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!

LIFESTYLEliz 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!

RV essentials

I've been thinking about our time in the RV and what it took to be on the road.  There are 9 items that we could not have lived without.  Without further ado. 

#1 Back up camera:  There was no way to see out the back of the RV and at 22' long you really want to know what's going on behind you.  We found ours on amazon and kept it on all the time using it like a rear view mirror.  You can shop it HERE.

#2 RV lock:  As it turns out you can open almost any old lock on an RV with ANY key.  I tried it.  The key to our shed opened the RV.  Not good.  We tried a different electronic lock prior to this one and returned it.  For the 5 months we traveled this lock held up great... I think there was one instance when it went a little screwy but we had the key to open it.  You can shop it HERE.

#3 Safe:  It's great to have the additional security when traveling.  This safe fit under our dining bench and we bolted it to the ground.  Never had any problems with it at all and only had the change the batteries once in 5 months. You can shop it HERE.

#4 Solar charger:  The cigaret lighters in our RV didn't have a strong charge so the Garmin would often die very quickly.  This solar charger kept it going for hours on end.  Although it really doesn't charge itself in the sun (it would take about 2 days I'm guessing) we charged it every night with power and it held up throughout the day.  You can shop it HERE.

#5 Hydro Flask:  The best water bottle ever.  We used these all day every day and I'm still using it now while living in our house.  Keeps liquids cold forever and even when the bottle is extremely hot when left in the sun the liquid inside is cold cold cold.  You can shop it HERE.

#6 Phone adaptor: This little thing came in so handy.  We used our computer screen mounted to the wall as a tv and were able to plug Tim's iphone into this adaptor to stream Netflix.  A few downfalls... You have to download the shows you want to watch because it wont let you stream directly.  Since updating the phone we had trouble using it with Netflix at all but it worked with Amazon shows.  I don't understand technology, but it's worth looking at.  You can shop it HERE.

#7 AeroPress coffee maker:  So this one is more for Tim because I don't drink coffee but he has tried many many different coffee makers and this is by far his favorite.  This is another product we are still using now in our home.  It was perfect in the RV because it's small and easy to use.  It only makes one cup though so if you need coffee for a lot of people you may want something bigger.  You can shop it HERE.

#8  Cooling vest:  This one is for the dogs (Cudi and Bo).  They rode in the RV secured under the dining table and during those hot days the ac (when it was working) didn't reach far enough to keep them cool.  These vests made a considerable difference for them and stayed cool for several hours.  You can shop it HERE.

#9 Mattress:  Last but not least, probably the most important, was our mattress.  I'm a terrible sleeper as it is, so the thought of sleeping in a tiny bed in an RV for 5 months was concerning.  We partnered with Brentwood Home to have a custom mattress made and it was AMAZING, and all natural!  I actually slept better on it than any full sized mattress anywhere.  We love it some much we have one in our home now (queen size)  You can shop it HERE.

 

Peel and stick wallpaper: How To

I know wallpaper can be intimidating, but like most things you've just got to take the risk.  I've used pre-glued, not pre-glued and as of late, peel and stick.  All of them are fairly simple but probably the easiest and most forgiving (and reusable! although I haven't attempted to re-use yet) is peel and stick.

Here is a step by step process using paper from my partnership EazyWallz, you can find the exact paper I chose HERE.  Our mural came in 5 strips and it was custom cut to fit the wall.

This type of wallpaper can easily be hung by one person but since our ceilings are so tall and we had to use a ladder it was much easier with two people for the top portion of the mural, once we reached the height that didn't require a ladder I was able to apply it alone. 

First:  peel back about 4-5 inches of the backing across the top.  Press that strip onto the wall.

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Next:  slowly and evenly pull the backing away, as you do this press the paper on to the wall.  If you notice wrinkles or bubbles you can easily peel it off the wall and readjust.  

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That's it!  A couple tips though... After you have applied the first strip of the mural to the wall make sure when you start the second piece that everything lines up pattern wise.  If you notice that the pieces are starting to overlap as you place the second strip at all you cannot just stretch the paper to correct because by the time you reach the end of the mural the whole thing will be askew, so peel it off and start over. Also, although you can remove the paper and re-apply you need to be very careful because the paper loves to stick to itself, it will come apart but it's no fun.

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So there you go, give it a try!  Here's a code for 20% off!  LIZINSTA20 at EazyWallz

Blurb Books

This post was created in partnership with Blurb.

It's hard to believe that almost 5 months ago we set out in our RV to travel across the USA.  The memories made in that time are something we will treasure for the rest of our lives!  I took extra measures to remember what we saw by journaling every day and just finished creating a book with Blurb using their new Layflat book format.  

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Creating the book was so much fun and really addicting!  I used their book-making tool, BookWright, which was very straightforward and had helpful features like letting me know if the image needed to be higher resolution or if the image was getting cropped off the edge of the book.

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I spent hours scrolling through all the photos we took to find the very best shots and uploaded pictures from my phone into BookWright.

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Blurbs new Layflat book format is really cool.  It gave me the ability to take our panoramic shots and spread them across two pages!  I love seeing our images in all their glory, with no details lost to the center gutter.

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During creation of the book I often referred to my journal so I could correctly label where each photo was taken.  I loved being able to add as little or as much text to the images as I wanted.

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I placed the order, waited patiently, and then just like that we now have a beautiful hard cover book that will allow us to revisit our time in the RV.  

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Would you ever create a book?  What would your Blurb book be about?

TRAVELliz kamarulBlurb, Book, RV