Justine Lorelle

Ohhh, apartment living.

Most of the time, I am totally fine with our apartment. Is it the newest, most modern place on the planet. No. But our building is reasonably well maintained, and I love our neighborhood, so I overlook a lot of things.

At its core, it’s just a basic one-bedroom that is nice enough because we make it nice enough.

One thing that I really do not like, though? Our lack of closet space.

The bedroom has one minuscule closet that would actually be impossible for Joey and me to share, so it is exclusively Joey’s. I use an IKEA wardrobe instead, and while it is marginally bigger than the closet, it’s still not much.

Over the weekend, though, I decided to see if I could maximize the space I had with just three simple closet organizing additions. And it I was able to create this:

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(Side note: I am wildly impressed with anyone who can take a decent photo of their closet. I am never successful in my attempts. Probably because, unlike this person, not all of my clothes are the same three colors. You will just have to trust me that it now looks worlds better in person.)

The biggest issue I had before was that my wardrobe only had one hanging bar across the top and two shelves for shoes. I have to be totally honest: I’m not that much of a shoes person. In New York, you pound your shoes into the pavement day after day, so, to me, it feels silly to spend much on something I know I will have to replace after six months or less. The point of that mini confession is that I don’t really have that many shoes to begin with. And especially in the fall, after I retire so many sandals and wedges until April, I really don’t need nearly so much space for my kicks.

Pro tip: By positioning your shoes so one shoe faces front and the other faces back, you can fit up to an additional pair of shoes in the same amount of square footage that you could if you had all the shoes facing the same direction.

I started my closet TrAnSfOrMaTiOn by removing the top shoe shelf. Already, so much more space! To better utilize it, I added a double hanging barInstantly, I had doubled my hanging space. I arranged my clothes so tops, sweaters, and jackets hung from the top bar and skirts hung from the bottom bar.

Next, I added a hanging shoe/accessory organizer to hold the pairs that didn’t fit at the bottom. This also worked as a great means to separate my tops/sweaters/jackets from my dresses, which take up the right side of the wardrobe.

Finally, I hung a handbag file next to the shoe organizer. This allowed me to hang some of the bags that were currently in the shelves next to the wardrobe, opening up shelf space for other storage.

The result is seriously life-changing — I can actually see all my clothes! And it totally inspired me to straighten up some of the other areas of my home that cause me stress — stay tuned for more DIY updates.

What are your tricks for creating more space in cramped areas? Anyone else working on organizing projects this fall?

Last weekend, I did something I’ve never had the gumption to do before: I did a bit of dumpster diving.

Well, technically there was no diving. Or even a dumpster. But I did spot a GIANT gold picture frame where they put our building’s garbage (in the alley behind the building) and take it home with me.

It’s in almost perfect condition (it still had the cardboard corner protectors on it!), and there weren’t any bugs or weird smells on it. (I swear, I inspected that thing like a hawk.) And it’s GIANT. Roughly 2×3 feet.

I think it could be the perfect solution to the blank space above my dresser (that continues to mock me every.single.day it remains blank). Now I just need to decide how I want to style it.

So far, I’ve come up with five different options — but I want opinions. Here’s what I’m thinking:

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Leave it blank (and possibly hang lights on it)
Apparently this is a trend? I don’t hate the look, and I do have a bunch of string lights from my parents’ party I could hang up. But it still feels…blank to me. Maybe the secret is having a whole bunch. I do have one other gold frame…but I’m not sure that’s enough.

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Create a chalkboard with paint
I like this idea because the repurposing possibilities are endless, and it could be created in an afternoon. Plus, it could be fun to switch up the quote for different season/events/etc.

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DIY (Cross-stitch) Painting
I’ve also been toying with the idea of painting something abstract-ish. I’m not actually that artistic, but I could definitely create something like this faux cross-stitch design. Remember when I made this adorable actual cross stitch? Maybe something like that, or a bigger, more abstract version like in this photo.

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Song lyric as art
Another alternative to a traditional painting that I can still DIY is this song lyric mural (that I discovered when the lovely Kayla pinned it!). I could do the lyrics of our first dance song, or find a poem I like, or anything, I suppose. Sort of a more permanent version of the chalkboard quote.

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Professionally commissioned Bogey portrait
I think I’m kidding. But also…kind of not? I mean, that’s kind of adorable. And maybe it could be awesome and hilarious? What are our thoughts?

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So, what do you think? Haaaaaaalp me.

How to Plan an Anniversary Party

My parents celebrated their 30th anniversary this year. By any standard, that’s an accomplishment. My parents always had the kind of marriage that made me want to get married, too, so it was important to me to help them celebrate this milestone. I planned a party in my mom’s home state of Ohio for the whole family. Here are all the details of where and how we partied.

The Location

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Their anniversary was in June, but the soonest I could get everyone together was August (close enough, right?). The party was in my aunt’s backyard (my mom’s sister), which turned out to be more than perfect. Not only is her backyard beautiful with giant trees and a huge hydrangea tree that created the perfect backdrop for photos, she also has a huge deck where we could put the tables. And, obviously, it was more budget friendly than renting a room at a restaurant — and it gave us a lot more freedom to customize the space.

We started the night on the patio where we had arranged cocktail tables and a drink table. On the deck, we arranged two long tables for dinner and hung string lights for a bit more ambiance.

The Flowers

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To save money, I arranged my own flowers for the party. My friend Cynthia is an event planner, and from her I learned not only how to arrange flowers, but also about the company Global Rose, which will deliver fresh bulk flowers (for incredibly reasonable prices — free shipping!) almost anywhere. I ordered 50 peachy-pink roses, 10 white hydrangeas, and bulk greens to fill in the arrangements. That gave me enough flowers to create eight mason jar centerpieces and two smaller arrangements for the drink table. The flowers arrived in perfect condition and held up beautifully for days. I recommend having your flowers delivered at least a day in advance so the roses have time to open up a bit more. (Note: Hydrangeas aren’t as hardy, so don’t order them too far in advance and keep them in water constantly so they won’t wilt.)

The Stationery

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I designed the menus in Photoshop and printed them on Kraft paper. For the gold “menu” at the top, I printed the original text in a light brown and then traced over it with a gold marker. I used the same marker to hand-write the place cards on Kraft paper tags.

To display the place cards, I made holders out of wine corks (I always save them). To create the holders, you’ll want to steam the corks for 4-5 minutes before using an exacto knife (or a bread knife if you realize you don’t have an exacto knife…that happens to some people). To keep the corks from rolling, I super glued a metal washer to the bottom of each one.

To finish off the tables, I printed black and white photos of my parents over the years and displayed them in simple white frames along with glass lanterns with candles.

The Food

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The food came from a local caterer, BOSS Corporate Catering. And, you guys? My only regret is that this company is in Ohio and I can’t use them anytime I want to have a party in New York. The food was so good, and Crystal, the owner, went above and beyond, helping us move the food into our chafing dishes and arrange it for the party. She was also extremely responsive and accommodating during the planning process, which took a lot of stress off of me. We had Sicilian skewers and goat cheese bruschetta for appetizers, then dinner was chicken marsala, penne alfredo, zucchini and summer squash, strawberry arugula salad, and fresh dinner rolls with honey butter. Dessert was a lemon berry mascarpone cake and a chocolate espresso cake.

The Drink

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The signature cocktail of the evening was an Elderflower Blush.

Ingredients:
Fresh strawberries
Fresh basil
Gin
Elderflower Liqueur
Seltzer
Prosecco or champagne

To make by the glass, muddle strawberries and basil in a glass and add 1 oz gin and 1 oz elderflower. Top with equal parts of the bubbly stuff. (We made ours for a group, so Joey muddled the strawberries and basil in drink dispenser and added equal parts gin and elderflower and about two cups of seltzer. We filled the glasses half full with this concoction and then topped up each with Prosecco.) Garnish with a strawberry and basil leaf.

The night came together beautifully. It was so great to spend time with my family that I don’t see that often, and my sister took the loveliest photos of us all. Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad!

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Sources:
Photography by Figment Art Photo
Food by BOSS Corporate Catering
Flowers from GlobalRose.com
Glass lanterns from World Market
Paper and frames from Michaels
String lights from Target
Rentals from Sun Rental

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This is what my brain feels like right now.

It has been kind of a weird week.

I think every lifestyle blogger will tell you that one of the hardest things about publishing portions of your life is knowing where to draw the line. I tend to veer toward the over-cautious when it comes to personal issues with my family, job, or really most negative things I encounter, and that’s not a decision I’ve ever regretted.

The problem is, when something negative is plaguing my mind, it’s really hard to think of anything else to blog about. Posting my typical frivolous shopping round-ups, hair tutorials, or decor ideas feels disingenuous. And, if I’m totally honest, the darker perspective makes me scoff at my own frivolity.

Sad, right?

This week, I’ve felt slightly barraged by things outside of my control. It’s probably why whenever I sit and think about something I could write about, the only things that come to mind are lists of things to accomplish. Lists of things that are within my control. I can’t fix my personal issues, but I can organize my closet, gosh darn it.

It could be worse. I could be emotionally and physically crippled by adversity. Instead of, you know, propelled to meal plan and purge unwanted clothing and dust everything. At the very least, I end up with a cleaner apartment, and that genuinely gives me more mental stability.

It could be worse…right?

I apologize for how cryptic this post is. Like I said, I don’t really want to get into it. (OBVIOUSLY, RIGHT?) But I feel like I owe some kind of explanation for being so silent.

Commiserate with me — when you’re feeling out of control, how do you temper the crazy?

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I’m not going to start this post with something cliche like, “Can you believe it’s already September?” I promise.

Summer didn’t fly by for me…maybe because in New York we’re all still waiting with bated breath for the blistering summer we’re used to. Instead, the weather has been deliciously mild, I’ve only sweat through my clothes a handful of times, and now it feels like we’re gently sliding into autumn without much fanfare.

I’m okay with this. I prefer a long fall anyway.

Speaking of the last month of summer, I have a couple party-themed posts coming your way, including the details of my parents’ anniversary party this past weekend. So sit tight. Fun is on the way.

Until then, I thought today would be an appropriate day to think about what I want to accomplish this fall. The bonus round of this game of my goals being, of course, sticking to my broader simplification goals. Here we go!

1. Bring my lunch every day this month.
I can’t count today because I bought lunch (I hadn’t made the goal yet, you guys.) But it’s my goal that by October 1st, I’ll only have one “lunch” charge in my Mint account.

2. Update our desk…without spending any money.
No, this is not a heavy-handed hint for you all to donate a new desk to me. I want to create a desk out of two file cabinets (including the one I already have) and a butcher block top. My plan is to sell my existing Parsons Desk (here on CL, if anyone local is interested!) for enough to find another file cabinet and buy the butcher block at IKEA. Wish me luck.

3. Perform my seasonal closet purge.
I’ve been really good about shopping, so this will be a much lighter lift than it usually is. In general, I just need to take out my cold-weather clothes and put away summer stuff. If I wasn’t completely dubious about our cement walls’ ability to hold anything heavier than a picture frame, I would sell my IKEA wardrobe and reconstruct something like this in my closet corner. Though we did get that rod in the front closet to stay up, so maybe Joey can work some wizardry.

I feel like I’m forgetting something, but those three things seem like a good start.

What are your fall goals? 

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I’m not particularly proud of this, but I have to admit, the hardest part about my newly reorganized money priorities has been not shopping.

Fall is my favorite season, and, as I’ve said before, a lot of this has to do with how much I love fall clothes.

Now, I’m not cracking (I swear), but for whatever reason, I decided it would be helpful for me to just put down everything I wish I could buy. Sort of like when you can’t sleep until you write out a list of everything you need to do. (I’m not the only one who does that, right?)

So, anyway. Consider this my sartorial catharsis.

Here are the 6 things I would buy if I was fall shopping but that I won’t buy because I’m being responsible. (Sigh.)

6 Things for Fall

1. Wool coats. 
Specifically these two from J.Crew. I’m dying for a camel-colored funnel neck coat and a ladylike mint wool number. Dying.

2. Wool dresses with sleeves. Why am I so obsessed with wool? Maybe it’s leftover post-traumatic stress from last winter, but whatever the reason, I can’t get enough. And I LOVE dresses with sleeves. These three from Boden are in particularly striking shades.

3. Distressed jeans. But not just any distressed jeans. Subtly distressed. So they can still be dressed up for the office or a night out with a pretty silk blouse and heels.

4. Blazers. I have been coveting a white/cream blazer for, I don’t know, three years, but never pulled the trigger for some reason. And lately I’ve become mildly obsessed with blush tweed jackets. I mean, how polished would I look ALL THE TIME?

5. Wear-all-the-time fall shoes. I really want to find a fall equivalent of the brown wedge sandals I wore all summer long, and a pair of low-heeled ankle strap black shoes and a suede stacked heel seem like the perfect solutions to me.

6. A bulky gold statement necklace. Again, the wearability of this piece is what appeals to me — it’s perfect for dressing up literally everything from a white button-down to a cotton T-shirt to, let’s say, a simple wool dress with sleeves.

It might sound weird, but I actually do feel better getting this all out there in the open. At least it’s out of my brain, ya know?

Join me in my dreaming — what are you shopping for this fall?