• December 28, 2016

    December Round Up

    feature-image

    Whelp, looks like I managed to miss most of December, huh?  *sigh*  My goal was to have a homemade Christmas, which we did… but I totally underestimated how much time that would consume!  So, here we are with the monthly round  up and I’ll try to touch on everything we enjoyed this past month!

    dining-room

    nativity

    As soon as Thanksgiving was over (ok, ok, ok… a little, teensy bit before it was really over) I pulled out all of my Christmas decorations and went to town on our house.  And since I felt like we needed a little extra cheer this year, I found a pencil tree to put in our entry way too!  So.  Two trees.  I threatened to put up a third, but lost the oomph to do it.  Ah, well, there’s always next year, eh?

    little-tree

    big-tree

    2015

    Then it was time to get started on my Homemade Christmas goal from my 30 before 30 list!

    ornaments-in-progress

    stitches

    The first craft I started was these beautiful Nordic inspired ornaments.  These became gifts for family and friends and were a lot of fun to make!  We also decorated our own home with them – we tried to stick to a red and white theme this year and they added something really special on the tree.

    cookies

    In addition to ornaments, we gave friends and family Christmas cookies.  I made so. many. cookies.  And I learned how to use a cookie press (I think I need one of my own now…) for Danish vanilla cookies.  Oh, and the bread!  I made eggnog bread  and monkey bread for Christmas morning!  I was in the kitchen a lot this December!  *nods*  So glad my folks took care of us for Christmas dinner!

    crafty-nativity

    Another craft project I worked on was this beautiful nativity.  I’ve always been frustrated that I can’t find a realistic nativity with Middle Eastern people – Jesus was not white, ya’ll!  Anyway, I loved the concept of the silhouettes, so that solved it all for me!  :)  Click here for full instructions and info on where to get the vinyl designs.  The last step is to spray the glass with Frosted Glass spray paint stuff… but it’s been so cold this December, I was afraid the temperatures would ruin the paint.  Next year, it’ll be frosty glass!

    socks

    Another favorite thing I did this month was the Secret Santa at work.  I always get too into it, but it’s really fun to spoil one of the amazing women I work with and let her know how much I appreciate her!  And I’ll admit, I kind of like being spoiled by someone else too!  Anyway, the most hilarious gift I received this year was socks with bandanna wearing corgi’s on them.  So silly – I really love them!  I think Ollie approves too…

    ollie

    I didn’t have a lot of time for things other than all the crazy Christmas shenanigans, so I didn’t really consume much media.  I did make it out to see Fantastic Beasts  and Where to Find Them early in the month and Rogue One the weekend it came out.  I also caught Hairspray Live on NBC and I read one book for book club – Yes Chef, by Marcus Samuelsson.  We stayed home a lot and watched old Christmas movies while I worked on crafts too, so that was fun.

    frosty

    And there you have it!  I’m pretty sure that’s all I’ve got for this month!  Sure felt busier than it looks like it was… but I learned my lesson!  I will start Christmas crafts way earlier next year!  I hope you enjoyed your holidays this year and felt the love of friends and family.  Best wishes for a safe and happy new year – see you in 2017!

  • September 21, 2016

    Photo Fun

    feature-image

    It’s fall, ya’ll!  If you know me, or if you’ve been reading this blog, then you know that I LOVE Fall!  In honor of the first day of fall being tomorrow, I decided to deck out my house with fall things and candles.  We also spent some quality time with the pup playing with the ball and walking the neighborhood to enjoy the beautiful, cooler weather!  I hope you enjoy my little start of fall photo diary!  *grin*

     

    dining-room

     

    pretty

    aaaand some close ups!

     

    owl

     

    pantry

     

    pumpkin-muffin-mix

    These muffins are really yummy!

     

    pumpkin-muffin

    mmm… look how yummy!

     

    roses

     

    fireplace

     

    jack

     

    ball

    Happy boy!

     

    walkies-for-ollie

     

  • December 30, 2015

    Christmas in Our New Home

    Feature-Image

    Moving is hard, ya’ll.  Know what’s harder?  Moving right before Christmas.

    Oh. Mah. Gawd.

    Fortunately, I can tell you that we did survive and managed to have a nice Christmas and everything on top of it all.  We even managed to host a Christmas/Housewarming Party complete with homemade cookies!

    But certainly you aren’t here to hear about my struggles.  I know what you are really here for: pictures!  So, without further ado, here is what Christmas in our new home was like:

    I love getting hand written cards!

    I love getting hand written cards!

     

    Deer

     

    Flowers from my in-laws.

    Flowers from my in-laws.

     

    So much food!

    So much food!

     

    And, of course, an owl!

    And, of course, an owl!

     

    I hope you all had a wonderful, exciting Christmas and find yourself feeling very blessed in the new year to come!

  • November 11, 2015

    House Update

    Feature-Image

    Wow!  So much has happened with the house in the last month, I hardly know where to start!  I mean, we still have a ways to go… but it’s really starting to look like a home!  *grin*

    Ok, so at the last update, they were still working on the siding which is now finished:

    Siding

    They also completed the roofing and outside paint!  So pretty!  Every other house on our street is brown so far, so the blue-gray really stands out and looks amazing!  The stonework is incredible with the gray too – I wish I had an up-close picture of it to show just how well it matches.

    In addition to the work outside, they have also come a long way inside.  We have all our cabinets:

    Kitchen

    And the tile and granite is almost complete:

    Tile-and-Granite

    And they put in the faucet and dishwasher last week:

    Dishwasher

    You guys, my kitchen is starting to look useable!  We saw the oven and microwave in the garage, so that must be coming next week.  Doesn’t it all look so beautiful together?

    Let’s see what else there is…. Oh!  They did all the tile and floors and cabinets and fixtures in the bathrooms too!   I can’t wait to soak in this tub with some fancy bubble bath!

    Bath

    Another big thing they recently wrapped up is the lighting.  Look how pretty at night!  *grin*

    Lights

    I’m sure I missed something else they worked on, but there is just so much!  They still have a long way to go… we need the stonework on the fireplace, carpets, lots of touch up spots and re-painting, as well as all the grass and fencing outside.  BUT STILL.  Hopefully we’ll stay on track and we’ll be able to move in the first week of December.  We better stay on track… we gave notice to the apartments yesterday so… yeah.

    Keep your fingers crossed for us and hopefully the next house update I do will be the finished product!

  • May 13, 2015

    How to Sell Your House

    For-Sale

    In the midst of selling my house, I feel super inclined to share what I’ve been learning and putting into practice!  I hope you have so much luck selling your house!  First, you have to ask yourself:

    Are you Ready?

    Make an honest assessment whether or not you are really ready to move.  Is now a good time in the market?  Do you have a huge amount of time, energy, and resources to invest in moving right now?  Are you ready to hear about how your home does and doesn’t measure up (like, really ready)?

    Partner Up

    Find a realtor you love and whose opinion you respect – you will be spending a lot of time with this person in the coming months, you might as well enjoy their company.  Ask friends and coworkers for recommendations and if you meet someone but they rub you wrong or don’t seem to be doing anything to help you, move on!  Don’t waste your time working with someone who isn’t providing what you need.

    Clean and Clear

    Clean everything – yard, windows, carpets, pantry and closets…  Hire help if you need to.  The newer and shinier everything looks, the better.  If it isn’t shiny, people will notice and people will gripe about it, so don’t give them that opportunity.  Pay special attention to the front of the house because first impressions really do matter.

    Be wary of smells in the house.  A lot of people think you should bake cookies or light candles for showings, but that usually just makes buyers think there is a smell you’re trying to cover up.  Definitely don’t use plug-ins!  Smells can carry different connotations for different people, so just make it smell clean, not “homey.”

    Clear out as much of your personal stuff as you possibly can.  Rent a storage unit, donate or sell things you don’t need, box things up and hide them in your attic – whatever it takes to make your home look lived in but not too lived in.  Remember, you are selling a house, not a home; prospective buyers want to imagine themselves in this space, so don’t distract them with your goofy family pictures and clutter.  If you can, paint the interior with neutral colors like tan or grey.

    Stage Right

    Stage with neutral items: no personal or potentially polarizing pictures or objects.  You may be a devout Catholic (and that’s great), but if a Buddhist is thinking about buying your house, they probably don’t want to be met with a giant crucifix on the living room wall.   Same goes for political items and anything else that might be taken the wrong way by a potential buyer.

    Learn to live in a staged home:  keep a box to toss your important stuff in whenever the house is going to be shown so you can take it with you; send pets to daycare and if you have a cat, take the litter box and scratching posts out of the house when it’s being shown; cook on the grill or eat non-cooked foods a lot so you don’t generate smells and dishes.

    Let it Go

    Once all is said and done and your home is on the market, let it go.  Keep up the hard work you put in to clean it up and keep it looking nice, but try not to think about it too much – you’ve done what you can to make your home presentable and now it is just waiting to see what kind of fish bite the hook.  Let God, the universe, fate, and/or karma take over to bring the right buyer to your door.

    Now that your home is on the market, you might as well start looking for your own possible future home!  Dream a little, but try not to get too attached to any one place or plan until you really have a buyer.  This has been the hardest part for me by far… I know what I want, so waiting for a buyer so it will all work out is torture!  You can always make an offer on a home contingent on the sale of your house, but that may not work for the person selling… so just be careful with your heart and dreams.

    Good luck!

  • April 15, 2015

    Spring Cleaning: Closet Edition – Organize!

    Pretty

    Hello again, dear readers!  I know you’ve been waiting with baited breath to find out how to get all your Keep pile back in to your closet without spending a ton of money while still increasing the organization of it all.

    I’ll tell you right now, there are tons of gimmicky things out there designed to organize closets and storage areas and if you’re not careful, it can become very costly very quickly.  Look at the space and organizational items you already have on hand and get creative with it.  Consider different ways to store items like purses and accessories.  Once you have an idea of what you really need, go shopping.  I started with cheap stores like Marshalls and Ross where I had great success!  Then, I hit up the Target clearance isles  and for the storage boxes (pro tip: Measure where your storage boxes are going to go!  I really needed a bigger size than most boxes are made for it to look right in my built in storage spaces).

    Middle-New

    Now that you have your organizational stuff, put it in place and fill ‘er up!  When hanging clothes back up, sort at least by season or type of clothes.  I separated sweaters and long sleeve tops from short sleeve tops and sorted the short sleeve tops between work appropriate and t-shirt.  Then I sorted those types by color.

    Her-Side-Now

    His-Side-New

    Once it’s all hung up, find all those pieces from your original “Maybe Keep” pile – you know, the pile of stuff you needed to try on and think about whether or not you’d actually use it again – and turn the hangers backwards on the hanging rod.  Then, when you use the item, you can turn the hanger around to indicate you made the right choice in keeping it.  Next year when you clean again, you’ll instantly have your donate pile because you know you won’t actually use the things that are still hung backwards!  Smart, eh?

    Turn-The-Hangers

    Another fun tip I love is to use rolled up catalogs inside your fall and winter boots to keep them standing tall!  There are all kinds of boot holders and expensive tips, tricks, and ideas for boots, but catalogs come to you in the mail for free and work perfectly!

    Boot

    You’re almost there now!  Pull together everything that is left over – accessories, purses, and so on – and find logical places for it all.  The best part of this step is that, if you have room, you can arrange beautiful bags and items on shelves to create a lovely backdrop of color.  This also helps you see what you have so you’re more likely to actually use it all!

    Now, take a step back and enjoy the progress you made!  Enjoy the beauty of a clean and organized space and do whatever you can to maintain this level of awesomeness throughout the year!

  • April 8, 2015

    Spring Cleaning: Closet Edition

    Messy-Closet

    As we established last week, it is spring!  And spring is busy!  If you’re anything like me, the improving weather makes you want to run outside and never come in again.  Being outside in the fresh air makes brings into sharp relief just how stale and dark the air inside is after being shut up all winter.  And if you’re anything like me, that creates an insatiable need to clean, sort, and renew every part of everything in your life.

    This spring, I decided to start with my messy, disgusting closet.  We’re about to get pretty personal here, so I want you to check any judgment you might have at the door.  If it helps, go look in all of your messy closets and remember that you’re not such a great housekeeper either.  And when you’ve done that, think about using the following tips to clean up your act too!

    *grin*

    First things first, assess your mess.  Take a good long look and soak it all in.

    Her-Side

    Her Side

     

    His Side

    His Side

     

    Pile of Shoes

    Pile of Shoes

    Ok, stop soaking it in and move on to the real step #1:  Pull everything out of your closet so you have a blank slate to work with in putting things back.

    Step #2:  Before putting things back, sort into 4 piles.

    Keep, Maybe Keep, Toss or Recycle, and Donate.  This probably goes without saying, but the Keep pile is for things you use and wear on a regular basis.  I also include things  you may not use often, but has sentimental value (e.g.: your wedding gown) and cannot be replaced.

    The Maybe Keep pile is for things you haven’t used or worn in a long time, but you think you might.  It’s also for things you need to try on and need to make sure you can even use it.

    The Toss or Recycle pile is for things that have holes, are broken, or actual trash that made its way into the deep, dark corners of your closet.  As you create this pile, keep in mind all the Pinterest DIY’s you have been saving up – you might not be able to wear your holy t-shirt, but maybe you can make a rug or grocery bag out of it.

    The Donate pile is for things that are still useable and in good condition, but you no longer want them.  These things will be given to charity, friends, or thrift stores.

    Keep

    Keep Pile

    Step # 3:  Execute your plans for each pile.

    Throw everything in the Toss pile away, keeping back things you have a project in mind for.  Be careful not to use the recycle ideas as an excuse to keep crap you’ll never use: be realistic about your plans and don’t hoard junk.  For the things you can Recycle, wash and put away in your craft storage place.

    Try on everything from the Maybe Keep pile and make a judgment call.  If you think you’ll use or wear it and it fits, put it with the Keep pile.  If there’s no way you’ll ever be a size 2 again, put it with the Donate pile.

    Bag or box up everything for Donation.  If you think friend might want some of it, let them sort through it before dropping it off at your favorite charity or thrift store.  This is a great time to donate the plastic grocery bags you’ve been hanging on to too – thrift stores often reuse grocery bags for their own shoppers.

    For what to do with the Keep pile, tune in next week!

     

    Happy Spring Cleaning!

  • November 12, 2014

    DIY: Pennant Banner

    Pennant-Banner

    Have you ever noticed how difficult it can be to make time for thing s you really enjoy or things you really want to do.  Often these things are time consuming, expensive, or difficult.  People in general have a tendency to let our passions fall by the wayside as we focus on making it through the daily grind.  We work, we clean, we fulfill our obligations in the world and then we start it all over again tomorrow.

    I am learning more and more that this is how I tend to live my life.  It’s a big part of my upbringing – to work hard and to find pride in that work; to be strong and smart and never give up.  These aren’t bad things.  In fact, I’m pretty proud of who I am and what I do.  I am, however, learning to slow it down sometimes and make room for things that genuinely make me happy.  A friend of mine recently told me that too often people live to work but should really be working to live.  What’s the point of the daily grind if we never do anything we love?

    One of those things I love, but rarely make time for, is sewing.  I have always enjoyed crafting and creating and sewing can fill that need quite nicely.  So, for today, I have devised a very simple, but very fun sewing project tutorial for a double sided pennant banner.  I hope you enjoy taking the time to make one as much as I did!

     

    Supplies

    You will need:

    Fabric (I used pieces from two different charm packs)

    Bias Tape

    Thread

    Sewing Machine (or a lot of free time to hand sew)

    Pinking Shears

    Fabric Pencil

    Choose-Fabric

    Step One: Choose your fabric.  You will need one 5×5 square of fabric for each side.  The fabric collections (and side of the banner) are autumn and Christmas themed.  Lay the sides together, back to back.

     

    Trace-Pattern

    Step Two: Create a pattern.  I used the cardboard piece that came with my charm packs to create a triangle.  Trace the pattern on one side of each set of fabric squares with your fabric pencil.  I did all of my pattern tracing on the autumn themed side to keep it simple.

     

    Sewn-Together

    Step Three: Sew the two sides together along your lines.

     

    Cut

    Step Four: Cut outside the lines you’ve sewn with the pinking shears.  This creates a decorative edge while also preventing the fabric from unraveling.

    Repeat steps two through four until you have enough pennant triangles for your banner.  I used the full 3 yards of bias tape for my banner and made fourteen triangles, but you can make yours as long or as short as you care to.  Just make sure to measure first so you know how many pennant triangles you need to make.

     

    Pin-the-Bias-Tape

    Step Five: Once you’ve made all your pennant triangles, pin them in to the bias tape.  To ensure your banner is evenly spaced, simply fold the bias tape directly in half and place and equal number of pennant triangles on each side.  Easy!

    Now that you have everything pinned in place, sew along the edge to pull it all together.  I decided to sew two parallel lines along the bias tape to help with stability.

     

    Fall-Side

    Step Six: Hang up your pennant banner and admire your handiwork!  And when the season changes, just flip the banner around!

    Christmas-Side

     

     

  • March 12, 2014

    Basement Project

    Supplies

    Recently I mentioned a project that displaced me from my office area and wreaked havoc on my life for most of February.  I also mentioned that I’d share that project with you.

    So, without further ado, here’s my shiny new basement!

    We went from this:

     

    Before

     

    Ugly-Walls

     

    To this:

     

    Base-Coat

     

    Fireplace

     

    To this:

     

    Full-Wall

     

    Finished-Wall

     

    The accent wall is my very favorite part of the whole room.  I had never stenciled anything before, so I was pretty fearful that it would be a disaster… but I think it turned out pretty amazing.  I had the help of a great friend which made the process bearable and so much easier.

    If you would like to achieve a similar style and aren’t sure where to start, let me advise.
    First, you need the following things:

    • Stencils (two of the same if you can swing it financially)
    • Paint
    • A little roller with a foam pad (not the regular furry pads)
    • Tape
    • A level
    • Your best friend (or at the very least, someone who you don’t mind getting a little up close and personal with)

      Paint-Can

    The first thing you’ll do is pick a spot on the wall to be your starting point.  It doesn’t really matter where, but it is best not to start at a corner or at the ceiling or floor.  You see, most houses aren’t actually square and most walls are really crooked.  By picking a point in the middle of the wall as your starting point, you will create the illusion that your wall isn’t wonky.

    Once you have your spot picked out, go ahead and use that level to make sure your stencil is straight.  Then you can tape it to the wall and start painting!

    When you load the paint roller up with paint, try not to get too much paint soaked in.  We found that loading the roller and then rolling the excess off on paper bags helped immensely.  The rollers worked best when they were a little tacky, not soaked with paint.  If you can, I would actually recommend doing a trial run on another wall you haven’t painted yet or a piece of cardboard.

    Once you have your first stencil down, it’s easy to move along by just matching up the correct points on your stencil.  Smooth sailing until you hit a wall or window.  Then, you need your best friend to bend and hold the stencil up for you against the wall so you can push your roller in and cover wall to wall.  I suppose you can do this yourself if you needed to… but it was so much better with someone else to help and hold things in place!

    So, you just keep after it as best you can and after a while, voila!  There is a beautiful, stenciled wall!

     

    Up-Close

     

    Pro Tips:

    More complicated patterns show mistakes less readily than simple lines.

    Choosing colors that are similar also show mistakes less readily than two contrasting colors.  However, choosing colors that are similar also makes it really hard to see when you’re actually doing the painting.

    Make sure you have really good lighting, it will help SO MUCH.

    Using two stencils helped the process move much quicker than just one would have.  As you paint, some will seep under the stencil and end up on the other side… by having two stencils, we were able to let one dry while we worked with the other.