2013 In Review

As someone whose never been able to maintain a scrapbook or journal, one of my favorite parts of blogging is being able to look back over my projects. 2013 was a year where I decided to blog less, but love what I blogged more and I ended up with some posts I'm really proud of. Let's take a look!

My office is still a work in progress (all paint color suggestions welcome!), but is the perfect sunny spot to get my craft on.

A total dream came true this year when the first floor of my rental was featured on A Beautiful Mess, my alltime favorite blog.

Before this year, I had never seriously decorated a bathroom in my rental before. SO worth it!

I looooove brass and rattan and nearly fell off my couch when I found these stools on craigslist. All they needed was a little new fabric on the seats!

After searching online for a macrame plant hanger, I gave up and just made my own. Sometimes you just gotta get your hands dirty to get what you want.

Because sometimes all it takes is a coat of paint!

Taking photos has been one of my favorite things to do in 2013. This is my current gear setup.

Can furniture make you feel sexy? With this bar cart, the answer is most definitely yes.

Sometimes a craigslist find completely transforms the look of your room!

I was always a little scared to apply wall decals, but it turns out it's not very difficult. Here's how I did it.

Caigslisted furniture doesn't always come in the perfect condition, but before you decide to reupholster or paint, try a little cleaning. Here's how I cleaned this green vintage chair.

So there it is - a year of my favorite posts!
If you're curious, here are my reviews for 2011 and 2012.

BUT... Here's the big question, and I would be SO GRATEFUL  for your feedback...

What would you like to see more of on insideways in 2014??


Thanksgiving Treats + Holiday Cooking Tip

I'm a little late to the Thanksgiving blogging party, but I couldn't go without posting a photo of this Mojito Jello Shot recipe I tried from A Beautiful Mess. It was SO good, super pretty, and not very diffiult to make. I highly recommend trying it for your holiday parties (I'm definitely going to make them again for New Year's Eve).

And now for the tip! I love having friends over to cook for the holidays, but it can be tricky to show everyone where all of the cooking supplies are. Sticking labeled post-it notes on cabinets and drawers is easy to do and makes kitchen navigation easier for your guest chefs.

Here's to good eats and happy holidays for all!


Homemade Christmas Ornaments 2013

Since Tim and I do a lot traveling over the holidays, it can be tricky to make and keep annual traditions. But, for the past three years we've managed to keep my absolute favorite tradition - we each make a Christmas Tree ornament!

This year we made a "couple's costume"-style ornament, where each of our ornaments stand alone, but are meant to go together. Check these snowball fighting reindeer out :)

I made the mischievous guy with the red scarf and Tim made the muppety fellow with the blue scarf.

Materials Used: pipe cleaners, felt, pom-poms, corks, sharpies, fishing line, googly eyes, and hot glue

If you're curious, here are links to our ornaments from the past two years >>> 2011 and 2012. Someday we'll have enough for a full tree ;)

What are your favorite holiday traditions?


Aquafarm from UncommonGoods

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from UncommonGoods asking if I would be interested in trying out one of the products they're highlighting in their stocking stuffer collection (you can check them all out here). It was super easy to say yes because 1) they have TONS of cool stuff and 2) those products are made in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people. Yay for everyone!

After a struggle to decide between the Aquafarm or a Pick Punch (it makes guitar picks out of credit cards or ANYTHING, what?! So cool! More on it here.), I chose the Aquafarm - a fish tank that grows plants through hydroponics.

Setting up the Aquafarm was pretty easy overall and the instructions and packaging were beautiful and easy to use. Gordon was completely enraptured by our new fish Harold...

I also followed the instructions that recommended adding a snail to the tank to clean algae. We named him Captain Algae. Unfortunately... he didn't make it. I'm pretty sure there just wasn't enough algae for him to eat, so I suggest waiting to buy a snail until your tank has been going for a while.

Once everything was set up, I just left it to grow! Over the course of two weeks...

We grew a wild mane of wheat grass!

I'm also really impressed by the tank's sleek design. About one-third of their collection incorporates recycled and/or upcycled materials, but they don't sacrifice good looks. So, I feel good about my environmental impact and my kitchen bay window looks beautiful. Again, everybody wins!

So head your internet selves over to UncommonGoods if you're still in the market for Christmas gifts. If you're into the monogrammed trend right now, they even have a bunch of personalized goods you can check out here.

I'm itching to try another plant in my Aquafarm. What do you think I should grow? Basil? Cilantro? Mint? What would you grow?


My Camera Gear

Since I started blogging back in 2011, I've slowly but steadily worked to improve my photography skills. I started with an iPhone and Picasa, but worked my way up to using a DSLR and Photoshop with my 31 Days to Better Home Photos challenge.

This year, I was finally able to save up enough for a beautiful Canon 6D DSLR - a camera that can help me reach my new goals and continue growing. So, I thought I'd share a little post of my current camera gear!

So why the zoo photos? A super fun way to get to know a new camera is to take it out on a little camera date somewhere pretty. Great places are the beach, a garden, the woods, or... the zoo! My favorite is the zoo because the animals move around and really make things a challenge (but not too hard). These photos were taken on a cloudy day at the San Diego Zoo.

Stick to the outdoors where there will be plenty of light, but where there is also shade so you won't have to spend all of your time dealing with harsh direct sunlight. You're almost guaranteed to come out with a few new favorite photos!

This monkey is totally sitting on a hippo's back, just FYI...
Here's to better photos for all! Do you have any photography goals you're working towards?


Welcome to the Family Gordon!

This is a happysad post. A few of you may have noticed a total lack of Madeline on the blog or my instagram over the last several months. After a long struggle with kidney disease, little Madeline just couldn't make it anymore. We loved the hell out of that cat and she is missed like crazy.

After grieving/healing we decided to bring another cat into our family. Last weekend, on our one-year-anniversary, we popped on over to our local humane society. There, we met Gordon...

He's a one-year-old little orangecat and I swear we didn't choose him because he looks like Maggie's twin. Really, he was just the most incredibly social and sweet cat we'd ever met (besides Maggie) and we just couldn't leave him at the humane society! We're learning that Gordon is a total cuddle-bug and has a weird oral fixation. He seriously licks everything. Like a little puppy. It's strange and adorable.

He and Maggie are slowly but surely becoming little cat friends. There's officially no hissing and touching each other seems ok!

That's the latest news in Jen&Tim land. This post took extra long to write because Gordon kept jumping into my lap and poking at the computer screen. The cute is overwhelming. Keep an eye out for too many photos of Gordon on my instagram account, I may or may not have already posted 5 as of writing this post...


Bedroom Update

Lately, life has been slow in the home-improvements department of chateau Jen&Tim. A lot of projects have been started, but nothing is finished. It's one of those seasons where other priorities are... well priorities. So while I'd usually wait until there is more of something to show you, I thought I would just jump in and share a little of the progress we've made in decorating our master bedroom...

Here are two before pictures to get you oriented :)

Since then we've added a huge brass bed, moved the orange living room rug upstairs...

... bought some plants, and got cute little nightstands off of craigslist. They were about $120 for the pair, which is more than I usually spend on craigslist, BUT our bed is unusually tall. Do you know how hard it is to find matching, cute, affordable nightstands that are more than 27 inches tall?? Hard my friends.

Search word Tips for Nightstands on craigslist: "nightstand | nightstands | night stand | night stands | end table | end tables | side table | side tables". So many terms that basically mean the SAME THING.

As you can see, I've also tested out a swatch of navy blue paint for the walls. I'm sold on the color, but painting day hasn't made its way around yet :)

To add more functionality to Tim's closet, we moved a cute little wicker dresser inside ($50 from craigslist). So what if it's from a set of furniture for little girls? No one has to know ;)

Next steps are painting, curtains, finding the perfect duvet cover, and bringing all the little details together.

So what do you think? Is it a room you'd sleep in? Is one of your rooms stuck in slow-motion-progress?


What to Recycle Free Download

This past new year's day my resolution was to learn how to have a smaller impact on the environment. Since then, I've figured some stuff out that involves adjusting the items I buy and a worm farm (oh yes, a worm farm), so today I decided to get off my virtual butt and post about one area of progress - recycling.

Tim and I are adjusting our habits by recycling and trying to buy products packaged in recyclable materials. We sort of knew what we could recycle, but couldn't always keep track... The city I live in has a helpful chart, but it's not very attractive. Since all of my experience tells me it's way easier to use/love/engage with something beautiful in my home, I decided to make my own chart!

I made in in photoshop using a bamboo wacom tablet and Bebas font. Now it hangs right above our trashcan using the same method of hanging as our shark print. Love.

This little poster lists all of the things you can recycle and what you need to throw away. It especially helps Tim and I remember which numbered plastics we can recycle. It doesn't include a list of what can be composted (or worm composted), but you can bet your bet your reusable water bottle that I'll be bringing one of those to insideways soon :)

WARNING: your city might have different recycling regulations, so check before you follow this list.

Our handy dandy trashcan has two bins inside, one for trash and one for recycling. The recycling bin is smaller than the trash one, but I'm hoping we can switch their uses in the near future. Did you know that San Francisco recycles/composts 80% of its waste and Sweden is so waste efficient that they're buying other countrys' garbage?

So let's get down to business, do you want one? Click the link below (or right click and save it) to download a poster for yourself:

Printing Instructions: Color print this on 11x17 paper then cut off the excess white space. The resulting poster will be 8.5x14 ish. I had mine printed at Staples and it was super easy :)


Sources: Watercolor Textures from Evil Widgets | Fonts hand-drawn on a Wacom Bamboo Tablet or Bebas Font by Flat-It | Designed in Photoshop CS5