Stella & Dot Giveaway!

Guess who is going on vacation tomorrow?  Little ole me.   I am heading to San Francisco for an extended weekend to celebrate my birthday.  Since I'm about to enjoy some much needed time off, how about I give one of you something to use on your next trip?

My dear friend, Kathy Chaney, is an Associate Director with Stella & Dot.  She knows how much I love the irresistible travel bags in their product line, and has decided to generously give a lovely pouf to one of my followers. 

The free stuff doesn't end there, though.  I am going to fill your pouf with a variety of product samples from some of my favorite companies - Ojon, diptyque, Kiehl's, Orgins, Aveda, Viktor & Rolf, NIA24, Bobbi Brown, Chanel & more!

Oh..and just because I want to throw in a little something extra, the lucky winner will also get a $10 gift card to the Container StoreYou could buy yourself the latest copy of Real Simple, save it to use towards a big purchase, or just wander around the store and figure out what to buy while you try not to get lost. 

You want to enter?
1. Become a follower (or already follow) my site 

Be sure to leave a comment on this page post so I know you are entering for the giveaway.

2. Head to The Solution Girl on Facebook and like my page (or already like my page) and share the status update on your timeline.   Be sure to leave a comment on the giveaway post so I know you are entering.  

You want to get extra entries?
1.  Become a follower (or already follow) my Instagram or Twitter page.  Just be sure to retweet my giveaway post or comment on my Instagram giveaway picture so I know you are entering.

2.  Head to Kathy's Facebook and like her page.  She's the best.  You really shouldn't have to be enticed with an extra entry, but I'll give it to you anyways.  Just be sure to comment on her post on the giveaway so I know you are entering. 

There you go...lots of ways to enterYou have until Tuesday, September 24th to enter.  I will announce the winner on Wednesday. Good Luck! 


Game Day Ginny Bucket

Let me preface this recipe by saying that gin is not my drink of choice.  Whenever I think of it, I imagine myself at 45, mascara smeared, and crying about how nobody told me they liked my casserole.  Nothing about that image makes me want to drink gin.
The “Ginny Bucket” was first served to me in Wisconsin, out of a questionable looking bucket with a turkey baster - I can’t make this stuff up folks.
I have changed the original recipe slightly and eliminated the use of aforementioned baster.  They may not use glassware north of the Mason-Dixon line, but this is the south.  We consume our tailgating drink of choice like the best of them – out of solo cups.

The Solution Girl’s Ginny Bucket
Mix 1.75 Liters of Gin
4 Liters of Fresca
16 Ounces of Lime Juice
(2) Lemons; (2) Limes; (½) Grapefruit – Sliced
Combine in Bucket & Serve with Ice*
Serves 4-12
*I recommend keeping ice separate from the bucket to ensure you do not water down the drinks.  It can also be stored in the refrigerator overnight to chill.
This drink is light, fresh and perfect for tailgating. I can guarantee there will be no smearing of mascara, unless, of course, your team loses. 


Managing Inspiration

With the internet, inspiration is at our fingertips.  Sometimes, though, I feel as though it is possible to get over inspired. Let me explain...

Right now I am contemplating what I want to do about refinishing my file cabinet, and have been looking to fellow bloggers and design magazines for inspiration.  My idea list is as follows - whitewashed wood with black hardware, glossy black with brass hardware, glossy white with darker wood drawers with brass hardware (or vice versa), and glossy emerald green with brass hardware.  There were other options, but this is the list thus far.  Ridiculous, I know.

It isn't that I don't know what I want, but it is that there are so many other options that I have to remind myself to not veer off course.  It is the ultimate balancing act - finding things to inspire yet maintaining focus.  With all the flash sale shopping, pinning, instagraming, tweeting, and facebook liking, this is no easy feat.  Why else do you think your boss is all "no looking at etsy on my dime".  

I have found that the best way to stay focused is to start any project by writing down your ideas and overall vision.  Then here is the hard part - you need to try to stick to it.  While you can allow yourself a little wiggle room, make sure you set some perimeters.  If not, then the next time you go to the paint store you are going to act like a kid at a toy store who skipped his last dose of adderall.  

Once you have a basic idea of what you want, it is safe to go online or pick up the latest copy of House Beautiful.  Whatever else you find after you have a vision should serve only as a means of installation or implementation - not make you feel like you need to start over from scratch.  This is also a great way to not find yourself shopping for stuff you don't need or will later have to return. 

Now say you don't really have a vision or your vision is wanting to mimic the style of someone else.  That is completely ok - but watch out for the tricky grey area.  You see, there is a fine line between seeking inspiration and out right copying.  

Say your want to build a house, but don't know where to start.  Drive around and see which styles you prefer or look up house plans online and find a few to make your own.  Just don't be the jerk who builds an exact replica of a unique home that someone else probably spent years creating.  Even worse, don't be a local designer who copies the work of another local designer - I saw this done recently and was shocked that they were hired to design and all they did was install the hard work of someone else.  I mean, who the hell wants to pay for a Picasso that was drawn by someone else?  Let's be professional here, folks.  This isn't Sips n Strokes.  

While I think it is great to seek out new ways to be inspired - don't forget to use your own creatively.  It is more interesting, and quite honestly, is a hell of a lot more satisfying.

Do you find yourself brainstorming and then finding photos for inspiration, or starting with nothing and searching for something? 



Tips & Tricks: Going the Extra Clean Mile

Whether you clean your home or hire someone else to do it, we can all agree that a clean home is better than a dirty one.  Sometimes being clean just doesn't cut it, though.  For me, is a lot like salad dressing - good, but better when there is a bit extra.

Here are a few of my favorite products for going the extra mile to a clean home, whether it is cleaning the actual cleaning equipment or ridding the space of funk.

Dishwasher:  I know people who do not have a dishwasher, and I have no idea how they do it.  I'd probably eat on paper plates for the rest of my life if I did not have one.  It saves me time and my manicure, though I haven't had one of those in months.  Over time, though, it can get an unpleasant smell.  The best solution to rid it of funk is Finish Dishwasher Cleaner.  Between washes, when the the machine is empty, plop it in, set it on the heaviest wash, and let it do its thing.  No more residue or smell! 

Disposal:  There was a home inspector that told me once that you should never put any food down your disposal.  This is ridiculous.  Sure, you don't want to put a whole turkey carcase down the drain, but food scraps are perfectly fine.  You are probably more likely to get bugs from food sitting in your trash than you are to end up with a broken disposal from putting last night leftovers down the drain.  If you find that you are getting a little bit of a smell from repeated use or perhaps just had salmon for dinner, just grab some Plink.  As one of my clients recently put it - "Those little things smell so good, I want to eat them."  Seriously, they are that amazing.

Washing Machine:  I live alone, do laundry every other week, and keep the lid up on my washer when it isn't in use.  You can pretty well assume that machine smells just fine.  This might not be the case for those of you who do laundry more frequently or forget to keep the door open between washes.  If you want your machine to actually clean your clothing, then you need to clean it first.  The best option is Clorox Washing Machine Cleaner.  There are a few other brands out there, but this one is the best.  Just be sure you read the box carefully - some are only made for he machines.

Laundry:  Arm & Hammer's Wet Dryer Sheets are the crack of household products.  I can't find it anywhere in town, but I always check the laundry section of any store I am in just to be sure they haven't decided to start stocking their shelves with them.  You might be asking yourself why anyone would use a WET dryer sheet.  It is because your clothing comes out softer, fresher and static free.  I use fragrance free fabric softner, don't put it in when I wash my towels, and I hate dryer sheets.  So, when I say these are awesome, you better believe it!  These guys are your new best friend.  Lavender & Vanilla is my go-to scent, but they also come in Classic Fresh.  On a side note, have you ever needed to quickly freshen a pair of jeans you want to wear just one more time before they see the wash (or get out last night's smokey bar stench)?   These will be your new best friend

Microwave:  I have yet to find a product I like that you can simply stick in the microwave to make it smell good.  Most smell like cleaning products - and that is not what I want when I am cooking food.  So, I stick to what my mom taught me as a kid - mix vanilla extract and water in a microwave safe measuring cup then put in the microwave.  The results are heavenly.  The recipe is one cup of extract and three cups of water.  Place in microwave for 10 minutes, and the boiling water will leave things smelling amazing.  If you don't like the smell of vanilla, then you can use any other extract - lemon, peppermint, etc.  I prefer the vanilla, because I can save money by buying the lifetime sized bottle sold at Costco. 

Entire Kitchen:  Ever walk in Williams Sonoma and wish you could recreate the smell in your own abode?  You can with this concoction.  Take a large pot and fill with 2/3 water, a sliced lemon, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and a few sprigs of rosemary (packages in the grocery store's produce section if you do not have a garden).  You'll want to let it simmer for the entire day.  If you can only do this for a short amount of time, then store mix in fridge for use later.  It will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days (any longer and you'll need to pour out, use a Plink, and get a good pot cleaner).  Just keep in mind that the longer you let it simmer, the better your kitchen will smell.

Throughout the Home: Wallflowers are the best.  Forget all the others, because once you have used their scents you won't want to switch to anything else.  My go-to for fall is Salty Caramel, which makes me hungry just thinking about it.  My mom uses the Apple scent - if she had a dollar for everyone that said her house smelled amazing, she could afford a personal chef to cook her an actual apple pie everyday for the rest of her life.  It smells that good, I swear. 

Do you have anything extra tips to bring your home to the next level?


Tips & Tricks: Wall Galleries

When it comes to artwork, I am rich.  Not to mean that I own a Picasso, but I do have enough artwork to hang in my place and in another.  In fact, I have stored some of my art until the day I decide to get a bigger place or add on to my own home.

Since I have a wide range of stuff and want to showcase as much of it as possible without it being overwhelming, I create focal walls throughout my house.  In my opinion, this is an art, in and of itself.  

Here are my top 10 pointers for creating wall galleries, based on years of experience (and lots of nail holes).  

1.  Think outside the box.
While you can use the same color frames and mats, this is not necessary.  In fact, I find that a gallery wall has more interest when you aren't afraid to mix it up.  Why not throw in some texture - empty frames, vintage marquee letters, mounted antlers, mirrors, etc.  Look at everything as if it is art and find what inspires you the most.

2.  Low budget can still make an impact.
If you are finding you can't afford tons of art right now, look on etsy for some inexpensive, yet cute, options.  Just because it is a print, doesn't mean it isn't art.  Another option is to print out some of your favorite instagram images or have your photos printed in b&w.  Hang them up using washi tape.  It will fill in the gaps nicely and saves you on the framing cost.  Plus, you get to change it up frequently without having to reach for the touch up paint.


3.  Start with your largest piece.
Whether you place your largest piece in the middle, off centered or far left - be sure to place it first and build from there.  

4.  Determine your artwork prior to hanging.
It may sound like common sense, but you can't create a gallery wall if you don't know what you are working with from the get-go.  You can hang as you obtain artwork, but be prepared for a few holes.  

5.  Color balance is key.
Say you have tons of white frames and a few black frames within your gallery.  What you don't want is all your white frames in one corner and all your black frames in the other.  Equally disperse the artwork throughout the wall.  Same goes for the separating artwork with similar colors or styles - spread the love rather than keep them all in the same area. 

6.  Have some symmetry.
While you can make this your own, you still want to have things in balance.  You don't want some random picture hanging out way up high all by its lonesome, nor do you want one out in left field with no other pictures to keep it company.  You don't need everything to be even or centered, but you should have it feel balanced.  It is good "chi" for you and your wall. 

7.  Watch your negative space.   
You want an appropriate amount of space between pictures, but not too much.  It will end up looking like you got started on the gallery wall and stopped short (unless you are Frank Castanza, this is not a good move).  Be sure to look at your hung art from different angels, because sometimes the negative space disappears when standing at an angle.  No bueno.  You want the art work to look good no matter where you are in the room.  If some of the art appears too close, then it is too close.  If you want things to be tight and together, with as little negative space as possible, then just remember to keep things consistent so it doesn't look like it was done in error.

8.  Have a gameplan.
When you have decided on what artwork to use, lay it out on the floor in front of you.  Play around until you have something that works.  Keep in mind that it will never look exactly the same on the floor as it does on the wall.  Take a picture of it, sketch it out on paper, even measure for accuracy.  It won't matter.  You will save yourself some time if you take my word for it.    
9. There is no foolproof way to hang gallery wall art.
Your nails, pictures hooks and artwork threw a party and failed to invite their dear friend, human error.  It doesn't matter - he showed up and trashed the place anyways.  Sure you can try the butcher paper trick floating around Pinterest, but it is not fool proof.  Plus, there is always the possibility that you will change your mind once the art is actually hanging on the wall (that's me).  The closest you will get is to enlist the help of another - one holds the art while the other marks the nail placement on the wall with a pencil.  I recently hung some artwork and make a gazillion holes, but I was about to repaint the entire room so I could justify my actions.  Usually this is not the case, so find yourself a gallery wall hanging partner in crime then get to it.  
10.  Quick fix for keeping things straight.
If you find that there is a pesky frame that always looks crooked, then try placing a tiny bit of sticky tack on the back bottom.  Just be sure you can't see the sticky tack to avoid looking, well, tacky.

Now these are just my own personal "rules", and it won't hurt my feelings if you have your own process you follow.  However, if I had a dollar for every nail hole I've filled from the numerous galleries I've done over the years, I'd be able to buy that aforementioned Picasso.

So, what do you think of wall galleries?  Love it or not your cup of tea?

VIA:  all images found via Pinterest by searching "wall galleries" 


September Mood Board

September is one of my favorite months.  Football season, my birthday month (loving all those free gifts & discounts from my favorite places), and slowly getting a break from the heatPlus, my heart is feeling so full right now - it is going to be my busiest month to date.  There truly is nothing more satisfying to see all your hard word start to pay off.

I have also made some major headway in making over my house.  I have been submerging myself in all things design, but have very little budget to pay with right now.  It can be a bit overwhelming, because there is really so much stuff I love and only so much of it I can afford.  Not to mention my 950 square feet of space makes it all that much harder.

While I have tons of color throughout my house, I am incorporating lots of black & white details in each room.  They are both great accent colors - but when paired together they make such a bold statement. Even a statement as simple as "Do Your Best" makes an impact when done in basic colors and typography.  

In other news, the big office makeover reveal will be coming to you this month.  I am so excited I can hardly wait.  It has been difficult to find any free time so it has taken longer than I prefer.  It might feature a few of the above items, so at least you can get a little peak at what is coming down the pipeline....

What does your September have in store for you?

VIA:  stash jar/vintage style key chain/shelter social club matchbooks/diy b&w chair/stendig calendar/washi tape  
©2017 The Solution Girl | All Rights Reserved | Created + Branded by The Solution Girl