About Abbey Howe

Abbey is an actress and writer living in the heart of Los Angeles. She is a compulsive explorer of her neighborhood, always on the lookout for eclectic coffee shops or a forgotten hiking trail. Her bliss is discovering beauty in the everyday, and she finds that BrokeButBougie can do just that. Follow Abbey on Twitter @abbeyhowe.

Posts by Abbey Howe:

The Pop Up Picnic

We’ve all been there. You want to be the life of the party when your friends are visiting, but your bank account is being a party pooper! Truth is, restaurants are pricey, and sometimes they’re not even worth the splurge. My solution? The Pop-Up Picnic! It’s a restaurant alternative that is personal and cost-effective…not to mention so stinkin’ cute! I’m going to walk you through a step-by-step guide to creating your own outdoor fine dining experience.

STEP ONE: LOCATION

  • The beauty of the Pop-Up Picnic is that you can do it anywhere! For instance, I live by the beach. If I go early and stake out a spot on the sand or on the grassy knolls overlooking the sea, then I’ve got myself some prime real estate. But, if you’re landlocked, go for a drive and look around. Is there a field of wildflowers by the side of the road that you always pass, but have never explored? Is there a patch of shade beneath the tree by your apartment building? A rooftop with a great view? Even a rooftop with a not-so-great view works! All you really need is a sunset to make something drab seem fab. Once you’ve got your spot, it’s time to set up!

STEP TWO: DÉCOR

  • Ambiance is the key to charming your diners. You don’t have to be limited to the typical blanket-on-the-ground approach. Take a look at what you have lying around the house: could you use Grandma’s antique candelabra for lighting? What about those empty wine crates by your recycling bin for seats? Don’t worry about making your set-up look like it came right out of the Anthropologie catalog—there is always something charming about objects where they shouldn’t be. If you’re not a hoarder like me, hit up the local Goodwill or Salvation Army to stock up on cute supplies for cheap. Both places are treasure troves for the Pop-Up Picnic. Scavenge for tableware, embroidered napkins, mismatched chairs, vases of all shapes and sizes, or anything else that may strike your fancy! For my picnics, I’ve got a great folding table I found at Goodwill. I like to toss a pretty tablecloth over it and light some candles. (But you can use electric flickering candles if you don’t want to provoke Smokey the Bear.)

Pop Up Picnic 1

STEP THREE: FOOD

  • You don’t have to be a top chef to create a lovely meal. As a beginner in the kitchen, I have to remind myself not to stress and to just keep it simple. The most important part of a Pop-Up Picnic is the company and conversation. But, if you happen to be a student at Le Cordon Bleu…whipping up a cherry clafoutis wouldn’t hurt anyone.  But remember, breaking the bread doesn’t have to break the bank. On a budget, you can easily make tried and true picnic cuisine: potato salad, chicken cold cuts, lemonade, and fruit salad. You can also spice it up by thinking outside the box: tabbouleh, salted almonds, tomato bruschetta, or figs with blue cheese. For drinks, bring some sparkling peach juice or iced tea. A charming way to transport beverages is in Mason jars. Lastly, the most important picnic element: the picnic basket! You can find beautiful wicker baskets at any thrift store, and, if you’re crafty, personalize your selection with some lace or a monogram.

Where will your next picnic pop up?

Small Apartment, Smaller Budget: How To Transform A Hovel Into A Haven

A pair of twenty-somethings with no furnishings aside from a Hello Kitty toaster move into a 600-sq. ft. hovel in the heart of Los Angeles. My roommate and I are those twenty-somethings, and that hovel is our home, complete with a kitchenette, a bathroom so small that your knees bump the bathtub when you sit on the toilet, and a single bedroom into which we have managed to squeeze two twin-size beds. The truth is: life is expensive. To make our little space lovely, we had to get creative. Here are 5 ways that make our home seem more cozy than claustrophobic.

It’s the Little Things: Sometimes, it’s the smallest details that make the biggest difference. For example, if you have boring cabinetry, switch out the knobs and handles with decorative ones. Our favorite finds are from Anthropologie and World Market. Also, let’s not sugar coat: in a small space, smells matter. When my roommate steams broccoli for lunch, we can still smell it by bedtime. To counteract the stench, we’ve equipped each room with candles. (The ones with the wooden wicks are like a crackling mini-fireplace.) And lastly, there’s nothing lovelier than a room with fresh flowers. Trader Joe’s has bouquets for only $3.99.

Cute and Contained: Extra clutter never helps a calming space, so we only house what we need and love. For us, that love is clothes. If this is true for you, invest in a dressing rack where you hang your nicest things. Your guests will think you’re stylish, and you’ll have your favorite pieces at easy access. For other necessities, get creative! Go to Goodwill or Ikea to find interesting jars to house cotton swabs or flour and sugar.

Homemade: I don’t know about you, but there is something homey about food that you’ve made yourself. Opening the fridge to see Tupperware holding homemade soup, quinoa, or green bean salad is infinitely better than a greasy box of takeout. Plus, it’s cheaper. If your bananas go brown, make some banana bread! Home movie night? Pop some dollar store kernels on the stove and enjoy an economical treat.

A Clean Kitchen is a Clean Mind: In a small apartment, one day off dish-duty is a recipe for disgusting. Trust me. So I take a cue from my father who, in his fifty-two years, has never gone to bed with a dirty kitchen. Still, cleaning sucks. That’s why my roommate and I splurge (just a little) on our cleaning products so we get excited to keep tidy. We like Mrs. Meyer’s. They have tons of scents, and they’re environmentally friendly! Our favorites are basil and radish.

Splurge: Lastly, if you must splurge on one thing, splurge on a nice couch. Even if your beds are squished together like Tetris-pieces, you will always have a civilized place to sit. Plus, you’ll have a place for guests to stay.

And by splurge, we mean Craigslist.