Jessica Yonker

"Now you're just some flokati that I used to know."

Jessica Yonker is a writer for HGTV.com and a professional glitter handler in training. She loves decorating her friends' homes without their permission and practicing for her inevitable appearance on Chopped. Like her mother, she's obsessed with lamps, mirrors and microfiber throws. Unlike her mother, she has an unexplained aversion to chalkboard paint.

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POSTS BY Jessica Yonker

  • Tell Your Friends

Last week we talked corded phones for their usefulness during power outages (and their general, overall cuteness). You all brought up great ideas for what you should keep stashed in case of emergencies, like Sharon, who keeps a battery-powered weather radio or Holly, who keeps everything from water to flashlights to full meals.

Emergency Kit

Courtesy of Emergency Supplies Blog

No matter how safe you may feel in your neighborhood, you can never predict when disaster will strike. It’s vital to have both an emergency kit and a plan, and to be sure you and all your family members — even children — know how to use the items in the kit and understand your family’s disaster plan.

What you keep in that kit may differ a little depending on your family’s specific needs — like extra medications or supplies for common weather emergencies in your area — but here are several items the most basic emergency kit should have:

  • Bottled water
  • At least 3 days worth of food
  • First-aid kit
  • Glowsticks AND Flashlights (don’t forget batteries!)
  • Blankets
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Emergency contact info
  • Copies of important documents
  • Change of clothes
  • Extra set of car and house keys
  • Spare set of contacts/glasses (I would be doomed without mine)
  • Paper and pen

Make sure to store your kit in a safe place where it won’t get damaged, but that it’s not so out-of-sight that you can actually get to it if there is a real emergency. A good idea is to establish an escape route, then put your supplies somewhere along that path. It also never hurts to keep a separate stock of supplies in your vehicle. Remember, when it comes to you and your family, you’re always better off safe than sorry!

For more advice on emergency-preparedness see: Preparing a Disaster Plan

And for more on surviving homeownership: 

Lazy Homeowners Rejoice! Home Maintenance Made Easy

House Diaries: Best Tips So Far (From You!)

House Diaries: Making Lists + Getting Inspired

  • Tell Your Friends

One of the first memories I have from college is watching one of my friends attempt to stretch a twin sheet over a mattress that was too long for it while his roommate and parents wailed, “It’s not going to fit!”  It didn’t, and back into the hordes of crazed move-in day shoppers he went.

pbteen dorm bedding set

Damask Bedding Bundle in black from pbteen.com

“Twin XL” is a phrase that suddenly has a lot of meaning for the new college student, and can mean the difference between plopping down onto a freshly made bed or an angst-ridden trek back to the store in search of larger sheets. To accommodate taller students, most dorm rooms are equipped with Twin XL mattresses, which are about 5 inches longer than a standard twin. The only way to be sure is to contact the residence hall directly – often information on a university housing webpage is outdated – and the staff will be able to tell you exactly what size you need.

Once you’ve got that information, you’re free to pick whatever style bedding fits you. Make sure to pick up a mattress protector (do you know how many germs build up in there?) and an eggshell or foam pad if you need extra support!

dormify beddings

California Girl and New Age Neutral bedding set collections from Dormify

What else do you want to know about dorm life? Tell us in the comments and come back next week for another decorating tip from me – HGTV.com’s dorm decor-savvy intern!

  • Tell Your Friends
Corded Princess Phone Etsy

Red Princess Phone from Etsy user PeppermintNattyInc.

No, I’m not kidding. Let me explain: I visited my parents over the weekend to find that really bad storms had ripped through the area. Our neighbors’ cable line fell, a school zone sign dangled from a nearby streetlight, and my brother recounted how not one, but two trees within blocks from our house had been split completely in half by lightning. On top of all that, the power went out several times over the week.

Every time there’s even the tiniest weather alert you can find me frantically calling home. Typically, I’m met with my mother’s confused voice asking what’s wrong with me, that it’s not even raining. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I’m convinced that one day they’re going to be stuck at home for hours with no power and as a result, no phone. Their cell phones would die eventually, and anyway, the tree-filled neighborhood is already a dead-zone without rampant 50 mile per hour winds.

What many people forget is that clunky corded phone collecting dust in the attic is powered by the telephone line, not electricity. As long as the telephone lines are intact, you’ll be able to make calls even when there’s an outage. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have an emergency phone and you can still incorporate the phone into your decor – one quick Etsy search will prove the corded phone dream is indeed alive and well:

vintage corded phone collage etsy users

Vintage phones from Etsy sellers, left to right: Light Blue Touchtone Bell Princess Phone/ToysnSuch, White princess phone/PhatDog, Deco-Tel Ivory Candlestick Phone/VancouverVintage, Vintage green rotary telephone/BrandosFunkyFinds, AT&T Noteworthy Wall Phone/Vintage Shopping Spree, GTE Push Button Phone/WhatsNewOnTheMantel, North Electric Galion desk phone/CalloohCallay, AT&T push button phone/goodmerchants

Do you have a corded phone hooked up at home? Tell us what else you keep at home in case of emergencies in the comments below.

  • Tell Your Friends

I spent this summer – my last summer as a student ever – interning here at HGTV.com. The beginning of August has only reminded me that it’s only a matter of weeks before I head back to class for my final semester at the University of Tennessee (Go Vols!).

I’ve lived on campus all four years of my college experience – two years in a “traditional” two-person dorm and two years in an on-campus apartment. At this point I could probably, pack, unpack and rearrange all the furniture to maximize the space in just a few hours.

That wisdom came with experience, however. Like many other students, I spent the entire summer before my freshman year of college fretting over what to bring to my new home. Mix together my panic with graduation money and things quickly got out of hand:

What I Thought I Needed to Be Organized:

What I Actually Needed:

  • Paper shredder
  • 10 composition books
  • Multiple laundry bags
  • Laundry basket
  • More than three rolls of tape
  • Magazine rack
  • A plastic bin in every size
  • High school term papers, “for reference”
  • Pocket shoe organizer
  • Hangers

Needless to say I went overboard, much to the dismay of my poor parents who had to lug it all across the state only to have to turn around and take it all back when everything was intruding on my roommate’s side of our tiny room. Here’s what I’ve learned from the chaotic mistakes I made:

320 Sycamore shoe organizer idea

Melissa from 320 * Sycamore cut a hanging shoe rack to fit her narrow closet doors.

My favorite trick for keeping things tidy is investing in a couple over-the-door pocket shoe organizers. They’re inexpensive and readily available in stores at this time of year. They have deep pockets – making them perfect for stashing toiletries, school supplies, and snacks – and what’s best is that you can keep them behind a door or tucked away in the closet.

You could also try attaching clear folders to the wall for a neat place to hold homework, papers or a collection of menus for those late-night hunger pains:

hanging pocket folder organizer

Remember that whatever you do, organization is priority number one in a dorm room. Priority number two is not attempting to take your house with you to college.

For more creative ideas on controlling clutter in a dorm or small space, check out:

Clever Uses for Everyday Items in the Home Office

Repurposing Household Items for Closet Organization

Stylish Storage Solutions

  • Tell Your Friends

Homeownership can be tough. Whether you own a new house or you’ve had one for years, there’s often a surprise waiting just around the corner.

But don’t panic. If you’re confused about anything from the right tool for the job to checking for termites, we’ll help. Starting today we’ll be giving you weekly advice on everything you need to become a true do-it-yourself homeowner.

Jennifer Berno plant bucket toolbox

Be creative with how you keep your tools organized. Jennifer Berno from HGTV Magazine uses colorful hanging planters to store her tools. Photo by Alison Gootee.

As the child of two aircraft mechanics, nothing frustrates me more than not having proper tools for whatever project I may be working on. And while you may not ever need a duffel bag full of different-sized wrenches (like at my house) you certainly should  have a complete set of basic tools. It doesn’t cost a lot either – you can get a pretty hefty set of tools that will meet most of your needs for under $150.

Here are a few items to get you started:

  • Hammer
  • Torpedo Level
  • A screwdriver set or a multihead screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Pliers – needle nose and vise grips
  • Utility knife
  • Tape measure
  • Pry bar
  • Hand saw
  • Painter’s tape – good for marking areas without marring surfaces!
  • An assortment of various nails, screws and fasteners
  • Pencils, pens and a notebook for marking and making notes
  • Safety goggles (your eyes will thank you later!)

And for heavier projects, plus bonus points and overall homeowner glory:

  • Cordless drill
  • Circular saw
  • Reciprocating saw

Remember, your tool box doesn’t have to be complete in a day. If dropping over a hundred dollars on tools all at once is out of your budget, try picking up an item or two every time you visit the hardware store. Either way, you’ll be glad you bought them!

What’s in your toolbox? What skills do want to learn? Leave us questions/comments about how we can help you have the best house on the block!

  • Tell Your Friends

Thousands of die-hard comic book fans will spend the next four days flooding the San Diego Convention Center for the 43rd annual Comic-Con International. They’ll do everything from attending movie screenings to waiting in long lines to snag autographs from their favorite artists, authors and actors.

I was inspired by Comic-Con and put together a shopping list of sorts that will help add a little comic book flair to your home. These pieces will give your space that perfect pow! bam! wham!

Oscar Nunez Comic Shelf

Comic Shelf by Oscar Nunez

Even if comic books aren’t your thing, you can’t resist this sleek but playful shelf by Oscar Nunez. The shelves are available in two sizes and come in either a beautiful walnut or clean white.

Urbankind Comic Pop Art Table Ben Allen

Lady Table by Ben Allen from Urbankind

Roy Lichtenstein would be proud of this colorful Pop Art coffee table by Ben Allen. What started as a simple Danish coffee table was brought to life with a vibrant comic book design.

Comic strip decoupage chair Bombus

Comic decoupage chair by Bombus

We haven’t forgotten you, superhero fans! This decoupage chair has been adorned with classic comic strips. Amelia over at Bombus will create a custom chair with your favorite characters.

Which comic-book inspired piece has you ready to leap a tall building in a single bound?

  • Tell Your Friends

Pucker up! It’s International Kissing Day, and we’re celebrating by curling up with these sexy designer lip sofas.

heller studio 65 bocca lips couch

Heller Bocca sofa by Studio 65

The sofas draw inspiration from the 1937 original designed by none other than Salvador Dalí, modeling it from the lips of famous 1930′s actress Mae West. Since then, several designers have hopped on the lip train to create these red hot pieces.

velichko velikov kiss chair

The Kiss Chair by Velichko Velikov

sand and birch roxanne lips couch

Roxanne by Sand & Birch

Which sofa do you want to plant a big one on?

  • Tell Your Friends

Charcoal is on sale and the smell of barbeque and bottle rocket smoke is in the air. This can only mean one thing: it’s almost the 4th of July! For those of you entertaining hordes of friends and family this 4th, you may need some Independence Day crafts to keep everyone occupied.

Fourth of July sparkler and American flag crafts
Check out the projects pictured above and other fun 4th of July crafts and ideas below.

Make an American Flag Tote Bag
Fourth of July Table Setting Ideas
Chic Fourth of July Entertaining Ideas
All-In-One 4th of July Envelope Card
Shoebox: Patriotic Crafts
Sew Patriotic Red, White and Blue Bunting
Create a Shimmery 4th of July Candle Votive
Patriotic Desserts + Printable Cupcake Wrappers

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