Favorite Things of 2019

By Kate Riley November 13, 2019

Pat me on the back, in this corner of my studio I managed to squeeze eight of my Favorite Things of 2019 into this shot, see if you can you spot them. :)

I’m partnered up with a group of creative bloggers (see list below) and this week we’re posting our favorites. When it comes to gifts, the truth is, the older I get, and the more I travel, I actually prefer experiences to things.

But…. I can’t deny there are material things we all need and certain things we all love, and when you find something that’s a favorite, why not share it with your friends, right?

My Favorite Things of 2019 under $50


The original mudcloth pillow seen on the left is from this shop, but the set of mudcloth inspired pillow covers I found on Amazon. They add a fun black + white pattern to my studio sofa.

These gold and black wire hurricanes are available in different sizes, they’re fresh and modern and are a sculptural simple addition to any space.

I’ve labeled this black faux fur blanket the “boyfriend blanket” because once you wrap it around you, you’ll have a major crush and never want to let it go. It’s so cozy, when I take the occasional cat nap during the day, this blanket is my BFF.

Inexpensive and timeless, I have a trio of white ceramic houses from Target that look festive anywhere, on a mantel, tabletop, or nestled in a tray.

I bought this planter set at CB2 and I rotate them everywhere, my favorite element is the subtle pattern present in each design.

Having this set of black and ivory bowls is very practical. I use one as a succulent planter, one to hold matches, and in this seasonal vignette, another to hold mini ornaments.

This set of oval trays is from IKEA, I use them to group candles/plants, etc. They work in any space, bathrooms, living rooms, on your breakfast table. Clean lines, great quality, and shockingly cheap for powder coated metal trays.

I prefer matches to lighters, although I have a collection of both. I’m old school in my belief it’s far more fashionable to strike a match when lighting a candle. So I love these $5 safety matches.



A few more favorite things:

I’m a traveler and love to get out and about, near and far. If I’m on a solo adventure, I don’t want to bother people with the “will you take my picture?” question, so I carry this tripod + selfie stick in my backpack. It has a bluetooth wireless remote, so I can set up the tripod, pose from a few feet away, snap a few images with my iPhone, and move along quickly without troubling strangers.

I don’t like racerback sports bras, I prefer ones where the straps sit on the shoulders like my everyday bras. These New Balance Breakthrough Bras are designed for high impact sports and they’re available in traditional bra sizes so you know they fit! They keep the girls strapped in place on runs or in my fitness kickboxing classes and during all those up and down exercises like burpees and jumping jacks (hate those BTW).

Girls, trust me on this one. You want great looking lips any time of the day at any hour? Try the Buxom Lip Plumping polishes. I carry around a few different colors. These give a little shimmer, a little color, and a hydrated look.

I fell for the hype and bought the Australian Clay Mask but I do love the way it cleans my t-zone. I apply it once-a-weekish when I’m in the bath and let it sit for twentyish minutes. It gets all the yucky stuff out and tightens pores, win win.

I’m in my forties, but my skin still looks really great. Most of the credit goes to good genes, daily use of sunscreen, and also a retinol serum. This anti-aging serum I’ve ordered a few times. It has vitamin E and hyaluronic acid and it’s 10 bucks! I use it 2-3 times a week on face, hands, and décolleté.

I have a dozen different beanies that I wear all the time to keep my head warm. This beanie is a favorite and available in so many yarn colors. You know why beanies are the best? They let you look cute on a “haven’t washed my hair today” day. I wear them November through March as an excuse not to shampoo. ;)

Add some edge to your wardrobe! I love this Faux Leather Embroidered Moto Jacket, every time I wear it all the ladies ask me where I got it, and I tell them “Amazon, 48 bucks” and they say “Send me the link!” So here it is. It runs small, I’m a 4-6 so I ordered that size and it’s fitted but I like it that way.


Big thanks to Melissa at 320 Sycamore for hosting this week’s blog hop!

Check out these participating bloggers in the hop for more great finds!

Rhoda of Southern Hospitality

Stacy at Not Just a Housewife

Amy at The Idea Room

Fancy Farmgirls

Stefanie of Brooklyn Limestone

Richella of Imparting Grace

Ann at Sutton Place

Diane at In My Own Style

Chris at Just a Girl

Marian at Miss Mustard Seed


DIY Birch Holiday Tree

By Kate Riley November 11, 2019

For the holiday season, I envisioned making a rustic tree out of real birch branches, so over the weekend I pieced this one together then embellished it with a few decorations.

I enjoy doing a few DIY projects around the holidays and this one is my latest creation. I love the papery white bark of birch, it’s textured and appealing, and the spaced out branches of this DIY tree allow just enough room to hang a few ornaments.

I know there are plenty of places around the country (and world) where birch trees grow, but that variety is more scarce here in Northern California. Since I have no birch tree in my backyard, I purchased three 4’ long branches from CB2 for $6.99 each. I cut the branches to form five stems and used the remainder pieces to form the trunk. The base is basic 3×3” lumber purchased from Lowe’s. To follow is the step by step on how I made it. I’m also sharing lots of video on Instagram later today so you can check my stories there to hear me talking about the process and how I pieced the tree together. :)

Supplies to recreate: three 4’ long birch branches, relatively straight, approximately 2 ½” to 3” in width; (I purchased mine here); thirteen ¼” x 2 ½” dowel screws, miter saw, power drill with drill bits, measuring tape, lights and ornaments of your choice.

Here’s my sketched-in-30-seconds drawing of the branches. You’ll need five branches at these lengths 1) 2 ½” feet, 2) 2 feet, 3) 1 ½ feet, 4) 1 foot, and 5) 6-7 inches.


Because they’re natural, the branches are not perfectly straight, but straight enough, and you can see one had that curvy part, so I mapped out the cuts to take advantage of the straightest parts.  Here’s a diagram of where I made the cuts on the three branches:


I used the leftover parts to cut the divider pieces for the trunk to separate the branches to allow room to hang ornaments.


You will need a miter saw for this project, although I suppose you could use just a really sharp saw! The miter saw does make it much faster and easier to make the cuts.


I forgot to take pictures of making the base but you can see the detail in the video on Instagram. Basically it’s this: I cut the 36 inch long 3×3” lumber into three pieces, one at 18” and two at 9”, then I drilled pilot holes in the centers and used the dowel screws to attach them together to form a strong base. You can see it up close in the next picture.

To secure the branch pieces to the trunk pieces, drill pilot holes in both spots where the dowel screws will attach them together. Make sure your drill bit is slightly smaller than the dowel screw and not the same size, this allows the thread of the screw to grip the wood so the tree is secure and stable.



Keep assembling screw by screw and piece by piece, then decorate as you please! I added little evergreen twigs for color, battery powered twinkle lights, mini mercury acorn ornaments, and a cute little bird is glued to the top.


Lately on Instagram (@centsationalstyle)