Easy Way to Hide TV Wires

Looking for a quick and easy way to hide TV wires for your wall mounted flat screen? Look no further than this amazing product offered at Home Depot: the Commercial Electric Flat Panel TV Cable Organizer Kit.

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It’s against electrical codes to run a TV power cord (or any electronic power cord) through the wall. The Commercial Electric product offers a solution that is quick and easy for people who want to mount their TV, but does not have the electrical components installed in the right area. i.e. where the TV would be mounted. All you need to clean up your TV cords are:
Commercial Electric Flat Panel TV Cable Organizer Kit
a drywall saw
stud finder
-tape measure
-painters tape

Prep work

-Mark the studs on your wall using your stud finder. Also, verify there is no plumbing running behind the drywall in the area as well. (We learned the hard way.)

-Double check and make sure your HDMI cords have enough length to attach to the TV, run through the wall, and to the corresponding device. You might need longer cords.

-The Commercial Electric kit comes with a template for the pass-through plates. Use your scissors and cut this template out.

-Use blue painters tape to make a loop to attach to the back of the template to place on the wall.

-For consistency, use a tape measure to determine the distance from the floor to the bottom of other electrical plates. You will also want to make sure the extension cord on the bottom pass-through plate will be able to plug into an electrical outlet.


Once you have determined studs, plumbing, and the correct placement for the two pass-through plates, it’s as simple as tracing the template with a pencil and cutting with the drywall saw. Just follow the instructions that come with the kit. They are easy to understand and will help you navigate plate placement as well as feeding your cords through the wall.

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I’d like to mention that the two plates are relatively large compared to regular wall plates. The top plate cut-out ended up being a 4″x6″ hole, the bottom plate 4″x4″.

After you have installed the plates according to the instructions, hang up your TV, plug in your devices, and enjoy a wireless viewing experience.

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So there you have it. A quick, easy, and UL approved way to hide TV wires in your home.

Thoughts & tips

The project is easier with two people for cording feeding purposes and hoisting the TV back on the wall. However, one person should be able to complete the installation of the Commercial Electric system.

Double measure and double check to make sure your top pass-through plate will be covered by the TV and that there is not a stud or plumbing in the way.

Have a vacuum nearby, cutting the drywall makes a ton of drywall dust.

Most HDMI cables that come with your equipment are 6′ long. We needed a 10′ cord to run from our TV, through the wall, to the Apple TV. So, measure for that.


Backyard Plans

Due to the tight constraints of our HOA, any time you want to do something to the exterior of your house, you must submit a form and documents to the design committee. So, last week I began working on rendering what I have planned for our backyard.

Daytime Render
Night time Render
Plans include:

-Adding a horizontal cedar privacy screen at the corner of the patio. Not only to give us some much-needed privacy (everyone has scalloped fences) but to also block out the evening sun.
-Moving 6 plants from my front garden to a new bed in front of the cedar screen. This will help deter the dogs from peeing on the screen.
-Using Blackstar gravel and rectangle pavers to make a pathway from the patio to the fence gate.
-Adding a bed of native plants between the pathway and the house.
-Landscape lighting along the path.
-A pathway using Blackstar gravel and rectangle pavers from another side of the patio to the other gate.
-Creating a bed of native grasses, salvia, and sages between the second path and house.
-And panting the backdoor the same color as the garage door. Eventually, we hope to paint the horizontal trim and gutters this color too. On thing at a time.

I hope to begin working on this project this month or next- pending approval from the design committee. The privacy screen will be first. The hardscaping, yard work, and lighting will have to wait until the Fall or maybe even spring- it just depends on the plants.

The Plants

I’ve chosen a couple of really great native plants to go in the new beds. They all love Texas clay soil and tolerate shade. I already purchased the seeds and now I just need to start my seedlings.

Native Grass- Inland Sea Oaks



Perennials- Scarlet Sage and Lyreleaf Sage1571020768_f830551d58_bSalvia_lyrata_-_Lyreleaf_Sage_2

Ground Cover/ Border- Winecups (hopefully there is space.)

IKEA Billy Makeover

Like many people living in the modern world, Andy and I have accumulated a lot of stuff over the last 12+ years. It’s a mixture of personal items, hand-me-downs, and just regular, boring items we’ve spent money on. Like so many, I needed a place to store some of the items that were less visually appealing and a way to display the fancy items.

The Solution

Enter the IKEA Billy Bookcase. Cheap, simple, easy to personalize, and readily available at my local IKEA. I took measurements and decided on which combination I would purchase. I also started pinning inspiration of how I would personalize the bookcases.

In the end, I realized I kept pinning white cabinets with dark interiors so I decided to purchase the white version of the bookcase and black contact paper available here for the interior back wall. Afterall, who has time to paint or wants to deal with worrying about brush strokes. I purchased 5 rolls and only ended up using 3. The knobs were purchased from Target. In total, the little facelift cost me about $60.

In the future, I might try to make it blend in with the wall and add trim, but for now, this totally works for us.


My Thoughts on an Awesome Shelfie

Anyone who is anyone has published something about shelf styling and what makes a good shelfie. Instructions usually include the rule of 3’s or using odd numbers, mixing vertical and horizontal planes, and even lists items “acceptable” for shelf styling. While most of these are great guidelines to follow, also remember to:

1. Make it personal
2. Make it functional
3. Make it timeless

Make it personal by adding mementos, photos, and personal items. Here we have Andy’s hockey stuff collection, our Star Wars Mighty Mugs, and family photos.


Make it functional by utilizing storage such as boxes and baskets. This is where I hide less attractive office stuff like a label maker and Andy’s old GIS books from school.


Make it timeless by taking time to collect items for your shelf that are old and new. We have pottery from Indonesia, a selection of various rocks, accents from the 1960s, newer pieces from Target, and books that we read over and over again.


There you have it. My Billy facelift and my thoughts on what makes a great shelfie. Now, for some serious cuteness.


Thonet Counter Stool Review

The time had arrived to purchase new counter stools. I knew I wanted something backless and black. So, I started shopping on the internet and came up with a couple of solutions which included the Thonet counter stool. Of course, with me being a bargain hunter, I wanted the best deal for a piece of furniture I knew I would love for years to come. Ultimately, it came down to a black Thonet counter stool and the Restoration Hardware Madeline backless stool. Of course, Andy was like, just get the Thonet, not it’s cousin.

I ordered two of them from Design Within Reach (DWR). The stools came super-fast and preassembled. When I was tracking the stools, I was positive only one was coming because of the weight of the shipment. It was like 11 pounds or something like that. So, I thought, oh hey it’s only one stool. I was wrong, it was both. They are just very lightweight, but still very sturdy if that makes sense.

First impression: I ABSOLUTELY love these counter stools. The matte black paint looks great on the beech wood construction. The lines are simple and elegant. My butt feels fine when I am sitting on them and Andy fits comfortably on them too. He is 6’1 and around 215 pounds.

The nylon floor guides on the bottom of the legs allow the stools to glide easily across the tile floor in my kitchen. And, they fit perfectly fine underneath my counter-height bar. For reference, the stools are 24” tall and 18.75” wide and my counter is 34.5” tall and 69” wide. If I had purchased more than the two, it would have been too crowded.

Overall, I love the stools. They retail for $195, but if you wait for a DWR sale, there is a good chance you will get them for a better deal, which is what I did. DWR also sells the counter heigh Thonet stool with a back as well as the bar height versions. All of which can be found here.


The 5 Commandments of Native Plants

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you’ve probably seen me post many pictures of native plants. I am a huge advocate of native planting regardless of where you live. Native plants are adapted to local environmental conditions and they require far less water, which means you save money and a natural resource. They are also beneficial to wildlife in the area whether it be insects or birds.

To help you decide on plants for your garden, I’d like to present what I call The 5 Commandments of Native Plants:

  1. Know thy planting zone
  2. Know thy ecoregion
  3. Know thy soil
  4. Understand the sun
  5. Understand water use

1. Know thy planting zone
The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones. You can find the map here. You can also enter in your zip code to determine exactly what zone your garden is in. This is where you should start off with the purchase of plants. I love Peonies and Poppies but I live in zone 9A. It would be a waste of money to plant them because they would not survive the sun/ heat.


2. Know thy ecoregion
Within all the zones of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, there are many ecoregions. An ecoregion is geographical area with plants, animals and ecosystems that are characteristic to that area. Texas has 10 different ecoregions. Why is this important? For choosing what plants are truly native to your area of course! Plants found in a plains setting would probably not be found in a desert setting. I live in the Gulf Coast Prairie ecosystem so naturally I would choose plants found in this ecoregion. By doing so, I know my plants will thrive better than plants meant for a desert such as a agave. Even though the an agave would technically be safe because of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, the amount of rain we get here would be hard on the plant. Find your ecoregion here.


3. Know thy soil
There are 6 main soil types: Clay, Sandy, Silty, Peaty, Chalky, and Loamy. Each of the different soil types has a different acidity and passes water differently. Clay drains poorly and sandy drains quickly. Knowing what type of soil you have will also help you know which type of plants to select because as you might have guessed, different plants from different ecoregions are used to different types of soils. Where I live in the gulf coast prairie, I have primarily clay or clay-loam. Knowing this, I would not choose a plant that would prefer to live in sandy soil. There would be too much water retention for the plant and it would more than likely die. Here is a great explanation of the different soils.


4. Understand the sun
Seems simple enough, right? The sun rises in the East and sets in the West. But, as the Earth rotates, where the sun is shining on your house or garden changes. Before planting a plant, or even starting a garden for that matter, take a day to watch the sunlight direction change around your house. This way, you will know what areas have full sun, partial sun, and full shade. If you plant a plant that requires full shade in full sun, it will die. Full sun is 6+ hours, partial sun is 3-6 hours and full shade -3 hours.


5. Understand water use
One of the benefits of native plants is they require less water once established than other plants. Usually. Of course, there are some native plants that always require a lot of water because they come from a waterlogged environment. Understanding what type of soil you have will aide in water use. For example, if you have sandy soil, and you plant a plant that requires a lot of water, you are going to be wasting a lot of water trying to keep the plant hydrated.


So there are the Five Commandments of Native Plants. If you are interested in have a beautiful garden that requires less water and maybe even less maintenance, try going native. You might be surprised at how many different types of native plants are out there. To get you started, here are some of my favorite resources:

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center- wildflower.org

Texas Parks and Wildlife- tpwd.texas.gov

Wildflower and Native Grass Seeds- seedsource.com

Gulf Coast Prairie Plant List- wildflower.org

Native Plant Society of Texas- npsot.org