Guess what…I have a brand new before and after reveal to share with you! I am so head-over-heels in love with our newly decked out bathroom and can’t wait to spill all of the beans. In truth, this project started way back in November of last year. A chance email exchange with one of the editors from Delta Faucet’s Inspired Living blog ultimately resulted in a creative partnership that has since given our dated bathroom a new lease on life.
If you’ve been following along for any length of time, You probably recall just how far our main floor bathroom has come. We’ve removed dated floral (Thomas-Kincaid-like) wallpaper, refreshed our tile grout using a paint pen (a makeover that’s still going strong!), repainted the room a soft bright white, and added white linens to the space to make it feel more spa-like. All of these things have given the room a modern vibe, but we were in desperate need of a fixture makeover in the bathtub, as you’ll see in all its unedited glory below.
As I’m sure you can imagine, I was honestly mortified to subject our overnight guests to the existing leaky, squeaky shower fixtures, and I despised dealing with them myself on a daily basis. So, after chatting with Delta, I decided that now was the time to kick off a full-scale makeover that would take place one “Champagne Bronze” piece at a time.
Could we afford to switch all of the bathroom fixtures over to brass this go-around? Unfortunately, no…But the good news is that it really doesn’t matter in the scheme of things as long as we keep our long-term plan on track. Hop over to Delta Faucet’s Inspired Living blog to find out what went into the project (including a DIY project that saved us over $350), plus you’ll learn how we’re making the collection of mis-matched metals work for us as we tackle the 3-part makeover. I can’t wait to hear what you think!
I hope you don’t mind, but I’m just going to pop in quickly this morning to share a small update! As you know, things have been kinda chaotic in our household as of late, and since explaining everything last Friday, I’ve decided that now’s the time to pay extra close attention to my intuition. So far, it’s told me that I need to TAKE IT EASY, so I’m going to cut myself a little slack today.
The good news is that I still have something exciting to share here on the blog this morning: a walking video tour of our home! Since jumping headfirst into video production at the start of the year, I’ve always had a home tour in the back of my mind as something I wanted to document. I never felt like I could truly invite you into our home through photos, so this is my way of really throwing the front door open wide for you.
I didn’t have time to get to all of the rooms because I figured an almost-3-minute video was cutting it pretty close in terms of your attention span, but maybe I’ll share a follow up with the rest of the house later this season. Stay tuned for part two of the home tour in video format soon, and in the meantime, I hope you enjoy this real life peek into our home. Happy Friday and have a great weekend, guys!
So, you’ve started a business of your own—congratulations! There’s practically nothing more thrilling as a working creative than finally stepping out on your own, and taking on the role of “boss.” You essentially now have your entire professional future in your hands, and along with that comes the power to design a customized career that truly fulfills you.
Almost three years ago, I did just that and have never looked back. Going full-time as a freelance writer and blogger has been the most incredible experience of my life, and I thank my lucky stars daily that this is what I do for a living. There’s no doubt that it’s my dream job, but there’s also zero doubt that it is a JOB. While I’ve never been more excited about my work, it’s also undeniably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There’s no rest for this weary girl, and no one can get my work done but me. Sick days? Yeah, those don’t exist. Vacations? HAHA! But, of course, it’s all worth the hustle.
One thing that has been invaluable in my growth as a content creator is my media kit. I send out my 5-page PDF brand breakdown numerous times throughout the day to prospective clients, and I know it has helped me land more than one dream partnership.
In case you’re looking to boost your own marketing sheet or media kit—whether you’re a blogger, wedding photographer, party planner, or any other type of working creative—I invite you to read on for the five elements of a good media kit, plus you can click here to view my own media kit (with redacted rates in the name of privacy)for inspiration.
5 Elements Of A Good Media Kit:
Put your best face forward: It’s important that your media kit be a welcoming introduction to you and your brand, so don’t forget to include a small “About Me” section (including your location!) to describe how long you’ve been working and what your passions are. Give your brand a personal edge, and companies may be more inclined to invest in your work.
Make it on-brand: Utilize the same colors and specific design elements (think: circles, boxes, icons, etc.) that you use on your actual blog or portfolio website. This will ensure cohesion across all of your marketing materials.
Showcase your work: If you’re a wedding photographer, include at least one or two visual examples of your work somewhere on your media kit, whether that’s within the design of the main pages, or on the cover itself. The same goes for DIY or design bloggers—add a few photos of your completed projects to show potential clients and brands the type of content and/or imagery you can create for them.
Include your stats: You don’t need to include your entire analytics for 2016, but do give a general idea of your audience so that recipients of your kit know how big your influence is and how far your reach goes.
Break down your rates: A major component of any media kit is the rates sheet. This page offers a clear overview of general investment options and package rates. Don’t forget to include a detailed itemized list of what each package includes if you decide to organize your rate sheet that way. It’s also good to call out the fact that custom options are available upon request so that you show how willing you are to work with a particular budget—within reason, of course!
Whether you put your PDF media kit together yourself or you work with a professional graphic designer, these tips should help you ace that first point of contact with interested professional partners. Did I miss anything important that you can think of? Leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below!
I think it’s pretty common knowledge that winter is one of the hardest times to sell a home. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that people aren’t venturing outside as often in the cold weather, but for whatever reason, real estate seems to slow way down this time of year. The good news if you’re looking to sell (or buy!) is that things are likely to pick way back up in just a handful of weeks as spring descends.
All this to say, housewarming party season is about to take over. Be prepared to receive invitations to your friends’ or family member’s new homes or, at the very least, plan to spot a custom “Change of Address” notice or two in the mail. Of course, the next tradition to follow is a basket of custom-curated goodies to hand over in celebration! Read on for a few theme ideas to inspire a housewarming gift box that they’ll actually appreciate this upcoming moving season.
New address celebration: Box of custom-ordered notecards with their monogram, a reusable stamp with their new address imprinted on it, packaged in a pretty antique mailbox
Post-move spa day: soaps, an organic natural sponge, matching robes, all wrapped in tissue paper and packaged in a drawstring linen laundry bag
Book nook starter kit: Brochure to the local library, extra large knit blanket, stack of bestselling books, candle and matches
Organization motivation: A set of nesting Tupperware containers with fun colored box tops, a label maker, peel-and-stick chalkboard labels, chalkboard marker, all packaged in one extra large see-through Tupperware tote
Need-to-have necessities: Fresh fabric shower liners, heavy-duty trash bags, box cutter, set of uncut keys and a gift card to Lowe’s for making copies, lightbulbs, all wrapped up in a reusable grocery bag
Newcommers’ to-do list: Manila folder filled with brochures and directions to local attractions and museums, 2-3 small gift cards to local restaurants to encourage trying out new places, tickets to the local movie theater or symphony
First night meal package: Hand-written recipe for a hearty, easy-to-make meal, all of the ingredients to go with it, placemats and napkins, packaged in a pot or pan.
What are your go-to housewarming gift box themes or ideas? I’d love to learn from your creative traditions, so please do share them below. And, before I sign off for the day, a big THANK YOU goes out to my friend Bethany for her help with modeling and bringing this story to life in-store!
*My promise to you is that the affiliate links featured in this post spotlight items that I use and love myself.
One of the fastest day-killers in my line of work (and probably yours, too) are emails. I get hundreds of messages a day from teammates, PR companies, editors, robots, and readers. Most of these I love to get and respond to (at the top of the list are messages from you guys!), but other types of emails have the tendency to waste a lot of valuable time.
In order to help streamline the process, I’ve worked a number of different processes into the way I manage my email responses. From filing and unsubscribing, to custom replies set up ahead of time, these five tricks below all help me get to “Inbox Zero” by the end of almost every single day, and ultimately keep my stress level under control, too. Read on for details!
How To Get To “Inbox Zero” Every Day
Set up canned responses: I have a huge collection of pre-drafted responses set up in my Gmail account that allow me to decline offers, explain my sponsored post rates and policies, and even pitch a new partnership within a matter of seconds. Long 3-4 paragraph emails can be drafted, personalized, and sent literally in the time it takes me to enjoy one sip of coffee. Canned responses in Gmail allow me to hustle through tedious email responses faster than ever before. Let me know if you’d like a separate blog post about how to set these up for yourself!
Create a digital filing system: I treat my inbox like a to-do list. As soon as I finish a task or respond to an email, I move it over to its respective labeled folder. I have folders for sponsored partnerships, reader questions, events, taxes, bills, and many more. Using canned responses to get those emails out faster and then filing things away helps keep my inbox clear and controlled throughout the day. If you take nothing else away from this post, these first two tips are the big ones!
Just delete it: If you can tell that a person drafted an email and then just changed your name in the salutation (or, worse, if they get your name wrong), just delete it. If you’re a blogger, you’re probably very familiar with these types of messages. They’re typically from PR reps who send out massive releases to brands and content creators, and little if any of the message is changed from recipient to recipient. If not a lot of effort was put into sending me a personal message, than I often don’t put a ton of effort into responding. Most of the time I just delete these. Of course, there are exceptions, and (don’t get me wrong) I love to connect with creative brands and PR reps, but that’s not always the case, and you can usually tell whether or not an email deserves a personal response. My assumption? The person will follow up if it really is a personalized message worthy of a closer look!
Add a disclaimer: Over a year ago, I decided that enough was enough and I needed to shut my computer and email down after 5pm. So, I added a quick one-line disclaimer to my email signature: “Please note that my office hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST. To keep up with my challenge to be more productive and intentional this season, click through to Glitter Guide here!” This goes out to every single person I email so that everyone is aware of my email habits. The cool thing is that, ever since adding the disclaimer, I’ve noticed I get far less emails after 5pm! This is another one of those couldn’t-be-easier tricks, that takes just a moment to set up but goes a long way toward minimizing unnecessary emails.
Hit “Unsubscribe”: You can try signing up for a service to help you automatically get rid of spammy email subscriptions, or you can do what I do and simply hit “Unsubscribe.” I do this manually whenever I notice that I’ve gotten a message or alert that I no longer need (or never even signed up for). If you’re diligent about unsubscribing, you should notice that getting to “Inbox Zero” is a lot easier each day.
Do you have any other tips and tricks to share? How do you get to “Inbox Zero” every day? I’d love for you to leave your suggestions (and questions!) in the comments below so that we can all learn from each other.
Happy Monday! Are you ready for a bit of makeover motivation? Today, in honor of our own living room refresh, I’m sharing a roundup of products that have inspired me to up the ante in our main gathering space. I’ve long been a fan of just about everything West Elm does, and this collection of curated items is just a small peek into the pieces I’m loving from the brand this season.
Lately, I’ve been really inspired by and drawn to neutral textiles, metallic gold detailing, exposed wood grains, and shades of blue. The proof, of course, is in this lineup pictured above and linked to below. While a lot of the accents and furniture I’m calling out today collectively require a sizable investment, I think it’s pretty safe to say that none of it will go out of style any time soon. The other good news is that the dozen pieces can be paired with bolder decor should you (or I!) decide to switch things up with a brighter palette in a year or two.
Most of these items have found their way into our real life living room, and I’m just bursting at the seams to show you the new look. Stay tuned later on this month for the full tour, to include our living room, dining space, and even our kitchen, too! Now, I want to know: what’s your favorite pick in the list above? Tell me in the comments below.
*My promise to you is that the affiliate links featured in this post spotlight items that I use and love myself.
I really hate to kick this post off on such a negative note, but wow…It has been a doozy of a week. I’ve tried to downplay things here on the blog, but John and I have been struggling through quite a few household headaches that have left us both absolutely exhausted at the end of each day. Suffice it to say, copious amounts of wine have been (responsibly) consumed this week.
I don’t ever want to seem like I’m not grateful for all of the wonderful things we enjoy in our lives, because we’ve got a lot to revel in—a happy marriage, a sweet pack of pets to love, a beautiful home that’s more than enough for all of us to enjoy. Cars though? Yeah, that’s the brunt of our concerns right now.
Long story long, we decided to sell my car on a whim, and the deal happened a lot quicker than we anticipated. So, then we were down to one car. Next up, John got his car (our only car at that point) inspected and a crumbling frame landed us with a “Rejected” sticker. Hundreds of dollars later, we’re still only partly through the process of getting his car back to approved order. While his SUV was in the shop, we had to borrow a car from our gracious friends, and all the while we were on the hunt for a new car for me.
The almost hilarious part of this saga is that we found and purchased a super clean new (ish) Subaru for me, but upon getting it home, found out that it has a mid-drive stalling issue. Yesterday morning, I watched my “brand new” beloved car get towed away to our dealer’s mechanic, and that left us back down to our borrowed friends’ car and John’s illegal SUV. Again, it’s an utter enormous mess, and I probably shouldn’t have relayed all of that to you, but I guess I needed to get it off my chest.
Did I mention that I found out this week that I also probably need to get my tonsils taken out? I’m basically considering a glass of wine with my morning cereal at this point (kidding).
Anyway, you’re probably wondering what the heck all of these idyllic park photos now have to do with our car woes. Well, amidst the chaos and confusion of our delinquent modes of transportation, John and I have had to get serious about stress relief. Of course, these things weren’t really under our control, so we just had to accept each bad break as they came and then work on devising a solution. It was leaving us drained and weary, but the good news is that we’re enjoying some pretty comfortable temperatures here in Virginia this week. So, one mid-week afternoon right smack in the middle of all these crap circumstances, we decided to take a long, long walk through the local Serenity Garden.
This cancer awareness garden sits alongside the South River at Ridgeview Park, and is just a mile or two from our house. Whenever we find ourselves at our whit’s end, we almost always agree that it’s time to head toward the Serenity Garden. Between the beautiful, lovingly planted landscaping and its proximity to the river, it practically can’t be beat. We soaked up every fresh breath that day, and spent more than a few extra minutes looking into the rippling, rushing water of the river.
Although we’re dealing with quite a bit right now, we’re not so disheartened to ignore the fact that our lives revolve around some of the best stuff this world has to offer—this outdoor oasis being one of them. In case you’re dealing with some negative stuff right now, or if your week has just been an exceptionally busy or stressful one, I hope you’ll consider taking a few minutes to head out to your favorite spot for some fresh air and sunshine. There might not be any better medicine out there for stress and heartache.
Thanks, as always, for listening (and watching—there’s another video for you below if you keep scrolling!) and here’s hoping that you enjoy a wonderful weekend, however you decide to spend it. Your kind comments and words of encouragement never cease to add positivity to my day, and I really needed it this week. You’ll never, ever know just how much I appreciate you. Thank you…
One of the comments I hear most often from visitors and guests who come into our home is how bright and white it is. The pure white wall color has become a defining characteristic of our space, although I honestly didn’t anticipate or set out to make it that way. To me, the white paint color that we chose for our walls is just that: a color! It’s really no different than the shade of mint I used in my old office, or the dark gray we painted the master bedroom in our old townhouse. Yet, to a lot of people who peek inside our front door (or through my camera lens here on the blog), the white walls are the stand-out detail to note.
Of course, white-painted walls do make a certain kind of statement—there’s no denying that—but I think there’s honestly a lot more room to play when it comes to this color than people might think. And, as it turns out, you can actually save money by going with one shade of white, too! Read on for 5 reasons why white walls are a good idea when decorating your own home.
Why White Walls Are A Good Idea:
You can change your decor at a moment’s notice: Last year, our home was accented with bright yellow and pink accessories, but on a whim at the start of 2017 I decided to adopt a mostly neutrals palette with hints of blue throughout. Our white-painted walls allowed me to make those changes without requiring a brand new wall color, too.
White reflects light: Because of the ultra pure tone we chose for our white paint (“High Reflective White” by Sherwin Williams, to be exact), natural light is able to pour in through the windows and bounce right off the walls to illuminate our spaces. It effectively doubles the brightness of our home, even on rainy, cloudy days! We usually don’t have to turn any artificial lights on at all until after sunset, saving us energy and, ultimately, money.
You make fewer mistakes at the paint counter: When I relied on paint to add color to the rooms in our old townhouse, I ended up going through several paint colors before finally settling on the right ones. I think I painted most of the rooms at least twice because I kept making mistakes with my chosen colors—they tended to be either too bright or too dark. White is the ideal middle ground in terms of color, and after settling on the perfect shade, I was able to skip the hassle of trial and error with the rest of the rooms in the house—they all just got the same white paint treatment.
You can buy paint in bulk: Another reason to go all-white in your home is the fact that you can purchase your chosen shade of paint in bulk. It’s cheaper and easier to store a single color in a large bucket, as opposed to multiple labeled gallon jugs stacked (often haphazardly) on top of each other.
There are a range of shades to choose from: One of the biggest misconceptions about all-white walls is that they will feel cold and stark since the color white is itself inherently “cold and stark.” The truth is though that there isn’t just one single shade of white paint. You can choose one with blue undertones in it, or one with red undertones. Just as with any color of the rainbow, you can make white feel warm or cool depending on the swatch you choose. The sky’s the limit in terms of your particular shade of white, so you don’t have to feel limited.
So, have I helped convince you that white walls are a good idea? Are you open to giving this truly versatile color a shot in your own space? I couldn’t be happier with our investment to paint our entire house in “High Reflective White,” and could (clearly) go on and on and on about it. Leave your thoughts and opinions below!
Ahhhhh, meal planning. This weekly task is truly the bane of my existence, and one that I tend to dread way more often than not. I don’t particularly know why—I think it just always ends up being the last thing on my to-do list, and is the “piece of straw that broke the camel’s back.”
John and I do our best to make this tedious activity fun each week by settling together on the couch, pad of paper and pen in hand (and often a glass of wine, too), which certainly helps it feel more leisurely. I now also copy and paste recipe links into emails addressed to John and me as they catch my eye during daily social media scrolling. I file them away into a “Recipes” folder set up in my Gmail inbox and John does the same, that way we have a running list of yummy meals to choose from during those weekly meal planning sit-downs.
One type of weekday meal that we’ve found ourselves going back to over and over again is the Bento style lunch. I hope I’m using that term correctly (and please correct me if I’m wrong), but I think our American-ized version of this Japanese tradition essentially compartmentalizes take-away meals into sections within a box.
“Bento Box” lunches seem to be all the rage on Pinterest, and we’ve recently started incorporating them into our routine with lots of scrumptious success, so I wanted to share a couple of the combos that really hit the mark for us.
1/2 cup broccoli & carrot slaw (we purchased ours ready-made, but feel free to substitute with hand-chopped broccoli and carrot)
2 slices whole grain bread
Open and drain the tuna. Dump it into a bowl, and stir in the dill weed and Sriracha Ranch. Spoon the tuna salad onto a slice of bread. Top with slaw and a second slice of bread, then cut the sandwich into bite-sized squares or triangles.
For this Bento Box lunch, we included the Spicy Tuna Salad Sandwiches, a handful of chopped celery sticks, and a dollop of creamy peanut butter for dipping. My favorite way to cleanly transfer peanut butter from the jar to a Bento Box is using an ice cream scoop that has a trigger release. I also love using paper cupcake liners as separators when my plastic Tupperware doesn’t have enough compartments for everything I want to pack in.
Peanut Butter Banana Roll-Ups
2 whole wheat flour tortillas
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
Lay out the first tortilla, and spread with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter. Slice the banana in half, peel, and place one half in the center of the tortilla. Roll the tortilla up and around the banana, and slice into three bite size pieces. Repeat the same steps with the other tortilla, second half of the banana, and the rest of the peanut butter.
For this second Bento Box lunch, we included Peanut Butter Banana Roll-Ups, a fresh salad topped with blueberries, a pile of chopped pineapple, and two cupcake liners filled with different types of nuts—we like almonds and cashews.
By prepping these lunches ahead of time on Sunday night and popping them into the fridge, it makes the Monday morning rush much easier to handle. Have you tried Bento Box lunches out yet? If so, what are your favorite combinations so far?
When I announced at the kick off to the new year that I was going to take a major departure from my old ways here at Dream Green DIY (including a completely new look for my Instagram feed—scroll down a little ways to see the shift in action!), I don’t think I had a real concept of just how freeing it would be. Apparently, I had tethered myself to the bright white and colorful branding I had adopted over the past couple of years, and I didn’t even realize what it was taking out of me creatively to keep it up.
Now though, I’m able to pick up my camera without any hesitation as soon as inspiration strikes, and I don’t have to fuss with a lot of set-up and styling props. These days, if I feel suddenly active and motivated by a spur-of-the-moment project, I can just plop myself down and take the damn pictures to share my ideas or projects with you guys. It’s such a relief, and it makes authentic blog posts a reality here again. That’s not to say that my content had been contrived over the last two years, but it certainly took a lot more effort to get things looking so controlled.
Anyway, this mini lightbulb moment was the result of a spontaneous activity I settled on a couple of weekends ago, and I just had to share. It all started while John was washing our cars. While he was outside, I began flipping through a free take-away catalog that I had stuffed in my bag from the register while shopping the week before (see?! I’m still reaping free rewards from my retail therapy day!).
As I was perusing the pages, I realized that the colors, patterns, and even the photography and styling were speaking to me. I started tearing pages out, with the intent of putting them in a folder in my desk drawer for future shoot and decorating inspiration, but then I noticed that the collection of images was starting to look pretty darn cool while laid out together.
I quickly ran out of room on the couch, and moved down to the floor in the living room, taking my magazine and scissors along with me. In a matter of minutes, I was literally surrounded by pages that hinted at the lifestyle and design direction I’m hoping to move in this year.
When I was done, my eyes darted around to each image in turn, and it was like looking into my future—or at least what I hope my future will look like in 2017. Think: evergreen details, fresh mint green and hints of navy, lots of natural neutral textiles, plants, simple dinners, and plenty of time spent outdoors enjoying the fresh air in loose dresses and sweaters.
I felt calmer and more at peace just looking at my newfound inspiration, and after asking John to snap a couple photos of my mess on the living room floor, I ran into my office and taped those sheets of torn paper right on the wall behind my desk so that I could look at them everyday as I plan things—both for work and our personal lives.
This random art project turned out to be the simplest, most inspiring decor update I’ve tackled in a while, and I wanted to share in the hopes that you, too, can turn something unassuming (and free!) into a beautiful art project of your own.
What kinds of colors, textures, and patterns have you excited this year? And, while I’ve got you, I just wanted to say thanks for sticking with me as I find my footing with this new intentional style. I know it’s different than what you’re used to here on Dream Green DIY, but it’s more “me” and I couldn’t be more honored to have you along for the ride. I think 2017 has the potential to be the prettiest, most inspired one yet—thank you for following along!