Monday Mantra: Laughter

Hiya and happy monday to you!!  I hope you had a great weekend filled with joy and a few good laughs.  This year seems to be flying by so fast, its hard to believe that the summer is over, kids are back in school and its almost time for football season!!  We are trying to squeeze out every last bit of outside summer time fun that we can before we have to give in (and in our neck of the woods this weather is giving us one final dose of HOT & HUMID!) So we spent the weekend outside working in the garden, enjoying some time by the pool, even played a few good rounds of glow in the dark bocce ball (I have quite a few mosquito bites to show for it!!).  As these days fly by and life seems to get just a little bit crazier; my goal is to enjoy each day to the fullest…get the most out of those moments we have with our loved ones and find joy in the ordinary whenever possible!!

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
~ E.E. Cummings


Choose Joy (and laughter)
~ Jillian

About these ads

Design School: unconventional artwork

When decorating your home, what goes on the walls really adds a layer of depth and interest to your space.  Its like the jewelry to a fabulous outfit…The icing on a delicious cake!  So when it comes to the things on your walls…go unconventional!  Artwork is lovely and absolutely a great solution for decorating your space…BUT there are so many other fabulous options out there.  Think outside the box…there is NO wrong thing!!  The trick is to go NUTZ but focus that in one great area.  If you want to put baskets all over the wall DO IT…and do it to fill out and balance that wall in the room!  Here are some other fantastic out of the box options to dress up your space…


wall map

vintage flash cards

plants on wall

wall flowers

random artwork

hats on wall

crazy artwork


wall plates

bike on wall




Be brave and add a little jewelry to your space!!

Happy Decorating
~ Jillian

Monday Mantra: happens

Happy Monday to you!  I hope you had a fabulous weekend and that you feel refreshed and ready for the week ahead.  We spent the weekend catching up on some much needed rest, enjoyed some time catching up with friends and got out to enjoy a few minutes of sunshine amongst an off and on stormy weekend.  We also welcomed a new tree to our family (check out my instagram feed to meet “Charlie”…he’s pretty fantastic!!)  All in all it was a fabulous “planned Un-planned weekend!

“We need to stop analyzing the past and stop planning the future
Stop deciding with our minds what we want our hearts to feel
We have to go with whatever happens…happens”



Have a  fantastic week and just try to go with the flow!
~ Jillian

Design Details: GREEN!

There are so many wonderful colors out there…sometimes its hard to choose a favorite!  I can NEVER answer the question “what is your favorite color?”.  Its just not possible!  I love them all and my mind is constantly changing.  So instead of choosing…i just jump from color to color, loving and appreciating how wonderful they all are!!  Today i’m in a green mood.  Specifically a lovely rich shade of Emerald green!!

green door{source}

green sofa{source}

green cabinets{source}

green chair{source}

green outdoor{source}

green library{source}

green legs{source}

green tile floor{source}

green bathroom{source}

Does anyone else have the urge to grab a can of green paint and go to town?!?!!?

~ Jillian

Monday Mantra: Now

It’s monday…a {hopefully} fabulous weekend has come to a close and we look ahead to the start of a new week.  I hope you took advantage of a couple beautiful days off and were able to do something that makes you happy!  This year is completely flying by (hello AUGUST) and its hard to believe that it is nearing the end of summer!  With time whizzing by us…all the more reason to be sure that you are enjoying each and every moment and not letting any time go to waste.  Wether you are relaxing and allowing yourself some down time or running around keeping busy, take advantage of every second and live life to the fullest!!

“Enjoy life NOW
 this is not a rehearsal”


Choose Joy!
~ Jillian

Monday Mantra: difficult roads

Happy Monday to ya!  I hope you had a fantastic weekend doing whatever makes you the most happy!!  We had a busy busy weekend…spent time catching up with friends we’ve missed, celebrating soon to be new additions and helping loved ones move into the next phase of their lives.  All and all it was a wonderful and exhausting weekend!  Life goes by so quickly and doesn’t always go the way we have planned.  Have faith, stick with it and you will soon realize that although your journey might not be as smooth as you might like it will all be worth it in the end!

“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations”


Choose Joy
~ Jillian

Thrifty Finds: Random Number box

You all know we LOVE a good thrift store find here at HSE.  There is something so exciting about the “hunt” and then the “what if” when you find an item that needs a good home and a little love.  Sometimes you find things that you have the perfect place for, sometimes you find things that just need a little cleaning and are good to go.  Other times you find things that you are unsure of their function…but they are just too cool to pass up.


Enter random number box…I was purusing  the aisles of my local Goodwill when I stumbled on a very cool looking, beat up wooden box with these random number dials.  I had NO clue what its original function was…but I just knew i needed to have it!!  What i loved about it is that it happened to have 4 number dials…just the right amount to display a special date perhaps?!?
number box combo

This was a SUPER simple update that gave this cool found object a new life!!  CLEAN IT / SAND IT / PAINT IT.  Seriously does not get easier than that!!  Once he was showing off his pretty new color, I turned the number dials to our wedding date (10.04.2008) as a little nod to a very special day!!  Right now he has the perfect home adding a little pop of color to my white framed collage wall (i promise i’ll get around to some pictures of that wall someday soon…promise!) and I must admit I smile a little extra when i catch a glimpse!!

081What kind of thrift store finds have you scored lately??  Any fun and easy DIY projects?? SHARE your projects here on HSE, we might just highlight them on the next episode of Thrifty Finds!!  Oh an P.s. Anyone know what this random find was originally used for?

Happy Crafting
~ Jillian

Monday Mantra: will be

Happy Monday to you!  It is rainy and cloudy here in Georgia, which makes it a little bit tougher to get out of bed and get moving on a monday morning!!  We gambled with mother nature this weekend and decided to go Camping despite the nasty weather and not so sunny forecast.  Well we LUCKED out and the weather agreed with us!  A little chilly (especially for July) but we stayed dry and were able to enjoy a beautiful night camping right next to the water!!  Not going to lie, there were moments in the morning as we were packing up to head out that we thought we were crazy (thunder crashing in the background and TONS of rain falling down), but we were determined to get out there and make the best of the not-so-ideal conditions.  In the end we enjoyed a fabulous night with friends, sitting by the campfire enjoying our beautiful surroundings!  Just goes to show that sometimes when things seem like they are not going your way, hang in there, have faith and you might just be surprised at how fun the journey can be!!

“Whatever will be…will be”

camping(View from our campsite Sunday morning)

Happy Monday
~ Jillian

Making the Basics: Vanilla Extract

Okay, I know it is easy enough to find vanilla extract.  By making your own real vanilla extract you will not only save money, but also have the comfort of knowing exactly what ingredients went into your extract.  Many extract manufacturers add sweeteners and coloring agents to extracts.  These are completely unnecessary ingredients!



After a little research, I split the cost of a large order of vanilla beans with a friend.  We bought one pound of the extract grade Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans from here.  Vanilla beans can also be really costly at the grocery store and usually only sold with a couple of beans in a jar.  Have I mentioned that we use vanilla almost daily, adding a bit to my coffee, baked oatmeal, smoothies and desserts?  Its crazy.  Sharing the expense of the vanilla beans helped make this DIY a real money saver.

After perusing several vanilla extract tutorials, I used the following combined method:

Needed supplies

  • a one pint mason jar
  • 70-90 proof inexpensive name brand vodka (I used Smirnoff)
  • approximately 1.6 oz. vanilla beans, sliced length-wise and chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve

{ Don’t let the alcohol scare you.  Check any bottle of vanilla extract and you will see alcohol as the main ingredient. The alcohol cooks off when you bake with vanilla extract, and only a few drops are used for flavoring coffee or smoothies.}

1. Sanitize the mason jar in boiling water and let the jar cool completely.

2. Slice the vanilla beans length-wise.  Do not scrape out the vanilla caviar!  Once split down the middle, chop the beans into 1/2″ pieces.  {In a couple of the tutorials, I read that, by law, commercial producers of vanilla extract are required to use at least 1.6 ounces of vanilla beans per pint of extract.  Additionally, the vanilla bean supplier site indicated that 10 beans equaled approximately 1.8 ounces.  So, I went with 10 beans.  It can’t hurt to have a little extra, right?}

3. Add the vanilla beans to the mason jar and fill the remainder of the jar with the vodka.

4.  Store jar in a dark and cool location.  Remove the jar from storage a couple of times per week to shake up the contents.


Six weeks later….you have made your own vanilla extract!  To remove the beans and vanilla caviar from the extract, simply pour the contents of the jar over a cheesecloth.  I didn’t have any cheesecloth, so I used a fine mesh sieve.  The result left behind some of the caviar, but it doesn’t hurt the flavor or shelf-life.

Store the extract in an air-tight container.  I found a cute pour spout bottle at HomeGoods, which came with a stopper.

Do you think  you will try to make your own extract?  I would like to try almond or hazelnut for the next batch!

- Brittany

#100HappyDays Recap

I did it!  I completed the #100HappyDays Challenge by capturing moments that make me happy for 100 days straight.  The challenge was harder than I expected.  A few bad days here and there made it tough, but the required photo-a-day task reinforced the need to find the good in every day.  Looking back at my images, it becomes very obvious what makes this girl happy – family, friends, food, exercise and being outside.  (Although a little shoe shopping and vacation planning doesn’t hurt either.)

If this challenge taught me anything, it was to enjoy the little things in life and to take time for myself each day.  Even just a few moments to enjoy a blooming flower.  Or, indulge in dessert after dinner.  Make time to catch up with a friend.  Escape from the city to enjoy the peace of a hiking trail in the mountains.  Whatever brings a smile to your face, take the time to do it.  Life is far too short – live it to the fullest!




Did any of you participate in the challenge with me?  What did you learn about yourself?

- Brittany