MY designer HIGH / Target LOW PROJECT

I’ve written before about the HGTV show The High/Low Project hosted by Sabrina Soto… and posted my very own High/Low Project. Well… I’ve been at it again! I’ve noticed a lot of home decor items at Target recently that are extremely similar to some VERY expensive designer items I’ve spotted and admired. So I decided to see how much success I would have if I tried my hand at this challenge using only items sold at Target stores and for the “Low” room. I was pretty successful if I do say so myself!

First, let’s take a look at my “high” room:

The items featured above come to a total cost of $7,071.93.

Featured items (clockwise from top left): Phoebe Accent Table by Safavieh: $864 from Burke Decor; White Owl Table Lamp: $99 from West Elm; Ombre Faux-Fur Throw: $119 from West Elm, Duvet: $89.99 from West Elm; Mariposa Floor Lamp: $269.99 from Z Gallerie; Amanda Leather Chair by Safavieh: $655 from Burke Decor; Connor Hexagon End Table by Safavieh: $382 from Burke Decor; Gunmetal Owl Table Lamp: $99 from West Elm; Knitted Graphite Pouf: $89.95 from CB2; Adjustable Table E1027 by Eileen Gray: $1,150 from Design Within Reach; Chevron Bailey Accent Chair: $399 from Z Gallerie; Over-dyed Anatolian Patchwork Rug: $2,200 from Kilim.

Now, let’s take a look at my “low” room:

Most of these items are very similar to the more expensive items shown in the first picture, but not identical. Some of the items are virtually indistinguishable from the higher items, even created by the same design companies. But there is one big difference… the price. Total cost of all items pictured above??? $1,400.70. That’s a savings of $5,671.23! The “low” room is less than 1/5 the cost of the “high” room! And all items featured can be purchased from Target… Nice! This brings a whole new meaning to the slogan “Expect More, Pay Less“!

Featured items (clockwise from top left): Metal Cage Accent Table: $64.99; White Owl Table Lamp: $39.99; Ombre Throw Blanket: $29.99; Gray Rugby Stripe Duvet: $39.99; White Lacquer Floor Lamp: $62.99; Amanda Leather Chair by Safavieh: $229.99; Connor Hexagon End Table by Safavieh: $169; Owl Lamp: $59.99; Upstate Floor Pouf: $45; Eileen Gray Side Table: $108.79; Black Chevron Upholstered Accent Slipper Chair: $119.99; Alice Rug: $429.99.


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Weekly Photo Challenge- Silhouette




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Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy

This is my happy!

My husband and I walking along the beach, our “kits”, Pike Place Public Market and the Space Needle in Seattle, feeling the wind and the ocean on my skin, our honeymoon at Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica, our “pups”, peaceful meditations, and my amazing affogato! Pure happiness!

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Amazing Affogato

Try this amazing dessert created by yours truly!

Affogato (literally “drowned”) is an Italian coffee-based dessert. It usually consists of a shot of espresso poured over vanilla ice cream or gelato. It’s incredibly delicious… and I’ve created my own variation that opens the heavens with one spoonful! So here’s the recipe… let me know what you think:

Brew some Caribou Coffee Daybreak Morning Blend. Mix in a small amount of Archer Farms Sea Salt Caramel hot cocoa mix (you can buy this at Target). Then pour the coffee over a couple scoops of Häagen-Dazs Spiced Caramel Biscuit ice cream. Now enjoy the most amazing dessert you will ever taste!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary


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Pike Place Market: Food

I visit family in Seattle once a year, and I always make sure to set aside time to enjoy Pike Place Market. It’s a one of a kind experience… a farmer’s market with amazing produce, flying fish, delicious options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, shops full of products from around the world, local street vendors, artists and musicians, and home to the original Starbucks. Beecher’s offers the most amazing mac and cheese I’ve ever tried, but be sure to get a small, because it’s extremely rich and a little goes a long way! When it comes to food options in Pike Place Market, there are plenty of options to choose from, but my two favorite places are Lowell’s Restaurant and Piroshky Piroshky.

First, let’s talk about Lowell’s. 

Everyone who visits Seattle should make a trip to Lowells at least once to enjoy their first-rate breakfast and breathtaking views. Lowell’s started as Manning’s Cafeteria in the early 1900’s, became Lowell’s Restaurant in 1957, and is now known for having the “Best Breakfast in Seattle” (having been awarded this title many times by several publications).

Lowell’s is ALWAYS a priority stop for my husband and me during our visits to Seattle. In the heart of Pike Place Market, Lowell’s boasts three levels of amazing Puget Sound views, along with a full view of the city’s newest attraction, the Seattle Great Wheel (a ferris wheel over 200-ft. high). I’m sure every item on the menu is worth a try, as I have never tried a dish I didn’t enjoy, and they can all be customized to your personal taste. My personal favorite is the Grilled Sourdough Breakfast Sandwich; scrambled eggs, spinach, tomato, Beechers cheddar cheese, and your choice of meat (or no meat if you’d rather a vegetarian option). Also delicious are the Vanilla Cinnamon French Toast, Signature Eggs Benedicts, and the Lemon-zest Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes (it’s a mouthful to say and even more to eat).

Food can be ordered on the main level, and will be brought to your table when ready. You can choose a table on either the main or third levels of the restaurant, where you can enjoy the amazing waterfront views. If you’d rather enjoy a more traditional server-style meal, you can be seated on the second level of the restaurant, where you can choose between a view of the sound, or people-watch with a view of the market below. It’s up to you! We enjoy the breakfast so much, that we have never even tried the lunch and dinner options available at Lowell’s, so I can’t speak to the menu beyond breakfast. But I would definitely recommend a trip to Lowell’s for breakfast anytime!

Now… let’s talk about Piroshky Piroshky! 

Opened in 1992, Russian bakery Piroshky Piroshky offers the most amazing pastries, along with the more traditional Russian piroshky. I’ve only tried their sweets, but they have all been fantastically delicious. My husband loves the pastries so much that he insisted on buying one of their shirts! He gets the same pastry every time, the apple cinnamon roll. I have tried several of their pastries, and I’ve enjoyed each one. My favorites are the apple cinnamon roll, the marzipan roll, and the sweet cream cheese and blueberry vatrushka.

If you ever have the chance to visit Seattle, you absolutely can not miss out on a trip to Pike Place Market… and if you’re looking for a place to eat, I would strongly recommend both Lowell’s and Piroshky Piroshky!

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Chihuly Garden and Glass

Dale Chihuly is glass sculptor and artist who grew up and studied in Washington state. His massive collection of art is featured in exhibits all around the globe. Chihuly is best known for his blown glass sculptures, that he created on his own until the late 1970’s, when he was blinded in his left eye as the result of a car accident, and later dislocated his shoulder while bodysurfing. Without the use of his left eye, and unable to hold the glass blowing pipe, Chihuly had to place his art in the hands of others. He continued to craft and shape the glass to his liking, but he had others do the actual glass blowing for him. Chihuly also channels his artistic ability into other works, such as drawings and paintings. An exhibit featuring Chihuly’s work was recently opened in Seattle Center, at the base of the Space Needle. Chihuly’s work, as expected, is amazing, but the designers of the exhibit deserve some major credit as well for their incredible job of lighting and placement. Some sculptures appear to glow, while others were purposely placed to outline the view of the Space Needle, and there is even a section in which the Space Needle is reflected in every single piece you walk by.

I was able to visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit while visiting Seattle, and I would absolutely recommend it! All of the work was breathtakingly stunning, and allowed me to take the most amazing photographs (and I am not the photographer in my family!). Take a look at some below:

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Weekly Rant: United We Fail

I just returned from an amazing vacation visiting family in Seattle, WA (I’ll post about the details of the trip later). As I said, the trip was AMAZING, but I haven’t posted one of my “rants” in a while, and I felt that the customer service (or lack thereof) I encountered while flying with United Airlines deserved it’s own blog entry. So I’ll start by saying that I will NEVER fly with United Airlines again (unless of course they offer me a free roundtrip ticket to Costa Rica or Indonesia or any of the other countries I so desperately want to visit)!

I work in retail, so I fully appreciate how difficult it can be sometimes to deal with upset, irrational guests. I realize the frustrations of trying to appease someone who is angry over a company policy, or equipment malfunctions… things that may be completely out of your control. But I also realize that it is my job to try to assist the guest in any way possible; offer different solutions to their problems, attempt to help them locate an out of stock item elsewhere, etc. Unfortunately, the employees with United Airlines don’t seem to appreciate the importance of customer service in any way.

The first time I heard a United Airlines employee use the phrase “I’m a person too” (as in “please be nice to me, I’m a person too and I’m trying to help you”), I genuinely felt that  the employee was being somewhat attacked by an angry passenger who was upset because she had encountered issues with the self check-in kiosks. In fact, I wouldn’t even have mentioned the incident if I hadn’t realized that there seemed to be a pattern throughout my trip of malfunctioning equipment, poor customer service, and overuse of the phrase “I’m a person too”, or “I’m just a person”. It’s as if United Airlines, as a company, does not care to address the issues, but rather deflect them back onto the passengers by depicting them  unreasonable, irrationally angry people who are attacking their employees for no apparent reason. And, of course, this is not the case.

So that’s where I first noticed the issues- at the self check-in kiosks in the Seattle Tacoma Airport. I had already checked in for my flight, but since I was checking bags, I still had to go through the check in line to do so. Luckily, I had priority passes, which meant I was able to stand in a much shorter line (nothing to complain about there). However, I quickly realized that the line was moving much slower that it should, given the number of computers available for check-in. That’s also when I realized that several passengers were beginning to get upset with the airline employees because the kiosks were freezing during the check-in process, and there were not nearly enough employees on staff to efficiently check-in passengers without the kiosks available. There were 8 computers available for priority passengers to use for check-in, but of those, 3 were showing error messages, and 2 were frozen in the middle of the check-in process. This wasn’t a huge setback, but I mention it because it was one of many issues I encountered while flying United Airlines.

Since it is almost impossible to find a direct flight from anywhere on either coast to Oklahoma, I had several connecting flights during my trip. On my way home, I was scheduled to fly from Seattle, to San Francisco, to Las Angeles, to Oklahoma City. While in San Francisco, we were informed that our plane was delayed because of “engine problems”. Made me feel real safe… Anyway, we weren’t given a lot of information. We were told that they would keep us updated. Fifteen minutes later, we were told again that the flight was still delayed, but that they would update us at 5:30pm. Well, 5:30pm came and passed, with no information. 6:00 came and passed with no update. Once 6:30pm rolled around, we still had not received any kind of verbal update, so I checked the monitors to see if they had been updated with our expected departure time. Our flight was now showing to leave at 8pm (scheduled to leave at 5pm). Our connecting flight in LA was supposed to leave at 7:30pm, so I knew I would have to change flights. The lines were extremely long, so I called to have my flights changed over the phone while I stood in line. But I still had to wait in line to get my updated itinerary, tickets, and hotel and meal vouchers. I stood in one of two lines for 30 minutes before a third agent came out to assist passengers. But for some unknown reason (and this is where their lack of customer service skills really starts to show), she only called people over from one of the lines (and of course it wasn’t mine). A fourth agent also appeared to help out, but allowed passengers to form a new line, rather than assisting the next passenger in line.

Finally, after waiting in line for over 45 minutes, I stepped over to an agent who was only available to answer questions, and asked if there was a reason that the third agent was only pulling over passengers from one line, instead of both lines, and explained that I had been waiting for over 45 minutes, and that people who were being helped who had only been in line for 5 minutes. The response I received was “I’m sorry, I can’t help you”. Wow. Ok… so I waited some more.

There was a women in the line next to me who was very frustrated because she had been dealing with delayed flights all day. She was trying to reach San Antonio, TX, and had been traveling since 6:00 that morning. When she reached the front of the line, she asked if this kind of situation was normal for United Airlines. The agent actually responded with “Yes, this happens all the time. Everyday.” The passenger responded by asking how they can possibly stay in business with all the delays and poor customer service. The agent stated that with hundreds of flights each day, one flight experiencing a problem was inevitable. The passenger then explained that she had been dealing with delayed flights all day, to which the agent responded by sarcastically stating “That just means the pilots are playing a joke on you.” At this, I laughed out loud and shook my head. You have got to be kidding me!

Another woman who made it to the front of the line explained that her carry-on bag (with medications, reading material, clothing, etc.) had been checked during her first flight because the plane was full and there was not enough room. As she spoke to the agent, she stated “you guys took my carry-on bag, and there are things I need in there”. The agent responded nonchalantly with “ma am, we did not take your bag”. The passenger then stated “United Airlines, your company, the company you work for and represent, took my carry-on from me, and now I can’t get to the things I need”. The only response she could get from the agent was “well I didn’t take your bag”. When the supervisor was called over, I heard the same ridiculous phrase I heard earlier. “Ma am, I’m a person too, you need to treat me with respect”. I wanted so badly to  jump to the front of the line and yell, “Well I’m a person too, where the HELL is my respect”. But of course, I did not.

So finally, after a full hour of waiting in line, I got everything I needed. I had to stay in San Francisco for the night, but that was actually nice because my husband has family there, so we were able to see them for a few hours. However, the hotel shuttle didn’t run until 4am (our flight was scheduled for 5:19am), so we ended up having to pay for a cab to the airport (which, of course, the airline does not give vouchers for). But our flight out of San Francisco took off on time, so we were finally on our way. Until we reached Denver. We waited, and waited and waited for the agents to call for us to start boarding the plane. It was a little disorganized since they had 4 different flights (all scheduled to leave within 10 minutes of each other) boarding through the same gate. So I just assumed we were late because of this. Finally, we hear a very quick overhead page that our flight has been delayed until 11:30am (an hour and a half late). I wasn’t even sure that I had heard them correctly, so I tried to step up to the counter to simply ask if my flight had been delayed, but was told that I would have to wait in line. So I waited in line, again. Just when I get to the front of the line, they finally make another announcement that the flight to Oklahoma City was delayed, but that we should all stay in the area in case the plane we were waiting on arrived earlier. And then guess what? Of course the flight didn’t arrive earlier, in fact we weren’t even able to board the plane until after 12:00pm.

In addition to all of the delays and poor customer service, we also were forced to spend a fair amount of money due to all of the issues we experienced while traveling with United Airlines. Yes, they provided us with a hotel room, and food vouchers to be used either at the hotel or in the airport. But we had to pay for the cab ride to the airport and for an additional day of parking. We also board our dogs while we are on vacation, so we had to pay for an additional day to board them, as well as a late pick-up fee. None of which is reimbursed by the airline.

So, as I said, I fully understand that sometimes things happen outside of your control. Sometimes customers can be completely out of line. But this is not what I experienced. What I experienced (and also witnessed with numerous other passengers) was issue after issue after issue, and instead of providing the customer service to counter all of those issues, I experienced some of the worst customer service I’ve ever had the misfortune of dealing with. As one passenger put it, “You know it’s really bad when the DMV provides you with better customer service than United Airlines”! And it’s true.


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DIY: Industrial Bookshelves/Magazine Rack

A few weeks ago, my husband and I picked up an old, steel fixed building ladder at Verdigris (a great antique store in Oklahoma City). I spotted the ladder, and immediately envisioned it against a wall in my living room with some shelves attached. At first my husband wasn’t too convinced, but when we found out that the seller only wanted $50 for it, he agreed that we could probably create something with it.

Now we have a really awesome vintage, industrial magazine rack that fits perfectly in our eclectic living room. We still plan to add shelves to some of the rungs to display books and other knick knacks, but it’s working quite well as a magazine rack for now. We love it!


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East Coast Travel Part II: Philadelphia, PA

Photos from Philadelphia, PA:

Up Next: Valley Forge, PA and Camden, NJ.

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