Monday, July 30, 2012

retro redo

There is something about summer that seriously infects me with the home improvement/decorating bug every single year. Even though I am dirt poor right now I can't stop my eye from wandering to all sorts of wonderful projects and places I want to improve in our house. My obsession of the moment? Our living room.

The first thing I ever did in this house in the way of adding my decorating pesonal touch was the throw pillows on our couch. We've certainly come a long way in the decor department since then, doing big time DIY art projects and redoing the bedroom, which means I feel like we've evolved into a different style than my first throw pillows. Originally the idea was to add some style to the house without shaking Jason's whole world (consequently making him break up with me for fear that I might start putting floral pillows and doilies in every room) so I did my best to make the pillows match the colors in the room already - which were deep red and light olivey green. The result is a palette that is WAY too subdued and sophisticated for Jason and me. Sometimes I feel like we're living in some Rooms-To-Go showroom with the same "modern," but in reality "completely old-fashioned," color scheme. The rest of our house is about color and quirkiness and fun. So we need to bring a little of that to the living room, while still keeping it somewhat cohesive and much, much more homey. Those are the goals.

So anyway, the whole thing has been on the back burner UNTIL I was reading this post on one of my favorite home improvement blogs, I immediately followed the links in her post to this Etsy store, skoopehome.

Can you say THROW PILLOW JACKPOT? The bright colors and bold patterns are right up my alley. But after scanning page after page, I determined that while these are stunning, they're a little TOO bold to go with our existing furniture (which, I admit, was a total bummer for me.) Our sectional fabric is this odd black and tan micro pattern, which from afar ends up looking sort of like a dark brownish-gray. Very odd. And our walls are off-white. So I just couldn't see the bright, saturated hues and crisp whites working well with what we have. But, mark my words, if we ever get a new couch and change out the area rug, I'm heading to skoopehome first. Once I had discovered the pillow mecca known as Etsy, I continued searching for pillows that would in fact blend well with our current "bones" in the living room. I went in a ton of different directions but eventually stumbled across these awesome retro-inspired pillows.

The base is subdued enough, and the pops of color provide some fun without being fully saturated, making the pillows blend nicely with what we have going on. I absolutely fell in love with them and was inspired by the whole retro-modern vibe. Jason's favorite space ever is a hotel room we stayed at in Scottsdale, AZ at the Hotel Valley Ho, which has the same updated iteration of 1950's mod.

I'm not a completely retro girl myself. I like to integrate more contemporary items - clean lines but still a warm and homey feel to them. So taking that 1950's look and incorporating some softer, updated items is what I'm thinking.

Luckily, with a little Photoshop magic, I decided to do a virtual update to our current living room so you can see what I'm envisioning. And the best part, the whole redo can be done for under $500. (Not that I have $500 laying around, but add a few pieces here and a few there and this look is TOTALLY doable in a short period of time.)

So first, our plain and boring living room as it is now. (And no, I couldn't be bothered to clean off the coffee table or hide the power cords. Don't judge me.)

Kind of sad, right? Let's discuss the issues here.

We've got huge off-white walls with only one Ikea print that isn't even aligned with the window (that drives me nuts) and provides no personality whatsoever to the room. Sorry, if you're the big print kind of person, but a part of me feels like putting up one of these in the living room is the equivalent of having a stock photo on your website. It lacks authenticity.

Vertical blinds. Need I say more? Yikes.

You can't really tell in this photo, but our ceilings are super high and I just want something to fill that space out a bit more. To make it feel like you're in a cozy space rather than having these massive cold walls staring down at you.

Eventually I'm also going to replace that medusa-like light in the corner, but it's super functional for now so it stays.

So... now the plan...

Now I know it may look a little disjointed in the photo, but I think with the addition of some great accessories it could be perfect.

What I love about it:

A big, graphic art piece replaces the stock photo print, and the best part is... it's a DIY! We can make the colors whatever we want and match it exactly to the shades throughout the room. Hopefully this makes for a great focal point in the room and it distracts from the tons of off-white wall space. I've also added a pair of black frame/thick white matted prints above the black chair to continue to break up the wall.

I also want to put a little vignette of fun prints above the window in order to heighten the living space and not make it feel so much like a harsh delineation from the big blank high walls and then the living space closer to the floor. I actually want to make the living space feel taller.

The black and white tree print curtains! I love these because they're whimsical but also graphic enough that they can blend with the modern vibe. I wanted light curtains since we have dark hardwood floors, dark couches and a dark chair, etc. I think they also add a more girly touch since a lot of items in the room are more masculine.

Of course the throw pillows I already love, and I also found some more fun and again whimsical-modern pillows that will add more unexpected personality to the room, which I'm all about.

Finish things with a pair of Ikea side tables (which we have been desperately needing) for some fun accessories/to keep the remote and there you have it! My plan to retro-ify our living room.

The whole thing just feels... homier. And more us. Which is what I wanted.

Again, I'm not going to be rushing out and making these changes all over night, but it feels doable. And  of course I'm sure it will look different in person so things might need to be scrapped/altered/added/subtracted, but I feel good about this style suiting us much more. And this is a room I'd be proud to have friends in to hang out!

// Do you have the summer decorating bug like me? Where are some of your favorite places to grab inexpensive updates to your home? //

Thursday, July 26, 2012

win $2,000 toward your dream vacation

I've written plenty on this blog about my job and the crazy business my boyfriend created - the one where he gets paid to wear t-shirts for companies and create web content for them. However, I don't think I've ever directly mentioned one of our sponsors in a post, or devoted an entire post to one at that. Until now.

For the most part I try to keep this little corner of the internet mine and mine alone, only mentioning work when necessary to express my latest internal struggle or life epiphany to you all. However, today I'm making an exception because 1) I think this sponsor is one that many of you will be interested in and 2) this sponsor is giving away $2,000 toward someone's dream vacation and I can't enter so the next best thing is having one of you win. Yeah, you heard me... $2,000. It's kind of ridiculous. Always wanted to go to Hawaii? Now you can. Need a little help with the European backpacking trip you've been saving for since the 7th grade? It can be yours.

Seriously guys, I think we can all agree that travel is one thing most everyone wishes they could do more of. The only thing holding most of us back is that pesky little thing called money. This $2,000 could be yours free and clear and entering the contest is actually really fun if you're in to visual bookmarking sites (like Pinterest.)

So who is this awesome sponsor? It's a new website called, and this is their Squirrelwind Getaway Travel Contest. (Clever right? Their mascot is this cute little guy below.) As I mentioned, they are a visual bookmarking site similar to Pinterest, but with a few added features that you might find appealing. For one, they offer private collections. (Pinterest doesn't allow you to have private boards which annoys me 1) because I can't plan friends' birthdays using it and 2) because I'm forced to publicize just how often I pin wedding-related items and that is embarrassing, particularly when it's Friday night and it's painfully obvious that I'm watching Say Yes To The Dress and planning my future nuptials. Is it too much to want to keep that pathetic display to myself?)

Not only does LoveIt let you have private collections, but it also lets you drag and drop images between collections and easily organize your collections. I also love the fact that when you sign up, you tell the site what kind of content you'd be interested in and you can start following accounts immediately that fit your style. Right off the bat it recommended I start following some of my favorites like Design Milk, Design Sponge, Style Me Pretty, Oh So Beautiful Paper and The Fox Is Black. In comparison to Pinterest, I feel that over time my feed on LoveIt is a little more consistent with the types of things that I like and my overall aesthetic. Don't get me wrong, I still love all the randomness of Pinterest and it's fun to dive through all those images to see what I like, but I've now added LoveIt to my wheelhouse and it's a wonderful new place to get inspiration.

So now that I've pumped you up, I guess you're wondering... How do I win the two grand?!!

Well... it's pretty fun actually! Here are the quick steps:

1. Sign up for (if you haven't already!)

2. Create a public collection in the theme of a dream destination of yours. For instance, I created an example collection and the whole thing was around the theme of Santorini, Greece. (I mean, come on, have you seen that crystal blue water?) This is key though, name it whatever you want but make sure you include the hash tag #LoveItVacay in the title of your collection.

3. Categorize your collection under "Travel & Destinations." Aka don't file it under "Gardening," ya weirdos.

4. "Love" at least 12 images that relate to your destination. The is the crazy fun part that I totally got into. These images can be whatever you want, not just photos of your locale. For instance, for my Santorini vacay I loved images like cute outfits for exploring the city, a super cute passport cover I found on Etsy, a delicious looking pancake breakfast I planned to devour in bed, and even a cocktail named "The Santorini." It's completely up to your creativity! You'll also want to write captions for your images. The winner is being determined by overall creativity through visual storytelling and creative captions, as well as number of reloves, likes and comments. (This means invite your friends to come like, relove and comment on your collection too!)

5. Follow @LoveIt on Twitter and tweet the link to your collection @ them with the hash tag #LoveItVacay OR Like LoveIt on Facebook and post the link to your collection on their Timeline.

** You can create a different collection every day to enter, but hurry because the entry period ends on July 31st! **

A small price to pay for winning $2,000 I think! Plus, like I said, creating a collection of your dream vacation is pretty fun... especially knowing that this contest could help get you there!

So there you have it. Today I'm making an exception on my whole separation of church and state... er, work and blog... because I want one of you to win! If you end up making a collection, feel free to drop a link in the comments so I can check it out and follow you on LoveIt. And don't forget, you can check out my collection here to use as an example.

Happy Loving, my friends, and good luck!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

so you're dating your boss?

This is me at work. Riding on my boss's back. Who is also my boyfriend. Life is weird, huh?

I know I've really been off the map lately and terrible about posting, BUT it's been a bit crazy around the office the past couple weeks. (I use the term office loosely of course because my office also happens to be where I eat, sleep and vacuum up dog hair. Glamorous, ain't it?)

We've been going through some changes around the company including launching a brand spanking new website (that I helped wireframe by the way and wrote all the copy for! If you have time, feel free to enjoy some of the surprises I threw into the FAQ page!) in only two weeks and transitioning to a completely new business model. Needless to say it's been a bit hectic. Not to mention I'm redesigning this blog from the ground up (remember, it's step two of my four steps to my Etsy shop), and I've been working on it with just about every free second I have. However, I got to thinking, with all this time Jason and I have been spending on these major biz changes and all the pressure we've both been under to make it happen, maybe there's an interesting blog post in here somewhere. (Careful, I use the term interesting loosely, too.)

When I told my friends and family I was leaving my agency job at the end of last year to come on board with Jason's t-shirt wearing business, you can imagine some of them were a bit skeptical. (Actually, some of them were more than skeptical... some were convinced I was making a colossal mistake and would regret it for years to come. Yay for trying to justify my life choices to others!) I mean, I heard every logical objection under the sun.

Living together is very different than working together. I give it six weeks and you're going to get on each other's last nerve.

What if you guys break up over this? You'll be homeless AND jobless? (Okay... as accurate as that one was, that's a bit dramatic even for me!)

You'll never be able to separate work from the rest of your life. It'll consume your relationship.

What if you end up resenting him because you're not making enough money? 

You guys get the point: what if, what if, what if? In some of the favorite words of my dear friend Jason Sadler, you can 'what if' yourself to death!

I knew all the risks entering into this arrangement, but I also knew that I was willing to take those risks. I trusted that our relationship was strong enough and mature enough to adapt to this change, and in addition to that, I knew that even in the worst-case scenario I would be okay if it didn't work out. I'm confident in my skills and abilities and if it really came to it, I felt I could find another job. (Can you say Starbucks? I'd be a kick-ass barista...)

I feel like this is an important lesson in life for anyone, whether you're the one taking the risks or you're the friend trying to understand someone else's choices. In a conversation the other night with my good friend Margaret, she put it just perfectly: "I'm aware of the consequences, I'm just not fearful of the consequences," she said. Wow. It was so powerful to me. That's the key to every crazy decision I've made in my life. Each time, I've known it wasn't the safest route to go, and I've known that people were going to have their reservations, but I wasn't afraid of it not panning out because I knew I was strong enough to handle whatever might happen.

So back to the topic at hand. The truth is, it is actually working out. (Thank goodness! Homeless wouldn't be a good look for me...And honestly, now that I've really built myself up, I'm pretty confident I would not in fact be a kick-ass barista. I've been ordering the same drink for five years and I still mess up the correct order of the words.) After about eight months of doing the whole living together/working together thing, I feel that Jason and I have settled into a very healthy and happy way of operating. People ask me all the time, how do you do it? I usually toss around a few generic answers or sarcastic remarks about us laughing through it or him being a jerk of a boss, but just the other day I really started to sit and think about it. How do we do it? What lessons have we learned to make it work?

So I came up with six simple things that I think are the keys to keeping our dynamic solid. (I'm experimenting with the whole "six things" layout versus my typical unstructured and tangential rambling. We'll see how it goes.)

1. Respect each other's opinions. // Perhaps a bit obvious, but respect is HUGE for us. I didn't quit my fledgeling career in the ad agency world at two very reputable companies to put up my feet and be a glorified assistant. I have opinions - business opinions, design opinions, financial opinions - and I want to feel like I'm not only heard but that Jason trusts my instincts. From day one he has kept me in the loop and consulted me on virtually every decision. This doesn't just make me feel included, it makes me feel valued because when I take a stand on something, he takes my advice. Respect isn't just about listening, it's about truly making the other person feel that they have something to bring to the table. 

2. Pull your own weight. // The whole working together happily thing falls apart unless you wake up every day intent on being an asset to the company. This is especially true when the company is super small because every bit of effort counts. I may have made risks to take this job, but I'm mindful of the fact that Jason took a big risk too. I know just how hard he works for every dollar brought into the company, and just like any other part of the team, when I get paid I want to know that I earned it. So I choose to approach it like any other job - by being proactive, being valuable, being indispensable. I do that, feel no guilt on payday because I deserve every last cent, and Jason doesn't come to resent me for carrying dead weight on the company's back. (Hint: guilt and resentment are kind of killjoys in a relationship.) It may sound a bit extreme (and maybe that's just my commitment to the company showing through) but he works hard and so I know that to keep things in balance I have to work hard too. (Hard work of course is an easier pill to swallow when you love the company you work for.)

3. Make time to walk away. // Not only do Jason and I work in the same office, but that office is also our home. I'd be lying if I said it was easy to keep clearly defined boundaries. It's not at all. Although we have an office, it's not unlike us to be sitting on the couch with our laptops in front of us, continuing to work long after "the work day" is over. I mean, when you're dating the boss, there's nowhere to hide. It's not like I can pretend I didn't see an email come through until the next morning. With all this blurring of work and leisure, that's why we both know it's important to take time to walk away together. We'll take breaks to take Plax for a walk, or work out, make dinner, watch a movie, etc. And during that time we do our best to turn down the volume on work. (Notice I didn't say turn it off. If you know any entrepreneurs, it doesn't get turned off. It's impossible. But we try our darndest.) Work may creep into the conversation, and that's okay. As long as we're laughing and spending quality time together, it works.

4. Define the roles up front. // (This little section is probably going to end up sounding a little anti-feminist, but what the hey. It is what it is.) Part of making it work is knowing who the boss is. Before I started, I asked Jason for a list of responsibilities that I would be responsible for. Along the way that list has changed dramatically, but periodically I stop to ask so that I know where the boundaries lie. I take care of my territory, and he doesn't micromanage (which is an integral part to keeping my sanity.) As I mentioned, he asks for my input on nearly everything, but at the end of the day, he's the boss. And I totally respect that. He is the one that built this business from nothing, not me. And while I may have its best interest at heart, we could go round after round on decisions if we wanted to. Which is why it's much more efficient when there is one person steering the ship. Knowing this and respecting this up front diffuses a lot of arguments. It also makes me feel more purposeful and fulfilled in my own work because I know exactly  what I'm in charge of.

5. Show appreciation. // You know when you work really hard on something and you feel super proud of the way it turned out and you get NO acknowledgement from your boss or manager? And you know when you work really hard on your relationship and you focus all your energy on all the areas you feel you've been lacking in the past and get NO acknowledgement from your significant other? Yeah... stack those two emotions on top of each other and it's enough to make a girl run for the hills. That's why appreciation is so important. Saying thank you and recognizing each other's work is even more important than it is in a typical work environment because feeling under-appreciated has the potential to seep into the relationship. A little acknowledgement goes a long way.

6. Let things go. // This is one that definitely took a bit longer for me to adopt than the others, but it might be most important of all. There are always going to be arguments and disagreements. I'll be having a bad day sometimes, or he'll be having a bad day. Sometimes I don't feel like brainstorming, and sometimes he doesn't feel like listening to all my nit-picky design changes. So when things get heated, I take a step back, breathe deeply, and remember that I have the unbelievably rare pleasure of building a company with my best friend. That gratitude is enough to make me drop whatever momentary grudge I may have.

And there you have it. For all inquiries from this day forward, maybe I'll just direct interested parties to this blog post. But really I think this one was for me. I'm proud of everything we've been through thus far in our professional relationship, and I'm proud of how we've kept our personal relationship in tact. More than anything it's so reassuring to know that the gut feeling I had when I started this thing was right. If anybody could make it work, I knew it was us. Looking forward to the future of IWearYourShirt, and I'm honored and inspired to be a part of such a great team.

And to have such a hot boss. That doesn't hurt either.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

fitness frustrations

Fitness is something that was never a part of my life when I was young. I mean, sports, yes. Fitness, no. I didn't really learn all those things about eating right and exercising because it just wasn't a big part of my upbringing. Don't get me wrong, we didn't eat fast food and pizza every night or anything (Gah, why not? That sounds glorious) but I did have big heaping home-cooked meals most nights thanks to my wildly domestic mother and when I wasn't playing sports, staying active just didn't cross my mind. 

So you can imagine that going from that level of oblivion to being mindful and conscious of my health choices would require quite the transformation. I would say I dabbled in college with being more health conscious (read: attending 20-Minute Abs and Zumba Power Hour at the rec center and making sure my drink mixers were diet soda), but going to the gym was never a lifestyle for me.

Until now.

Which is where that whole transformation part is supposed to come in, right?

I've chosen to keep the topics of health, fitness and nutrition pretty much off this blog because I never wanted to come off as claiming to be any sort of authority on the matter. Plus I hate laying out my insecurities for the world to see, but hey I figure there's no use in trying to pretend I'm perfect at this point. If you've been reading this blog since the beginning, the cat's kind of out of the bag on that one.

But slowly over the course of the past year and a half, I have incorporated more healthy habits into my lifestyle, one small change at a time. But quick, before you get excited, this isn't some "5 Ways To A Healthier You" type blog post. Like I said, I really hate the thought of being some fitness authority for anyone, even if it is in a super-amateur, innocent-recommendation kind of way. Given my penchant for analyzation of just about every emotional aspect of my life, I'm more interested in sharing my own personal frustration with how slow the physical transformation has been for me. I know there have got to be women out there that feel the way I do, and in the hopes that you might gain some motivation to keep on keeping on, I thought I'd share my experience.

First off, I'd like to think that I have a pretty confident and positive body image, but like most women out there, I'll be the first to admit I definitely have my hangups. In no way am I trying to say that I see myself as fat (ew, I hate that word! It just sounds so cruel), but being slender and fit-looking has just never been effortless for me. I think the best way I can describe what I don't like about my body is that I just feel like I look... soft. And I've always had trouble with my midsection (ie my tummy and my... eh hem.. love-handles. Why do they call them that, by the way? There is most certainly nothing to love about a muffintop!) Basically my goal in changing these things was to become more toned, lose the tummy and say goodbye to the not-so-lovely love handles.

So, as I mentioned, to accomplish this I started making small changes about a year and a half ago, but I kind of hopped on and off the wagon when it came to any sort of real discipline. Until about three months ago when I decided that if I was going to see and feel a change in my body, I would have to really commit to making better choices consistently.

That said, over the course of the past three months I have:
  • eliminated all sodas from my diet (used to be a Diet Coke addict and haven't had a single sip in three whole months)
  • consistently worked out every single week, no less than 4 times a week but sometimes up to 6 times a week. This includes lifting weights about 3 times a week, high intensity cardio workouts like basketball mixed with strength training (lunges, pushups, etc) and most recently yoga 2 or 3 times a week. 
  • started drinking more water, and in the past three weeks I've averaged about 60 ounces a day. 
  • cut out bread, pasta and cheese in my diet and now eat 4-5 small meals a day consisting mostly of lean meats, fruits, and lots of veggies.
For THREE MONTHS. This isn't like working out for two weeks and being confused as to why I haven't dropped two dress sizes. Three months is a fair amount of time to give my body the chance that it needs to make some sort of change. And you know how much weight I've lost? 

0 pounds. 0! My weight fluctuates between the same 5 pound range and continues to do so now. And okay, I know that the number on the scale is no way to measure progress, and I admit I have gained some muscle mass so maybe that has something to do with it, but the point is that I expected to see better results. It's deflating.

Am I disaapointed that I'm not yet able to go down a size in my summer shorts or that I don't feel I look better in a bikini than when I started? Yes. I'd be lying if I told you that I didn't think about those things when I made the committment to working out. Am I jealous that my boyfriend who is 30-days deep in a complete fitness transformation has already dropped 18 pounds and I can see his abs coming in? Yes. (Although, let's be honest, I can't be too upset with the new abs, can I?)

But whenever I think about that disappointment, I remember all the hard work that I've put in. By nature I know I'm not the most self-disciplined person, so the fact that I've stuck to this new lifestyle so closely makes me feel really proud. I've come to realize that although the physical transformation hasn't quite happened the way I want it to yet, the internal one certainly has and that's what I'm focusing on. I have more energy, I feel more confident, and I just feel... lighter. I don't want to eat bad food now or stop working out because I don't like the way it makes me feel (Believe me, if you could have seen my first few weeks in the gym, I never thought I'd say that!)

I will admit that the muscle defition, especially in my upper body, has changed (subtle changes, but still, changes!) It's probably not noticeable to anyone else but me (and Jason... my boyfriend turned personal trainer) but I actually have a tricep now, people! (I can remember flexing and literally not even knowing where a tricep was supposed to be before this all started.) But more than I like the physical transformation, I like the feeling of having muscle tone now. I feel strong. I feel challenged. I feel capable. 

So I'm not going to stop. I've come to the realization that the route that I've chosen to go is not an extreme one. It's about working healthy habits into my life and eradicating bad ones. I know that maybe if I ate clean like a crazy person and did two-a-day workouts for a while, I'd get faster results. But that's not realistic for my life. I'm hopeful that I'll only continue to get stronger and that eventually my body will kick itself into gear. But if that never happens, I have to make peace with my body. We all do. And it's much easier to do that when you know you're doing the work to stay healthy. So I'll keep going.  

My advice to anyone out there preoccupied with weight and body image is, don't make changes solely to look better. Do it to feel better. And don't expect it to be overnight, or even three months in. Because real change is hard work and you have to be in it for the long haul. Only then will you want to keep going if your body expectations aren't met. Stay strong, ladies, and if you have ever felt like I'm feeling, please feel free to share your experiences in the comments!

Keep going // Source

Friday, July 6, 2012

craftypants: personalized gift box

I promise I have not been ignoring you guys! I have about a half dozen half-completed posts in the queue which I'm hoping to get to next week while Jason's out of town. Until then, since I only have one week with him while he's home from this marathon of traveling, I've been trying to soak up every second of not having a big empty house to myself.

But just to prove I haven't disappeared, I wanted to put up a quick post from a recent easy craft project. I had a few people on Facebook and Twitter show interest in this little idea so I thought I'd post it here.

Last weekend was my mom's 60th birthday party and we celebrated by having a big family dinner at one of her favorite restaurants in St. Augustine. Now, my mom is the kind of lady that never expects gifts on her birthday. Maybe a card or two, maybe a bottle of wine, but in general she just wants the whole family to be together and having a good time. Which is why my brothers and I all wanted to do something special for her. It's her 60th after all!

After doing some subtle recon over dinner one evening, I remembered that she and my stepdad are visiting Italy in September with my aunts and uncles. My uncle rented a villa and they've been saving up for this trip. Words can't even describe how excited I am for my mom who has wanted to go to Italy her entire adult life, and I'm so glad she's finally getting this opportunity. As a gift, we thought it would be thoughtful and practical to get her some shopping money to spend while she's over there. Normally I don't think of a generic Visa gift card as a very thoughtful gift, but in this particular situation I knew it was exactly what she wanted. My parents don't really have discretionary funds to spend on shopping and mementos while they're over there, and I wanted her to feel the luxury of seeing a pretty scarf or piece of jewelry in a shop window and snatching it up with no hesitation or guilt.

Of course, if you know me at all, you'll know why I couldn't simply slap the gift card in a an envelope and call it a day. I wanted the packaging to reflect the thought in the gift. I love decorating my own gift bags or personalizing gift bags I purchase because I feel like it immediately lets the gift receiver know that time and thought was put into the gift. (I'm also terribly insecure when it comes to gift-giving and by adding some form of crafty element to a gift, you're pretty much guaranteed that the person isn't going to hate it or else they come off as a real wench. Clever, huh?)

Now, originally with this craft I had grand ideas of doing a gift bag that looked like an old suitcase and plastering travel stickers and stamps on the outside. However, after going down that route it became crystal clear to me that a) what I was creating did not look like a suitcase and b) whatever it did look like was UGLY. So I decided to go a much simpler route and this is what I came up with:

I thought it turned out pretty cute and it's kind of evocative of that suitcase-sticker feel without being too obvious. The materials were super easy and super cheap, and you could recreate this for absolutely any occasion or any gift theme by simply buying different scrapbooking stickers.


  • Cardboard gift box: $2.99 (a part of the Spritz brand at Target which I absolutely love for personalized gifts because it's all about solid colors which are very easy to add embellishment to. I used their plain white wrapping paper to wrap Jason's 30th birthday gifts which I decorated with markers myself.)
  • Scrapbooking stickers: $2.99 (visit any Michael's or Joann Fabrics and there are walls and walls of these things commemorating every occasion. Just pick your favorites!
  • Ribbon: burgundy grosgrain and parchment twill: $4.00

Which makes for a grand total of... $10! Now I know it's not the $3.99 you'd pay for an off the rack gift box or bag, but still I'd like to think that the couple extra bucks are worth it when your gift receiver realizes that you spent time on customizing their gift. 

So there you have it. An easy DIY gift box that will make any gift more personal. 

Do you ever make your own gift boxes or bags? Would you spend the extra bucks to make your gift wrapping more personal?

(Pro tip: don't tie the ribbon in a double knot...)

"...just loop, swoop, and..."

"I swear it's not hot glued to the box...."

I think this is the point where she finally got it. But hey, she got to spend more time admiring the outside of the box, right? Right.

Me with the birthday girl.

These two love birds. Mom and Tom, my stepdad. Are we sure this isn't a 50th birthday instead?