Creativity and Organization

Jordy’s Cactus-Themed Bridal Shower

My sister Janci is going to be the maid of honor in her best friend Jordy’s wedding, and last weekend she hosted a bridal shower for her. Janci and Jordy have been best friends for as long as I can remember (and they are almost 4 years younger than me), and on top of that, Jordy is marrying Patrick, whom they were also best friends with in high school. Jordy and Patrick are both so genuinely kind and fun, and I am so happy for them!

Jordy and Janci

I love designing invitations and it had been a while since I’ve had a creative project that wasn’t work related, so I was pumped when my sister asked me if I could help out. They chose a cactus theme and I had so much fun trying out different ideas. I downloaded the free original vector images here and then of course made some adjustments to the colors and structure to get the look I wanted.

Graphics Provided by Vecteezy

The shower was a brunch in my parents yard and they had a waffle bar!

The day was pretty busy (they had to account from some rain), but my sister did snag a few pictures for me to share. She did a wonderful job pulling it all together!

Jordy with her mom and mother-in-law to be. Both families are also family friends of ours. Both of Jordy’s parents are teachers that I had in school and Patrick’s parents are really involved in our county fair.

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I am pretty bummed that I won’t be able to make it home in September for the wedding. I love that as adults, your sibling’s friends can become your friends too 🙂 Thanks Jordy, for letting me share this on the blog! And congratulations to you and Patrick!

Jordy and I a few years ago celebrating her and Janci’s 21st birthday’s in Vegas!

Career/Professional

My Office Space + New Standing Desk

Today’s post certainly isn’t Pinterest worthy, but considering how much time I spend in my office, I wanted to share about how I make the space work for me.

I believe SO strongly about the importance of having and maintaining a work space that is not only a positive environment, but one that aligns with your style, responsibilities, comfort and needs. I think this crucial for productivity, focus and just overall health.

Recently, we had an ergonomic specialist visit our office and do evaluations on everyone’s work space and habits. Her trained eye was able to see little ways that we might be putting unnecessary strain on our bodies, that can really affect us over time. After each evaluation, she gave us customized recommendations on tools we could add to our work space to help make improvements. She also provided us with some resources on some stretches and light movements that we should incorporate into our day. Based on her recommendations, I got screen glare protectors (my office gets tons of natural light, which I do love despite the hindrance), a new chair that specifically has arms that can rotate in more so my arms don’t have to work as hard to hold themselves up on their own, and a foot rest, so I can sit at the right height for my screens while still using the backrest properly without my legs dangling or resting on the chair legs.

And though it wasn’t specifically recommended, I also got an adjustable table top standing desk! I had actually been researching and pricing one out to purchase on my own prior to the ergonomic specialist’s visit. I have never been able to sit still well and I could tell that overtime, sitting 8 hours a day, 5 days a week was really starting to affect my overall comfort. Our office ordered the Varidesk brand, and I have nothing but great things to say about it so far. It has significantly helped with energy, especially in the afternoons when I just need to move around, and I’ve found, specifically to my job, that when I am reading and editing text for a long period of time it really helps with my focus. I also think it has been a great tool for collaborating with other employees. Instead of having someone standing right over your shoulder to discuss something on the screen (which I personally hate), you can push your chair off to the side and instead stand and work side by side with that person. I am so thankful that my employer brought in the specialist and gave us the opportunity to make improvements.

With all of these changes, I also took the opportunity to rearrange and reorganize my office, and add a bit to my decor. The main change was rotating my screens so that I can see my door at all times, instead of having my back to it. Our elevator and lobby are right outside my office, so it really bothered me that I always was turning around to the frequent sounds, and since I have my headphones in a lot, people were always startling me because I didn’t hear them walk into my office.

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So here is a quick look of my office setup before the changes (I took these back in December right before my standing desk arrived, hence the Christmas tree).

After

And here it is the After! I obviously still need to do some more cleaning and organizing on my shelf, and I have a few more ideas to add eventually, but for now this is where I am at. I also need to change out the rest of my winter decor over to spring. You can’t see it well from any of these angles, but there is plenty of room underneath my desk for two small tubs that store my seasonal decor, as well as my space heater… which runs year-round.

Because I rotated my screens, I also had to flop the location of my guest chairs with my bookshelf, which honestly I prefer much better because with the set up before, the area where the chairs sat was narrow and hard to get into. That also meant that I moved my gallery wall, which was fine because I wanted to add a few things to it anyway 🙂 The K-State pillow used to sit behind my back in my desk chair, but the new foot rest fixed that problem!

I have to laugh at the fact that I was finally able to find a place and purpose for that bulletin board. I have had it since about the 4th or 5th grade, and it moved with me from two houses in Oregon to 3 houses/apartments in Kansas to here in Virginia. When I moved apartments again here in Virginia, I decided I didn’t want to use it in my new place. I actually tried to give it away a few times, and almost just took it to Goodwill, but it ended up propped up behind my office door — until NOW!

My shelf still needs a bit more work, but this is an improvement from before.

My favorite part of my office though, is this piece that my Mom made for me. Each of those photos are from the wheat farm that my Great-Uncle Hal grew up on in Sherman County, which is just a few counties over from where I grew up in Eastern Oregon. I grew up seeing those photos on the wall in my Uncle Hal and Aunt Diane’s house, so I love seeing them on my wall now in an office where I work for wheat farmers. Below the pictures is a portion of Paul Harvey’s famous “So God Made a Farmer” speech.

Like I said, there is nothing too Pinterest-worthy here, but these changes better align with my functional needs and further create a space that motivates me, feeds my creativity and just makes me happy.

So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 20

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five”  or a “Life Lately” except it’s probably not Friday, and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my glam #postgradlife. See past posts HERE}

These “So There’s That” posts really have become my favorite thing to blog and are essentially the core of what I share on here. I love that it allows me to properly journal what is going on in my life in a straightforward way and also share what’s making me laugh and influencing my life at the moment in various ways. Unfortunately, I went a little too long without posting one again… the goal is at least every 3 to 4 weeks. So I apologize if this post is a tad long, I’ve been busy since my last series post in mid-December!

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DIY New Patio Furniture

To know me is to know how much I hate the winter and being cold, and how much I LOVE sunshine and being outside. My family has always been all about creating spaces outside that are perfect for comfy evenings (or mornings) spent enjoying the weather and good company. All through college and afterward when I lived in Manhattan for 2 years I always had a porch/patio/balcony that allowed me to create that, but my first place in DC didn’t. I moved to my current place almost a year ago now, but by the time I found some extra time last summer it was almost too late to worry about furnishing my new balcony.

So fast forward to this spring, which I have been impatiently waiting for so I could tackle this right away. I did a lot of looking around to determine what I wanted to buy but finally decided that I wanted to go the difficult direction and make a project out of it.

This below was my inspiration from Pinterest. (Original link here.)

I used (14) 8x8x16 cinder blocks and (6) 4×4’s cut to 5.5 feet.

It was actually pretty easy to put all together. It was the loading onto the store cart, then into my car and then 9 trips from my parking garage and up into my condo (I did use a cart for the blocks) that really did me in. Eventually I will take it back apart to stain and seal the wood, and I might end up using nail glue on the top upright blocks.

I splurged a bit too much on the decorative pillows, but I couldn’t help it. Once I saw the crab pillow it all came together quickly! I do need to get rid of an extra coffee and end table set that I was stashing out on the balcony, but once those are gone I will do some planning for small table/rest of some sort and possibly some other decor and something to hold my plants that are currently inside on my window sill.

Soul Sisters

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I originally shared this picture a few months ago on Instagram, but I wanted to bring it back around because really, how cute and PERFECT are these mugs! They come as a set (obviously) and I gave Megan hers for Christmas. You can find them on Etsy from “The Sister Studio.” I love so many of her items!

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This picture is also a few months old… You see I am always building on these posts so that they are supposed to be easier to pull together and edit once I’m ready to publish. Anyway, I couldn’t not share this photo. That drive way leads into my old apartment complex and I still can’t believe that a bus driver thought it could manage it.

Travel Journal

The biggest thing that has happened in 2017 so far is this little adventure I went on in February and have been busy posting just a few posts about….

Travel Journal: USW South Asia Board Team to Thailand and the Philippines

Travel Journal: Wat Pho, Wat Arun and the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

Travel Journal: Pak Khlong Talat Flower Market in Bangkok, Thailand

Travel Journal: Chatuchak Weekend Market and Jim Thompson House in Bangkok, Thailand

Travel Journal: Thai Cooking Class and Elephant Rides in Phuket, Thailand

Travel Journal: Koh Hong Island Excursion

Travel Journal: Karon Beach Sunset in Phuket, Thailand

Travel Journal: Candid in Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand

Sister Act

These are all photos and videos with Jancz during my visit home in December. We love to send silly Snapchats back and forth to each other using the selfie filters, but doing them together ended up being really funny… well at least to us.

The Giving Keys

This is my original post from Facebook:

“I spent yesterday afternoon enjoying the DC weather in Georgetown and we stopped for some food and to watch the end of the Masters. A family of four walks up and asks if they can share the other two seats at our high top. Later as they are getting ready to leave the 8 (?) year old girl turns and hands me this necklace and says, “Thank you for being so nice, I want to give you my Giving Key.” Then she explains that you are supposed to wear and embrace your “word” and then pass it along to someone else when you feel ready or when you feel that someone else needs the message more than you. Dear sweet Luchina, thank you for making my day and the little lesson on love. Check out The Giving Keys movement my friends. We certainly need a bit more of this in our lives. #BeTheKey

Happy People

Currently obsessed with this tune. Really in my mind, Little Big Town can do no wrong.

Happy Thursday

Thursday’s are friends, fellowship and impromptu celebratory ice cream cakes.

Administrator of the Year

Back in January my Dad was recognized as Administrator of the Year for the Hermiston School District. I am proud to see him recognized for all of this hard work!

Read HERE —> http://hermiston.k12.or.us/blog/tom-spoo-2016-17-administrator-of-the-year/

Inauguration

Since I moved to the DC area one of the top things on my bucket list was to attend a presidential inauguration and was so thankful that my friend Logan signed us up to get tickets through Senator Moran. I did have a few people question and even shame me for wanting to go. I simply explained to them that 1.) You have no idea who I voted for, nor is it really any of your business to know or make guesses and 2.) I was definitely going to go REGARDLESS of who was being sworn in because I was there to experience a really cool and important part of history.

ANYWAY…
Aside from the 6(ish) hours that we stood in the misty weather, it really was a cool experience.

*Stole this picture from my friend was working the event up close.

Friends Are Part of the Glue

There are a couple of blogs that I read regularly, and one of those is a young teacher in Texas who mostly falls into the “mom blog” category. A while ago she had a friend pass away from cancer and shared this quote that I cut out of her Instagram comment. The quote resonated with me in so many ways that I immediately took a screenshot.

I didn’t want to share her whole personal post, so I sincerely apologize that I am not properly crediting it. You can find her blog here though: http://www.momfessionals.com/

AFA Alumni Spotlight

My best friend has a pretty unique job and I was so proud to see AFA, an organization I love so much, feature her in its spotlight! Go Megan!!

Read HERE —> www.agfuture.org/meganalumni


AFA Policy Institute

Speaking of AFA, the organization brought students to town for National Ag Day and I had the opportunity to join these fellow alumni for some round table discussions with the students about career paths and our own experiences. No matter what the event is, I always leave feeling refreshed and a bit more centered when I surrounded by the people brought together by AFA.

Out and About

A few snippets (and Snapchats) of life lately.

Girls Night Out = Korean BBQ and Karoke

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Snaps from Janci on the family farm are my favorite.

#Bromance

Last minute free tickets to Red Hot Chili Peppers? Why the heck not?!

Watched my Portland Trailblazers while they were in town to play DC. It was a pretty disappointing loss but great company!

My sleepy puppies back in Oregon.

Original caption from Facebook:

“Nicole and I always joke about how we practically have the same life story. Both Northeast Oregon girls with roots in the Oregon FFA Association who went to K-State Ag to study ag comm and had internships in the grain industry. And both of us ended up on the East Coast where I eventually hired her to do freelance work for my organization… which happens to be part of the grain industry. And that doesn’t even cover all of the other interests we have in common. But while we laugh about it when people ask us how we know each other, its actually the perfect example of how important it is to cultivate and invest in meaningful relationships, both personally and professionally, because you never know where that connection might lead you to or how that person might impact your life many years down the road.

On Sunday, we were able to share that together with Agriculture Future of America (AFA) students visiting DC for National Ag Day. We shared that we are better people and better ag communicators because we blend our personal and professional relationship. We support each other’s careers, the successes and DEFINITELY the challenges, but we are able to do that because of our friendship and respect for each other. And as a BONUS, it is just plain fun to have people to continue to share those life experiences, like #AgDay with.

This is year’s theme was “Food for Life” and I choose to think of that in terms of the relationships and my network in the agriculture industry, and how that fuels my life in every way. Without that network of people that makes me want to always strive to be better, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am in a job and industry that I absolutely love.”

My Life in Memes

Memes that are speaking to me right now… both thought provoking and just plain funny.

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Gilmore Girls  GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Wesley and Robin

Obviously I was long overdue for an update on my favorite two little kiddos who both celebrated their birthday’s in the last two months.

Robin: At Christmas time wearing her new bow from me!

Robin: A new one year old!

Wesley: Fortunately my trip home over Christmas meant I got to spend lots of time with him!

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So, There’s That.

Cheers!

Life Notes

The Country Christmas Connection: Gift Reveal

Though I don’t blog much about specific agriculture topics, I still label myself as an ag blogger to some degree, because it is the industry that I work in and am passionate about. Last year, I joined a Secret Santa exchange for ag bloggers and really enjoyed it, so I decided that it was something I wanted to participate in again. It is a great way to get to know more people in the industry, and obviously it’s fun!

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I was given Gracie Weinzierl who blogs at A Farm Kid’s Guide to Agriculture. Gracie is also in ag communications, working at an agency in St. Louis, where she works with a variety of clients in agriculture. She is originally from Central Illinois where she grew up on a small corn and soybean farm. Right away I saw that Gracie had some things in common, like our love for coffee and DIY. She wrote all about the gifts I sent her over on her own blog post, which you can read here. I did have to laugh though. Gracie is a HUGE cat lover, something that I don’t understand AT ALL.  I mean don’t hate them, but I’m not really a fan. My sister is the complete opposite though, so I am used to buying gifts for “those kinds of people,” and buy the sound of it, the quirky little cat pen that I gave Gracie was a hit.

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A snapshot of the things I sent Gracie.

My secret blogger was Hannah Neuenschwander who blogs over at Texan Meets Midwest. Hannah is a Texan who relocated to Illinois for her job as a entry-level manager at a Monsanto soybean production facility. My first thought when I was looking through her blog was how much I appreciate that there are other young professionals in agriculture that make big moves like I did for my career, and those like Hannah are willing to share about it on a blog.

I was a bit late to open my gift (not Hannah’s fault) because I wasn’t able to get it from my apartment office before I went home on a long holiday vacation. Which is quite all right because who doesn’t like opening gift on a random day! When I picked it up from the office, the manager was very enthusiastic and said, “Oh Amanda, it looks like your new TV came in, you must be really excited.” Instead of trying to explain to her that I was positive that it definitely was not a TV, I just went along with it. But it definitely made me really curious and excited to get back to my apartment to open it!

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Now I wish I could have had someone taking a video of me when I opened my gift from Hannah, because I literally shrieked out loud. Hannah did a great job “stalking” my social media and blog to learn that I love decorating my home in styles that I love and personal touches that reflect who I am, and also that I LOVE a good quote. So she had a local friend and small business woman (Tina Gonnerman at TMG Designs in Ashton, IL) make this sign specially for me. I have a few of my favorite quotes and verses on the left sidebar of my blog, but Exodus 14:14 is my FAVORITE VERSE. Up until now I have kept it written on the white board in my kitchen. Plus, the colors and style go perfectly with my decor in my living room! Really Hannah, you could not have sent me a more PERFECT gift than this. Right now I have it propped up on a book shelf in my living room, until I decide whether or not I am going to hang somewhere else or just leave it there.

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Isn’t it great!?

Thank you to Darleen and Jenny for being this year’s hosts for the blogger exchange. I really enjoyed participating again!

Be sure to check out the linkup, where all of the other participants are sharing their posts.

Cheers!

Creativity and Organization

Christmas Crafting

I have never done much for Christmas decorations in my own home so far, and since moving into my new (and very small) apartment this year, finally getting a tree was still out of the question.

I do have a nice windowsill abobe my air unit where I normally display a few picture frames, and it has been way too long since I have had a creative project to work on, so I decided that I would utilize the space for a little decor.

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When I first moved in, I built a entertainment center/shelving unit out of 2×12’s (I think?) and cinder blocks, and had a few extra pieces left after the boards were cut for length

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I put two coats of regular acrylic paint on the board and let it dry.

Note to self: Do not try to FaceTime with your sister and work on a painting project, when you do not have the proper space to do the project in the first place. It is a miracle I did not get paint anywhere it was not supposed to be besides my arm.

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When I went to Michael’s for paint, I saw this flat wooden tree and broke my rule of only going in to get paint… luckily it was not too spendy. While the board dried, I painted this and alternated each row with red and bronze.

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This was the after photo for step one. I took the smaller brush that I used on the tree and did not clean it out so that there would still be some of the drying, clumpy red paint in it, which seemed to help with the uneven brush strokes. I used a dark grey that I already had and the same bronze paint. After I had made some of the bigger strokes I wiped the brush off and continued to dry brush back and forth over the color that I had just applied,

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While the board dried again I switched back over to the tree, which was now dry (after two coats) and applied these rhinestone stickers along the seam of each layer. The nice part was that the rhinestones were grouped together in strips, which is great because there is no way that I have the patience to apply each of those individually. I got them in the sticker section at Michael’s.

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Moving back over to the board, my next step was to take sandpaper to it. I varied the types of strokes I made and the pressure to get the look that I wanted.

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The final step for the tree was to wrap this garland from Michael’s around it. I tacked it with glue in about four spots to that I could get everything to hang just right. As you can see I could technically hang it on the wall somewhere but it is doing just fine propped up on the windowsill.

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The final part of the other project was to glue the ornaments to the board. I saw these ornaments at Target a few weeks ago and fell in love, which essentially inspired me to go ahead and do a little decorating. I just took all of their hangers off and used tacky glue to secure them on.

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And here is the final look! The two little ferns are from Trader Joe’s and Frosty came from my family’s store in Oregon a few years ago.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Amanda

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Link up.

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Creativity and Organization

Office DĂ©cor for Spring and Summer

Friends, it is FINALLY spring!

I feel a bit silly saying that considering that we have had spring weather here for two weeks or so now and then had a cold front come through on the actual first of day of spring.
Thank you, Mother Nature.

Anyway, for as much as I loved my winter décor in my office, I have been anxious to finally change it out to bright colors for spring and summer. For a while, I considered splitting the seasons as I did for fall and winter, but these two seasons always running together and considering how much travel I will have over the next few months, it just made more sense.

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See my Fall decorations HERE.
And my Winter decorations HERE.

Fall is my favorite season overall, but my love for flowers, sunshine, summer nights and all things warm weather related knows no end. The first day that it was 70 degrees here, I was so happy, and if my mother didn’t already know that the change of the season make me a little loopy then she probably would have thought I was on something.

Once again, I was happy with how everything came together and turned out. My co-workers are still amused that I put so much effort into this, but I think they are starting to understand that I need my office space to be put together and cheery for me to feel comfortable and productive. And I’ve said it before, but creative projects like this is a therapy outlet for me. Now if only my wallet would feel the same way!

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This display sits on top of my bookshelf. The glass terrarium is the same one from Michael’s that I bought for my winter display. I was really struggling with how I could use it again for these seasons until I was actually back at the store in the aisle I had first found it and was reminded of what a terrarium actually is. After picking out the layers to fill it with I ended up planning the rest of the decorations and flowers for the wreath around the rich color scheme. The turquoise chalkboard sign was a find from the $3 dollar bins at the Target and the purple lantern was another random find at Michael’s that was just too cute not to add.

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This display sits on one corner of my U-shaped desk. The flowers are all silks leftover from the one I used in the burlap wreath. The little tin is actually from my evergreen tree (or branch?) that I bought for my winter décor from Trader Joes. The “fleurs” basket and bottles were on my must-have list when I was planning my decorations out and I found them on a sale at Michaels! I am really excited for the wheat display and plan on keeping that out year-round. The wheat bouquet are just silks from Michaels, but the kernels are from our supplies here at the office and I layered each of the six U.S. wheat classes in the vase.

Happy Spring!

Cheers.

Creativity and Organization

Office Winter DĂ©cor

When I first moved into my own office and decorated for fall (see that post here), I really only did so because fall is my favorite season and I thought the decorations would go well with the burlap wreath I had just made. But then my co-workers asked if I planned on switching it out for each holiday or season, and I suddenly realized I had somewhat unintentionally committed .

I don’t mind though, I mean decorated and doing things like this are kind of in my blood. Plus, when people come off the elevator into our lobby they can see straight into my office so I like that they have something nice to see.

I decided though that planning to change things out for each holiday just wasn’t practical, so for the most part, I have settled on the seasons.

I STILL haven’t finished organizing my shelf or hanging up some of my regular stuff, but winter has officially arrived in my office!

To make my decorations last through February I tried to focus on the winter season instead of just the holidays. For being 25 years old I have a bit of an obsession with the character Olaf from Frozen. I would like to clarify though, that I did not buy him for myself. Last year before Christmas, I kept sending pictures to my Mom of all of the giant stuffed Olaf’s I saw in the store or mentioned on Facebook, and joked that it was too bad that I was WAY too old to have one. So, of course this more practical sized Olaf found his way to my stocking. Anyway, after brainstorming what kind of theme I wanted to go with for my decorations, snowmen, blues and golds just seemed like the perfect fit.

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This display sits on one corner of my U-shaped desk. The table top tree and the couple of snowmen ornaments are actually mine from when I was a kid. (Thanks for sending them Mom!) The ball ornaments that you see here, as well as in the picture below in the terrarium and the wreath are all from Target. The tree skirt is actually a  small table runner from, also from Target. I originally bought the gold sticks as ornaments, but they overwhelmed the little tree so I stole the mason jar that I stash my makeup brushes in at home, and problem solved!

I realize the tree is still more of a Christmas decoration so I’ll have to eventually decide if it is going to come down much sooner than everything else.

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This display sits on top of my bookshelf. The little evergreen “tree” is from Trader Joes (only $4!) and the sign is from Target (only $3!) The glass terrarium is from Michael’s, along with the smaller fillers. After growing up in a flower shop I should have known better than to buy so many things covered in glitter. I guess for some reason I didn’t think these silks would shed as much. But no, they did. MY OFFICE WAS COVERED. It’s a good thing I’m a pro at cleaning it up and that’s not something you typically get fired for.

Cheers.