Nature-Inspired Gallery Wall

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Hey, y’all! I had so much fun putting this gallery wall together, and I am so pleased with the results that I couldn’t help but share. Of course, there are countless ways in which a gallery wall can be put together, but I will at the very least share the thought process behind mine.

Personally, I think that gallery walls should share both a color scheme and a common theme (shout out to my poets who don’t know it). As you can see from the photos, I went for both vibrant and muted earth tones, with turquoises and greens taking center stage. Furthermore, I went with a nature-inspired theme, with some pieces being straightforward and other pieces being abstract.

I love gallery walls because they say so much about who you are and completely set the tone of your space. I also love photo ledge shelves in particular, because they allow you to switch up your gallery as often as you’d like without having to potentially put new holes in the wall. I purchased mine from IKEA, which offers two different sizes: large (pictured) and small.

While I typically love symmetry and perfect alignment, Dan dared me to step outside the box and stagger the shelves, and I’m so happy that I did! I think staggering them adds a certain element of interest. As it turns out, perfection is often quite boring. ;)

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Top shelf, left to right: 1) frame from World Market and art print by TheClay Play via Etsy // 2) frame from World Market and postcard print a freebie in an Anthropologie shipment // 3) frame from West Elm and art print by Cat Coquillette via Society6 // 4) tile gifted from Dan via Moravian Pottery & Tile Works in Doylestown, PA // 5) frame from Michael’s (old) and photography by yours truly

Bottom shelf, left to right: 1) frame handmade by Dan and antique map from MySunshineVintage via Etsy // 2) frame from World Market and art print by TheClay Play via Etsy // 3) frame from West Elm and art print from Amy Sia via Society6 // 4) frame from World Market and card from my ABM Happy Mail subscription // 5) frame a hand-me-down from my mom and photography by yours truly

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Four Ways to Update Your Wall Art and Photo Frames

…on the cheap. I’ll say it once, and I’ll say it again: I’ve got champagne taste with a beer budget. While I hope to one day have all of my walls adorned with original art, that’s simply not in the cards for me at this point in my life. However, to do things on a budget does not mean that you need to compromise elegance. Most of my frames were housing prints that I’d had since college. Sorry, Van Gogh. “Almond Blossoms” stole my heart for a while, but I had to move on.

Here are four simple and affordable ways in which I updated my bedroom’s wall art and photo frames:

ONE // I made a poster collage via Printstagram, which is a super awesome company that links its website to your social media accounts and allows you to print all kinds of lovely things. The size of the poster that I went with costs $25 and fits most poster frames. I already had a poster frame that was (of course) too big for this print, so I ordered a pre-cut mat board to make it work. Well, it all worked out for the best because I ended up loving the look of it with the mat so much more. Even with the mat in the picture (uh, no pun intended), this project should cost no more than $50 bucks.

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TWO // Do you have any photos that you’ve taken that you just love? Or at the very least have a photographer friend or family member whose work you really admire? Simply edit a couple of your/their shots and get them printed. As illustrated above, mat board makes everything look a touch more elegant. I edited these photos on iPhoto, got them printed through Apple and shipped to my doorstep, and framed them with pre-cut mat board from Blick Art Materials in Center City Philadelphia. All in all, the cost of this project is $15 for both frames.

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THREE // While Printstagram offers 4×4 prints, the minimum amount that you can order at a time is 24. Sometimes, you don’t want 24 prints. Sometimes, you want only one print for that adorable, 4×4 picture frame you scored at Homegoods. That’s what the Walgreens app is really great for. It links to your Instagram account and prints however many (or however little) photos you desire. I believe this particular print cost me 42 cents? 44 cents? Either way, it was cheap and I love it.

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FOUR // I couldn’t really capture the essence of how beautiful this print is, but it’s a “Map of the Plant Regions or Florae” and it’s an antique from an 1873 World Atlas. I love plants, I love maps, and I love antiques, so there shouldn’t be any mystery as to why I’m obsessed with this guy and wanted to showcase it. Unfortunately, being that it’s so old, its dimensions are bizarre and it doesn’t fit in standard-sized frames. Shocker: I went with mat board to solve this problem. However, this time I couldn’t go with pre-cut mat due to its odd size. The folks at Blick cut a custom mat board for me so that it now fits in a standard 11×14 frame. While custom generally means more money, this project still cost me less than $50. Vintage and antique maps can be found by the boatload on Etsy. Also, if you’re in the Philadelphia area, there is a vendor who sells beautiful maps at the Phila Flea Market.

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Simple Pleasures Sunday, Part III

Waterlogue. I'm usually against purchasing apps, but I'm obsessed with this particular app and would pay the whopping $2.99 again in a heartbeat. In a nutshell, it takes one of your photos and transforms it into a stunning "watercolor" in a matter of seconds. I love having art in my living space, but seeing the same prints everyday gets old. Because the cost of getting one of these images printed should cost no more than 10 bucks, you can regularly switch them out and not feel guilty about spending the money. I can't wait to get some of these masterpieces printed, as it will be an easy and super affordable way to freshen up my decor.

Waterlogue. I’m usually against purchasing apps, but I’m obsessed with this particular app and would pay the whopping $2.99 again in a heartbeat. In a nutshell, it takes one of your photos and transforms it into a stunning “watercolor” in a matter of seconds. I love having art in my living space, but seeing the same prints everyday gets old. Because the cost of getting one of these images printed should cost no more than ten bucks, you can regularly switch them out and not feel guilty about it. I can’t wait to get some of these masterpieces printed, as it will be an easy and super affordable way to freshen up my decor.

Spiky plants. I would like to introduce you to the newest members of my plant fam (yes, plants are people). Aloe vera plants not only look cool, but also serve a practical purpose in that they have medicinal properties. Now I'm just waiting for a good, old fashion sunburn...in October. Air plants, more properly known as tillandsia, are fascinating because, aside from also looking cool, they have no roots and require infrequent waterings; thus, as the name indicates, they essentially survive off of the air.

Spiky plants. I would like to introduce you to the newest members of my plant fam (yes, plants are people, too). Aloe vera plants not only look cool, but also serve a very practical purpose in that they have medicinal properties. Now I’m just awaiting a good, old-fashioned sunburn…in October. Moreover, air plants, more properly known as tillandsia, are fascinating because, aside from being awesome-looking, they have no roots and require infrequent waterings; thus, as the name indicates, they essentially survive off of the air. I simply placed mine onto the sand of my dry terrarium, and I must say, it made for a lovely addition to my dainty desert. Check out my dry terrarium how-to here.

Officially being a CSA member. I've had an interest in investing in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share for a while now, but I finally took the plunge. What ultimately gave me the push was when a friend and her husband graciously gifted me one of their shares while they were away over the summer. It was everything I thought it would be and more. Unfortunately, I tend to stick to the same old fruits and veggies when I hit up the produce section at Whole Foods. As such, I love the idea of being forced to incorporate a variety of fresh produce into my diet, as each haul is completely different from the next. I also love the idea of supporting local farms. There are several organizations that offer CSA shares in Philadelphia, but I ultimately went with Greensgrow Farms because they have an amazing reputation and offer winter shares. Sign-ups for winter shares are still underway. If you're interested, you can find more info here. My roomie, Domenica, and I are going to split a share, and we're super excited for the first pickup on December 6th!

Becoming a CSA member. I’ve had an interest in investing in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share for a while now, but I finally took the plunge about a week ago. What ultimately gave me the push was when a friend and her husband graciously gifted me one of their bi-weekly hauls while they were away over the summer. It was everything I thought it would be and more. Unfortunately, I tend to stick to the same old fruits and veggies when I hit up the produce section at Whole Foods. As such, I love the idea of being forced to incorporate a variety of fresh produce into my diet, as each haul is completely different from the next. I also love the idea of supporting local farms. There are several organizations that offer CSA shares in Philadelphia, but I ultimately went with Greensgrow Farms because they have an amazing reputation and offer winter shares in addition to summer shares. Sign-ups for winter shares are still underway. If you’re interested in becoming a member yourself, you can find more info here. My roomie, Domenica, and I are going to split the share, and we’re super excited for the first pickup on December 6th!

It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In plus Keratin. This stuff really and truly is the perfect 10 in the realm of hair products. My mane is wavy and unruly; the strands are thin but there are lots of them, meaning that it becomes easily tangled and therefore extremely difficult to brush - especially when fresh out of the shower. However, thanks to this product, I no longer dread brushing my hair, as it now takes me about 5 minutes to brush rather than upwards of 15 (no joke). Additionally, the keratin reduces frizz and significantly reduces the time I spend blow drying. I was reluctant to try it out for a while given its price tag, but it is totally worth the splurge and then some. Plus, a little goes a long way.

It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In plus Keratin. This stuff really and truly is the perfect 10 in the realm of hair products. My mane is wavy and unruly; the strands are thin but there are lots of them, meaning that it becomes easily tangled and therefore extremely difficult to brush, especially when fresh out of the shower. However, thanks to this product, I no longer dread brushing my hair, as it now takes me about five minutes to brush rather than upwards of fifteen (no joke). Additionally, the keratin reduces frizz and significantly reduces the time I spend blow-drying. I was reluctant to try it out for quite some time given its pricetag, but it is totally worth the splurge and then some. Plus, a little goes a long way.

Fall candles. I recently made a batch of pumpkin-soufflé-scented soy candles and they smell divine. If you're interested in making your own, check out my how-to here. I used pint-sized mason jars and spruced them up with bakers' twine, wrapping paper, and a friendly message - "happy fall :)" - stamped in metallic ink.

Fall candles. I recently made a batch of pumpkin-soufflé-scented soy candles and they smell divine. If you’re interested in making your own, check out my tutorial here. I used pint-sized mason jars and spruced them up with bakers’ twine, wrapping paper, and a friendly message – “happy fall :)” – stamped in metallic ink.

Simple Pleasures Sunday, Part II

If there’s one thing Society Hill residents know how to do, it’s throw together a mean window box. Ever since springtime, the ten-minute walk down Pine Street to get to my gym and pool has become infinitely more enjoyable thanks to these beautiful blooms. Between Society Hill’s cobblestone streets and well-maintained, historic row homes, I am grateful to live in a neighborhood that is both scenic and peaceful year-round. However, these charming window boxes add even more character to my ‘hood in the warmer months, and I wanted to be sure to capture them before cooler weather heads our way. Below are some of my favorite shots. Enjoy!

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DIY Soy Candles

My infatuation with candles started when I was relatively young. The dim lighting that they provide add instant coziness and warmth to any room. Plus, who doesn’t love a wonderful scent taking over their living space?

What’s more, I raised in an environmentally-friendly home in which my brother and I were encouraged to use the purest products available whenever possible. In fact, my mom owned a “green” home decor and interior design studio, which is where my obsession with soy candles in particular began. At the rate I go through soy candles (which can be quite pricey), I eventually decided to create my very own. It has quickly become a beloved hobby.

Because I put hours of time looking into both the best supplies for candle-making and the best way to go about candle-making, I’m excited to share my findings with you! I found a lot of great tips and tricks while researching, and I don’t know about you, but I’m all for making things as easy as possible as long as it doesn’t compromise the quality of the final product.

Now, for some tips and tricks:

  • Tip 1: Nature’s Garden has the best selection of candle fragrance, hands down. I bought many 1 ounce samples of fragrance so that I can have a nice variety of scents. Plus, Nature’s Garden recommends using 1 ounce of fragrance for each pound of wax since their fragrances are more highly concentrated than other suppliers’ fragrances. I’m all about perfect ratios!
  • Tip 2: World Market has adorable containers (not necessarily meant for candles). I especially loved these, these, and these. The generic candle containers offered on suppliers’ websites just weren’t cutting it for me.
  • Tip 3: I bought the remaining supplies from Candle Science. Their products are high quality, yet affordable. Plus, their website really guides you in buying the best products for your needs.
  • Tip 4: Many DIY websites call for supplies and steps that are simply unnecessary when it comes to making soy candles in particular. Specifically, pouring pots and thermometers are not needed, because soy wax does not need to be heated, cooled, and poured at very specific temperatures like other waxes do. Melting soy wax in the microwave is a perfectly okay thing to do and makes the project much, much simpler.
  • Tip 5: Unbeknownst to me prior to researching this endeavor, the type of wick you use is extremely important. There are not only different kinds of wicks, but also different sizes of each kind of wick. Essentially, the kind of wick you choose should be determined by the type of wax you plan on working with, and the size of the wick you choose should be determined by the width of the containers you plan on using. Otherwise, tunneling will occur (the worst!). Candle Science’s wick guide is extremely helpful. Thanks to their recommendation, I’m going with their pre-tabbed ECO Wicks in various sizes.
  • Tip 6: Also extremely important is the type of wax you buy. Clearly, I’m partial to soy wax, mostly due to the fact that it’s all natural. Even in the realm of soy wax, however, there are different waxes for different types of candles (think: container candles vs. votives vs. pillars). Candle Science recommends Golden Brand’s 464 Soy Wax, as it is ideal for container candles and has an amazing ability to hold fragrance.
  • Tip 7: Candles are typically made on pound-of-wax basis. I highly recommend investing in a kitchen scale so that you will know exactly how many fluid ounces your wax will yield once melted. To put it simply, one pound of non-melted wax results in 16 fluid ounces of melted wax. Knowing this makes selecting the proper quantity of containers much easier. For instance, one pound of wax will be enough for one 16 oz. candle, two 8 oz. candles, four 4 oz. candles, etc.

Now that I’ve filled you in on some tips and tricks, let’s do this!

What you’ll need:

  • container(s) of your choice
  • Wick Stickums
  • pre-tabbed wicks
  • large microwave-safe container
  • kitchen scale
  • 1 pound soy wax
  • stirring utensil
  • 1 ounce fragrance oil
  • wick bars

What you’ll do:

  • prepare your containers by applying pre-tabbed wicks to the bottoms of the containers using Wick Stickums
  • using your kitchen scale, measure out one pound of wax into a large, microwave safe container
  • microwave on high for 5 minutes; remove with pot holders and stir (if the wax is not fully melted, microwave for 30 second intervals until melted completely)
  • add 1 ounce of fragrance to the wax and stir for 2 minutes, allowing the wax to cool
  • pour the wax into your containers
  • center the wicks using wick bars and allow to cool overnight
  • the next day, trim the wicks to 1/4 inch
  • apply the lids and allow to cure for another 24 hours before burning

*Note that the photos posted show two 16 oz. candles. Thus, I used two pounds of wax, requiring me to repeat the process twice.

Let’s just say that I am absolutely thrilled with the results! This extremely simple process yields beautiful, high quality soy candles that burn evenly. The fragrances I chose, Mint Mango Tea and Honeydew Pear, smell delightful, and the containers I used accent my apartment’s decor fabulously. The best part: I’ve found a fun, cost-effective, and fool-proof means of feeding my soy candle addiction.

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