A Whimsical Bunch: 15 Under $75 at Furbish Studio

August 25, 2014
Do you ever walk into a store and feel like it just speaks to your soul?  I feel that way about Furbish Studio.  While I've never had the opportunity to visit the store in person (it's located in Raleigh, NC), the website is just fantastic and I want every single item that they sell: the selection truly is the perfect mix of funky, preppy, daring and whimsical! 

I imposed a $75 budget for this round up, and I selected my 15 favorite items under that price.   These are perfect as birthday presents for your girlfriends, as hostess gifts, or even just for yourself.  Enjoy!

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On my Mind...Lately

August 22, 2014
Well this past week has been a busy one of styling bookshelves, decorating (and redecorating) the mantel, figuring out how to lay a carpet down under a marble dining table that's already in place (alone), and picking up my wedding dress!  Aside from all of those things, here are a few of the things that I've been thinking about this week:

1. Tomato and Peach Salad with Burrata.  Yummy is all I have to say about this.  I always love a good caprese salad, but the addition of peaches take the basic recipe up a notch.  This recipe was in the latest House Beautiful magazine, and it was absolutely delicious.  You've gotta try it out!

2. The Hundred Foot Journey.  Last weekend I did something I've never done before: I went to the movies by myself.  I really wanted to see the Hundred Foot Journey and I was too impatient to wait for Tom to get back from Korea, so I went by myself.  It was really great!  It has everything that I love: food, cooking, Europe, a kitchen remodel, and even a very sweet love story.  It was simply a wonderful and heartwarming story that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I highly recommend you go see it, even if you have to go by yourself :)

3. Workspace Shelves.  I've moved my desk quite a few times now, but I think I finally have it where it belongs.  I love the idea of placing chic shelves on the wall over the desk, and I'm really smitten by the ones shown by Amy of Homey Oh My!  Isn't this the most darling workspace!  I feel like I'd be super productive in a cute space like this.  Best part?  Her shelves are from Ikea, and all she did was add a little gold spray paint to the brackets!

4. Glam Nursery.  Ok so we definitely are not at the point of having babies yet, but isn't this the most amazing nursery you've ever seen?  Designed by Eliza, it was featured on Apartment Therapy recently and this room has me hoping for a baby girl so that I can create a fabulous nursery like this (although a little boy would be wonderful too).  I just love the combination of gold, navy, pink and stripes (probably because it reminds me of my apartment!).

Well I hope you all have a nice weekend!  Any big plans for y'all?  I'll likely finally tackle the bedroom.  Ugh.  Wish me luck!  And if you aren't already, I'd love for you to join me on InstagramBlogLovinPinterestFacebook and Twitter!

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The Making of a Gallery Wall

August 20, 2014
Hi everyone!

So I created my main gallery wall on Sunday, and surprisingly I had the foresight to realize that I should take pictures of the entire process (definitely unlike me but I'm trying to get better!).  I'm going to go ahead and apologize now for all the clutter that you can see in these pictures...this new apartment is still a bit of a mess as I work to find a home for everything.

I knew the wall above my Ikea Expedit bookshelf/buffet was the perfect wall for a gallery wall because almost all the other walls have giant windows (which I'm not complaining about, but it makes decorating a little tricky sometimes).  I debated whether or not I should use just one single, large piece of art, but I have so many pieces I love, and minimal wall space, so I decided to go the gallery wall route again so that I could showcase all my favorite pieces.

I think a lot of folks are a bit intimidated by gallery walls.  In my opinion though, as long as you don't place things too far apart or too high then there is nothing to worry about.  Just go in with a plan, but be prepared for it to change once you get to work.  Once pieces start going up on the wall follow your gut and adjust as needed.  It's a cinch and you can do it!  This wall took me about 90 minutes from start to finish (including picture taking).

Here is the space I'm talking about.  The door into the apartment is directly to the left, as is the hallway down to the bedroom.

I'm so sorry (and embarrassed) about the mess!
My first step when making this gallery wall was to gather the pieces I wanted to use, and arrange them on the ground to see how it looked.  This was my original plan:

The focal point of the wall is the mirror (I found this at Ross about 5 years ago), so that was the first piece I placed.  I didn't want it to be too low, so I made sure to hang it at eye level.  

My next steps were to add the "Biergarten" sign and the little German pewter plate that go below the mirror (both bought in Germany on trips from years ago).  Once those were up there I realized I needed another layer of art below the mirror.  My original plan didn't take into account the height that the mirror should be in order for it to be useful.  Like I said before, gallery walls are organic and often evolve as you place the pieces.  This nude of a mother and a baby was found at a thrift store for $5 and then I got it professionally framed.

Mr. Gazelle (from Z Gallerie) went next because I wanted to work around the bottom and top of the mirror to sort of flatten out the round mirror.

The large, colorful canvas (a TJ Maxx score from years ago) was next.  

Up next was a new favorite of mine: a gorgeous Laura Dro print called Peony in Pink.  If you haven't checked out her site yet then you're missing out!  She creates such fun and colorful pieces of art, and she also sells chic lucite trays too.  Thanks to Ms. Laura for sending this to me, I absolutely love it!

The next spot to fill was the bottom right corner.  I had to go hunting through all my other art, and was happy to realize that I finally had the perfect spot for my Stephanie Creekmur "hey y'all" print in gold foil.  It's the perfect dose of southern hospitality to this Maryland abode.

The little antlers I found at Lucketts Store were up next.  I have a makeover coming up for them, but for now I just wanted them to have a home.  When creating a gallery wall be sure to include items that add a little dimension.  Horns or animal busts (faux or real) are the perfect way to do this.

The next spot I tackled was the bottom left corner.  I had to go find a substantial piece to go here, to sort of even out the large piece on the other side.  I settled on a random picture I found at a flea market in Arlington.  I like to think it's an Uzbek woman but I really have no idea.   

Up next was an etching I bought in Key West of Ernest Hemingway's house.  I bought this over a year ago and am happy I'm finally using it.  

Now you see that little space below the antlers?  I needed a small piece to go here, and I tried one square watercolor from Maui, but it didn't look right so I switched it out for a watercolor of the Sagrada Familia that I bought in Barcelona in 2008.

I decided to fill the top left corner next.  I bought a "V"(Tom's last name, and my soon-to-be last name, starts with a "V") at Lucketts Store a few weeks ago, and figured this would be a great place to use it.  I have a makeover for this piece as well, so it won't remain orange for too much longer.  

To round out the gallery wall I added a small watercolor I bought near Waikiki Beach to the top right corner.

Now if you study this wall, you see that I tried to balance it by spreading out the different colors of frames.   This adds a little bit of symmetry and keeps one side from looking heavier than the other.  What do you think?

Here is one last hint: go buy a picture hanging tool.  You can find one at Target for $15 and it truly has revolutionized how I hang pictures.  There are only one or two hidden holes here that I ended up not using, and those are because I ran into some unexpected studs that prevented me from hanging a couple pieces (yes I know, I need to go buy a stud finder).  

Even though the gallery wall didn't turn out exactly how I planned it, I'm actually much happier with how it turned out.   I hope you like it and I hope this has helped you gain a little confidence if you have been putting off creating a gallery wall!  Happy decorating y'all!

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The Blog Hop!

August 18, 2014
So I normally don't participate in things that gets passed around (like chain mail, themed blog posts that you have to pass on to another person, etc.) but when my friend Laurel from A Bubbly Life asked me to participate in the Blog Hop I happily agreed because 1) Laurel is awesome and has great taste and 2) the questions seemed like a great way for you all to get to know me a little better.  So here goes:

What am I working on?

This was the plan for my gallery wall...although it turned out completely different!  I can't wait to share my upcoming post on gallery walls.

Well as you probably have noticed, I moved last week to a new apartment in Maryland to be closer to Tom's job since I no longer work at the Pentagon.  I've been unpacking boxes/moving around furniture/and deciding what to get rid of because the layout of this place just does not accommodate room for all of our furniture.  While things are still a bit of a mess, I did start hanging pictures yesterday, so the picture above is a little sneak peak at the gallery wall plan (stay tuned for how it actually turned out!).

How does my work differ from those in my genre?

This gallery wall includes a German wood-carved angel, Hawaiian art, and even TJ Maxx finds.

I'm really still trying to figure out my blogger voice, so I don't know if I really have a genre yet.  I definitely lean more towards the decorating side, but also love anything pretty that catches my eye.  I guess the thing that makes me different is that I'm ok to open up and share with the world that I'm not perfect, I have struggles, and have lived a real life.  I think so many people try to convey to the world that their lives are perfect, but honestly I think that's rather unhealthy, plus it creates a sort of unrealistic expectation that can make readers feel inadequate because their lives aren't as "perfect."  Additionally, I'm not formally trained so I'm not constrained by the "rules."  This means that when I'm decorating I'm not afraid to just try whatever I think looks pretty!  

Why do I write/create what I do?

This was my bed in Afghanistan.  I decorated as much as I could (and brought a pink lamp all the way from Hawaii).

Well to tell you the truth, I had been encouraged to start a blog for a while before I actually did.  As an Army officer I didn't have much of a creative outlet aside from decorating my own apartment, so I finally got the guts to start the blog in October 2013...although I was too afraid to write anything for a while so actual posts didn't come until a bit later.  The main reason I started the blog is because I submitted photos of my home to The Everygirl for a potential home tour.  It seemed a bit of a stretch and I wasn't sure I'd get selected, but I wanted to make sure I had a blog in the off chance that they actually liked me and my home.  Turns out they did (I waited to hear back for over a month and assumed that it just wasn't meant to be), and one day as I was walking into the Pentagon I got the email saying they wanted to feature my home.  I was so excited that I wanted to scream and jump up and down!  Although for some reason that seems to be frowned upon in that sort of environment (who would have thought, right?).  Here is the link to my home tour if you haven't seen it yet!
How does my creative/writing process work?

So if I'm on a run, working on some project, browsing the internet or a magazine or just walking down the street, inevitably my mind starts to wander to decorating ideas, potential projects, etc.  Things often come to me from a color scheme I'll see out and about, or a pretty photo in a magazine, or just an item I see that speaks to me.  My favorite thing is to use items unexpectedly, and I love to show readers the possibilities that everyday items have.  While I don't claim to be overly frugal, I do try to incorporate lots of affordable items so that my design ideas are easily attainable.

Next on the Blog Hop.

Up next is Monica from Cake and Lilies.  I happened to meet Monica at a rewardStyle event about 2 months ago, and she is every bit as sweet as she seems on her blog.  She's super genuine, has great style and taste, and her posts just seem so personal and welcoming that you feel like you're her friend just from reading her blog.

Thanks for taking a glimpse into the "behind the scenes" of Life with a Dash of Whimsy!  I hope you enjoyed it!

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A Not-So-Beautiful Mess

August 14, 2014
Hi everyone!  I'm alive, just surrounded by boxes and packing material.  This move has proven to be a frustrating and tiring one (or maybe they all are?), but things are starting to look better today.  After getting my household goods delivered during a flash flood, battling Comcast (they are the worst), conducting wedding planning phone calls in the midst of the chaos, and doing it all alone because Tom is in Korea, I'm definitely not feeling uber creative at the moment.  That being said, I don't have any decorating tips for y'all today, but I promise those are coming soon once things get settled.  I do have a short list of a few things I've learned from this move though:

1.  Maryland does not allow alcohol to be sold at grocery stores....why did no one tell me this!?!  I was devastated yesterday when I got to Trader Joe's and was searching for a good (cheap) bottle to sooth my mind after battling Comcast.  I think I'll definitely have to stock up on my favorite cheapo wine next time I get back to Virginia.

2.  Don't trust Comcast when they say that you are all set to move and transfer your service to a new apartment.  They actually mean that once you get there your box won't work because you changed service regions.  And they also mean that they will start billing you for two locations.  And they also will make you drive to get a new box/remote, but the remote won't work, so by the time you get the box working it'll be stuck on whatever channel it happens to be turned to (which in my case is some ESPN baseball channel...so I've had the joy of watching pre-teen boys from Czech Republic and South Korea duking it out on the baseball field.  Fun stuff, let me tell ya...).  (Although I decided to log into Netflix last night and am now officially hooked on Orange is the New Black.  I know I'm a little late in coming to this realization, but it's amazing!!!)

3.  Columbia, Maryland has some great running paths.  When I'm feeling overwhelmed sometimes I just need a break from it all, and running is definitely my therapy.  I was pleasantly surprised when I found many nice paths today that were in the woods and along creeks and lakes.

4.  Even though it stinks and is annoying, weed out what you don't want/need anymore before you leave.  I now realize that I need to "edit" my closet, knickknacks, dishes, etc. and I wish I had done it before I got here.  Sometimes I guess you just never know.

Alrighty y'all, that's it for today.  Once things get more settled I'll get back to work and share some fun upcoming projects.  Thanks for sticking with me!  Here is a glimpse into my chaos, if you're interested.  They are iPhone pics, but you get the idea :)

This is how the movers left my precious wingback chairs because there was no space for both of them on the floor.  You should have seen me trying to get that top one down.  It was almost a disaster.

My lovely (but tiny) kitchen is back there somewhere.

The poor garden stool didn't fare so well :(

I'm definitely a coral hoarder.  I blame this on my time in Hawaii.  They are just so pretty!
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On my Mind...Lately

August 8, 2014
Happy Friday everyone!  I'm trying to figure out some sort of schedule now that I'm out of the Army, and I'm nowhere close to having this figured out yet.  However, I do know now that if you stay in a bathrobe until 4PM you likely will not accomplish much.  Next week is the big move, although we did tackle some of it this week, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about moving to the suburbs.  It'll probably be a good change of pace (a lot less distractions), and I'm so happy that Tom won't have to drive so far to work everyday, but I'm sure going to miss living in Arlington right across the river from DC.  That being said, I'm really looking forward to decorating a new place, even though this new apartment has a bit of a funky layout.  I always love a design challenge though, and can't wait to see what I come up with.

Here is a roundup of the things that have been on my mind this week (aside from remembering to change my address and turn off the electricity):

1.  The Old Lucketts Store.  Guys, this place is AMAZING!  We went on Sunday and I was so excited at every turn that Tom just kept laughing every time I'd gasp at something I loved.  Lucketts Store is an old general store turned antique store/flea market/design house (check the schedule of events), and it's like heaven!  It's located in Leesburg, Virginia, but it's totally worth the trip, I promise.  I scored a gold bar cart for $135, some awesome vintage dresses, a brass lobster, an old letter "V" (for Tom's last name) that I'll paint and hang on the wall or put in a bookcase, a turtle shell, and a tiny set of mounted antlers.

2.  Antlers.  Speaking of the little antlers I found, I'm really kicking myself for only buying one set.  I've loved this breakfast nook for years ever since I saw it in Southern Living, and I'm really tempted to make the drive again to get a few more sets of antlers.  Don't they just add such a fun touch to a gallery wall?  (I will also be bringing a u-haul next time I go so I can buy one of the gorgeous buffets I saw).

3.  Turquoise.  My love for the color turquoise is always present, but lately has been a bit overpowered by my overwhelming love for the color pink.  While looking for inspiration for the beach house, I realized I kept coming back to this tranquil color, which then prompted me to start rethinking my decision to redo my new dining chairs in black.  Sooooo, I just bought some paint the color of these chairs I found on House of Turquoise, and don't you think my dining chairs will be so fun if they are painted turquoise and paired with the spotted fabric I'm going to use (more on that here)?  One of the very first projects I'm going to tackle when I get to the new apartment is the chairs, so I promise I'll stop talking about what I'm going to do with them soon enough.

4.  Ikea Floating Shelves Hack.  Did you see Laurel from A Bubbly Life's post about this simple DIY?  She takes these basic Ikea shelves and makes them FABULOUS with some gold contact paper.  I love it!

Life with a Dash of Whimsy is on Instagram, BlogLovin, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter, and I'd love for you all to join me there!

Thanks for reading and have a lovely weekend!

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Change is in the Air

August 6, 2014
Hi Everyone!  Sorry I've been a bit absent lately.  Lots of big life changes happening right now.  If you follow me on Instagram (which you should if you don't already, because I'm much better at updating over there than I am here), then you know that my last day of work in the Army was last Friday, and my last day wearing the uniform was this past Monday (I had to go in for my award ceremony).  I have 51 days of leave saved up, so I'll still technically be in the Army until September 23rd...just on a nice long vacation.

Army Combat Uniform
Pic from Instagram: this is the first time I've been able to wear bright nail polish in 9 years!

It's a little bit surreal to see this chapter close.  Tom and I were talking about it last night, and I've been in the Army for 33 percent of my life...and I'm only 27.  Pretty crazy to think of it that way.  It's become such a part of me.  I've met the two loves of my life through the Army, I've lost my husband and many dear friends in Afghanistan and Iraq because of the Army,  I've gotten to see the world through the Army, I was lucky enough to lived in Hawaii because of the Army, I earned my degree through the Army, and I met lifelong friends through the Army.  Will there be a void now that I'm out?  I feel like I've done a good job at staying in touch with the "normal" world, so I don't foresee the transition being a hard one, but since I'm being honest I will say that I did shed some tears on Monday and left work for the last time feeling a bit melancholy.  (The hot pink manicure and pedicure I got right after work helped me embrace the transition to "civilian-hood" though, and the celebratory bottle of Veuve Cliequot champagne was the perfect way to end the night!)

Another Instagram picture.  Cheers!

In addition to leaving the Army, we are also moving next Monday (of course Tom leaves for Korea for work that same day so I get to deal with one last Army move all by myself...hurray! (she says sarcastically)), our wedding is in October so I'm busy planning that, we are doing an Olympic distance triathlon next month so I have got to get my butt into gear and start training seriously, I'm buying a beach house in South Carolina with my parents, oh and now I have to figure out what the heck I truly want to do with my life!  It's enough to make me want to just go take a nap...or have a glass of wine!

That being said, please bear with me as I may be a bit sporadic in posting for the next little while.  I have lots of great ideas swirling around in my head, but sometimes it just difficult to find the time to sit down and get it all out into words.

Thanks to all of you who read and support me.  Every single comment and page view truly makes my day, and I'm so blessed to have this little spot in the world with some pretty awesome readers who cheer for me through every up and down.  I love y'all!

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