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January 2016

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Product Nods

January 29, 2016

I was walking to the elevator the other day when an older resident caught me in the hall and began telling me about this newfound product she just loved. She was all about it. The product- A Keurig machine. Not only was this woman so genuinely and sweetly taken with the coffee brewer, but she was taken with the K-Cups you could buy for the machine as well. Though I’ve been using a Keurig machine for a while now, I so loved that this lady cared to share her love for her new item. Isn’t it just the best when you have something so awesome that you have to shout it to the world?

This little run-in made me start to think about the products I would recommend to those around me. Without further ado, here are three products that I LOVE and would catch you in the hall to tell you about. :]

1 . The S’well water bottle

swell

Okay, okay. I know. Everyone says their water bottle is the best. This one really is the best. It keeps your water cold for 24 hours or a hot drink hot for 12 hours. I like that you can pick a cute pattern or color that fits your personality. I also like that the sipping area- what do you call this???- is narrower than some other bottles. I despise when water sloshes onto me so this is a great feature for me. The bottle is a bit pricey -$35 for the standard model, but it is so awesome to get someone as a gift. Treat yo’self – S’well

2. OXO Deep Clean Brush Set

OXO

There are few things I see and immediately need. The list includes Saint Bernard Puppies, coffee, and white polar bear-like blankets. Now the list includes this OXO brush set. You all. This is the greatest tool set ever. The brushes can clean grout and the rubber edge can clean in small spaces like around your sink faucet, (which is SO hard to clean). This set is awesome and inexpensive. Check it out: OXO Deep Clean Brush Set

3 . Boot Tray

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This boot tray from The Container Store is a great addition to our home. In Chicago-area, you never know what weather you are going to get, thus you need a place to drip dry your boots. This is such a nice and easy way to keep any carpet or floors you have clean. When the tray looks gross, you can spray it down and wipe it dry! Check it out: Boot Tray

These are my top three product “shout outs” right now. Each really has been a game changer in some way or form. What are some of your favorite products that you’d recommend to your friend or neighbor? I’m always looking for new great things to try.

 

Aesthetic DIY Home

Midcentury Cane Chair Revamp

January 28, 2016

A few years ago I spotted a pair of cane chairs at a yard sale. To be more accurate, we drove by the yard sale in the car and never stopped. I so wish I had.

I thought about those chairs for months. I even contemplated going back to the home and asking if the chairs still were around- and then I realized how borderline creepy that may be.

About three months later, I walked into a boutique clothing store and saw a midcentury cane-backed chair. “Well damn…another great chair but not for me”, I thought. Followed by, “Maybe, just maybe, they will sell me this chair.” Then I noticed it had a price tag. Let me reemphasize: It WAS for Sale!!!

I looked at the tag and felt the price was within range and took the chair on the spot. I didn’t even look at the clothes they sold. I just paid and left.

We lived with the chair this way for nearly a year and a half. In fact, I kind of liked it with it’s vinyl leather look.

 

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From the get-go I had an itch to change it up. I didn’t want to paint the wood, so I figured the chair seat was a good place to make a change.

Since we have a lot of masculine/industrial looking furniture in our abode, I choose a more feminine and playful pattern for the switch.

Then I set to work.

Here is what the process I took to recreate my chair.

Supplies:

  • 1 yard of upholstery fabric or duck cloth (washed and pressed)
  • 1 yard of batting
  • Foam thick enough and wide enough to cover set area
  • A pair of needle-nosed pliers and regular pliers…tools to remove staples
  • Staple gun with staples
  • X-Acto Knife
  • Screwdriver (if necessary)
  • Patience

Step-by-step:

  • Start by removing the seat from the chair. (Mine was screwed in.)
  • Remove the previous fabric and batting from the seat frame using n.n. pliers.
    • This was super tricky on my chair and took a long time.
  • Once all the staples and fabric are removed from the seat base, place the seat base above the foam and trace the shape. Use the X-Acto knife to cut the shape.
  • IMG_0263

 

  • Surround the foam with batting and then place on the seat.
  • Cover the foam and seat form with the fabric, center it how you want to see it. Carefully flip over the seat and staple the fabric’s edges to the wooden seat base.
    • Make sure to pull the fabric nice and tightly as stapling so there are no awkward fabric lumps.
  • Screw or reattach the seat to the chair base.
  • Enjoy!

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What items would you give a second life to in your space?

Authentic

Friendship in Your 20’s

January 27, 2016

I hope I’m not going too deep too fast, but I want to write about what’s on my mind. Lately, as I pour over Facebook and Instagram feeds I’ve noticed some more vocal peers talking about friendship. Some applaud the joy they find in association with like-minded or similar-activity-loving friends. Others are outright hurting because the friendships they used to count on are disappearing or not being reciprocated.

The first may keep people from being lonely for a little bit and that’s good, but the latter really saddens me. It breaks my heart to see people that I respect feel sucky and like no one cares. So what gives? Why have friendships become so hard in the twenty-something years?

*Please know that I can only explain from my experience and that this is not an end-all-be-all explanation; just my thoughts.

I think a lot of us are a little at odds in our twenties. We had really high hopes as we entered the real world about what our lives would look like. Then, you know, life happened. Some good things, some bad things, but life.

Somehow, being in your twenties is the first time that you may not be in the same life stage as your peers. Mind-blowing. I know. Here’s what I mean by this: some of us will get married shortly out of college and some won’t; some of us will get great jobs or go to great graduate programs and some of us will bang our heads against the wall when yet another rejection letter makes us question our own self-worth; some of us will move and adventure and some of us will go back home. Please note that I’m not assigning value to any of these situations but merely describing where we all may be at.

I think all these differences that start to take place can at times make us insecure or just feel at odds with the friends we have. Some friends are right there with us and others are in different stages. I think when this happens it can also be harder to be a friend amongst the stage differences.

Though this is just one explanation (and perhaps overly simplified at that), I want to end on some constructive ideas.

Here are my suggestions to those of you dealing with any of this:

  • Be a friend and try to empathize or applaud your friends.
    • Sure you may not be at the same life stage, but if you really value that person, then be there with them in their lows and in their joys. Don’t let life stage interfere with your friendship. If you feel someone you care about is kind of at a disconnect with you, be there for them via text or phone call. At the end of the day, if it just doesn’t happen, then take a breather and know that friend may come back to you at another time in life.
  • Try to connect with new people you meet
    • There are friends that stay with us for life and friends that only last a season. You never know who your next “life-long” friend may be. Be open to new possibilities and welcoming to those around you. New friendships won’t happen overnight, but it never ever hurts to be kind.
  • Appreciate those who have been good to you
    • Sure, there are friends that leave us, but there are those that stick through it all. This kind of goes back to the first suggestion but extends it further. Tell these people “thank you” or show them your gratitude through a nice message or note. Notes are not old fashioned by the way. I should mention I’m a big fan of note writing because it goes above and beyond in appreciation in the sense that someone took the time to write it, possibly mail it, and lick the envelope closed. :]
  • Realize you are not alone
    • For real. Most of us have moments of loneliness. If you haven’t then I applaud your luck and ask how are you so cool like that? Just remember that this too shall pass. That feeling that you feel, someone else near you will feel at some point. Love and encourage that person and love and encourage yourself!

I know friendship can be hard. I know this is just a little glimpse of what may be happening in the twenty-something age bracket. I hope that these words give you some hope and some reminders as you encounter your friendships.

And a shout out to all of those friends that are reading this now. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! -for giving up your time to read, for the feedback, and for being the cool people that inspire me.

Aesthetic DIY Uncategorized

Rethinking Frames Part 2: Faux Marble

January 27, 2016

Yesterday I talked about what you can put in a frame. There are so many things!

The frame itself can also tell a story, so in “rethinking frames part 2”, I’m looking at what you can do to make a “blah” frame more interesting.

One classic trend that I really like is marble and soapstone pieces. I love the colors and grains that are seen in light-colored marble.

Marble and the marble look can be expensive though. With this in mind, I figured I’d try my hand at faux marbling a plain brown frame I had on hand.

I started with a plain brown frame like the one below:

gunnabo-frame-brown__0314146_PE513754_S4

Ikea Frame

1. I coated the frame with white acrylic paint and let it dry. I then coated it one more time with white paint, making sure to get the edges and sides.

2. To make the veins, I painted patched of light gray in various areas around the frame. I then used a darker gray to add a deeper vein atop the light gray areas. As I went I tried to blend some of the paint to make the veining appear smoother and more natural.

3. When the paint dried, I coated the frame with water-repellant spray coating. This helps to seal in the paint.

All in all a simple process. It did take me a bit of time to get the frame the way I wanted it.

Here is the finished product:

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Derby Image

Up close it may look a little messy. That’s okay! From a distance I promise it looks a lot better.

With supplies already on hand, this makeover was essentially priceless. It is a nice project that takes on a trend without taking on the price tag.

 

 

Uncategorized

Rethinking Frames Part 1: What To Put Inside Your Frames

January 26, 2016

Picture frames and what you put in them can say a lot about your personality and values. -No pressure.

Photos of friends and family can demonstrate to an onlooker that you value community. Meanwhile, photos of landscapes may suggest that you values beauty and travel. These are great starting points when choosing items for frames.

Then there are times when you want to fill a frame but can’t find the right art or piece. What to do then?

Well…the good news is that SO many things can go into frames. All you have to do is think outside of the box. Below are some of my favorite ways to fill frames along with tips for each piece.

 

1. Sketches of Important Places

Many artists create prints or drawings of places around their community. My mom picked up this print for us of our wedding reception venue. Picking places that are important to you can be a fun way to share some personality in a frame.

Additionally, here’s a little trick for “matting” your art. If you aren’t sure that you want a certain piece in a frame forever, then you can center your art on a piece of poster board. The poster board has to be cut down to the frame size, but that’s not to hard for a simple fix.

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Print from Wade Newman Designs (selection of other Louisville landmarks available)

2. Old Calendar Pages

If you have a pretty calendar page that you like then cut it out and frame it! Remove the dates and you’ve got art. This particular calendar image was perfect for me because I grew up close to Churchill Downs, (where the Kentucky Derby is run).

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Calendar is old, but a print of this image is available through Rifle Paper Co.

3. Frame Fabric

To be fair, this may not be that novel, but it is a great way to add personality to a space. Often it is inexpensive as well!

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4. Souvenirs From the Past

This is the one piece of art that my husband did himself. It is a program for our alma mater’s homecoming parade…where his group’s award winning float is on the front. It’s a nice nod to his and his pals’  hard work and a great reminder of our early years together.

If you have souvenirs that are special to you don’t hesitate to frame them. The souvenirs can tell stories about your past and that’s so interesting.

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5. Words, Sayings, Phrases That Mean Something to You

“Bless your heart” is a southern saying that makes me smile because it reminds me of home. Side note: it isn’t used to really bless someone’s heart that much.

What words mean something to you?

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Art from LittleEmmasFlowers

6. Draw Your Own Art

Sailor Bear is one version of Baylor’s mascot. It happens to be my personal favorite because the grumpus look is so endearing. I wanted to have some art that reminded me of sailor bear, so I found a logo and just hand drew it.

I know some people are not big on drawing or painting. I get it. It’s not always easy or the result isn’t what you had in mind. When I have any doubt about being able to make something myself, I lean toward the abstract approach. Splatter some paint or lines around and have fun with it!

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I hope these tips help as you pick items to fill your frames. It is such an exciting opportunity to pick bits and pieces that reflect your story and your style.

What are things you like to put in your frames and tips/tricks you have?

Recipes

Magnet This Recipe to Your Fridge: S’mores Cookies

January 23, 2016

Who likes to cook?!?

Yeah me neither.

I am grateful every day that I married a man that makes sure we get fed. Cooking just isn’t my strength. I try, but as friends can attest, unless I made it in a crockpot it just isn’t that great. Don’t get me wrong. I’m going to keep trying to get better, but it may take a while.

While cooking isn’t my favorite, I do like its cousin- baking. Baking is therapeutic for me. The sifting of flour and the steady hum of the mixer somehow sooth my nerves.

I especially like baking when I know that the result is foolproof. Every lady, or guy, needs a go-to recipe to take to events or to host with; a recipe that is great and easy. S’mores cookies are just that for me.

This recipe is one I found in a Country Living magazine circa 2014. I ripped it out and saved it. It is one of those “put it on your fridge recipes”- so good it shouldn’t get lost.

I have copied the recipe here with some tips and tricks, but the original recipe and the credit for said great recipe can be viewed here .

S’MORES COOKIES (from Country Living)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 10 graham crackers, crushed to crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 8 oz dark chocolate chips
  • marshmallow cream
  • 2  1/4 teaspoons flaky sea salt (I usually omit this b/c it already is salty to me)

What to do- with some photos

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

*I usually do not have parchment paper so spray PAM on my baking sheets instead.

2 . In a large bowl, whisk together flour, graham crumbs, baking soda, and salt. Set to the side. – see below

*I use a food processor to fine grind my graham crackers.

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3 . With an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugars for 2-3 minutes, or until pale and fluffy.

4 . Add vanilla extract and eggs to fluffy mix. Beat until fully incorporated.

5 . Add flour mixture to “wet” mixture and beat until just combined.

6 . Drop dough using 2 tbsp. portions onto baking sheet. Flatten with the palm of your hand until dough is about 1/2 inch thick.

7 . Bake 14-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

*I almost never bake mine the full time. I err on the side of less time as the cookies continue to cook even after taking them out.

8 . Let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes and then place on a cooling rack. ê

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9 . In a small heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt 8 oz of chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. -see below

*Tip for those who don’t like measuring: 8oz is 2/3rds of a typical chocolate chip bag.

 

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10 . Dollop marshmallow cream atop each cookie. Then drizzle the melted chocolate on top of the marshmallow cream. (Sprinkle flakey sea salt on each cookie if desired).

11 . Allow the cookies to cool for 30 minutes before serving.

*I typically freeze the cookies if not serving immediately so that the mallow cream stays put.

12 . Enjoy!

 

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These cookies are awesome. Best described they taste like a shortbread cookie with mallow and chocolate.

What are some recipes you like to use for hosting?

 

Amusement Authentic

Where are they now?

January 22, 2016

There are some shows that I firmly believe should have never stopped filming. The list includes Gilmore GirlsParenthood, and Legends of the Hidden Temple.

The first two shows can be viewed via DVD collection sets or Netflix, but Legends, well that gem is limited to a few YouTube segments.

Remember this handsome face?

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Source

As a three-year-old, LOTHT for short, was so cool. There were these tweens that faced off against time to complete a maze. The maze was tricky and tough. You had to push buttons to move false walls and climb through holes. It was serious stuff.

As the tweens named, “Josh” or”Amanda” (those were popular names at the time) raced through the maze, Nintendo-like music played in the background. Clearly this created a sense of urgency for the participants.

Additionally, there was this host that would talk through the maze process. The encouragement he gave these kids was so lackluster. Garbed in a fly fisherman shirt tucked into cargo khaki shorts…I’m pretty sure this guy left Nickolodeon’s filming studio in an alter ego of black tee and sunglasses.

While this show no longer exists, it has managed to haunt my dreams. That’s right. From the age of three I have had dreams of running this maze while the ancient indigenous people steal my life medallions. I also dream of putting together a silver monkey (in the correct order mind you). I’d ask Nickelodeon to bring back this show, but I’m pretty sure it already exists in the form of  American Ninja Warrior.

Perhaps the real take away from this is how great parents of the 90’s were. I was allowed to watch this show with my older and cooler sister. She and I both know how to critically think through stressful situations because of this show. Thus, this show is clearly great.

Next Christmas: I’m making my sister wear these with me:

 


image.skreened-t-shirt.heathered-kelly-green.w460h520b3z1Shirt Via

If you’re feeling nostalgic or don’t remember LOTHT click here . And yes. Yes I did watch this entire video.

What childhood show would you bring back?

Aesthetic Home

Pillow Tips for the Home

January 21, 2016

I have a problem. I love all things throw pillow. I will casually suggest to my husband that we make a stop at Homegoods or Target to “just look” and well…the rest is history.

With this love for pillows come some standards I have for picking and maintaining the pillows in our home.

Here are a few tips to amping up the pillow game in your home:

 

Photowork

1. Play around with pillow size and shape

This seems pretty obvious but really is important. The pillows in your home should be a function of your needs and your main furniture pieces. Do you like to watch reruns of Parks and Recreation? Yes, then a  big cushy pillow is probably for you. Do you need a little back support at your desk?- Try a lumbar pillow. The point is that your pillows should function well in your space. Additionally, I would say that if possible they should visually look balanced on your main pieces of furniture.

Visual balance is also very important. Have you ever been in a home where the couch pillows were tiny? I call that puny pillow syndrome. We were that house when we got married. The pillows on our couch were weak and timid little things. Eventually, the pillows were swapped out for larger and more cushy models.

If you aren’t quite sure what you need or what might look right on your furniture pieces ask a friend or neighbor to borrow some pillows for a day. This is a great way to play around with your space without making the investment quite yet.

2. Envelope and Zipper pillow covers are the best

I could be finished right here. I LOVE zipper and envelope pillow covers. Here is why: It can be expensive to buy an entire new pillow. If I already have the pillow form, then I can switch out a cover easily to change the look of our space. As much as I like cheap and cute pillows, if the cover is unremovable then it is usually a deal breaker.

3. Your inserts do not need to be the same size as the covers

It’s true!!! Your pillow insert and cover do not have to match in size. For example, I may have an 18×18 inch pillow cover in hand. If I want my pillow to be more plush and full, I can use say a 20×20 inch insert. This prevents the “puny pillow” condition and visually looks more interesting to me.

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4. Steam your Pillows

This is a game changer. If you own or are able to borrow a steamer from a friend then steam your pillows! I like to steam the covers when they are looking a bit wrinkly or have come out of the dryer. This helps make the cover look crisp and clean.

*Side note: I would highly suggest that you steam your covers before putting the form in. Safety folks.

5. Be willing to wait, create, and rethink

Can I tell you the truth? Sometimes I fall in love with a pillow cover that I know I should not buy. It is so hard to wait, but I am very diligent about waiting for the price of the cover to decrease. Often I will even wait until the next season when the cover goes on severe clearance. Waiting for something that you really like at a good value is a trick that can save you some cash.

Another trick of the trade is to create your own pillow cover. I have used old men’s shirts, tablecloths, etc. to make my own pillows. They are unique, inexpensive, and fun. Do not be afraid to make something that speaks to you and your space.

The last tip I have is to rethink. This kind of goes along with create but extends to the idea that you can use things from outdoor spaces indoors. I like to grab outdoor pillows at sale prices for indoors. My reasoning is that they are durable, guest and kid friendly, and don’t fade so much near my windows. Yep. Priorities. This little trick has saved me a couple of times when I’ve spilled my coffee on the water repellant fabric.

I hope these tips help you as you create your space. What are some suggestions you have for picking decor items for your home?

Authentic

Recently Read

January 21, 2016

yes please

Via

When I was younger, I used to only read fiction books. I thought personal memoir books were for old people. Well, I am here to tell you that I am officially old and proud to be a memoir reader.  More and more I find other people’s stories super interesting. Other people’s stories have given me insight as I live my own.

I had Amy Poehler’s Yes Please in my Amazon cart for nearly three months. I thought this would be a subtle hint to my husband to purchase it for me, (we share a cart), but the hint didn’t catch on until Christmas. Nevertheless, Amy’s book came at the perfect time.

Amy is just great. While I love the characters she has played, (ahem Leslie Knope), I think she as a person demonstrates poise, humility, and humor. This and I don’t even know the lady!

Yes Please describes Amy’s various adventures as a young performer, a mom, and a friend. She very honestly writes about things gone right, things gone wrong, and those in between.

As a twenty-something, these stories provide learning opportunities and gentle reminders to live your life well and be gentle with yourself and others.

I highly recommend this book. I want to give you more, but I don’t want to ruin this book for you if you have not read it. To give you more I would only take away from the awesomeness that is Yes Please.

If you are looking for a copy, here are some good sources:

 –Yes Please

–  Yes Please

What are some recently read books that you would recommend?

Aesthetic DIY

Luxe Cabin Decor

January 21, 2016

Since I’ve been married I have attended or helped host a variety of bridal, baby, and housewarming showers. Showers are an opportunity to be creative and to think thematically. I think that’s what I like the most: the themes.

One such theme that I’ve been working with is an “Adventure” shower theme. Along with a lovely coconspirator…alright, alright, she’s an angel who is doing most the heavy lifting while I make crafts…we are throwing a lovely lady a bridal shower full of experiences.

Backing up a little bit, this lady and her beau are getting hitched soon and like to be outdoors, snowboard, etc. We thought it might be a fun idea to celebrate this aspect of their personalities. Thus the  “adventure” shower where guests bring outdoors gifts, gift cards to restaurants, etc.

Along with these theme comes decorations for the tables. As the couple is outdoorsy, we choose a woodsy and cozy feel for their shower. Decorations such as Lincoln Log cabins reflect that. But in all seriousness, what’s a celebratory bridal shower without a little glam?

So here is how one can take a cozy Lincoln Log cabin to a glamping-esque cabin in a few steps.

 

1.  Find Lincoln Logs to work with. – I found little cabin sets in Target’s dollar spot for $3 a piece.

2.  Assemble the cabin’s base while securing with hot glue – As this is a decor piece you want to stay put, I’d recommend hot glue as a stabilizer for your cabin structure.

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3.  Use Mod Podge and glitter along the roofline – Using a towel or paint brush, spread Mod Podge on the cabin’s roof. Then generously, and I do mean generously, douse the roof with glitter., (I choose silver).

 

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4.  Repeat the process for each cabin
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5.  Stage the cabins on a lazy Susan with ornamental pine cones

Kidding!! You can definitely do this but this is purely for staging fun. When finished, you can seal the glitter roof with a water repellant sealer. This is not necessary but may help the glitter from rubbing off.

This craft, though simple, is a great way to add some flair to a buffet or tabletop.

What are your favorite ways to shower those around you?