DIY Bench

We made these very easy very simple benches that fit together to make a nice daybed out of 2x4s and plywood for under $50. Here’s the step by step:

What you need: (FOR 1 BENCH. To make a daybed double the amount of items)

2” x 4” x 8’ pine stud (x3)

2’ x 4’ sheet of plywood or OSB board about 1/2” thick (x1)

Box of 4” wood screws (x1)

pocket hole jig

electric screw driver

Directions:

Keep in mind, the measurments we went with were to fit specific pillows that I used for the cushions. You can adjust slightly to make them any size you want.

 We left one end of the bench open so that when the two benches slid together the cushions would be flush.

We left one end of the bench open so that when the two benches slid together the cushions would be flush.

Cut the 2x4 stud into the following lengths:

44” (x2)

24” (x6)

10” (x4)

First we created simple square frames for the legs and attached a brace in the middle.

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 For the brace in the middle we used a pocket hole jig so the screws went in at an angle.

For the brace in the middle we used a pocket hole jig so the screws went in at an angle.

Once the legs and brace were attached together we flipped it upside-down, placed the legs on 2” blocks (scrap pieces of wood) to elevate it off the ground and screwed the top frame into the legs.

 Legs and brace are pictured upside-down. The measuring tape indicates 2” elevated off the ground. This way when the top frame is attached it will create a lip to hold the cushions.

Legs and brace are pictured upside-down. The measuring tape indicates 2” elevated off the ground. This way when the top frame is attached it will create a lip to hold the cushions.

 All of the stud, apart from the brace, were attached at the ends with 2 screws.

All of the stud, apart from the brace, were attached at the ends with 2 screws.

 View from the top

View from the top

 Once the frame is complete the OSB can be cut to size and slide down on top.

Once the frame is complete the OSB can be cut to size and slide down on top.

I know this is a pretty roughly explained DIY but I hope with the photos you can decipher what we did!

 2 benches pushed together to make a daybed

2 benches pushed together to make a daybed

 Single bench

Single bench

 Reconfigured into an L shape

Reconfigured into an L shape

DIYliz kamaruldaybed, bench, diy
Q&A making money on Instagram

I’m sharing the information I’ve gained over the past few years in regards to making money on social media. Here is the original post I wrote on Instagram followed by the Q&A:

The subject of instagrammers and bloggers being paid for ads or receiving free products seems to be such a secretive and taboo topic.  It's been going on for so many years but rarely ever talked about! Why aren't we talking and educating others around the subject of getting paid to create beautiful and inspiring content?  I've seen a few people start the conversation and I'm ready to join.
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Instagram started out as a photo-sharing app. Anyone can join and anyone can share. But over time it has evolved into something more. Bloggers and designers are on there and they're making money. How. Why?
So, let's think about it: Why are you on Instagram? Why are you following the people that you follow? Maybe to stay in touch with friends and family, to keep up on news or to find inspiration. People like myself creating this inspiration are spending hours upon hours of time and money doing just that: trying to inspire. Additionally spending so many hours replying to questions, building relationships and trust with people who are following along.
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We are surrounded by ads all the time. On TV, billboards, podcasts, radio etc. It's no different on social media. Except now, you're following someone who is giving inspiration on a daily basis. Giving out DIYs, opening up about personal struggles, bringing awareness to important topics. Plus they're sharing products that they care about and think you might care about and all of it is done in a beautiful thoughtful way. I think it's an amazing opportunity for 'normal' people who may not have been in the industry or have access to it to be able to get paid because of their creativity and talent.
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So, when it comes to promoting a product and being paid for a job, the amazing thing about someone in my position is that I get to choose what I want to share. I get to work with brands who have gorgeous products that I would love to use or currently am using, or who are supporting people in small communities around the world. I also get to say no, I don't want to work with that brand. That is not something that I would put in my own house, not something I would wear, not something I would use in my life or I don't think it's good quality. I get to filter out the good and the bad so you don't have to.
Then, we get to conceptualize an authentic way to talk about that product whatever it may be. If you add up the hours it takes to brainstorm and create content (3-4 hrs per post) and the hours spent engaging by answering questions building relationships, Etc.(3-4 a day) that's a lot of hours! Plus there's the time it takes to write a blog, so consuming!
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I do understand that we are building a relationship of sorts through social media and a relationship is give and take. It's so important to be able to offer more than just a product review and more than just an ad which I think a lot of us really try to do and really try to connect in an authentic way.

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When I started this Instagram account a few years ago I had no idea there was even an opportunity to make money doing this. I was simply sharing our home. Now I get to partner with brands and get paid to do what I love! There's no space here for comparison or competition and I'm happy to share all information that I have to help anyone interested in pursuing this.
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What are your thoughts? Questions? Ask them here and I will answer everything in more detail on my blog!
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As always, thank you so much for your support!

Q: I'd like to know more about the process of collaborating on ads with another business. Do you contact someone because you love the product or do they see you use their product and then they contact you about a collab? 

A: It depends. If I'm starting a new project, like when we renovated the RV or if I'm moving into a new home, occasionally I will reach our to a company if they have a specific product I think will be perfect for our space. I will provide a proposal of what the outcome of the project will be including a design board. Depending on the value of the product I may ask for compensation or offer a trade of product for promotion. It's also important to include a media kit when contacting businesses. It's like a resume, showcasing your work, telling a bit about you and who you have worked with. 

In most cases the brand will contact me directly to collaborate and other times I get jobs through websites that I've signed up with that act like an agency. They have all my information on file and connect me with brands that I would be a good fit with. My favorite companies that provide this service are Collectively and Activate Social.  

Q: What get's you noticed the most amongst businesses?

A: If you want to be noticed by a brand start tagging them when applicable and when you're using their products. Most companies usually have a hashtag associated with their account that they may check on to discover people, start using that as well (example: @Rejuvenation uses #myonepiece) Once they find you, having a consistent portfolio of work is important to businesses, they want to know what to expect if they are going to collaborate with you. 

Q: How did you learn about photography and composition?

A: For me that happened over time and with a lot of practice. I've been on Instagram for about 4 years and have shared over 1265 photos. It's definitely been an evolution. I like to avoid really heavy filters and distorted pictures that create odd angles. It's just my preference but I think a room that is shot at eye level with straight lines is the most appealing. Luckily Instagram makes it very easy to adjust things like that right before you post a picture. Otherwise I use VSCO to edit my photos and most of them are taken with my Canon Rebel T6. I use a tripod and the cannon connect app to take all the photos that have me in them.

Q: What are some things you wish you knew when you started this commercial and creative process on Instagram?

A: I wish I had done less work for free. I find it very frustrating when I see people promoting products that have very little value (socks, watches, etc.) for free (trade) Companies obviously see value in having products showcased on social media and it costs them very little to give these products out. However, the person promoting this product is spending time and sacrificing a space on their page for an ad that they didn't even get paid for. In saying that I have no problems helping out small shops that are just getting started and makers working from home that don't have budgets to be spending on advertising. My frustrations lie with bigger companies taking advantage. 

Q: How can businesses know that working with you was worth it?

A: Usually a business will provide the influencer with a specific link that is associated to them so when traffic is driven to the website they will know where it came from. These links are usually used in story swipe ups and on blogs. Other times they provide a discount code for the influencer to give out (example: LIZK20 which would give a discount to people and also let the brand know how many sales were made)

Q: How did you get started? How do I get started?

A: I was never a social media person, actually disliked it a lot, so it's pretty ironic that I spend most hours of my days on Instagram now. I started my account in 2014 because I was doing home staging and wanted quick access to something that would have all the homes I've worked on so I could easily show prospective clients. Instagram seemed like the thing to do. 

Slowly I started sharing our home on there and that's when things started rolling. I discovered that groups of people had hashtags that they asked people to use (example: #finditstyleit or #currentdesignsituation, those used to be big) As a group they would select a winner to feature amongst all of their accounts. That is a great way to gain exposure (if your are selected and featured). Start paying attention to these hashtags and use them, it really helped my account grow in an authentic way reaching people who are interested in the same things.

You can also submit you home to websites like The Jungalow, Apartment Therapy or Design Sponge and try to get your home featured in their home tours section.

As far as making money goes, start by signing up with the agencies I mentioned above and don't limit yourself to just those. There are a lot of good companies out there that provide this service, do your research and find reputable ones. LIKEtoKNOW.it is also a great one to sign up with. You can make money through them by sharing the products in your home and you get a percentage of all sales made.

Another thing to note: paying for followers or comments is a terrible idea. Businesses can recognize it right away. Plus what is the point? You want real people following and commenting. Some people are into comment pods as well, that's where a group of people all agree to comment on each others posts to boost the activity and visibility of their posts. I don’t participate in these either, I think much like paying for followers comments pods come off as inauthentic and businesses can see that. That is just my opinion though and some people may have seen some success from these pods (I'm not an expert just sharing my thoughts).

Q: Should it be mentioned in your post when you get paid or receive free product?

A: YES it is actually very important according to the FTC you must include #ad or #sponsored and from what I've read recently you can use the brand name followed by partner (example #airbnb_partner) using #partner alone is not enough. These tags can not be hidden amongst other tags where they may not be noticed. You need to be very upfront and clear about paid AND trade collaborations. Really just be honest, and be proud! You've been paid to create something and it's your choice to work with the brands that you want to promote so you should be confident in sharing that with your audience.

Q: How do people gain an audience with all the new algorithms?

A: Ugh, good question. This algorithm makes no sense. Keep trying to get features through hashtags so you show up on multiple accounts maybe? I haven't got any good secrets to spill on this one. Sorry! Stay active on Instagram, comment and like other posts are a few things I've heard... who knows.

Q: If a brand comments on your posts asking you to DM them to work with them is it worth responding or is it spam?

A: I never respond to brands that do this. It's probably just a generic comment left on your post or a brand who doesn't really value you. If they aren't taking the time to properly reach out via email or at very least a DM then they aren't worth working with.

Q: Do you have to have a big following to work with brands?

A: I don't think you need a big following to start partnering with brands. In fact I've read that it's more valuable to have a smaller audience who are more engaged with you than a large audience that doesn't seem to interact.

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I hope you found some value in this and can start making that money!

DESIGNliz kamarulmoney, ad, instagram, paid
Minted Art and Mural

This blog post is sponsored by Minted.

Usually when I decide to make bold changes in our home it’s because I’ve been inspired by something. In this case, I decided to paint a whole wall because of a great piece of art. I spotted this piece on Minted and was immediately drawn to it because of the bold colors and abstract shapes. The artist, Christina Flowers, spoke of her art saying “each piece is as much about the journey as it is the finished work and that there is always magic in exploration.” That totally resonated with me and our home, ever evolving.

I quickly realized after hanging up the artwork that a white blank wall would never do it justice. This art was vibrant and needed a vibrant backdrop!

 Plain wall

Plain wall

I decided to paint a similar abstract pattern on the wall to compliment the art but in a neutral color palette so as not to take away from it. First I uploaded a photo of the wall and art on to the computer so I could visualize what it would look like before I actually painted.

 Computer mockup

Computer mockup

 It’s worth spending money on a nice brush to get clean lines.

It’s worth spending money on a nice brush to get clean lines.

Once I was happy with the design all it took were a few sample pots of paint. I drew the design on the wall with a pencil and used a nice 1 1/2” angled brush to complete the mural. I love how the wall seems so busy by itself but somehow seems to step back and make the artwork pop!

 Finished room

Finished room

It’s funny how a great change can come when you least expect it. If I hadn’t chosen this particular piece then this whole space never would have come to be. I spent a looooong time browsing through Minted’s art selection. There are a ton of amazing pieces and information about all the artists who created them which I always love to read about.

 …Something I noticed after the space was completed is how perfectly the art matches the chairs. I was drawn to this piece because of the colors which seem to show up time and time again throughout our home. It must be instinct at this point ;)

…Something I noticed after the space was completed is how perfectly the art matches the chairs. I was drawn to this piece because of the colors which seem to show up time and time again throughout our home. It must be instinct at this point ;)

  Minted  art

Minted art

I’m so happy with this piece of art and stand by the idea that you can’t force creativity. Inspiration can strike at any time and when it does great things will happen. Like magic.

DIYliz kamarulminted, art, mural, painting
Cross country drive

This summer we took a quick road trip from New Orleans to Sandpoint Idaho to visit my parents. It took us 7 days to drive there doing about 6 hours a day and two days exploring areas. On the way back it took 5 days at about 8-10 hours a day and one day exploring. 

We camped the whole way there with our two dogs in a small two man pop up tent which was actually amazing. The tent was just big enough for us to all fit and folded up easily for storage. No messing with assembly or poles, I highly recommend it. We also used a blow up sleeping pad because I cannot sleep on the hard ground. It was more expensive than I was comfortable spending on an air mattress but in the end entirely WORTH IT. It blows up very quickly and is small when deflated. Although it isn't thick when it's blown up it was so comfortable and I'm very particular about these things. Again, highly recommended.

For this entire trip we never made a reservation at a campground in advance. This was never a problem for us, we always got a spot and made it much easier for us to drive at our leisure and stop when we felt like it.

NOLA TO IDAHO

Our first stop out of New Orleans was at North Toledo Bend State Park, Louisiana.  

Pros: Beautiful park, very few people, we saw fireflies!!!

Cons: Very hot (end of June), really loud bugs made it hard to sleep, bathrooms were kind of gross with a lot of bugs crawling all over the floors and counters.

 North Toledo Bend State Park

North Toledo Bend State Park

 

Next stop Possum Kingdom State Park, Texas.

Pros: Beautiful camping next to the lake which you can swim in, covered areas with picnic tables. Clean bathrooms and showers.

Cons: It's a long drive off of the main road.

 Possum Kingdom State Park

Possum Kingdom State Park

 

Next, Clayton Lake State Park, New Mexico.

Pros: Absolutely beautiful location. We chose a spot up on the cliff and it was a gorgeous view.

Cons: Another very long drive off the main road. Bathrooms were okay, not great.

 Clayton Lake

Clayton Lake

 Clayton Lake

Clayton Lake

 Clayton Lake

Clayton Lake

 

In Denver we ended up staying in a hotel because of unexpected hail and it was my birthday. We stayed at the Monaco Hotel which was a lovely spot.

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Things we saw in Denver: Rino Arts District worth checking out. Blocks and blocks of beautiful murals!!

 Rino Murals

Rino Murals

 Rino Murals

Rino Murals

Next stop Seminoe State Park, Wyoming.

Pros: Stunning location in the middle of nowhere, lake to swim in although it was freezing cold.

Cons: No showers, porta potty style bathrooms, long drive off main highway.

 Semino

Semino

 Semnio

Semnio

 

On the drive to Seminoe (very close to the park) we found a small patch of sand dunes, right off the highway, keep an eye out!

 Sand Dunes

Sand Dunes

Next, Gross Ventre Campgrounds, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. If you were going to make a reservation this might be the one place I recommend doing so. We lucked out and got the last spot at 5pm.

Pros: Right on the edge of Grand Teton National Park, clean bathrooms. Lots of wildlife everywhere!

Cons: VERY crowded. Our particular campsite was very rundown and overgrown, we use the picnic table because of this. Other sites looked very nice though.

 Gros Ventre Campsite

Gros Ventre Campsite

 

The Grand Tetons are absolutely worth seeing. We had the dogs with us so weren't able to hike any trails but even driving through was gorgeous.

 Tetons

Tetons

 Tetons

Tetons

 Tetons Picnic Spot

Tetons Picnic Spot

Right after the Tetons is Yellowstone National Park and again although many of the trails were not dog friendly there was still plenty to see from the drive through and pull out areas.

 Yellowstone Geyser 

Yellowstone Geyser 

 Yellowstone

Yellowstone

 Mammoth 

Mammoth 

 Yellowstone 

Yellowstone 

We ended up buying an annual pass for $80 to the national parks because we knew on the drive back we would be going through Canyonlands and Arches so it was worth it.

Last stop on the way there was at Three Forks, Montana.

Pros: Nice bathrooms. Grassy spots, very quiet.

Cons: none.

 Three Forks

Three Forks

 

We ate at a yummy pizza place that was SO GOOD called Gills Goods in Livingston, Montana. The prime rib pizza was the best!

 Pizza spot

Pizza spot

IDAHO TO NOLA

Driving back we took a slightly different route. Our first stop was in Brigham City Utah. We stayed at a KOA.

Pros: Very clean facilities, best bathrooms.

Cons: traffic noise.

 KOA

KOA

 

We explored Goblin Valley the next day which was AMAZING!! You are allowed to camp there and it feels like you're on another planet. Highly recommend.

Pros: Unbeatable location, nice facilities and showers, best stargazing with the darkest skies.

Cons: noise travels through here easily with other campers.

 Goblin Valley Campsite

Goblin Valley Campsite

 Goblin Valley

Goblin Valley

 

There is a great trail right before you enter the park called little wild horse canyon which was pet friendly and so much fun. Our favorite part of the whole trip and we had it all to ourselves!

 Little Wild Horse Canyon

Little Wild Horse Canyon

 Little Wild Horse Canyon

Little Wild Horse Canyon

Just beyond was Canyonlands National Park. Beautiful drive with a lot of scenic overlooks. We couldn't hike any of the trails because they are not dog friendly.

 Canyonlands

Canyonlands

After that was Arches National Park which was also amazing but again not dog friendly. Still worth seeing the sights from the car but I would love to go back to hike the trails (in the fall or spring though when the temperatures aren't so unbearably hot!!)

 Arches

Arches

 Arches formations, look how tiny the people are!

Arches formations, look how tiny the people are!

Next spot was another KOA outside of Durango, Colorado.

Pros: clean facilities, nice campsites.

Cons: Traffic noise

 KOA

KOA

Our last night we drove for many many hours and arrived at a campsite very late. It wasn't a nice spot, there were tons of bugs and we were exhausted and ready to be home at this point. I didn't even take a picture of the spot. I don't even remember what it was called, Tim thinks it was in Texas and I think it was in Louisiana. Who knows, we were delusional at this point. Sorry, nothing to be missed with that one!

Okay. Bye.

Malaysia and Thailand

I'm excited to share our experience in Malaysia and Thailand! We decided to go on this trip for two reasons: First, our very good friend was having a destination wedding in Thailand so what better excuse to go?! Second, almost all of Tim's extended family on his dad side live in Malaysia and I had never been or met most of them.

So, if you are planning a trip to either of these places from the USA be prepared, it's a loonnng flight. We flew out from Spokane Washington (even though, yes, we live in New Orleans. I'll explain that in another post where I share our cross country road trip) We flew from Spokane to Seattle, a little over 1hr, Seattle to Seoul, 11+hrs and Seoul to Bangkok, 6hrs. After all those hours of travel next you've got to deal with the time change and jet lag so don't plan on jumping right into vacation, give yourself a day or to to relax and recover.

THAILAND: Bangkok

We arrived in Bangkok very late and arranged for airport pick up through our hotel the Paragon Inn which cost us $24 a night! Now, the rooms are VERY BASIC but the outdoor space is glorious and the food is excellent. It was very convenient for a late arrival from BKK and we would absolutely stay there again (we did at the end of our trip)

 Paragon Inn

Paragon Inn

Next we headed in closer to Bangkok and stayed above the Better Moon Cafe x refill station in Pears Room which we booked through Airbnb. It was $45 a night and worth it. We loved that the cafe below offered organic and sustainable options which was so refreshing. The street below was also full of food vendors which was fun to try. It's also close to the train station if you prefer to get around that way but we ended up using the app Grab which is similar to Uber.

 Pears Room

Pears Room

 Better Moon Cafe

Better Moon Cafe

 Food vendors on the street

Food vendors on the street

We loved Grab because just like Uber you type in your destination and it tells you how much you will pay. It makes for very easy communication when there are language barriers and you know that the price you are paying is fair and set. Be aware that traffic in Bangkok is terrible and if you get caught in rush hour which in the evening is around 5-8pm be prepared to spend a long time in the car. We got trapped for 1 1/2 hrs in what should have been a 25 min ride. It only cost $6, but a waste of time.

The next day we explored Bangkok by boat. We took a Grab to the Sathorn Taksin train station where you can access the boats down on the river. There are options to take river cruises but we chose to ride like the locals and pay for each stop which cost 15 Thai Baht which equals .45 cents. Much more affordable.

 River Cruise

River Cruise

One of my favorite things we did in Bangkok was go to a night market. There are so many to choose from but we selected the Rod Fai Train market which was amazing! It took hours to explore and had everything: touristy crap, vintage items for the home and clothing, small boutiques, food & drink, music and old vintage cars. A total highlight of the trip and I highly recommend.

MALAYSIA: Kuala Lumpur

We flew to Malaysia the following day to visit Tim's family located in Kuala Lumpur. There is an excellent train system called the KLIA express from the airport that was very convenient and cost RM40 which is $10 to take us from the airport to the city center. The train system in the whole city is actually great and an easy way to get around. They also have Grab which we used a lot but know that during rush hour you will NOT get picked up. We learned that the hard way.

In Kuala Lumpur we visited the Butterfly Park which was tiny but fun and worth $12 for both of us to see it. Around the same area is the free flight Bird Park which was enormous with a huge number of birds roaming around and seemed like a nice place for the animals although we were concerned with the ostrich, they looked very stressed and pulled out all their feathers. The owls didn't seem great either. Because of this I wouldn't recommend it.... it cost $30 for the two of us.

 Butterfly Park

Butterfly Park

 Bird Park

Bird Park

MALAYSIA: Melaka

Our next stop was Melaka, or Malacca, about a 2 hour drive south of Kuala Lumpur. A charming city that has a river running through it which you can take a quick boat tour on to see all the lovely sights. There are a ton of murals throughout the city, very photographable, or Instagrammable hehe. At night you can visit the night market which we did very briefly but was far too crowded for our taste.

 Night Market

Night Market

 Melaka Boat Ride

Melaka Boat Ride

 Murals

Murals

 Murals

Murals

We stayed at the most perfect airbnb right in the middle of all the action and on the river. It was called Little House by the River and cost $48.

 View from our airbnb

View from our airbnb

 Window in our room

Window in our room

MALAYSIA: Langkawi

The last place we visited in Malaysia was Langkawi. A small island off the mainland coast of northwest Malaysia. 

Here we took a tour on the cable car which cost $10 per person. It offered a breathtaking view of the island and once we made it to the top it was actually (almost) cool outside which was much needed because it's SO HOT AND HUMID. We walked along the sky bridge which was quite an amazing structure and worth visiting.

 Jungle view from the top

Jungle view from the top

 Sky Bridge

Sky Bridge

In the same area of the cable car was a 3D museum. We didn't know what to expect but were pleasantly surprised with how much fun we had there being goofy.

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 3D museum

3D museum

We had the great privilege of visiting Langkawi's observatory that Tim's auntie Mazlan Othman, an astrophysicist, founded. Yes you read that correctly, she founded it. Mazlan has made a huge impact in Malaysia and was the director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs in Vienna. She gave us a tour of the building and an explanation of how everything works. It was a great experience!

 Observatory

Observatory

 Getting an explanation of how it all works

Getting an explanation of how it all works

We stayed at the the Smith House for about $65 a night. It was a decent spot location wise, not on the beach but easy to get places and close to the airport. Again, we used Grab as our primary transport to get everywhere and it was a breeze. 

 Rooftop pool at the Smith House

Rooftop pool at the Smith House

We ate lunch at a great spot on the island called Bon Ton a beautiful resort where the proceeds go back to helping the street dogs!! We didn't stay the night here but it looked very beautiful and rooms start at $118.

 Bon Ton

Bon Ton

Another fun place that we looked at but didn't stay at was the Tube Hotel it's about $23 a night and looks like a very unique experience as the rooms are literally in tubes! It's more of a hostel situation as you share bathrooms but looked like fun.

 Tube Hotel

Tube Hotel

Our last day on the island we tried to visit the mangroves and take a tour but unfortunately it poured rain and our tour was cancelled. We were told by many people that it was worth seeing and if you decide to go on a tour be sure to choose an eco friendly one like Dev's Adventure Tours. We ended up eating near the beach and, like most places on the island, it was very affordable and delicious!

 Meals as low as $1.25!!!

Meals as low as $1.25!!!

A few other food favorites were mangosteen. A beautiful fruit that looks like garlic cloves inside but is very sweet/tart and refreshing!

 Mangosteen

Mangosteen

 Inside of a mangosteen

Inside of a mangosteen

Another favorite was the roti. I ate it everyday no matter what. You must have it!!

 Different types of roti

Different types of roti

This next one is not my favorite, in fact I really disliked it, but you should try it if you visit. The dreaded durian. Known for its horrendous smell and odd taste. I was not a fan but Tim and his entire family LOVE it.

 Durian

Durian

 Inside of durian

Inside of durian

THAILAND: Hua Hin

The last stop of our trip was back to Thailand to Hua Hin so we could attend our friends wedding. We flew into Bangkok and arrange a car to pick us up through the website 12go.asia which was so affordable and about a 4 hour drive. 

A little ways outside of Hua Hin is a great organization called Rescue Paws Thailand that helps with stray dogs. We spent a few hours volunteering there one day and had so much fun hanging out with all the sweet pups! 

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We stayed at The Aleenta Hua Hin which was absolutely stunning. The best way to end our trip. We chose the pool residence which was a round room with an outdoor shower and private pool right on the beach. The restaurant there was also a delight, they use organic herbs and vegetables from their own garden! They offered bikes for free to ride around to easily explore the area which we did. It was a really great getaway spot, perfect for a romantic holiday.

 Our Room

Our Room

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The day after the wedding we used the 12go.asia to book another ride back to the hotel we stayed at upon arriving in Bangkok at the beginning of our trip, the Paragon Inn. Our second stay there was just as nice as the first. Again, rooms are blah but the outdoor space was very photographable and we loved it!

WHAT I WORE:

The temperatures in Thailand and Malaysia when we went (July, although it doesn't vary too much) were very hot and VERY humid. So be prepared to sweat. A lot. I brought a lot of looser fitting clothes to encourage a breeze, lots of kimonos to protect my shoulders from the sun  and very comfortable shoes. Both countries are fairly modest so keep that in mind when visiting. There are no rules about how much skin you can show (unless you are visiting a temple or Mosque) but it's best to be respectful of their culture and try to make sure you aren't showing cleavage or too much leg. In the larger tourist cities you won't need to worry as much but the further away you get from major spots the more aware you should be about what you wear.

 Top and bottom both from  Cotton On

Top and bottom both from Cotton On

 Kimono from Free People, Top from JCPenny, Pants from  Magiclinen

Kimono from Free People, Top from JCPenny, Pants from Magiclinen

 Overalls from  Liz Alig

Overalls from Liz Alig

 Jumpsuit from  Magiclinen , Kimono from  Gypsy Jule

Jumpsuit from Magiclinen, Kimono from Gypsy Jule

 Full outfit from Cotton On

Full outfit from Cotton On

 Jumpsuit from  Iris and Poppy

Jumpsuit from Iris and Poppy

Faux Stained Glass

Here's a quick step by step of an easy and affordable way to use window film samples to create a faux stained glass.

 This is the window I selected for my project, a few of the samples are hanging here to see what they look like up.

This is the window I selected for my project, a few of the samples are hanging here to see what they look like up.

 

I ordered my samples from these two companies: Decorative FilmsSolar Graphics

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First I measured the window pane and drew it on paper so I could cut out the shapes I wanted to use of the samples.

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Some of the samples were static cling and others were not.  I used clear tape in small strips along the edges to attach those to the window.

 As you can see my measurements were not precise and there is some overlap.  It doesn't bother but me, but I'm not a perfectionist ;)  I also doubled up on some of the colors to make them more intense. 

As you can see my measurements were not precise and there is some overlap.  It doesn't bother but me, but I'm not a perfectionist ;)  I also doubled up on some of the colors to make them more intense. 

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The final result is quite stunning and it cost about $12 total!

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Upholstery and Mold

Here's a step by step for re-upholstery thanks to my partnership with Fabric.com

Obviously this tutorial wont be identical for every project but it's a general idea of the steps to take.  Plus I encountered mold which was an unexpected bonus.

So, here we go.  Let's start with the before shot:  

 My $11 thrift store chairs.

My $11 thrift store chairs.

First step was to figure out how to take the chair apart so I could remove the old upholstery.

 First I removed the base.

First I removed the base.

 The back of the chair was attached inside the base.

The back of the chair was attached inside the base.

 Now that the chair was taken apart I could see how the upholstery was attached.

Now that the chair was taken apart I could see how the upholstery was attached.

 I used an knife to cut the fabric off of the chair which was stapled down.

I used an knife to cut the fabric off of the chair which was stapled down.

 The next step was to use a seam ripper to separate the pieces of the fabric so I could have a simple pattern to trace onto the new fabric.

The next step was to use a seam ripper to separate the pieces of the fabric so I could have a simple pattern to trace onto the new fabric.

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 I chose this fabric by Justina Blackeney from  Fabric.com  called  Geo Jacquard Mango .  I ended up using the backside unexpectedly because I thought it worked better for this project.

I chose this fabric by Justina Blackeney from Fabric.com called Geo Jacquard Mango.  I ended up using the backside unexpectedly because I thought it worked better for this project.

 And this fabric, also by Justina, from  Fabric.com  called  Dabito Jacquard Moroccan

And this fabric, also by Justina, from Fabric.com called Dabito Jacquard Moroccan

 Once all the pieces were cut and sewn back together the fabric slipped back over the base and I used a staple gun to reattach.

Once all the pieces were cut and sewn back together the fabric slipped back over the base and I used a staple gun to reattach.

Now here's where the not so fun or easy part began:  MOLD

 After removing the backs, I discovered 3 of the 4 chairs had mold on them, mostly on the wood.  The areas of fabric that had mold I cut and removed entirely.  Here's what I did to remove it from the wood and just a disclaimer, I am not an expert, I just googled what to do and hoped for the best!

After removing the backs, I discovered 3 of the 4 chairs had mold on them, mostly on the wood.  The areas of fabric that had mold I cut and removed entirely.  Here's what I did to remove it from the wood and just a disclaimer, I am not an expert, I just googled what to do and hoped for the best!

 I used bleach and vinegar.  Also you should wear protective gloves and a mask during this process...  First I sprayed the mold with bleach and used a damp rag to remove all the loose mold.  It's best to wipe it down after spraying because if you wipe it off when it's dry the spores are more likely to fly around in the air.  Then I sprayed again with a mixture of bleach and vinegar and used an electric sander to sand down the wood while it was damp until enough layers were removed and the mold looked like it was gone.

I used bleach and vinegar.  Also you should wear protective gloves and a mask during this process...  First I sprayed the mold with bleach and used a damp rag to remove all the loose mold.  It's best to wipe it down after spraying because if you wipe it off when it's dry the spores are more likely to fly around in the air.  Then I sprayed again with a mixture of bleach and vinegar and used an electric sander to sand down the wood while it was damp until enough layers were removed and the mold looked like it was gone.

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 Here's after many rounds of spraying with the bleach vinegar mixture and sanding several times.  There were still some dark spots but after some research felt confident that it was just stained from the mold.  Just to be safe I lightly sprayed with the bleach and vinegar mixture again and let them sit outside to fully dry.  

Here's after many rounds of spraying with the bleach vinegar mixture and sanding several times.  There were still some dark spots but after some research felt confident that it was just stained from the mold.  Just to be safe I lightly sprayed with the bleach and vinegar mixture again and let them sit outside to fully dry.  

So, after that fiasco I was finally able to put the whole chair back together and voila! Just like new.

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Going Gray

I found my first gray hair when I was 17.  The next 5 years I could manage it by obsessively pulling them out but eventually there were so many I had to start coloring my hair (I'm naturally a brunette)...  I wasn't ready at 22 years old to embrace the gray.   About 4 years ago the gray became so thick that coloring my roots wasn't working anymore, a month or so after coloring I was faced with a gray stripe down my head from the grow out which made me feel my older than I am!  So I decided to start the process of going gray and, as it happened, gray hair was very popular at the time, lucky me!

My first trip to the salon I told her I wanted to transition to gray and brought photo examples.  Unfortunately platinum/blonde/gray was not her specialty and she (for some strange reason) died my roots VERY dark and the rest of my hair a reddish brown.  I knew transitioning to gray was going to take a few steps because my hair was brown but this was all wrong... I didn't think to take a picture of the before but imagine it was just med brown....  This is the after below.

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That experience was a lesson learned.  It is so important to find someone who specializes in blonde/gray hair.  So, I did my research and found Zabic Stylehouse (in Portland OR).  They transitioned my hair to a blonder color with subtle pieces going up to my roots so as the gray grew out it would be less noticeable.  They also color with Olaplex which is much healthier for blonde coloring.  I used the Olaplex conditioner frequently to maintain my hair. 

After photo below.. 

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My next trip in I went even more gray blonde with a touch of purple and colored closer to the roots.

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My hair has grown out now for about 10 months since coloring and the transition is much easier with no harsh grow out lines.  This process will work if you are at least 40% gray, the grow out will blend your natural hair and the dyed hair...  The next time I go in to color (if I ever do) I may have some subtle highlights or balayage added.

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I've recently discovered Kristen Ess products.  Her purple shampoo and conditioner   is AMAZING (it's linked there but can also be bought at target)  You may have seen on my instagram when I was talking about how my hair was turning green.  I tried all the home remedies and so many different purple shampoos.  This was the ONLY product that worked to remove the green and brass colors.  I just tried her pink tint on the tips of my hair as well and love it!

So, I encourage anyone going gray to go for it!  Find a great colorist who specializes in platinum/gray and use good products to maintain!

DIYliz kamarulhair, gray, grey
Q&A

About a week ago I asked everyone on Instagram to send me questions they would like to have answered about anything... I've answered the first 20 (or so)....

Do you have any editing advice for fellow thrifting addicts who have gone past the point of maximalism to hot mess?  Do you have a process for removing or staging items in your home to reduce the look of clutter?

I've definitely been there and know how addicting thrifting can be, at one point in our old home the guest bedroom was overflowing with thrifted treasures that couldn't fit in the rest of the house.  At that point you need to start looking at EVERY item in the house and decide if you love it so much you can't imagine life without it or if it's just okay.  

Every piece that's just okay needs to go, whether you sell it or re-donate it.  It NEEDS TO GO.  A house that's full of your absolute favorite items will bring you so much more joy.

What is your process for starting to design a room that's a completely blank canvas?

I like to start with something large, like a rug or a couch or piece of art.  From there you can start to build a color story and create a cohesive look.  The couch in our house was the starting point.  

If you are starting with nothing try painting a bold color on the wall or hang wallpaper.  It's such a cheap easy way to transform a space and create the overall vibe of the room.

How do I start a design account?  What to name it, use of #, how often to post.  Do I need a camera or can I use my phone? Do you plan out content or go with your gut.

When it comes to name an account I'm the wrong person to ask, I can never come up with anything clever like that.  I just used my name because I knew it wouldn't pigeonhole me into a specific style and I wouldn't regret it because it's just my name.

Hashtags are a very important part of instagram.  They allow your photos to been exposed to a larger audience and you can also participate in feature hashtags which means your account will be seen on other larger accounts.  Example: the hashtag #finditstyleit meant if your photo was chosen as a favorite it would be featured across 5 different accounts.  

Or if you've purchased an item from a store, use their hashtag for a chance to be on their account, example: #mywestelm

I like to post once a day, keep an active account, interact with people and build relationships.  My content is not planned out in advance, usually just photo to photo.  I like to make sure I'm not sharing too much of one area of our home so it doesn't become boring and repetitive.  Also, try not to overfilter your images and what filters or editing you do use, keep it consistent. 

Phones these days take such good pictures.  I have a Samsung and a lot of the time I just use that.  There are times however when my camera is so much better like on a dark day when the phone just cant capture the light correctly.  I use a Canon Rebel T6.

What do you miss the most about living on the road and what was your least favorite place?

I actually miss the small space.  I love having a home to decorate and rearrange but there was something so nice about having just a few items and making it so cozy.  It was a very easy lifestyle and I felt like we spent less and wasted less.  

I also miss seeing new places and trying new things every day.  There was no rut to fall into.

Nothing really stood out as a least favorite.  

Do you have daily or weekly rituals to keep you focused/creatively inspired?

I don't.  I find that creativity for me just hits unexpectedly.  When I try to force myself to create it never works.  Sometimes just laying around in our living room I'll zone out and something will spark.  So I guess taking time to relax and let my mind wander may be my ritual.

What attracted you to New Orleans and what do you miss about the Pacific Northwest?

We found New Orleans exciting because it is so different from the Pacific Northwest.  Different culture, food, WEATHER.  It's a very lively place that honestly makes me a bit nervous at times but it's exciting!

I miss being closer to my parents.  We used to be able to drive 8 hours to see them, now it's almost 8hrs flying and much more expensive.

Do you budget for thrift shopping or just buy what speaks to you?  Do you sell your old stuff?

I buy what speaks to me.  As soon as I see something I love my eyes light up and I run over to grab it immediately!  There's not always a plan for how I'll use it in the house but that happens later.  I am trying to limit the amount of small items that I purchase, they usually end up becoming more clutter and I'll either sell or donate back.  When we moved away from Portland I had an enormous sale of 75% of everything in our home.  It made me realize that only 25% was actually important to me.  The rest was just stuff.

What inspired you to start up your Instagram page?

I started my Instagram as a way to show clients houses that I had staged in the past (I used to be a home stager in Portland OR). Slowly I started sharing pictures of our house and it took off from there!

Where do you store your excess home decor that you scored thrifting but don't use anymore?

I don't have any excess items anymore and I even do a small purge every now and then of what we do have.  After moving across the country I decided we had entirely too many things and really want to live more purposefully in our home from now on.

When you initially started out do you recall something that happened or a moment when you noticed you were gaining traction?  If so, what were your feelings about it at the time?

About 1 year in to being on Instagram and after starting to share our home I began to get featured quite frequently on larger accounts like Pottery Barn and The Jungalow.  My following started to grow rapidly and then businesses wanted to partner with me.  I couldn't believe it!  I didn't even know that Instagram could have so much potential and I was very excited but also very unsure of how to move forward. 

When thrifting, how do you tell if it's good quality and what else do you consider when making a thrift purchase?

When it comes to to furniture I always think the heavier the better.  Old and well built items just tend to be heavy because they're solid and built to last!  I try to look for items with nice details too or interesting shapes.  Don't let color or upholstery stop you from buying something.  You need to look beyond that and see what it could be.

How critical is your Instagram following for your biz and what other avenues have you explored to grow it?

Right now Instagram is pretty important to me which makes me nervous because who knows how long it will be around.  I'm trying to be more active on my blog because I have the control of that space.  I'm also moving towards designing items (wallpaper, curtains etc.) Really excited to start sharing more about that soon!

Sectional or two sofas?

Well, okay I guess that depends on the person but I prefer a sectional.   There's nothing better that stretching out on a sectional!  I've never owned one but someday I'll have the space.

What is the biggest culture shock moving to the south from the PNW?

I don't even know how to explain it.  The south is just different.  Not in a bad way at all and kind of indescribable.  It will take me some time to find the words to describe...

The thing we really have noticed (and a big part of why we moved) is weather related.  It doesn't rain 3 months straight here and we have days where it's 73 degrees in the winter!

What is the process of making a couch like yours?

Our couch was given to me.  I was at a staging consult and it was the only piece of furniture left in the house.  The guy said he was going to get rid of it so I gladly took it off his hands!  It's vintage, the orange and black fabric is original to the couch.  I had the seat cushions reupholstered and we nailed the cedar planks to the sides.

When looking at sofas think outside the box.  There are endless ways to transform a piece whether its cutting of the skirt, changing cushion or pillow fabric, or even just draping a blanket across the back.

What are the best ways you've found to market your interior design services and meet prospective clients?

I was doing a lot more design consults while we were on the road in our RV and I found the best marketing tool for me at that time was Instagram.  I had built relationships with people that were excited to meet in person, they knew what my style was and what to expect after seeing our home evolve online.

Has New Orleans influenced your style?

I don't know if New Orleans has necessarily influenced my style too much.  Most of the direction our house goes is thanks to the thrift shops.  I never have a plan when I'm looking for something so the house just evolves according to what I find!  I do think that after spending hours walking through the neighborhoods and seeing all the beautiful vibrant and colorful homes it definitely keeps my love for color alive!!

That's it for now!  Thanks for participating in my Q&A!

DESIGNliz kamarulq&a, question