How to Have a Beautiful Kitchen on a Budget

First of all everyone has their own budget and everyone also has their own idea of what beautiful is. So with this in mind…I am going to share what I did on a budget (which is a work in process) and what I feel makes it a beautiful kitchen.

For any budget I feel there are three things that one can do for no cost or very low cost. 1) Keep the space clean and decluttered. 2) Use dual purpose storage/organization tools. Pick decor pieces that double as storage. Only have pieces that have a function as this helps keep the space feeling more spacious and stylish. 3) Add some fresh flowers to the space. It gives the feeling of elegance and adds to the fragrance of the space if your budget allows.

Now here is what I did for this space. This isn’t the whole kitchen but it gives you a visual of my improvements. We moved in to this home years ago. There was nothing wrong with the kitchen space as it functioned for our needs. It just wasn’t the style we liked. We lived in the space and made small improvements while saving money for some of the bigger improvements.

The first thing I did was replace all light switches, outlets, and their covers. The previous owners either painted them or dripped paint on them trying to hide the 1980’s yellow ivory color. This was a small improvement which nobody would notice but me but it drove me crazy to keep them. It is really inexpensive to do and I did know how to rewire them. What an impactful change it made to the kitchen.

Next I replaced the huge oak fluorescent light fixture that was in the middle of the kitchen ceiling. Again, nothing wrong with it as it functioned, but it hung down about 8 inches from the ceiling in an already low ceiling space. So we put in canlights that were the same as the rest of the space.

A few years later we replaced the appliances.  The microwave died and all of the appliances were original to the home so it was time to update.

The appliances didn’t fit the space like the older ones did so we had to move some cabinets to fit the fridge and therefore the flooring needed to be updated. So…we replaced the hardwood and tile flooring and updated to one flooring throughout the whole kitchen and dining rooms.

Then came the cabinets a few years later. These are the original cabinets, again nothing was wrong with them they just were the 1980’s oak,and outdated hardware. We used a couple of Rustoleum kits in Espresso and refinished the cabinets which was way cheaper that buying new cabinetry. We opted to replace the hardware but one could cut costs by spray painting the existing hardware to give it an updated look.

We then bought a new faucet to match the coloring of the new cabinet hardware. We still need to update the sink, countertops, and maybe add a backsplash, but for now we just updated the paint on the wall and that made a huge difference.

Other  little things that I do to make my kitchen beautiful is I don’t have rugs in my kitchen. I did for years but I find they collect debris and dog hair and takes away from the beautiful clean kitchen vibe I prefer. I also don’t hang towels from the stove, fridge, or dishwasher handles. I think it makes the space look dirty and cluttered. I prefer to hang a clean cloth and towel by the sink and when it is dirty I replace with a clean one at the end of the day.

The last thing I have done is to keep the inside of my cabinets and fridge organized. Everything has a place and therefore no clutter piles up at the snack bar.

Some people have a bigger budget and can do the work or have someone do all the work at once. I didn’t have a large budget so I did a little at a time. I was fortunate to have a functional kitchen so I could DIY the kitchen as I had the money and the time.

I will share my organization with you all on a later post.

Chemical Free Cleaning: White Kitchen Sink

Do you have a white sink in your kitchen? One that stains easy and gets scuff marks from pots and pans? Well I do and perhaps you can relate. I was looking for something to use to clean my sink without the harsh chemicals. I have used bleach spray and soft scrub and other cleaning products in the past. I now use baking soda and lemon to remove stains and scuff marks and it works beautifully. No more chemical products as everything I need I always have in stock at my home.

All you do is: sprinkle baking soda into an empty sink. Cut a lemon in half…use one half on each side of the sink. You hold on to the lemon as a scrubber and the juice from the lemon reacts to the baking soda and the marks and stains just disappear. I usually spend about 5 minutes cleaning the sink. Just rinse out the sink and it will be shiny white. The sink not only comes out white, the house smells amazing, and you can rinse the sink and throw the lemon down the garbage disposal and it cleans your garbage disposal too. It is a win-win.

I thought I would share how I have been cleaning my white sink. The best part is it is inexpensive, chemical free, and stuff I always have on hand. Happy cleaning!

Jewelry Declutter and Purge: Necklaces (Lia Sophia, Silpada, Kendra Scott, etc)

It is time for another jewelry purge and declutter. Today I have a big purge and declutter of my necklaces. I have accumulated quite a collection during my twenties, thirties, and now forties. I have 80 necklaces and it is time to let some go. I am hoping to at least cut my collection in half.

I love necklaces especially good quaility pieces. The majority of my necklaces are Lia Sophia pieces. I have other brands such as Kendra Scott, Silpada, Christopher & Banks, Anne Klein, Coldwater Creek, and  a few others.

These are the ones that I have decided to Declutter and Purge. They are beautiful and well kept pieces.

These pieces are the beauties that I have decided to keep. I will be putting them back into my vanity hanging from my vanity doors just as they were before. This time the necklaces will have more room to breathe and not get tangled or lost in a mad game of hide and seek.

Jewelry Declutter: Michael Kors and Fossil Watches

It is time for another jewelry purge and declutter. I have grown a collection of jewelry from my twenties and into my forties and my tastes have changed over the years. Today I have a small purge and declutter of my watches. I have 7 watches and it is time to let some go.

I love the Michael Kors and Fossil watches because of their heft and quality. The majority of my watches are Michael Kors pieces. #michaelkors #fossil #watches

I started out with 7 watches and I ended up saving all but one. I am on the fence about keeping the gold watch with the hot pink face as I don’t wear a lot of gold jewelry. I may end up purging that piece before I complete my jewelry purging project.

The glass storage containers are the same as I use to store my bracelets. I just love these! Glass Storage

Jewelry Declutter: Lia Sophia Bracelets

It is time for a jewelry purge and declutter. I have grown a collection of jewelry from my twenties and into my forties and my tastes have changed over the years. Today I started my purge and declutter series with my bracelets. I have about 40 bracelets and I can’t even tell you the last times I wore some of these pieces. It is time to let them go so others can enjoy them as much as I used to. The majority of my bracelets are Lia Sophia pieces. I was not a distributor for Lia Sophia. I just loved the heft and quality of the Lia Sophia pieces.  #liasophia #bracelets

I started out with 39 bracelets and I ended up just saving 7 bracelets. I already feel relieved to have less and only kept the pieces I actually wear frequently.

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I love my storage for these bracelets. I purchased these glass storage items at Target. I have a couple of these that are empty now and I plan on putting my watches into these pieces after I purge a few watches. Glass jewelry storage

Here is the photo of all of my bracelets that I am purging and decluttering:

I have decided to keep just 7 bracelets. Have you done any decluttering and purging of your jewelry collection? It proved to be a lot easier than I anticipated. Here is the photo after my purge and declutter:

ThredUp: Designer Brands at a Discounted Price


Have you heard of ThredUP? I discovered it a couple of years ago. It is a great place to buy and sell new & slightly used designer brand clothing and accessories.

I have purchased items as well as sold items through ThredUP. I love the cost savings of having a higher quality item without the huge price tag. There is something in every price range. Inventory changes out quickly so you need to keep checking back on the website to see if the products/brands you are looking for become available.

I have sold items on ThredUP as well. It is a great way to make a little extra cash with items you don’t use and are just sitting around not being utilized. I have sold several handbags and scarves just recently. Who couldn’t use a little extra cash?

ThredUP is free as there is no fees to belong to this site. You just sign up with your email address. I have provided a referral link. If you sign up for free to see what products ThredUp has for sale through this link, I will receive $10 and you will receive $10 off your first purchase.  ThredUP Give$10, Get $10

The ThredUP Give $10, Get $10 is applicable to you as well! It is a refer a friend reward. Every time you refer a friend and they purchase something within 30 days of referral, they will receive $10 off their order and you will get a credit for $10 towards your next order. What a great way to share the love!

Items are brand new with tags or slightly used and will be noted as such. They do check for authenticity of items as well. Check it out! Maybe there is something available that you have been waiting for!



Pottery Barn Vanity: Makeup & Jewelry Storage

I received this beautiful piece of furniture for Christmas a few years back. It is the Hampton Vanity Tower & Super Set from Pottery Barn Teen.

It is a beautiful piece of furniture and organizational tool as is, but I had to make a couple of modifications to it. I didn’t like the look of the cork boards on the inside of the doors. I covered them in foam board wrapped in fabric. I use this section to hang my necklaces and it works beautifully.

I also didn’t want the expense of buying storage pieces to use within the drawers to organize my makeup and jewelry. So I opted to make simple DIY drawer organizers out of foam board and covered them in fabric. It is visually pleasing and very inexpensive and makes this look like a custom piece.

This is the before picture without the drawer organizers. As you can see, there is a lot of storage and possibilities for organization. Below, you will see the DIY drawer organizers that I made for a more customized organization.

I have had this piece organized several different ways over the past few years. I am getting ready to reorganize and declutter my makeup and jewelry. I will post photos here of the before and after.

Do you have some helpful tips to share on how you organize your makeup and jewelry?

Natural & Chemical Free Home Cleaning Tips

Who doesn’t enjoy a fresh clean home?  I like to have a clean home that also has a nice fragrance that is natural, chemical free, and pet friendly.

Here are 10 Tips that I use that you may find helpful.

Tip 1: Open the windows (weather permitting)

Fresh air is always the best way to freshen up the house and it doesn’t cost a thing!

Tip 2: Use essential oils

Replace your furnace filter every month. I like to put a couple of drops of essential oils on the new filter so when the furnace runs it releases a hint of the essential oil aroma throughout the house.

Place a couple of drops of essential oils on the inside of the toilet paper roll. (Eucalyptus oil, lavender, or any other oil you prefer.) It gives the bathroom a hint of freshness without being overpowering.

Make toilet bombs for cleaning your toilets. (Baking soda, citric acid, and essential oils). I make mine into daisy shapes and let them harden. Once hardened, I place 1-2 daisies in the toilet bowl to clean it instead of using chemical based toilet bowl cleaners.

Tip 3: Baking soda is a great neutralizer

I use baking soda for several things so I opt to buy the 5 pound bag. When emptying the trash, I place a new garbage bag with a little baking soda added to the bottom into the garbage can. It is especially helpful with dealing with kitchen garbage odors as the garbage waits to be taken out again.

Tip 4: Clean walls, baseboards, countertops, sink, etc… with a homemade cleaner with natural cleansers.

I take out my collapsible dish pan. I love that this dish pan collapses for easy storage. I fill it 3/4 full with hot water. I add vinegar, baking soda, Honest Company dish soap, and a little lemon and/or peppermint essential oils. These are natural cleaners/deodorizers and will leave your house smelling and feeling amazing.

Water and vinegar mixture is also a simple natural multi-surface cleaner.

Tip 5: Steam Clean Floors

I use a Bissell steamer vacuum/mop that kills 99% of germs by heating plain water to steam the dirt and debris from my hardwood and ceramic tile floors. Nothing else is added but water. You could add a little vinegar if you prefer, but I think water is enough for this task.

Tip 6: Clean carpets, rugs, and furniture

I like to use baking soda with a few drops of essential oils (I prefer peppermint oil as it helps kill dust mites and insects). I take a bowl of baking soda and add a couple of drops of essential oils. Then I take a small sifter and apply a light dusting of this mixture and sprinkle over carpet, rugs, and furniture. Let this mixture sit for at least 30 minutes and then vacuum it up. I use a variety of vacuums: the RoombaShark Handvac and a Bissel Pet Hair Eraser because we have two dogs in our home.

Tip 7: Fresh bedding and mattresses

I clean my mattresses with the same method as tip 6. I remove all bedding to be laundered. I then sprinkle this mixture on the mattress and leave on for at least 30 minutes before vacuuming it up. Then apply the freshly cleaned linens. (I make my own natural and chemical free laundry soap)

Tip 8: Diffusers and air purifiers

I like to diffuse water mixed with essential oils in my home with the aria ultrasonic diffuser and the home diffuser (dew drop). I even have a little USB diffuser for my office and car. I usually combine water with lemon, lavender, and peppermint essential oil mixture. The blend is great for those with allergies.

I have a couple of air purifiers on each level of my home to help keep the allergens and dust out of the air. They run 24/7 and are cleaned routinely.

Tip 9: Use vinegar (white distilled)

I like to use vinegar and water for a quick natural cleaner for small cleanups, to clean the inside of my fridge, and to rid cooking odors from the kitchen.

Sometimes the foods we love to eat come with a very distinctive smell. The smell just loves to linger. After I have cleaned up my cooking mess and loaded the dishwasher, I like to place a small bowl of white distilled vinegar on the counter. I let it sit there over night to absorb the odors. In the morning, the smell is gone.

I dispose of the vinegar into my sink after adding a little baking soda to the drains. This way, I am not wasting the vinegar. I repurpose that used vinegar to clean out my kitchen pipes to make sure no odors are lingering there.

*Important: when storing homemade cleaners containing essential oils, it is best to store them in amber glass bottles (these are the ones I use) because they are UV protected, lead free and BPA free.

Tip 10: Minimize tracking debris in the house

Don’t wear shoes in the house to avoid bringing debris inside. Also, wipe pets feet when coming inside.

I have other tips and tricks I can share in the future. I tried to keep this list manageable without going over 10.

*Note: I do not sell Young Living Essential Oils. You can use whatever brand you prefer. I would recommend pure and organic essential oils. I happen to have been introduced to these oils first and have been very happy with the quality of them and I have had no need to find another brand.

I do from time to time use cleaners from the Honest Company and Mrs. Meyers to supplement my cleaning routine. These are a few of my favorites:

Do you have any cleaning tips that you would like to share with us? We would love to find new cleaning ideas.

Life in a Hard Place

Why is life so hard? Sometimes life grows out of a hard place like this tree growing out of rock up in the mountains. How can a tree survive the obstacles of light oxygen, cool temperatures, no soil for nutrients, and no sun exposure for most of the year due to cloud coverage? But this lone tree has done it and is surviving against the odds.

One of my sisters has been battling a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer this past year called Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Her odds of survival are less than 50% and life expectancy of only 1 to 1 1/2 years. This diagnosis just slapped us in the face. How do we move forward? How do we deal with this as we are ill equipped? So many questions…

The road has been long and scary. The time has been long and the chemo treatments have been brutal. Yet…we keep praying and believing that she will beat cancer. Today was her 6th chemo treatment. These days come so very quickly. Today I am still trying to find something positive when life has given us something so cruel.

My sister lives in an area with some of the top doctors and I view that as a positive. She has a very rare and aggressive form of cancer so many doctors are aiding in her treatment. The chemo has been brutal and the side effects horrific. But somehow, she is like this tree growing out of the rock against the odds.

Today…was a great day! Today, she found out that the chemo treatments have kicked cancer’s butt. She has won this round. She is not out of the woods and has a long way to go, but the cancer is shrinking and she continues to grow in her determination to beat this. She is a real fighter and she is persevering and overcoming the adversity she has been given. But tonight…I sit here and reflect on this tree and how it has survived against the odds and I know that my sister will defy her odds and be cancer free by 2018.

A Moose on the Loose!

Happy second day of January! We are experiencing yet another winter storm in the Midwest. We have had over 50 inches of snow in December and now on day two of January we are supposed to be adding another 4-9 inches!

Lots of snow for my family of snowmobilers and they are excited about this new powder. I would just like to see the sun again! School is starting late again tomorrow morning due to weather and road conditions. This is just going to be one of those rare winters when there is nothing more we can do but learn acceptance for all that comes.

With this crazy weather we are experiencing, it seems like we are seeing a lot more wildlife around than in years past. Look at this guy that came around…a moose on the loose! These animals are so much bigger and more aggressive than they appear. I couldn’t help snapping a quick photo before he ran away.

I am grateful to have found some beauty amongst this otherwise gloomy weather. It does not help to complain or be negative about it. The lesson is to learn acceptance for things you can not change. Acceptance is a very hard thing to learn. Stay positive it is a new year full of possibilities.