Thursday, March 22, 2018

Puggy Photo Shoot

I'm just tickled to have a new lens for my camera! I've always said that it's all about your tools. You can do anything if you have the right tool or equipment for the job. My favorite thing to take photos of are people, products, and my pugs. So a lens that goes down to 1.8 is SO exciting for me to use. I've been playing around with it, but when I saw my pugs lounging around in the backyard I knew I needed to bust it out. 

I was cleaning and rearranging stuff in the backyard, and had thrown my lounge chair cushion out into the grass to get it out of my way. The pugs obviously took the invitation and started sunning themselves. Such a typical pug thing, they really seek out soft things to lay on. 

Pug Portraits // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Pug Portraits // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Pug Portraits // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Pug Portraits // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Pug Portraits // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Pug Portraits // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Pug Portraits // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Pug Portraits // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Pug Portraits // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Pug Portraits // Pugs & Pearls Blog


This last shot shows how much practice I need with focusing, but I thought it was still a cool picture! Check out that bug! (Gross, but still cool to me.) 

Can't wait to use this thing some more and get better at it! Leave a comment below if you think your pets are the perfect models for pictures! And anybody with photography experience should leave their best tips for us beginners! 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Book Club: Ready Player One


Summary: 
In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

What I Didn't Like:
So this book is chock full of movie, music, tv and pop culture references from the 1980's. I wasn't around for the 80's, but I did manage to understand a good chunk of the references. I am usually a book skimmer, so I know if I hadn't listened to the audiobook I would have skipped over a lot of the arduous details. For example, many references are made to specific types of computers that were invented in the 80's, including details about the model numbers and capacities. Not really my thing. 

There were also a few rants in this book that while mildly important to the world building, I found them annoying. Kind preachy, I guess. 

What I Liked:
This was a really fun book! I thought the concept was awesome and I know it will make a great movie. It's set in our not too distant future, so a lot of it really seemed possible. I'm not really into video games, but we did the Star Wars VR experience at Disney Springs earlier this year, and so I think that helped me immerse myself into this book. 

A note on the audiobook: I really enjoyed listening to this one. The whole book I was trying to place the familiar voice reading to me! I had to laugh when the credits said performed by Wil Wheaton. He must have had a fun time reading his own reference in the book! 

Overall Rating:
4 out of 5 Stars (1: hated it, 2: didn't like it, 3: liked it, 4:liked it, 5: loved it)

So, this is a book for nerdy people. In fact, people who love video games, movies, books, pop culture, etc, will love this book. I know my husband is going to love it. I more than mildly enjoyed it, as a person who is, admittedly, partially into nerdy stuff. In fact, almost all of the references I did know were because of my husband. It's a cool book that marries the past with the future. I do think, though, that this is going to make a much better movie than book because of all the references. 

Leave a comment below if you've read Ready Player One! I'd really like to know what you thought of it and if you understood all the references. Planning to see the movie? And tell me what you are currently reading! Follow along on Goodreads!

This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

My Favorite and Trusty Decluttering Principles

Trusty Decluttering Principles and Ideas!

"Does it spark joy?" 
Full transparency: I haven't read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It's popularity was soaring enough, though, that I got the main idea. (And the folding technique! Game-changer!) The idea is that you should not keep items unless it makes you happy. I found that many items in my house instantly sparked happiness and it was a no-brainer to keep those things. Other things didn't. I had a picture frame that had to be propped up just right or it would fall over-I was always annoyed with it. So, why would should I keep it up? 

Some items aren't as easily identified as being joy-sparkers. For example, wearing a pair of socks might not exactly make you happy, but you'll see that there are pairs you always reach for and some you don't. The ones you always reach for are obviously favored, so keep those and toss the rest. 

TLDR: If it makes you happy or has a purpose, it's serving you just fine and you should keep it! 

"Is it a Just-In-Case item or a Just-For-When item?"
I heard this principle on The Minimalists Podcast. It made perfect sense to me, and I think it really marries well with the sparking joy principle. 

There is a big difference between holding on to an item 'just in case' versus 'just for when...'. Let me try to explain. You may have a snowboard, gloves, a mask and a ski jacket. If you are holding on to them just in case you might go snowboarding one day, you can probably get rid of those items. But, if you and your family go snowboarding every year, then you have those items just for when you go on your annual vacation. In that case, you can probably hang on to that stuff. It serves a purpose, it's not there just in case. 

This step actually requires you to go a little deeper than surface level. It causes you to really analyze why you are keeping things. It helped me to see reality versus what I would like to do in a fantasy version of my life. 

"Would I Buy This Again?"...At Full Price
If you were in a store right now, and saw your item on the shelf, would you buy it again? And if you aren't positive, ask yourself if you would buy it again, at full price. I found this question very polarizing! It helped me to decide whether to keep something or not very quickly, because the reality is most of the time it's a no. 

There are those favorite things that you have, though, that you know you'd scoop up ten of if you had the chance. I'm one of those weird people who finds a pair of pants that I like, and then buys every color they make it in. (True story. I have 6 pairs of the same ankle pants from Old Navy.) That's what I want my life to be filled with-my favorite stuff! Nothing I'm not completely happy with. 

"Organized Clutter Is Still Clutter."
My house was always neat and tidy, and people complimented how organized things were before I decluttered. So, why did I need to declutter an already organized house? Because, the clutter was hiding in about 100 bins throughout my house. Everything was tucked away or neatly spaced in cabinets. 

The thing is, organized clutter is still clutter. I had to go through everything! I can't even tell you what random junk I found hiding around the house. Scraps of cardstock were nicely placed inside my craft supply rubbermaid. Those scraps were literal garbage that I thought I'd keep 'just in case'. For what, I dunno. No one knew they were there, except me. The crazy thing was after my big purge, I had and still have several empty rubbermaids and bins that I was able to eliminate because of decluttering and consolidating.  

"Do I Already Have Something That I Could Use Instead?"
The cherry on top of organizing, is organizing without spending any money. I am huge proponent of shopping your own house first! This principle can be applied to little things, like kitchen tools. If you already have a good knife set, the chances of you needing an avocado pitter or melon baller are lower. (Except, I definitely kept my grapefruit knife..that thing is totally worth it.) If you have something that can do the job already, eliminate the extra. 

This is a great money saver too! About a month ago, our ottoman in the living room pretty much bit the dust. (#puglife) Before we went out and bought a new one, I remembered I had a small bench under our guest room desk. Because no one really uses that desk as a desk, I decided to shop our house first and move it into the living room. We will get a new one eventually, but only when we find the perfect solution. 

And because everyone loves a good before and after, I thought I'd share a little project my mom and I worked on this month! We were able to overhaul my parent's walk in closet, dresser, linen closet and bathroom cabinet. I haven't gotten to declutter in awhile, since my house is pretty much finished. Although, it's never going to really be finished! You do have to constantly reevaluate so that you can stay clutter free!

Trusty Decluttering Principles and Ideas!Trusty Decluttering Principles and Ideas!

Trusty Decluttering Principles and Ideas!Trusty Decluttering Principles and Ideas!
We were able to collect and donate 5 full black bags, an air mattress, and a bookshelf after just a few hours!

Okay everybody, leave a comment below if you love before and afters! Do you struggle with decluttering, or are you happy to get rid of stuff? What questions do you ask yourself when deciding whether or not to keep something? 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Spring Cleaning & Recent Home Purchases

It's amazing how different I begin to feel when it warms up! I really don't feel like myself when it's cold. The warm sun makes me feel alive! One way I know that's true, is that at the first sign of spring I start to feel the need to spring clean. Our spring started really early this year! It was downright hot the second weekend in February. (Although the temperatures seemed to level out again, and we are back down to the 70s/40s.) 

Since my BIG declutter in 2016 I really don't have a ton of stuff anymore. In fact, I hadn't really purchased anything decor wise for our house in a long time. When I got my new letterboard I did swap a few things around to give it a perfect home. That also inspired me to swap out our living room throw pillows for the ones in our office. Just that simple act of rearranging a few things made our house feel fresher! (And I ended up finding a trunk load more of things to donate!) 

Let's Stay Home
When we were in Lowes last month, I couldn't resist this adorable "Let's Stay Home" sign. It's meant to look like painted wood, and I've had a few guests think it was something I whipped up myself. I can't seem to find it on Lowe's website, but if you love the sentiment as much as I do, Amazon has some great options

Let's Stay Home Sign // Pugs & Pearls Blog

The Shed
So, we have an abnormally huge shed. It's really more of a workshop, but it also houses our laundry room and has plenty of room for our ping pong table. Yeah, it's that big. When Blake bought the house, there was actually a kitchenette and bed out there-someone was living in it! 

The shed has sort of been neglected. When I started moving in, we spent a whole weekend gutting it and cleaning it out because I had the grand idea of making it an art studio. It needed the clean out, but I quickly realized we should be spending our energy and money on the inside of the house first! Since then it's been a catch all. We did drywall and finish the laundry room/ping pong table half, so that looks decent. The other half houses all of our tools, yard equipment and odds and ends. I would show pictures, but you know-robbers. 

For our anniversary, Blake's gift from me was a new tool box he had been eyeing for months. It's actually beautiful in person, and he had a blast sorting his tool collection. It sort of inspired a complete declutter/organization of the whole shed. It turned out SO nice. It's still a shed, but I don't get the heebie-jeebies out there anymore. 

We found some RANDOM stuff in the shed. Including a box of Blake's childhood stuff. Trophies, pez dispensers, and legos just to name a few. My niece and nephews loved seeing some new stuff in their toy bin here at our house. A lot of the stuff had to be tossed, but most of it came clean enough to have a new life. 

This nail organizer was such a game changer! We have quite the collection because of DIY projects. Now it's all sorted out and we are ready for our next project. 

Garage Organization // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Garage Organization // Pugs & Pearls Blog

My New Garden
If you would have told me 10 years ago that I'd be growing a garden, I'd laugh. I was raised in the city, so when I first moved here and all the people I met had gardens I felt left out! I had a pretty successful garden the first year we were married. It was just a rectangle, with 2x4s as the frame. There were lots of problems with that garden, namely that it was too shallow and that it got in the way of mowing the yard. 

This time we were going to do it right! We followed this tutorial, which we actually found very confusing. They say "I'm making two tables so you won't need this many [boards]" but then proceed to give us the correct amount of boards. Anyways, we managed! 

This thing is SOLID. It isn't going anywhere, especially now that it's filled with dirt. I'm growing tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, and some herbs. We will see how it goes! I'm out of practice. 

It's killing me that the rest of the yard needs attention. We have 2 large oak trees on one side of our house that drop leaves every spring. It's absolutely pointless to do anything until that's over with. I hate when everything is brown! I can't wait for everything to come back. 

Raised Garden Bed // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Raised Garden Bed // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Color Printer and Paper Cutter
Alright, you know how excited I get about office supplies! I'm not sure how we made it this long without a color printer. I'm obsessed! We also bought some photo paper, and I've really enjoyed printing out some new photos to hang up around the house. (Again, it's those little things that refresh a space!) 

I replaced the prints in the frames on the shelves in the guest room with some photos from the beach trip we took in 2014. That was one of my favorite trips! It was a close tie with some pictures from  our Jamaican honeymoon, but that's the cool part, I can easily do that if I want to later on.  

 Canon Color Printer // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Guest Room // Pugs & Pearls Blog

So, I've also been dabbling in invitations. I made the invitations for my sister's baby shower, and I also just made one for our congregation fish fry. It's been SO fun to do. But, a paper cutter is essential!! I don't know how I lived without one. 

Invitation Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Car Diffuser
I kind of felt silly buying this, but I love it so much I'm glad I did. Groupon has this great diffuser that fits perfectly in your car's cup holder. I love diffusing peppermint in the car because it helps keep me awake and headache free. This one also comes with a regular power cord so you can plug it in inside. I brought it into the kitchen when I accidentally burned (or is it burnt?) something!

Essential Oil Car Diffuser // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Roomba!
I may have never wanted anything more in my entire life! My parents, grandparents and siblings all went in to buy us a Roomba for our anniversary! With 3 pugs, you do a lot of floor maintenance. I was sweeping basically every day. I pride myself in having a home that doesn't look or smell like dogs live there. 

This could not be more perfect. Roomba has a schedule, and our floors are always cleaned before we get home. It's legitimately life changing. Bailey and Delly don't really pay attention to it, but Winston still barks at it occasionally. He's a mess. 

By the way, everyone I know who has one of these gives it a name. We went with DJ Roomba because of Parks & Rec. :)

Roomba // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Roomba // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Props to you if you stayed until the end! I am obviously long winded when it comes to cleaning and organizing. It's something that I'm actually passionate about. Hopefully as it warms up some more, we can get some stuff done in the yard and I can continue minimizing our home!

Leave a comment below if you are as crazy as me and actually love spring cleaning! Let me know what projects you've got in the works!
Affiliate Links Present!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Letter Board Letter Organization

Letter Board Letter Organization // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Just popping in to share a simple solution to organizing all of those teeny plastic letters for your letter boards! I've been coveting a letter board for so long, and I'm just thrilled to have one! When I was popping out the letters for it's maiden voyage at my sister's baby shower, I knew I was going to need to come up with a good way to store them. A plastic baggy was not going to work!!

Amazon to the rescue! (What did I ever do without prime?!) I found a perfectly size tackle box, that I think was intended for bead storage. It has 36 slots, so just right for sorting and storing letters and numbers. I may even get fancy in the future and slap some labels on this thing! 

Letter Board Letter Organization // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Letter Board Letter Organization // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Letter Board Letter Organization // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Letter Board Letter Organization // Pugs & Pearls Blog

I already have several phrases and quotes that I want to spell out on my letter board! I think that if I had to go digging and searching for letters I'd be less inclined to change it out often. But, this makes it easy! 

Leave a comment below if you are an organization junky like me! It's even better when it's an incredibly simple solution isn't it?! If you have a letter board, tell me what you've got written on it! 
This post contains affiliate links.