My not so green thumb

I have a confession. When it comes to indoor plants, I don’t not have a green thumb. Instead it’s brown. I can grow plants in the garden and in pots outside, but potted plants inside always die on me:

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The plants inside last about six months before they die. I'm pretty sure this orchid is dead. Its leaves are still green but shortly after we bought it, all of its petals fell off.

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I really want to add some more indoor (Zoey approved) plants in our house, but I’m afraid to spend much money on it because I worry they will die. I’m not very good at remembering to water the plants and once I do water them, it’s too late. I need to do some research to find out if there are really hearty indoor plants that are safe for cats.

I’ll keep you posted and if anyone has any idea, please let now.

Green Living

BJ and I try to do our part to try to make our slice of the world a little greener. A few months ago, I put together a list of how BJ and I “Go Green” for an initiative at work.

Here is our list of what we do to save energy, reuse items and recycle:

  •  Recycle glass and aluminum cans
  • Use coupons on my cell phone to avoid printing them.
  • Use fluorescent and led light bulbs in our house.
  • Use led tealights and instead of burning tealight candles and throwing away the metal container.
  • Keep our thermostat higher in the summer (76) and cooler in the winter (68).
  • Open our windows in the fall and spring and use the house fan instead of running air conditioning or heat.
  • Use reusable cloth bags at the grocery store (FIY: Target gives you 5 cents for every reusable bag you use).
  • Keep our fish tank lights on a timer so they are off during the day until we get home.
  • Buy milk in glass bottles and return the bottles to the store.
  • Cook with an induction cooktop which is more efficient than gas or electric.
  • Switched many of our bills to paperless statements.
  • Recycle motor oil from oil changes on our cars.
  • Our cat has an automatic water fountain that continuously runs cool water for her. It uses electricity to run, but we do not have to dump out her water as often and she always has fresh filtered cold water.
  • When we forget our reusable bags, I reuse the plastic bags from the grocery store for cleaning our cat’s litter box.
  • Our kitchen appliances are Energy Star appliances.
  • When we were planning our wedding, I picked centerpieces that I could keep so that we could reuse them after our wedding. I chose lanterns from Ikea and vases with a few fresh flowers (unfortunately, I couldn’t keep the flowers) for the tables. Each table either had a lantern or vase. After our wedding, I incorporated all the vases and lanterns into our home decor. We also chose wine bottle stoppers as our favors for the adults so guests could take something home with them that they can reuse over and over! I also kept some of the other decorations we used for the escort card table so that we had minimal to throw away.

And a few months later, we are still practicing what we preach and then some.

Since we moved into our house, we’ve been switching out the incandescent lights bulbs installed by the builder to fluorescent and led bulbs.

In our master bathroom, we often leave the light on at night so that Zoey see to eat her food and use her litter box. To keep the cost of running the light down by drawing less power, we switched the incandescent to an led bulb. The up front cost is more than a traditional light bulb, but the savings over time will add up and make it worth the price (about $30)

The led bulbs in the bathroom use about 13 watts versus the former incandescent bulbs which drew 60-70 watts.

We also installed led lights in the table lamps by our bed.

And we have led rope lighting installed above our kitchen cabinets.

Another way we go green and try to save a few pennies is by using reusable grocery bags. We do a great deal of our grocery shopping at Super Target and as I mentioned above, they give  $0.05 back for every bag used.

Occasionally, we will leave our reusable bags at home so we can save the plastic bags to clean Zoey’s litter. We keep all of our plastic bags in our handy-dandy Simple Human bag organizer.

In our kitchen closet we keep bins to recycle glass and plastic. Once the bins are full, we take them to a recycling drop off center at our local park. Looks like it’s time for a visit to the park!

So those are just a few of the ways we go green. How do you  go green?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

Today is the day when everyone wears green, drinks green beer and speaks in an Irish accent, so let’s talk about something else that is green: gardens!

In my last two posts, you’ve seen the stages of our hyacinths in bloom and today they were fully blooming and beautiful!

Our front gardens are looking really great, with the exception of the garden off to the side of our garage. It leaves something to be desired.

I’ve neglected this garden in past years, but this year I will try to focus on getting some nice plants added and spruce it up a bit.

For the gardens out front, we would like to add a stone wall and edge off the gardens from the grass. This will help keep the weeds around the grass area down as well.

When it’s finished it should look something like this:

As it continues to warm up outside, we will be spending time sprucing up our yard and building our curb appeal.

We are also planning to do some work on the back yard in the near future. We want to add a patio or deck and eventually put some landscaping and a vegetable garden back there. Right now it’s very plain.

I started collecting ideas for our backyard plans on my Backyards Pinterest board.

I’m looking forward to having a backyard that is usable and we can entertain and cook out with friends. Right now there is nothing in our backyard but a tree and our grill. It’s very boring.

So in other news, we are getting closer to finding a new couch for our living room (hooray!). We’ve narrowed it down to this couch at Ikea:

KARLSTAD Corner sofa 2+3/3+2 IKEA A range of coordinated covers makes it easy for you to give your furniture a new look.

The couch comes as separate pieces so you can come up with multiple configurations. Now we just need to figure out what configuration we want. It will be awesome to finally have a couch that sits more than three people. We only have seating for three in our living now and it makes movie night with friends a little difficult.

Look for future updates on our gardens and couch!

Enjoy the St. Patrick’s Day festivities!

Quick Christmas decorating project and poinsettia ornaments

Need a quick way to decorate your home for the holidays? If you have leftover wrapping paper and a few frames, you can put together fun Christmas decorations to set around your home.

Remember the wrapping paper frames that are sitting on our kitchen island?

With a quick change of the wrapping paper, we have Christmas frames sitting on our island.

You can change the paper throughout the year for different holiday decorations. If you receive a gift wrapped in beautiful paper and you can’t bring yourself to throw it away, why not use it in a picture frame?These frames are great to put in bathrooms and guests rooms. They are a nice holiday touch without taking the time to decorate every room in your house.

I love this project because it took me around 15 minutes this morning to switch out the wrapping paper in the frames. If you would like to read more about my wrapping paper frame project, visit my earlier blog post here. 

And if you’re looking for a few inexpensive Christmas ornaments, you can make Christmas poinsettia ornaments.

First, cut a paper towel or toilet paper roll into 3/4 inch strips.

Next, take each strip and use your fingers to pinch the ends. Holding each end, push toward the center of the strip to create the poinsettia petals. If not, they will look more like daisies as seen above.

Next, lay out four strips and put them together in a star pattern and then take another four strips and cut slits on each side of the strip. With the four slit strips, hook the strips together until you have a finished flowers that look like this:

There should be four petals on the bottom and four on the top.

If you would like to add the centers to the poinsettia, you can use Q-tips cut in half, or you can leave the flowers as is. Finally, spray paint your flowers in your choice of color. I chose a deep red because I love red poinsettia.

Once your poinsettia are dry, you can hang them on your tree with string! I used the flowers above to make a recycled wreath for an office competition. It’s a great way to repurpose paper towel rolls.

Happy Decorating!

Pinterest and reorganizing my office

I’ve been hearing more about more about the Web site Pinterest, so I decided to try it out and link it to my blog! Here is my Pinterest site where you can find my inspirations and favorites.

http://pinterest.com/frmbyfrmstyle/

It’s still a work in progress, so keep checking back and I will continue to add more content. I’m also going to come up with better names for my boards, but as for right now, I’m having writer’s block when it comes to great names. It will come to me, somewhere random, I’m sure. I always find myself jotting things down on post-its or running to find my iPhone to jot down an idea. This is probably another good reason for me to join Pinterest. I found this article on Real Simple’s Web site that talks about using Pinterest for decorating ideas.

http://simplystated.realsimple.com/2011/07/11/pinterest-may-help-your-decorating-add/

Aside from joining Pinterest today, I also reorganized my office. I usually find myself doing this when papers and office supplies start stacking up and all of the clutter starts getting to my OCD. Because I spent about an hour yesterday shredding the junk mail that stacked up by the paper shredder, I focused my energy today on sorting through the random boxes sitting on my bookshelves. I have a habit of storing things in boxes and forgetting where I put them. About a year later, I go through the box and it’s like finding buried treasure. Although sometimes, the buried treasure would’ve been more useful a few months prior. When I was actually looking for it.

So after rummaging through boxes and throwing away trash and other useless items, I organized what was left and placed the items in their new LABELED homes! I also reorganized my books and added a few more that were laying around the house from my last visit to Borders.


The brightly colored boxes came from my sister-in-law. She used them for my bridal shower to organize and display different games and such and then after the shower, she gave them to me. The black and white box came from my best friend. She used it to wrap my Christmas present last year! How clever! Most of the boxes and baskets in my office were once given to me as part of a gift or to wrap my gift. I love giving (and receiving) presents in boxes and baskets that they can reuse again.

I rearranged some of the boxes and supplies on my other bookshelf for a less cluttered look. The bright green basket also came from my sister-in-law. She gave my bridal shower gifts to me in a green basket and a pink basket! They came in handy while I was planning my wedding and I used them to transport some of the wedding decorations. The gray and white box is from the Container Store and I used it to carry wedding papers and labels for our favors. Now the boxes have a home in my office storing supplies and other items.

For me, it’s always easier to work in a decluttered, organized office. It’s calming. Not to mention now that I’ve labeled the boxes with my handy-dandy label maker, I can easily find what I put away.

If you’re in the market for a label maker, I really like my Dymo Letratag.

The kitchen island and a home for my wrapping paper photo frames

After we moved into our house and began unpacking all of our existing kitchen dishes and appliances and then added all of our wedding gifts on top of that, we quickly filled up every existing storage space in our kitchen. We had things crammed in our cabinets and we were constantly digging around and stuffing to get everything to fit. Most people would consider getting rid of some of their items, but not us. Our solution: build more storage so our appliances and dishes could be spread out around the kitchen. The result: our fabulous kitchen island, built by us! Well, all of the pieces are from Ikea and we designed and assembled the whole thing.

Our goal with the island was to not only increase our existing storage space, built also to have a big workspace for preparing meals and a place to entertain guests in our kitchen while we prepare meals. We also wanted a place where we could eat dinner in our kitchen, but we weren’t interested in the traditional dinette table. The unit is also freestanding which will allow us to take it with us if or when we move out (some disassembly required).

The color choice of the island, which is different from our existing cherry kitchen cabinets was to create a contrast between the dark wood and the white cabinets. We also wanted to brighten up the kitchen. The dark cabinet and dark floor needed something that would pop against them! We chose the butcher block counters for a couple of reasons. First, they look really nice with the white cabinets and second, they were much more cost effective then the granite countertops we originally picked out. Because the bar and the work surface were two different pieces, the cost of granite skyrocketed.

Here’s our progress as we put the island together:


Zoey was also very helpful during the assembly. She supervised the entire project.

Some of the other fun features of the island include, the hidden trash can…
The book shelve for cookbooks and decorations…
And the cabinets to display our drink ware (with lights installed!):
So lastly, you might have noticed the new home for my Beating the Heat DIY project. I was originally planning to hang the frames in the kitchen on the backsplash, but I changed my mind after tapping the frames up to see how they would look. I’m happy to report that they still look great in the kitchen. I placed them on a few of the counters and I really like how they look. I think they’ve found their new home… for awhile at least!
They really brighten up the kitchen!