home, stuff I like

Stuff I Like: Sink-Side Edition

November 15, 2015

Let’s face it. Crapshifting isn’t at the top of most of our lists of fun things to do. That doesn’t mean, however, we can’t try to sprinkle a pinch of enjoyment into it.

Wait. Enjoyment? Yes! For each of us it may be a little different, but for me, it’s cranking up my jam and wiggling around the house until things are spit spot (and maybe count it as my workout at the same time). It also includes using some of my favorite products to get the job done once, done well. And smelling lovely. Here’s what I keep sinkside to get the job done!

First, all the white powdery goodness in pretty glass containers (corraled in the tray we just made together last week):

IMG_0913 On the far left, this magical concoction:

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 3.09.16 PM In my neck of the woods we have hard water. Like, rock hard. If we’re not careful, we can etch our glasses to the point of no return. This additive ensures that everything comes out of the dishwasher spot-free and shiny. Yes, please.

Next, in the short little shaker, salt. That’s right. Plain old garden variety salt. Why at the sink? This is what I use to clean my cast iron skillet. It has all the grit I need to scrape off stuck on junk, but no soap or detergent to “unseason” it. Remember, when it comes to cast iron, you want it to stay slick, so no soap, and no dishwashers. Also, make sure that post salt scrubbing, you heat it up on the stove top to dry it out and prevent rusting. Your skillet will thank you. And you’ll have it for years.

Speaking of dishwashers, I expect a lot from mine. This falls into my “do it once, do it well” philosophy, because who wants to wash dishes that have just been washed? Modern versions of dishwashing detergents do not contain the phosphates of yore (thanks, environment), but I have found one that has a natural version of the phosphates I so desperately miss. Behold!

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 3.09.03 PM

I’m telling you, people, this stuff gets the job done. And a little goes a long way. And you won’t have Greenpeace knocking at your door. Bonus.

Finally, in the shaker that looks like it should be on the table at a local pizzaria with powdered “cheese” in it, this stuff:

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If you, too, have a white porcelain sink, run, don’t walk to your local store to getcha some. Believe me, I’ve tried every powdered cleanser out there, and this is hands down the best by far. It removes those funky gray metallic scratches, rust spots (not that we ever leave things in the sink long enough to rust, ahem), and all manner of food and beverage stains. And it is remarkably gentle (read: not terribly gritty) so you don’t have to fear for the long-term beauty of your porcelain sink. White sink owners, rejoice!

That covers everything in my little tray, but there are a few more things I keep close by to make dish scrubbing a bit easier and aromatic.

For the times you really need some extra umph to get the crust off your cookie sheets, these guys. Your nails will thank you.

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For everyday scrubbing, these babies brighten up the sink and can easily be cleaned and sanitized in the dishwasher:

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I just may ask Santa for one of these to speed the scrubbing process along just a smidge. I’ve been a good girl. Promise.

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Finally, the thing that feels like the biggest splurge at my sink:

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Truthfully it’s only a smidge more expensive than Dawn, but the smell, people. Heaven. And when you’re slaving away at the sink, who doesn’t need a little bit of heaven! I love the Basil and Lavender scents, but just may order up some Citrus and Clove for the holidays.

For hand washing, I like Williams Sonoma‘s Rosemary Mint hand wash and hand lotion (you’ve got to lube up and take care of those dry post-cleaning hands, people), but it looks like they no longer carry it in the store. Good thing I stocked up when they did.


There you have it, friends. A few things I like to keep crapshifting a bit more fun. What would you add to the list? Are there things you love that bring just a bit of spark to your kitchen chores?

craftiness, design ideas, DIY, organization, Tutorials, Uncategorized

Kitchen Design: Tray Chic

November 11, 2015

I don’t know about you, but I just can’t go for the completely minimalist approach when it comes to my kitchen counters. I mean, I like things to be tidy, but I also like the stuff that I use most often to be totally grabable. Having said that, I also live in a dusty clime in a kitchen with dark countertops. That means almost-daily countertop dusting (let’s not get too crazy, people, I said almost daily). And if you’re like me, moving eighty-eleven jillion bottles and jars around every time you need to wipe things down cramps your style, have I got a solution for you. ROUND UP YOUR SCHTUFF. Like, make it easy to move lots of little things all at once by corraling them in a basket, on a tray, or the like. Behold! IMG_0923 Now instead of having to move all these essentials individually, I can scoop them up in one fell swoop. Plus, I like the look and texture of rustic wood/baskets next to the smooth soapstone counters. But where does one come by such a tray? One makes it! Truly, you can! Here’s what I did.

First, I paid a visit to my local hardware store and headed straight to the craft board section. It’s right next to all the crown molding and trim. They come in a variety of sizes, thicknesses, and species, so chances are you’ll find just what floats your boat. I like to think of craft boards as my very own personal wooden legos.

Next, it was time to design. What better way to get the size you need than by laying out what it is you want the tray to hold. IMG_0860 Once I had it laid out, I marked the length of the base of the tray. Oh, and see that little tray peeking from beind? MmmmHmmm. There’s strength in numbers, friends. The more, the merrier.

On to the workshop. Before you begin, make sure your work area is neat, organized, and free of extraneous junk. Ahem.  IMG_0871 Then start cutting your boards to length, starting with the base, IMG_0863 then measure for the shorter sides of the tray, cut, and repeat for the long sides.  IMG_0864

Now that everything is measured and cut, it’s time to assemble.

Before you fire up the brad nailer, run a bead of wood glue along each joint. This will ensure a good, strong final product. If a little squishes out, just wipe up with a damp cloth before it dries.  IMG_0865 Now fire away!

IMG_0869 I used two nails per joint just to make sure it was nice and solid. I also wore sandals in the workshop. Don’t tell OSHA.

Then a quick sanding on the cut ends. No need to sand ad infinitum or to use mitered corners, this is rustic joinery, y’all. I gave my masterpiece a good hour to let the glue set up, then on with a coat of dark wax. IMG_0873 IMG_0874 Not only does it give the tray rich color, but the wax helps waterproof it a bit for its life next to the kitchen sink. Once waxed, I added some handles I found at Hobby Lobby. Not necessary, but added a little je ne sais quoi, no? IMG_0913 Now I have all my schtuff nearby, but in a neat little package for speedy wipedowns.

Up next, what all that white powdery goodness is and how it can make your life easier. Until next time friends, go forth and create! You can do it!

craftiness, stuff I like, travel

Glass Blowing Adventures- SiNaCa Studios Ft. Worth

October 27, 2015

So, this post has been a year in the making. Because it is earth-shattering? Well, no, because life happened and…you know the rest. But my dear friend Mandy reminded me today that I never did tell you all about the fun I got to have at SiNaCa Studios on Magnolia Avenue in Ft. Worth. Fun fact: Si (silicone)+Na (sodium)+Ca (calcium)= glass. So sciency!

First, if you’ve not taken a stroll down Magnolia, then run, don’t walk. So. Much. Fun. Especially in the evenings, which is when we happened to walk by a little converted gas station with bleacher-seating out front. Of course I had to take a look. And they were blowing glass, y’all.


Then I realized that they were letting regular folks like me have a go at it. So I went in, signed my life away, and got started!

First, you’ve got to suit up. My buddy Steve helped me out.


What you want to do next is act like a fool next to a furnace that is about 8 gajillion degrees. Check!


In my mind’s eye I looked like Stevie Nicks. Turns out it was more like a camel-colored Grimace.

After I chose all my colors, we got started. Heating…


PS More Grimace action. And I’m pretty sure open-toed shoes are always the way to go in these settings.

Then blowing…

IMG_1395 And somehow, magically, that molten blob turned into a pumpkin! With a lot of help from my friends, of course.

IMG_1398 Et, voila! A pumpkin!

IMG_1346 SiNaCa isn’t just a fun place to play. It’s an actual non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and teaching a time-honored art form. So go, watch, participate, learn, and have fun, y’all! I sure did!

craftiness, home, organization, stuff I like

Infusing Happy in the Every Day- Closet Transformation

September 22, 2015

We all have one. A closet full of stuff we use on a regular basis. In my case, it sits under the staircase. I’m in and out of this space about a jillion times each day, and let me tell you, friends, it was nothing to look at. Behold!

IMG_0779 I did clean it out before taking this photo. You’re welcome. It was a hot mess. The trouble was, even after cleaning it out, it was still a hot mess. I mean, look at those poor walls. Y’all know I preach the gospel of paint, but even the magic of paint wasn’t enough to cover over the multitude of sins lurking on those walls.

When your go-to solution isn’t an option, what’s a girl to do? You sit on your side porch with a cup of coffee and mull over your options, that’s what.


I figured since paint was out, I needed something a little more stout to cover over the pits and imperfections of the walls. Wallpaper, of course! But even for a small area, I calculated that I’d be spending a small fortune on enough paper to cover all the slants and angles. And as much as I wanted some happy in there, I wanted happy on a budget. Next I considered rolls of wrapping paper, but never found anything that I loved. And to go to all that trouble, I wanted to love it.

As I stood in the stationery aisle of Tar-jay racking my brains, I saw some tablecloths on clearance. Fabric! Of course! I wandered the domestics area for a bit, looking at tablecloths, sheets, and shower curtains. That’s usually my go-to for wide swaths of fabric, but again, I didn’t find anything I loved.

I headed over to my local fabric store, but figured it would be futile, since my criteria was wide, happy, and cheap. I’d need about 6 or 7 yards to cover the walls. I wasn’t optimistic about the cheap part. As I perused the bargain section, I did find something that caught my eye…


Wide? Check! Happy? Double check! Cheap? The jury was still out on that one, as this seemed to be the only bolt of fabric in the place without a tag. Turns out, it ended being on super-sale for only $3 per yard. Score! I took all they had (6 yards) and peeled out of the parking lot like a criminal before they realized I’d pretty much just stolen all that happy.

Because it was 54″ wide, I didn’t even have to seam anything together. Just me, my happy fabric, and a staple gun. Before I knew it, I had one wall covered. Easy peasy!


My apologies for the sub-par photos, friends. This little spot is a bit tricky to capture. Oh, and if you’re wondering, that’s a giant forced air unit thingy. Right smack dab in the middle of my storage. That has a filter that needs to be changed regularly (so I have to keep the floor pretty clear for ease of changing filters-bummer). It also doubles as my scissor perch during this project. Bonus.

Next I worked on the side walls, cutting around the sprinkler control panels as I went, you know, like you do (weirdest closet contents ever).


I just folded the top edges of the raw fabric under and stapled away. Perfection? No, but I figured no one would be scrutinizing my stapling skills inside of a random closet. And if they do, we all have bigger problems.

Did I mention one of the criteria of this project was cheap? As much as I wanted this space to look like a glossy page out of Real Simple, I challenged myself to only use stuff I had on hand (minus the happy fabric) to put this space together. I mean, I do want a little extra happy, but didn’t want to break the bank doing so. Plus, I love a good challenge.

The hubs installed some wooden shelving we yanked out of the garage, and I started digging through the baskets and containers we already had to get this space ship-shape. Et voila!

IMG_0835 IMG_0841  Crummy photos, yes, but let me tell you, happiness abounds! I can see everthing I have on hand, and the bright green makes me happy! Mission accomplished. It may seem a bit excessive to go to such lengths for something that very few see, but if you are the one that sees it jillions of times each day, I think it’s worth the effort. Do you have a space that could use a little happy, friends? Do tell! Better yet, do photograph!!!

beauty, deliciousness, home, stuff I like

Even More Stuff I Like: Super Random Edition

September 6, 2015

Happy Labor Day, dear readers! I do hope this day finds you relaxing and enjoying the onset of Fall. The cool temperatures haven’t quite made it to our neck of the woods, but I feel sure they are just around the corner. Right? Right!?! In the mean time, here is a random collection of stuff I’ve been loving lately.

First, these lovelies…

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 9.58.06 AM

IMG_0672 I’m, tellin’ ya, it’s almost like wearing by ballet shoes of yore. Like, way yore, y’all. These little slippers by Tieks come in a jillion fun colors and are buttery soft. I wear anywhere from a size 7.5 to an 8, and the 8 was just right. They don’t offer much in the way of support, but they are really well made and feel like a whisper. The pop of turquoise on the soles is a fun bonus. They are a bit pricey, but I chose Ballerina Pink as a somewhat-neutral so that I could wear them with just about anything. And I have. A lot. Santa just may need to bring a pair in patent leather red.


Next, this little miracle…

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 9.57.56 AM

Mister Lash Booster by Givenchy. One of the nasty side effects of a drug I take for my cranky joints is minor hair loss. Newsflash, eyelashes are actually hair. I’ve struggled a bit to hang on to mine, so this product has been a life (or lash) saver. There are lots of lash enhancers out there, and some really do work wonders, but they can be pretty pricey, too. This little gem is a gel that does a fantastic job of making my lashes noticably longer and thicker. And it only sets you back $31. It does take a couple of weeks to see results, but it’s certainly worth the wait. Well done on all fronts, Givenchy. My lashes and I thank you.

And for your eating pleasure…

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 9.51.30 AM

I have to say, I’m not really a yogurt person, but this stuff is fantastic. I’ve not tried the Strawberry Rhubarb flavor (I just liked the color of the label), but the peach, mango, blueberry, and raspberry are stellar. It’s rich, creamy, delicious, and packed with all manner of goodness like calcium, protein, and probiotics. Pop this baby open, throw on a handfull of granola, and you are out the door with a healthy and yummy breakfast on the go. Pure goodness, y’all. Thanks, Noosa!

Now that we are in the kitchen, check out these little nifties…

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 9.57.43 AM

You are likely thinking, “That’s just a big silicone pad that looks like a poppy.” And you’d be right. Except that this silicone pad has magic powers. It can, with no effort at all, cover and seal any glass or plastic bowl with ease. And it can go in the fridge. Or the freezer. Or the oven. Y’all, I just may never use plastic wrap again! They come in a variety of sizes and designs (like grape leaves, lily pads, and other botanical treasures) to fit your bowls, cups, and color preferences. I found mine in a local shop, but you can also find them here. My life will never be the same.

On to homekeeping. If you’re going to have to spray junk around to clean up life’s little messes, it may as well smell spectacular. Enter this…

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 9.58.36 AM

Will it kill salmonella, e. coli, and other various critters? I’m not sure, but for your basic cleaning, this stuff is great. Not only does it cut the grime, the Lime + Sea Salt scent is divine. Win-win. In fact, just after wiping down the appliances, I found a friend of mine sniffing around my kitchen to figure out what smelled so good. Mmmmmmmmm…Method.

And while we’re talking about olfactory delights, meet my all-time favorite non-holiday candle…

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 9.58.24 AM

That’s right, Capri Blue’s Blue Jean scent. I don’t think it smells in any way like blue jeans, but whatevs. It’s lovely. There are a couple of local shops here that carry it on a limited basis, but look here if you have trouble finding it. You won’t be sorry. And the one-wick pot shown above is powerful enough to scent my entire first floor. Bonus.

Finally, I wanted to share something that’s been on my heart and all over the news. As much as I love little delights that make life a little more fun, beautiful, or sweet-smelling, that is not the end-all-be-all of what I want to be about. Right now I am struggling with the plight of Syrian refugees in other parts of the world. I want to help, but short of gathering supplies and hopping on a plane (not in the budget or schedule right now), what can a girl in the states do? I’ve done some research and it seems donations to tried-and-true organizations are the way to go. And I don’t know why I didn’t start here, but the International Rescue Committee has been relocating and rebuilding lives all over the globe since the 1930s. In fact, there is a chapter right here in my city that helped many of my African students and their families begin anew. I’ve seen their mission lived out. I’ve seen how they help rebuild lives. They are for real, y’all, and I continue to be humbled by all the ways they serve those that find themselves without hope. As tempting as it is to donate and run, I’m working on ways our family can become more mindful of the situation. I don’t have the answer just yet, but I’m working on it.

In the mean time, hug your people, love those around you, and look for the beauty of this world. And pray for the darkness that lurks. May we be light, salt, and a helping hand.