Deck Updates + How to Build a Faux Boxwood Wall

August 12, 2019

black-and-white-deck-inspiration
This post has been along time coming but I knew it would take me a while to put together so I've been dragging my feet. That seems to be the theme of all of my posts lately, doesn't it? Oh well, that's just the season of life I'm in right now. Anyway, I am excited to finally share our finished deck with you! I was putting this post off because I wanted to take DSLR photos but my camera hasn't been working so these iPhone pics are just going to have to do. I realize it's mid-August and you're probably not looking for deck inspiration but better late than never! black-and-white-deck-inspiration
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The first step was to build a faux boxwood wall. Our deck is a really nice size and I wanted to make sure we took advantage of Minnesota summer but knew that since our neighbor's house was so close we would feel uncomfortable being out there without any sort of privacy. We looked into buying a retractable option like this or planting some tall, thick plants but neither option was quite right. I then remembered that Hitha (a favorite follow!) had shared Meg's post about how to build a boxwood wall and that idea stuck. I loved the idea of something that provided privacy and would also look nice. Right around the time I was deciding to build my privacy wall Hitha had one put in in her backyard and it looks so so good! I tackled mine a little bit differently than Meg suggested because I didn't want anything permanent but her post is a great one to reference if you're planning to do something similar. 
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I decided to use these trellises as the base. We rent our house so I didn't want to be drilling anything into the deck so I just used a ton of zip ties. I ended up with five trellises and zip tied them together and to the deck railing. The fifth trellis went over the edge of the opening for one of the sets of stairs but I don't really care and think it looks better than having it end before the railing ends. 
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I did some searching on Amazon and these faux boxwood panels had good reviews so I bought two boxes and ended up with some left over. The worst part of the whole project was fastening the panels together and zip tying them to the trellis. They're pretty scratchy and you have to really get in there so my hands got a little scratched up. It only took a couple of hours and then voilà it was finished!

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It didn't end up totally straight and so you can see it doesn't line up on the right side but I wasn't going to redo it so it's good enough!

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The wall made the biggest difference and has definitely served its purpose! I'm also happy to say it's stayed standing and still seem very sturdy even after several windy storms. Still trying to decide if we should just leave it up through the winter or not. 
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The next step was to get a rug. I was between doing a blue and white or black and white color scheme and ultimately decided to do black and white since I'm definitely feeling the neutrals right now. I used pins like this, this, this and this as my inspiration. I realize that getting a partially white outdoor rug isn't the smartest move but it was relatively inexpensive so if we only get 1 or two years out of it I won't be devastated. This is the rug we got and it's currently out of stock but this one is very similar.
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Next up was picking out a furniture set. We were able to snag this one when it was on sale and have been very happy with it so far. 
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Next was the lights! I went with these ones. I stole the idea from my friends to get some pieces of wood, spray paint them and zip tie them to the deck to hang the lights from. I tried hanging them with command strips and found out the hard way that that wouldn't work so then we stapled them and they've stayed put. I don't have a great picture but you can see the posts in the one below. 
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My sister-in-law got me this fun outdoor cart and I decided to turn it into a plant stand. Unfortunately half the plants are already looking pretty sad but I wanted to add some greenery and color to the space. 
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The finishing touches were this geometric table (similar), a portable fire pit, citronella candles and lanterns.
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Well there you have it! I'm so happy with how it turned out and we've already gotten a ton of use out of the space having friends over and even watching Twins games out on the deck. You can find me here until the first snowfall!

xo Catherine 

What I Wore to Work For a Month Part 2

July 22, 2019

I'm back with a summer version of What I Wore to Work For a Month! If you missed it, I first captured my monthly work looks back in January and February so I wanted to do a summer version as well so you could see how I dress for the hotter months at work. Like I mentioned last time, I work at a very casual advertising agency but I do like to look put together since I interact with clients on a regular basis. 

Middle: Similar blush ruffle skirt. Couldn't find a similar crop top but this floral top would pair really nicely with a blush skirt! Kelly & Katie nude sandal. Similar gold circle earrings.








As you can see I definitely have about three pairs of shoes that I wear on repeat and I was just starting to explore the headband trend last month. This was the first month that it was warm so I had fun putting together summer outfits for the first time in months and documenting them. It's actually so helpful to be able to go back and see what you wore and to get ideas for how you've styled things before. I find having photos to be really helpful and inspiring. Whenever I buy something new I like to try it on several different ways and take pictures so I can see what looks best. Anyway, hope you enjoyed this peak into my work outfits!

xo Catherine 

Favorite Recent Purchases

June 10, 2019

Today's post is a little all over the place but I wanted to share some random things that I've been loving lately! I can't quite put my finger on why but I've been feeling less and less inclined to share things on Instagram stories lately. I was talking to my girlfriends about this and said that I used to post on Instagram stories all the time and lately just haven't felt like sharing and have even become more self conscious about it. One of my friends pointed out that it could be that I posted a lot more frequently because I was living away from all of my friends and family so that's how I kept in touch was by posting more of my everyday life online. I think that was a really insightful point and could be applied both to social media and to the blog. When we were living in California I had way fewer social plans because I didn't have a ton of friends there so I was blogging and Instagramming more in my free time. Now that I'm back in MN and see friends and family frequently I haven't made sharing online that much of a priority. All this to say that these are some things that in the past I would have probably shared on IG stories but haven't so I wanted to put together a little roundup of my favorite recent purchases here!

My cordless vacuum. This is a game. changer. Our very cheap vacuum didn't make the trip to MN with us so I was on the hunt for something new. I really wanted a Dyson but couldn't justify shelling out hundreds of dollars so I decided to try this version since it had such good Amazon reviews and is only $120. Overall I really like it! The only issue is that every once in a while the battery won't last if I'm trying to vacuum the whole house at once. It can be kind of annoying when that happens but is way less annoying than a cord IMO so I'm happy with the tradeoff!

This gorgeous Tuckernuck scarf. You may remember a similar red scarf from last year (seen here) so when I saw this beautiful summery option come out I pre-ordered it right away and have already gotten so much use out of it!

Non-slip shoe grips. I don't know about you but a lot of the flats and sandals I buy have zero traction so I picked up these sticky grips that you put on the bottom. Et voilà: traction! Such a simple product but they're so helpful.

Spring tops. I realized that this was an area of my closet that was seriously lacking so I picked up this cute Swiss dot top and this linen button up in two colors! I wear one of these pretty much every week and want to pick up even more colors. I'm wearing the French blue in the picture above!

This Target palm print headband also pictured above. I was hesitant to join in on the headband trend for fear that it would look too juvenile but I couldn't pass up this adorable palm print option for only $15. I wore it to work last week and received so many compliments on it!

Natural dry shampoo. I've been trying to swap out my beauty products for natural options where possible. There are some things I'll never be able to give up but dry shampoo seemed like an easy enough product to swap out. I was previously using baby powder as dry shampoo which my old stylist pointed out is just talc. Needless to say, that made me want to switch things up since some studies have found talc linked to cancer. I bought this natural replacement and while it's more expensive than baby powder it lasts for a while and works really well. Pro-tip for applying dry shampoo: blast your hair with your blowdryer after you apply it. It helps it absorb and results in zero white residue! 

This book that has helped tremendously with my anxiety. I haven't mentioned this anywhere but when we flew to Florida in March I had a panic episode on the plane which has never happened before and I was completely unprepared for how to handle it. I think it was a combination of not being sure about my return travel plans, sitting in a middle seat and having to sit on the tarmac for an hour before we took off. It wasn't a full blown panic attack but needless to say it was not pleasant. That was the catalyst that lead me to finally find a therapist in MN. I am happy to say that I found someone I really like and she recommended this book which I have found extremely helpful. We flew to SF over Memorial Day weekend and because I had built it up so much in my head that I might feel panicked again I was very nervous for the flight. At the beginning of our flight to SF I was feeling on edge but was able to use some of the practices in this book to work through it and am happy to report that both flights ended up going very well! 

That seems like a good place to end things — hope you enjoyed! Funny how this roundup of recent products doubled as a little life update as well!

xo Catherine 

Recent Reads: Vol. 21

May 9, 2019

Well, I’m happy to say I finally got my act together and wrote a blog post! Today I’m sharing the eight books I’ve read in the last couple of months (there are some really good ones!). One thing to call out is that I’ve switched it up from previous Recent Reads where I would either recommended the book or not to a rating system because when I read other book reviews I find ratings really helpful!

The Death of Mrs. Westaway. Harriet is in her early 20s getting by on her own as a tarot card reader at Brighton Pier. One day she comes home to a letter saying her grandmother has died and left her an inheritance. Harriet knows that they’ve sent it to the wrong person but goes anyway to collect the money so she can pay back some debts. Once she arrives at the Westaway home she realizes that things are amiss and gets tangled up in the family drama and mystery. We read this for book club and all agreed that it was just okay. It kept me entertained but there were some plot holes and I really didn’t love the main character. 
Rating: B-

Proposal/Remembrance. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I was ob-sessed with the Mediator series when I was in elementary and middle school. It’s a YA series about Suze Simon who is a ghost mediator. Naturally, I was thrilled when I found out that she had written new books about Suze as an adult. Proposal is a novella and Remembrance is a full book that continues the Mediator storyline. It essentially felt like a warm hug to step back into one of my favorite literary worlds, so I was loving every minute of these books. If you love YA, paranormal activity or teen romance I’d definitely recommend these books.
Rating: A

Balthazar. This was another trip down memory lane. After tearing through the Twilight series in middle school I wanted something similar to fill the vampire void, so I read the Evernight series.  It’s about a boarding school for vampires with lots of teen angst, love triangles and mythical creatures. This book was the last in the series but told from a different character’s point of view. Again, it was so fun to step back into one of my favorite series and I think these books hold up as an adult!
Rating: B+

Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win. This had been on my list for a very long time, so I was excited when I finally got it from the library! Charlotte Walsh is a tech executive living in Silicon Valley with her husband and 3 daughters. She decides she wants to challenge herself even more so her family moves back to her home state of Pennsylvania so she can run for senate. Needless to say, the campaign is grueling and she’s attacked about everything from her appearance to her marriage and living in California. The campaign takes its toll on her personal life, especially when secrets are dredged up, so she has to decide how far she’ll go to win. Overall, I liked this book but I wasn’t blown away. I had heard it was the only fictional book ever written about a woman running for office, so I felt I needed to read it!
Rating: B+

Blink. This is a Malcolm Gladwell book that wouldn’t normally be one I’d pick up on my own but it was chosen for book club. It’s all about “thin slicing” which is the split-second decision-making our brains do in order to keep us from having to labor over every decision or judgment we’re faced with. He lays out both the ways we do this to our benefit and to our peril. The topics ranged from racism to marriage to predicting heart attacks. It was very interesting and educational. It did take me a while to power through it because it was so research-heavy that I found myself going much slower than normal to absorb it all. I enjoyed it and learned a lot but some parts were pretty dated (it came out in 2005) or were a bit frustrating. 
Rating: B

The Other Woman. Emily and Adam meet in a bar and quickly fall in love. Everything is going great until Adam introduces Emily to his mother, Pammie (honestly could she have come up with a more obnoxious name?). Emily can’t figure out why but Pammie seems to hate her. Adam can’t see it because he adores his mother but Pammie goes to great lengths to make Emily’s life a living hell. This book was a little predictable but it didn’t stop me from tearing through it. There was some suspense and a few twists thrown into the mix so I liked it. 
Rating: A-

Daisy Jones and The Six. I’m so excited I finally read one of the ~it~ books in a timely manner! Usually I have to wait months to get it from the library but my mom had a copy. This book was unique because it was written as if it were a Behind the Music documentary. It’s told from several people’s perspectives who are being interviewed. Daisy Jones is a singer-songwriter living in LA in the ‘70’s. The Six is a semi-popular band that’s on their way up. Their mutual record company suggest they do a duet and after it’s a smash they decide to join forces to become Daisy Jones and The Six. There’s a lot of relationship drama, band tension and addiction. The story was very interesting, I really loved the way it was written, but I don’t think it lived up to the hype. That’s the trouble with hyped up books, even if they’re really good they might still disappoint because they’re not the best ever. Anyway, I did really enjoy this book and can’t wait for the mini-series!
Rating: A-

The Idea of You. You guys, I saved the best for last. This is by far my favorite book on the list! Solène is a 39-year-old divorcée who takes her 12-year-old daughter to an August Moon concert (August Moon is clearly supposed to be One Direction). They go to the band’s meet and greet and Solène meets 20-year-old lead-singer Hayes (the Harry Styles of the band) and they are immediately taken with each other. They go on to have a love affair despite the 20-year age difference. This book was v. steamy while still being well-written. I loved all of the characters and was not ready for it to end. Definitely read this book!
Rating: A+

xo Catherine 

House Progress (Living Room + Dining Room + Bedroom)

April 15, 2019

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This post is a long time coming — seven months to be precise. I've been meaning to share photos of our house progress from the beginning but here we are seven months after we moved in and I'm only now sharing these. I'll caveat this by saying that these are very much progress photos and the house is not done. I kept wanting to wait until everything was perfect to share more photos but I think that progress photos are fun too. Hopefully sharing here will help me get my butt in gear to keep putting the finishing touches on! Today I'm sharing before and afters of the living, dining and bedroom. I'll do the kitchen and bathroom another time but those transformations aren't quite as dramatic. 

So. These photos are a mix of iPhone snaps and DSLR photos that I've taken over the last seven months. Most of the DSLR photos were taken yesterday so they're the most up to date. I did tidy up to take those photos but I really didn't do much more than that so you may notice stray cords, empty frames, etc. Settle in for lots of photos of where we started, where we are now and what finishing touches I still hope to make!
before-and-afer-home
I think I've said this before but our house is a rental. You'll probably think we're nuts to have made updates to it since we don't own but I love this stuff and really wanted to put work into the space to make it ours. So the first step was to paint the living/dining area white. The whole house was painted a pale grey but the living and dining area don't have the best light so I wanted it to be white so it would look as bright as possible. 

Dining Room

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We also swapped out a couple of light fixtures, including the chandelier in the dining area. Mark and his dad are the best and did it themselves. We plan to just swap them back to the original fixtures when we move out. 
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The next step was to install this ladder shelf from CB2. I've mentioned it a million times but Alaina is someone whose design style I really admire. She had this shelf in her last house and I knew that I wanted to get one for this space. It's the perfect home for some of our prettier glassware and we also use it as a makeshift bar.
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In addition to the chandelier we had to put in a curtain rod because this house didn't come with any window treatments (insert eye-roll emoji here). I would love to get a larger kitchen table and add a rug here since we have the space but other things have taken priority for now. 
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before-and-afer-shelf
I played around with the shelf stying for a while and I think I have it where I want it. I might want to get one more baking dish to stack on that 6th shelf but otherwise I love it!

Living Room

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The living and dining room are one big, open area so we painted the whole thing white. Well, I shouldn't say "big" since our house is tiny but it felt huge once we started painting. Mark was very against painting but I was adamant and told him I'd take care of it since he didn't think we should do it. I thought it would take me a day since the area is relatively small but good lord it was a nightmare. Remind me never to paint again. It took an entire weekend (as in three days) and Mark ended up helping a lot after I had a meltdown or two. He's the best.
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You guys, this bookshelf has been the bane of my existence. I was so excited to have this cute little built-in to style but I cannot for the life of me get it to a place I like. I've rearranged a million times and still don't love it. I just want to finish it and be done!
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styled-bookshelf
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Couch

I've been wanting to make a few updates to the living area to warm it up a bit. After having these plaid pillows out for Christmas I realized how much I loved the look of some color or even a pattern on the couch. I've been on the hunt for the perfect pillows ever since. We also really want to get an ottoman coffee table to make this little area cozier and better for movie-watching. There's too much white going on right now so I'd love to get a cognac leather ottoman or something like that to warm it up!
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In an ideal world we'd mount the TV but I doubt if that's ever going to happen. Just imagine it's mounted ;) 
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reading-nook

So this little nook is actually in the front room which is technically a bedroom. It's a joke of a bedroom so we use it for storage and have this little chair in there that Louie likes to perch on and bark at people as they walk by 😅

Bedroom


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Our bedroom is a special little snowflake in that there is no room to put a queen sized bed without blocking a window or having the bed up against a wall. We chose the blocking a window option. I know it would look better without a headboard but we like having one so it is what it is. The other eyesore in this room are those mismatched black shades you probably noticed. You also may have noticed that a lot of our windows have paper blinds. We got them when we moved in since the house felt like a fishbowl without any window treatments. Here we are seven months later with a ton of paper blinds still up because, well, window treatments are expensive. We've only put in a few permanent treatments and the rest are still paper. I plan to eventually replace the black shade here with this white one that will hopefully look less weird. 
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before-and-after-dresser
I am obsessed with this dresser. I mentioned it before but I just wasn't finding anything online that I liked so I turned to craigslist and found a woman who had refinished this old dresser in black to give it some new life. I never thought I'd be this into a dresser but here we are. 
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I think the finishing touch here would be to group the items on the left in a tray like this one and then it'll be good to go! 
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Still a ways to go but I'm really happy with the progress we've made and am excited to keep chipping away at it! Hope you enjoyed seeing the progress!

xo Catherine 

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