Saturday, November 17, 2012

a quick christmas project...

i have a problem... i like to buy my christmas gifts all year long and then, i forget about them... not all of them,  mind you, i usually go though and figure out what i've got this time of year so i can make my black friday shopping list.  every year though, there are a few things i realize i've missed, or i know i bought and i can't find, or a few things i find as i'm putting away my decorations.  to hopefully combat that though, i've created this nifty list.  so nifty, in fact, i'll let you download the .pdf and print it for yourself!

inventory sheet front
inventory sheet back

the plan is to go through all of my gift storage and keep each person's haul listed together in each box... in fact, for my own personal sheet i added each person's name as a sort-of watermark on each box, super simple! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

farmhouse glam with a touch of urban funk...

quick post just because i need to share.

i took the homegoods stylescope quiz after the fine folks at young house love linked up to it and found out that my style is apparently 'farmhouse glam' with a touch of 'urban funk' which, surprisingly, sounds about right... it definitely gives me a good direction to head in while revamping our very beige living room.  i'm so ready to start playing with more color in here.  i feel like we started so well with our new gallery wall (which yes, is still in progress but getting much closer to finished) but now i'm stuck trying to find ways to bring in lots of teal & turquoise and maybe even some orange for fall. i guess we'll see!  in the mean time, head on over to the homegoods stylescope quiz and see what you are!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

take a seat...

in an effort to keep making positive changes around the exterior of our house i mentioned here, i really wanted some chairs for our front porch.  i've been lusting after these adirondack chair kits at Home Depot but they were around $50 the last time i was looking at them and, as much and i LOVE adirondack chairs and REALLY wanted them for our front porch, i couldn't stand paying that much per unfinished, some-assembly-required, chair.  much to my amazement while i was buying flowers they were marked down to $23 each... less than $50 for TWO CHAIRS!  oh, sorry for shouting :)  

so, what's a girl to do? buy the chairs and rush home to assemble them of course!  jhubs wasn't up to the perceived work since he's usually the point person for assembling everything so we waited until the next day when we got a pleasant surprise... can you tell that they look mostly assembled coming out of the box? that's right, the seat and back slats came already assembled!!!

they're remarkably easy to finish.  you attach the seat supports/front legs to one cross support and then put the seat assembly in...

then attach the back side supports to the seat assembly

attach one cross/back support to the back side supports and screw down the back rest... then attach the arms

in about 20 minutes you can have one chair and in about 35 you get 2!

it took more debate to pick out the stain since i wanted them to coordinate with our front deck but the redwood was the front-runner, it was more about picking between transparent stain and paint

stain was definitely the way to go though and they look great.  we're going to give them one more coat before they hit the porch just to make sure they're good and sealed since they were completely unfinished and we plan to leave them out for most of the year.  once they have the final coat i'll be sure to post.

on a side note, we love these chairs so much i went back and bought 4 more for our back patio.  in case you were wondering, we bought the full gallon of stain (way more than necessary for this project) so that we can re-stain all of our outdoor furniture (two benches you can see on the patio in the initial sprucing up post) and the 8-person picnic table jhubs made for one of the first july 4th parties we had.  more on that to come!

Monday, July 23, 2012

going to the gallery...

another project co-inspired by YHL, our friends that love custom personal art and of course Pinterest that i've been meaning to finish lately is to turn the long wall in our living room into a gallery wall that holds more than just photos.  i love to take pictures of our friends and family and i love to be surrounded by photos old and new (which i mentioned a few posts back) but sometimes the best memories are held in mementos from the trip and those often get tossed in a box or drawer.  in an effort to declutter and not hold onto every bit of paper or postcard purchased i've been working on ways to display those things.  the gallery way is a great rotating display of these places and things.

i started by purchasing prints from some of the artists i've been lusting after on etsy.  from inkofme i bought their teal & white world map made from the name of each country, from StudioSRV  a colorful doberman print looked just like my silly girl, ParadaCreations was gracious enough to make a custom i-heart-chicago print even though that city hadn't been added to her collection yet.   

of course i've been getting some pinspiration for things i wanted to DIY for months too, like the number print containing our important dates, a photo-strip of sorts i created from our new year's photo outtakes and i had postcards and a few odds and ends i wanted to include with some photos taken at our church's fall festival (which i still hadn't put in the frame before snapping this pic.)  i had also purchased a vintage-looking travel poster while i was in A2, the poster from a band we went to see and then stumbled along this beautiful and bright windmill print from Laura Amiss to round out the collection.

as for hanging all of the frames i first layed them out on some brown kraft paper to make an arrangement i liked, started by hanging the large vertical frame and moved my way left and right from there and using the LAR (looks about right) method to figure out where each nail should go.  if you're nervous about that method you can definitely handle YHL's method.  

its funny to me how the wall still looks so empty in photos even though the majority of the prints are 8x10s & 5x7s.

i do have a few small frames to find things to fill that i found in the dollar bin at michaels, which will most likely get filled with the smaller momentos from our daily life like bottle caps and cigar bands.  

the jhubs has recently fallen back in like with smoking cigars on cool summer nights and the band artwork is a special bonus, i'm amazed at the work that goes into such a small detail.  i'll be back with a project showing  the main way we're displaying our growing collection of bands and other small reminders of big fun!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

sprucing it up...

even though we had a few weeks of 90+ degree temps outside i've actually gotten out and spruced up our yard, partially inspired on all of the deck and yard work going on at Young House Love, the way they've transformed their curb appeal over the last year has gotten me excited to make some changes here at home... do you remember when jhubs put in a cute patio for me on our anniversary? i don't think i ever posted the finished product so here's where we pretty much left it three years ago

then last year jhubs removed quite a bit of grass and put down mulch to give our yard a more finished look, and give me a place to plant flowers if i ever decided to... which would be now i guess, the yard is just starting to green back up after the days of 100 degree temps nearly killed it all. the bench is super shadowy in this photo but i'm really happy with how it's shaping up..

we bought five of these beauties, balloon flowers (also called Chinese moon flowers) which i love, they're supposed to come back every year, fill in and bloom for quite a long time.

the mulched area continues along the side of the house and to the front walkway where i've also planted quite a bit and added new solar walkway lights (thanks for having them on sale Target!) and put out two begonias for some color out front. 

all of the changes on this side of the house make me want to keep going and work on the look from the street but some of the big blank areas make me nervous... suggestions for that wall of white between the porch and the guest bedroom windows?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Snappin and Shootin...

... photos that is!  it's been a busy and trying few months around here including busy times at work, my father's passing and a vacation or two but the one thing that held true (other than still having a great family and an amazing group of friends) is that i find a lot of stability in taking photos of our life and times.  and yes, once i get caught up i'll share some photos of those times, i promise!  my memory isn't great and taking photos helps me remember what we've done and brings back the emotions of the day, in reality the photos help the times last a bit longer...

Shutterfly is a big part of how i make sure the memories get out of my camera and off of my laptop so i can share them with everyone.  i'm horribly addicted to photo books, prints, photo gifts and the like.  i've talked before about how i make a calendar every year for my mom & grandma of the year's photos, and photographs are my favorite way to decorate my walls.  my first experiece with Shutterfly was when my cousin's wife put together a photobook filled with my late grandmother's recipes, stories and pictures of the family cooking together.  since then i've made several books for friends weddings, my niece's 6th grade graduation and my vacations.  it's amazing how easy, fun and exciting creating the books has been and i recently got an email from them announcing something even more fun!
the Shutterfly Long Live Summer photo contest has started and there's still time to enter!  It started ten days ago but they have a different category for the contest every week and you can enter every single week.  the remaining week's categories are :

Week 3 (7/23): Water Fun
Week 4 (7/30): Sports & Activities
Week 5 (8/6): Parties & Celebrations

and the best part?  every single entry gets an instant prize!!!  there will be a few weekly featured photos on their facebook fan page (which gets you a copy of the new Lonely Planet travel photography book and a $500 Shutterfly giftcard) and the grand prize is a trip to the Bahamas with a professional family photo shoot... how cool is that!

so, what are you waiting for? go grab your camera or search through your memory cards to find a great photo you've taken of some fun at the beach or the pool or even the back yard sprinkler.  upload your pic to their facebook fan page and give it a great caption, it's that easy!

this is a post sponsored by Shutterfly and written by me!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

it's so cool... and hot...

i'm normally not a fan of really techie upgrades, i generally think they're totally unnecessary and a waste of  money because they can't be that much better than what we already have but, i tolerate them because jhubs is a geek and it makes him happy when i get excited about his kind of toys.  but this time, i'm totally sold... it started last year before christmas when i stumbled across the nest learning thermostat, i watched the videos on their website because it seemed like something he would love, that i would poke a bit of fun at, and then we'd laugh and move on.  only this time, i was quickly sucked in by how cool it is which means that this "little joke" quickly stole my heart...

i know what you're thinking: seriously? why would a thermostat need to learn (and how can it be that much better that i've fallen for it)? normally, you just adjust them as needed or, better yet, get a programmable thermostat and tell it what time you want it to adjust and what to adjust to right? except that most thermostats don't know about daylight savings time and that jhubs gets up way before i do generally, my work schedule changes every week, we're sometimes gone for 10-12 hours at a time and, since we live in the midwest, the weather outside changes from warm to cold to rain to hot sometimes all in the same day so we generally come home to a house that's totally the wrong temperature.  besides those fun facts, i'm pretty cheap when it comes to paying utility bills, so cheap in fact that i won't turn the heat up past 65 in the house during the winter unless we're having people over, and even then those people are wearing sweat shirts or fleece jackets because they know we don't crank the heat. (best.friends.ever).

for me to stumble upon a thermostat that i don't have to program because it 'learns' what we're comfortable with just by the way we adjust it, we can check on the temp and adjust it from our phones or any computer, there's an app for that, and it saves energy with several cool features? SOLD!  even better, from what i understand, it's from the creator of the iphone (the guy, not apple co.) so it's got very clean lines, it's user friendly, is super easy to install, came with everything we needed to install it, and it downloads its own software upgrades so that we don't have to buy a new one every two years which means that it's a techie toy that keeps on giving!

have i over-explained it enough? i'm stupidly in love with a thermostat!!  here's some install pics, it was super simple, you can check out the full how-to video on their website.

cut the power then remove the thermostat front (we did this step backwards):

label the wires with the provided stickers:

disconnect the wires and remove the back plate:

make sure the inspector is watching all steps:

screw the back plate to the wall to cover old holes (we had a bunch, yikes), feed the wires through the new backplate:

make sure everything is level (yep, built in level!) before securing to the wall and then hook up the wires:

turn the power back on and follow the on-screen instructions:

connect it to your home wifi and enter your zipcode, preferences, etc:

then log-in to their site and set up your account so you can control it from anywhere:

during the account set-up process it detected the thermostat on our network, which made me a little giddy. easy technology that will save me money and playing with it just got the jhubs a little geeked out, i love it!!  plus, when we patch and paint the walls in the living room that back plate can be painted to match or be removed for a super sleek, we just stuck it there, kind of look.

btw, of course they didn't pay me to write this and i'm not getting (or expecting) any extra love from the nest people for loving their product, i'm sharing just to share! and yes, it's kind of pricey for this fairly simple upgrade so we did our research on the energy savings and made sure to check that our existing wiring was compatible for the thermostat before shelling out the cash., what can i say, i'm cheapskate that likes to shop!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

it's going to be a very sparkly day...

a few years from now, after the lovely brenza finishes with college, (remember when we made art for her first apartment here, you'll have to see what it looks like in her new place!) it's going to be a very sparkly day, a sparkly wedding day!!!

 (not her real dress... just the one i made her try on one day because she had been loving it)

brenza loves bling and sparkles and all sorts of pretty girly things, so of course, her wedding day needs to be the epitomy of sparkles and girly and fun, without making jay throw up glitter that is!  the plan for her wedding started way before she and  jay got engaged.  

it actually started when i showed her some ideas my sis and i had for her upcoming wedding. ideas that we, of course, compiled on and from pinterest (how did we live without it?).  you can see all of our wedding pins here.  brenza fell in love with brooch bouquets and knew she'd need one.  then we found crystal bouquets that would be great for the bridesmaids and, i'm pretty sure i may love them even more than she does and she's pretty pumped.  we knew we'd need to DIY them after seeing several on etsy that were super pricey (gorgeous...but pricey).  i read lots of tutorials but it basically came down to cutting lots of wire pieces an equal length, threading the bead/pearl/etc onto the middle of the wire and then twisting the wire ends together until it's tight.  after cutting the first few wire strands individually i realized that it was going to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to cut each one to the same length and i needed a way to cut a bunch at once.  with some thought and a bit of the hubs smarty pants self we did this:

we put two nails into a yardstick at my desired length (23.5") and then i wound the wire around the nails, starting the wire at the midway point and wrapping around one nail and then the other in a big oval until i ran out of wire.  once i finished winding the wire off the spool i used tin snips to cut all of the wires at the halfway point separating my oval into two sections.  this not only got my wire into equal lengths (roughly equal, close enough for our purpose) it made a nice bend in the middle of the wire to help center the stones & pearls.  then i threaded the beads and did a couple of twists to secure them in the center of the wire before pulling out the big guns.

many of the tutorials suggested putting a hook into the end of a drill and then holding the wire ends with pliers while making the bead twist (if that makes sense) but i decided that i'd much rather hold the soft round bead and decided to put the wire ends into the drill.  

as for the beads, i started first at the Hobbs and then to Michaels and, between the two stores, found a nice assortment at half off.  i only picked up a couple of shapes since i didn't know exactly what would work best and these three packages were $4 total!

once we beaded several strands we realized that we wanted to get some pearls too but pearls aren't anywhere near as easy to find in abundance of size and color for a great price like the iridescent beads i found.  being the bargain hunters brenza and i are, we had already been hitting the thrift stores & second hand shops for brooches and quickly realized that there are lots of old faux pearl  necklaces out there and they're way less expensice than individual pearl beads.  the 3 strand necklace and single strand choker i found at goodwill plus a cute pair of daisy earrings were only 7 bucks and they had a lot of pearls on them.

we should have enough pearls with those and a choker brenza found on clearance for $5 (which included a brooch too) that we can have a good mixture in each of the bouquets, if not a really good start.  this bunch isn't perfect but it's pretty close and has 135 strands.
once we have the perfect mixture we'll wrap the base in ribbon and trim the wire ends so we don't end up getting poked on her big day!  some of the larger beads and pearls will become filler for her bouquet and we'll make boutineers of some darker teardrop beads and maybe add a few flowers in for softness. 

i'm so glad we have plenty of time to perfect these (and wire the 1000+ gems, pearls & beads), i'll keep you posted!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

eating this and not that... beef & beer

btw... in case you were wondering, and i'm sure you weren't, i'm not being sponsored by the lovely folks at Eat This, Not That i'm just trying, once again, to get back to eating less processed, more healthy and much more home made which, in turn, should save us some money, help us get back to loosing some lbs. and give us more energy for projects, yay projects!!

my valentine's gift to us was a 3pk of  'eat this, not that' and two of them are 'cook this, not that'.  the second edition of this amazing cookbook/tipbook has a recipe for 'beef & beer' that is currently in my crockpot and it's also what's for dinner tonight!  first you brown your seasoned roast on the stove until it's nice and carmely brown and there are some crumbly bits on the bottom of the pan.  

remove the roast from the pan and place it in the crockpot.  add thinly sliced onions to the pan and let them caramelize before adding beef stock, beer, garlic and a couple of bay leaves getting all of the flavors to combine and those crumbly bits to add some extra flavor to the sauce.  

pour the sauce into the crockpot making sure to cover the meat.  once it's all in the crockpot, cook it on low for about 8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.  

at this point i have to apologize, after i got home from work, made noodles to go with the pot roast, thickened up the leftover juices into a nice gravy, got everything on the table and enjoyed this amazing roast with friends, i realized that i didn't take any photos of it... none, at all... oops!

it was delicious, really, like amazing... the only leftovers were a few fatty meat bits that i gave to the dog and some gravy that i poured over her dry food, not a noodle or bit of meat or onion to speak of.  most of the onion dissolved right into the sauce and meat so the picky boys didn't need to pick it all out and they never mentioned a bit about too much onion so i'd say it was a great success.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

a very crafty chrismas...

i really wish i could have kept you updated on my christmas crafting but some of you lovely readers are my dear friends and family members and it could have ruined christmas!! well, maybe not ruined it, maybe just spoiled it.  i'll be taking you through the things i made, mostly inspired by pinterest, duh...

i found several yarn wreaths popping up on pinterest and just knew i'd have to make some.  the first i did took forever, seriously, like 4-5 hours of wrapping the wreath form... then i realized a couple of things.  the first being that i didn't need to wrap the yarn super tight and try to do it all in one layer, especially since most of the online tutorials show two or three layers. the second thing i realized is that i should use a much thicker yarn to take up more space faster, it worked wonders!

first up, an all white wreath for my grandma

soft white yarn wrapped around a straw wreath form, white poinsettia flowers and a few berry picks from the floral department

the next was a tan wreath for my sister
 it's got burgundy felt flowers, a red berries pick and a few burgundy buds from a full stem of flowers that didn't get used, all topped off by a green bird (seester is bird obsessed!)

the last is a grey wreath with white and burgundy poinsettias for my mother-in-law, i like it so much i may make one for myself!

if you need a tutorial there's a good one here.  tomorrow i'll show you another yarn craft adapted from pinterest!

btw - my posts aren't sponsored by pinterest, i'm just a big fan