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How to keep your home protected while you’re away

This post is sponsored by Blink Home Video Security. 

When we set off on our four month road trip adventure, our original plan was to have a friend stay in our house while we were gone. Plans changed and as it turned out, our house was left vacant for all but one week (when out-of-town friends used our house). Our old house was in a safe neighborhood, surrounded by lots of neighbors who offered to keep an eye on the house, but still, we wanted to take precautions.

We packed everything valuable into a safe. We hid away all electronics. We closed all the windows, locked all the doors and put lights on a timer.

And Ryan installed simple, affordable and very effective security cameras.

He originally discovered Blink cameras on a Kickstarter campaign in 2014 and was instantly sold. He put up five of them in the house before we left for the trip and we were able to monitor any movement from his phone no matter where we were in the country. Crazy, right?!

Once, while somewhere far from home like Texas or Oklahoma, Ryan’s phone alerted him that there was movement in the house. He checked the app and watched video of our good friend, Johan, looking around in the garage to borrow our pressure washer. Ryan called him and totally creeped him out when he told him we were watching him on video :)

Thankfully, that was the only time the cameras were motion-activated and all was safe with our house while we were gone. It was really reassuring to know that even though we were miles from home, we could still check in to make sure everything was safe and sound.

We liked the security cameras so much that we’re using them in this new house as well.

Whether it’s during the night, while we’re out for the day, or on a week vacation, it is nice to be aware of what’s happening when we’re not around.

(Ryan is even thinking about putting a camera out by the chicken coop to watch for predators at night!)

So here’s how they work:

You get a camera and receiver for $99 or a set of two cameras + receiver for $169 – check them out here. The cameras come with very straightforward instructions to make set up very easy. You download the Blink app, follow the walk-through, place the cameras where you want them and adjust the settings to fit your needs.

The cameras work on batteries that last two years (no ugly cords!), and the receiver just needs to be plugged into an outlet and connected to wifi.

Once the cameras are set up, you can place them anywhere in the house that you’d like to monitor (typically near entry points of the house).

So far, we have one set up in the entry facing the front door:

See it right there on the tray? It’s nearly missable.

And the second camera is in the kitchen facing the back door:

The camera comes with a low-profile mounting bracket, so you can mount the camera to the wall if that works better for your home.

You monitor everything from the Blink app on your phone. Each camera can be individually armed or disarmed to record whenever movement is detected. If this happens, a notification will be sent to your phone so you can see what is happening. Alternately, you can also open up the app and refresh the camera to see your home in realtime.

I grabbed a quick video so you can see what the quality looks like:

These security cameras are pretty brilliant. They are so simple to set up, easy to monitor from your phone and offer peace of mind while you’re away from the house.

The best part: you don’t have to pay a monthly fee and all you need is wifi (and NO CORDS!).

I don’t do many sponsored posts, but when Blink asked if I would share about their product, it made total sense. We actually use these cameras! And love them! And you know I like to share things that are helpful to our family as they may be just what you are looking for for your home.

If you’re away from your house during the day, want to keep an eye on things at night or you’re headed off on a vacation and would like some extra security measures for keeping your home safe, we could not recommend Blink Security Cameras enough.

The people at Blink are generously offering a set of indoor cameras + receiver to one lucky JDC reader.

To enter the giveaway, simply sign up for Blink’s newsletter here.

Giveaway ends Monday, August 7th.

*UPDATE: the giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Laura D.!*

If you’re interested in purchasing indoor or outdoor security cameras for your home, CLICK HERE to learn more.

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no-fuss mini classroom valentines

Valentine’s Day is coming! Which basically means the kiddos have parties in their classrooms and get to eat massive amounts of candy hearts and pass out valentines to their classmates.

Ryan and I don’t really do Valentine’s Day – our dating anniversary is on the 15th and that has always been a special one to us so we just skip over the holiday and celebrate the next day.

I am, actually, a big fan of the holiday. My mom always made Valentine’s day special for us with little treats and notes and so Valentine’s day has always been more of a day to just tell the people you love that you love them rather than a super romantic red-long-stem-roses-fancy-dinner-out kind of celebration. It’s sweet and special and a good chance to share the love.

This year, with a handful of business projects and just as many family ones, I went the no-fuss route and ordered the kids’ classroom valentines from Minted. (Correction: I ordered the three younger kids their classroom valentines from Minted. Our oldest reminded me that passing out valentines in middle school is not a thing).

I spent way to long looking around at all the cute designs, then narrowed down my favorites to let the kids choose from.

Our 4th grader picked this wordsearch card.

crossword Our 2nd grader went the shark route (I adore these!).

fintastic Miss Kindergarten herself had a hard time picking between adorable kittens and golden hearts, but ended up picking this Bee My Valentine design and they are just darling.

beemine

The note on the order form says that these are not big enough to mail, but I didn’t realize how perfectly tiny they are in real life! The cards and envelopes are truly mini and perfect for passing out to friends. We’ll pop a few in the mail to cousins and out of town friends and just stick them in a bigger envelope so they make it through the mail.

mini valentine The last day to order to ensure Valentine delivery is Sunday February 7th (with rush shipping) so make sure you pop over to minted asap to place your order.

How about a quick giveaway? Minted is partnering with me to give away $50 shop credit to THREE lucky winners. Yay! Click below to enter.

mintedgiveaway

Contest ends Thursday 2/5 at 5pm pacific. Good luck!

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Favorite Things Christmas Giveaway!

‘Tis officially the season.

christmas-give

As you may have heard, our home is currently in the BHG Christmas Ideas Magazine (so fun!).

magazine

I thought it would be fun to put a gift together based on what you see in the article, so I pulled together a handful of my favorite things for Christmas and I’m giving them all away!

christmasgiveaway

You’ll get a copy of the magazine, as well as some things that just make me happy (and hopefully you, too!).

peace-on-earth

Let’s talk about a few items included in the giveaway:

giveaway-items

Peace On Earth 8×10 art print. This is a new one I am releasing for our Black Friday/Cyber Monday big sale (details to come later this week on how you can save big).

Three yards each of my favorite green, black and white ribbons, and lots and lots of baker’s twine.

The most luxurious cream Alpaca wool blanket from Ecuador (I’ll have more available for sale soon!).

Printed watercolor gift tags with string.

Spruce scented candle which will make your house smell like Christmas.

One striped dishtowel (my last one!).

$25 Starbucks gift card.

One large pom pom garland and one small pom pom garland.

The new She Reads Truth Advent book

Not pictured but so darling: ceramic stag head ornament.

srtadvent

I’m pretty sure you will love each and every item and can’t wait to send the package to one lucky winner.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY NOW!

Favorite Things Christmas Giveaway / enter here!

Good luck, my friends! And let the most wonderful time of the year begin!

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Black and White Striped Dish Towels + Napkins (and a giveaway!)

black and white striped dish towel / jones design company

You may have noticed in photos posted here on the blog and on Instagram that I have a slight obsession with all things black and white striped. Rugs, lamp shades, ribbon, throw blankets, and most recently, striped dish towels and cloth napkins.

black and white striped dish towel / jones design company

I found this perfect dish towel at a little shop on vacation and bought a few. I’m super picky when it comes to towels in the kitchen … they must be absorbent. It is so annoying to try to dry your hands or a dish and have the water just push around or bead up on the towel. I like one that actually soaks in the water and does it’s job. I was so hopeful that these striped cuties would also be useful towels. Thankfully, they are. Even before washing, but especially after.

Since I found what I loved, I researched the distributer and ordered a whole box. A few more for me and a bunch for you.

black and white striped dish towel / jones design company

While ordering, I also found the matching napkins. Big, square, soft goodness that look great dressing up the dining room table.

striped dinner napkins / jones design company

These are great for fall, but I think I can use them throughout the year embellishing with different fruits, flowers, greenery to match the season. I’m also thinking they could be turned into pillows (you know how I feel about pillows …)

dining room place setting for fall / jones design company

I have a set of 8 napkins leftover and would love to give them away!

Enter to win the giveaway!

 

As for the dish towels, I wish I had more to offer, but I didn’t want to go crazy with my order so I only have 28 sets of two. I’m thinking the easiest way to offer them to you is to do a sale on a first dibs basis over on Instagram.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE

If we run out before you have a chance, don’t worry. I’ll try to get another order in soon, so just let me know in the comments if you’d like a set!

***UPDATE*** 

The towels sold out waaaay faster than I thought. I’ll place another order and will send them out when the shipment arrives. If you’d like a set, head to instagram and post your paypal address here

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the annoying framing saga of my new favorite artwork

Months ago I spotted the most striking watercolor birthstone artwork in the Minted catalog. The collection caught my eye and I kept coming back to it trying to decide where I could put a print or two in our house.

bathroom-mirror

I really loved all of them, as a whole set, and walked around the house looking for a blank wall that could feature 12 gem prints. Turns out, our front guest bathroom had just the wall. Blank, white, ready for art.

bathroom-sink

The people at Minted were so kind to send the prints to me and I agreed to frame them and hang them and share how fabulous they look with all of you fine blog readers.

Well, as I mentioned, that was months ago. It has literally taken me months to get these things framed and hung and ready to share.
bathroom-shelf

So here’s how the saga went down:

The prints are 11×11 square. I could have opted to have them framed from Minted, but I envisioned a modern, streamlined, super simple gold metal frame and they don’t offer that as an option.

So I just figured I would have them framed myself.

I took the art into a local frame shop on a day when they were having a big custom framing sale. I picked out the thinnest (and I’m assuming cheapest) metal frame. The sales lady measured and typed some details into her computer and spit out a number for the 12 frames and glass and back hanging things.

You know what that quote was?

$950.

And that was with a 40% discount.

My mouth hung open and then I politely let her know that I’d be looking for another option.

I mean, I’m not the cheapest person in the world and I realize nice things cost money. But a thin metal frame with some glass should not, in my humble opinion, cost over $100. Especially when I needed 12 of them. Good grief.

birthstone-prints-close

So the search began. What I wanted was an 11×11 square gold thin metal frame. And as luck would have it, that does not exist in the world.

I bought a few different frame options and wasn’t crazy about any of them.

When I found a pack of 4 12×12 album frames from Walmart for $9, I figured I would give it a try. I ordered 3 sets and when they arrived, one was damaged. So I ordered another set. One of those was cracked, too, but at that point I had a few extras so I just tossed the broken ones and kept the good ones.

The frames came in black and are the cheapest, most poorly made frames ever created. But at this point I was just wanting to get the project done, so I stuck with them. I thought about just keeping them black, but decided I really did want them gold and took them outside one day and sprayed them with my favorite gold spray paint.
bathroom-window

Once the frames were painted, I put the art in them. The frames are 12×12 and my art is 11×11 and the lady at the frame store told me I couldn’t have mats cut with that small of difference so I went the easy route and just mounted the art on off-white 12×12 scrapbook paper. It’s not ideal, but it looks fine.

Are you bored with my story yet? I am. The whole thing was annoying.

Anyway, I finally popped them into the frames (which was a saga in itself as two of them shattered) and hung them in a grid on the bathroom wall.

hanging-prints

I hung them in a tight grid with one inch in between each frame. Using a level and ruler, I marked where the nails should go and started tapping them in. It only took me 19 holes to hang 12 prints :)

framed-prints

But after all the drama, they are on the wall and look beautiful. I seriously adore these prints. I love their simplicity and their detail and how they are organic and fancy at the same time.

framed-prints-in-bathroom

And the frames, while not perfect, work fine. From afar, they actually look like just what I had in mind.

prints-side

Here’s the moral of the story:

  1. If your eye is drawn to a specific piece of art, go for it.
  2. Thin metal frames from the frame shop are not cheap.
  3. Cheap frames from Walmart are inexpensive and also terribly engineered.
  4. Pushing through with this framing fiasco was worth it. The art looks great.

Thanks for reading my story and letting me rant for a moment. To reward your perseverance in getting this far, how about a chance to win $250 from Minted?! One lucky ready will win $250 and three more will win $100.

minted + jdc giveaway. 1 winner will receive $250 to Minted, 3 will win $100 each!

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY CLICK HERE

Good luck!

*** UPDATE ***

The giveaway winners are:

Emily S.
Lindsay B.
Erica W.
Gwen L.
Congrats, ladies!
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