DIY Instagram Wall Under $25

As soon as I found out our new place was going to have a guest bedroom, I immediately started thinking about how I wanted to decorate it.  I knew I wanted it filled with happy memories and pictures with people who would be visiting.  So of course the first thing that pops into my head is instagram.
Instagram Wall
I put my guest bedroom ideas on hold for a little while to try and unpack boxes.  (I guess unpacking pots and pans so I can cook is more important than decorating lol)  Then I came across this quote on Jordan's blog and was immediately obsessed.  I loved that idea:  I have left my heart in so many places.  Isn't that such a prettier way to think about moving and leaving people and places you love?  I immediately started thinking of all the places and people that I had left a piece of my heart with and knew that this quote needed to be in my guest bedroom!  Since we are renting, I didn't want to put too many holes in the walls so when I saw this project, I knew it was the perfect way to get a lot of pictures up with minimal holes.  I really love how it turned out.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
20 Square Prints (See step 1 for printing instructions): $2.50 at Wal-Mart
4 Feet Hemp Cord: $3.00 at Wal-Mart
20 Mini Clothespins: $4.00 at Wal-Mart
12x18 Print: $4.50 at Wal-Mart
12x18 Frame: $8.00 at Michael's
Nails (6), Push Pins (4)
Total: $22.00
Step One: Print Square Pictures
I was completely impatient and couldn't wait for instaprints or something similar to print my pictures.  Plus I would hate to pay for shipping for such a minimal cost.  I decided to do a little extra work and just print them at Wal-Mart.  Much cheaper, ready in an hour, and turned out great.
I went to PicMonkey and uploaded a regular 4x6 picture.  (It doesn't matter what the picture is)
Then I went to overlays (5th button down) and added my own overlay.  This is when I chose the square picture that I wanted to print.  I put that straight up against one side of the picture like this:
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
I saved it to my computer and printed the pictures as 4x6s.  When I got the pictures, I just cut the extra side off and had perfect 4x4 square one hour for only $.09 a piece.  I printed 20 pictures.
Step Two: Print Quote Print
I loved the original "I have left my heart in so many places" print but the pinks/oranges did not match the room.  I figured it would be easier to just make a new print that would match.  I used this site to create the watercolor map.  I printed this as a 12x18 at Wal-Mart and bought a 12x18 frame at Michael's.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Step Three: Assemble Wall
I started by hanging my print in the middle of the wall.  I made sure to leave enough room below for the pictures to hang.  I cut my hemp and tied each end to a push pin, making sure that both lines of hemp were even.  I clipped ten pictures, evenly spaced, to each hemp.  I pinned the bottom and tops rows of pictures about three inches away from the frame, with the frame centered.
I have left my heart in so many places
The best part is when I inevitably find new pictures that I want to add, I can just print them and swap out older pictures!

Summer Solstice + Shrimp Nachos

It's officially SUMMER!  Although it has felt like summer here for weeks, I am glad to say it is finally, officially my favorite season.  So how did we celebrate the longest day(s) of the year?!
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Wearing Lilly \\ Trying bourbon burnt sugar ice cream  from The Leisure Club\\ Relaxing with a book on the beach
Watching the sunset \\ Eating lunch on the water \\ Drinking bushwackers {what else?!}
Homemade happy hour with shrimp nachos \\ Making super simple sangria \\ Playing banana-grams {I won}
Overall, we had a great weekend!  We got it in our minds that we had to have shrimp nachos so of course I was running over the bridge to Winn-Dixie to grab last minute ingredients.  It was totally worth it though!  Sometimes you just need the salty, cheesy deliciousness of nachos!  Paired with a sweet sangria....YUM!
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Shrimp Nachos
1/2 lb Shrimp, cooked and seasoned with Old Bay
1 Bag Whole Grain Tortilla Chips
1/2 Can of Monterey Jack Queso
Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
Pico De Gallo
Pre-heat oven to 350
Layer all ingredients in a tin foil pan.
Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

{Clean} Taco Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

I feel like my cooking in the summer is just lazier.  It's too hot to have the oven on all day and I don't desire heavy, creamy foods like I do during the winter.  I would much rather stay at the beach an extra hour and eat something quick when I get home.  But at the same time, I need something to keep me satisfied.  These stuffed peppers were the best of both worlds.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
A few reasons why these stuffed peppers are a perfect, easy summer dinner:
1. Simple ingredients so no running to the store
2. I made them in the morning and put them in the fridge so that I just stuck them in the oven and had dinner on the table in 15 minutes.  (They are also delicious left over so make a few extras!)
3. They are clean and guilt-free so no worrying about feeling bloated in swim suits the next day
4.  You can vary the spiciness and toppings based on what you have on hand.  Corn? Beans? JalapeƱos? Throw them in!
5. Yum! I love taco anything and these live up!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Taco Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
2-3 Large Green Peppers
1 Cup Quinoa
1 1/2 Cup Ground Beef, browned and seasoned
1/4 Cup Salsa (I used Frontera medium)
Cheese, sour cream, guacamole (Toppings if desired)

Cook quinoa.
Brown beef and season with taco seasoning.
Pre-heat oven to 400.
Mix quinoa, beef, and salsa in a large bowl.
Cut the tops off of green peppers.  Fill with taco mixture.  Top with cheese, if desired.
Bake for 12-18 minutes until peppers are slightly soft.
Top as desired
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
And this is what it looks like when you are so anxious to eat leftovers, you drop your brand new jar of salsa on the floor and it shatters.  ::sigh::
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Alligator Alley

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
After I told Rob I found a place to see alligators, it has been all he has been able to talk about!  Living in Florida, I feel like seeing the alligators is a necessity (even though technically we had to drive to Alabama to see them!)  Luckily, Rob's schedule is pretty easy right now so we took advantage of the humid pretty weather and drove out to Alligator Alley.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
I read online that some people got to hold a baby alligator.  Once I read that, I was obsessed with holding one.  This one that we were able to hold was three years old.  I can't believe that these tiny guys grow up to be the huge 12 foot alligators we saw during the feeding show!
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Alligator Alley has over 450 alligators of all different ages and sizes.  They are all nuisance alligators--which means they have lost their natural fear of humans.  These are the ones that show up in your swimming pool or eat your puppy (no seriously, a lot of the big ones here were caught after owners called saying an alligator ate their pets!)  Think Swamp People alligators!
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Captain Crunch is their claim to fame alligator.  He is 13 feet long and almost 800 pounds!  He hold the world record for bite power.  Captain crunch was pretty calm while we were around, although Rob kept trying to "accidentally" hit him while throwing his food.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
The feeding show was the best part of the trip!  Three times a day you can watch the feeding crew feed the alligators.  Around 25 HUGE alligators came out of the water for the feeding and it was insane to watch how comfortable the crew was up close with the alligators.  He could even recognize them and call them by name.  While I loved seeing them up close, I was definitely glad to be on the other side of the fence!
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
The trainer was sweet enough to offer to take my camera and snap a few close ups of some big guys.  Look at the size of that mouth!

D O :: Flora-Bama

I am obsessive about research.  I am constantly googling for the "must see" places.  I strike up conversations with people in the grocery store about their favorite restaurants and have a running list in my phone of places to check out.  Then I read a zillion Yelp reviews to learn the ins and outs before we go.  Since before we even got to Florida, the number one thing I kept hearing over and over from people is you have to check out the Flora-Bama.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Flora-Bama is a giant....compound, for lack of a better word, right on the beach on the Florida/Alabama state line.  It has over 20 bars and four live bands playing at the same time! (Jimmy Buffet wrote the song "Bama Breeze" about this place!)  This weekend they were having Shindig on the Sand, which meant live music all weekend so of course we thought it was the perfect time to check this infamous place out!  Especially when we realized it's only five miles from our house!
Shinding On The Sand Flora Bama
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Flora-Bama completely lived up!  You have to understand - this is not your hoity-toity bar, it's a little bit trashy.  They have bras hanging from the ceiling! ha ha There are all types of people here: from dancing in swim suits to sipping wine in stilettos, rednecks and bikers to frat boys and bachelorettes.  But that's what makes this place so fun.  You can just come and have a good time -- even dance in your bikini right after taking a dip in the ocean!  After exploring a little bit, Rob and I got a couple of bushwackers and braved the heat and sat in the sand and listened to a few songs.  Before I got here, I had never even heard of a bushwacker; now I am obsessed.  They taste like alcoholic frosty's!  When we got too hot, we just went inside to drink and eat oysters, nachos and fried shrimp.
Oyster Bar at Flora Bama
Flora Bama drinks
The one artists that we did know playing was Taylor Hicks.  (Yes, like Taylor Hicks from American Idol lol)  It's funny because you would have thought Taylor Hicks was Justin Beiber...people were going crazy over him lol  Of course, I had to go and hear him sing his cover of "Takin' it to the streets" ;)  Fun fact: The day after he won American Idol my sister made and wore a "Soul Patrol" t-shirt to {elementary} school! HAHAHA  Could not stop laughing when my mom reminded me about this!
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Overall, we loved the Flora-bama and can't wait to go back!  This beach lifestyle is so different than our lifestyle in Virginia but I think I can get used to it ;)

Strawberry Mandarin Walnut Salad

One great thing about moving is when you unpack, you find tons of hidden treasures you forgot you had.  I just found my salad chopper that I had completely forgotten existed and was so excited to use it. This salad is one of those salads that is just that much better chopped, so that each bite has a little bit of chicken, strawberry, mandarin orange, and walnuts.  With so many flavors, I used a simple oil and vinegar as the dressing.  I can see this being a summer night staple, especially after hot days at the beach!
Image and video hosting by TinyPicStrawberry Mandarin Walnut Salad
2 Chicken Breasts
1 bag Romaine & Spring Mix 
6-8 Large Strawberries
1 Can Mandarin Oranges
1/8 Cup Walnuts
Oil and Vinegar
Season chicken with choice seasoning and grill.  (I used this Penzeys spice which is a mix of cheese, chives, and poppy seeds.)  Cut into thin strips.
Add lettuce to a large bowl.  Top with fruit, chicken, and nuts.
Add dressing and chop.

Tip: Use an egg slicer to get perfect, even strawberry slices.  Quick and easy!
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

G E T A W A Y :: Charleston and Savannah

With graduation behind us, Rob and I were out the door the next morning and onto our next adventure.  It's a 15 hour drive from Quantico, VA to Pensacola, FL so we figured if we were going to have to drive that far we might as well find a few good stops along the way and make a trip out of it.  This meant hitting all of our {new} favorite southern cities.  It might have added two or three hours to the trip but I found it way worth it.  Why not see beautiful places and stay in adorable bed and breakfasts instead of a random truck stop on the "quickest path" down.  Gotta make the most of everything!
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
The first day was an eight hour drive to the gorgeous Charleston, South Carolina.  I understand why people fall in love with Charleston - the cobblestone streets, the gorgeous waterfront, the views from the rooftops.  We walked around the market, had a few drinks at a rooftop bar, and stayed at the most adorable bed and breakfast -Palmer's Pinckney Inn.  This B&B is a steal for its incredible location: right next to the famous Charleston Market and just a few blocks walk from restaurants, shopping, and bars.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
We woke up bright and early to make the quick three hour trip to Savannah, GA.  I knew I had to try The Wilkes House for lunch and after reading 109384093 reviews, I knew I had to be there early.  We arrived at 9:57 and there were already 10 people in line! (The Wilkes House opens at 11 but by 10:30 the line already curled around the block. Get there early!)  But the reviews were right.  The food was worth the wait.  20 bowls of homecooked southern side dishes, not included fried chicken and blackberry cobbler.  I ate until my stomach felt like it would burst, then I ate a little more.  When I finally reached my max, I took my plate back to the kitchen to be washed--just like I was at my grandma's house.  This is a must visit!  We tried to walk off our lunch a little before we drove the next four hours of the day. 
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Our final stop was in Tallahassee, FL.  We had high hopes of partying like FSU students but as far as we got was eating an incredible burger at Monk's.  We headed back to the hotel and fell asleep at 8pm.  Clearly all that driving had gotten the best of us!  I did wake up early to a gorgeous view out of our hotel window of the chapel and the sunrise.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
And finally we were off.  Three and a half hours and then we finally made it to our new home in Perdido Key! My dad said that his favorite part of being in the military was the time in between duty stations.  While I think that was a little bit of an exaggeration, I do get his point.  Rob and I had three solid, uninterrupted days of just relaxing and spending time together and tried to make the most of it before life inevitably gets busy again with flight school.  This road trip felt more like a vacation than a move and that's just what we needed after all of the stress of packing!

How to survive a DITY move on one week's notice

I had a picture in my head of how this move was going to go.  The movers were going to come on Friday to pack and load all of our stuff.  We were going to clean, move out, and spend the last five days relaxing with our friends and family.  After graduation, Rob and I were going to go on our merry way on this incredible roadtrip we planned to all of our {soon to be} favorite southern cities, with our final stop being our new home in Florida, where of course the moving truck would conveniently be ready to unload and unpack all of our stuff.  Then our stress-free selves would head straight to the beach to begin working on our tans.  It sounds funny now as I say it, but I honestly thought that was how this was all going to go down.  I truly believed it.

So you can imagine the look on my face when TMO calls on Wednesday night (just two days before I think my movers are showing up) and says "Our next movers aren't available until June 13th (12 days after Rob has to check in) so you can either wait until then or you can move yourselves"
Ummmm.....excuse me, WHAT?!?! 
Are you serious? {yes, we sure are}
Can you do that? {yes, we can}
Can you make an exception? {no, we can will not}
This cannot be happening.  But it was.  And it was real.  And I had to deal with it.  Was my move as glamorous and stress-free as the original that I had planned?  No, not even close.  But did I survive, get Rob to Florida on time, and gain a few good moving horror stories to tell?  Definitely.  Rob's parents said everyone does a DITY move at some point in their career, so at least we were getting it out of the way early.  In case you haven't done yours yet, here are a few tips we learned along the way:
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Day One: Give yourself time to come to terms with the situation.  Then start doing some research.
For me, this meant sobbing in the fetal position for 3+ hours before being able to think about moving logistics.  Other people are probably more sane than I am and deal with change better.  Regardless, take time to figure out what your game plan is:
  • What will you do yourself? What will you delegate? (Ie. packing, loading, unloading, driving the   truck, driving/towing cars)
  • What is your budget? (Be sure to think about costs of any rentals, moving supplies, and hired labor)
  • What is your timeline? (If you are on a week's notice like I was, begin deep breathing into a paper bag immediately when you realize your ideal timeline started three months weeks ago and adjust accordingly)

Day Two: Fill out TMO paperwork and book/hire any needed labor.
The TMO paperwork is pretty easy to figure out.  My only suggestion (hindsight is 50/50) is when estimating your weight, OVER ESTIMATE!  The simple guide told us our stuff would weigh ~3,000lbs.  We put down 5,000 to be safe.  Our stuff ended up weighing close to 7,000lbs!!!  You get paid by the pound and they say they will not pay you over the amount you estimated (Edit: They did end up paying us for the entire weight but better safe than sorry!)

We decided to pack and load everything ourselves, hire a company to drive the truck down to FL (while we drove our personal vehicles), and then hire people to unload it in FL.  We used U Pack for our truck.  They drop the back of a freight truck at your house and you pack it up.  When you are done, you call them, they put a wall up to block off your stuff (They charge by the foot) and then sell the rest of the space for freight.  They drive your stuff down and set up a date with you to drop the truck off for you to unload.  This was a great option for us because: a. it was cheaper than renting and driving a truck down ourselves and b. we didn't have to tow a car and drive a huge moving truck.  They only thing I would warn is be sure your apartment complex/home owners/etc is okay with the truck being dropped there overnight.  It was totally fine in VA but our new place in FL was extremely difficult and would not let the truck park in the complex which resulted in one unnecessary hour of stress, tears, and phone calls.

As for the labor, I knew I would be useless when it came to lifting heavy objects.  Plus, Rob was going to have to go back to work so we knew realistically he wouldn't be much help.  I came across the website Hire a Helper and would definitely recommend them.  You put in your zip code and dates and then a list of companies that offer moving labor by the hour pop up with prices and reviews to compare.  You book through Hire a Helper and they handle everything!  More about this later. 
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Day Three: Get supplies and begin packing.
We raided our parents houses for any boxes they had and then went to Uhaul and bought all of our boxes and packing supplies.  We spent ~$120 on packing supplies.  Check craigslist, facebook, or uhaul box exchange for free or super cheap boxes.  We didn't get lucky but if you do, you can save a nice chunk of money.
When it comes to packing, definitely begin by pack everything in your cars that you want to keep for the trip/would absolutely die if it was lost or stolen.  You don't want this stuff mixed in with the stuff you are packing in boxes.  For us, this included:
  • Suitcases of clothes for two weeks (Overpack by a couple of days just in case you can't get to your stuff as planned)
  • The safe with all important documents
  • Computers and cameras (the thought of losing my pictures was unbearable)
  • Air mattress, sheets, pillows, blankets
  • Towels (We only left out one and keep drying it between on showers! ha)
  • Gun/Ammo
  • A pot/pan and a spatula/spoon (We did not do this one but it is a must!  By the time we got to our new place, I was so sick of eating out but we had nothing to cook with so I couldn't even make soup or a grilled cheese)
Image and video hosting by TinyPicDay Four and Five: Pack.
I had no idea how to pack.  I was watching youtube videos of how to wrap wine glasses.  Just wing it and wrap everything in paper and you'll be fine.  We didn't have a single item in a box break.  Be sure to label every box with what is inside and the room it belongs in.  This will save you so much time and headache on the unpacking end.  If you are lucky, you will have wonderful friends to bring you oreos and wine (Mackenzie, you are the best!) or a sister to eat fried rice with you on the floor when you feel like you are at your breaking point.  
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Day Six: Load the truck and clean.
It truly takes a village.  We are so lucky that both of our parents lived in the same town we were moving out of because we could not have survived this move without them.  Rob had to work on and off that day, so our dads packed the entire truck while our moms helped me scrub down the apartment.  We worked all day long and finally got everything finished.  We ended up using 10 ft of space in the truck (with Upack you pay by the foot)  Make sure you have a lock to secure your stuff in the truck over night. (If you don't have people to help you load, I would definitely suggest hiring someone to pack the truck for you)
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Day Seven: Get vehicles weighed, do final inspection, say goodbye.
Getting weighed empty and full is the number one most important piece of the DITY move.  If you mess it up or forget, you will not get paid!!!!!  Make sure if someone else is driving your truck, you double and triple check that they get the truck weighed.  (Upack charged a whopping $150 for it but you do what you have to)  You also have to get your own vehicles weighed empty and full.  They have all of these weird rules about it being done within 50 miles of your home and you must have a full tank of gas.  We emptied out our cars completely and filled them up with gas.  We took them to TMO on base and got the official weigh ticket.  Then we drove all the way home, loaded them up with all of our stuff, drove back to base and got another official weigh ticket.  You don't have to do it on base, this website will give you all of the approved scales however it is completely free on base and other scales charge $8, $10, sometimes $15 per ticket.  (That's 60 bucks for two cars!)
We did our final inspection at our apartment {squeezed in Rob's actual graduation from TBS} and then said our goodbyes.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Finally made it! But the DITY move isn't over yet.  We arranged for the truck to come a few days after we moved in and after a nightmare a couple of difficulties with our apartment complex letting our truck come, we finally had our truck of stuff delivered.  I booked two movers for two hours with Handy Dandy Movers (through Hire a Helper) to unloaded and it was the best decision.  Rob had to work so I watched as they unloaded everything.  I paid ~$300 for it but it was money well spent!
We saved all of our paperwork, receipts, weigh tickets, etc and turned those in to TMO so that we could get paid for the move.  (We put in for an advance but the advance takes 7-10 days so clearly we had to pay everything up front out of pocket before we got the money)

Total cost of move: $2,058.00
Total TMO payout: $3,036.00
**Update: After all was said and done, Rob and I pocketed $978.  Yes, almost 1k is a nice chunk of change...especially considering we were going to be moving regardless.  Plus in our minds that number is doubled since if we had stuck with the plan TMO gave us (me stay in VA another month to wait for household goods to come and meet Rob in FL) we would have had to pay an extra month's rent AND not gotten any DITY move $$.  With that said, I do value my sanity time so I can't underestimate how much extra stress doing a DITY move caused.  I gave up precious time to pack boxes that I could have spent with friends and family and I begged family members to do the same to help load the truck.  There are definitely pros and cons to both types of moves but I still don't think I will try a DITY move least not for a while ;)  Now my biggest question is where are we going on vacation with that $978 (Rob promised!!!)**

Overall, a DITY move can be done...even on one week's notice.  It is stressful and a lot of work and I definitely would not chose to do it (although I know some people do and I totally respect that and give you props!), but it is possible if necessary.

Latest Instagrams

© Reddy Or Knot . Design by Fearne.