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Apartment Decor

Wow, I just came across a blog post that I had drafted a long time ago, but had never posted!  Looking back at the content, it is definitely worth sharing now since some of the décor elements and color scheme could still be inspiring, especially for apartment décor ideas.  Now that we are in a house, we have a lot more flexibility on what we can customize, and will be sure to share those DIY décor updates in future blog posts.

Now, on to finally getting this old post updated and posted.

When we became pregnant with our first, we lived in a loft apartment in Hollywood that we just adored.  While the loft was great for us for a time, the one-bedroom layout wasn't ideal for starting a family.  We moved from our one-bedroom loft apartment to a single-story, two-bedroom apartment in the same building.  Along with the move came some new interior design and décor (the nesting instinct hit me hard, not surprisingly, since I generally love to nest, pregnant or not). For some background, you can see the transformation of our old place (the loft) in this blog post here, and the detail of our burnt orange and gray baby nursery that we created in this new two-bedroom apartment in this post here.

Here are some of the décor photos for the two-bedroom Hollywood apartment.

Using the same dark wood bedroom set and white linens, we opted for a soothing blue/green wall color this time (we had dark purple walls in the bedroom of our loft).  The wall color is Valspar's Spa Pool.  Bedroom set came from Macy's, desk from Target, and lamps from Home Depot.  Wedding pictures above the bed are framed in my favorite budget frames with matting, the Ikea Ribba series.  We also used wicker baskets instead of filing cabinets under the desk.

Hand painted art for the walls.  DIY'ing your wall art not only looks great, but gives you the ability to create anything you want in any color that you need.

White accents.

Most of the art on our walls are painted pieces on canvas, but we did something different for the hall leading towards the master bedroom.  We love to camp (as anyone following this blog would know), and do it quite often.  We decided to frame our favorite photo from each camping trip from the previous year to have a series that led down the hall.  In case you are curious, photos are (from left to right) from the Salton Sea, Sedona, Yosemite, Pismo Beach, and Lake Cuyamaca.

The guest bathroom we painted in a kiwi green, and had brown and white accents.  Art was a reasonably priced DIY by framing a piece of scrapbook paper in an Ikea Ribba frame with matting.  With it being an apartment, we couldn't do anything about the counters, faucets, or any other permanent fixtures so we made do with wall paint and some accents.

Dining room we kept yellow (though a slightly different shade from the yellow we used at the loft), and continued with the black and white accents.  The hutch you see has seen many iterations over the years.  It was maple, then navy blue, then cream, then black, and is now still in use at our current home in a pale gray color with updated knobs.  Will post pictures later!  The chairs had also seen some reupholstering in their day.

My dad made the two bookcases for us (one holds books and one holds DVDs) to match the cherry coffee and side table set he had made for us previously.  We painted the back of the cabinets Boston Fern green to match the color block we painted on the opposite wall (see below).

I am a fan for using a color block as a way to add bold color in a room that may be awkward to paint based on either having vaulted ceilings, or a flow/connection issue with an adjoining room.

Well,  there you go.  I hope to keep my décor posts a little more up-to-date in the future :).


Travel Tuesday: Where to Eat in Austin, Texas Part II

You may recall a Travel Tuesday post I did on Where to Eat in Austin, TX that I wrote a few years back after some visits to Austin from California.  Well, as you can imagine, I have found a few more must-eat spots now that we live here.  So, here is Part II of my list of favorite places to eat in ATX:

Hula Hut
3825 Lake Austin Blvd.
Austin, TX 78703

I honestly can't tell you how their menu is overall, because I can't come here and not order the fish tacos.  Best fish tacos I have ever had.  There is something magical about the sauce they put on it.  Friends I have brought to Hula Hut tell me that their meals have been great too, but I wouldn't know, because I only get the delicious fish tacos.  The margaritas are also great!

The Salt Lick
18300 FM 1826
Driftwood, TX 78619

There is some debate on the best BBQ in town (Salt Lick, County Line, and Franklin's usually top people's lists).  Instead of trying to decide which is best, I am an equal opportunity BBQ-eater, and just go with the ambiance I am in the mood for.  The Salt Lick (and, I mean the original Salt Lick in Driftwood), has a great ambiance on top of the mouth-watering BBQ.  My husband always goes for the all-you-can-eat meat option, but I find that the 3-meat combo is more than enough food.  It is great for a big group of people, as you sit at large family-style tables with benches.  My tip: don't skimp on adding the chipotle BBQ sauce all over everything.  Also, FYI its in a dry area (for real, that still exists!) so you have to BYOB.

The County Line
5204 FM 2222
Austin, TX 78731

County Line has amazing BBQ as well.  Every meat I have tried there has been delicious.  This place I'd choose for a nicer dinner out than Salt Lick.  Not only do you have beautiful views of the lake, but you don't have the sawdust-on-the-floor, country boys and girls gettin' down on the farm vibe that the more casual Salt Lick has.  My tip: no matter how much food you think you'll have with your entrée, you must order their fresh bread as an appetizer. YUM!

Hoover's Cooking
2002 Manor Rd.
Austin, TX 78722

Photo Source: Austin Chronicle

Hoover's Cooking is a never-disappoint Southern comfort food joint.  The best chicken fried steak I have found in Austin thus far.  I love that they have 2 different portion size options for the entrée in case you can't handle a huge meal.  Either way, you get a choice of their fantastic sides.  Favorites of mine are the garlic cheese grits (only served on weekends) and the fried okra.

2004 S 1st St.
Austin, TX 78704

There is no shortage of Tex Mex in Austin.  I highlighted a few favorites on my previous post on Austin eats, but have since found another "keeper" in Polvos.  Amazing queso, delicious enchiladas, and a great choice of salsas at their salsa bar.

303 Red River St.
Austin, TX 78701

Photo Source: Yelp

In the heart of downtown, this is an especially good choice for travelers, as it is steps away from the main hotels.  My favorite entrée here is the chicken fried steak, as it has a special gravy with chipotle that gives it a little something extra.  I have also really enjoyed their steaks... full of flavor from their sauces and marinades, and need no extra seasoning (this is coming from a person who salts and peppers everything).  Good to know tip: the portions are huge!


Disney Cars Themed Birthday Party

My son Grayson is obsessed with Disney/Pixar Cars.  Like, seriously obsessed.  He introduces himself to others as "Lightning McQueen," and if he's feeling particularly sassy, he'll throw in a "Ka-Chow!"  Luckily for the rest of the people in the family, Cars is a very enjoyable movie (for kids and adults), so the fact that it has regular rotation on our Blu-Ray player is not too bad.

When it came time to plan Grayson's third birthday party, I knew it had to be special.  Not only does he have more friends his own age that can participate, but he also has much more awareness of what's going on (unlike a first birthday party, which is really more for the friends of the parents than anyone else).  I have him the option for a Cars or a Toy Story (another favorite of his) party, and of course, he went with Cars.  To see his jungle-themed first birthday party, click here.  To see his ice cream social second birthday party, click here.

As with everything we do, we wanted to make this party our own, and not full of pre-packaged licensed products.  This meant a lot of DIY.  Fortunately, I planned this party in the age of Pinterest, where I found a ton of inspiration.  Click here to see my planning inspiration board for Grayson's Cars themed birthday party.

First, we needed a personalized invitation.  I went with this one found on Etsy from MistyPrints.  For printing, I went with a new favorite printer, UPrinting.  This is the cheapest online printer that still does good quality work, and with a quick turnaround.  Here's how ours turned out:

And now, for the details!

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a commission.  This does not cost you anything additional, and helps me to keep the rest of my content free, so thank you!

Entry sign. "Welcome to Radiator Springs, Gateway to Grayson's Birthday." I created this myself in Illustrator and Photoshop using these instructions, but you could probably do something similar with this free Vacation Postcard font and this free Honey Script font.

Some of the DIY details for the party.  Rusteze, Flo's V8 Café, and Ramone's House of Body Art printable links are below. Route 66 signs made by printing an image found on Google Images.  Cupcake toppers made with a scrapbook circle cutter and toothpicks (image printable link is also below).

Inspired by this adorable idea from the Miggyhood blog, I created "eyes" for the windshields of our two cars out of white and black posterboard.

Naturally, the dessert station was to be "Sarge's Surplus {of Sweets}" inspired by Sarge's Surplus Hut from the movie.  Link to the printable is below.

Mini chocolate donuts were "Spare Tires."  A really popular snack for the adults and kids!  Font for food signs: Rocket Script.

Cupcakes with DIY cupcake toppers.  I would have loved to have done some fondant toppers like these, but the DIY paper toppers were much friendlier on the budget.

Rusteze (Iced Tea) and Fillmore's Organic Fuel were the beverages. Link to the printables below.

Pulled pork sliders with checkered flag picks.

The kids in attendance were of the perfect age to appreciate a bouncy castle, and I found a great deal on renting one here locally (Amanzi Party Rentals).

Luigi's Casa Della Tires (inspired by this blog post on From Rookie to Rock Star).  Printable link below.
Centerpiece consisted of two tires with a Route 66 sign and two checkered flags.  Sorry for the bad lighting!

Guido's Pit Stop (inspired by this blog post on From Rookie to Rock Star). I didn't have the time to make this Lightning McQueen out of wood, so I made it from a few pieces of red foam board, and painted the details with acrylic paint.  This turned out to be big hit amongst the kiddos.  The could "wash" Lightning, "gas him up," and "change his tires" (all in quotes since none of them involve water, gas or removal of tires).

Cars bubble bath bottle made a perfect "gas can" to place in the snack cup I attached to the car.

Car wash supplies from Home Depot worked perfectly for "washing" Lightning.

Toy bolts were attached to Lightning's wheels, and using toy wrenches and screwdrivers (all toys Grayson already had from toy tool sets), the kids could pretend to change Lightning's tires.

I missed getting a picture of our Ramone's House of Body Art station where kids could put on temporary Cars tattoos.  I had bowls with water and small pieces of sponge to help apply the tattoos.

Tires and bean bags made for a fun competition that we called "Mater's Tire Toss."  Prizes were Cars themed stickers and toys from Party City.  Even the adults got in on this one.

Favor bags included all sorts of Cars goodies (links on where I purchased favors are below).

What Cars party is complete without a Cars themed playlist?  There are hundreds of options out there, so it took some time to narrow it down to these top picks:

Cars Party Playlist:
  • Pink Cadillac (Bruce Springsteen)
  • Drive My Car (Paul McCartney)
  • Mustang Sally (Wilson Pickett)
  • Roadhouse Blues (The Doors)
  • Take it Easy (The Eagles)
  • Guitars, Cadillacs (Dwight Yoakam)
  • The Distance (CAKE)
  • Running on Empty (Jackson Browne)
  • Life is a Highway (Rascal Flatts)
  • Little Red Corvette (Prince)
  • Slow Ride (Foghat)
  • Hot Rod Girl (Brian Setzer)
  • 409 (The Beach Boys)
  • Fun, Fun, Fun (The Beach Boys)
  • Route 66 (Chuck Berry)
  • Life in the Fast Lane (The Eagles)
  • The Little Old Lady from Pasadena (Jan & Dean)
  • Greased Lightnin’ (John Travolta/Grease Soundtrack)
  • Little Deuce Couple (The Beach Boys)
  • Low Rider (War)
  • Up Around the Bend (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
  • I’m In Love With My Car (Queen)
  • Beep (Playmates)
  • On The Road Again (Willie Nelson)
  • Sh-Boom (The Chords) – a must for a Disney/Pixar Cars themed party!

Party Supplies:
Reminder: This post contains some affiliate links, which means I may receive commission if you make a purchase using the link.

I hope that you find some inspiration with these!  Next party I'll cover will be my son Sawyer's Rock n' Roll themed first birthday party.  Stay tuned!!


Curb Appeal

From the small décor projects we have done over time, we know what a huge difference a coat of paint can make.  Spray painting an old builder-grade brass light fixture can give it an updated look for a few dollars.  Repainting an old wooden thrift store find can restore a piece of furniture, and make it your own. 
We had to keep the same thing in mind when we were house hunting for our first home. While we have never been afraid to roll up our sleeves and DIY, my husband and I had to make some agreements in advance on what we were, and weren't willing to renovate or DIY in our home.  This allowed us to see potential in homes that may not have been our dream home in their current condition.
The home we chose was a perfect example of this compromise.  There were features included that we were grateful to not have to DIY (stainless steel appliances, dark hard wood floors, Carrara marble countertops for example)... however, there were a few things that could have possibly scared us away had we not seen the potential through it. In the coming months, I will highlight some of the transformations we made in our house to bring it closer to the dream home we imagine.
One of the first things we did upon moving in was schedule an exterior paint job.  If you know me, you know I am not a fan of the mainstream, neutral earth-tones.  I am much more a fan of dramatic extremes with pops of a bright or bold color, and to me, neutral is gray (not brown).  So it was almost too much for me to get around the lack of curb appeal our home had with a drab brown and beige exterior paint palette.  But I am grateful that I didn't let that get in the way of all the great features the interior had (see above).  Here is our before and after with the exterior paint.  Let me know if you agree that it increased the curb appeal of our house!

I suppose it also doesn't hurt that the grass is green and the trees are blooming in the "after" pictures! ;)


Hanging Potted Herb Garden

Moving into our first home opened up all sorts of indoor and outdoor decorating possibilities!  We got working on the interior spaces right away (I will highlight some of our DIY home décor makeovers in future blog posts), but for a while, we were at a loss on what to do with our big, beautiful, blank slate of a backyard.  I did know that I wanted an herb garden, but since we didn't have the master plan for our yard yet, I had to find a solution that was not permanently in the ground.  I came across this great idea for a trellis hanging herb garden from Making Lemonade on their blog post here.  Here's how it turned out for us:

Supplies and Tips:
  • Trellis: Home Depot, painted with the leftover exterior paint from our home trim.
  • Pots: Ikea Socker Plant Pot with Holder, a steal at $7.99! I punched some holes in the bottom for drainage with a hammer and nail, then (a trick my dad taught me) inserted a small square of window screen to prevent too much soil falling out the bottom holes.
  • Label tags: Ikea. They do sell them in black, but if they only have the blue or pink left, you can always spray paint them like I did.  I used a metallic silver Sharpie to write the names of the herbs.
Easy, and looks awesome in the yard!