Low-Cost Ways to Decorate Your Rented Space

subleasing, subletting, apartment, chicago, rented, low-cost DIY, home decor

If you live in a rental, or a sublet like me, then you know you have only a few options when it comes to decorating.  Not only am I living on someone else’s furniture right now (and someone else’s mattress… gross), but I’m in someone else’s home.  None of my decorations can be permanent, which makes personalizing my space a little tricky.

Luckily, I’m a creative thinker and determined to make my tiny apartment feel like my own little sanctuary, so I’ve found a few ways around it.

1.  Coffee beans.  Add them to anything and everything you can.  A big container of whole coffee beans is rather cheap, they smell good, and add some eclectic funk to your decor.  I’ve used them to hold make-up brushes in old jars, and at the bottom of a candle holder.

fairy lights, rose lights, twinkle lights, DIY, DIY home decor

2.  Get some funky lights.  Before moving, I got Rose Flower String Lights.  Unlit, they are white fabric, so they look pretty against the white curtains that came with my apartment.  And lit, they add a soft yellow glow to the room.  Drape them over some shelves, above your closet, or above your window, like I did.

3.  If your apartment is severely lacking in storage space, make the things that have to sit out look good.  I took some ceramic containers from a thrift shop, then added some $10 chalk board decals from Crate and Barrel to make fun labels.  Saved myself some cabinet space, but also added some decor to my kitchen.

low cost DIY gallery wall, gallery wall, velcro strips, art, homemade art, apartment, DIY home decor

4.  Hang pictures and decorations with leaving a mark on the walls with velcro Command Picture and Frame Hanging Strips. I put up my entire gallery wall using just velcro strips.  Each hung-up piece means something to me, which really makes me feel like this is my home.

5.  Repurpose whatever you can.  I always save glass jars, no matter what.  I turned burned up candle into a wide-mouth coffee-bean-filled glass jar for my make-up brushes, and a old salsa jar holds cotton pads in my bathroom. Adding a shiny spray paint to old items can make them look expensive.  Gold, copper, silver, or whatever on cheap plastic decor can really make a difference.  I did some spray painting myself a a few months ago, and I’m still loving how it makes some of my cheaper finds look more expensive.

Got any other ideas to cheap ways to dress up your rental?  Let me know!

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Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette Look: Bright “Chopper” Eyes

Let’s try this again, shall we?

Thursday night prompted a little bit of a “treat yo self” frenzy after getting a paycheck and my tax return all in one day.  I celebrated with finally splurging on a few items on my wish list, including the Urban Decay Naked 2 palette.

“Chopper” has to be my favorite color in the whole palette. I just love the bright rose-gold hue of it, especially paired with “Half-Baked”.  Friday was my marathon work day, with opening the gym and then going right to Applebee’s after, so I wanted something bright that would help me look far more awake than I actually felt.

I fell in love with this look and just how alert it made my eyes look– even at 5am.  I started with the Urban Decay Original Potion Primer, then  I finished off the look with a little flick from my Kat Von D Tattoo Liner and some mascara, bing-bang-boom.

This look also earned me a “Wow, that looks professionally done” from one my favorites at the gym.  Nothing makes you feel prettier in your ripped, and stained work t-shirt and dirty leggings than a comment like that, let me tell ya. *hair flips*

PS.  Also, who knew that the 7am sunrise coming through the front windows of the gym and taking a SnapChat selfie would allow me to finally get a decent picture of an eyeshadow look?  Suck it, expensive DSLR cameras.

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Idiot Proof Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I had fancy gnocchi at a fancy Italian restaurant in Chicago about two years ago, and it’s been in my dreams ever since.  Chewy potato dumplings in delicious sauces… basically tiny mashed potato balls.  Fancy Italian carbs?!  I’m so down.

So, like all good curious twenty-somethings, I searched Pinterest for an easy recipe to make my own.  And what’s better than regular potato dough balls?  Sweet potato dough balls.  Say it with me: YAAAAAAAAAAAS.
Full disclosure, I was apparently too lazy to actually click the link to the recipe, and instead just followed the directions in the pin description.  My method was as follows:
Step 1: Cook sweet potato (roast it for better flavor, or boil in microwave for laziness)
Step 2: Mash sweet potato.
Step 3: Add flour until it reaches a dough-like consistency, about 1/2 – 1 cup per potato.  Season with salt and pepper.
Step 4: Form into gnocchi shapes, and boil until they float.
Optional Step 5: Toss in butter, shredded parmesan and chicken, and then devour like you’ve been stuck on an island for a month without access to what one could loosely refer to as Italian food.
Optional Step 6: Tease your cat with it.
The pin links back to what looks like a delicious recipe from The Kitchen Paper.  In addition to the sauce she calls for, her recipe for the gnocchi gets kind of fancy, calling for adding egg and cheese to the mix before boiling.  Having made it several times using my very stupid simplified recipe above, I think adding the egg and cheese would probably take this to another level.
If that’s your style, that is.  My style is laziness and low standards, but whatever.
The best part of this recipe is that it’s super hard to screw it up, because even if you undercook the potato or overcook the gnocchi, it’s still chunks of sweet potato.  How is that a bad thing?  
Answer: it’s never a bad thing.
Bon Appetit!

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Make-Up Tutorials Are F#*@ing Hard: Soft Pink/Gold Eyes

I planned ahead for this one, I swear.

I created a pinky-gold shimmer eye make up look yesterday that I really adored, so I thought I’d blog it.  Who knew meticuliously recreating the look, including cleaning up all the little whoopsies I normally have so they didn’t show up in the picture would be the easy part?
Seriously, WHAT is the secret for photographing make-up looks?  Maybe it’s having a camera better than an iPhone 5s, or having lighting other than the fading Midwest sunlight or the orange glow of your bedroom light?  
I tried different angles.  I tried dimming my lights. I tried moving around my room– including sitting on the floor and creating a mismatched tripod (i.e.– balancing my arms on a few boxes so my phone in my hands wouldn’t shake).  NOTHING WORKED.
Damn, beauty gurus.  Good for you guys.  This sh*ts hard.
So here it is anyway:

 The colors in the palette and in the first picture translate far better than they do on any picture I could get of just my face.  I promise it really looks pinky-gold in real life.

Base:  Maybelline Color Tattoo in “Inked in Pink” all over the lid.
Outer half of the lid:  Naked “Sidecar”
Inner half of lid, and under lower lash line:  Naked “Sin”
Crease:  Naked “Hustle”
Just below brow bone for highlight:  Naked “Virgin” blended down into the crease

Finish off with a light flick of Kat Von D Tattoo Eyelinder in “Trooper” and your mascara of the moment.  I used Cover Girl “lash blast fusion” but any will do.

And that’s it.

If you have any photography tips for me, please let me know.  This sh*t is frustrating.

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3-Ingredient PEANUT BUTTER CUPS

Can we all just agree that there is no better combination than peanut butter and chocolate?  
Though Reese’s does a bang-up job of making a perfect candy, sometimes it’s hard to justify the sugar, calories and fat in a package of Reese’s for a pretty small treat.
Enter: 3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cups.
This is a variation of a recipe for PB cups I have seen online countless times before, but this recipe uses only three wholesome ingredients: peanut butter, dark chocolate and bananas.
Here’s where the guilt free comes in:
Peanut Butter: Though high in calories/fat, it’s plant fats, so it’s nothing to fret about. The fats also help fill you up, so one of these is plenty– and this is even coming from ME, so you know it’s true.  Just make sure to choose a natural PB– one with the only ingredient listed is “peanuts”, to avoid added yucky filler stuff you don’t need.
Dark Chocolate: Not so full of sugar like semi-sweet or milk chocolate!  Gives it a much richer taste.
Bananas: Provide the smooth base for the center and natural sweetness, so it is the perfect substitute for the powdered sugar that many other homemade PB cup recipes call for. 
Plus, thanks to being made from bananas and dark chocolate, these are way heartier than regular PB cups, so just one is rich enough that you won’t feel the need to binge-eat 10293840234 of them like you would a regular Reese’s Cup
Wham, bam, PEANUT BUTTER CUPS, MA’M.
Ingredients:
1/2 cup of Natural Nut Butter of Choice– I chose regular peanut butter as I prefer it, but if you are an almond or cashew butter person, go for it. 
1 Medium Ripe Banana
1 1/2 cup Dark Chocolate

Recipe yields about 9 peanut butter cups in a regular cupcake tin.

Create a double broiler on the stove by filling a small sauce pan with water, placing a heat-safe bowl on top of the pan, and turning the water on to boil.  Add the chocolate to the bowl.  The boiling water will heat the bowl, which will melt the chocolate without burning it.  Stir the chocolate occasionally to ensure it melts evenly.
While the chocolate melts, mash the banana in a bowl with a fork. Add the peanut butter, and using an electric mixer, mix the banana and peanut butter.  If you don’t have an electric mixer, you can use a regular spoon, but the mixer really helps make a fluffy, and uniform texture for the center.
Add paper liners to a cupcake tin and spray lightly with cooking spray so the cups don’t stick.  As soon as the chocolate is completely melted, turn the heat off and begin spooning about a tablespoon of chocolate in the bottom of each liner.  Then, add about tablespoon of banana/peanut butter mix, making sure to press down a little so that it is sunk down in the melted chocolate.  Add the rest of the chocolate on top, making sure it completely covers each blob of PB/banana mix.  Picture how a Reese’c up looks: blob of PB inside a shell of chocolate.  You want yours to have the same effect.

Freeze cups for about an hour before serving,  allowing the chocolate plenty of time to harden.  Keep in the refrigerator and eat within a few days, or keep in freezer for even longer shelf-life.
Or eat all of them in one sitting and don’t worry about storing them.  No judgement here.  Enjoy!

PS: I did not include nutrition info on here, because I had a little left over PB/banana mix and there are countless different kinds of nut butters and blends of dark chocolate you could use, so I didn’t feel my nutrition information would be accurate to everyone else.  Plus, the point of this recipe was to use as few ingredients as possible for a sweet treat, as opposed to making something gross and fake tasting that was low in calories/fat.  If you’re curious, feel free to plug all of your ingredients into a calorie counting app or website, and see for yourself 🙂

PEACE, LOVE, PEANUT BUTTER & CHOCOLATE.

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