May 2016 | Olive and Tate

Wedding Weekend Must Haves Under $100 - Mom Body Approved!

Just dropping in because we're off to a family wedding this weekend and I planned to blog all of my outfits on Monday - but then I realized that (duh) all of them are on crazy sale and I shouldn't wait til Monday to tell you about them! I know many of you appreciate my honest feedback on how pieces fit certain body parts and what sizes I rock, so I'm just going to drop them all here with super quick size notes/feedback I'll be back on Monday with shots of me wearing each piece and how they held up against my dance floor shenanigans. No need for ya'll to miss out on a sale because I was slow on the uptake! 

And also, every.single.item. is under $100 pre-sale!

Use code HISUMMER to save 20% and shipping is free both ways (P.S. I did not save 20% and am trying not to be irritated about it).

OBSESSED, have already worn it a ton, perfect weekend dress and great for mom days, too. The length is perfect and the fit is boxy but not unflattering. If it came in more colors, I would own them all. Perfect for Brunch or running around doing bridal party errands!

Red Lace and Pleat dress, wearing size 10 Tall
Grabbed the tall for length and probably didn't need to, but the dress is a midi so it's not a big deal. Note that the sleeves are very fitted on me, not loose like the model, and the back and chest is very sheer so you'll need to go bra-less - which means it's going back. I did pull it on for a quick second to shoot a photo with Christa because the color is just so stunning but sadly my post-baby boobs cannot be contained by a tape bra or sweet little petals, so I have to return. I would highly recommend it for anyone who can get away with no bra or a Nu-Bra because it is really, really flattering on. The waist hits at the perfect spot and the flowy, pleated skirt hides everything from your natural waist south.

This dress is going back for one reason only - it accentuates my chest making it look larger. It's very modest and actually perfect for the office but I just don't care to make my breasts look any bigger than they are. I really wished it worked on me but it just doesn't - but I know it will look fabulous on so many of you. It would be perfect for a wedding where you just don't know the dress code - add nude sandals, big earrings and walk out the door!

Closet 2 in 1 Pencil Midi, wearing size 12
Oh yeah, this is what I'm wearing to the ceremony and I love it. I can wear a real bra with it, the v neck is super flattering and the bow is a sweet detail. The back has a shiny gold exposed zipper that I love and the color pallet allows me to play with fun accessories. 

Ruffle Hem Shift Dress, wearing size 10 Tall
I looooove this dress. I'll wear this to the Bridal Luncheon with a little jacket and wedges and can't wait. It already made an appearance on my snap chat from the office on Thursday - it's soft, the perfect length and super flattering. I plan to wear it all summer both dressed up and down.

Check my Insta for shots of the pieces as I wear them and I'll round them up on the blog next week!

Have a wonderful holiday weekend and thank you to all who serve! 

5 Quick Ways to Transition A Newborn Nursery Into A Toddler Nursery

Thank you to Munchkin STEP Diaper Pail for sponsoring this post and providing me with a STEP Diaper Pail for my review. All opinions are mine and based on use of the product in my home.

I would like to talk about my sweet baby boy's room...

and the disaster that it has become. 

 Gone are the days of the delicate, perfectly designed newborn nursery. There is no more art above the crib, the mobile I lovingly handcrafted has been torn to shreds and that side table I had to have when I was pregnant is now serving as a race car track. I hate to admit it, but I am mourning the loss of the newborn nursery. He's grown into a full fledged toddler with scraped knees and wild opinions and his room has shifted in order to contain accommodate him. But here's the thing: we aren't quite ready to transition to a true Big Boy Room. Thankfully, our almost two year old hasn't realized he can climb out of his crib, still rocks diapers (to be clear, the jury is still out on if I'm thankful about that or not) and hasn't shown the slightest preference in how the space functions. 

And I'm just not ready to transition my baby's Nursery into a Big Boy Room. 

But it was becoming insanely clear that we needed to make a few changes to his space to ensure that our toddler wild animal baby was safe, entertained and so that I had some sort of organizational control over the chaos. As it turned out, we only made a few quick and painless updates to the Baby Nursery to transition it to a Toddler Nursery - if I had realized how easy the changes would be, I would have made them sooner.

And sentimental mamas, don't fret, none of the changes will ruin the overall look of your sweet nursery, so you can hang on to that little baby vibe for a few more months!

 5 Quick Ways to Transition A Newborn Nursery Into A Toddler Nursery 

1.  The Bookshelf Shuffle

 5 Quick Ways to Transition A Newborn Nursery Into A Toddler Nursery

Our son's room has always had a wall of gorgeous acrylic book shelves stocked with millions of books, but they haven't always been hung at his level. When I first designed the room, I hung the shelves to be visually pleasing but now we have the lowest shelves at a height that he can reach. He loves to pick out books for bedtime and even sits in his room and "reads" on his own. I melt every single time I hear him say "the end!" when he's reading to himself. 

It is worth noting that clearing off a shelf as quickly and destructively as possible is also one of his favorite activities, so we only hung two shelves within his reach. The rest are spaced a bit further apart (which isn't noticeable if you stock those shelves with tall books) and he won't be able to reach them until his next growth spurt or two. Keeping a few out of his reach means I'm not picking up 200 books all day long and thus is a good idea for everyone's sanity.

 2. Rock It Out

 5 Quick Ways to Transition A Newborn Nursery Into A Toddler Nursery

Once we noticed that he would sit and read to himself, we created a little reading nook for him by adding a toddler size rocking chair right next to the book shelves. He loves to sit in the chair and rock while reading his books (what can I say, the kid knows how to relax!). Sometimes he even drags his chair to a new spot for better rock-ability. We found our toddler rocker at Home Goods and made sure to snag a gender neutral pattern and color so that it could live in either his room or the playroom.

3. Contain The Stink

 5 Quick Ways to Transition A Newborn Nursery Into A Toddler Nursery

Ok, we need to talk about this. Toddler diapers are not even in the same league as newborn diapers in the stench department. We've used the same diaper pail for two years and, in all honesty, the pail itself became, um, stained with diaper smell. No matter how often we took out the trash, his room would have a little odor and we couldn't figure out why. Until we realized the pail was the culprit. It was obviously time for an upgrade to something a little stronger.

 5 Quick Ways to Transition A Newborn Nursery Into A Toddler Nursery

We are now the proud owners of the Munchkin STEP Diaper Pail and things could not be fresher (oh, the word play!). I know everyone on Earth is familiar with Munchkin products because they can be found at Target, but the STEP Diaper Pail is newly redesigned and it is a toddler parent miracle. 


 Because you open it by stepping on a foot petal which means you can keep both hands on your toddler while they are on the changing table. I know I can't be the only proud parent of an alligator-like offspring who spends every second of a diaper change trying to violently twist himself off of our changing table. Please tell me that I'm not. Before the STEP, I felt like trying to trash all of the diaper paraphernalia was a risky move, but leaving it exposed to thrashing toddler feet and hands was also hazardous, so I never knew which move to make. Thankfully, my problem is solved and now I pop the STEP open with my foot, trash the goods and contain my darling dear in one move. 
A pro move at that.

 5 Quick Ways to Transition A Newborn Nursery Into A Toddler Nursery

The STEP comes complete with an Arm and Hammer lavender scented baking soda pod and actually self seals once something is dropped into the can. Literally, it could not have more elements built in to combat smells.   

 5 Quick Ways to Transition A Newborn Nursery Into A Toddler Nursery

As a bonus, the STEP Diaper Pail is incredibly low profile and blends in to his space without any sort of flashing "hey kid, come play with me!" details. To keep his fingers out of it, the mechanism to free the pail contents requires a little parent knowledge and, for that, I am grateful. I have no desire to clean up the contents of a diaper pail that has been ransacked at the hands of my toddler. 

4. Lock and Load

 5 Quick Ways to Transition A Newborn Nursery Into A Toddler Nursery

Now that my babe is completely mobile (and oddly both nimble and clumsy at the same time),  we made the move to lock down the largest piece of furniture in his room. We bolted his dresser to the wall with straps that will prevent the dresser from tipping if he somehow managed to attempt to climb it. I'm sure we've all seen those terrifying videos of toddlers and small children becoming trapped and crushed under the weight of a large piece of furniture that has tipped on them and I just couldn't shake that visual. For just a few bucks you can snack a two pack of straps and they take only a moment to drill into the wall. And now I can move on to worrying about other things! 

5. Give Away Bins

 5 Quick Ways to Transition A Newborn Nursery Into A Toddler Nursery

Ok, maybe this is me, but as the baby grows, I am less and less attached to each piece of clothing that he wears. In fact, I feel like I can hardly keep him in clothes long enough to even notice if they're cute or not! One week he seems to gain weight and the next he seems to grow two inches - keeping him stocked in pants that are long enough is basically impossible. As he burns through outfits, I've found that I really need to up my closet organization game or getting him dressed becomes a game of "let's hope this still fits". And anyone who has ever attempted to dress a toddler knows you do not want to take even one second longer than you need to or all hell will break loose. I've always kept bins in his closet that are labeled "too small, keep" and "too small, give away" but now I'm rocking a much better system. Our Keep bin is in tact but we now have separate bins for items to donate, items to sell and items to hand down to family. All of his newborn clothes are safely stashed away in a giant Tupperware - far, far away from the donate bins but those toddler clothes are on the move! 

I snag all of our bins from the Target Dollar Aisle and never add permanent labels so that they can be re-used as our needs change.

If you'd like to see the nursery as a newborn nursery (and in the Maine house), click here.

Wanna pin it?

 5 Quick Ways to Transition A Newborn Nursery Into A Toddler Nursery

5 Things You Should Always Buy from the Target Dollar Aisle (and the worst impulse purchases I've ever made)

5 Things You Should Always Buy in the Target Dollar Aisle
Grab a seat ladies and gents, I'm about to become your favorite person ever.


Oh, I'm about to fuel your already burning passion for purchasing all of the things at Target. 

If you're anything like me, the very first place you stop upon entering the Bulls Eye Wonderland is the Dollar Aisle. In my store, it's a cute little nook that requires a bit of jostling to ensure that our giant cart can make the turns but that doesn't deter me from charging through, in search of the best buys in Target. I'm here to tell you that despite most of the items being insane impulse buys, you can actually purchase reasonable and useful items at a great price point in in the Dollar Aisle. 

Let's discuss: 

(and if you make it to the end of this post, I'll reward you with the two most ridiculous impulse buys I've ever wasted money on in the Dollar Aisle) 

5 Things You Should Always Buy in the Target Dollar Aisle

1. Gift Bags
Gift bags can be so darn expensive! And let's be real, you use them once and then they get passed around from person to person as they are re-used. I have a tough time swallowing a big price on a tiny gift bag (no matter how cute) so I always grab generic gift bags from the Dollar Aisle when I spot them. I make sure to grab a medium size and a theme that can go anywhere and consider it a dollar well spent.

As a bonus, you can often find a pack of 5 small craft gift bags for $3 in the Dollar Aisle, which breaks down to be cheaper than the generic bags available in the wrapping section (which are usually just under $1 a piece). I snag those in black or the traditional brown craft paper when I see them.

5 Things You Should Always Buy in the Target Dollar Aisle

2. Mailing Envelopes
For a dollar, you cannot go wrong with patterned, bubble lined mailing envelopes. Because they are so cute, I used them instead of wrapping a present, finding a box, labeling the box and shipping. Instead, I use cute tissue and ribbon to wrap the gift, pop it and a card right into the bubble mailer and send it on it's way. Sometimes, you can also find the large, soft, white mailing envelopes in the Dollar Aisle and they are for sure worth a snag - they are usually on the bottom shelf (because they aren't cute) and are perfect for mailing bulky items like hand me down clothes or oddly shaped items. 

5 Things You Should Always Buy in the Target Dollar Aisle

3. Greeting Cards and Note Cards
Ok, I do not understand why greeting cards are so expensive. Cards are wonderful and choosing just the perfect one is sweet but flipping over a card and seeing a $5 price tag is just not cool. The Dollar Aisle often has really cute greeting cards and envelopes for all occasions - I make sure to grab a handful of generic Happy Birthday, Welcome Baby and Wedding cards when I see them. Usually, the inside is blank and I can keep on hand to personalize and drop in the mail/add to a gift without having to make a special run for a card. 

I also love, love, love the note card packs from the Dollar Aisle. You can usually find packs of 8 cards and envelopes for one dollar. I keep a pack in my car (for notes to teachers, quick thank you's to work associates, etc), a few in my kitchen junk drawer and a pack in my desk. I can't tell you how many times I've been glad to have them on hand (most recently when I needed to contribute cash to the End Of The Year Gift and needed to leave money in a toddler cubby for the mom in charge). 

5 Things You Should Always Buy in the Target Dollar Aisle

4. Desk and Office Supplies
Especially if you are a fan of a styled social media style desk, you should never pass up a chance to raid the Dollar Aisle office supplies. Cute to-do list pads, magnetic note pads, multicolored paperclips and push pins and on trend-colors are guarantees in the Dollar Aisle. 

5 Things You Should Always Buy in the Target Dollar Aisle

5. Boxes, Bins and Buckets
I can't help but buy all of the storage things - and thankfully, I feel like there is always chaos to be controlled in my home. I recently snagged the white wire baskets (note: they are $3, so on the pricier end of the Dollar Aisle spectrum) for the open shelves in our playroom storage chest. They are the perfect size to slide pretty much anywhere - in the baby's chest of drawers to organize clothes, in kitchen cabinets to hold snack bags and pouches or in a closet to wrangle toddler shoes. 

And now, as promised the two worst things I've ever purchased from the Target Dollar Aisle:

A green plastic garden gnome 

5 Things You Should Always Buy in the Target Dollar Aisle

and wooden utensils that shred and splinter.

5 Things You Should Always Buy in the Target Dollar Aisle

Yep, I couldn't resist the call of the dollar price tag, but I so should have. 
What are you go-to Dollar Aisle items??

Grilled Shrimp Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Grilled Shrimp Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Meet your new summer go-to meal. 

In an effort to recreate a dream salad that I noshed on in Austin, I whipped up this recipe for Justin and I to enjoy during nap time/al fresco today. Full of crisp summer veggies, quick cooking shrimp in an easy marinade and not so good for you but oh so delicious add ons, this salad is as simple as it is delicious. To top it off, the dressing is homemade, fresh and has a bit of zest - a perfect topping for a rich and flavorful salad. This recipe serves 4 adults but this could easily feed a crowd or a couple - and will certainly impress with it's gorgeous colors and crunch. 

Pair it with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc and a fresh baguette and you'll be good to go! 

Grilled Shrimp Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

For the shrimp

peeled, deveined shrimp, 5 per person
(I keep a bag of frozen peeled and deveined shrimp from Trader Joe's in my freezer at all times to add to salads or pasta dishes - it's a great deal, too!)
1/4 cup lime juice
1 clove crushed garlic
1 Tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning 

Defrost the shrimp by running under warm water

In a bowl combine:
 lime juice, crushed garlic and Old Bay Seasoning 

Add defrosted shrimp, toss to cover shrimp in marinade, cover, pop in fridge to marinate
(let marinate while you make the dressing and assemble the salad, the longer it sits, the more lime you will taste in the grilled shrimp)

Once marinated, skewer using wood skewers that have been soaked in water or use metal kebab skewers, cook on grill or grill pan until cooked through 

Grilled Shrimp Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

For the Salad:

3 Hearts of Romain, chopped
1/2 of an English cucumber, chopped
5 San Marzano tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup Red Onion, sliced thin
1/3 Gorgonzola cheese
4 pieces cooked thick cut bacon, chopped
1 Hard Boiled egg, sliced or chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped 

 For a pretty presentation, place lettuce in bowl, layer on ingredients in sections, leaving room for the grilled shrimp in the middle 

Grilled Shrimp Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Once shrimp is grilled, place immediately in the center of the salad and serve, either with dressing drizzled on top or on the side! 

Grilled Shrimp Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Creamy Avocado Dressing 
adapted from this recipe 

1 Ripe avocado
Juice of one large lemon (Meyer lemons are my preference) 
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste (we like a lot but at least use 1/4 teaspoon)
1/4 cup Low Fat Sour Cream 
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped

Grilled Shrimp Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing


Combine all ingredients in food processor - blend until smooth, slowly adding water as you pulse to thin out the texture (I used maybe 1/3 cup). Yields about a cup, depending on how much water you add/thin it out. The dressing will keep in the fridge, sealed, for a week or so.

Want to Pin either recipe? Go for it! 

Grilled Shrimp Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Grilled Shrimp Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Patio Refresh and A Super Simple Tequila Punch Recipe

Disclosure: Products of my choice were provided by Pier 1 for my review. All opinions are those of Olive and Tate and based upon my personal experience.

One of the questions I'm asked most often is "so, is your renovation completely finished?" (followed quickly by "would you do it again!?") and I am relieved to report that yes, our house is now completely renovated.....with the exception of the exterior! Insert the world's most dramatic moan from my Husband here.

While the interior of our house has been brought back into the current decade, we haven't touched our landscaping, front walk, driveway or back patio. Why? Well, we're broke. Just kidding! Kinda. 

After taking on such a serious renovation and living to tell the tale, we decided that as much as we hate our Aztec inspired landscaping (imagine pebble covered beds, cactus like plants and a death trap of a stone front walk) we just needed a break. My husband plopped his cement Clemson tiger statue by the front door and told me to consider the exterior on hold until further notice. I'm completely on board with the plan - except for one area: our back patio. 

With it's jagged edges, 3 foot drop off and insanely weird angles, our back patio is a less than hospitable gathering spot. We have big dreams to completely re-work the space some day but until then, we are still hosting get togethers, cook outs and play dates, ugly patio or not. Because we do allow our friends to feast their eyes on our eye sore, we decided that, while we wouldn't purchase anything major for the space until we re-do it, we did need to spice things up a bit. With an upcoming cookout with friends and a teeny tiny budget, I set out to decorate our space using pieces that we currently own and a few new pops of fun from the Patio Pop Collection at Pier 1.

My absolute best idea ever came to me as I was ransacking my house, looking for something to use as a large serving area to hold food and drinks. Anyone recognize the piece below?

Oh yeah, that's our entry way table! It was originally my mother's dressing table but has held court as the entry way catch all in our last two houses. It's thin, light weight and a fun color so I thought it might serve as the perfect display piece our our patio - and I love how it looks!

After finding this insanely gorgeous tassel runner at Pier 1, I knew the direction my fiesta would take

I mean, if those tassels don't say "look at me and not the weird patio!" then I don't know what will!

I decided to whip up a super simple Tequila Punch recipe, which is perfectly served in the Acrylic Drink Dispenser (it's so incredibly light weight!), to get our guests in the mood to party - and trust me, you need to make it, it's so good and so simple! It's just equal parts lemonade (I used Chick-fil-A!) and water with the ideal amount of tequila for your crowd (some like it strong!).

Slice citrus for garnish - I used grapefruit but oranges, lemons and limes would all be delicious.

Not to circle back to my stroke of genius but I really love how the shade of blue on the antique table pops with my collection of colored plates and acrylic wine glasses. Bonus: the drawers are stuffed with things I might need so that I don't have to spend the get together running back inside - matches, extra napkins, a bottle opener and extra utensils. 

We already owned a small outdoor sofa from our Maine house so I pulled it off to the side and against the sharply angled wall which gave us a bit more gathering room around the buffet. Plus, yours truly likes to post up as close to the fiesta-mandatory chips and salsa as possible, so why not put the sofa in a convenient location? 

How fun is the red Cabana Petal pillow?

In my humble opinion, outdoor spaces require non breakable serving items (especially with a cement patio) and the Clarity Acrylic Stemware is perfect fit. I mixed colors to add a pop and so people would know which drink belonged to them!

I added a bit of ambiance (oh fancy!) with lanterns and bistro bulbs and considered our patio refreshed! I just adore how it turned out and I was pleased to report to my husband that I snagged a few key pieces that I love and will continue to use when our patio is finally renovated.

Now, who wants a cocktail?

Loving Lately

It's been a while since I tossed out a random assortment of all the things I'm currently loving so let's get down to business, shall we?


Such a strange place to start this post but, in all honesty, avocados have taken over my life. I eat avocado toast pretty much daily (I like mine with Greek olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes) and am on the hunt for more ways to sneak avocados into my diet. I think homemade dressings may be next, especially because I want to do a copy-cat recipe of the amazing salad I had my last day in Austin. Recipe to come, but it was a winning combo of spicy shrimp, avocados and blue cheese - the only thing it was missing was more avocado! I think this dressing may be the one I try first but I'm open to suggestions so fire away. Side note: I'm not sure how we all survived before Pinterest.
Snap Chat

Mover over Instagram, Snap Chat is my new favorite social media platform. Bold statement but I mean it. If you don't already, follow me (oliveandtate) for what my life looks like on a regular basis (mostly boring). Wanna know a secret? Sometimes I'm really surprised when I hear certain voices on snap videos! I've read so many blogs or followed Instagram accounts for so long and when I hear a voice for the first time that doesn't sound at all like I imagined, it totally stuns me!

Tom's Sunglasses

I snagged this pair of sunglasses while I was in Austin and am in love with them. Why? Because they are freaking toddler proof. G recently bent a pair of my sunglasses while he was attempting to snatch them off of my face and since then I made the switch to inexpensive eye wear. I was grabbing a cup of coffee at the Tom's Roasting Co. and of course wandered over to the retail side. I picked up the Travlers and realized they were made of rubber (or some sort of fancy rubberized material they created specifically for the eye wear line, according to their site). They are super cute, can't be bent, won't break and can take a beating in my diaper bag. I love them.  I have the black on black pair which looks to be sold out - but I love the navy pair, too!

Texture Spray and Dry Conditioner 

My new fave hair products run on different ends of the spectrum price wise, but I love them both equally. The Not Your Mother's Double Take Dry Texture Spray has recently been added to my hair routine (on the, like, two days a week I bother to do it) and I love the volume and grip it gives my hair before I curl it. It's a drugstore brand so you can snag it at Target etc for a few bucks. On the other end of the checkbook is the DryBar Detox Dry Conditioner. I happened to think the DryBar Dry Shampoo is not worth the price at all, but the Dry Conditioner is a whole other story. The scent is just perfection and lingers in your hair for an eternity. I spray it on just my ends because I curl, color and use products on the daily so I want my ends to be protected. I also have naturally oily hair/scalp so I only add conditioner to the ends of my hair after shampooing - and sometimes skip it all together - so the spray helps me out. I would snag a travel size from the impulse bins around the registers at Sephora if the price point has your saying no way - that's what I did!


I'm here to say it: I love wearing a dress that feels like a sack. What I don't love is how they make my body look. A baggy fit can be super tricky if you aren't pencil thin but, then again, Spanx can cut off your circulation and lead to amputation of your extremities (not a scientific fact) so, I guess Caftans win! In all honesty, the one above would be easy to pull of, but I have to admit that I love this one more, and think it might be fairly impossible for it to flatter a normal body shape. That midi length is tough, especially when the dress is also boxy. Anyone tried it on yet?

Also loving: 

nap time.

The Truth About Eyelash Extensions

 Gather 'round friends, today is one of your favorite days, a day where I share a story of a time that I did something really stupid and lived to tell the tale.

Typically, I like to blame my rash or wayward decision making skills on baby brain or pregnancy hormones but today's tale takes us back to a darker time: when I was a Bride.

A few weeks before my wedding day, I decided that I needed lash extensions to complete my bridal mug. I had recently learned that my make up artist would not be able to join us on the big day because she had be huffing something other than hairspray and neglected to add me to her work calendar (true story) and so I would be doing my own bridal face. Fueled by the panic only a Bride threatened with a bad photo can truly understand, I set off to watch every YouTube tutorial and buy every product that guaranteed a flawless or fool proof finish.

As fate would have it, I received an email sharing the wonderful news that a brand new "lash studio" was opening in town. As lash extensions were relatively new to the general public at the time, this was big news. And, in even better news, the new joint was offering lash extensions at an extremely discounted rate - and I couldn't click Purchase quickly enough. 

And so off I went, the Tuesday of my wedding week to what turned out to be a small, basement room of a local "salon". Lashes were applied and I was a gorgeous, if not squinty, version of my former self. For a few hours.

And then the pain set it. My eyes became so tender that they felt bruised and raw. My eyelids became too tender to touch - even my sunglasses were painful if the ends of my new lashes brushed against the lenses. My eyes, of course, became red and bloodshot and looked less like a blushing bride and more like the Bride of Frankenstein. As any normal person would do, I did a bit of Googling, hoping to find evidence that my symptoms would subside because we were already in the car, heading three states away for my wedding weekend.

Thankfully, by my wedding day, the redness had cleared and while my lashes were still tender, they weren't painful, so I kept my extensions in tact, letting them naturally shed and certain I would never have extensions again.

Until I met Lindsey.

Lindsey is a local blogger and she and I ran out to grab coffee and chat all things blogging a few weeks ago. As a side gig, Lindsey also owns a super successful salon, Organic Tan, so I took it upon myself to ask her all sorts of amazingly professional questions like "how long is too long to go between bikini waxes". Somehow the topic of lash extensions came up and I told Lindsey how bummed I was that I couldn't have a set of my own because there is clearly something wrong with me that makes my lashes super sensitive.

I wish you could have seen the look Lindsey gave me.
She was quick to tell me that the reaction I had did not sound like a normal reaction and that she thought my first set of lashes had been applied improperly. She asked if the technician had any certifications (aesthetician, cosmetologist, even lash certified) and I had no idea - I hadn't thought to ask. She asked what type of lashes and glue were used - again, I hadn't thought to ask, and what sort of maintenance instructions I had been given - I hadn't been given any.

At this point, I was starting to see the error of my ways and maybe a glimmer of hope that I could try again with new, glam lashes. Thankfully, Lindsey invited me to Organic Tan for a new set of lashes which would be applied by a lash certified cosmetologist. I couldn't say yes fast enough. A beauty product that allows me to roll out of bed and look put together?

Yes.Yes, please. 

After a brief chat with Logan, my new go-to lash guru, I opted for a more natural length (referred to as The Classic at Organic Tan) and just over an hour later, I looked like this:

I am wearing zero eye make up in this photo, which is clearly filtered like crazy from SnapChat, and my eyes just pop. I am pleased to report that I had zero pain, tenderness or redness and, while the weight of the lashes takes a moment to get used to if you aren't used to wearing falsies (I'm not), absolutely no discomfort.

no mascara on the left, extensions on the right

I am all about anything that makes me look put together with minimal effort these days and the lashes honestly made me feel like my face was on point right out of the shower. I have never loved a beauty product so much, ever.

So here's what you need to know when getting lash extensions
(so that you don't end up like me)

Ask for credentials!
Your lash technician should be happy to drop her credentials when you ask for them - he or she worked hard for them.

If you are getting lashes for the first time and have never visited your studio of choice, swing by and make your appointment in person. That way, you'll be able to ask any questions you may have, check out credentials and snag any tips the salon has prior to your appointment (for example, I most likely would have worn eye make up to my appointment because it was at the end of the day - a major no no prior to application). If I had popped by the studio I used prior to my wedding day, I would have skipped that appointment and saved myself quite a bit of pain and worry.

 Prepare for your first appointment to last anywhere from one to two hours - depending on your desired lashes and natural lash thickness/length. My lashes were applied from the outside in, and Logan worked on a certain section of one eye, then switched to the other and mirrored the section to ensure the lashes were cohesive from side to side.

Lash extensions shed with your natural lashes so maintenance is required every few weeks. Check with your salon to see what qualifies as a Fill In which runs at a lower rate than a full set. Organic Tan considers an appointment 2-3 weeks after your original set to be a Fill In, after that, you'll have shed most of your lashes and will need a full set.

The lashes on the side of your face that you sleep on will fall out more quickly than your non-pillow side. There are certain eye masks you can rock that will help prevent rubbing from a pillow and extend your lash life.

No regular mascara on those babies! You won't need it anyway! If, for some reason you do wish to wear mascara with your extensions, you will need to grab a tube from your lash salon - they have extension approved formulas - but seriously, you will not need any extra help once your lashes are applied.

No scrubbing your eyes or lashes - be gentle with them, avoid getting them wet, don't rub them etc. and they'll last longer.

Thank you to Organic Tan for hosting me, providing my first set of lashes and showing me the way it should be done! While I was provided a set of lashes, all opinions are my own including this one: everything Organic Tan does is top notch, from online booking to the staff, I have loved every second of working together.

IKEA BILLY Bookcase Hack

One of my absolute favorite elements of our new living room design is, without a doubt, the IKEA Billy bookcase hack that TJ Breil of Slab Woodworking rescued. I say rescued because we attempted to create a hack of our own, using the bookcases you see here and a shelving unit, to fake the look of built ins. We got as far as putting it all together but the process of making the unit look "built in" was a dud. Take a peek here and you'll see what I mean. 

 I had all of the best Pinterest style intentions but it was a lost cause - until TJ walked in the door. 

We knew we were switching the room layout and would no longer need the upper shelves so TJ was given the go-ahead to have his way with all of our hard work, saw in hand.  

Once the upper shelves were removed, the remaining steps of the Hack were relatively easy (at least according to TJ). Here's what he used, how he did and our finishing touches: 

 After removing the upper shelves and discarding them, TJ built a .5" platform on the top of the assembled Billy bookcase to allow the doors to open fully. If you look closely, you'll note that there are 7 cabinet doors as a result of using two large cabinets and one single cabinet to create the appropriate width for the space.

Once the platform was built, TJ screwed in the stunning 2 1/4" thick raw edge cherry top. TJ hand scraped the bark and dyed the wood with a custom mix of dyes to match our floors and pool table.

Here's what the wood looked like fresh from the lumbar yard

 If you're planning to hand dye the wood, TJ suggests that you add a little blue to counteract the natural orange tones of the cherry. 

If you aren't into hand mixing and dying, the Rust-oleum Ultimate Wood Stain in Dark Walnut or Kona will be your best friend (we used Kona on our dining room table and love it).

I love how expensive the wood top makes the piece look and how it ties in the pool table, our ultimate goal in the space. 

When it came to cabinet pulls, we knew we wanted to center them at the top of each doors to minimize the fact that we are working with an add number or doors. We also really wanted to save money so instead of pulling the trigger on the Anthropologie handles I had my eye on, we went for a super personal dupe: 

dock cleats.

And you'll never guess where I bought them.


As a captain's daughter, I knew dock cleats came in all sizes and can be made of many materials, so I hoped we could snag really cheap ones. Wal-Mart came through with the 4" open based galvanized dock cleats that I purchased online and had shipped to a local store.  

Once they arrived, Amanda and I painted them with Rub and Buff (an idiot proof, insanely cheap, miracle in a tiny tube) and screwed them right into the cabinets (make sure that you use the correct length screw - too long and it will bump the inside of the cabinet and the door won't close). Once the screws were in, we dabbed the screw heads with Rub and Buff for a cohesive look.

And finally, to finish the project, TJ added a pre-cut section of pre-fab white base board. The piece was cut to fit at Home Depot, matches the baseboards in the room, cost less than $10 and absolutely finishes the piece to perfection. I kept pushing for the baseboard piece and am so glad that I made everyone commit to the last step. The overall look just came together as soon as that baseboard was screwed into place. 

And that's it! I am so glad we were able to rescue the Billy and bring it life in our home. Thanks to TJ for all of his hard work, skill and patience with me during this process. You know I love you!  

Room design by Amanda Louise Interiors, photos by Cleland Studios, hand painted feature wall by Andrea Sabugo.

IKEA Billy Bookcase Hack

Billy Cabinets and Doors, number determined by the length of piece you desire
small wood dowels to make .5" platform
2 1/4" thick Cherry Wood piece, bark stripped, length to match your project
Wood Dye or stain
 4" Dock Cleats
One tube Rub and Buff - yes it's a tiny tube, it lasts forever!
One strip pre-fab white baseboard, cut to length