Quick Tip: Frame Pretty Receipt Cards

Quick Tip: Frame Pretty Receipt Cards

The main reason I haven’t blogged much lately is that I am SO inundated with projects that are about to start while I also have a huge list of projects that are not finished (living + workspace anyone?!).  So I have decided I am absolutely not allowed to start anything new until I finish of some of my outstanding projects so I can FOCUS. Mostly this  means I have been doing a lot of little (and big!) things around the house. I was getting bummed out about not blogging, and then I remembered how one of the main points of this blog was to document these types of projects and changes, so I started to kick myself! And I told myself I had to finish yesterday’s post before I posted anything else, lol… So now I can finally share a few of the little things I have worked on.

Today I’ll be sharing just a quick tip: Frame pretty receipt cards in pretty frames for quick artwork! These cards held the receipts for all of my online holiday purchases from anthropologie, and I bought the liberty frames on sale from target for about 3.50 a piece almost a year ago. I have been perplexed on how to use these items in my home, but now I know what to do with both the frames and the cards! See what I mean about finishing up loose ends around the house?! I’m on a mission. ~.^

Why make your rental a home?

Why make your rental a home?

image: Urban Outfitters

I’ve been trying to write this post for MONTHS! And I told myself I’m not posting anything until I finish this, and now it’s been almost two weeks since I posted!

I get asked this a lot: “Why do you want to put so much work into your apartment, you don’t own it”. My response is always “well, I am the one who has to live here… the only people who are really affected by how much work is put into this place are my husband, my daughter and myself”. Now, I’ve read a lot about making your rental a home, but I hardly ever see articles about why — even after searching for weeks (if anyone knows of a a good article, please link in the comments!). The attitude on websites like apartment therapy imply that everyone already understands why, because, of course, why else would you be interested in a website like apartment therapy?! Well, I’m interested in giving the naysayers a few points they might be overlooking when they scoff at the idea of someone being interested in transforming a rented living space. Mind you, these are all of my personal reasons behind the efforts I put into my home, but I’m sure there are some ideas here that others might be able to relate to, right?

The Middle Class is Dying
“Next stop homeownership! I’m just kidding – the middle class is dying, you’ll be renting forever.” – Jack Donaghy (30 Rock)

  • What if you never own real estate? This is a very real concern of mine. I entered in the values for our rent and the median price of a home in our LA neighborhood ($515,000 — week ending February 15, 2012 according to trulia.com) on this clever nytimes interactive graph, and the point at which owning a home will cost us less money than staying where we are is literally off the chart — meaning, that point is more than 30 years away. Now, this doesn’t mean I do not understand the value of putting money into a home, and putting money into something you own and potentially see a return on — I HATE that paying rent is essentially money down the drain — but it just a good visual of how much money really goes into owning a house vs. renting. Moreover, if the recession taught me and my husband anything, it has taught us that nothing is permanent. A seemingly stable job can be gone in a flash, and another job could be hard to come by. We will forever be wary of and grateful for our jobs. So, what if things just continue to get worse, and we never get to fulfill our little piece of the American Dream, to own a home? I can’t know that at this point in my life. I can say with certainty that right now we are on the right track, but we were on the same track before we got married, and the math told us that we would have enough for a down payment by May 2010. And, obviously, sh*t happened. So, while we refuse to let that bring us down, I do not feel inclined to sit in a house with nothing but my college furniture, drearily drab and dull walls, and ugly fixtures until I buy a home. I feel very inclined to make a beautiful, comfortable home for my family that we look forward to coming home to. :)
    On a more positive note, we are much more likely to buy a “fixer-upper”(I don’t want a cookie-cutter kitchen, and so I would hate to have to tear out a bunch of “nice” stuff someone just installed; plus, we are totally DIYers, if you haven’t noticed! And my father is a tile setter, and all around handy guy in a general contractor sort of way…), which should cost much less than the median price for a home in our neighborhood. The price that we are looking at would put the mark of “better to buy” at 7 years, and our current plan is to stay here for a total of 6.5 years (we are 3.5 years into it), so we are right on target for that!

Design by Hil of Simpy Yours Designs

  • Don’t waste your precious life waiting for better days ahead; odds are, we have one life to live. Everyday that passes by is one we won’t get back. While waiting until I own a home to begin to execute ideas and dreams I have for said home sounded like a good idea when I was a teenager, I am almost 30 and I don’t own a home yet (which is not something I expected. Oh well). And as I stated in the previous paragraph, I may never own a house! But I do have a husband and I child and, in the meantime, don’t they deserve a lovely home? I know I can give it to them now. For me, as I suspect it is for many people, making your home a place you want to live is about your quality of life!
  • Take advantage of renting while you can; Apartments are usually smaller than a house which can mean a couple of things:
    1) Smaller over-all projects; they are less complex due to scale.
    2) Projects are potentially more challenging because of constraints (no, you can’t replace the periwinkle tile but you can find a great piece of artwork to match it!) which means you can develop skills that can make a bigger project (as with a house) easier to handle, or have more focused results.
    3) So long as your landlord is good about upkeep, an apartment can let you concentrate on what you want to improve (i.e. your furniture), not what you have to improve (i.e. plumbing and heating); in a fixer-upper you have extra overhead of getting functionality to work right before you can focus on decorating, so renting can be the best time to focus on what you want to do instead of what you have to do.

    via Blimpcat on Etsy

  • Learn lessons about home improvement that you can take with you.
    Continuing with the point about wasting precious years living in a drab state because you are waiting to own, you are also wasting time that could be spent learning. When you put a little effort into your home, you are also figuring out many things that take a lot of time to get just right, and they will be valuable lessons to take with you when you finally do own a place:
    1) How to take care of a home: Much of the following probably applies more to long-term renters and people who rent older spaces, but it’s a good idea to learn where and how to hang frames and curtains, fill holes and sand and paint walls, to replace faulty outlets and install new switch plates and light fixtures, care for hardwood floors and carpets, and clean walls and remove paint from windows and hardware. Some of these things your landlord might prefer a professional to do (such as the electrical stuff), but in our case our LL didn’t really pay attention to our requests for replacing broken outlets, so my husband just did it himself. He has built computers from scratch, so replacing an outlet didn’t intimidate him much. Also, I’m guessing if you rent newer spaces you don’t have to deal with caked on paint on door hinges and windows, but for some reason the cheap  painters that my LL hire don’t even bother to remove or tape over ANY hardware or plate covers before they paint, they leave horrible paint drips, they don’t use primer and rarely clean up after themselves. They even leave paint on the floor! I can’t close the majority of the cupboards and doors in the apartment because the paint is so caked on, so removing the paint from these hinges (or replacing them outright) is on my list of things to do. We have also had a MAJOR problem with peeling paint (which is exponentially compounded by having a curious baby in the house); Our apartment manager has had painters come twice to “paint”, but they never actually remove the peeling paint, they just paint over it, so we paint the apartment ourselves now. However, all of these experiences are valuable to us as we are learning the sort of problems that arise when you own a home, and we are also learning how to take care of these problems.
    2) How to discover and refine your tastes: In my experience, it has taken me a while to figure out what I want in my home vs. things I am simply attracted to. If you are anything like me, it takes a bit of practice to learn exactly how you like things! I am totally guilty of buying a few things that were on clearance because “I liked them” and it turned out I didn’t like them for me… Much better that this happens when you are young and have little money than when you are older and spend thousands of dollars on couches that you end up hating. Moreover, I don’t think I would have discovered how to pinpoint and identify motifs I love unless I allowed myself to put an effort into my living space. Would I even be able to know and identify terms like “chesterfield sofa”, “midcentury modern”, or “classical architecture” if I didn’t immerse myself in trying to create a home for my family? (Well, maybe I would, but you get the point, right?)
    3) How to organize flow and layout of rooms: the more practice you have looking at a space and determining how to “make it work”, the better. I know that I will be able to set up a room for function and flow and style much better now than I would have 5 years ago because I’ve made it a point to make that work in our current home.
    4) How to discover your own potential in regards to interior design, organization and craftsmanship: Personally, I want to find out what I can do. I’m curious to see how well I can execute my ideas–can I make the ideas I have on paper, pinterest and inspiration boards become a reality? I find it incredibly challenging, and an invaluable source of self-discovery. You don’t really know until you do.

In conclusion, here is a short list of the bullet points above:

  • What if you never own real estate?
  • Don’t waste your precious life waiting for better days ahead.
  • Take advantage of renting while you can by focusing on smaller projects and more of what you want to do, not what you have to do.

Also, Lessons about home improvement don’t always require home ownership. Working on your apartment now can help you learn how to:

  • Take care of a home.
  • Discover and refine your tastes.
  • Organize flow and layout of rooms.
  • Discover your own potential in regards to interior design, organization and craftsmanship.

All of which develop your experience and better prepare you for an enjoyable home ownership.

So how about you guys? What do you think? Is there a certain philosophy that you adhere to that influences your decisions about your rental? Why do you want to make your rental a home?

Next up; my tips to affordably make your rental more like a home.

A Laelia Outfit #28

A Laelia Outfit #28

Such a sweet little outfit!
Cardigan: Target
Chambray Dress: Old Navy
Striped Leggings: Target
Lamb Shoes: Robeez
… and a cute little bow to match back to the leggings to top it off!

eleven things

eleven things

Marcella tagged me in her 11 things post, so here I go!

There are five rules:

1. Post these rules.
2. Post a photo of yourself and 11 random things.
3. Answer the questions set for you in the original post.
4. Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them.

My most recent instagram self-portrait! I was trying to show off the comb in my hair; It was my grandmother's!

11 Random Things

1. When I was a child, there were a few career ideas I loftily considered. I thought about being a veterinarian because “I love animals!”, I thought about being an architect because I built some crazy houses with my legos and my lincoln logs, and I wanted to be an astronaut because I really really really wanted to see space with my own eyes (I still do). However, one career goal I have had has been steadfast, and I am SO BLESSED with always knowing what I wanted to do. I think one of the toughest things about our modern society is figuring out just what it is you want to do with your life! I’ve been waiting for a moment to share this with my blog followers, so here it is (see page 26)!

Pages 25 & 26 of the auto-biography I wrote in second grade. I think I should scan this in its entirety and share it. It is too funny!

2. I also always knew I wanted to be a mother (see page 25 above. No, I no longer want ten children! And, why yes, I do think it is nice to “have a man around”, lol). You know how some people go through a phase where they say they don’t want kids and then change their minds? (And some people just don’t want kids, and that’s fine :] ) I just always knew I wanted children. I was looking forward to it so much I figured I’d also love being pregnant, and I didn’t. It wasn’t horrible (translation: I had a clean bill of health, save slight pregnancy anemia), but I was miserable the last  three months. To this day when I think about getting pregnant again all I can really think of is hating how I couldn’t sit down and cross my legs, I couldn’t hop out of bed, I couldn’t wear my high-waisted skirts, I couldn’t breathe, and being kicked in the cervix from the inside. But we want more children, so here’s to hoping I enjoy it more next time! (Please?!)

3. Getting back to that goal I had about being an astronaut… I really love science. I love discovery, and the transformation your understanding of the natural world undergoes when learning about science. It is truly amazing! I had a very tough time trying to decide what to do with my life because of this love. I couldn’t figure out how to marry this passion with my passion for art. In high school, my physics, anatomy, biology, and chemistry teachers all encouraged me to utilize my “unique talents”. I toyed around with being an anatomical illustrator, but that is neither innovative or creative; it just requires an intense technical understanding of illustration, anatomy, rendering, and infographics! A little part of me yearns to do research and make discoveries to this day. :)

4. I am totally one of those assholes that HATES, HATES!!! reality television. I cannot watch it. If it is on in the same room as me, I have to go into another room, because I can’t hold back my annoying scoffing or my eye rolls or my intense skepticism, and I become a huge sourpuss. For the most part, I think most of these people set HORRIBLE examples for everyone else (not just children) and we “glorify” them on television. Many people watch to make fun of them, but many others could see it as a way to carve their own path into fame. I know I am really in the minority here, because a lot of people _love_ to hate reality television; but I just hate it. And I don’t hate many things. It’s unfortunate, because it often separates me from my family,  seeing as my mom and my sisters LOVE it. (My brother has more of a penchant for the survival shows, and my dad is with me “it’s all crap!”. We are boring and watch documentaries and how it’s made together.) I’ve been putting up fits and going to my room since I was in high school and they insisted on watching the bachelor (the bachelor bothers me on a fundamental level). And I still do it if I go over there and they are watching some dumb housewives show. Why invite me over and then insist on watching this shit? (The only show I have ever been able to tolerate is Project Runway (fashion!), but even then I typically want to have it on mute. The ridiculous antics and music, ugh. Oh, and I do watch Hoarders to inspire me to polish my cupboards with a toothbrush! And I used to love Trading Spaces. I think that about covers it). *For the record, I don’t judge on people who like reality television, or hate that they like it. I  think it’s rather silly to like it, but usually people who like it also think it is silly to enjoy it. Plus, isn’t my reaction to it equally silly?!*

5. Considering the above, you may not  be surprised to learn we don’t have a cable subscription. Tyler and I have never had it in our adult lives. We don’t really seem to mind too much. Sometimes I feel like I miss the morning news because they are so “friendly” and it reminds me of the mornings when I was able to play hooky or stayed home sick with my mom growing up. But mostly we just don’t want an extra bill for something we don’t really feel we need. That’s not to say we don’t enjoy Netflix! I love Netflix because I don’t have to be subjected to ridiculous commercials, and I can watch an entire season of a show at my leisure. I credit Netflix for exposing me to the many great shows that are actually out there! I do agree with Liz Lemon “Well, I happen to think we are in a new golden age of scripted television!”.

6. I’ve never been to New York. What is up with that?! I’ve never even been to the East Coast. In fact, I am distinctly under-traveled. I am very bothered by this! Besides living in California, I’ve only been to 6 other states: Nevada, Texas, Arizona, Idaho, Hawaii and Oklahoma (when I was 3), and most of these travels were to visit friends or family. But I have been to Hong Kong three times! They were business  trips though. This mama needs to travel! Does Tijuana for 2 hours when I was six years old count?

7. My parents have known each other since my dad was 16 and my mom was 11. My mom went to my dad’s first wedding! After my dad divorced his first wife, he ran into my mother again, and thought “hey, she grew up!”. They had a short engagement and just celebrated 30 yrs together.

8. I went to the same jr. high as my parents and all of my blood-related aunts and uncles (7 of them).  My mother went to elementary school in Venice and Santa Monica, and then went to Santa Monica high, but they were in the valley just long enough for her to go to jr. high here! When I started there, her class picture was still up! And some teachers knew me by my last name. Also, I am not mistakenly calling it a jr. high (grades 7-9), because it was not middle school when I went there. In fact, I was in the first 8th grade graduating class!

9. Tyler and I were born in the same hospital. Our mothers were both born in Santa Monica, exactly 2 months apart. We often wonder if our mothers ever crossed paths, and how often we might have crossed paths.

10. I don’t like scary movies, and it kinda sucks. I know I am missing out on fun, but I just can’t get into it. It’s the same way with spicy food! My mouth is just set on FIRE! And I can’t taste anything, and my eyes start to water and I choke. But people love it and I want to find out why!

11. When I watch movies that have a sappy love story, I’m always reminded of my own love story. This is one way I knew Tyler and I were “it”. To use the quintessential romantic movie example, when I first saw the Notebook, I imagined a situation like that  between myself and some fantasy man, even though I was in a relationship at the time. When I saw it again after beginning a romantic relationship with Tyler, I thought, “OH! That is so something Tyler would say”. I knew him for 3 years before giving him a chance. He would always say “I don’t want to date other girls. It would betray what I feel for you and be unfair to them. I know what I want, I want you”. Later he said to me “I’m in this for the long haul; marriage, kids, everything.” He said he knew he was going to marry me 2 months after he met me. He just looked at me as I was hooking up my Game Cube (we met at work, as video game testers, remember?) and thought “I don’t know how, but you’re going to marry that girl!”. /melting

11 Questions from MarcellaContinue Reading

Hallway Sneak Peek

Hallway Sneak Peek

Just thought I’d quickly share this instagram on my blog! The hallway is slowly but surely comin’ along, and I have the arduous task of going through my photos! Meanwhile, I’m still painting the living room, organizing our bookshelves, need to install a light in Laelia’s room and I can’t stop daydreaming about what our kitchen will look like. OH! Yeah. And Laelia’s birthday planning is going ignored! ONE. PROJECT. AT. A. TIME. !


Welcome to Visual Vocabularie! My name is Jesyka, and I am a designer, artist, mom to Laelia and Luca, wife to software engineer and UX designer Tyler, coffee lover, and all around enthused person. This is my blog; here I share my personal projects, whether it's a furniture makeover, a new painting, a birthday party, an invitation I designed, or a favorite outfit for my little. You’ll also catch a glimpse into our family life in Los Angeles.

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You are free to pin to pinterest, or post my photos on your blog, but please give proper credit to my full name Jesyka D’Itri Marés (I know, I know, it's not the easiest name!), and you link back either the home page of this website, or the permalink of the original post (although, I'm sure your followers will thank you for the permalink!). I would LOVE to know if you enjoy my work enough to share it, so please don’t be shy and drop me an email!