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Decor, Organize

Functional Entryway Design Inspiration

January 24, 2015
Functional Entryway Design Inspiration_Feature

Shoes and mail are my ultimate clutter issues… Do you have this problem? Do they have a support group for this?

To be honest, email and snail mail are both equally a mess in my life. At work, I have a filing system to be able to respond to directors efficiently with the information they are seeking, but a couple of weeks ago, I started getting daily reminders that my Outlook inbox is almost full, forcing me to delete a bunch of past messages before I can even send a new one. At home, my personal email situation is atrocious. I just reviewed my gmail account and there 5,046 messages in my inbox, with no filing system set up, aside from the “Primary,” “Social,” and “Promotions” tabs that Google appointed. I never keep up with deleting old messages and just skim through the new ones each day, starring those I want to get back to and replying to others immediately. My blog email account can use a little work, but thankfully isn’t the worst of the bunch. I have folders set up and was good about sorting everything in the first month, I just let it go over the last few weeks, and need to get back to it there.

Now, snail mail. [deep breath] Somehow, I have gotten so bad with my paper mail, that unless it’s a package that I’ll tear open immediately, I won’t even open it for a week, sometimes even two. In my early twenties, I used to just avoid bills  because I thought that would somehow make them disappear, but now I’m just flat out forgetting to bring it all in the house, or I put it down on a surface and forget to go back to it after taking Archer out for a walk. I don’t end up getting back to it until Saturday or Sunday when we are cleaning up the house and then I have a huge pile to sort through, giving Adrian and I each a mound, and tossing all the ads in the recycling bin. That means I didn’t get to lovely birthday cards right away and those would have made me smile sooner, especially after the work day.

As far as shoes go, you can find six pairs of shoes of mine at any given time downstairs in our home. I leave them by the door because it was wet after walking the dog, or i scatter my dress shoes after work in favor for slippers, or sneakers if I’m running errands. Then I forget to take them upstairs. Sometimes there’s a little pile of things to take with me on the bottom step, other times I have to go room to room to collect it all.

This needs to end. It’s also a step towards one of my resolutions, to  keep our house in tip top shape without the stress of tackling it all at once, because little tasks get pushed back over time.

So now the plan is to have a command center/drop zone built in to our entry way to keep things organized as soon as we walk in the door. I’d like a place for shoes, something to hold one week’s worth of mail only (junk mail should be recycled immediately and not included in this bin), a spot for doggy toys, hooks for my purse and coats, and a place to lay our keys.  I’d like to have a board for notes to one another, our weekly meal plan listed with an ongoing shopping list, and a shared calendar. This will require storage, as I’d like to keep the boards, mail, and calendars discreetly hidden from guests, but in the open enough for us not to avoid it.

So I’ve gathered up some inspiration. If you’re anything like me or have your own clutter issues, maybe these will help you too, or maybe just an aesthetic redesign is in order!

(Click images for their source)

Functional Entryway Design Inspiration

Functional Entryway Design Inspiration

Functional Entryway Design Inspiration

Functional Entryway Design Inspiration

Functional Entryway Design Inspiration

Functional Entryway Design Inspiration

Functional Entryway Design Inspiration

This last entryway is the one I am leaning towards. I’m hoping to come up with an Ikea hack to help us complete the project within a decent budget. I love all of the storage, but may have to reduce the upper cabinets and seating by half, since I only have four feet of wall space to work with on each side of the door. I like that the calendar and note system can go on the inside the long cabinet door, where they’re not in plain sight for visitors and that our puppy gear and mail can be out of view too.

Do you have a system in place to keep your mail, shoes, and every day clutter under control? I’d love to hear some of your tips too!
DIY, Organize, Recently

His and Hers Holiday Survival Kits + Man Crates

December 21, 2014
His and Hers Holiday Survival Kits + Man Crates

I’m so excited because Adrian took some time out to join me in today’s post! (I’m hoping he’ll start stopping by more often. 🙂 ) Not only did Adrian work on this with me, but Man Crates reached out to us to share their awesome and unique gift offerings for the men in your life! We are down to the wire, with Christmas just a few days left, so we wanted to share with you our holiday essentials and give you a peek at what Man Crates has to offer!

(We were not at all compensated for this post and all ideas are our own. We just think Man Crates is really onto something with their mission to provide dudes with perfect gifts!)



His and Hers Holiday Survival Kits + Man Crates

Hey! Jaclyn usually asks me to proof-read her posts, but this is the first one I get to help write!

I always forget about my vacation days until the end of the year, and I have to use them or lose them. This year, I used a bunch for our honeymoon, and now I’m using the rest of them for a sanity break. I figure I’ll finally get to unpack from our recent move and put all of my things away in my “man cave”, play some video games, and write some songs.

Here are a few things I need to keep me from going nuts!

  1. Amazon Prime: This isn’t just for the holidays, but Amazon Prime really comes in handy for last-minute gifts! $99/year for two-day shipping of purchases, and tons of shows and movies I can watch to keep myself sane while I holiday shop at home.
  2. A New Guitar: I love to play guitar! Every guitar sounds and feels different based on how it’s put together, and a diverse sonic palette inspires creativity, so I always like to add to my collection. I have been looking at four or five different guitars to gift myself this season. The most unique model I’m looking at is the Kenny Hickey (of Type O Negative fame) signature model Schecter C-1 EX S. Its most unique feature is a “Sustaniac” pickup in the neck position, which is used to create an electromagnetic feedback loop — you can create feedback without going deaf standing in front of a cranked amplifier!
  3. Event Tickets: The holidays can be festive and social, but sometimes I feel “stuck” at home. Winter is cold, it’s dark, there’s snow and ice on the ground, and it’s hard to find the motivation to do anything. Tickets to a concert, a sporting event, or a show are opportunities (and because they cost money, obligations!) to go out and have fun. Every year, Jaclyn surprises me and takes me out to something fun: rock concerts, basketball games, professional wrestling, the list goes on!
  4. Guitar Strings: If you play guitar, you always need a good supply of strings on hand. I usually tune down to CGCFAD or DGCFAD, so I need a thicker string with good tone, but I don’t want them to feel like power cables. My string preference is Ernie Ball Coated Electric Titanium RPS Power Slinky — the coating keeps them sounding good for a long while!
  5. Guitar Picks: I go through picks like crazy. I like Jim Dunlop Gator Grip picks at .96mm, sufficiently heavy while able to provide some nuance.
  6. Beer: I am a craft beer enthusiast — not a beer snob! — so I enjoy drinking different styles and brands in my search for “the perfect beer”. (I also like getting Jaclyn to try them with me!) My palate changes with the seasons, so I’m not sure I will ever find “the perfect beer”… but it sure is fun to try! An annual favorite of mine is the Sly Fox Christmas Ale.  It’s a “winter warmer” type of beer, slightly heavy, a touch of malt, spicy and flavorful, and delightful for cold weather and relaxation.
  7. A Christmas Story: It’s just not Christmas without this classic movie! It has a special place in my heart, because I watch this every chance I get with my father, and we still laugh like idiots every time. “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”


His and Hers Holiday Survival Kits + Man Crates

Here are some of my favorite things during the holidays, along with other things I couldn’t get by without!

  1. Coffee All the Time: This is a must year round, but I have to have my holiday specialty drinks this time of year.
  2. Cookies: I am a sucker for sweets always, but it’s 10x as bad during Christmas.
  3. Bottles of Wine: Wine is a perfect gift for neighbors, coworkers, stocking stuffers, you name it. I always have extras for anyone on my list I may have forgotten last minute, but I also like to have extra for planned (and sometimes unplanned) guests.
  4. Comfy Pajamas: When I come home from work, if we don’t have anywhere to go, I immediately change into my pajamas. It’s the best feeling in the winter!
  5. Target Boots (and Moccasins): I have to admit, I’ve never actually owned a pair of Uggs. I prefer to get boots and moccasins at Target each year instead. I’m notorious for stepping in unexpected puddles or wearing them in the snow, so I don’t have to stress when they get a bit beat up.
  6. Mad Elf: #6 and #11 go together here. They are my favorite holiday beers! I always get super excited to see them on the shelf at Wegmans!
  7. Repairing Lotion: My skin gets way too dry in the winter. I started using Vaseline’s intensive care lotion this year and it’s been wonderful. I never get cracked or dry skin now. (Tip: Leaving it by your hand soap in the bathroom reminds you to apply after hand-washing.)
  8. Jane Iredale’s Lip Drink: When I went for my wedding makeup trial, my awesome makeup artist took one look at my lips and knew I am not always the best at staying as hydrated as I should. She gave me a sample of this and I’ve been hooked ever since. I usually put in on first thing when I’m doing my makeup in the morning. You can add whatever you want over top.
  9. ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas: Whenever Adrian isn’t watching Football, I have this channel on. It keeps the Christmas spirit up in the house. My favorite Christmas movies are Elf, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (both the original and live action), and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (the 1964 version.)
  10. Amazon Prime: I started using Amazon Prime about two years ago because we learned you can share your account with another member in your household (so I of course jumped on Adrian’s) and it’s THE BEST THING EVER. Seriously. Last minute shopping is super-easy. I found a couple Minecraft items on my little brother’s Christmas list that I couldn’t find in stores and they arrived two days after ordering with free shipping. Sorry I’m so excited, I just don’t get how everyone doesn’t use this as much as I do.
  11. Southern Tier’s 2XMAS: This goes with #6 and although I thought it couldn’t be true, I actually prefer this over the Mad Elf if I was forced to choose. So good!
  12. Address Book: I procrastinate on writing out the holiday cards each year, so I have to have an address book to keep me organized and make the process of getting them out the door that much faster.
  13. Ugly Sweater Kit: We go to an annual ugly sweater party each year. The past few years, Adrian and I went scavenging at local thrift shops to find our beauties. This year we found these awesome Ugly Sweater kits with everything we’d need to create our own. So much fun! AND we won best couple at the party with them this year!


Man Crates

In addition to sharing our holiday survival kits with you, as I said before, Adrian and I teamed up with Man Crates to bring you great gift ideas for your guy! If you haven’t heard of the before, they design crates full of themed presents, that you open with mini crowbars! There is a fit for any of the men in your life! Adrian loves Man Crates’ style and I love that they take the guess work out of buying and deliver gifts your guy will actually want. Too good not to share this time of year!

They have lots of awesome choices, including gadgets, gear, and video games. Here are Adrian’s favorites to give you a glimpse of what they have to offer:

The High Roller

This is classy and coordinated. Great for poker, drinks, and stogies with friends!

His and Hers Holiday Survival Kits + Man Crates

Original ‘Honor Guard’ Playing Cards Printed exclusively for Man Crates by the USPCC, Original ‘Generalissimo’ Playing Cards Printed exclusively for Man Crates by the USPCC, 2 Evil Genius Sphinx Glasses, 2 oversized whiskey soapstone rocks, 2 felt and slate coasters Stainless steel cigar cases, Evil Genius Sphinx black matte flask

 The Snack Pack

This has a ton of variety, and it’s not just candy, it’s substantial snacking!

His and Hers Holiday Survival Kits + Man Crates

Oreos, Nutter Butter cookies, Chips Ahoy cookies, Theater Box of Starbursts, Peanuts in the Shell, Pringles Potato Chips, Nature Valley Granola Bar, Premium Popcorn, Corn Nuts, Rice Krispy Treats bar, Sunflower seeds, Hot Tamales spicy cinnamon candies, Cracker Jack box, Huge box of Crunch & Munch

 Super Retro Gamer Crate

… And there goes an entire weekend!

His and Hers Holiday Survival Kits + Man Crates


We definitely recommend checking them out for Christmas. If your guy’s already covered, they’d be the best just-because gifts or birthday presents too!

What would you include in your holiday survival kit? Which Man Crate do you think is the coolest?
DIY, Organize, Recently

6 Ways to Stop Buying Holiday Gifts for Everyone

December 4, 2014

With all of our common personal goals to save for retirement, pay off debt, buy or renovate a home, or put kids through college, why is the holiday season such a money hole? Don’t get me wrong, I love giving and receiving gifts just as much as the next, but is that what the holidays are really about? It seems so. I read that it is estimated that Americans spent 602 billion dollars, on the winter holidays alone, last year!

I don’t want to give up gift giving completely, but it would be wonderful to just simplify things and bring holidays back to their core. Spending time with those that matter to us most is really what these celebrations should be about. It’s hard finding the time daily and even weekly to do so and this time of year means more to me than any pile of boxes could. So, I came up with some ways to limit the frivolous spending and still enjoy the holidays while doing so. This list is meant for the adults in the family, but if you want to instill these values early, kids can participate as well!

(Tip: Avoid gift cards for any of these options. If you’re limiting the giving, why take the easy way out?)

6 Ways to Stop Buying Holiday Gifts for Everyone1. Play a Holiday Gift Game

Picking a game that requires one quality gift and another silly gift is probably the most fun way to go here. There are lots of different games to choose from and I’m sure you’ve already played them in school or at work before, so why not make it a new tradition with the family? Here are some of the most popular ideas that just require one gift and a hat:

  • Secret Santa/Pollyana: Each family member would put their name in a hat to be drawn. You have to buy a gift for whomever’s name you pick. The recipient will then try to guess who had them upon opening their gift. (Some versions allow you to write down 3 top gift wishes to make it easier, but I like the creative approach with nothing to go off of)
  • White Elephant/Chinese Auction/Yankee Swap: This one is my favorite. Set a price limit and have everyone bring one wrapped gift that would suit any participant in the bunch.  Have each person draw a number (from one to the total amount of guests present). The person with number “one” chooses a present to unwrap, then the person with number “two” has the option to choose a new, wrapped present, or they may steal the unwrapped present from the first person. If they take the present from the first person, person one chooses another present to unwrap. This goes on until all the presents have been unwrapped and everyone has a gift. The stealing here makes for lots of laughs and conversation!
  • Cakewalk Exchange: This is like musical chairs meets presents! Place numbered, random, holiday-type objects on the floor. Place corresponding numbers in a hat. Use music or a bell to have everyone scramble to an object of their choice, then draw a number from a hat, and whoever has it gets to choose their gift first. Give the option to switch positions or stay where they are until the remainder of the gifts are gone.
2. Volunteer or Give to Charity

6 Ways to Stop Buying Holiday Gifts for Everyone

There are plenty of great organizations in need, where you can volunteer or donate money this season.

  • Sponsor a child or family for the holidays to provide gifts they wouldn’t otherwise receive. I suggest a great organization called Soldiers’ Angels
  • Start or participate in a food, toy , or clothing drive as a family. You can even turn it into a competition to up the fun. There are tons to choose from, including Toys for Tots, Philabundance, and Cradles to Crayons
  • Serve at a local soup kitchen as a family
  • Give back to the animals too. Adopt a polar bear or another favorite, or donate some much needed supplies to your local animal shelter
 3. Nosh Instead

Skip gifts all together and go with food and drinks!

  • Have a potluck dinner. Go traditional or pick a theme and have everyone bring a side
  • Have a cookie exchange. Everyone brings as many dozen cookies as there are guests and everyone leaves the gathering with 1 dozen of each. You can do any sort of treats you prefer
  • Have a cocktail exchange party. Each family member (of age) brings the liquor and mixings for the cocktail of their choice and everyone sips the night away
4. Pair Up

If the adults in your family are all in relationships, here’s easy way to scale back is to just give and receive gifts as a couple. This is a great way to incorporate something they may need for their home or to get creative with date nights!

5. Vote For a Family Outing

Make memories each year as a family. First set a budget that’s comfortable for everyone, then pitch in for an event out together. Try:

  • A simple or fancy dinner out instead of cooking
  • See a Broadway show or concert
  • Head to the movie theater
  • Go all out on a family vacation together
6. Handmade Only

Forgo the shopping completely and make each other gifts. For the guys who aren’t so crafty? Make up coupon books!


I’d love to hear if you incorporate any of these traditions in your family! How do you feel about all the gift giving this time of year?
Organize, Wedding

Packing for Your Trip, Made Easy

October 20, 2014
Honeymoon Bound

We are off to the airport for our honeymoon! At 9:50 this morning our flight will take off with a new Mr. and Mrs. aboard, eager to flee to our private revelry. I have been looking forward to this for almost as long as I dreamed of getting married. I love to travel, but the honeymoon always had this dreamy allure of intimacy and seclusion for me that other vacations can’t quite achieve.

We gave ourselves a day to decompress before leaving. I initially planned to have our bags ready to go, so we could just slow things down the night before and get in vacation mode. That almost happened, but there were a few things I didn’t quite get to like I hoped, which left me with an hour or so of re-checking bags, lists, and throwing last minute items from the laundry into our luggage.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been in that boat before too, so I gathered us all a few quick tips for getting it together for all the voyages yet to come!


1. Start your list early- Start the list early to allow time to add to it as you remember things along the way, since that’s the whole purpose of making one to begin with. Leaving the list to the day of packing will allow for things to get left behind. Sunscreen is super expensive at most tourist destinations and resorts!

2. Check you airline’s baggage policy- Avoid unplanned fees and hassles by looking up your airlines baggage policy ahead of time. Also, you should be able to bring a carry-on, along with your purse, so pack all of your absolute-must-haves, including electronics and valuable jewelry, to take on board with you in case of lost or delayed luggage on the way. If an item is irreplaceable or you’re worried about losing it, don’t bring it along.

3. Roll, roll, roll- I’m not the neatest folder to begin with, so folding clothes takes up way too much space in my luggage. Rolling them makes a huge difference when it comes to zipping that suitcase up. It also helps reduce wrinkles!

4. Leave some room- Don’t forget about the trip home! You’ll most likely need some space for souvenirs in your carry on or checked luggage.

Do you have any other time and space saving methods you swear by when packing for your trip?