31 August 2011

Book Review: Decorate by Holly Becker & Joanna Copestick

Now that I have met Holly Becker, had her sign my book and most importantly had a couple of weeks to digest Decorate I wanted to write a little book review. Decorate is a 288 pages of home decor advice brought together by Holly Becker, founder of Decor8 and teacher of Blogging Your Way and lifestyle writer Joanna Copestick and amazing photographer Debi Trelaor.

I have thought a lot about Decorate, it is not one of those home interiors books you take home the night you buy it and in an hour or so thumb through it all. It's not a book you read distracted or while you are watching TV. It's more like a college textbook, a beautiful college textbook happily infused with amazing photos and lovely words.

If you give Decorate your attention you will learn to break down interiors and styles, room by room and element by element. Best of all you will learn to to better understand what you like and why. It's full of amazing homes around the world and interviews with loads of well known designers and artists including Jonathan Adler, Amy Butler, Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, Rita Konig, Thom Felicia, Rachel Ashwell and many more. Decorate is also a great place to see the most creative homes of your favorite designers and bloggers.

This is a book that obviously was not quickly thrown together, like so many books by recognizable names, just to get them to market. The photography, interviews, layouts and resource directories make it evident that sincere time and consideration were put towards the quality of product and usefulness to the reader.

Decorate is full of great advice you can use if you just want to spiff up a table top, bookcase, a room or do a total home redo. There's something for everyone and every taste. It will take you some time and attention to get the most out of it, but I consider that a nice, long pleasure. This isn't a one-cup of tea book, it's many cups of tea over a few weeks book that is meant to really be enjoyed over time.

If you enjoy design blogs, Decor8 and follow Holly Becker you'll definitely enjoy this creation. If you're interested in learning more about how to pull your home together and get to know what it is you really like, your own personal style, Decorate could be your bible. Well done Holly, Joanna and Debi!

30 August 2011

New Business Cards

Last Thursday night I realized I had not yet had time to think about designing and ordering business cards to take with me to the book signing on Friday night. I decided to try to whip something up on my own with a little help from Microsoft Word and OfficeMax. I used a Word template and then spruced it up a bit.

There is one sad part about these cards. Because I ended up stuck in downtown LA all day Friday I didn't have time to go all the way home to pick them up. What a drag. So I had to go to the event without them. But that means I still have a nice big stack of them to enjoy for future needs. Ha.Ha. Trying not to think about how many hours I spent Thursday night that I could've used doing something else.

Anyway, I decided to make the business cards a little smaller than normal and then mount them on different pretty papers. I think they are still a little big, but I think they're fine since so many creative people are doing so many different shapes and sizes these days. After working with a lot of creative people and receiving a lot of business cards over the years I am a traditionalist when it comes to the rectangle size and shape not because they are my favorite but because they are easier to keep track of and store with other cards. From an artistic point of you I love anything different. I guess I did a little of both with these. Now I just need another event to go to with them as my date.

It's nice to have a few different varieties to use depending on my mood and the event. The great part is that I used paper scraps from my last year's Christmas cards so my total expense for the cards was just $10 for printing the green cards. I did everything else with my trusty paper cutter and a glue stick.

Do you have a favorite of these cards? Do you have a favorite size and shape for business cards in general? A favorite template resource? Have a fantastic day and thanks as always for coming by. 

This post is linked to the Good Life Wednesday Link-up Party at A Beach Cottage. There's a great post there today by host Sarah as well as fun links from around the blogosphere! Check it out.

29 August 2011

Decorate Book Signing Los Angeles

Last week was a pretty crazy week. It was truly the best of weeks and the worst of weeks. One of the happenings on the best side was the opportunity to attend the Decorate Book Signing with Holly Becker at Anthropologie at The Grove on Friday night.

It was great to have BYW classmates Kelly of EverKelly and Jane of The Borrowed Abode to meet up with. Jane's an East Coast gal who we were lucky enough to have here on a business trip, so she popped up from San Diego for the book signing. It was so fun to meet her after knowing her online for a year now. I talk about Kelly all the time, you know I love her and her blog. Jane's blog is so very cool. It's all about decorating in a rental home. She has some great ideas, just got engaged this past weekend (Yay!) and is a great DIYer and organizer.

Both these gals inspire my creative side but also keep me laughing with their great senses of humor in real life and on their blogs. I also love that Jane's fiance Ryan sometimes makes writing appearances on her blog. He adds a lot of color to all the behind the scenes goings on.

There were two events last night, first a Mood Board class taught by Holly Becker, Leslie Shewring and Betsy Burnham. These are three incredibly stylish and talented women. Leslie's blog A Creative Mint is nothing short of amazing.

The way she puts things together is just mind-bogglingly inspired. And Betsy, well her outfit last night -- I could not take my eyes off it. I was instantly smitten with it when I saw her standing at the side of the room. She wore it so perfectly and I loved what she'd put together. I have to say her hair was sheer perfection. Considering that mine has been mangled by the heat of the downtown day and felt a mess, I was especially jealous -haa-haa.

Betsy shared a beautiful mood board they had made for an online client. The one thing I took from the mood board presentations is that you can have one "ugly" item that has a way of pulling everything together. It might be an offbeat piece of fabric or strange ceramic piece that doesn't seem like it's quite right. It's unexpected and somehow just works even though it seems like it totally shouldn't. So in the end it's not ugly but rather perfect.

Anthropologie was gracious enough to have the most delicious mint lemonade and charming little cupcakes for us too, which was so refreshing on such a hot, muggy day. I spent the entire day in downtown LA and had gone through several complete cycles of being soaking wet with sweat. Not a pretty picture.

Then I didn't get to go home to change because the day went much longer than expected. So I didn't get to pick up my cute business cards I spent the entire night before making and I didn't get to change into fun, cute outfit. I had to keep wearing this outfit I already didn't like that was incredibly hot and I was so tired of. Bummer. But it was so lovely that The Man could just drop me off and I was able to get a ride home with Kelly.

It was great fun to meet Leslie and Holly after taking the Blogging Your Way class they teach last fall. They are both so friendly and kind. I have learned so much from both of them and they have helped me grow and improve my blog in so many ways. I am incredibly appreciative for their continually generous spirits.

Afterwards Jane, Kelly and I enjoyed a nice long dinner outside at Marmalade Cafe. It was fun to chat blogs, weddings, creativity and business with them over a fantastic salad at the end of a long day. On the drive home, Kelly again inspired me with wise and comforting thoughts and fun stories. It was fun night and I am so glad we all had the chance to meet and enjoy an evening celebrating the publication of Decorate: 1,000 Professional Design Ideas For Every Room In Your House.

I have a ton of good stuff for you this week and some BIG news to share, if I can keep it a secret much longer. It's killing me a little bit but then I've been so busy I haven't even digested it yet. I will post a review of Decorate last this week, share my new business cards and other good things.

Happy Monday. Thanks for coming by. I am so happy to continue to get the chance to get to know you online and especially in real life. It's fun to think of all the cities I could visit where I could do a blog-friend meet up. Sending you my very best wishes, wherever you may be.

26 August 2011

A Light To The World - Loving Lanterns

I had an experience this week that taught me a great lesson. So I'm going to combine sharing that story with you along with these charming lanterns I found while making the rounds at Ross, looking for bedding last week.

The lesson I learned is that when we are good, kind, light and loving we impact everyone we cross paths with. I bumped into someone a few days ago. In that moment I had the distinct impression that there was a deep sadness about her. Because of a very brief interaction, just an every day common courtesy, I saw her face soften for a moment and her behavior totally change. I felt a light that I am still feeling, even though our interaction was less than three seconds long.

I experienced a compassion for this person that I had not felt before. I take no credit for that, I am not the creator of those powers. But I do try to be light and share light, be kind and show graciousness in my own little way. It awakened me to the fact that we really are a source of light to the world. What a power we hold to improve the world and help bring light to other people. I love that. LOVE. And I love that other people do the same for me, through their friendship and support, kind words and smiles.

I love sharing light and I love lanterns. There is something so magical about them in a room or on a summer patio. They are so beautiful and cozy. I had to hold back from grabbing all these. But I have to remind myself that I will rarely ever find a lantern that doesn't call out to me and I already own quite a few. So I hope someone grabbed these up and is enjoying the last weeks of summer on their patio with them.

Just like the light of the beautiful lanterns, we can be a charming light that calls to all to enjoy life and it's beauty. It's all so perfect and pretty isn't it? I hope you have a light-filled day. Life is wonderful, there is so much to be enjoyed, even when everything isn't going the way we wish it would. Make the most of it. The days are long but the years are short. Don't miss a moment.

images by kalanicut

25 August 2011

Valuable Books For The Home

It's Thursday already. How can that be?  Good morning to you friend. Since we've lost all our Borders stores in the area one had been replaced with a temporary clearance book shop. It's not much to look at but it's fun to wander around now and again. I found three very discounted books that I thought would be great to add to my creative library.

Here they are:
1) Applique Your Way by Kayte Terrry
2) The Personal Organizing Workbook by Meryl Starr
3) Soft Furnishings by Paragon Publishing

Applique Your Way includes 25 patterns and projects using all kinds of charming appliques. There are so many fun, creative ideas to spice up your wardrobe and home style. Here are a couple of my favorite.

I am very excited about The Personal Organizing Workbook. It is full of great time-saver ideas and I can't wait to take advantage of them. As life gets busier and busier and there's more stuff to manage I am definitely going to try to maximize my efficiency and keep things as organized as possible. This book seemed to touch on every area of home and personal life. Can't wait to dive in and use the tools.

And lastly, this $2 gem, Soft Furnishings.  While it's a bit outdated as far as photography and styling go, it covers almost all the basic home soft furnishings.

There are instructions for several types of window coverings, table covers, napkins and pillows which are easy to update with more modern fabrics, trims, color combinations and style choices. A great deal for $2.

Bookstores can be a big money eater and I've become more selective about what I buy. At a great discount, these three books offered some helpful basic inspiration to make a lot of changes around the home and keep things updated and interesting for years to come.

This post is linked to Good Life Wednesdays at A Beach Cottage blog. You know how much I like A Beach Cottage and Sarah has some awesome new photography there this week.

images by kalanicut

24 August 2011

Quick Peek Leather Chair

Thought you might enjoy a quick peek at my little pillow project in it's lovely new home. The chair isn't quite in position, a little close to the magazine rack, but you get the idea, right? Thank you for saying yes -- haa-haa-haa. Do so love your forgiving nature.

I so love that leather chair. It's the same one I walked in on The Bug having fun scratching her fingernails down the leather one day.  It was one of those moments where I couldn't even say anything, could only call for Daddy to come handle the situation, because I was speechless with horror. Needless to say you can still see those little fingernail marks up and down the back of the chair (even visible in this photo), but I'm long over it.

Also yesterday I had the "fun" of cleaning the carpets with The Man. We basically did half the carpet and then will do the other half today. It's amazing how pretty the cream carpet looks today. Makes the entire house feel cleaner in every way - the air, the floors, everything.

So do you clean your carpets regularly? Do you pay to have it done, or do it yourself? Do you own a carpet vac or rent one? Or does carpet cleaning become one of those things that falls by the wayside? I'd love to hear how you handle it. Since I have rented for a long time and moved frequently carpet cleaning hasn't been something I've had to deal with too often.

We have four hours to get the rest of the carpet cleaned on our 24-hour rental machine. So I better get back to work. I was hoping for a nap after the big morning we had, but I now realize that it will have to wait. Thanks for being here, thanks for all your support in every way. You are so appreciated!

image by kalanicut

23 August 2011

Pelmets And Pillows

Good Morning Tuesday! Hope you are all well. Here's a little wrap up on the Pelmet Boxes and something I made from scraps. I finally got my bedroom pelmet box up with the help of 3 nails. It seems to be working out, which I am happy and relieved about. I was starting to wonder if all my work had been done in vain and that this was not going to happen. So I am happy and relieved. Sorry about this photo, it was shot at night and the professional magazine photography crew that all we bloggers have, haa-haa, was already booked. Joke, joke.

When I was folding up the scraps of fabric I realized that there was a rectangle piece that would make a perfect little accent pillow for my room. All I had to do was trim off the rounded edge from the original round table cloth and then sew the edges, adding a little flange on three edges.

When I first started thinking about the pillow I thought I should go to the fabric store and buy a pillow insert. Then I checked my craft closet and found that I had several pillows that I am not currently using. One of those was an extra that came with the couch which is just never going to get used because it doesn't go with anything. I cut it open and reused half the filling to stuff my little pillow. So I got a great little pillow for about 20 minutes work and no additional cost. I love that. Now this is a DIY success: no cost, quick and easy and it worked out just as I'd hoped.

I have a beautiful vintage leather desk chair I got for free at a swap meet many years ago now. I have reupholstered it twice and quite love it. It's near my bed and I thought this pillow would look sharp sitting in  the seat. It's a nice way to incorporate the fabric into the room in another way and tie everything together.

images by kalanicut

22 August 2011

The Real Life Realities of A DIY Enthusiast

It's Monday morning and I'm all about the DIY reality check today.  I will say first that the majority of my DIY projects turn out just as hoped. But they sometimes take more time and money than hoped. Sometimes I hurt myself in the process. Sometimes they just don't work out.

In January I accidentally stepped backwards on a screw head. It went into the edge of my heel so it was not very painful, even though it cut very deeply. But it took months until it was totally healed. Last week I stuck my leg with an Exacto knife. It's not uncommon for me to jam, pinch or smash toes and fingers while totally focused on a project. Not a lot of damage, but I start getting irritated with myself about distracted mistakes like this.

Some projects become way more frustrating than expected. These pelmet boxes I've made were easy for the first 90% of the project, but the part that has been very frustrating is getting them up on the wall. The bathroom seems to be fine now but I still have another trick to try to get this bedroom window box up.

Also frustrating is that once I saw the box up I hated the vertical blinds more. But I still don't want to take them down, store them and have to put them back up. I just don't know how much longer I am going to be here in this apartment, so I don't want to be doing a lot of wall patching & blind hanging.

Sometimes DIY projects require a total redo. There have been times when I've painted a piece and then had to strip it again and repaint because the paint just looked abominable. Sometimes things cost more than expected when you have these kinds of little frustrations.

Other times people around you tire of your DIY antics. This is a frequent problem for any DIYer in a relationship or living situations where the other party is not a DIY type. I see a lot of comments in social media about bothered spouses who've tired of future DIY projects taking up space in the garage or projects not getting done in a timely manner. But I believe that in the long run those same people appreciate the smart and usually money-saving applications so many DIYers are known for and so good at.

Every once in a while a dream DIY project just never comes together. Some things just can't be fixed like expected. An impossible DIY becomes DRW - Didn't Really Work and can be sent back to the thrift store or if necessary the recycling bin or trash can.

Having said all this, I will always love a good DIY. Most often there is a lot of money saved, old things are rescued and repurposed, sometimes simpler, less expensive materials can be maximized and best of all it's totally personalized. What you DIY will never be available to anyone else in a store. It's a pure expression of your vision, style and talents.

Plus you learn so much along the way. Pouring through magazines and web sites is just the beginning of the fun as you find things that inspire you. You must trial and error your way through each new project. Then you get a nice collection of fun tools: staple gun, paint brushes and rollers, drill, sander and saws. Even though things don't always work out as planned, lots of times they work out even better than planned. It's fantastic when you love something more than expected, it looks better just where you planned it than expected and you end up getting great use out of it for years longer than expected.

It's lovely to have a totally unique home. As I've been deep cleaning my home the past few weeks, spending lots of time looking around at every corner of the place I have come to see and appreciate my handiwork all over. There are window treatments I put together and hung myself, refinished and painted furniture, upholstered dining room chairs, big blackboards I made, art I've created and curated spaces I've put together with things I've collected and that I love. I'm really happy with my space right now. This home feels more cohesive, lived in and full of life and love than any space I've put together in the past. This is the pure joy of DIY.

What are you DIYing and loving these days? Do you have an old treasured DIY that still makes your heart sing? Hope you have a very happy Monday. It's a really big week for us here, so I'm doing all I can to keep the light and love shining brightly. Hope your world is full of light too. Thanks so much for coming by. I treasure my associations with you. -k

images by kalanicut

19 August 2011

Staying Up With Pelmet Boxes

First off, if you read this blog yesterday you must think I'm a complete NUT as I talked about how it was Friday and the weekend was here. I really thought it was Friday from Wednesday night til about 5p yesterday. That was partially because a bunch of things that usually happen for me on Fridays happened yesterday so I was completely confused. Please ignore my confused state. I'm back knowing it is actually Friday and with a new post.

I stayed up late Wednesday night finishing up the pelmet boxes for my room and then today went out to get the most expensive part of the project, a bunch of 3M removable stickies to hang the boxes up on the wall. The was the biggest expense of the project. I'll run down pricing at the end. You can see a before shot of the bathroom here. Happily since this photo was taken the bathroom has been refurbished quite a bit.

For some reason the bathroom box would not stay stuck on the wall, but the bedroom one, which is about 3 times the size stayed up just fine. (Although I'm sitting here with my fingers crossed it doesn't come crashing down at any moment, but it seems to be sticking.) I rehung the bathroom box 3 times and finally just put a couple of nails in the top. I'm hoping the bedroom one will stay up as hung, but if not I have more nails and screws or whatever it takes. Stay up, pelmet boxes. Pretty please.

I have to say I'm really happy to walk into my room and see a little more color and something cheery over the blinds which I have hated for years. It definitely helps pull the whole room together and gives the place a more personalized look. Love that, as I'm growing tired of big city apartments and their ugly white walls and vertical blinds. I have often taken down the blinds in rental places, but I've just decided to leave a couple of the verticals up rather than deal with finding a place to store all these blinds. I'll share more finished photos with the bedroom box when I can get some good shots during the day. The above photo was taken at about midnight.

Here's the cost breakdown:

Foam Core - I used 2 pieces I have been using for my photo box for blog photography & bought 1 additional piece. Cost for all three was $15, but I also had to buy two new pieces to replace the ones I'd sacrificed. They were pretty hammered so it was good to get a new ones.

Fabric - Clearance round tablecloth at HomeGoods $12.

3M Strips - $16.

Iron-on Interfacing - Used a piece that I already had in my sewing supplies.

So I got both these for less than $45. I probably could've skipped the 3M strips and just used a few nails or screws that I already had. That would've cut costs significantly. Can you imagine what these would've cost if I'd had professional boxes made? Crazeee. Of course they'd have been wood and much higher quality, but for a temporary living situation and for a girl who changes her mind frequently these are perfect.

Alright, it's really Friday, it really is the weekend. I hope it's a great one for you. I am going to try to clean carpets today. I'll share more of that adventure later. Not sure what I'm getting into, but we'll see. Then I'm hoping to get a beach day in on Saturday. Fingers crossed on that.

This post is linked to The Frugal Girls Chic & Crafty Thursdays. Always fun to browse all the other linked projects.

18 August 2011

Thrift Store Find - More Fun With Wood

Can you believe it's the end of the week again already. How does that happen? It's going to be a busy weekend. My options were go out of town and relax or stay home and get lots of projects done. I picked stay home. Still working on the last of the kitchen deep clean and need to tidy up my closet. I spent most of last night working on my pelmet boxes. I took lots of photos so I will share them on Monday when the boxes are hung.

I also went to the neighborhood thrift store yesterday for the first time in a couple of months. I was hopeful I would find some clothes for The Bug but only found one casual screen printed tee shirt. But I did find these although I paid what I consider a slightly ridiculous price them.

Anyway, back to more pleasant things -- wood fruit! I love the grapes, the bananas, the carved whatever they ares - strawberries, pears and apples. I thought these would look so great in this white bowl. They totally remind me of Hawaiian carved wood and the 70s. I've been thinking about collecting carved wood pieces, so maybe this is my beginning. Have you found any great finds in the thrift stores lately?

I'll see you tomorrow. :)

17 August 2011

Making The Most of Unexpected Delays

Good morning! Happy Wednesday! Hope the week is going well for you.

I've been reminded quite a bit this week how good it is to have some simple entertainments with you, especially with kids, for those times when things don't go quite as planned.

I have often been good about carrying a book in my bag with me. It's amazing how often you have plans that are delayed and it's great to have something to do while you wait. I find when I have something I enjoy to entertain me, I'm almost sad when those delays end. This past week I've been carrying a book on Reiki, a Men's Health magazine and a religious magazine in my bag.

Now that I've made a cute little case, I'm ready to charge up my Kindle for the first time and that will be a great thing I can tuck into my purse and take anywhere. Something to look at has come in quite handy as I've sat at the park letting The Bug run free on the open grass, play at the playground or when she takes a nap. She's gone through a real growth spurt lately where she's got her own things she loves to do when there is some down time with her Dad and I. It's always good if I have a mini-legal pad, some colored pens or crayons in my purse for her. I try to hang on to restaurant crayons for that purpose.

We also try to always have a few plastic animals with us in a bag. They are easy to play with in small spaces. We've also made very good use of our car activity bag lately. Always nice to have something to grab when you can pop into a park for a while. It's great to be able to play catch for a few minutes after sharing a sandwich on a nice thick quilt under a shady tree.

It's amazing how much fun and enjoyment you can get from a few minutes of unexpected free time. I'm learning, more and more, that the joy in life comes in what you do in the few minutes of spare time you can grab here and there. Time to sit in the sun, read a book, lounge with a loved one, look at the clouds, listen to the waves roll in. Making the most of little moments is the sweetness of life.

What do you do when you have a few minutes of unscheduled time you didn't anticipate in your day? I always love hearing your fantastic ideas and suggestions.

16 August 2011

DIY Kindle Case #3

The day I posted my first DIY Kindle cases I got an urgent phone call from someone near and dear who desperately needed a kindle case. Happily we also had a really nice conversation that day which is always a treat. So seriously, how could I resist putting a little something in the mail. Putting little somethings in the mail is something I love to do and want to do more. Right now I have about 10 letters and thank you cards I want to get in the mail.

So I whipped this up this afternoon. This time I cut two pieces of the two-sided fabric so that the inside is the other color. I doubled over the fabric for extra thickness again and sewed on a little ribbon tie at the top. Super easy, took about 20 minutes at a slow pace. Total cost was about $3. I bought 1/3 yard of double-sided quilted fabric for $4.40 and used half of it. The whole roll of ribbon was $1 and I used about 1/2 of it.

And now I have a little something to pop in the mail tomorrow. Fun, fun, fun. I also started making pelmet boxes for my bedroom & bathroom. You can see my first pelmet box creative process here, and here you can see the final product. I've been going through a whole debate about pulling down the horrible vertical blinds, but I decided to just leave them because I don't know how long I'll be living here and taking them down means I need a place to store them. So I decided to make matching pelmet boxes for the bathroom and bedroom window. Here's the fabric I'm using.

It's a circular patio tablecloth I bought at TJMaxx for $12. I bought it last summer with the idea to do something in my room. Decided to finally just make it happen. I'll share the pelmet box details soon.

This post is linked to Good Life Wednesday at A Beach Cottage. You'll love seeing all the posts from around the world. Take a moment to check out Sarah's beautiful garden. A bounty of beautiful things to eat! Her home and fashions are inspiring as well. A Beach Cottage is a great place to visit.

images by kalanicut

Sweet Sheer Curtains Perfect For Little Girls

image via IKEA

Picked up these darling sheers at IKEA for The Bug's room. It's been a big dilemma, the window treatment, because there is so much color going on in there and and we have that darling headboard and orange bookcase that should be focal points, stars of the show.

So whatever we chose for the window needed to have a little detail but a simple color. I resisted white, due to the off-white walls, but with such a big window is does look charming up against the light. Now we need to get a blind for the window. I may or may not have ruined the double-cellular blind that was hanging in that window. It was old and so dirty. Then I read how to wash it on the internet, "sure it can go in the shower". Well, apparently not this one. It fell apart. I thought I could fix it, but no, that wasn't happening either.

When I went to see what a new one would cost, I was told $400, well guess what else isn't happening. The new blind will be much simpler and cheaper but hopefully still terribly stylish. Fingers crossed. In the mean time, I'm enjoying all the luscious light that comes in illuminating all the pretty flowers in the window each day.

I'm on the prowl for new sheets this week. There's a part of me that wants to dye my existing sheets, but for the labor and the thought of waking up with my skin stained blue, I think I'm going to avoid that project. I'm not interested in spending a mint on sheets after being sorely disappointed the one time I tried that. I have my fingers crossed for a great find at Ross or Marshalls. Oh pretty please.

You will either laugh at me or say something along the lines of "I totally know how that goes!" when I confess that I still do not have a new comforter cover. Been looking for months for either fabric to make one or something to buy. Everything I see is either out of my price range or not exactly what I want. What I really want is the exact comforter cover I have in a sturdier fabric - percale not sateen. I love the pattern but hate the texture. Fingers crossed the bed situation comes together before too long...or I just bite the bullet and pay for something I'll really love.

Have a fantastic Tuesday. Sending you warm wishes for all your dreams and fancies today.

15 August 2011

More S'mores

Last week was National S'mores Day. It will be celebrated annually in my household from here on out. S'mores hold a special place in our family and my sister is a gourmet S'mores bar maker, using golden grahams, etc. She's taken it to an art form that I highly doubt anyone can beat.

My sisters and I all love a good camping trip, camp fire, camp song and roasted marshmallow. I will confess to making S'mores by toasting marshmallows on the stove top. This might be happening right now as I write this if only I had marshmallows in the house. I guess I actually don't have any chocolate in the house either, but I did stock up on graham crackers when I saw them on sale recently. So it was only natural that I would own the cookbook S'Mores: Gourmet Treats for Every Occasion by Lisa Adams.

It is filled with many ways to enjoy a perfectly toasted marshmallow with fruit, chocolate, cookies, cakes and many other treats. Wouldn't it be fun to do a S'more recipe a week and work your way through this cookbook. What a great idea for a photo-filled book of recipes. This recipe using candy canes sounds quite lovely for the holidays. I can so easily see a tray of these along with some steaming hot cocoa, by a fire with friends and family and with the scent of pine tree and visions of lights and baubles all around.

If you're looking for a fun, unique dessert recipe this great little gem may be just the place to start looking for a great interactive recipe everyone can help create. Do you love S'mores? What are your favorite foods to mix with a good toasted marshmallow? When do you most enjoy S'mores: camping trips, family barbecues, living room fireplace? Have a great Monday and if you have a chance, enjoy a S'more today!

This post is linked up to the Serenity Now Weekend Bloggy Reading Link-up. Lots of fun links to wander through from bloggers around the world. Great way to meet find new blogs to read.

images by kalanicut

Lots Of Little Steps Make A Marathon

So many big things going on here. The only way to thrive through is keep stepping forward. I've been trying to mix up a variety of activities to keep things interesting and keep stress levels as low as possible: document writing, cleaning projects, must do's, creative projects, reading, outdoor time, walks, and a good nap now and then. It's amazing the journeys we must take in our lives and the way through is always paved with little steps - one foot in front of the other.

It's interesting to be in the last miles of the marathon and begin to feel a sense of peace that the race will end and all that I need to do at this point is keep putting one foot in front of the other and be there for my fellow "race team" members. I am feeling proud of my performance to this point, I'm still standing, still in the race. It's meaningful to me to realize that I am graced by past "coaches and training" -- every person who has ever crossed my path and taught me something that has made me a better person, a better racer.

I am focusing every day on being filled with love for the race itself and every participant. I remind myself many times a day that "every cell of my being is filled with light" and I try to share that light in every way possible. And no matter how things turn out, I will still have my faith, my integrity, character, love and my peace. What a massive comfort.

I have so many friends going through transitions right now, some moving to far away, some becoming first time parents, some sending children off into the big world, others dealing with illness and others getting older and seeing things that used to be simple become more difficult. What a comfort it is to be together in this journey of life. How much comfort and love we can give to one another. One of the best of life's gifts!

image by kalanicut

12 August 2011

Fall 2011 Inspiration Via Garnet Hill

images via Garnet Hill

Yesterday was a good day. I started it by cleaning the fridge. That was a frustrating chore and I don't have to go into much detail to have you all shaking your heads in agreement. I could not get the bottom drawer out and of course it was under that drawer where all the disgusting stuff had fallen and that most needed to be cleaned. Then getting all the shelves and drawers I was able to take out back in was so frustrating. But it looks fantastic now and I couldn't be happier. And still I have one more shelf that I have to get back in.

My reward for that was a trip to the "SAAAAA-lon!" Such a happy trip! Highlights refreshed. A wonderful shampoo -- seriously is there anything better than having someone else wash and massage your head? Heaven!  Having someone else blow dry my hair is pure delight, especially in the summer when it's nearly impossible to get it dry in my bathroom because it gets so hot I start sweating and the back of my head gets all wet. Then even better when I got home and realized Project Runway was on and I got to sit and watch it right then too.

One of my treats I tucked into my purse was the Garnet Hill catalog. Originally I was going to do a post on a few of my favorite pieces but then this post became all about these two images and the stripes peeking out from underneath, the simple jewelry, loose hair, layers. These two images have captured my imagination for wardrobe Fall 2011, great jumping off points for inspiration for the hair, accessories and simple, layered basics.

These images make me want to go sew up a bunch of cute, simple skirts to wear with tights and boots:  corduroy, linen, denim, houndstooth, herringbone...oh I'm drooling. Someone hold me back from the fabric store tomorrow. I know I said I was still all about summer, but I will admit I'm starting to get sucked into the fall stuff. Happens to us all, doesn't it? Unfortunately for me there will be no tights wearing, unless I travel, for at least another four or five months. But if I start sewing now...haa-haa....

What are you drooling over for fall? Are you in the mood or are you still holding onto every bit of summer? Hope you have a fantastic weekend. Can't believe it's here again already. Where do the days go? Thanks for coming by.

11 August 2011

Late Summer Mantle

Monday afternoon I rearranged the mantle. First I have to acknowledge that I am not a mantle decorator. Or at least I wasn't until very recently. I was a once-a-year arranger at best, so I can't quite explain why I am so into changing up my mantle regularly now. Maybe I'm getting bored with things at a much faster rate or something - I could probably blame design blogs for that, right? Haa-haa.

I started with a summer theme in mind and wanted to move the shells and sea glass center stage for the last few official weeks of summer. I really wanted to add some height which has always been a challenge with this mantle. Fixing the curtains also helped because the way I've hung them this time framed the mantle much better than they did when they all opened to the opposite side of the window.

It was definitely a game of cat and mouse as I wandered from room to room searching through closets, shelves and drawers looking for things just the right size and shape. Much experimenting and rejecting went on. I came up with some new ways to use old things. The only new expense was the ribbon for my new bunting.

This was a really fun project and I am so excited about it. I was looking for something beach inspired and was going through my craft drawers to see what I had that would inspire me. When I found a bag of vinyl stickers from Hawaii I found 4 that were great but there weren't enough to do a full bunting.

After some thought I decided to try to color copy one and see what it looked like. Still on it's blue backing paper it looked great and created a nice little square to work with. Then I put three of them on a sheet that all conveniently had a similar blue background and started making multiple copies. I was so pleased with the faded slightly aged look they came out with on the copies.

Then I went through my stacks of paper looking for a paper that the blue and white would really pop on top of. This green was the winner by far. I quickly figured out my dimensions for each flag and started cutting and gluing. I loved it from the start and after looking through my ribbon supply I felt very strongly that I didn't have anything that was worthy of these flags I loved so much.

So I ran to the fabric store to find something that was pretty enough to hold it's own with the little Polynesian flags. I love these little paper buntings because they hold up really well and can easily be stored to use again and again.

I figure this arrangement will carry me through Halloween. I am not a big Halloween gal, so you will laugh to hear that The Man is fully into Halloween including owning a pirate's costume that is worthy of the set of Pirates of The Caribbean. I am not kidding. I have photos to prove it. The Bug also gets quite serious about Halloween, so I'm the odd woman out who needs to make a little more effort to be festive and fun on that day. I can usually be found wherever the crowds aren't on Halloween. It's a great night to go out on a blind date to a nice restaurant, be at an airport, or anywhere the revelers aren't.

I have to get an attitude adjustment on that holiday. I'll start with my mantle. Maybe next I'll plan a pumpkin carving, cake walk, fish pond and some of the other activities I loved from my grade school days at the school Halloween Carnival. Haa-haa.

So how often do you switch up your mantle? What pushes you do to it? What are your biggest challenges when trying to pull it all together? I love hearing your ideas and solutions to tricky things. Thanks for all you share here!

This post is linked up to The Frugal Girls 8/11 Chic & Crafty Party. Check out all the other linked up projects and all the good stuff you can find there!

10 August 2011

An Hour A Day Just For You

image from crate and barrel

Good morning Wednesday! Was hoping to share with you the new mantle design but didn't get a chance to get to the store yesterday for ribbon and finish up my bunting. Yesterday was a doozy, but we ended the day with a lovely walk in our favorite spot which was peaceful and calming and had a key lime ice cream sandwich which was pretty tasty.

I thought I'd share with you an idea EveryKelly shared with me last week. It's something I've tried to do in the past but had lost track of and need to start doing again STAT. She reminded me to take an hour to do something I love every morning. I've had morning rituals and things I've tried to do in the morning for myself but I haven't been doing that.

In the past I've worked out, read inspiring books and magazines, meditated and other things to get my day off to an amazing, centered start. I'm excited to think about things I could do with this hour of time and looking forward to making some me time at the beginning of the day. I have always found when I do something to keep myself healthy at the beginning of the day my entire day goes better, I never feel cheated by the demands of the day and I'm in a more positive frame of mind every day.

Do you take some "you time" in the morning? What do you do? How do you make sure it happens? 

09 August 2011

Three Soldiers - My First Christmas 2011 Project

Happy Tuesday! So glad to meet up with you here today. I'm starting very simple with my holiday projects this year. I had these three cute soldiers from the bag of ornaments I got last week from EverKelly. I bought a few white and dark brown shadow boxes from IKEA last Christmas thinking I would make a few decorations for the house after looking at some inspiration magazines and web sites. Well, it didn't quite happen and these shadow boxes found themselves in the storage closet for a year. Then thankfully I was inspired to get a head start on the holidays and knew these were a great place to start.

I thought some of these ornaments would work great in the shadow boxes and were so cute they deserved a special treatment. In the photo it doesn't look quite right, the Merry Christmas banner does not go right to the top of the frame as it looks in this photo. There's something strange going on with the shadow or angle or something. But based on how long it took me to get a photo even this good, I have given enough of my life to it, haa-haa. You get the idea, right?

I used foam squares to attach the soldiers and whipped up the sign with some paper scraps and attached it with foam squares. I actually went back in and moved it down a bit more after I took the photo and like it much better.

I am always in a bit of a dilemma when it comes to little projects like this. I always have these complicated ideas and see so many dramatic creations by others that I really like. So I dive in and then when I get going my heart and mind want simple, simple, simple, clean, clean, clean. I toyed with colored or patterned papers for the background, then wanted white. Sometimes I think I under do it and there's a little something missing. That might be the case with this project, I just don't know yet.

In another comedic twist, I am thinking about going back and doing a very simple July 4th project that never got done. It would be great to have it done and ready for next year. It's not like I'm going to find it again next summer and make it in time. I'm not big on the whole holiday house decorating thing other than for Christmas, but I'm starting to soften to it a bit. It's nice to have something fresh to tweak the look and feel of the house with for a few weeks now and then.

I am going to try to work my way through this personal dilemma as I go through my projects in the next few weeks and try to figure myself out a little bit. I'm not sure why it is that I don't get to the more complicated processes that I am so interested in or if this is just who I am. Does anyone else ever go through anything similar to this? I'd love to know.

I rearranged the mantle yesterday afternoon. Goodbye patriotic theme and hello late summer theme: shells, bamboo, wooden boxes, trays & candlestick. I'll tell you more about it later today and hopefully show it all off the finished product tomorrow morning provided I get to the fabric store for ribbon.

Well, have a fantastic day, while I go off to figure my weird craft self out.Thanks so much for coming by. Cheers!

08 August 2011

Extending My Magazine Values

Happy early Monday morning! Just finished a very busy weekend. I've been working on some written documents I needed to get finished and making a few refreshes to the home. Friday night late I reorganized a bunch of filed papers. Saturday I went to IKEA, Lowe's and TJMaxx looking for some home decor values. As usual I didn't find everything I was looking for and found some things I didn't expect to find.

My living room curtains have been poorly hung for some time since The Bug pulled them down curling up in them. Since then they've never been quite right. I didn't like how I hung them in the first place so at 12 AM Saturday morning when I had some "free" time I decided to try to rehang the rods, sheers and curtains while being quiet enough that I didn't bring angry neighbors or the apartment manager to my door. I succeeded and they look better than they ever did before. Hoorah!

I also picked up a better mat to put under our bicycles which are stored in the corner of our apartment. I  cleaned and reorganized the kid's art department and added a shelf I picked up at IKEA for $2.50. Crazy deal, right? Great for art supplies, a few pre-school books and a lamp.

I flipped the dining room table the other direction which I like a thousand times better than I ever thought was possible. Somehow turning it the completely illogical direction makes the room feel much larger and roomier. How's that for weird?!

I feel like I was much busier than that, but now that I think about it, I was. I also packed in a couple of fun meals with one of my favorite people, worked on a couple of holiday craft projects which I'll show you soon, visited a darling friend on her last vacation day in town, went to church and a baptism, cleaned the kitchen a couple of times and cleaned up the big mess I made with all the tools and things I got out for my little projects.

While I was organizing things I realized I still had a stack of magazines I had conveniently put in a corner behind a chair. When I went through them I realized these magazines still have a huge amount of reading value. There is so much good reading material for all areas of life. I had already thrown out the junk magazines. I decided instead of spending money on any new magazines for a while to throw one of these in the purse for reading when I have a few minutes here and there. It'll be like they're new all over again. They are now moved in next to my bed and can't wait for all the inspiration: great recipes, home decor ideas, fashion basics, etc.

Do you hang onto old magazines? Do you actually every go back and read them? What do you do with your discarded magazines?

image by kalanicut

05 August 2011

A Headstart On Christmas Preparations

This post and the projects to come were definitely inspired by a blogger I respect, admire and appreciate, stephmodo, aka Stephanie Brubaker. I have found her to be so generous of spirit, humble, thoughtful and bright in her attitude toward life. These are qualities that I admire perhaps more than any others. I love that every summer she reminds me to start thinking ahead for the holiday season so I can most enjoy it without a lot of stress. Here's a link to her most recent holiday reminder and you can't go wrong taking a nice long visit to her site.

I do love to get a head start on the holidays and have seen that every time I'm done with my preparations by the end of November I always have a highly enjoyable, relaxing December. Last year I got burned on this when I started buying gifts in September and then in late November my family decided not to do gifts. I will admit I was a tiny bit unhappy.

I started thinking about preparations I could begin now and remembered that I have two felt Christmas trees and a few small framed art pieces that I started last year and didn't get done with in time. I thought that would be a great place to start. Next I will probably start on holiday cards. Those can certainly be done any time. I mean making them, not writing them all out or mailing them...haa-haa.

Yesterday I met up with the ever-fabulous EverKelly, aka Kelly Lee-Creel, who brought me a lovely little gift. It was a bag of lovely Scandinavian inspired holiday ornaments. When I got home and pulled them out I realized that these would be perfect to use on some of my holiday projects -- and inspiration was born.

I'm looking forward to jumping into a few little creative projects. I definitely need a creative outlet these days and these small projects are relaxing and fun for me. How do you plan for your holidays? Have you started your holiday preparations? What kinds of projects are you working on? Or is it just too much summer for you to think about it?

04 August 2011

Best of Boden Coats & Jackets Fall 2011

It's the beginning of August and while I insist that summer be celebrated with gusto for many more weeks to come, it's definitely a good time to start thinking about Fall 2011 wardrobe. Everything is in the stores and on the sites and the early bird gets the most fashionable worms, right?!

Boden is a favorite site and catalog to devour each season. I must confess that a few weeks ago when I mentioned Boden and my sister and her friend said, "What's Boden?" I reacted in a manner very similar to Thurston Howell III or Lovey Howell -- on of those obnoxious, presumptious "Wh-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-t?" sounds came out of my mouth. They were a bit offended but I really did think that because they are in general so much hipper and cooler than me that they must know everything before I ever have a hope of knowing about it. I was secretly glad to be up on them on this one. Haa-haa.

I'm always excited to see what beautiful Boden is doing with coats because there just aren't enough charming coats and jackets in the world for me. Me being someone who has to order all jackets in Tall sizes or will have bare wrists for several inches in a regular size.

Here's a quick rundown of my favorites starting from top left, working across & down:
  • Mayfair Jacket (Coral)
  • Barcelona Jacket (Grey Melange)
  • Parade Coat (Black)
  • Leather Biker (Black)
  • Velvet Trim Trench (Winter Rhubarb)
  • Notre Dame Jacket (Sulphur)
  • Rainyday Mac (Shocking Pink Disco Spot)
  • Military Jacket (Army Green)
  • Urban Field Jacket (Vermillion)
You can link to all these jackets on one page right here. Don't you just love the names and color descriptions. Velvet Trim Trench in Winter Rhubarb, Grey Melange...fun words to let roll off your tongue and gorgeous jackets and coats to keep yourself warm all fall, winter and spring.

It's time to get a headstart on the Fall fashion season and Boden is most definitely my favorite place to start. Hope you enjoyed this little Boden treat. Stop by and devour up the good before everyone else does.

Cheers! Have a fantastic Thursday!
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