One of my favorite things I learned in journalism school is that you must always have a topic as well as an angle. It’s never enough to write about something; you must have something to say.

Of course, I was voted Most Opinionated in high school (alongside my male counterpart, my high school sweetheart) …

However, as I’ve been leading the charge on the Infinity Marketing blog (an interesting and rewarding experience), this mantra has come up again and again. It’s not enough to say you are going to write a blog post about “diversity” — what are you going to say about it? What’s your angle?

Push yourself. Lazy blog writing — just like lazy journalism, lazy marketing or lazy photography — will only get you so far.

native advertising

Content Marketing

Our stories. Their profit. Share wisely.

Native advertising is all the rage these days — from John Oliver’s takedown on Last Week Tonight to Netflix’s controversial “paid post” cleverly disguised as an article on women in prison in the New York Times — a little bump for “Orange is the New Black,” — everyone seems to be rediscovering and talking about native advertising.

At The Millions, writer Tracy O’Neill has one interesting perspective and maybe a damn important takeaway about the dangers of everyone becoming a source of free content generation for brands.

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In Which We Use the Dremel for the First Time

1. The labels on our cheap measuring cups flaked off after repeated washes, and I always had to guess which one was which whenever baking or cooking. I am not good at that game.

2. Creighton got a Dremel for the wedding. He’s always wanted one of these nifty little rotary tools, and I’ve always pushed him to USE IT.

Dremel engraving measuring cupsRather than purchase a new set of measuring cups — these work perfectly fine, right? — we decided to bust out the brand new Dremel and carve the numbers onto the plastic cups using the “fine engraving tool.”

The results make me happy.

measuring cups engraved with Dremel

Crafty experiment = success.

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In Which We Repaint Furniture For The First Time

My parents gave us this beautiful Howard Miller mantel clock for our wedding, and when we got it home, we had no place to put it. I felt like the cheap black of all of our bookshelves wouldn’t do it any justice.

So we decided to paint one of them.

Cheap Walmart IKEA bookshelf before painting

This is a cheap Walmart/IKEA bookshelf — plywood with a cardboard backing.

Step 1: Sand off as much black laminate as possible from the bookshelf.

Step 2: Prime the bookshelf. We used a Shellac-based primer (B.I.N. by Zinsser) based on an Apartment Therapy “reader intelligence report” I found. The guy at Home Depot confirmed this primer would be a good fit for this kind of project, but BE WARNED. We tried to use those stupid inexpensive foam brushes with the Shellac, which was a disaster. (Rollers and paint brushes work fine, but the Shellac basically ate foam.)

Step 3: Sand down the first coat of primer and repaint.

Sanding Zisser primer for second coat bookshelf furniture do it yourself painting

Step 4: Sand down the second coat of primer, and apply the first coat of pigment paint. Rinse and repeat.

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Creighton thought that primer was simply white paint, but here’s the truth: it’s not. Primer gives the paint something to adhere onto, and it’s made up of a different chemical composition than paint. Paint has pigment and is oil- or water-based. Primer, like this one, can be based on a few different materials and can play nicely with different types of paint. We figured all of this out by talking to the Home Depot guy about what we wanted to do for this project. We also chose white primer to really give this bookshelf a ground zero.

Also, repainting/refurnishing furniture, especially cheap furniture, is not easy. I had read that priming is an essential step to getting an optimal look, so we took the time and effort to do it well. I don’t regret it. And I’m glad we didn’t opt for a primer/paint combo.

We decided on a white panel backing that was a lot sturdier than the cardboard backing it came with. I was worried about finding something that would fit and that we wouldn’t have to paint, but we stumbled on the perfect solution at Home Depot. Unfortunately, you can’t even see the white, but it looked damn good.

Step 5: Profit.

Behr Surfer paint color medium base white primer bookshelf repainting refurnishing before after

teal bookshelf IKEA repainted pop of color

Euphoria Greenville SC Tapas and Tinis Traffic Jam #tapas2014
frugality FEELS

Shopping Smart

“It’s about developing strategies to limit your purchases to things you really like, so that your bank account will be happier, AND you’ll wind up with things you’ll be satisfied with for years to come.”

In a beautiful blend of my favorite things to think about, Apartment Therapy wrote this awesome post about not buying everything so you can enjoy the things you have and buy the things you actually want/need. Craftiness + frugality. Love it.

Pair with: Becoming Minimalist’s post about the peacefulness and liberation that comes with learning to recognize “enough.”

And to tie this all together with a strand of my own crazytwine, I’m trying to learn the physicality of “enough”: of being buff enough, eating healthy enough, being thin enough/fit enough; of lifting enough weights and doing enough cardio. Of getting enough sleep and sun. Of following all the rules “right” enough. But that’s a work in progress.