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minimalist mantle

Minimizing Clutter

minimalist mantle

If you are anything like me, a lot of your anxiety in life is tied to your environment AKA your home. Recently I watched the Netflix documentary, Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things per my husband’s suggestion. Now, while I am in no hurry to rid ourselves of bed frames and side tables, I love the idea of minimizing what you own.

I am, admittedly, kind of a messy person and a little OCD at the same time. I know. These two statements contradict each other, but in all honesty this is how I work. My office at most times is a mess. Our bedroom? Clothes everywhere! The kitchen and living room? Usually spotless. It is because I exist mostly in the bottom half of my house and I take pride in keeping it clean and organized. This isn’t always easy when it comes to having a toddler and two dogs. Slowly, I have really focused on how to rid our house of unnecessary clutter and to keep it (generally) clean. A lot of this minimalist thinking started when we were going through the steps to try to sell our house a couple years ago. We got rid of furniture we didn’t need, tidied up messy spaces with a more organized approach, and got rid of BAGS of clothes. When we did this, we realized how much we actually loved our house and it felt like we could breath again. We ended up not selling the house.

less cluttered shelf

In addition to the house, I like to think of my style and my designs as a form of minimalism. In a world where trends move fast, this momma simply can’t keep up. I love the idea of the time capsule closet because I usually only have three or four favorite pieces of clothing anyway. I also use my clothes as the background for my Green End Designs jewelry because I love to accessorize. Hence why I use the “three necklace layering” idea. You really only need a few key pieces and then you can slowly add to your collection. I put a lot of time and effort into my designs and I want you to love these as your go to pieces.

It is amazing how much decluttering can really help your overall mental wellness. Here are some tips that I figured out along the way that can maybe help you as well.

Tips to Help Minimize Home Clutter

  1. You don’t have to fill every space. This includes wall space, shelf space, etc.
  2. Less is ALWAYS more.
  3. Less “stuff” on the shelf means it is easier/quicker to dust and clean.
  4. It is okay to let stuff go. Don’t like that side table anymore? Get rid of it. Better yet, sell it. Haven’t used a casserole dish from your wedding, ever? It’s time to let go of it.
  5. Simple is chic. From your jewelry to your wall.
  6. Throw spam mail away immediately. Don’t let it sit on your counter for months. If it contains any important information, shred it. Immediately. No need to keep it around.
  7. If you have a lot of decorative pillows, only purchase pillow cases, not the whole pillow, so you can rotate through the seasons.
  8. Store extra blankets or pillows in baskets or a trunk to reduce a cluttered room.
  9. Extra points if you have functional decor (i.e. beautiful cookbooks, musical instruments as wall decor, a basket for towels to wipe dog paws, etc.)
  10. Large framed chalkboards make for an easy and cheap way to change out artwork in your room.

minimizing clutter

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DIY UP Family Costume

DIY Family Up Halloween Costume

If you are anything like me, you start thinking about your Halloween costume in July. For most of my adult life, I have always tried to make Halloween costumes for myself. Some were great, some were a big failure. Point being, I never spent an exorbitant amount of money on a “sexy werewolf” costume. Then I became a mom and the whole “sexy” costume thing didn’t really work if I wanted to be family-friendly. The first year of my daughter’s life, she was about 6 weeks old. I was still recovering from my C-section, so we ended up just using a dinosaur zip up costume, stood at the end of our driveway and watched the neighborhood Halloween parade for a few minutes, took a couple photos, then headed back inside to watch a movie and give out candy.  Her second Halloween consisted of two witches and the Hulk…not really exciting, nor did it make any sense. Upon the arrival of her third Halloween, I brain stormed all July and all of August. Luckily, she had recently become obsessed with the movie “UP.”

batman mask
We always have fun searching around the costumes at party stores.

If you are familiar with the movie, you know that Mr. Fredricksen, Russell, Kevin, and Dug are the main characters. My daughter was the colorful Kevin because I naturally want my kid to be really cute. My husband was grumpy, old, Mr. Fredrickson, and I was the little Wilderness Explorer, Russell (the wilderness must be explored! Caw! Caw Rawr!). We intended to bring our dog, Hunter, to be Dug, but due to a grumpy toddler who refused to eat, we were preoccupied and honestly forgot about him. Our costumes were fairly easy to make with the help of Michaels, Amazon, borrowing from friends, and a little creativity.

To transform Harper into Kevin, I purchased a little purple tutu, glittery rolls of orange, pink, yellow, and blue tulle ribbon, peacock feathers, and a barrette from Michaels. She also wore a royal blue leotard that I found via Amazon. To create the vibrant colors of Kevin, I layered multiple 6-8 inch strips of each tulle color in the order of Kevin’s feathers. Kevin has three little feathers that stick out of her head, so I was able to find peacock feathers and super glue them into a pre-made feather hair clip from Michaels. It was perfect! Last, but not least, she wore black leggings with her black slip shoes to finish off the look. She was adorable and loved the tutu so much that she insisted on wearing it for the next few days. Glitter was EVERYWHERE.

Kevin from Up Costume

 

Russell was easy to recreate with a yellow polo, orange bandana, yellow hat, orange fabric, khaki shorts, and a borrowed boy scout sash. I also made three “Wilderness Explorer” patches from felt, hot glued one on to the yellow hat, one on the polo, one onto the orange flag I made. I finished off the look with a back pack full of stuff, my daughter’s pots and pans clipped on the back, and the “WE” flag waving proudly behind my shoulder. People definitely got a kick out of the pots and pans clanging around while we walked with the neighborhood parade.

Turning my husband into Mr. Fredricksen, was essentially just locating clothing items he already owned and simply putting them together. The only thing we purchased was a cheap pair of squared off glasses, a bow tie, and the balloons he carried. A little (okay, a lot) baby powder into his hair to make it “grey” and his costume was done! Unfortunately for him, part of Mr. Fredricksen’s costume was a tweed coat and well, when you live in Atlanta, October 31 is sometimes 50 degrees and sometimes 80 degrees. This was one of those 80 degree years. He was a trooper though and wore it until we arrived back home.

 

DIY UP Family Costume

For full supply list and directions, click DIY UP Costumes.

What was your favorite costume you made for your family (or just yourself!)? I would love to see what all of you creative people come up with!

DIY UP Family Costume

salsa corn chowder

Salsa Corn Chowder

Summer is upon on us down here in Georgia and that means school is out. I know, I only have a 2.5 year old kid, but let me tell you, parents, I get it now. Those four glorious hours three days a week when I can actually work on Green End or get a blog post done are amazing. And then summer happens. Don’t get me wrong, I love my child with every fiber of my being. But when your husband travels, your free babysitters leave for their eight month vacation in Rhode Island, and your sister has her own kids to worry about, trying to get work done becomes either an early morning or late night. What does this have to do with food though? It means that my cooking has to be quick and easy and hopefully have leftovers. I created such a recipe with this Salsa Corn Chowder.

When figuring out quick and easy recipes, I always think of ingredients that are always on hand. Canned corn and canned diced tomatoes are two items that I happen to always have in my pantry. I also think of how I can cook this, aka in my big stock pot or my slow cooker. This recipe works in either one. My inspiration ended up coming from Panera Bread releasing their summer corn chowder. It got me thinking about traditional corn chowder (a summer favorite), but I didn’t want to have a cream base and I wanted to spice things up. After browsing the pantry and my available vegetables, the Salsa Corn Chowder began to take shape. I love getting creative with recipes and testing and trying new tastes in my kitchen. This is probably why I am terrible at baking.

While the ingredients are similar to my Vegan Tortilla Soup, the taste is completely different. This chowder is lighter and sweeter and perfect for an easy summertime meal. I hope you enjoy!

salsa corn chowder salsa corn chowder

salsa corn chowder
Print
SALSA CORN CHOWDER
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 50 mins
 

A delicious spicy version of a classic summer soup. Spicy Corn Chowder is an easy weeknight meal that can be thrown together in the crockpot, while still being nutritious.

Course: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Katie
Ingredients
  • 4 cups Imagine No-Chicken Vegetarian Broth
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 can sweet corn drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 zucchini diced
  • 1 white onion diced
  • 1 jalapeño sliced
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt plus more to taste
  • 2 limes 1 sliced into wedges
  • cilantro for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.

  2. Add red pepper, celery, and zucchini. Stir in cayenne, chili powder, cumin, and a little salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until slightly softened, stirring often.

  3. Add broth, corn (drained), and diced tomatoes (not drained). Bring to a boil, cover, turn heat to low. Simmer chowder for about 1 hour. Add salt to taste and another dash of cayenne if you like extra spice.

  4. Squeeze 1 half of a lime into chowder. Serve in bowls garnished with jalapeño slices and lime wedges

easy DIY oil rubbed bronze light fixture

Easy DIY Oil Rubbed Bronze Light Fixture

If you are a homeowner of a house that had any updates done in the 90’s, then you have shiny brass fixtures…EVERYWHERE. Door handles, light fixtures, drawer pulls, sink faucets, EVERYTHING. The house I grew up in was built in the 90’s and my momma loved her some shiny brass. I’m certain that every single fixture, save for maybe one room, was shiny brass. I know that the raw/shiny brass look is coming back in style, but it just wasn’t going to work for my farmhouse inspired decor. It had to go.

Shiny Brass Light FixtureThere she is…in all of her glory.

When we first moved into our house three years ago, we started to slowly replace every door handle. We swapped the shiny brass for oil rubbed bronze and it instantly made a difference. Our house was slowly coming together, but then, as with most new houses, other projects started to take priority.  This year I finally got my act together. I decided to do something about these outdated fixtures, but I had to stick to a tight budget. Luckily we live an age where DIY has been simplified by things like spray paint that looks like oil rubbed bronze (or whatever finish you are looking for) instead of purchasing a whole new fixture. I researched different options and finally came across Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Spray Paint in Oil Rubbed Bronze Metallic. I hopped on over to my local Home Depot and grabbed a can, came home, and got to work.

This is truly the easiest DIY project I have ever done. So much so that I feel silly even writing out a whole blog post about it, but y’all, this was life changing! Okay, not really LIFE changing, but I’ll take paying $6 over $65 for a new light fixture any day. Not to mention I get to now re-do a vanity light, three fans, all of our door hinges, and cabinet handles for JUST $6! Can you tell I’m excited? If you’re ready to transform your house with this easy fix, keep scrolling down for a quick tutorial. Feel free to comment with photos of your updates!

Rust-Oleum Universal Spray DIY DIY Shiny Brass Light Fixture Rust-Oleum Universal Spray DIY Rust-Oleum Universal Spray DIY Oil Rubbed Bronze DIY Light Fixture

Supplies

1 can Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Spray Paint in Oil Rubbed Bronze

1 180-220 grit sanding block

Soap and Water

 

Instructions
  1. Carefully disconnect your light fixture (if doing a light fixture) and clean well with soap and water.
  2. Put down a trash bag or tarp outdoors in an area that is safe to use spray paint in.
  3. Sand down all sides of your light fixture (only the metal part you wish to spray paint). Wash with soap and water again to remove residue and dry.
  4. Cover light sockets with tape and cover any wiring. You do not want to spray paint into these areas.
  5. Spray all sides/parts of fixture. Let dry for 1 hour. Flip over any part that did not get sprayed and spray again. Let dry for another hour. If you need a second coat, repeat until all surface area has been covered on the light fixture.
  6. Let dry for 24 hours, then reassemble/reattach light fixture.

Chili Flank Steak with Sweet Potato Kale Hash

With today being May 4th, Americans are predictively preparing their Cinco de Mayo plans and I’m obviously going to be giving you a delicious Mexican-inspired steak recipe. I also wanted to do was lay down a little history lesson first. Let’s get this straight people, we are NOT celebrating Mexico’s Independence Day. That falls on September 16th. What beer companies actually have us celebrating is the Mexican army’s surprise victory over the French in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla. A severely outnumbered Mexican army took down almost 500 French soldiers, while only losing around 100 of their own soldiers. This was not a particularly large victory in the Franco-Mexican War (bonus points if you know what the war was known as), it signified “a great symbolic victory” for the people of Mexico.

So, why does America celebrate this? There are a few variables that lead to the popularization of the holiday. The California Latinos who were happy about the win at the Battle of Puebla, also saw this as a parallel to the American Civil War, where many were cheering on the Union army. It was seen as a “[simultaneous] fight for democracy.” Many years later, FDR enacted the Good Neighbor Policy, a policy created “to improve relations with Latin America.” And last but not least, the American beer companies had targeted campaigns to Latinos in the 70’s and 80’s.

Why have I told you all of of this? I find it important to delve deeper into cultures that may not be familiar to us. Not just cultures, but we should be learning more about our friends and neighbors. The key word here is “learn”, not “I saw this on Facebook.” I find that food can connect and educate people in many different ways and it helps us have conversations with one another. Tomorrow, celebrate the Mexican culture with some exquisite food, tequila, and good friends (or maybe even new friends)!

sweet potato kale hash

Today I have a rich, savory Mexican-inspired chili rubbed flank steak recipe with an outstanding sweet potato kale hash adapted from Sweet Savory Life. If you are a parent and you have toned down your Cinco de Mayo celebrations as the years have gone on, as I have, then this is perfect for a laid back night with friends and some skinny margaritas (#basic). I hope you all have a fun and safe Cinco de Mayo!

sweet potato kale hashChili Flank Steak with Sweet Potato Kale Hash

Chili Flank Steak with Sweet Potato Kale Hash
Print
CHILI FLANK STEAK WITH SWEET POTATO KALE HASH
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 
Servings: 4 people
Ingredients
STEAK AND MARINADE
  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak or any other thinly sliced steak
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
SWEET POTATO KALE HASH
  • 1 sweet potato diced
  • 2 cups kale de-stemmed and chopped
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp olive oil separated
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • dash smoked paprika
  • 1/3 cup water
  • salt to taste
Instructions
  1. In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk soy sauce, Worcestershire, red wine vinegar, chili powder, lime juice, and garlic. Put steak in a gallon size plastic bag and pour marinade over. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to cooking.

  2. For the sweet potato kale hash, combine sweet potato, onion, red bell pepper, and garlic in a medium bowl.

  3. In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk 2 Tablespoons olive oil, chili powder, cumin, salt, and a dash of cayenne pepper and smoked paprika together. Pour over sweet potato mix and stir until the vegetables are properly coated.

  4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet/pan on medium-high heat. Add sweet potato mix, stirring occasionally to avoid charring the vegetables. Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until the sweet potato is easily pierced with a fork.

  5. While the sweet potato mix is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a grill pan or a large skillet. Place flank steak with marinade in the pan and cook about 4-5 minutes on each side if you want medium rare. Remove from heat, placing the steak on a cutting board, and let it rest for about 5 minutes.

  6. Once the sweet potato mix is fork tender, add kale and water to the mix, stir once, cover the pan, and let cook for 1-3 minutes. Once the kale is wilted and no longer tough, remove cover, add salt to taste. Remove from heat.

  7. Slice steak into thin strips and serve with sweet potato hash.