OUR PATIO STENCILED FLOOR

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I've been working hard to make our screened in porch into a livable outdoor space this summer. The patio floor was a disaster before I started this makeover, you can see before pics in this post here, but now it has been cleaned, prepped and painted a pretty beige/grey paint color from Valspar. I painted the floors and it was a huge improvement, but I really felt it needed a bigger pop. The neutral color was too neutral for me, it just didn't look polished or finished to me. I absolutely love the look of cement tile, but they are insanely expensive (thousands) to purchase/install and I am just not willing to spend that kind of money on this project! Not wanting to give up the look of tiles, I decided a floor stencil would be a fun alternative to add some design to the porch without breaking the bank. The fun thing about this stencil is that I actually created the stencil from scratch, so this turned out to be an incredibly budget friendly upgrade. The stencil cost me about 25 dollars to make (vs about 45 dollars to have a stencil made of the same size or 80 dollars for a production size larger stencil with repeating patterns). The chalk paint and stencil were under 20 dollars at the craft store. The project is mainly an investment of time. The stenciling took me about 4 hours over two days, and it was a PITA honestly. But, the floor came out exactly like I imagined and I'm obsessed! It really brighten up our patio and adds a bit of character and fun. What do you think??

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A MINI PATIO MAKEOVER WITH VALSPAR

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I am so excited to partner with Valspar to makeover our cute little screened in back patio that I never paid much attention to until recently. This is most likely because it was covered in old cardboard boxes, dust and grime. I shuddered at the creepy crawlies living under those boxes and just simply put the room out of my mind. This Spring, I felt a renewed interest in this room, mostly because I love entertaining in the backyard and last year, the mosquitos proved too much to make this dream a reality. We had people over a few times and had to end the nights both times due to mosqutios at the end of the night. Enter, screened in patio. 

Here is the disgusting disaster that we started with: You wanna know why I had to take this picture through the screen door? Because I was terrified of going in there.

I cleared this patio out in a few hours (with the help of a shovel so I didn't have to touch anything gross). After throwing away pretty much everything in there, sweeping the floor, and pressure washing the concrete, it looked like this.

We took out the screens, took them to the hardware store to be replaced and popped them back in. After fixing the screens, repairing the cracked concrete and painting the concrete, and adding some patio furniture on sale at Home Depot, our patio resembled this.

I spent a few hours patching the patio. We bought fast setting concrete and Lowe's and just used YouTube as my teacher. It worked well enough and was pretty easy. If you have smaller cracks than we did, you'd be able to easily patch them yourself. We had big patches of completely uneven concrete, as well as cracks, so I found even-ing out the concrete rather time consuming and somewhat frustrating. It didn't come out completely even. Oh well, I did the best I could.

We were then ready to paint the concrete. I used Valspar Porch & Floor Paint in the color Villa Grey. I also etched with Valspar Fast Prep. Etching is easy and (kind of) and pretty fun actually! I'm not an expert in this by any means, so I won't explain in depth how to do it, but basically you water down the patio with a hose, pour the etching fluid into a plastic can and then sprinkle it all over the porch. Then you use a scrub brush to really clean the patio, then rinse off the Fast Prep with the hose! There are helpful videos from Valspar on how to use this project, it works really well and prepared the concrete to be painted.  You have to let the Fast Prep dry for at least 24 hours. I waited about that long, I was eager to get the project going so I didn't wait any longer.

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I used two coats of Valspar's Latex Porch & Floor paint, and honestly, I probably could have used three. I have some other ideas for the third layer actually, I want to stencil a fun pattern all over the floor and seal it with a clear sealant. I used a roller from Lowe's and a roller extender for the painting. I actually poured the paint right onto the floor when it was time, rather than using a paint tray. Pouring the paint directly on the floor worked totally fine and I would totally recommend this method! I feel like it sped the process up a bit, too.  I did not seal the floor with anything (yet) and I've actually read mixed reviews about applying a sealant. Once I stencil the floor, I think I'll probably apply a Varathane floor sealant to protect my design. Until then, I'm just enjoying the clean simplicity of our newly painted floor!

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Here is how our patio turned out after the paint! It's definitely heading in the right direction, right?! I'm so excited to keep working on the patio this summer, and I can't wait to fully furnish and style the room! Not to mention the summer parties! I will say though, this has turned out to be a bigger project than I originally thought. With all the repairing, cleaning, prepping, painting and soon stenciling and sealing as well as decorating...This project may occupy a few of my early summer weekends before I can call it finished! Have you ever taken on something like this? How did it turn out? Are you as obsessed with outdoor space as I am? Let me know in the comments!

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Thank you to Valspar for sponsoring this post.

 

 

CRYSTAL'S PINK, GOLD AND FLORAL BRIDAL SHOWER

DIY Bridal Shower

Last weekend, my mom and I put together (with the crucial assistance of some family friends) a bridal shower for my recently engaged big sister. The shower was in our hometown and everything came together nicely! The turnout was perfect- a wonderful group of people from our childhood as well as family members still in Michigan, who we rarely get to see. My sister and I had the absolute best time decorating, playing the games, and drinking champagne. The two of us see each other very rarely that any time we spend together ends up being a hilarious, blast.

The pretty pink room was perfect for our floral themed shower! With real flowers punctuating our balloon creations, the decor was simple, festive, and (semi) easy to throw together right before the party!

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Our coffee and champagne bar was a pretty touch. I spent most of the time on the champagne side drinking mimosas and various tropical juices, but the crowd seemed to really enjoy the coffee being served throughout the party. Before the party started during the decorating session, things got a little tense with the time crunch and so many balloons to blow up. Crystal and I both decided that it was the perfect time for us to pop open a bottle of champagne just for the two of us...our moods quickly improved and we soldiered on with the set up.

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The food spread came together nicely. While the initial thought was that the party would be appetizers mainly - there ended up being so much food! It was definitely an "I hope you didn't eat lunch or plan on eating dinner after this," type situation. Not complaining though, the food was delicious, The sandwiches were made at a local shop and we spent the night before cutting up fruit, organizing vegetables, and making a delicious pasta salad. I wish I had gotten close up shots of the fruit trays because the arrangements were straight up professional status.

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Gold and Floral were accented throughout- which is absolutely perfect for the bride. If I could pick two words to describe the decor in her room, I would definitely pick "gold" and "floral." The desserts were large and yummy, picked up from this cute little boutique bakery in Detroit. 

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We played a few games (Crystal's favorite) at the shower and I've never enjoyed bridal games so much! It might be because I got to lead one of the games and insert all my own commentary... or maybe because I know her the best so I got first pick of the prizes. Either way, I was surprised at how much fun everyone had during the games, getting really competitive and saying funny stuff. At one point, a sweet relative, called the three of us (mom, sister, and me) gangsters...I still don't really know what that was about. Something to do with my knowing most of the answers, I think.

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Most of the pre-party set up (for crystal and I at least) was spent on balloons. Do not underestimate just how annoying it is to hand tie 30 helium filled balloons. We created a few balloon clusters (easy ones- no tools required) just using a twist and tie method, and occasional  ribbon to keep the clusters together. A few of the balloons were just floating on the ceiling in the main dining room, mostly because we thought it looked cuter than having too many ribbons dangling.

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We also created a few balloon bouquet's like this one to tie in strategic places...and for pictures, of course!

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She got this STUNNING vase from Tiffany's. That's what that smile is all about...

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Everything came together beautifully, despite moments of tension and stress leading up to the party (sometimes inevitable, right?) but we could not have imagined a more fun way to spend a slow sunday, celebrating love with family and friends and my lovely sister who I rarely get to see! Do you love showers? What's your favorite activity? I've always loved showers of any kind (even baby ones)! I love a good excuse to get dressed up with friends and celebrate!!

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The BEST AFFORDABLE ARTWORK FROM MINTED

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Wall art is one of those beautiful things that can totally transform a room.  As much as I love creating my own art, I also love decorating my walls with professional abstract art and prints. I'm always searching for affordable, unique pieces for my home and whatever space I'm decorating. 

Minted is one of my absolute favorite websites for SO many different things. They have beautiful invitations, art, photography, personal stationery, holiday cards, whatever you could want! In my opinion, this is THE place to find affordable, unique art, and they have some of the best reasonably priced prints out there. You could easily spend hours perusing the gorgeous options so I've offered you a head start. Here are a few of my favorites.

1. I love this cactus print. It's so fun and quirky. I can easily picture it in so many different rooms!

2. This abstract piece will fancy up any room. I'm thinking bathroom? I don't know, my bathroom definitely needs a hefty dose of pretty.

3. I can't get enough of this bright, colorful, inspiring piece. It makes me want to abandon this cold, snowy city and head to South America stat.

4. Dreaming of vacationing in the coast of Italy. Obsessed with this view. 

5. I can't stop staring at this. It's so simple but feels so poignant to me. 

6. Abstract art is my favorite. I love how simple but stunning these colors are together in this gold, shimmery piece.

7. This pineapple print, because, come on. Could not be any cuter. And also, it's called "Pining for Pineapple." Perfection.

8. This print called Tiles of Portugal just makes me happy. I've never been to Portugal, but this is how I've imagined it.

9. Give me a pop of color and I'm good. LOVE this print.

10. Love the retro vibes of this beach print. I'm thinking...kitchen?

11. I cannot get enough of pretty beach prints.

Have you ever ordered from Minted? What are your favorite things to buy there?

MY FAVORITE EVERYDAY MAKEUP PRODUCTS

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This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may make a small commission if you use my links to purchase any of the discussed products. Find out more here

I love makeup (who doesn't?!) and I whole-heartedly believe in the power of it. Makeup is such a fun way to enhance natural beauty, not to mention a fun way to mix up your everyday looks. Granted, you guys, I'm not like a glamour queen and I admittedly do not wear makeup to work, lounging around the house or grocery shopping. However, I always wear makeup out at night, to dinner, out with friends, and when I want to look extra put together. I always do the same steps, and typically just vary the amount depending on occasion.

Without further ado, here is what I'm currently using! And every single product is amazing in its own way. I've been using some of these for years.

Prep + Prime

 I always wash, moisturize (Wait 5 minutes) then prime. I mix these products up frequently depending on what I have in my bathroom. I LOVE Veil Mineral Primer, but it's sort of expensive and I haven't felt like refilling mine in recent months. However, that primer is totally awesome and will make your skin look FLAWLESS. Currently, I'm using 6 dollar Nivea Men's Aftershave as primer, and it works fine. Some beauty bloggers swear by it...In my opinion, it is a suitable substitute but nothing amazing.  

Concealer

I have permanent dark circles under my eyes so I love concealer. I've tried TONS and my current love is Maybelline Fit Me Concealer, mainly because it's cheap and it works. There are obviously higher end concealers that are really nice but I just can't justify buying expensive concealer. The drugstore ones work fine. I also love Maybelline Instant Age Rewind concealer but I recently set out to find a less expensive alternative because it's like 13 bucks at CVS and I don't always feel like spending that (I'm so cheap you guys!! I hate spending money on expensive makeup but sometimes I still do.)

Foundation

Here is where I'm willing to splurge. I'm currently using Makeup Forever Ultra HD Foundation stick and I could not be more obsessed. It's so fun to apply and makes my skin look totally airbrushed. There have been periods in my life where I've custom mixed two shades to create my perfect foundation, but these days I'm all about a quick and pretty makeup routine and MUFE color selections are perfect for me. 

Powder

I set my foundation/concealer with MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural. This product is beyond amazing and I'm not giving it up anytime soon. Running out of a product usually means beginning to search for a cheaper alternative, but not with this. I use it as a pressed powder and it keeps my skin matte.

Blush

Blush is probably my second favorite beauty product behind lipstick. Blush can single-handedly change your entire look and brighten your face up immediately. My blush choices are always Nars. I can't help it!! They are so perfect and gorgeous. I've wasted so much money buying cheaper blushes and I always end up hating them. I can't find a way around it, Nars makes the most gorgeous, universally flattering blushes and I need them. I have owned Orgasm, Super Orgasm, Seduction and Lovejoy. Currently I use Lovejoy on the apples of my cheeks and Seduction to contour.

highlighter

 I use Mary-Lou Manizer by The Balm daily and for extra glow I use the most gorgeous product ever created by MAC. It's called Pro Studio Finish Powder in Gold. You guys, I was so desperate for this product I begged my sister who was living in LA at the time to drive to the MAC Pro store and buy it for me and send it (it was only available at MAC Pro stores and they only exist in NYC and LA--at least they used to). She complied and I've been obsessed for years. I don't know if it's still available, however, MAC makes other great highlighters and The Balm highlighter that I mentioned is a reasonable substitute. I don't typically contour but I do highlight daily. Who doesn't want to look like they're glowing? When I first received my MAC powder, I slathered it on my face. I was told by my sister that I "looked like an Oscar." I actually think she was offering a compliment, but, since then, I do use a much lighter hand with it and it always looks so, so pretty.

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Mascara

Mascara changes depending on what I have available. I seek volume over length so whenever I find an appropriate mascara, I use it til it's up and then move on. I don't have any strong favorites unfortunately, but I'm still looking. Currently I'm using Smashbox Mascara that I received as a sample followed by Loreal Voluminous Carbon Black. They are suitable for now and achieve the thick volume that I love.

Lipstick

I'm very picky about lipstick and therefore, my choice is typically MAC. I know, I know, but their Retro Matte lipsticks are my obsession. Pretty much all I wear. That and Glossier balm/tint in Jam. I don't like ANY shine when it comes to lipstick, I'm not into gloss, balm, or anything else. Matte lipstick or bust. The MAC Retro Matte lipsticks are so, so matte and pretty. Colors I love include Ruby Woo, Flat Out Fabulous, and Have Your Cake. I just ordered a few more colors so hopefully more favorites to be added soon.

Finish

The last product in my makeup routine is a setting spray by MAC. It's called Fix +  and I love how it finishes my makeup and makes it last all night. It also gives off a very pretty glow, makes me look dewey but not oily. Just a few sprays and you're good to go.

 

That's it, those are my everyday favorites! What do you guys think? Any awesome products I'm missing? Or Mascara recommendations with massive volume? Tell me in the comments!

HOW I MADE FRIENDS IN A BRAND NEW CITY

I recently moved across the country to South Carolina for work. The biggest challenges I faced were, working at what turned out to be an insanely stressful job, and making good friends like I had left behind. There are many qualities that I look for in girlfriends, with consistency and reliability being at the top of my list. Finding good friends that will go to weekday happy hours with me, get manicures on saturday mornings or skype nightly to discuss our days is not an easy feat.

 The relocation to South Carolina was temporary, with the possibility of staying longer, or continuing to travel elsewhere. The problem with knowing you will be only be in a place for a short time, is finding motivation to put in the necessary effort. It's easy to cop the excuse "I'm leaving soon anyway so what does this matter?" You sort of have to push past this feeling if you want to thrive and not end up spending every Friday and Saturday night home alone.

During my first weeks living there, I was determined to make new friends and thrive at the friendship game. I joined meetup groups, dabbled in online friend apps and was as friendly as I could be to co-workers and fellow travelers. I did not want to be wandering the streets of Columbia, friendless and sad. There's only so many solo,  lip-synching dance parties you can have in your bedroom, ya know?

When it came to making friends in the beginning weeks of living in Columbia, some things worked well, some things did not. The best concrete ways to make friends in a new city when you know absolutely NO ONE are below. I moved there not knowing a soul. Granted, if you have a friend of a friend you can connect with, or a friend's cousin lives in the area and your friend offers to connect you two, take them up on it. But, if those opportunities are not there for you, here are the things I tried. Keep in mind I'm semi- reserved, slow to warm up, thrive in one-on-one deep conversations over the bustling, yelling over each vibes of a big group. I tried the routes I was most comfortable with.

Bumble BFF

Bumble BFF (originally a dating site/app that has since added a feature geared towards making new girlfriends) hands down worked the best for me. You just download the app, toggle the option to "BFF" instead of "dating" and start swiping. It's basically a tinder for friendships.

I went on multiple "lady dates" and they were all great. I had no problem getting past the "weirdness" of finding girlfriends through an app. To me, it was totally normal, easy and fun. For those that can't get past the "online girl dating" game, this may not be successful for you. All of my close friends in Columbia were found through this app. During my early weeks in Columbia when I went out multiple times per week, it was with various bumble friends. In fact, the bumble girl friend world is so small, that frequently the girls I would meet up with knew of my other friends, or were talking to them on the app. We all met up for dinner/drinks one night and it was really fun. Plus, the "friends of friends" group meetup allowed the opportunity for me to connect with another girl who was no longer using the app. I liked her immediately and we later hung out one-on-one. Basically, this app is a lifesaver. I would maybe even use it in a city where I already have girlfriends. After all, the more the merrier, right?!

Meetup groups

Before actually moving, I signed up for Meetup. Meetup is an online community (app/website) geared towards meeting people with similar interests. There are meetups for everything from salsa dancing lovers to yoga enthusiasts. I joined every group in sight and resolved to go to an event as soon as I arrived in Columbia and really put myself out there. Long story short, I never met up in a single group or attended any events. Once I had a few girlfriends through Bumble, I didn't feel the need to go to these groups solo. If I were to do it again, I would absolutely take advantage of some of the fun meetup offerings, and take some of my bumble friends with me too! I'm including this because I have a friend who has sworn by meetup as a way to meet new people. She moved to Rochester knowing no one, and really put herself out there and made most of her friends through this app/site. It's definitely worth a try.

Coworkers

This one takes time. At my past position, I found that it took me many months, even years, to become good friends with my old co-workers. I approached my new unit and co-workers knowing that making good friends at work, at least for me, takes more than three months. It certainly did take more than a few weeks, but not the entire three months. Towards the end of my three months, I started to finally feel like I could call some of my co-workers friends. When you're only moving somewhere temporarily though, you simply don't have time to wait this long. The best tip for making friends with co-workers is saying yes to every. single. invite. Whether or not you feel like it, are tired, or whatever other excuse you come up with. If co-workers invite you to a game, a party, out for drinks, or over for pizza making night, just go. Sometimes the timing was just bad and I couldn't take advantage of this tip, knowing that I needed to. Don't make my mistake. Be brave and show up.

Persevere,and just like dating, do not take rejection personally. The right ones will stick.

Have you guys tried Bumble BFF or Meetup?! What were your experiences? What other tips do you have for making friends without knowing anyone?? Tell me in the comments!

DIY FIG AND SANDALWOOD SOY CANDLES

DIY easy soy candles that smell like christmas

This post may contain affiliate links. Find out more here.

'Tis the season for festive decor and cozy evenings cuddled up around the fire (or TV watching Netflix). Either way, I love creating a warm and inviting space in my home, and I cannot get enough of delicious smelling candles burning in my bedroom/living room. I typically burn them for hours on end, and, while they do create the perfect ambiance, extended candle burning leads to candle purchasing sooner. While I love fancy French candles as much as the next girl, I can't afford to always have Baies or Fig burning in my living room.  These DIY fancy french candles (sort of) are budget friendly and super easy. Seriously, they can be made in under 30 minutes easy.

DIY rustic holiday inspired soy candles

 My solution to this dilemma is to create my own Fig + Sandalwood Soy candles. The smell combinations are inspired by scents I already own, (an added layer of safety to ensure this project comes out smelling lovely).

 I've never made my own candles before (it's about time), so if I can successfully make these, so can you! Turns out, making your own delicious smelling candles is SUPER easy and quick too.

what you need:

1. Soy flakes like these

2. Receptacle for the candles. I used these amber jars.

3. Essential Oils. I used this Sandalwood EO and this Amber as well as a Fig essential oil.

4. Candle wicks. I bought these ones.

5. I wanted the rustic feel to translate all the way down to the labels. So, to create the labels, I bought these Kraft labels.

how to do this:

1.  Measure your soy wax flakes into the jar or container you've chosen, leaving approximately an inch at the top. Do this measuring process twice (or double the amount) to figure out the right amount of total soy flakes, because soy reduces by half as it melts. Once measured,  pour the flakes into a microwaveable plastic container and heat for four minutes (but check periodically).

2. While the soy flakes are melting, prepare your amber glass jars (or whatever you're using) by setting the candle wick in the bottom and using a pencil or clothespin to hold the wick straight up.

DIY Fig and Sandalwood Soy candles that are super easy and fun!

3. Once melted, let the wax cool down a bit (not solidify though) and add the essential oil fragrances. I like my candles to be relatively strong so I added about 60 drops total to the candle. You could defineitely add more than this, my candles didn't come out smelling super strong and I wanted them to be!

4. Pour your candle solution into the jars. Let them set for about a day before you try to use them. Trim the wicks to 1 inch.

That's it! These candles turned out AMAZING and smell so, so good. I can't wait to make more, maybe even pass them out as gifts! Who's ready to try to make their own soy candles at home? How did they turn out? I'd love to hear your feedback!

DIY soy candles