Tag Archives: pinterest

April showers bring May flowers – and life updates!

It’s crazy that today marks the end of April and tomorrow May will take its place. I feel like it was just yesterday that I rang in the new year and decided I was going to make 2013 my best year yet. I must say, four months in, I love the way 2013 feels. I thought I’d give everyone a brief update on what’s been going on in my life.

april update

In these past few months, I’ve checked twenty-five things off my 213 in 2013 list. Some of them have been small but meaningful – like spending a perfect sunny afternoon at a farmers market, buying up local art. Others were a bit intimidating, like skiing down a mountain for the first time. And some were absolutely life-changing, like finally go skydiving after years of only daydreaming about it.

Free-falling.

In just two weeks, Mike and I will be boarding a plane to Houston, Texas to visit his family. He hasn’t seen his dad, his stepmom and his adorable brothers and sisters in years, which is why I knew two plane tickets would be the perfect Christmas gift. I’m excited for my first official “vacation” since I joined the working world and look forward to stuffing myself full of authentic Texas barbeque. And to celebrate Mike’s 26th birthday in a big way. Because everything in Texas is bigger, right?

Mike's big Christmas gift this year - two tickets to Texas to see his family.

Mike’s big Christmas gift this year – two tickets to Texas to see his family.

Also – somehow over the past few months, I went from having a year until the wedding to only 142 days! That’s less than five months. Mike and I have been busy locking down hotel rooms, rehearsal dinner, guest transportation, suits for the groomsmen and a dress for my mom, you name it. In between all of the big stuff though we’ve been having a really great time working on the fun little details – like table numbers and invitations and centerpieces.

Cute little touches like this make me happy. Here is our "seating chart" sign.

Cute little touches like this make me happy. Here is our “seating chart” sign.

I think we’re now a couple thousand over budget, even with all of my DIY projects and bargain hunting. It’s crazy to me how expensive weddings can be, but I keep reminding myself it will all be worth it in the end. We have a meeting with our caterer in the coming weeks to nail down floor layouts, linen colors and dinnerware. If planning this wedding has taught me anything – it’s how to be more decisive. I’ve never had to make so many decisions in my life!

Only 143 days to go. Not like I'm counting.

Only 143 days to go. Not like I’m counting.

Oh, and in case you hadn’t heard – Mike and I booked our dream honeymoon. We’re going to Paris! And we leave the morning after the wedding. As in our flight leaves at 9:15am. And then we get to spend the next seven days in the city of love, canoodling over croissants and Chardonnay and everything magical that Paris has to offer. Thank you, tax return.

Awesome piece that appeared in USA Today on our Be Cruelty-Free campaign.

Awesome piece that appeared in USA Today on our Be Cruelty-Free campaign.

My one year moveiversary (May 12) and workiversary are also quickly approaching (May 21). It’s crazy how much can change in just a year. I’ve kind of fallen in love with my new home and the people I’ve met, although it has been a long, a bumpy road. My job continues to challenge me every day (in a good way!) and I’m unbelievably proud of myself for everything I’ve accomplished – from coverage in the biggest media outlets to growing as a professional.

New dining room paint job - still a work in progress.

New dining room paint job – still a work in progress.

Updated coffee table centerpiece - sans flowers. Can't you tell I love pink?

Updated coffee table centerpiece – sans flowers. Can’t you tell I love pink?

As for the day-to-day, Mike and I are working to make our apartment feel more like a home, between more Pinspiration and a few fresh coats of paint. We’re also putting down the takeout and opting for cooking healthier, fresher meals, which is making both our wallets and our waistline happier.

I made a homemade flatbread with low-fat/skim mozzarella, skim ricotta and some sundried tomatoes and basil. YUM.

I made a homemade flatbread with low-fat/skim mozzarella, skim ricotta and some sundried tomatoes and basil. YUM.

Which brings me to my point. I’ve been living by a mantra so far this year. And it’s working.

“You are the creator of your own happiness.”

After I graduated I fell into a slump. I was lonely. I felt disconnected. I wasn’t myself. I was unhappy.

april update happy

It’s amazing that the second you make the decision that all of those negative feelings stop, that pessimism won’t win, you regain your balance. And ultimately your happiness.

I’m loving life right now.

Because I choose to.

What exciting things do you guys have to look forward to in the coming months? Any big life changes you want to share? I’d love to hear!

Advertisements

holiday pinspiration

This morning when I hopped on Instagram and saw my friends’ pictures of snow covered trees I was hoping I’d wake up to the same winter wonderland. Instead I pulled back my curtains and saw grey skies, wet streets and cold rain. Bah humbug. But not even the cold rain can contain my obnoxious excitement and holiday cheer – Christmas is less than a month away!

Anyone who knows me is well aware of my love for the holiday season. I start listening to Christmas music on Thanksgiving. I begin my ritual of hot chocolate and Christmas movie marathons. I drive down winding streets to bask in the Christmas lights. I consider picking a Christmas tree an art. And I decorate. Boy, do I decorate.

Every year, without fail, I spend money I probably shouldn’t and bulk up my Christmas décor. Cute snowmen? Check. Sparkly reindeer? Check. Cinnamon-scented pinecones, Christmas tree candles and Santa galore? Check, check, check.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Growing up, one of my fondest childhood memories was helping my mom unpack the endless boxes of Christmas decorations every year. I’d spend the entire weekend after Thanksgiving helping her hang lights and mistletoe and candy canes. We’d drink hot cocoa, listen to Jingle Bells and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree on repeat and we’d decorate until our fingers were numb from all the thumbtacks and sticky tape.

So, from an early age, I aspired to have boxes and boxes full of Christmas cheer. Boxes full of tinsel, and nutcrackers and porcelain figurines. For the past four years I’ve been foraging, finding, collecting and buying the perfect holiday trinkets for my home. It’s my hope that one day… (not anytime soon, trust me), my own daughter will spend hours going through these boxes with me as we sing carols and sip cocoa in our festive pajamas.

Thanks to Pinterest (I feel like I thank that site at least twice a week), I found a ton of “home for the holidays” Pinspiration. What I love most was that so many of these DIY projects seem so simple (and even better) cheap!

Check out the projects I’m hoping to work on in the coming weeks:

Wine bottles ~ spray painted, sprayed with adhesive and rolled in epsom salts

5 Minute Tinsel Garland Wreath

Canvas Christmas art project

Which project should I get started on first?

Merry Pinning, everyone!

home is where the heart is

I’m not a fan of Mondays by any stretch of the imagination… quite frankly, I don’t know anyone who is. But Mondays after a nice, relaxing four-day holiday staycation? Those Mondays are the absolute worst. After four days off, your pajamas are perfectly worn in, you’ve found the groove on the couch that’s just right and you’ve established a new schedule for yourself: sleep in, eat, watch TV, nap, shop, dinner, drinks, repeat. And then Monday has the nerve to come knocking with its 6:45 AM alarm clocks and skipped breakfast and annoying commute.

Okay – end of rant.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving – I know I did. I was a little saddened when I woke up on Thursday to a quiet apartment, sans my two cats who were busy trying to eat doorstoppers (weirdos). Thanksgiving at my parents’ house always involved waking up early to the hustling and bustling of my mom and dad in the kitchen. My dad muttering something about the name of the turkey, my mom making a fuss about the mess in the kitchen and my brother, sister and I ripping up loaves of bread for the homemade stuffing. I missed the chaos.

But Mike and I were excited to start some “chaos” of our own. Mike was off to the grocery store to pick up the “fattest chicken he could find,” while I started prepping the apartment with pumpkin scented candles, setting the table and creating a schedule. Once Mike returned, hilarity ensued.

Martha Stewart in the making… you can’t have a holiday feast without a floral arrangement.

Neither Mike nor I have ever cooked a whole chicken before. I knew that he’d have to clean out the “giblets” inside the chicken and made it very clear that I’d cook everything else if he took care of that one task.  After several failed attempts to “man up,” he finally took the plunge and got starting on cleaning out the chicken.

One of my favorite parts of the day… watching Mike become a man.

We found a simple, yet mouthwatering recipe from Pioneer Girl that called for a few ingredients: butter, lemon, garlic, onion, thyme, sage, rosemary, salt and pepper.

Our mis en place for the chicken — I love the smell of fresh herbs.

We stuffed the inside of the chicken with a whole lemon, a few cloves of smashed garlic (to release the aromas and juices), and a few slices of onion. Once she’d be stuffed, we gave her a bath in a coat of butter to crisp up her skin and slathered her with the fresh herbs. After she was dressed up and ready to go, we shoved her in the oven for an hour and 15 minutes at 450 degrees.

This was absolutely the best chicken I’ve ever had. Not to brag or anything.

As the chicken was browning in the oven, I started the arduous task of making homemade mac n’ cheese. Mac n’ cheese really is a labor of love. I decided to make a copycat recipe of Panera’s white cheddar stovetop macaroni since it’s one of my favorites (who doesn’t love Vermont sharp white cheddar?) This involved a lot of whisking, yelling at Mike for dumping in the flour too quickly, more whisking, yelling at Mike for dumping in the milk too quickly, more whisking, yelling at Mike for the sake of yelling and finally a few cups of cheese. It turned out absolutely amazing. I could have eaten the pound of pasta myself. Luckily, I didn’t.

To accompany the chicken and macaroni we had your typical Thanksgiving sides – roasted baby potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans and rolls. It was quite a feast for two people.

Hard to believe all of this food was for two people! Good thing I love leftovers.

To wash down our yummy meal, I made homemade apple cider sangria. It was surprisingly very easy to make and absolutely delicious to drink. Using a bottle of Yellowtail Moscato, a few cups of apple cider, three chopped honeycrisp apples and a few splashes of cognac – it was the perfect holiday drink.

With a dash of cognac (or brandy) this is what fall would taste like in liquid form.

No Thanksgiving meal is complete without a sweet treat. While I absolutely love pumpkin pie – baking and desserts aren’t really my specialty. So I decided to try something different and make a lite pumpkin pie cheesecake mousse.

The perfect ending to a delicious meal.

I have never been happier about throwing tradition out the window because this dessert was to die for and it was so easy to make! All it called for was pumpkin puree, skim milk, light cream cheese, cinnamon, stevia, pumpkin spice and light whipped cream. And all I had to do was throw all of the above into a blender and let it sit for an hour. Amazing!

They weren’t lying when they said the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

Judging by the look on Mike’s face… I think it’s safe to say we had a delicious first Thanksgiving meal on our own together. Sure it involved the smoke detector going off a few times and I may have found pumpkin puree in my hair later that day… but I wouldn’t trade any of it. Together, we made that day feel like home, even though we were hundreds of miles away.

saying “i do” to holiday shopping wedding specials

I have a confession to make everyone. When I can’t sleep at night (which happens way more often than I’d like), instead of trying to turn back over and count sheep… I whip out my iPhone. And I Pin.

Last night, for some reason or other, Mike snored louder than usual and at 4:31 this morning, my eyes flung up and I just knew that I wouldn’t be falling back asleep again. After about an hour of failed attempts of flipping over pillows, readjusting body positions and nudging Mike to be quiet, I grabbed my phone and started surfing through Pinterest for more wedding Pinspiration. Needless to say, I think I’m up to more than 500 wedding pins by now… for about 10 different versions of a wedding I’ll never be able to afford.

My wedding color inspiration. What do you think?

While I’m still 10 months out from walking down the aisle, I can’t help but wanting to dive into all the tiny, detailed projects that are usually reserved for 2-3 months before the wedding. Things like table numbers, place cards, guest favors…you get the idea. All the while, I still don’t even have my Save the Dates out the door yet (that’s our project this holiday weekend… it is my goal to be able to write in my next wedding Wednesday post that they’ve been shipped out.)

Because I’m such an OCD, need-to-do-everything-way-too-early bride, I’ve found it helpful to consult different wedding planning timelines to keep myself rest assured that I’m not falling behind schedule.

I found this timeline (on Pinterest, of course) and I think it does a great job at outlining where I should be with my wedding planning progress every step of the way. So far, it looks like I’m on schedule.

Besides sharing my schedule neurosis, I wanted to be sure I shared some great Black Friday wedding sales that every bride should know about. I’ve always loved Black Friday shopping (my mom began taking me to Walmart at the age of 10 after I begged her for weeks), so as a budget bride, nothing gets me more jazzed than big wedding sales.

Tying The Knott did a great job with this post about various deals, including discounts on limo services, wedding invitations and favors, personalized candies and organic bouquets.

Michael’s, one of my favorite crafts stores, is having a ton of Black Friday sales which you can check out in its ads here.

Of course, top retailers like Target, Macys, Nordstroms and Kohls have Black Friday sales planned that shouldn’t be missed as well.

For those who don’t like waiting in line for hours with frozen fingers and toes and uber-pushy sale shoppers, don’t forget to take advantage of Cyber Monday deals as well – when you can get a great bargain with a quick click of a mouse. Retailers include David’s Bridal, The Knot Wedding Shop, ProFlowers, Snapfish and RedEnvelope to name a few.

Here’s to a great holiday and unbeatable bargains.

Do you plan on saying “I do” to any of these Black Friday/Cyber Monday wedding deals or do you have others to share?

penny pinspiration

I hit the snooze button three times this morning… two times more than I usually do. I think it was knowing that Mike has off today and that he’d be nestled in bed for a few more hours that made it so difficult to get up. Or because I have no winter clothes and dread having to run to the car in my pencil skirt as my legs turn into popsicles. Either way, this was not my morning.  But that’s okay, because the weekend is right around the corner and I have a nice date planned with my couch and my snuggie — at least for Saturday morning, that is.

So, today I’m in need of a bit of Pinspiration. Remember that awesome coffee table project I was talking about a few weeks ago? The one that caused my fingers to be stuck together for days at a time after I’d come home and spend hours laboriously spray painting pennies and super gluing them to my table? Well… I got half-way finished when Mike accidentally put a huge, unfixable, gaping hole in the corner of the table. I guess you get what you pay for with IKEA.

Rest in Peace, penny table.

So, after we tediously scraped off all the pennies from the broken table and replaced it with a shiny new one, I have about $5 worth of spray-painted pennies and need some inspiration for what to do with them! I’m not going to even try touching the table project again, as I feel that hole was a sign that maybe I should just let it mind its own business.

I’ve done some searching on Pinterest of course for more penny project ideas and have found a few that I like. Here’s what I’m considering:

Something like this would be fun for the kitchen/dining room area. AC Moore and Michael’s carry these big letters for a reasonable price. Plus this seems much less tedious than covering a huge coffee table.

Talk about serving guests in style… I love the idea of eclectic party ware and this seems like it would be especially fun now that the holidays are coming up.

I have a ton of old vases stuffed in a million places throughout my apartment and most of them just sit in the dark, collecting dust. This seems like a fun easy way to add some personality to an otherwise boring piece.

So – which of these penny projects do you think has the potential to be a hundred dollar idea? Any other cool projects you’ve seen floating around? I’d love to see them.

Whatever I do with these 500 pennies, I need to figure it out…and quick. Because finding them strewn across my apartment, hiding in my shoes and now sitting in my shower thanks to my two little home wreckers won’t be cute for much longer.

Sophie… playing innocent. I know she’s really the penny prankster.

Happy Pinning Everyone!

the unbuttonable pants

An inch of progress can give you a mile of motivation sometimes. Like this morning – when I confronted the dreaded pair of pants that didn’t come close to zipping a few weeks ago… the pants that sparked my decision to stop making excuses and face the facts of my bad habits and decisions over the span of twenty-something years.

I guess I was feeling extra bold and courageous this morning when I opened the closet doors and carefully lifted the pants off the hanger. To be honest – I hadn’t been the best eater this weekend. Mike and I dared to enjoy a cupcake Saturday afternoon, and when one of our friends visited Friday night, we decided to order a pizza… with pepperoni. But I didn’t over-indulge. I had a bite or two of the cupcake. I had one slice of pizza. I behaved like a lady even though I really wanted to drown myself in buttercream and gooey cheese.

Sometimes… you just have to have a cupcake.

I had a good long stare-down with these pants. The pants that dared to tell the unforgiving truth a few weeks ago when I laid out on the bed, sucking it in as hard as I could – turning purple and blue as I tried to make the button and the hole somehow come closer together and resolve their carb-induced conflict.

I put my right leg in first, slowly followed by the left. As I pulled them up around my thighs the moment of truth drew closer. Have I made any progress these past few weeks? I decided at the very beginning not to make this about the number on the scale, because that’s how I got into so much trouble last time. This time I was going to base my success off of how good I felt about the way I looked. Because in the end – that’s all that really matters right?

I took a deep breath as I pulled the zipper up. So far, so good. But would my button finally find its way over to the opposing hole it had fought so hard against weeks earlier? To my surprise, delight and utter joy… it did. The unbuttonable pants had been buttoned. Albeit – while they are still a little on the snug side – I had conquered this small battle. I am elated.

The important thing to note is that while I am not perfect… I am making progress. I am moving in the right direction and while there are bound to be speed bumps and stop signs, even the occasional detour – I know what my destination is: a place of self-love.

I’ve been frugal and following the Weight Watchers program online for free (my student loans have come knocking…). It’s definitely been an amazing tool that helps guide me in making healthy choices and teaching me about portion control and balanced meals. I’m also making an effort to work out three times a week – lately I’ve been following the P90 program that my dad leant me last year. The downstairs neighbors are probably less enthusiastic than I am about me doing jumping jacks at six in the morning.

As a result of my little victory today – I think I’m going to treat myself to a new fall outfit this week since I haven’t been shopping in months. Sometimes a new cardigan is all you need for that extra boost of motivation.

Here are some of the recipes I’m going to be making this week. If you haven’t already – be sure to check out Skinnytaste – it’s an incredible blog full of delicious recipe ideas and even includes WW points information.

Chicken rollatini with prosciutto and provolone via Skinnytaste – click for recipe.

Baked potato soup via Skinnytaste – click for recipe. (I’m a bit of a soup-a-holic)

Here are a few of my own healthy snacks I made this past week… the photo quality does not do these healthy treats any justice!

The beginning stages of delicious homemade apple chips. Slice up 2 apples – sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon – bake for 2 hours at 200 degrees.

I’m a pizza addict – so this was a perfect snack – clocking in at 150 calories (for one…Mike had the other) Small pita pocket – low fat/skim mozzarella cheese – spoonful of tomato sauce – sprinkle of dried basil. Yum!

Do you have any little victories worth celebrating or delicious recipes worth sharing? I’d love to hear them!

Until next time – Bon Appétit!

pinteresting projects of the week

With all of this fitness and wedding talk, I have been completing neglecting my inner DIY diva. Or at least forgetting to write about it, I should say.

As homemaker as this may sound – with the stress that I have on my plate right now – there is nothing quite as relaxing as diving in to a good craft project and getting messy. Last week my fingers were covered in super glue, spray paint ran down my legs, mod podge wound up in my hair and the teller at the bank looked at me like I was nuts when I asked for $5… in pennies.

What’s even better? My fiancé Mike – although he won’t admit this to anyone (oops) – loves doing crafts with me now and quite frankly…he’s even better than I am at times.

If you weren’t already aware – my entire apartment is designed by IKEA. My dining room set, my coffee and side tables, my entertainment system, my bed, my dishes…

Coming straight out of college and moving into a new (much more expensive) place meant I didn’t have the funds to buy “real furniture.” So while I’m grateful to IKEA for outfitting my entire apartment for less than $1500….I also can’t stand the idea of my house looking like a cookie cutter cut-out of an IKEA magazine.

We’ve been working on a few projects these past few weeks and I wanted to show off the final products and the progress that we’re making on the IKEA lack coffee table from hell (I have a self-confessed problem with indecisiveness and have changed my mind at least 4 times about what I want to do with it. This has resulted in lots of stenciling and painting… and a lot of stenciling and paint removal).

While looking for DIY-IKEA-Lack table inspiration I came across a few blogs boasting about the transformational (and cheap) power of pennies.

Original DIY penny table inspiration

The problem was – it didn’t fit with my silver/grey, yellow & white color scheme in my living room. After Mike suggested using dimes (he didn’t quite think that idea through…) I figured it would be cheaper, albeit not easier, to spray paint the pennies silver. Which is exactly what we did. Equipped with $5 worth of pennies, multiple bottles of super glue and a can of metallic silver spray paint – here is the progress we’ve made so far on our DIY penny table. We’re only 1/4 of the way through – but it’s time consuming! So remember to be patient… this isn’t a project you want to rush through otherwise it will turn out sloppy.

DIY penny table in progress. We’re only going to do a border instead of covering the entire thing – I think it looks cleaner and bolder. What do you think?

My next project was inspired by a pin I found on Pinterest. My friends will tell you I’m a bit of a coaster-addict (nothing worse than a water stain) so I really loved the idea of making my own coasters (and for dirt cheap too). Here was the original Pinspiration:

Make your own coasters- 4×4 tiles ($.16 Home Depot); 4×4 scrapbook paper; adhere to tile with Mod Podge and let dry; Spray a coat of clear spray paint and let dry; attach felt pads to the bottom

And here’s how mine turned out!

Supplies needed: mod podge, cheap brush, scrap book paper and ceramic tiles. Total costs: $12. (Although I still have plenty of mod podge and scrapbook paper left over…so the project in reality was much cheaper! I have plenty of supplies leftover to make more coasters).

 

Finished product! Ignore the terrible lighting… these pictures were taken with my iPhone 3gs at night. Yes, I still have a 3gs.

I also have two IKEA side lack tables…one of which I spent some time sprucing up. The lighting on this is also terrible, so forgive me. Using paint and letter stencils… I etched my favorite e.e. cummings poem onto the table. It’s always a good conversation piece when people come over to visit and ask to read my table.

e.e. cummings “i carry your heart” poem painted on to my side table. sidenote: that adorable owl was $4 at Ross.

What projects have you been working on and where do you get the inspiration to feed your inner DIY diva?