Luxe Halloween Tablescape Using Dollar Tree Accents

When it comes to Halloween decor, I love items that are spooky and nostalgic. I try not to go overboard with seasonal decorating in every nook and cranny of my home. Instead, I like to play up those accents in areas where I entertain. I have staple Halloween decor that I can use over and over, in reimagined ways every year. HomeGoods has beautiful and affordable table linens. I snagged this spider web tablecloth for only $12! I still wanted to add some fun to the table, so I turned to the Dollar Tree.

Candles immediately elevate a look, and the Dollar Tree has so many votive options. Those mercury votives that look like they are from Anthro? Only a dollar! The Dollar Tree also has a ton of spider webs and mummy cloth to build layers and add texture to your table. I wanted to make use of my chandelier, so I quickly wrapped it, giving me a Haunted Mansion look. Next I grabbed a pack of glittery spiders and googly eyes to sprinkle around, and give the table a whimsical feel. Finally, I picked up a TON of Halloween candy. They have this amazing berry cotton candy, which I thought helped fill the bowls perfectly. It’s a cute and simple way to incorporate candy into a dinner party, everyone can just snack and chat. Aside from the dishes and cutlery, I spent around $25. Never be discouraged by a small budget. I hope this inspires you to host a seasonal dinner party soon!

Soulful Sundays

This past Sunday, I had an epiphany. What if I spent my Sundays filled with activities that are good for my soul? It is not an unheard of concept, but not many of us practice a truly restful Sunday. There are so many days that are lost to numerous loads of dishes and laundry. Chris actually helped me slow down this weekend by telling me to touch NOTHING in the house. The first couple of hours were excruciating to be honest, but slowly I started to realize how much time I spend cleaning, cooking, organizing.

Even though I spent my Sunday binge watching Love Island (yep, don’t judge me), I understood that watching TV all day is not really providing the outlet I need, from the everyday. So here is a list of things I want to do every Sunday, and what I hope they bring my life.

  1. Enjoy a cup of coffee with Chris, without our phones or the TV on. During the week Chris and I usually grab our cups of coffee and part ways in the house. I totally get it, because we both have work to do. However, coffee is a daily ritual I love because it fills our home with that amazing aroma and helps get me set for the day. On vacation, coffee in the morning is a quiet treat. I want that vacation feel on Sundays. I want to sit with Chris on our back porch and talk about how excited we are for the day.
  2. Paint or draw, literally anything. This is a very specific hobby, I know. I feel everyone has some sort of hobby that leads to creation instead of consumption in them. I am not the best artist, but when I am creating art it forces me to ignore outside noise and dive into my imagination. It is also a hobby I wouldn’t mind sharing, which is great since I spend my Sundays with Chris.
  3. Go on a walk, and pick up trash. This may sound like absolute hell to some…I am laughing thinking about it. I grew up with a mom that took pride in a clean neighborhood. Now, I know I said no cleaning; But it’s the one time a week you can step out and make sure your street is beautiful. I find it therapeutic to make sure my surroundings are taken care of. And if you have no desire to pick up litter, just go walk!
  4. Spend NO money. When was the last day you went without spending a single dollar? To be honest, if I am not actively trying to not spend money or avoiding going out, I tend to buy atleast one thing every day. Sundays are the perfect day for me to save, because I like to stay home. This makes you enjoy what you do have. Simple as that.
  5. Have a talk with God. I pray everyday. But most times I am praying for someone else, because I cannot even begin to sift through what I want to ask God for. My life has been turned upside down this year. I moved a wedding, lost a job, bought a home. I am incredibly blessed, but I am so worried about what the future holds for me. I truly believe spending more time praying and talking to God, will help bring me some peace.
  6. Light a candle and be grateful. I took a nap this weekend, and if anyone knows me they know I don’t nap. But when I woke up I had this crazy realization that I am marrying the love of my life and we bought a home. It’s easy to say you feel grateful, but when you slow down it lets those feelings really sink in. You can’t force it, but I bet if you light your favorite candle and sit in quietness for 10-20 minutes, you will start to realize how amazing your life is.

McGee and Co. Dupes

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE McGee and Co. Every once and a while I splurge and buy a piece from them. Most of the time I am on a much tighter budget, and I need their signature modern and textured looks for HomeGoods’ prices. I also feel like McGee and Co.-esque homes are well…everywhere. We had the same thing happen with the Joanna Gaines’ farmhouse look. So I incorporate items I love into my style, which is a little less tidy and a little more colorful. Below are some great dupes/finds that will give your home an elevated look for less. Photos are linked.

Lake Tahoe Trip: Camping is my Forte

Camping has really become a fascination of mine since moving to California. And I don’t mean glamping, or even the luxury of having a camper. I like camping as simple as possible; tent, fire, and enough peanut butter to sustain me for 3 days. When it’s simple, you spend less time setting up or breaking down your campsite, and more time exploring your surroundings!

A lot of my bucket list travels are in Cali. Lake Tahoe was at the top of my list. I am sure you have seen the pictures on Pinterest of the crystal clear water with huge boulders just beneath the surface, while someone is paddle boarding…and that is exactly what it is like! Sometimes I am skeptical of how true to reality places are, in a world of filters and angles. Tahoe exceeded my expectations. The area surrounding the lake is just as wonderful! Big pines, granite cliffs, meadows…the list goes on. To be honest, the California side is much prettier. It is probably because it is lined with state parks, while the Nevada side is more commercial and residential.

We stayed at Grover Hot Springs State Park. The park is about 40 minutes South of Tahoe in a little town called Markleeville. It is a tiny park in the Sierra Nevada mountains, that is so underrated. The landscape was pristine with hot spring steam rising from the meadows, and dense alpine forest. We saw a bear within 20 minutes of being there, if that gives you any idea of the natural seclusion. The site was only $35 a night, and came with a bear locker and fire pit. They pooled up the hot springs in one area, where you can go and swim. With the cool mountain air and looming green mountains beside the pool, I felt like I was at some Swiss wellness retreat.

As for things to do, it is pretty simple. When you are at the lake, definitely go paddle boarding or kayaking (on the CA side). We hiked the Rubicon Trial, which circles the lake and gives you some jaw-dropping vistas. We also hiked within our state park, but because it was much more off the grid, I was admittedly terrified we would see another bear or mountain lion. Those hikes were more like brisk walks in the morning or evening. Ha! At our campsite we drank wine and ate s’mores, and I am sure life doesn’t get much better than that.

On The Hunt: Globally Inspired Home

Decorating a new home takes time. Even though I have my living room done, the other rooms still need a few pieces to really bring them together. I have told myself that I will not just buy things to fill spaces. I would rather take my time and get items that I absolutely love.

Style-wise, I feel like my home is leaning old world Spanish with a big dose of LA eclectic. Layered and warm, with bits of turquoise, yellow, and pink. To get both, you need to be smart about what you want to be new and what you want to be antique. Antique furniture is amazing because you are usually getting solid wood pieces for a lower price than a brand new piece that is partially particle board (even the most expensive brands do this). Facebook Marketplace and First Dibs are good online resources for looking for antiques. However, I am so excited to start exploring the plethora of antique stores in SoCal. For new pieces, solely because of price, I look for art prints and textiles. I lean modern when it comes to my art tastes, some of my favorites include Matisse and Picasso. I certainly do not have a a bank account that supports these tastes, so that is where prints come in. HypeSheriff has some beautiful prints from modernist artists.

Pieces I am on the lookout for are a large antique dining table, a woven bench for the end of my bed, Moroccan inspired textiles for our office, an antique wood mirror for our bathroom, handmade Spanish pottery, and a fountain for our backyard. These could all be big ticket items, so I am hoping that taking my time will help me find everything at a bargain price. If you are in the SoCal area, please let me know of any great antique stores or dealers!

My Finished Black and White (and cream) Kitchen

One of the most satisfying feelings is seeing my design come to life. I have been shopping for my kitchen pieces as soon as we went into escrow, because this is going to be the most used room in the house. Seriously, Chris and I cook atleast 4-5 nights a week. The size is what gets me most excited, because compared to our apartment kitchen, it is massive! So now I won’t be stuck in a tiny corner trying to make biscuits (I do not recommend).

The colors they chose for the cabinets, counters, and fixtures were great because they gave me a lot of freedom to bring in my own style. Surprisingly, I went with more neutral colors. I promise y’all that other parts of my home will have color, but this was another room that I didn’t need to be fussy. Although, I see that my vase on the island needs some pretty green branches to dress it up.

The kitchen has an overall traditional feel, and I wanted to incorporate some contemporary flair. The lights and barstools were inexpensive ways to accessorize the kitchen. Since we are not going to update the appliances for a couple of years, I needed a way to make the kitchen feel modern. Honestly, this kitchen fits my style because I will never fully embrace only modern or traditional design.

And yes, that is my SimpliSafe base in the corner. I was not willing to unplug it for the pictures, though I know others may cringe at the sight. This is real life people!

The links to my kitchen items can be found in this post: My Black and White Kitchen Pieces

Living Room Tour: Organic Modern

You have probably seen “organic modern” everywhere lately in design, and there is a good reason. It is a pretty seamless way of blending modern and classic looks, while embracing an earthy color palette. I still love my pops of color and vibrant patterns, but a wanted my living room to feel grounded and warm. I didn’t buy a ton of new things, which is why I always recommend steering away from super trendy pieces (but you do you!). My biggest recent purchase for the room was this rug, an exact La Messina Rug from McGee and Co. dupe, for $140 less. I also bought the solid wood coffee table and two side chairs from Facebook Marketplace, for less than $250 (my new addiction). My aim was to have an imperfectly perfect, lived-in, living room.

Though the overall design trend I followed is very popular, I made sure that I put my personal touch on it. I don’t want my home to look just like everyone else’s. So I have slowly been adding items that bring me joy. When you are shopping for accessories, stop and ask yourself “Do I actually like this or do I just keep seeing it all over Insta and Pinterest?” and “If my design style evolves, will this piece be staying with me?”. Start looking for coffee table books you will actually read, as well as your guests. Also, you cannot go wrong with a yummy smelling candle, that gives off that inviting glow. Not trying to sound snooty! Design is hard, but everyone has underlying creativity being wasted on trying to copy others. Using other’s designs as guides or inspo, is a fantastic way to get started.

A few unique items I added were these adorable blush bud vases (pictured below, top left shelf). Kiln n’ It is a small business owned by a woman from my hometown of Houston. I happened upon her Instagram, after a floral business I love in Austin reposted a piece of pottery. There is something so beautiful about the whole process of pottery, and knowing how it is made. The owner now has an Etsy. But she does do custom orders through Insta! Her pottery is eco-friendly, which is another plus in these days of moving away from mass production that causes so much pollution. I sincerely cannot wait to order another piece soon!

Q+A Buying a House

My biggest financial goal in life was to invest in property in my twenties. Owning a home is a great way to set you up for your future goals; markets go up and down, but if you stick it out you could earn a nice profit. I will preface this by saying, buying a home is not easy. I almost got cold feet, before Chris reassured me it was a smart decision. You are putting years of savings and your credit on the line. So be prepared to do tons of research and find a knowledgable real estate agent you can trust. But enough of my upfront advice! Let’s answer your questions from Instagram, Facebook, and some curious friends.

Q: Why did you choose the town you did?

A: Well, to be honest, price. It is not a surprise that LA is outrageously priced. Being from Texas I was even more sticker shocked. But I also know that where you live is what you make it. Chris keeps telling me that he is happy I didn’t grow up in LA, because none of the stereotypes about certain areas bother me. So we embraced areas we never thought we would, and we were presently surprised.

Don’t let peoples’ perceptions sway you. You know your finances and situation better than anyone. Most areas just need people like you to come in and be a thoughtful neighbor!

Q: How much do you really need to save?

A: Do not empty out your savings! I would say you should have double whatever your down payment and closing costs are, in savings. My house was “turn key,” but moving also has hidden costs.

Q: Any help out there for people with bad credit to buy a home?

A: Chris and I worked really hard for about two years to make sure our credit scores were high before looking to buy a home. Even if there are options, they usually have insanely high interest rates tied to them or they are very restrictive on where you can purchase a home.

But don’t give up hope! First, create an emergency savings fund with atleast 3 months of living expenses. Then give yourself a reasonable timeline to pay off some of your debts and get your credit score up. Once you get a good credit score, that can open some doors when it comes to low down payment mortgages or even no closing costs. The road to owning a home is all about the little goals you reach to prepare yourself. Always ALWAYS, live a little below your means. It is recommended to only spend 30% of your income on rent or a mortgage, but could you aim for 25%? Take that 5% and put that into savings!

Q: What were (are) you looking for in a house?

A: We had the usual minimum bed and bath needs. We really juggled getting a fixer upper or a turn key house. At first, I was all for a challenge! But after realizing the true cost of completely overhauling a home, we decided against it. Our realtor was super honest with us too, and told us our first home shouldn’t be such a risk. Unless you have tons of cash flow, find something as turn key as possible. Taking out credit is lot of people’s enemy and downfall once they get into a home.

Aesthetically, we wanted neutral paints and classic fixtures. These are also easy changes, so if you love the bones, go for it! What drew us into the home we bought, was the eye for detail that the contractor had. He framed the windows, chose similar fixtures and tiles throughout the house, and opened up the floor plan.

Thank you all for the questions! I know this was a little different from my typical style and design posts, so I hope you enjoyed it. I am happy to answer any more questions in the comments below.

Good luck on your road to buying a home!

Bold and Unique Bikini

You can probably tell that I have a swimsuit obsession. I think it stems from my love of all things water. An ideal vacation for me always includes some sort of swimming or kayaking. I definitely splurge on a good suit, because quality will always beat out quantity. I am active in my swimwear and cheap bikinis NEVER hold up (RIP to all of my $20 string bikinis).

This past month I made a serious effort to support more black and women owned businesses, which is how I learned about Andrea Iyamah. It is a Nigerian fashion line known for striking use of patterns and colors. Dumebi Iyamah, the designer, takes her inspiration from African culture and her love for retro shapes. These swimsuits are truly pieces of art. Not to mention the fit was amazing. I have never had a bikini that fit my curves without riding up all day…until now!

There are so many beautiful options in the new collection. Go invest in some beautiful swimwear!

My Black and White Kitchen Pieces

Chris and I just went into escrow on our first home, and if everything stays on track, we will be moving in a month! What really sold us was the open and updated kitchen, because we cook atleast 5 nights a week. We have quite a bit of furniture already, but most of our kitchen stuff is just random things we have put together. Now, I really want a clean and sleek black and white look, to go with our creamy cabinets and countertops. My biggest design crushes for kitchens are Studio McGee and Amber Lewis, just look up their Instagrams…you will be in awe.

Below I have shared all of my recent purchases. I can’t wait to show y’all, when it all comes together!