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Spring has Sprung – brough to us by Instagrams

It’s definitely spring here in the East Bay. And with the bit of rain we finally got this weekend, the plant life is whistling dixie!

These are growing on the main tree in our yard. I haven’t identified it yet. I’m thinking of getting a book at the library. Any suggestions on good books for identifying trees and plants?


This little guy refuses to give up. This tree was hacked down by someone but it refuses to not be a tree again! Gotta love the determination of nature.


This beautiful plant, I just learned, is a sparaxis. It’s an easy to grow bulb, obviously since it just sprouted up next to some rocks. I had a feeling it was some sort of bulb when I saw the green leaves popping up in late winter. My mom plants enough bulbs in her garden for me to recognize those hearty leaves! (Thanks, Mom! This one almost got weed whacked.)


Here’s another little tree that got cut down to size but it looks happier than ever. The red leaves kind of remind me of my favorite tree in the back but I don’t think there are the same. We’ll have to wait and see what it turns into so I can better identify it. Shout it out if you already know!!


These are hanging over my fence from my landlord’s yard, he had to renovate the fence since it was falling apart and I was having trouble with some animals that were entering the property, he decided to get a modular wall from They look like crab apple blossoms. Or maybe just apple blossoms. I know he has citrus trees.


Finally is the favorite of the yard which is now started to bud. At first I wasn’t sure if these would turn into flowers but I saw one downtown that had cute little white flowers on it already. But it was a bush. I’m guessing this guy was a bush at one point. Now it’s quite a large tree. Perfect for little climbers.


So that’s just a little of what’s happening around the yard. I’ve really got to get going on planting some food baring plants. We’re going to New York next week so I’ll get started when we return. There’s actually some mint and rosemary that are growing wild. I think I mentioned that I wanted to get them into pots. We also set up a rope swing which the All-Star needs to tweak a bit. Fun times! It’s so nice finally having a yard.


Our Very Own DIY Pallet Shelf

DIY has become so popular these days it’s hard not to jump on the band wagon. It saves money (you can often re-use free stuff), it helps the environment (yea recycling!) it’s a fun hobby, AND you get to have lots of cool and original pieces in your home and be the envy of all your friends. Well maybe not the last part, but if you practice, perhaps so!

Here’s our new DIY Pallet Shelf!!

Pallet shelf by Laura @ CYW

Seeing that I enjoy all of the above, it was a no brainer for me to start salvaging things that other folks no longer had love for and turning them into something grand! My first step was buying the All-Star some power tools, because, although I have been known to be handy and creative, I don’t trust myself with a circular saw. Plus he looks super cute using them!

 the All-Star uses powertools

Our entryway was looking pretty drab, the lock on it has been broken for ages (which we ended up using to fix after a few quote estimates) and I knew I wanted some sort of shelf in there but nothing I found at the stores was impressing me so when I found some pictures on Pinterest of shelving made from pallets I knew that was the way to go!

At first I had no idea where to get the pallets. Of course once I started thinking about it, they were popping up everywhere. We quickly acquired three. One from the school down the street, one from a friend, and the third was just sitting there in the alley outside my office. Woohoo, free stuff!


They sat in our garage, as soon as we repaired the door (here’s the website of our local contractors) for about a month while I thoughtfully planned out the design. (aka, convinced the All-Star to get started sawing – he’s a busy man.)

salvaged pallets

We used two pallets. One for the frame and another for the shelves. I worried that the different types of wood would look strange but it actually gives it even more of a rustic and artsy feel.

the All-Star saws

Once he got all the pieces cut, I started sanding.

LauraCYW sands

We don’t have masks so I used a bandana. Don’t I look so cool?!


Once the shelves were sanded, the All-Star assembled the pieces.

cute butt

A few nails later we had our masterpiece!

pallet shelves

When using pallets, a lot of the lines won’t be perfect but I think that’s what gives it its charm!

pallet shelves

Two days later, I went to the hardware store to pick up some stain. I stood there for about 20 minutes trying to decide which color to use. I went with a darker, reddish stain. I thought it would compliment the space and the piece and I think I made the perfect choice!

staining shelves

A word to the wise, use gloves when staining. Also, the brush will become stiff and no longer usable unless you have some paint thinner, so be prepared to deal with that.

stained pallet shelf

We let our lovely unit dry overnight, actually two nights, and then drilled it right onto the wall! Drilled in some fancy hardware for hanging things too and we were done!


Not bad for a first project!DIY pallet ShelfDon’t forget to reward yourself with a glass of wine while you gaze upon the beauty you have created. Lol.

palet shelf

Dressed it up with all gifted nicknacks from family members and a few pictures. I love it!

Pallet shelf by Laura @ CYW

What DIY projects are you working on?


Mission: Possible! – Organizing under the kitchen sink

Today I decided to tackle one of my biggest household enemies: the cabinet under the bathroom sink. Eek Eek!

Such a sad, sad place, where cosmetic samples and sunscreens go to die. Where hair brushes and bottles of mouth wash are tossed in with unraveled razor chargers and travel tooth brush holders. But it’s also where I keep my make-up and my hair dryer so I have to look at it every day. It drives me nuts and today I could no longer take it! Forget savings, forget thrift stores, I drove my butt down to target to pick up some nice uniform containers so I could organize my bathroom cabinet.

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I took measurements before I left the house and brought the tape measure with me to the store. There’s nothing worse than coming home with a bunch of stuff crap that doesn’t fit. Here’s what I bought…

storage containers from Target

Cute, colorful and luckily, fit for the job!

Here’s my before.

messy bathroom cabinet

Such an annoying mess. Those hair care products were falling out every time I reached for the hairbrush. (See it there on the right?) Bleh, drives me nuts!!!

What else is back there??

back of bathroom cabinet

Is that VO5 shampoo!?  We don’t even use that brand!!  I think I friend left it with us back in 2005!  And what’s with the avalanche of travel bags?!?

clean cabinet

Aaaa…nice clean cabinet. I wish it could stay this way. Of course we have to keep the Mr. Bubble.

And here we have the after!

organized bathroom cabinet

Much better. Still not perfect but it’s good for now. There are some sunscreens and lotions in there that are getting one more summer before they hit the curb. The same goes for that puff on a stick. Hair brushes are nicely hung on the door with some hooks and travel bags are consolidated with travel sized toiletries in the back. I can handle this. 🙂


Organizing isn’t always fun but it feels oh-so-good when you’re done! Visit the Maid 2 Match website for tips on organization for any part of your house!

What part of your home is your organization enemy?

Speaking of enemies….the All-Star made me dispose of this guy yesterday…


Pretty gross, huh? I thought it would be more gross to clean up its remains so I captured it live and set it free outside. I’m so humane. But it was so creepy I went looking for the Ready Set Maids location in case something like that happens again!

Bye for now…


My New Picture Frame Collage

I’ve been seeing a whole lot of picture frame collages on Pinterest, of course, (follow me), so I though I’d give it a whirl. But where to start?  How to get the dimensions right?  How to make it look organized but not boring. Then yesterday I found a great post from Corrin at corrin.wendell.designs. She gave a tutorial, with pictures, of how to properly “organize the chaos” that is a picture frame collage.

This was exactly the inspiration I needed and I quickly got to work on my own.

First I gathered together all my photos. I included in the middle one that my cousin took of the All-Star and I on our wedding day. (If you live in the Martin County area and need a photographer, she is awesome! Check her out.) Around it are pictures of our closest family members. I’d like to include a few more but these are what I had. Fortunately most of them were already in pretty decent frames and still packed up and organized since the move. There were a few frames that weren’t good for hanging so I cruised over to a local crafted store, where I had never been btw, and I found canvases, frames, and baskets all on sale! I asked the cashier when the sale ended and she told me never. Works for me!

Anyway, I purchased four mismatched frames for $26 and got to work on positioning my pictures.

First I laid them out in my ottoman. (I love my ottoman. It reminds me of an old circus. I’ve decided that will be my inspiration for the room.) Getting the pictures in the right spots definitely took some time, but when I finally got it it was like putting in the last piece of a puzzle. Aaaa.


Then came the hard part. I started taking measurements and figuring out where it all should go on the wall. It didn’t have to be absolutely perfect but I wanted it to be close. Unfortunately I’m not very good at drafting and, as we’ve learned, I lack the art of patience.

All that aside, I powered through and with just a few extra holes we have our completed project.


I think it looks great! As I said, I’ll most likely add to it but for now it works! I love having all the faces of the people we love in one place!

What do you think!?


Any suggestions for lighting?


Keeping the Christmas Cheer

I love Christmas time. The carols,  the lights; they bring a joy into my heart that I could soak in forever. The rest of the year is just sort of blah. And alas, with February closing in fast,  it was definitely time to take down the last remnants of yuletide cheer, the wreath.


A wreath on a front door seems warm and welcoming to me. It says, home is where my heart is and I welcome you in!  A wreath also symbolizes eternity (I learned that from religion class) and being a newlywed, I like being reminded that the man I promised forever to is in our home waiting for me. Yes, I get all that from a wreath! Of course even evergreen eventually dies and once the wreath came down, life just started to feel regular again. And regular isn’t good enough for me.  Fortunately I am resourceful (thanks dad) and creative (thanks mom). wpid-IMG_20130123_101630.jpg

The Christmas wreath I bought way back in December for about $12 had a great metal frame which, although the pine needles that adorned it were dry and yellowing, definitely had some life left in it. I made a trip around our yard to see if I could find some appropriate branches to replace the tennanbaum remnants.

We’ve got this tree which I believe is eucalyptus. I could be wrong. I probably am. But since the majority of my bridal bouquet (see above) was made of seeded eucalyptus, it makes me happy to believe that’s what it is. The leaves have turned a beautiful green and the seeds a really pretty purple. Perfect!

I got out my sheers and went to work cutting back some of the branches which were clearly overgrown. Twenty minutes later I had a gorgeous new wreath and I much brighter yard.

Voila! eucalyptus wreath - instagrammed

It was so easy to make. I’m sure I’ll be able to use the frame again and again. Not bad for 12 dollars.

recycled wreath tutorial

Here’s a brief run-down of what I did….

1 – Use pliers to pull back the metal teeth (that’s what I’m calling them b/c I don’t know what they are called.)

2 – remove old branches

3 – cut new branches to desired size and width. Mine as you can see are about a foot but you can make them smaller, as long as they fit into the teeth.

4 – Lay the branches overlapping around the circle.

5 – Tuck the last branch under the first one and close all the teeth and them.

5 – Enjoy the beauty that is your creation!

There’s a picture on Pinterest (feel free to follow me there) that I’ve seen a few times. It says, “Breath, you’re home.”  Hmm…makes you think.

While I’m always happy to be home, I do occasionally bring the stress from the outside world through our door. Without having a sign that blatantly tells me to chill, I’d like to think this simple wreath can be my reminder that I’m home now, safe and sound, it’s warm and cozy inside, and my loved one is waiting for me! Kinda sounds like Christmas right?! Here’s to keeping the cheer year round!