Decorating with a budget

The other day I heard someone say that they were an expert with having “champagne style on a beer budget.” I like that idea of making the most of what you have. Of not being limited by your budget so much as forced to get creative with how you use it.

I wouldn’t consider myself an expert, but I do have quite a bit of experience with budget decorating. My biggest tips for creating a beautiful space on a smaller budget are simple:

Paint it

In college I inherited a ton of furniture from relatives. The only similarity in all of it was that it was used. So I painted it. Everything in my bedroom was teal or white. Everything in my living room was green or brown. (It also helps that I have an uncle who was a professional painter for years and was willing to help me out a bit.) The painting took an afternoon and was well worth the investment. I’ve already lugged those pieces through three moves and have no plan on stopping.

Clean it

The easiest thing you can do to make your space look more livable is to clean it. Put things away, wipe down the counters, vacuum, open the windows and let some fresh air come inside. It doesn’t matter how expensive your furniture is if your place is a mess.

Toss it

I try to live by the William Morris motto: “Have nothing in your houses you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” It’s not always feasible to exclusively have items that you adore, but it is important to be aware of the things that you love and the things that you actually use so that you can separate them from the things that you’d like to replace. Don’t be afraid to get rid of something. Donate it, give it to a friend, see if you actually needed it, and if you do then wait until you can buy a version that you would like to live with daily.

Put a painting on it

This is probably my favorite way to decorate. As long as there is space on your wall (or floor, or dresser, or table top) there is room for more art. I invested in a piece of art by myself the first time when I was 20 years old. Since then, I’ve made a few other art purchases-some for myself but mostly helping others get started with their own collections.

Nothing livens up a space like a piece that you love. It’ll make you happy with every glance. It doesn’t have to be expensive and it doesn’t have to match. It just has to be something that you like. And if you can’t find anything or can’t afford anything you want, you can always make it yourself or ask a friend to try.

I have a few pieces of art in my room right now: a drawing by my Aunt Sue (Luke Weiss’s mom) in the 70’s, a photograph from India found at the Gainesville Art Festival, a beautiful silk painting from the Maitland Art Festival, and a hand painted (and self-designed) movie poster for Paperman I made for an Illustration class. Nothing cost more than $40 (except the framing…see the upcoming how to frame your own paintings) and none of it was bought or chosen with the intent of being put together but it all works when you are buying pieces that you truly love.

How do you pick what goes in your space? Are you a less is more kind of person or a more is more?



Weekly Organizer Template


As promised, I tried out a new template for my weekly to-do list. I kept the weekly break down with space for plans, blog ideas, meal planning, and daily thoughts (figured this would be a good place to do my line a day journal). The to-do list stayed, although it’s sharing space with the shopping list this time. At the top where there was formerly space for notes, I delineated sections and left them blank so the titles can change depending on the person and the week.

I hope you find it as useful as I do!

Download here: Weekly To Do List

Time Management

Organizing has always been my strongest suit. When I’m motivated enough to do it anyway. Luckily, I’m in the motivated kind of mood so just when you thought I’d stopped posting about planners and planning, I’ve got something else up my sleeve.

I shared my monthly calendar with you on Tuesday. It’s simple and elegant. I use it to keep track of social events, to make it easy to see the whole month in a glance, and to make weekly goals for myself.

On a day to day basis I need something more though. For me, I get the most use out of having everything on one sheet broken into categories I use most.


It’s still in prototype development. My plan is to tweak it each week until I find a setup that works best for me. Bonus for you, I’ll make all versions of it available for download so you can have your pick.

I have mine broken into sections:

  • a running to-do list that is still visible when my monthly calendar is stacked on top of it (I use legal sized paper to get that effect),
  • a large blank space for notes (currently housing my grocery shopping),
  • a space for my weekly budget (not using it very much-I’ll change this section for next week),
  • a space to state a weekly goal and make action plans (again, not using very much),
  • and along the bottom I have a weekly calendar with space for
    • plans and activities,
    • blog posts,
    • and meal plans each day.

I have a few ideas for what should go in those blank spaces but I’m open to suggestions. What would you find useful?

When coming up with the plan for this to do list, my ultimate goal was to be able to manage my time for effectively. I do that by putting in the items that have a set schedule (work, class) and working out from there (adding transport times, preparation time, meals). Then I block out how much other time I need. For me that’s 2 hours needed for job 2 that need to fit in outside of an 8:30-5 job that is 40 minutes away from my house and daily classes from 6-7:30 with a 30 minute commute. Once you’ve gotten down all of the concrete items, you can manipulate the flexible items (job 2) into place.

This weekend I plan on making a digital version of the to-do list I’ve been using for easy prep each week so if you have ideas for what you’d like to see in those blank spaces, get them in soon!

Eating on the go

I started a new job this week that requires me to be out of the door by 7:45am and gone until 8 or 9pm. That’s all the impetus needed to get me kicked into chef mode. Last Sunday I spent 2 hours meal planning, grocery shopping, and prepping meals for the week and it’s paying off well.

There are a few pros to this:

– eating healthier- I tend to eat well when I’m the one preparing the food

– wasting less- I plan the meals to use off all of the leftovers from the other meals, which also means…

– saving money- since I’m using ingredients more efficiently and not having to buy snacks or meals while I’m out.

All in all using a menu planner works out well for me, and the money I save on not eating out more than makes up for the time it takes for me to prep everything on Sunday.

I seem to be the only one in my office who brings multi-component lunches daily. Is that the case in your office? Do you already bring your lunch? Hopefully this can serve as a dialogue for sharing recipes and tips for not getting bogged down in the mechanics of having to add an extra task to your schedule each week.

Each week I’ll be posting a recipe, snack idea, or meal planning/prep tip that I use to make some pretty fabulous lunches. Starting as soon as I take some pictures that aren’t in a break room!

Perfect Planners

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t think I’ve ever found a planner that I’ve deemed completely faultless. There’s always something that I would have done differently, some pages I would have added, a line that would make the space more pleasing. There’s always something. So while I hodgepodge together my contrived dream planner, I’m going to make some pieces available to you to download for free.


This is a simple document that you can edit onto and print out at whatever size you want. I found that printing on an 8.5″x 11″ sheet of glossy paper worked best for me. Right now, this is sitting on top of my dresser where I can check it each morning before taking a more broken down look at my schedule with my to-do list organizer (available next week).


Monthly Calendar to Share

Monthly Calendar to Share

Perfect Presents


Apparently this is present week over here. I started a post about relationships since my boo came into town but he got here before I finished it and kinda ruined the sentimentality. Maybe another time.


So presents. I get intense when it comes to giving gifts. Planning begins December 26th of the previous year. Talking to me or entering my workshop while I’m working on presents will set me into a flying tizzy. You would think we’re dealing with trade secrets or government intel but really I’m just into a well thought out and heartfelt surprise. And that comes all the way down to the packaging.

I’m serious about my wrapping. Each year I choose a color or a theme. Last year it was art deco, the year before I glued crazy eyes to every present. This year I’m going for a homemade/rustic approach. I know that wrapping presents isn’t particularly difficult but a little goes a long way. Beautiful and thoughtful wrapping elevates the entire experience of giving and receiving and I won’t give a gift without it.

Here’s what you need:

-Wrapping paper



-A flat, clean surface

-Ribbon or twine


-An add on (I normally use small ornaments to break up the monotony of bows crowding under our tree)


Here’s how to do it:

1. Measure out your paper.


You want the paper to come up about ⅔ of the height of the side of the package.


Cut the paper and center the gift. Flip your box over. Fold the paper up until it covers the bottom third of the present and tape.


Crease the edges and fold the rest of the paper over the present so that it overlaps the already covered part. Fold the excess paper and tape.


I like to leave a little overlap instead of bringing it all the way to the end. Because.


Alright! Four sides down, two to go!


There are two basic ways to fold the sides of a present. This is option one.

Place your present with the bottom up. Fold down the top flap and push it flat against the box. Crease the sides between your fingernails to make sharp edges.


Fold the edges into the center and crease again. Fold the bottom up to the center and tape it into place. You don’t have to but I like to fold the paper over once before I tape it so that it appears to have a cleaner line.


Cut the ribbon to four times the length of your box.


Voilà! Wrap and tie the ribbon in a pretty knot. Add accoutrements as desired.



Here is the second way to fold the edges. (No, I’m not giving someone a box of Target tissues. I just needed a box and it was hanging around.)


Again, start with the side where the paper meets. Fold up and crease just like on the last one. (Shown backwards in this picture because sorry.)


Tricky! Now this time you’re going to fold the top down to meet it.


Crease the edges so they’re nice and sharp looking. You can see in this picture that my paper isn’t entirely even on the side. You can easily fix this by folding the excess paper up and out of sight.


Repeat on the other side and then fold and tape together.


Easy peasy and it looks great! Go have a Christmas cocktail and then wrap the rest of your goodies. 



Gift Guide: Guys

None of the men in my life are crazy about bacon. They don’t live and die for Zelda or Mario. Lumberjacks they are not. If they’re grilling something it’s because my mom told them they couldn’t come back inside until it was done.

That means that roughly 95% of every gift guide meant for the guys in your life means entirely nothing to me. If your men-folk similarly have a penchant for not being into trendy man things, this guide has a few ideas for the real man who lives a life that doesn’t start and end with bacon. Bacon.


1. watch ($198)

2. cheese kit ($25)

3. dog blueprint ($185)

4. stick and find buttons ($50 for 2)

5. DIY leather journal

6. slim wallet ($25)

7. Kanye card ($5)

8. DIY shave cream 

9. baseball cufflinks ($170)

10. DIY jumbo Jenga ($65)

Some of these things are way more expensive than I’m willing to pay. A blueprint of a dog for almost $200? Yikes. But I like to pretend that I’m pretty crafty so something like that I’m probably going to turn into a DIY because I like those better anyway. That wallet? I’m pretty sure I can make that too. If you want some help figuring out ways to DIY a gift that is above your budget, let me know. I’m happy to try to help.