Decorating On a Budget (plus a tutorial!)

Good afternoon everyone!

It’s so stormy here right now, but I’ve been feeling super productive. It’s been difficult to blog as often as I want to since I’ve been working so much but I’m doing my best to put out at least a post a week for you all. With that said, here are some ways to decorate inexpensively that might get you feeling motivated as well!

  1. Papering: Papering is a really old trick to making things in your home a little more pretty. Scrapbook paper is cheap and comes in a variety of cute colors and patterns. I use scrapbook paper to line drawers and cabinets, to cover containers, and as pictures. See below for a step by step tutorial!
  2. Painting: Painting or drawing is a great creative outlet and can result in some really beautiful things to hang in your home. If you’re not so much the creative type, you can always get stencils and use them on your pretty scrapbook paper we discussed above!
  3. Free Print Outs: There are lots of free print outs to find on pinterest or just sifting through google.
  4. Thrift Shopping: I’ve had the most luck finding frames, furniture, vases, and antique kitchenware. Thrifting can be a fun hobby, as it usually takes a couple of tries to find the best picks, or a specific thing you are looking for.
  5. Coupons: Michaels usually has a 40%-50% coupon that can be printed off of their website or used from your smartphone every week, in addition to other coupons for weekly specials. Craft stores can have some really good steals on home decor items!

Papering

Pick the pieces you want to paper

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Before pic!

Line your paper up to the item you want to cover and mark it so you know where to cut.

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Mark and measure your paper

Tape your paper to whatever it is you want to look nice!

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Tape any overlapping lines to seal it and make it look neat.

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Ta-da! You can now coordinate all the repurposed pieces in your home!

Enjoy,

The Navy Wife xoxo

Teach me to Bake… Vanilla Cupcakes

Hi guys,

I’m really excited to share this recipe with you guys because this will be the first original cupcake recipe of my own. I’ve been cooking up recipes from my own creativity for a while now, but baking is another story. Baking is a complex subject of study. I feel like it mainly gets complicated because so many of the ingredients do multiple things and they all have to work together harmoniously. Butter and oil gives a cupcake tenderness, but so does sugar and milk. Eggs give structure, but so does flour. Yet, eggs also help batter rise like a leavening agent does. Baking powder needs heat to activation, but baking soda needs an acidic component. See where I’m going with this? It gets dicey pretty quickly without a guide. I’m setting out with a goal though to find the perfect cupcake flavor concoctions and bring them to you guys, starting with vanilla!

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This recipe is a little more in depth than most cupcake recipes. As I was making them, I thought of how I would teach one of my younger siblings to bake, what tips and important things they’d need to know to make a cupcake right. I’ve added all those tips in here to give you guys not only a new recipe to try, but a baking lesson in the process to help you as you continue on to other recipes in the future.

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The Vanilla Cupcake

  • Ingredients:
    2 cups all purpose flour
    1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
    2 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp kosher salt
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    4 eggs @ room temperature
    1 cup milk + 1 teaspoon of vinegar (or buttermilk)
    1/4 cup softened butter

    Directions:

  • Preheat you oven to 350 degrees. This is an important step because the oven needs to be at the proper temperature before the cupcakes go in in order to bake evenly.
  • In a Kitchen Aid mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream your butter and sugar until fluffy.

Tip: to soften your butter quickly (because who remembers to set out butter??), put it in the microwave for 20 seconds on 30% power. This will make it soften but not melt like it normally does!

  • Add your eggs one at a time, mixing the first in completely before adding another. Once those are combined, scrape down the sides of your bowl and add in your vanilla. Mix until combined.
  • In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder). This will evenly disperse your leavening agents into the flour so that your cupcakes all get the same amount of rising.

Tip: Make sure you measure your flour correctly so that you don’t get cupcakes that are too dense. Spoon flour into your measuring cup until full, and level off with a knife. Don’t shake the cup or it will make the flour settle and you’ll get more in the recipe than you want.

  • Add half the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar mix, then half buttermilk, and repeat until all ingredients have been added to the mixer.

Tip: I use milk/vinegar mix instead of buttermilk because I almost never have it on hand. Add the vinegar to your pre-measured milk to curdle it. That will replicate the buttermilk flavor. You may use either one you have on hand.

  • Make sure to scrape down your bowl a final time and check to see that all the ingredients are totally combined. Use a scoop to fill 24 cupcake liners evenly. For me, that is filling my liners to be about half full. You may have a couple extra cupcakes over 24. I had 26. We’ll just call them bonus points for all your hard work.
  • Bake those little cakes for 13-15 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean and clear of batter.

For my frosting I used 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and 1/4 cup of powdered sugar. Simple as that. Top with sprinkles, drizzles, toppers, or fruit. The possibilities are endless!

Please post pictures of your cupcakes and results! I hope you guys enjoyed maybe learning a few new things, and eating your delicious cupcakes. Catch you soon,

The Navy Wife xoxo

February Favorites – Home Decor

Good morning friends! TGIF. It’s Valentine’s day weekend and I am looking forward to getting to see my Sailor. We only get the weekends together right now while he’s in Fleet Marine Force training so we try to make the most of them. During the week though while he is gone I usually have a good amount of free time on my hands. Since we just moved, decorating the new house is a favorite hobby of mine now. Here’s a couple of decorating looks I’m vibing with that I wanted to share with you.

I love the rustic look of these printables. I’ve been decorating my kitchen with aged wood, cast iron, and colorful florals. The pioneer woman’s new line at Walmart has been a huge source of inspiration. Add these free prints to your wall for some homespun charm!

  • Wall size maps

The industrial look is one of my favorite things lately. Think of it as a mix of 1920’s style and a cool old train station/warehouse. Metals, feathers, dark colors, and more make up this striking design. Although wall maps are my go to piece from it!

  • Christmas-y Looks

Okay, Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love finding ways to sneak a little Christmas into my day to day decorating. Flannels, furs, plaid, and stag heads are a couple of ways to do so. Burlap is also a nice touch, adding a neutral palette for pops of red or green.

  • French Country

French country decor makes me feel like I’m sitting in a little cottage in a field of lavender. It’s so serene. I love lavender bunches as decoration, giving a freshness to any space. Creams and whites give everything a light airy feel. Galvanized buckets are perfect storage solutions.

Hope you guys were inspired by these looks! Please add your comments on looks that are inspiring you or rooms you’ve redone in your own home. I’m planning on adding some ways to decorate inexpensively in the near future so be on the look out for that. Enjoy your weekend guys!

The Navy Wife xoxo

Discovering Cities: Norfolk

Hello my friends,

Quick update, the hole in my floor is finally fixed, I’ve been learning a lot about catering and food at my new job, and I’m going to a Citizens and Saints/Kings Kalidoscope concert on Valentine’s Day that I am so psyched about! If you haven’t heard of them before, go check them out.

As much as Luke and I are getting settled in and making a home here, I miss Norfolk! I love that city and we can’t wait to move back. So if you decide to visit, I wanted to give you my top hits! The places you absolutely have to visit.

Top Food Hits:

  1. The Handsome Biscuit: In-house made sweet potato biscuits sandwiching fried chicken in a variety of combinations, such as red cabbage slaw, or whole grain mustard and honey. Mmm… I get hungry just thinking about it. The place is tiny yet popular so if you plan on going have a back up plan on places to sit. They have nice outdoor area though if it is warm enough.
  2. Belmonts House of Smoke: Heck to the yes, this place is amazing. Every Wednesday they have .39 cent wings in tasty flavors. Get there early because it gets busy, totally worth it though. They have rooftop seating as well and lots of local craft beers.
  3. 80/20 Burger Bar: I have dreams about this place. Whenever I want a good burger here in Jacksonville I always go to their menu to replicate their combos. Not easy to do because they have some special burger talent there. Stop in for a heaping pile of fries and a juicy burger. Also, lots of local craft beers. Notice a theme here?
  4. Cogans: Norfolk is a college town, and every college town needs a good pizza place. This pizza place is it. It just happens to be exceptionally tasty and perfect for all stages of life. They have delicious combos of toppings. The margherita pizza is my fave. Whole cloves of garlic and fresh tomatoes. Oh my, I could eat the whole thing. Foodies unite!
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Botanical Gardens. So peaceful

Best Coffee Shop:

Stella’s Cafe: We named our dog after this place. That’s how much we love it. You know McClarens in How I Met Your Mother? This is coffee shop is the McClarens of my life. We were here a lot. Try their mocha latte with a homemade marshmallow, yum! Don’t forget to bring a book to cozy up with on one of their window benches.

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Botanical Gardens

Things to do:

  1. Chrysler Museum of Art: This place is free to visit and on Saturdays they have an glass blowing exhibit. It’s a fascinating, historical place to spend the afternoon in.
  2. The Botanical Gardens: It’s a little pricey to get in. If you buy a year pass it’s a lot more affordable to go. Of course you’d only want to do this if you were living in the area or planned to go multiple times. The area is beautiful in the spring and summer months.
  3. Virginia Zoological Park: It’s a zoo! Maybe it’s just the kid in me but I always love going to the zoo. They have a petting area with goats that is my favorite. With all the other traditional animals of course. It makes for a fun day.
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Virginia Zoo. Those little kiddos count as monkeys.

I hope you guys choose to visit Norfolk and all of Hampton roads area. It’s really an entertaining area that is near and dear to my heart. See ya next time,

The Navy Wife xoxo

Healthy Happy Skin

Hey Everyone!

I’ve been totally incognito here! Sorry ’bout that. My days seem to be increasingly more full. Regardless, I will not forget about you guys. Pinky promise. Good news! I will be starting a job in a new restaurant here in Jacksonville tomorrow, and I can’t wait to share my experiences there with you guys. Be looking for that in the near future. On another note, I’ve been thinking about starting a youtube channel for make up tutorials. Any one interested? Comment below if that’s the case. So much to say in so little time! Let’s get to the heart of today’s post. Or should I say skin 😉 That was cheesy, I know. I can’t help it.

In all seriousness, I have never had any luck having good skin. It’s either breaking out, too dry, blotchy and red, or occasionally all three. Although over the years I have found some products and tips that have really helped. Even if you don’t struggle with having imperfect skin, these tips will help your good skin stay healthy.

1) Dry brushing:

I swear by this in the winter. Dry brushing simply involves taking a natural bristle brush that is gentle enough and brushing your skin in long strokes, always towards the heart. This will improve blood and lymph circulation and help slough off dead skin cells so your skin can glow. This is only meant for your body though. Brushing your face will be too rough for it and can damage your skin further.

2) Saunas:

Ah, my favorite. Saunas have a similar effect to dry brushing as they will improve circulation to your skin. All that sweating will get rid of toxins in your body and purify your skin. Just be sure to hydrate properly before and after!

3) Tea Tree Oil

This stuff is amazing. If you struggle with acne, trust me, you need this in your life. Tea tree oil is naturally antibacterial so it gently kills the bacteria that creates acne without drying your skin out. The smell is a little odd at first, but it grows on you. I can’t live without this stuff now.

4) Retinol:

Retinol products help skin cell turn over to get rid of dark spots, scars, and acne. There are products over the counter with retinol in them or you can talk to your dermatologist about getting a prescription dose. Beware! Retinols are one of those things that can make it worse before it gets better. I’ve never had a problem using it, but some people experience redness and peeling. It should not be used if you have skin conditions such as psoriasis or if you are pregnant/breastfeeding.

5) A Good Nights Sleep:

Sleep gives your body time to restore itself. That’s why most skin care products should be used at night. Whenever I feel like I’m having a bad skin day I always try to get in a few extra Zzz’s that night to improve it. So take a nap! Do you really need any other excuse?

I hope you guys enjoyed these tips and tricks. Always to be used in addition to eating healthy and exercising of course! If you have any questions or just want to share your own tips please comment below. See you later,

The Navy Wife xoxo

 

(image from here)