WDITOT Wednesday: Beauty and Function CAN co-exist

Hey ya’ll – sorry that this is almost a “why didn’t I think of that” THURSDAY post! Geesh! It has been a busy day.  This is a little of what my brain has been perusing over this evening –

and I had to put everything away so I could have some space to type and of course got distracted by new project ideas and now two hours after I sat down to write – here I am! Remember last week when I started the new Wednesday post about awesome ideas I’ve seen floating around that are totally helpful and they always make me say to myself, “why didn’t I think of that?” I am back with a new idea and I hope this helps you guys out like it did me.

I am sure that you have seen this post floating around Pinterest for a while. I have seen it several times and have thought “what a great idea” many times. It wasn’t until I saw an old over-the-door-shoe-hanger-deal just hanging there with nothing inside that I thought to do this in my bathroom.

I am a total freak, maybe some of you guys are also – but I want my bathroom counter to be pretty and clutter free. Totally not practical, I know, but this idea makes it so much easier. I put one on the inside of each cabinet door and put my most frequently used items in there.

Now all of my items are totally easy to grab and accessible and organized and my bathroom counter still gets to be clean and clutter free. Beauty and function CAN exist happily together!! You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other thanks to the awesome “why didn’t I think of that” ideas out there.

Am I the only crazy person that doesn’t want to see all of my products out on the counter? Surely not!? Do you guys have any other awesome tips for places to “hide” the functional things so everything can still look beautiful?

Happy Wednesday!  I have some awesome new projects to show you guys over the next few days so please keep on reading. I love hearing from you guys!



DIY: Recovering An Outdated Cornice Box

You have seen some of the pics over the last couple of weeks of all the cleaning out that I have been doing. It feels so good to donate things and get items out of the house and to have everything de-cluttered. I’m not quite ready for the final reveal of the spare bedroom yet, but I will show you a sneak peek of what I have been up to in there.

Before I loaded up all the items to donate, you’ll remember that the room looked like this:

CHAOS. Old, dusty, stinky chaos. I borrowed an SUV to haul all my stuff to donate – there is no way my sweet little Volvo sedan would have been able to cram all of that in. Here is a picture from the front seat (you can’t see much but big garbage bags, but you get the point, the car was PACKED).

So I dropped off all of that jazz at goodwill, the women’s shelter and a few other places along the way (remember to check out what local shelters and programs need to see if you have any items that might be of use to them). I returned to a room that looked like this:








This room pretty much serves as a dumping ground and the door stays shut. I have some big plans for this room. First: that really awesome 90’s cornice box. Navy with a sunshine yellow braid across the middle. AWWWESOME. Also, you probably cannot see it very well but the curtains under that awesome cornice box? YUP they are multi-colored flowers. My parents have had no use for this room but now that I am back for a bit, this will be a great craft/sewing/spare bedroom space and my plan is to make it just that.

My overall plan is a somewhat beachy/vintage/nautical type feel since that is the general feel of the rest of the house. I went to Hobby Lobby and got 2.5 yards of this ticking stripe fabric (one of my favorite fabrics)

I think this will be a nice subtle fabric for the cornice box. I took the measurements of the box and added about 2 inches to each side before making my cuts so I would have plenty of room to staple. Then I got out my staple gun and went to town.

This is a super simple project and a totally easy update. I just ironed the fabric before I started working on it to get the creases out and then laid the fabric out on the floor and put the cornice box on top of that. I pulled the fabric tight and stapled all around the edges. The hardest part was trying to keep the lines somewhat lined up. I love how mine turned out but I would definitely recommend using a fabric without lines to make it a bit easier on yourself.

That’s what it looked like when I was done. Whole thing took me about 30 minutes (mostly due to lining everything up). I added some simple curtains I got from ikea for $19.99 for the set. This is a mini sneak peek of the spare bedroom update.


I know it isn’t much but I can’t wait until it is finished so I can show you the whole thing. I am planning on putting something in the middle of the cornice box to add a little more detail to it. I love the new look, though.

The whole project cost me $35.11 – $19.99 for the pair of curtains and $13.48 for the fabric. If you don’t already have a staple gun, you can buy one for less than $20 at Lowe’s.

Hope you are having a fantastic Monday and have a great rest of the week! Don’t forget to check in Wednesday for another “Why didn’t I think of that” tip.




Why Didn’t I Think Of That Wednesday: Packing & Moving

This week I am starting a new weekly “why didn’t I think of that Wednesday” post. To be known from here forward as WDITOT Wednesday I always see so many ideas that other people have come up with and think to myself, “my gosh, that would make my life so much easier.” I figured, if I’m gonna make my life easier, hopefully these ideas can help you too. So make sure to check back every Wednesday for the new “why didn’t I think of that” tip of the week. On to the good stuff…

So, with all of these life changes I’ve been going through – I may or may not have mentioned before that I have two storage units that I am currently occupying that are 2.5 hours away from where I am currently living. When I moved all of my items into storage, I did so in a very short period of time (3 days to move, pack, store and clean a whole apartment) and I had no idea how long I would need to store the items for. So now, not only do I need to have my storage units moved up to where I am living, I need to consolidate them so I am only paying rent for one unit a month. Long story on why I have two I will spare you the details. Since things were moved so quickly and not prepared for a “long term” storage visit, I need to re-organize, re-pack and declutter all of the stuff that is crammed in there before it gets back on a moving truck.

To be completely honest, I have been totally dreading and somewhat avoiding this process. As I mentioned before, I recently went through a break up after 3ish years in a great relationship. We are still great friends and there is nothing more to say than the timing just wasn’t right for so many reasons. However, I am really not at all looking forward to this since I know there will be the inevitable separation of items in storage and all of that. Luckily, the hard part for me is just sorting through. I am really glad that this was a “peaceful” situation so I’m not like “should I trash it?” or “should I return it?” I’m not the “throw all his crap on the lawn” kinda girl but you know, it still really pulls at your heart sorting through it all.

On to the WDITOT tips for the week to make your next packing and moving adventure awesome!

I am most worried about my breakable items including dishes that I have collected over the last few that I really like. I have never felt like the paper really offers much cushioning from them possibly clanking together and causing the dish to chip. Then I came across this genius idea from The Frugal Girls of using those styrofoam paper plates in between each of the dishes as you pack.

My first “why didn’t I think of that” moment while planning items I am going to need for reorganizing and the move. Some folks also left some awesome comments on their post including using socks on delicate glassware. Definitely check them out, I did a little poking around and absolutely love the ideas these ladies have. WDITOT!

I also came across a great list from Sherbert Blossom one of my favorite ideas on the list is to tape a certain color of paper on the box for each room and then write the contents on that paper. That way you can easily identify which room it goes into and then you can see all of the contents listed on the box. Duh! Love it!

Hope these tips will help you keep your sanity during your next move. I will keep you posted once I finally figure out the moving schedule. Also, I have been on a organizing and tossing rampage as you know and I have some awesome “after” pics of all the work i’ve been doing to share with you here in the next couple of days. Hope you are having a great week!

Giving It All Away – Time to Declutter

So, I haven’t been doing as many projects as I would like to this week, but I would like to show/share a little bit of what I have been up to. First, I am in the process of trying to move a full storage unit to another storage unit and I need to go through it. I am stuck on the logistics and have not gotten very far on that. However, before I do that and move any new things in around here, there is some serious junk in every closet and corner. I really like to have a minimal amount of clutter around. I feel as though I am being invaded by things if there is too much clutter so I have been on a “donate it” rampage. There are some items that clearly just end up in the garbage but I have found some great places around town that can really benefit from some of these items.

First off, I donated some non-perishable food (4 huge boxes) to a Women’s Shelter here in Austin and also got some information on volunteering there. They have different items that they need but I would always recommend checking in with your local shelters to see if you have items that might be put to good use there. Plus if you have some extra time, there are many places like this that can really use some volunteers, so check into it.

Then, I’ve had my prom dresses just hanging there for the last 8 or so years and they were beautiful dresses and I loved wearing them but I realized that even though they are beautiful they take up so much room and I am never going to have an occasion to wear them, so I put them to better use and found a local group that helps young women who cannot afford to buy a prom dress. Here close to me is Keri’s Fairy Godmother Foundation. I know there are other organizations in Austin and all around the country for that matter. Just do a google search and see what is around you. That cleared a great deal of space and I am so glad that someone else can feel amazing at their prom.

I also had a bunch of books to get rid of so I took them over to half price books and I didn’t get much money for them but they do donate the remaining books that they can’t use to various non-profit agencies. They also buy CD’s, movies, games, etc. so see if there is one close to you I have no idea how much you can get for CD’s or any of that jazz but it is always worth a shot before they end up in the Goodwill pile.

And then finally I have made several trips to goodwill to donate various items. My pile for today looks like this:


Yup, a whole lot of stuff. Sheets, towels, etc. that we don’t have a need for anymore but they are still in good shape so hopefully someone else can get good use from it.

Also, I have some old clothes, shoes, purses, etc. that I am going to run by buffalo exchange to see if they can purchase any of the items. Then the remaining items I will donate. It’s a bummer to think of how much money you spend on some of the items you can no longer use so even though donations will get you a bit of a tax break, I do try to see if I can sell any of the items first just to recover a little bit of that.

Always make sure you get receipts too when you donate items so when tax time comes around you can include those donations. It feels so good to slim down all of the stuff around here and I love that the stuff that I can’t use anymore might be of great use to someone else. Of course if it’s crap, throw it away, if it is something in decent condition that you just don’t have use for anymore, look and see if there are places around you that you can donate to.

I will be back in the next couple of days with more projects. Just gotta sort through the mountain of junk in my craft area so I can get back to it. Happy Friday!


Mirror, mirror – I think i’m finally finished with you.

Well… I loved the change that adding the frame to my bathroom mirror added. However I just felt like it could be spruced a bit. Here was what it first looked like.

I totally love that it made the bathroom look updated and much more finished but this is such a large mirror and I just couldn’t resist the urge to add decorative touches and get at it with some antique gold rub n’ buff – more on the miracle of rub n’ buff later but I am not joking I had never used this stuff before I went at this mirror and now I want to use it on every project ever. Back to the project at hand.

I thought some thin pieces of decorative wood and then a medallion at the top would really add to the whole look. Off to Lowe’s I went. One gentleman asked me how my projects were going and wanted to see pictures (read: I spend waay too much time in Lowe’s). So I found this moulding that was about 3/4 of an inch wide and I think it is the perfect subtle accent. Each piece was $6.98 and I only needed two pieces.

There is a small rope pattern and since it was flush on the sides I knew it would fit right against the frame that is already completed. Plus if there are any gaps, then I can add some caulk and some paint and no one will ever know.

I also thought it would be nice to add a decorative piece to the middle of the top of the mirror, my lighting is rather high and I think the medallion in the center just draws the eye up. I got this in the same section as the rope moulding. It is just a medallion that they often use for the center of the moulding on the fire-place or something along those lines.

8′ Raw Whitewood Rope Moulding – $6.98

I got the EverTrue 3-1/2″ Raw Whitewood Ornament for $6.92.I already had the paint, adhesive, rub n’ buff and caulk at home so I didn’t need to buy any extra but I also used those items for this project. 

So I cut my moulding pieces and painted them with the satin black paint like before. I also painted the medallion black. Once they were dry, I took a little antique gold rub n’ buff on a soft cloth and lightly rubbed over the rope moulding as well as the medallion to give it a more traditional but rustic feel. We will definitely have a whole blog tutorial on rub n’ buff – this stuff makes my heart sing. For real.

So here is the FINISHED product. I do not plan on doing anymore additions to the mirror and just love the way it turned out. My neighbors have come by and all asked when I can do their house. My dream is to make design my business one day. Baby steps, right!?

Here is a close up of the moulding the rub n’ buff really gives it some dimension.

And here is the big picture:

I love how it turned out. More pics from the decor updates and such to come. Total for these additions to the mirror it cost $22.60. So in all I have spent $154.24 on the bathroom update project. I have $245.76 left for decor and new faucets. I feel like it is all coming along nicely!    More mini updates to be posted soon. Hope you have a great week!

Bella Mandarin blog gets an update.

Obviously, I am new to the whole blog world (ahem I believe this is post #6) and I decided to give the blog a little bit of a facelift. This is (as always) still a work in progress. But I feel like this screams a little more “fun” than the last one.

There are some exciting posts coming soon – the finishing touches on the contractor mirror, getting rid of the gold hardware in your home (if you have a house built around the 90’s or so, you know that it is EVERYWHERE) and some other nifty projects i’ve been working on.

For the sake of being totally real with y’all – it has been a rough month or two! A break up after 3ish years, moving to a new but old city and  friends with some serious health issues going on. However, I rest assured that God has a plan and all I can do is pray. After all I do love the quote I once saw “have you spent as much time praying about it as you have talking about it?” TRUE STATEMENT. I can talk myself into circles but God has got it all under control. He will never give you more than you can handle. If you find yourself with a few spare minutes, prayers for my friends would be very much appreciated. 

Hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July and thank you to all of our military troops everywhere. As a child of two retired Navy parents, I know that we are the land of the free because of our troops who fight for that everyday.

-Bella Mandarin