Clutter happens to all of us. But just because it’s a reality doesn’t mean that you can’t conquer it. I’m excited to share these cute little signs I made as a gift for you! They’re great for classrooms, play rooms, bedrooms, or anywhere! Print as many as you want and post them as a great reminder of where to start on your journey of overcoming the mess. If you practice my A, B, C & D rules you can start to build a good habit! Be sure to check out my POST about the first 5 steps I take when cleaning and organizing a cluttered area. I’ve also written about my secret to keeping my bathrooms clean HERE. Good luck!
Who doesn’t love pasta? Of course, some of us have to watch our intake because it’s easy to get carried away, but indulging once in a while is such a treat. Alfredo has always been a “treat” for me, a special meal that I look forward to. But I’m also very picky about the taste. It has to be just right. I’ve never found a jarred sauce or a recipe I like. Olive Garden’s Alfredo sauce has probably been my favorite for years. I know there are plenty of people who don’t like OG. That’s okay. But what you can’t deny is that fat and salt can really pump up the flavor in a dish.
Thanks to good ol’ Pinterest, I came across a recipe one night that claimed to be “Olive Garden’s Alfredo Recipe.” Out of sheer curiosity I read the comments left by other Pinterest users. Several of them were claiming that this recipe was incorrect because of one or two of the ingredients. Personally, I didn’t know any better, but I was willing to believe these keyboard warriors because several of them corroborated the story. Further down the comments, I found that someone had posted a comment claiming that Olive Garden actually provides many of their recipes on their website. RECORD SCRATCH. That was news to me. So I did some digging. I was salivating thinking that I could get ahold of the OG Alfredo recipe to make myself. At the same time I was worried that I’d have to get a wider front door put on my house once I ate my weight in Alfredo. Click HERE for the entire online catalog of Olive Garden’s recipes.
Sure enough, after some digging, I found a collection of Olive Garden’s recipes on their website. I scrolled and scrolled until I found the treasure I was digging for. Click HERE for the Olive Garden version, unaltered. Below, I have included the recipe with changes I made after the asterisks (*).
- 3 oz wt butter *I used ½ cup salted butter or 1 full stick, only slightly more than their recipe calls for.
- 1 Tbsp garlic *I used a fresh bulb rather than the pre-minced version I usually keep in my fridge for quick recipes and added probably 2 Tbsp because there’s no such thing as too much garlic in a recipe like this.
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1 ½ cup milk *I ended up adding this last and only used ½ cup since I wanted my sauce to be a little thicker than the recipe calls for. Also, I used whole milk.
- 1 ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup parmesan cheese *I used closer to 1 cup+ because I wanted the cheese to be the main thickening ingredient.
- ½ cup romano cheese *I did the same thing as with the parm, 1 cup+.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- *I also added about 1 lb of chopped rotisserie chicken for protein.
- Fried the chopped garlic in the butter until it started to become fragrant and the butter started to turn golden in color.
- I then added the flour and mixed it in to make a roux which would help thicken the sauce.
- After that was thoroughly mixed, I added the heavy cream and stirred it all until the coloring of the sauce was even.
- Then I added the cheeses and stirred until they melted evenly.
- After that, I added the milk, salt and pepper, tasting in between additions to make sure I didn’t over salt the recipe (which, in my opinion, is the only downfall of the Olive Garden recipe made AT the restaurant. It always seems too salty to me.)
- Finally, I added my chopped chicken and let everything simmer a bit until it reached my desired thickness.
In the end, the recipe was good. Very good. I’m glad I added the extra cheese and didn’t add the same amount of milk that the original recipe called for. It was so much richer but most likely with a lower sodium content than what you get in the restaurant. If I was to try anything different the next time around, I would sauté the chicken in the butter/garlic mixture at the beginning to help give it a little more flavor. When I made this recipe I was in a hurry so I didn’t get the chance to think everything through and use my instincts as much as I like to. If you don’t hear from me again after this post, it means I’ve eaten Alfredo until I burst. But don’t be sad. At least I died happy 🙂
Choosing wall colors, cabinet styles, furniture, decor, and making it all work together is hard enough. What about trying to define and capture your own style? Sure, you can cruise Pinterest for hours, days, years and save a million amazing ideas, but how do you take that collection and make it your own?
There’s a reason those Instagram pictures and Pinterest pins of farmhouse, boho, shabby chic home decor have thousands of shares and saves. They’re beautiful. They feel intentional and put together. Personally, I’m obsessed with many of those and strive to make my house look like the pictures I see online, but in reality, I know my house will never look like those. This might be for a few reasons. First of all, those pictures are staged and heavily edited. I know no one who has a family, especially kids, can live in a house that looks like that 24/7 and stay sane. I also know myself well enough to know that I always try to recreate the home decorating styles I see online but my personal style frequently creates an odd mashup that might not be Insta-worthy.
The common thing about most of those extremely popular decor styles is that most of them are based on a neutral palette. The main base color is usually a stark, clean white, and the majority of the large accent pieces are neutral browns, tans, and creams. Some designs incorporate black as the contrasting color, while some even go as far as to use a single, non-neutral color as an accent.
As much as I would love the look of a neutral palette, I tend to require a little more color in my personal designs. I do my best not to go overboard with color. A little goes a long way. That rule applies to all of the suggestions further in this post. That being said, some bold color choices can make for a playful and interesting aesthetic. Below, I have included a picture of the dining room wall I painted in my last house. I chose a bright teal because it is my favorite color, and I wanted to create a unique “pop” of color among our mostly neutral paint palette. Adding fun, geeky decor to your home is a nice way to hint at your style, but adding just the right color to a wall can brighten your day and put a smile on your face when you look at it.
Getting to design your own interior space can be overwhelming, but it can also be freeing. Take into account the things you’re interested in. If that happens to be neutral, pattern heavy, boho-inspired, green spaces, then good news- there’s tons of inspiration for you online! But if you’re more like me and appreciate something a little more unique and a lot more geeky then I have some wonderful resources and ideas for you ahead.
“Our family is full of geeks. I can trace it directly to my geeky parents.”
Our family is full of geeks. I can trace it directly to my geeky parents. My husband and I have definitely passed it on to our kids. Because of this, I love finding ways to incorporate our personal, geeky style into our interior decoration. It can be tricky if you’re hoping to stay away from in-your-face, obvious fandom references. I have taken the time to compile several extremely geeky color palettes (found at the end of this article) that reflect different fandoms. These colors can be easily incorporated into your designs with subtle tricks such as decorative throw pillows, wall art, and thoughtfully placed knickknacks or more visible, yet aesthetically pleasing, hints like full colored walls, bedding, or murals.
These ideas should be used in small amounts. Too many of these ideas in one place can get a little too busy and quickly become tacky. So, try to spread the geekery throughout your house. It will be more like an Easter egg hunt for your guests to discover and less like a visually overwhelming mishmash from wall to wall. One way to hide geeky clues in plain sight is to add home decor items like the ones below. (All items can be found at ThinkGeek.) These items can easily be accents in rooms where they blend in with other regular decor. The red clock could be used in a farmhouse style kitchen as an interesting color contrast piece. The towels could be used as decorative hand towels, placed on top of solid color towels with similar palette. The constellation light could be a sweet feature on a guest room nightstand to brighten someone’s night.
Here is an example of geeky decor that can be added to even the most elegant dining room. These Harry Potter themed plate and flatware sets (also found at ThinkGeek) are a great way to hint at something without being too obvious. Don’t even mention their theme to your guests and see if they discover it for themselves!
If you happen to have a home theater or a movie viewing area, you can always find beautifully done, artistic posters that celebrate some of your favorite movies. The posters below are just an example of the great ones you can find on the internet. Nowadays, there is such a vast collection of artwork like these that you can use to hint at your fandoms rather than being blatant with an obvious movie poster. Take it a step further and put these artistic posters in wooden poster frames before hanging them. It will create an even more sophisticated and intentional look for your media room.
Bedding doesn’t have to be boring. Adding some geeky bedding to your boudoir can allow you to sneak in some geek while allowing the rest of the room to be more neutral. Here are two good examples of geeky bedding that aren’t too flashy or juvenile. You could also carefully add in a themed pillow or two, nestled in with some matching, solid colored throw pillows.
A bedroom is also a great place to make use of the fandom-based color palettes. For example, if you’re looking to hint at what Harry Potter house you belong to, you can always choose a color from the House’s palette, paint your walls with it and use the House’s secondary color as an accent in the decor. Here, I have provided two examples where I used the main color from one represented Hogwarts’ house (Ravenclaw in one example and Slytherin in another) and used the room’s decor as the secondary colors used in the Harry Potter movies. This is a neat way to use bold color schemes without overwhelming the visual aesthetics of the room. The remaining colors should stay neutral to keep the room from feeling too visually “heavy.”
Using bold colors in your house doesn’t have to be scary. In our last house, my husband and I decided to incorporate our geeky personal touches into some of the most visible places. We researched the exact blue color of the TARDIS from Doctor Who so that we could paint our front door to match it. We wanted to make our front door look as much like the TARDIS as possible without being too obvious. So, we chose a door with windows at the top and used the bright blue paint color to give people that “hmm, this reminds me of something…” feeling every time they looked at it. We actually ended up loving the bright blue color so much that we decided to paint our powder room with the same color. It turned out great! It made that little room feel special and different without being out of place. Check out the photo of our TARDIS blue bathroom below.
Wall art can be a tricky decorating tool. So much of the wall art that you can buy in stores looks like stuff you see on the walls of a hospital or dentist’s office. Finding artwork that adds a little bit of geekery into your decor without being blatant can be tough too. Here are a couple examples I found that could work in a pinch. Below, you can see the first is a set of prints based on the art found in the newest Zelda video game, Breath of the Wild. That game has amazing visuals, but I liked that this art set was simple and graphic. Add these into a boho-feel room, and they’ll blend right in. You could even convince your guests that you purchased them abroad, haha! The second piece of art is a clever take on a classic piece of artwork. I love this one because it has a lot of color and visual interest. You could pull colors from this painting to add into your room in other decor pieces- pillows, lamp shades, rugs, etc. to bring the whole room together and keep this painting from standing out too much. Both of these examples have a lot of versatility in helping you visually pull a room together with simple decor using either style or color scheme.
And don’t forget about decorating outside your house! The front porch is the first thing people see when they come to visit you. If you’re like me and enjoy letting guests know a little about you before coming into your house, a geeky doormat is a great addition. To accent our Doctor Who door color, we found a great doormat that read “It’s Bigger on the Inside.” This was such a fun conversation piece when other “Whovians” would visit our home and recognize the geeky decor hints. Especially since our house really did look bigger on the inside!
Overall, there are a lot of possibilities and ways you can hint at your fandoms with your interior decor. It takes a light, creative touch. This is a subject I could write a whole book on if I had the time! And no, I don’t make any money off of my recommendation of ThinkGeek, but if you’re looking for anything from decor to gifts to clothes that are geeky in nature, that’s the place to go.
As promised, here are my fandom-based color palettes below. Each color has been assigned a hexadecimal color code (or hex code) that can be found at the bottom of the palette. You can read my previous post where I outline several websites I use when creating color palettes like these. These hex codes are used on several of the sites listed in my post to correspond to specific colors. With these hex codes and the websites I provide, you should be able to replicate these colors in other places for your own use.
Feel free to refer to these palettes when needing geeky color combinations, but please cite me as author. I put in a lot of time and effort developing these collections. Also, I would love to hear any suggestions you have of other fandoms for which I should make color palettes. If I use your suggestion, I will credit you in the next color palette post!
Over the years, I’ve collected many reliable resources for color sampling, color matching, and palette creation. Deciding colors for your home or design projects can be overwhelming when you don’t have somewhere to start. As a graphic designer, these resources are invaluable to me, but I have found even more uses for them as I help design our dream home. Here is the list I have compiled of the most useful online resources for any of your color projects.
Encycolorpedia is a website that I came upon accidentally one night and has since become one of my go to sites for color information. I usually deal in hex codes (six digit codes, using letters and numbers, that represent each color a computer can understand) for colors in my graphic design, or Pantone colors (a collection of color swatches widely used and recognized over a large variety of color-based industries).
Encycolorpedia works like a color search engine where you can input a hex code, Pantone code, color name, or paint name/code, and it finds information on that color for you. Even if you only have one of those designations for your color, it will find and display all of the others PLUS many other pieces of information about your color all in one place. It finds things like the shades and tints of your original color, different color codes from various paint companies, and what your color looks like when seen with different types of colorblindness, just to name a few. I’m totally blown away by the amount of information Encycolorpedia can find about a single color. I’ve already found so many uses for this website, I’m amazed it’s free.
Paletton is another neat website that offers you a color wheel with movable sliders giving you complete control in finding color palettes based on monochromatic, adjacent, triad, tetrad, or freestyle (2, 3, or 4 colors) colors. Each color palette then gives you tinted and shaded versions of each color, plus the individual color codes for each color. This resource is great for choosing colors that can work well together based on color theory. You can also randomize a color palette or give it a few parameters from which to find you different palette options. I’m so excited to use this site more and learn all of its capabilities.
Sherwin-Williams also has a great site for choosing colors. Of course, you’re restricted to their list of paint colors, but their list is pretty extensive. You’re bound to find something very close to what you’re looking for. But if you’re worried they won’t have the perfect color for you, don’t! Sherwin Williams offers a paint color matching service. Take a swatch from any other paint brand to them and they can match it perfectly using their signature paint recipe.
Their site offers a large, easy-to-navigate color palette, and each color gives you a visual example of what that color looks like in a fairly realistic setting. You can change the image used in this visual example, you can even use your own image, and the computer will do its best to superimpose the chosen color on your image. This feature works fairly well, but the more busy and complicated your image is, the harder it is to get the computer to put the color in the right place. Each color also comes with suggestions for similar colors, as well as suggestions for complementary color palettes. This resource is great for helping you find colors that work well in your home. Check out how beautiful their color palette looks below.
Pinterest is such a great idea resource. It’s such an easy way to find thousands of ideas for nearly anything. The fact that it’s so visual makes finding color palettes that fit your interests fast and simple. There are board after board of color combinations to choose from. The best thing about these color boards is that most of them have been compiled by real people. There is something special and beautiful about the amazing color combinations people create. Sure, a computer can give you an accurate color palette based on color theory, but the human eye, personal experiences, and aesthetic preferences make for some very beautiful combinations. Just try searching for “color palette” in the search bar or click the link I have provided to see my personal collection of color palettes. Below, I’ve included a visual example of how you can collect color palettes on Pinterest. Just scrolling through hundreds of these beautiful palettes will spark so much creativity in you!
My last color resource is one that works in combination with Pinterest. It’s called AskVal. Valspar is a specific paint brand that developed a neat app that takes any of your Pinterest pins and turns it into a color palette. It can even sample colors from a whole board to give you a color palette. This is helpful if you’ve found a specific pin or board that you love but don’t have access to any color sampling programs like Photoshop. AskVal will give you five sampled colors, one of which is adjustable with an “eyedropper” tool, allowing you to sample a color by clicking anywhere on the image. Then each color on the palette gives you details about what paint brands have a close match, the paint color designation number, and which retailer carries that paint. This app is a lot of fun to play with. It is fairly intelligent in its color choices, which can save you a lot of guesswork.
Altogether, these resources create a powerhouse of color choice, color matching, color theory, and palette creation. These sites are great to have bookmarked in your favorites for those times when you need help picking out colors and don’t want to stand around fumbling with paint chips in the hardware store.
My husband and I moved in together when we got married. We had just purchased a home that was big enough to grow a family and had everything we wanted. It was a dream come true. What we didn’t see coming and couldn’t predict was that the city we chose to start a life in would change drastically and cause us to rethink our entire family plan.
We started looking at options to move, hoping to relocate far enough away from our current city but stay within the same state. I started shopping for houses, looking at different cities and towns outside of where we were currently living. Due to certain circumstances, we knew that we couldn’t make another mortgage purchase for a couple years so we had time to take things slowly and figure out our plans piece by piece.
Even with the long and flexible timeline stretched out before us, we quickly became overwhelmed with the size and complexity of our possible move. On top of that, the issues within our current city were pushing us out more and more. Was there a way that we could speed up our timeline and escape as soon as possible? Then came a big “what if” question. When I first asked it, I thought for sure it would be immediately shot down. It’s crazy! Preposterous! We don’t have the money for that! Etc. Etc.
What if we could buy a piece of land and build our dream home over an extended period of time? Surprisingly, the question didn’t fall flat. We were both quiet for a few minutes trying to poke holes in the idea with the realities of our situation. But we couldn’t! So we began trying to figure out how one goes about building their dream house.
Step one was to buy a piece of land. For the sake of keeping this post at an abbreviated length, I’ll just say that over the course of several months we found the perfect piece of land and made the purchase. I may get into details of land purchasing in a different post.
The next step that we needed to figure out was how to design our dream home and turn it into a drawing that a builder could actually use. Here are the things I learned along the process:
Step One: Gather Ideas
I started by brainstorming with my husband a couple lists, defining all of the things we wanted to have in our dream house. Number of bedrooms, bathrooms, floors, special use rooms, special features. No matter how ridiculous they seemed, we wrote them down. Once I had those lists, I started to gather visual examples for the ideas on those lists.
I started with Pinterest. On Pinterest, I was able to create pin boards for all the rooms, features, and visual aesthetics we wanted. On those boards, I collected as many examples I could find. It also helped me find new and different ideas. I also found that there are thousands of floor plan links to look through for good starting points. Pinterest also has a function that suggests similar visuals, so if you find a particular type of floor plan that you like, you can find many variations of it there. This is how I found the original floor plan after which we modeled our design. Of course, each floor plan has copyrights, so you’ll have to make significant changes to any that you choose or pay a fee for the right to use it.
Step Two: Draw Up Some Floor Plans
Regardless of how you begin to assemble your floor plan, it can be a very helpful starting point just to start sketching ideas. After searching Pinterest for floor plans, I took a few that fit most of our requirements and combined them to start with. I used a couple methods for doing this. The first was to grab some good ol’ fashioned graph paper and hand-draw up some rough plans. Put rooms next to other rooms. See how they fit and flow together. I used a light table (you can also use a window with light coming through it) to stack the floors on top of one another to see how they line up.
Another option for drawing up floor plans is to try out the many different home design apps that exist. I tried several. Always try the free versions first to see if you like them. None of them are perfect, but many of them are helpful. Depending on your level of dedication and time available, these apps can be very useful for visualizing your floor plan ideas.
Here are some things to keep in mind when designing or choosing your floor plans:
- The plans that you initially design will be VERY different from the plans you end up with from a designer. This is not a bad thing. Just be prepared to compromise and change.
- Hallways are a huge waste of square footage and can drive up the cost of your house.
- Consider the layout of your land. Which way does the sun rise and set? Where are your views? If your land gets significant wind storms or road noise, make sure to place rooms in your design methodically based on those (and other) environmental factors.
- Are there going to be baby rooms/nurseries in this house? Consider placing those rooms far away from the noisier/high traffic rooms like the kitchen, living room, garage (due to garage door noise), theater/game/play room, etc.
- If your land is sloped, consider putting in a finished daylight basement.
- Roofing can be one of the most expensive parts of building a home. If you can have less square footage to cover in roofing, it could save you money. As an example- try to design multiple, stacked floors rather than a sprawling rambler-style house.
Step Three: Find a Designer/Architect
Something I learned early into our design process was that you need someone to draw up your blueprints regardless of how intricately you’ve drawn up your floor plans. There are varying levels of how much a designer provides you for your build process. This depends on the specific design firm and what they offer for their services. A designer and architect are generally the same thing, but they may refer to themselves as one or the other. Either way, a designer/architect is there to take your ideas and make them into something that works visually.
They usually have experience in knowing how a house should flow and what ideas work and what ideas are not worth considering. It is in your best interest to take their advice. Of course, I can’t speak for every designer out there, but you should choose one who has had a proper education and can show you a portfolio of work that fits with what you’d like for your house. They should be able to answer your questions, interpret your ideas, and steer you in a direction that gets you well on your way to building your dream home.
The designer we chose offered some very thorough job packages that covered everything from the exterior and interior design processes as well as the civil engineering and permits. We chose this because this was our first experience with the home building process, and we wanted to make sure that things were being done right.
Additionally, civil engineering is one of the most important parts of your home’s design process. Some design firms may offer this service in-house, but some may not. If they don’t, you’ll have to find a separate civil engineer. A civil engineer is the one who takes your visual house plans (from the designer/architect) and turns them into something that actually functions. They make separate plans for your lighting, your vent systems, plumbing, electrical, roofing structure, etc. These plans are necessary for your builders, which we will talk about more in a future post.
A few things to keep in mind during your design phase:
- Be very clear with your designer/architect on what their prices include. You might be surprised to find later on that something like civil engineering or permitting could be a separate charge all together.
- Listen to the suggestions of the designer. They should have the skills and experience to answer all of your questions and concerns. They also know when something just isn’t possible or might be out of your price range.
- Make sure you talk with your designer about what your home building price range is. Be very honest with them about how much you are looking to spend on the actual building of your home. They will then be able to keep your designs within that range.
- Know that there may be a lot of revisions and back and forth during this part of the process. Be patient and know that you’re that much closer to perfection.
- Be very honest and verbal about your questions and concerns. You need to get your plans exactly how you want them, and you cannot assume that your designer knows what you’re picturing in your head.
- Find a designer who is familiar with the permit processes and code requirements for the specific county your house will be built in. Different counties have different requirements to pass inspection, and if your designer doesn’t catch them all the first time, it could lead to expensive rework.
- It is possible to find a designer who runs permits for you. This is very helpful if you are unfamiliar with the process. They will know what permits need to be filed and when and can help make sure those are completed on time.
In the end, this process should be fun and exciting. You should begin to see your ideas turned into real plans. Plans you can hold and show other people. It makes a huge difference to do your research first. Know who you are doing business with because you will be spending a lot of time and money on the design process. This is also an area of the process that you don’t want to skimp on. Being cheap with the design plans can cause a lot of rework and could end up costing you more in the long run.