion, with hook earrings draped over the edge.     jewelry-muffin-tray_MG_2743cups-saucer_2             If you have a lot of bracelets, I love the idea of ringing them 'round a paper towel holder, as shown below.  You can't get much easier than that! bracelet organizationSo have I shamed you into a jewelry project... or inspired you?  Either way, I hope it worked. 🙂 Any other ideas you've come across on Pinterest which spark your interest? I, too, have plenty to do to transform my bedroom closet and better organize my jewelry.  I see a follow-up article around the corner, as well as an oak cabinet Goodwill drop-off in my near future. 🙂   ------------------------------------------ Photo credits:  Aluminum screen frame for earrings - Lori English.  Earring frame with necklace coat rack and jewelry in cutlery tray - Curbly. Baking tin and teacup jewelry organizers - Paige Smith Designs.  Paper towel/bracelet holder - The Adventures of VAMH.    

Victoria’s secret… for a great Mardi Gras party

Victoria & Me

Victoria & Christy (me)

Last weekend, my friend Victoria threw quite a Mardi Gras bash with her then-boyfriend/now-fiance, Steve -- "title change" the result of a lovely Valentine's Day marriage proposal yesterday.  "Party bling followed by an engagement ring" is how this last week will go down in history.  And that's a tough act to follow, people! :-)Victoria is a woman who has got it all together.  Or if she doesn't, you'd never know because she sure does seem to pull off parties with ease and finesse.  And I have the pictures to prove it. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I shared the idea of draping plastic tablecloths on your ceiling to add festive color to your room?  Here they are, Mardi Gras style, in green, purple, and gold.  One of the first things you saw as you came through the door, it certainly said, "Let's get this party started!" Mardi Gras Ceiling Tablecloth Decorations Victoria also created a fabulous "mask and bead" board to display Mardi Gras accessories for guests to wear upon arrival.  After draping fabric across an inexpensive paneling board bought at Home Depot (you can hot glue-gun or staple the material in the back), she then used double-sided tape and hooks to hold the masks and beads.  Functional (albeit temporary) art -- my favorite!Mardi Gras Mask and Bead Display Doors (2) I can see similar approaches for other celebrations, with different color schemes and party favors (e.g., New Year's party hats/horns, Santa hats/reindeer antlers, Hawaiian leis, Halloween masks). I could share many photos to make all of you "wish you were here," but I will limit it to just a few more so that you can get the flavor of this party and steal some ideas to replicate or alter when left to your own devices. Dessert AreaDifferent angle of table centerpiece     What did you do for Mardi Gras or Valentine's Day this year?  Party photos, crafts, or great recipes?  Victoria shared her secret(s).  Now you share yours!

It’s a piece of cake

This pre-Valentine's Day post is dedicated to my sweet son, Jack, who suffers from severe food allergies.   vday cupcake If any of you suffer from food allergies or know someone who does, finding good SAFE recipes can be a nightmare.  And the more ingredient exclusions you have, the harder it gets.  Appropriate baked goods can be particularly difficult to find or make due to the fact that they frequently contain the most-common food allergens -- milk, wheat, eggs, and nuts. My son suffers from two life-threatening allergies -- eggs and nuts.  Luckily, he is a great sport and has been my willing guinea pig over the years in trying "alternative" recipes with many deviations or substitutions.  One super-simple cake recipe we use is good enough for anyone, regardless of whether you have food allergies, and may be especially appreciated by busy parents like me.
Take a store-bought cake mix* and add 12 ounces of soft drink (e.g., a can or small bottle).  No other ingredients required.  Bake according to the directions on the box.
That's it!  No eggs, no milk, no oil.  The result is a very moist, delicious cake (or cupcakes), whipped up in a jiffy!  You can use any type of cake mix* and any type of soda, even diet -- with no diet after-taste. 🙂 While it may not win awards for "most decadent cake of the year"... or be praised for its all-natural ingredients or old-fashioned homeade preparation, it sure works well for me and my family, as well as many friends who have followed suit. Happy easy baking -- without an Easy-Bake Oven -- especially as we head into Valentine's Week! 🙂 --------------------------------------- *For those suffering from or cooking for those with food allergies, please read the cake box ingredients to ensure that the cake mix itself does not contain the offending allergen ingredients.      

It’s still rack-n-roll to me

Sometimes I think about all those people out there with their nifty little "craft rooms" and "gift-wrap stations," largely commercialized by the Martha Stewarts of the world.  And sometimes -- in my head -- I secretly make fun of them, telling myself that it is all just gratuitous luxury for people with too much time and money on their hands.  (But also secretly -- I'm just plain jealous!) 🙂 So while I'm working my way up to admitting that I want this... and figuring out a way to make it happen, I've discovered a great way to house rolls of wrapping paper in a very simple and inexpensive way -- via free-standing wine racks.

Wine rack for wrapping paper

Okay, I know what you're thinking.  Didn't this chic JUST talk about wine racks in one of her last posts -- for storing rolled magazines?  Why yes, yes I did.  Who knew how much one could be inspired by wine... er... wine racks. 🙂 This idea actually came to me a while back, when I moved into a house with this lovely rack sitting in a closet.  (Sadly), I didn't have nearly enough wine bottles to fill it, so I started thinking of ways to repurpose it. Prior to using the wine rack for my wrapping paper, I stored my rolls in horizontal plastic bins and containers -- one for the long rolls... one for the short rolls... one for Christmas... one for birthdays.  Before I knew it, I was laden with bins... or is that bin-laden?  (Okay, bad joke. :-)) Regardless, you get the picture.  This was taking up a lot of space, bin-wise, and some of the rolls were just standing against my closet walls -- anxious to fall out whenever I opened the door. Plus, whenever I wanted to find a roll, I would have to pull out all the bins, open each one, and do a seek-and-find.  This did not bode well for my impatient temperament. So I found peace in marrying the practical with the pretty and using my wine rack for my wrapping paper rolls -- standing them upright.  Now the rack sits in my finished basement, next to a counter, and allows me to easily store and see what I have, making quick work for my wrapping projects. While I may continue to secretly dream of having a glorious craft room, all pimped out with various crafting stations, multi-tiered shelving, and proper task-lighting, I can get some comfort in using my repurposed wine rack.  Oh... and drinking wine. 🙂    

Win, place(mat) and show!

Sometimes you get lucky when you're out shopping, and tonight was one of those nights. I found an unexpected bargain at Big Lots with these great rectangular jute placemats for $4 each.  Neutral with an interesting texture, jute placemats are a great way to add casual sophistication to your dinner table.  Think of how pretty your colorful or even white dinnerware and napkins will look against these! jute placemats Compare with similar products from the likes of Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, and other trendy home decor stores, and you will find prices ranging from $10 (good sale) to $20 apiece. They seem to be excellent quality and are even well-bound around the edges. Get 'em while supplies last!  (And send me pictures once you dress your table. :-))

As good as gold

Yellow is a fabulous color. Energetic, warm, fun.  But you may not feel comfortable wearing it because you think it's too bold.  Or maybe you love the color but don't like to wear it near your face if it doesn't complement your skin tone.  If either is the case, consider incorporating the color into your wardrobe through skirts or pants. yellow skirt Many yellows, or golds/mustards, can act as a semi-neutral when paired with other colors.  Although pigment-rich, it is highly versatile in its ability to pair with other shades and is also a color which is easy to dress up or down.  Whether wool in winter or a silk or cotton-blend in the warmer months, it can be a new staple in your wardrobe which goes a long way -- and, thus, is a good investment. What can you mix with it?  White t-shirts or blouses.... navy or brown blazers... patterned shirts with a variety of colors...  a jean jacket.  What about a grey, ivory or black sweater?  Even maroon or turquoise can be a great complement as long as you choose the right hue.  If you want to play it safe, keep the top very neutral and add a colorful necklace, scarf, or shoes. GM6 - mustard jeansman with mustard pants           Finding this color in the stores is particularly easy right now, since it's been trending this season.  Discount department stores, such as Old Navy and Target, have plenty of styles from which to choose, including skinny jeans, corduroys, and pencil skirts. It's also a great time to get a near end-of-season bargain with wool.  I recently bought a designer mustard wool skirt on clearance for $15 at TJ Maxx.  Cha-ching! So lose the excuse that you're not young enough, confident enough, or too "creatively challenged" to wear this lovely color.  It can be as cool or as classic as you style it.  Make it work for YOU! --------------------------------------------- Photo credits:  Three skirt ensembles from Polyvore.  Polka-dot blouse and yellow pants from Delusions of Grandeur.  Dark denim jacket and mustard pants compliments of Man Up Style.