Life · Uncategorized

The Ultimate Affordable Holiday Gift Giving Guide

Happy Monday, Embarquers!

I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend! I know the holiday shopping has already started, and there are only about 25 days left until Christmas, so it’s time to check off those items on your list.

I feel what’s the most difficult part about the holiday season is finding what in the world to buy for your family and friends. It’s incredibly stressful trying to find  gift that are thoughtful (and not a gift card). This is why I created this post to help out all of my readers. Enjoy!










Check out my Pinterest page with even more gift ideas available (all under $100).

One last helpful hint, if you’re traveling by plane for the holidays, have your gifts shipped to the host or hostess’s home (with permission, of course). This will save you not only a large amount of space in your suitcase, but a hassle at the airport security point. I personally buy almost all gifts on and have it shipped for free (with my prime membership).


I hope that this has been a huge help to you and may take some stress off your shoulders 🙂 .

With Love,


Home Decor

Find the Right Rug for Your Space

Hey Everyone!

Rugs are a very important piece in each room. They have the ability to make or break a room, and I want to help you avoid commonly made mistakes when buying rugs.

As I’ve previously told you in an earlier post, I just got new flooring in the bedrooms and office. It feels so clean and fresh! Since I now have different floors, I need to get rugs to warm it up a little bit, and let me tell you (if you didn’t already know) rugs are EXPENSIVE!!! Not expensive as in $100, but generally thousands of dollars. My budget doesn’t allow myself to spend thousands of dollars on gorgeous rugs. A girl’s gotta eat and pay her mortgage. Haha. No, but seriously…

Something to keep in mind when buying a rug- this is an investment piece that you will have several years (if maintained properly). An area rug shouldn’t be walked on constantly with dirty shoes. Area rugs should be walked on with bare feet, house shoes or socked feet. This will allow the rug to remain in prime condition for decades. For example, Oriental rugs look gorgeous for decades because they’re maintained properly.

Enough about that! Time to shop! I did research on the best places to buy rugs on a budget, and there are a lot of great options. Here’s what I found:



Transitional (a mix of Traditional and Contemporary):


My favorite places to purchase rugs are:

HomeGoods ($$)
Pottery Barn Outlet ($$)
West Elm Outlet ($$)
Restoration Hardware Outlet ($$$) ($)
Overstock ($-$$$)
Costco ($$)
Lowe’s ($)
Wayfair ($-$$$$)
World Market ($$)
Important Notes:

Consider the material of the rug- Some rugs have latex in them. This could be problematic for those with a latex allergy. There are also certain materials that wear better than others. I prefer wool in my rugs, but many rug are made from polymers (nylon, olefins, polypropylene, polyethylene, etc). Personally, I like rugs made of wool, jute, silk (but that’s incredibly expensive) and higher quality nylon, but (in all honesty) go with your gut.
The location of the rug– A shag rug is probably not a good idea for a room with high traffic. The rug will quickly become crushed and lack the volume it had due to feet crushing the cords (reducing the height of the pile).
The color and design of the rug (of course!)- If your room is bright and vivacious, you may want to dial it back with your rug (and vice-versa).
The size of the rug is vital– bigger is better 4 out of 5 times. By looking at the awesome infographic below, you can see that rooms generally feel much more cohesive with a larger rug, (but most importantly) purchase whatever is proportional for the size of the room.
This is brought to you by World Market’s blog, Discover.


Now go out there and buy that rug you’ve been coveting! (And have a beautiful Thanksgiving with your loved ones 🙂 )

With Love,


Home Projects

Home Project Results

Happy Friday, Everyone!


I received such awesome feedback from my post on Monday about the peek inside my home project. I’m beyond thrilled to tell you my floors are finally finished! It took the contractors 2 days to do fours rooms (which I would say is great time based on the quality of their installation and the amount of space they had to cover).

The reason I’m doing a blog post on the results is mainly to show you the difference  a couple thousand dollars (I know it’s a bit of an investment, but you get what you pay for)  can do to the aesthetic of the home AND add value to your home. If you buy quality materials (without being overpriced), and shop around (for a great value installer), you could easily double your investment by turning it into equity.

For example, if you spend $3,000 on flooring and installation, it could add up to $6,000 of instant equity in your home.

Are you ready to see some results?

Here we go!



Remember this nasty old carpet? Gross…
This is once the carpet was ripped out and the cement divots were repaired




The flooring I used is the Harmonics Savannah Hickory bought at Costco.


Make sure your flooring doesn’t match your furniture. You want for some contrast.



The wood floors adds a fluidity to the room


Thanks for being  a part of this project with me. I hope this inspires you to conquer a project or two of your own.

I’m off to Florida for the week. Look for a new post next week of the best places to visit when in Fort Myers.


Have a beautiful weekend!


With Love,


Home Projects

A Peek Inside My Home Project

Hey Embarquers!

Currently my home looks as though it has been ransacked by some hooligans due to some home renovations I’ve been working on. I’m in the process replacing the flooring in the bedrooms and office (a large project, but worth it).

I wouldn’t advise taking on the entire project yourself, but I would advise on doing some of the prep work to have save you a lot of money (~$2/square foot). I ended up spending $4/square foot for materials AND installation. I bought my flooring at Costco (Harmonics Savannah Hickory Laminate Flooring). This is only $1.94/square and is high quality flooring. High-quality laminate is a great option for those who have animals in your house because it’s very difficult to scratch this flooring.

He’s what you need to do to save some $$$.



1.) Start by pulling the carpet from the corner of the room. This is a little difficult to do because the carpet is attached the the tack strips.


2.) Cut the carpet in strips with your razor blade (be incredibly careful) so it is easy to roll up and dispose.


3.) The original installer of the carpet may have used glue to hold down the carpet pad, but this easily scrapes up with the spackle knife.


4.) Move on to the tack strips by using your SuperBar and rubber hammer. Line up your nail between the two feet on the bar. Tap your bar with the hammer several times until the bar is under the strip and the nail is between the two feet. Pull the bar towards you, and the strip will pull up with ease. Repeat this process with every nail in the tack strip (on the border of the room).



5.) Chunks of concrete will likely come up with the nails. You should clean these divots with a firm bristle broom or brush.

6.) Once the holes are cleaned, fill the holes with the liquid cement. Smooth over the cement-filled divots with the spackle knife to prep the surface for the new flooring. The bottle says the surface will be ready for traffic in 45 minutes, but I wouldn’t consider touching the surface for 24 hours (minimum).

This is how the holes look once they have been filled with concrete and smoothed with a spackle knife

I know this project takes a while, but it’s so satisfying after working on this all day and seeing your progress, plus, you’re going to LOVE your floors (and add a bit of equity to your home).

The Installers are coming on Wednesday this week, so I’ll definitely be sure to keep you updated and show the finished results!

With Love,



DE- LISH Butternut Squash

Happy Happy Thursday, Ya’ll,

As the fall season is winding down, there’s a dish that you MUST try before winter hits, my DE-LISH Butternut Squash. It was an experimental recipe that ended up tasting delightful.

This recipe is very simple, and would make a great Thanksgiving side dish.

Ready? Let’s get started!


  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 1 Tbs Brown sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 Tbs Olive oil (or to taste)
  • 1.5 Tbs Maple Syrup (or to taste)
  • 1.5 tsp Cinnamon (or to taste)
  • (Optional) Dried Rosemary


1.) Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F

2.) Take the butternut squash, and cut the squash in half down the center

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3.) Scoop out all the seeds and stringy membrane

4.) Using a produce peeler, remove the skin of the squash


5.) Dice the squash


6.) Place diced squash in a bowl and lightly drizzle olive oil and maple syrup and mix together. Sprinkle brown sugar, and cinnamon over the mixture and blend together. (NOTE: The maple syrup may make you think the dish will end up tasting super sweet, but most of the sugar burns off in the oven and acts as a marinade to keep the squash moist)

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7.) Spread on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes


8.) Sprinkle with rosemary (optional) and devour (mandatory 😉 ) !


With Love,


Home Decor

Thanks-mas Wreath

Happy Monday, Everyone!

I hope everyone had a lovely and restful weekend! Here in Austin, it has finally cooled down and started to feel like fall (woot woot!).

You may notice some changes with the site. I had my friend, Tyler Schultz, create a logo for Embarque, and I’m so excited about it!

Now, for today’s post… I feel that this time of year is awkward (when it comes to home decor). With two very important holidays right next to one another (Thanksgiving and Christmas), you want to get the most bang for your buck. I thought it would be a great idea to put a staple item in your home that could work for both holidays (so you don’t end up changing your decorations so frequently).

Cue, the wreath!

OKL Magnolia Wreath

I was inspired by this wreath from One King’s Lane.

I looked online and here are some other great magnolia wreaths that may inspire give you some additional idea and inspiration.

Let’s Get Started!

Here’s what you need:

  • 18″ Grapevine Wreath ($2.50 at Hobby Lobby, currently on sale)
  • 2 bushels of Magnolia leaves (only $9 each at Hobby Lobby, On Sale!)
  • Wreath Ties ($2)
  • Wire Cutter
  • Floral Accent, I chose red berries ($2)
  • Gold Metallic Paint ($2)


1.) Cut the magnolia bushels into the groupings of three leaves and weave into the grapevine wreath on the outside of the wreath (so the leaves fan out). Use only one bushel for the outside of the wreath.


2.) Tie leaves with the wreath ties to insure the leaves don’t fall out of the wreath (Yes, the glass of wine helps the creative juices flow (no pun intended) Hehe 😉 )

3.) Complete the circle, and make sure all the leaves are angled the same way


4.) Use the second bushel of magnolia leaves to fill in the inside of the wreath (and secure with wreath ties)


5. Weave in your accent pieces that fit your style, and secure with tie


6. Use your gold metallic paint to add some stylish flair


7. Turn your wreath over and tie on your ribbon to hang your wreath (I used 2.5′ of ribbon)

Wreath6 Wreath7

8.) I decided to hang my wreath from a mirror, so I took the mirror, placed a command strip upside down on the back of the mirror to hang my wreath, and VOILA!

Wreath8 Wreath9 Wreath10


With Love,



How to Take Your Bathroom to the Next Level (Renovation-free)

Hi Embarquers,

I hope you had an awesome weekend and were able to dress up in your favorite costumes! I ended up dressing as Waldo from Where’s Waldo, and my dear friend Katie dressed up as a Snowman for Halloween.


Let’s talk about bathrooms… Bathrooms can be extremely expensive to remodel, so  I think it’s best to work with the budget you have and focus on accessorizing.

1. Start with a blank slate. Take everything off your counters, clean all of your surfaces to begin with a fresh space.



2. Pick the colors and/or theme you would like in your bathroom. I decided to go with neutral colors (white and blue/gray) to keep it simple and clean.

3. Before you being the process, think of it as layering (or getting dressed in the morning). You start with your basics (undergarments) and add on from there.

I always advise using good quality white towels. This is because white towels stay white (when bleached), it gives your bathroom a clean, fresh look, and white coordinates with everything.

4. Chose a shower curtain that meets the color scheme and style you’re looking to achieve. This is the area you can really show your personality.

A great place to buy shower curtains is World Market. They’re reasonably priced and have a lot of personality.


I went with more of an androgynous look from Target. Click HERE to buy.

(Make sure you find a rug that coordinates with your shower curtain too to add some warmth)

5. Look for framed art you can’t live without.

Framed art can be expensive, so a fun way around this by buying the two-frame pack at Costco with matting (normally costs +$80 per frame). I didn’t see this deal online, but you can buy a large two-frame pack at Costco for $20 (such a steal)! Instead of putting a picture in the frame, go to World Market and buy a $3 sheet of handmade wrapping paper, trace the glass (from the frame) on the wrapping paper, cut the paper and insert in the frame (this is essentially the same as my DIY Jewelry Frame tutorial, but with wrapping paper).

wrapping paper

6. Countertop time! Going back to equate this to getting ready in the morning, this is the time you add the jewelry.

Close your eyes (no peaking 😉 ) and think about the times you’ve use the restroom at a friend’s house and you were thinking, wow, I really wish [insert friend’s name] had ___________ . This could be a number of items (floss, Q-tips, mouthwash, aspirin, lotion, etc…). This is the time to let your hospitality shine.

I like having the hand towel and the disposable towel as an option (especially during flu season).


Be sure to put your hospitable items on a tray for a more polished look. I bought my tray of Goodwill for $1.99 and cleaned up the tray with a silver polish.



I can’t wait to hear about your bathroom makeovers!

With Love,