Thursday, April 29, 2010

Vintage Fabric, Oh my!

I have a stash of lovely vintage fabric that my Grandma Bertie gave to me (you might remember some from this post here). I adore the prints, but the pieces are so small that it's hard to decide how to use the fabric.

One fun idea I came up with was to make a cute little clutch:

I really love how it turned out, especially with the little fabric-covered button in the center. Be still my heart! Did you know how amazingly easy it is to make fabric-covered buttons? Seriously, you can buy the little kits at any sewing place (for cheapo- 2-3 dollars for 6 buttons). Then, you can use any fabric you want to make your very own covered button!

I even carried it to church with me on Sunday! The only thing I will do differently next time is make it more sturdy. Even though I lined the 2 fabrics (outer fabric and cotton lining) with an iron-on fabric stiffener, it's still a little floppy for a clutch. Ah well, live and learn!


Well, I finally gave in to Twitter. I am giving it a trial period, we will have to see how it goes. I’m just not sure if I have enough witty things to say… but it sounds like it’s more about networking anyway. My husband isn’t so sure about this thing. He thinks I already say too much (little does he know how much I’m holding back!). He asked me if I was joking when I told him I signed up.

So my question is- are any of you on Twitter? What do you think about it, and if you are will you be my twitter-buddy?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

absorption pasta

I was lurking over at Design Sponge (love it!) the other day and came across a recipe that I just had to try. And so I did.

And I am here to tell you, YUM!

You should check it out, if you are looking for a fun new recipe or just a way to use up some pasta. It's also husband-approved! At least, by my husband.

I changed it up a bit and added spinach and tomato. I also used regular bacon instead of pancetta- it's a little less expensive and we already had it!

I give it a 10 for easiness, yumminess, and photogenic-ness.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fasting From Stuff, week 2

Here I am in my second week of what I will affectionately refer to as my "Stuff-Fast." It's really more of a friendly competition between a good friend and I, but it's been helping me to re-think how I spend my extra cash.

The challenge is to not buy things we don't absolutely, positively need. No cute shirts from the sale rack, no fun new nail-polish colors, not even thrifting for me.

You see, even though I am a frugal-ista, I'm realizing how often I buy things, just because. I sort of need it, sort of want it, and then it sort of ends up sitting in a closet for 3 years.

So far, so good. My biggest challenge came when I went to Target for some foundation and lipgloss on Monday. I had just run out of my L'Oreal colorjuice (in Watermelon Crush, that stuff is seriously sent from Heaven), and I was in desperate need of new foundation too. So I booked it over to Target on my lunch break whispering my mantra, "Foundation, lipgloss, foundation, lipgloss. Nothing Else!!!" I'm sure all the people in the skyway thought I was insane.

And I made it. I walked out of there with my foundation and my lipgloss, and nothing else.

How about you? Have you ever gone on a fast from something other than food?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bathroom Redo

Remember this sad, pink-beige bathroom?

Well, it's finally received a well-deserved makeover!

Paint: $37.00
Shower curtain: Free (wedding money!)
Etagere: $49.99 (Goodwill)
Mirror: $13.00 (Menards)
Light Fixture: $20.00 (Home Depot)

Grand total: $119.99

I'm linking up to Kimba's DIY day...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Oh Crap.

Yesterday, my lovely friend A and I were browsing through one of our our favorite lunch-break haunts (second only to the Cookie Man), Marshalls.
Seriously, I can go there with the steeliest intentions of NOT purchasing ANYTHING, and then walk out with a lamp, a pair of shoes, and bottle of 3-year-old olive oil that I have to then lug through the skyway back to my office. A and I are, sometimes, a bad influence on each other. "That's so cute! You totally need that!"

How our husbands must fear that small half-hour of time that can cause so much damage.

So yesterday, we were walking and browsing through Marshalls when A looked at me and said, "We should have a contest. Let's see who can go the longest without buying something for themselves."

My first reaction was, "Wha????" She caught me off guard. Mid-shopping. How can you stand in a place like Marshalls and entertain such thoughts?

But then, I was overcome by the sheer force of will that comes with any challenge presented to me. Like the time my piano teacher told me I couldn't learn and memorize an 8-page Beethoven sonata and perform it in a month. Guess who spent 4 hours a day for the next month practicing and beat that piece of music to a pulp? My dad still gets a nervous eye-twitch when he hears the introduction to the Pathetique Sonata.


So, we pinky-swore on it. Loser has to buy Starbucks coffee. It's totally on.

No buying clothing, home accessories, anything that we just sort of "want" for ourselves. And here's where the OH CRAP comes in. No Goodwill trips for me! But, I can’t go back. I pinky-swore.

I’m thinking that perhaps, this will be a good thing. For several reasons (I love lists…):

1) I won’t be spending extra $$. Not that I spend a lot, I really am a frugal buyer, but it will be nice to have a break from all extra expenses.

2) I can focus on the projects I have sitting around instead of starting new ones. So many times I get derailed from my projects just by finding something new that I want to refurbish or redecorate with.

3) My husband won’t have to say things like “Please don’t buy any more ceramic owls…” as I walk out the front door.

And you, my friends, are now witnesses to this solemn oath. Feel free to place your bets below on how long I will last.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Getting There (an "almost" reveal)

Ah, let's face it. How many projects do we start, fully intending to finish them in a specific amount of time, only to keep pushing that deadline further and further down the road?

Well, if you're me, it happens a lot.

So our bathroom makeover started with good intentions, about a week and a half ago. I fully intended to finish painting the day we started. However, I am totally going to blame an unnamed Wal-Mart employee, who gave me a gallon of ceiling paint after I specifically asked (3 times) for semi-gloss, for part of the delay.

And also this:

But anyway, let's move on and not dwell on the painful past.

So the bathroom began looking like this:

Hello, nasty pinky-beige walls and shower curtain that my mother made in 1990 (thanks Mom!).
Or should I say... Goodbye?!

Ah, the wonderful wall-sized mirror. All the better for seeing my pale skin in. That brilliant dash of light at the top there is a Hollywood-style light.

After some paint, some sweat, some running back and forth between Wal-Mart and Menards...

A new shower curtain to brighten up the space, "turtledove" gray on the walls, a brand-new mirror, and a lovely new light fixture. Ah. Serenity Now.

It's definitely "getting there." Still on the list of things to do: put up the Etagere (transl. "toilet shelf." Totally ok with sticking with the French word for that one), touch up a few little spots, and ACCESSORIZE. I think the accessorizing is my favorite part. Can you tell?

Also, we continue to pick up little shards of glass from time to time... Just wear shoes if you come visit ok?

It's been four days...

Four days since I have written a post.

Four days since I have checked my comments, read my list of lovely blog updates, tracked Google Analytics.

I just needed a little time to bask in the Spring sunshine, invest in the wonderul people God has brought into my life, and not be distracted by the internet. Sometimes, we all need to do that I think. So I apologize for dropping off the face of the earth for a little while, but I’m back now and will (hopefully) be posting some pictures soon! Our living room is starting to take shape again, and we’ve also been working on a little makeover for our bathroom… I can’t wait to show you the pictures!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thoughts for a Friday

Do you ever have days when you burst into tears for no apparent reason?

I’ve had a few of those this week. It hasn’t been a “bad” week, per se, but for some reason my emotions just decided to have a little fun. My poor husband probably feels like he’s playing a game of Russian Roulette every time he tries to enter into conversation with me.

Him- “Honey, how are you today?”
Me- “And what do you mean by THAT?!”

Ok. So it’s not really that bad, but you get the point. But this morning, I am feeling like I have a better grip on reality. And I’m realizing how wonderful it is that we don’t have a hormonal God.

We don’t have to be afraid to approach Him, tentatively placing our requests at His feet and wondering if we will get reassurance or just a bop on the head.

We can approach Him, day in and day out, with everything and anything and know that His response will always come out of the pure Holiness of His being. The same God who heard the prayers of King David hears the cries of my fickle heart. And He always responds in love.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
(James 1:17 NIV)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On Being a Housewife

My subtitle for this blog is “Tales of an Aspiring Housewife.” I was thinking about that the other day, and feeling like maybe I should explain the meaning behind that phrase. You see, I am not really a housewife in the truest sense of the word. Being a housewife implies that you are not employed outside of the home, that your “job” is taking care of a household, your spouse, and possibly a family. Some people would argue that “housewives” are out of fashion; the modern woman can balance a career and family effortlessly. Sometimes, the word is even met with derision as people formulate their own opinions and scornfully synonimize it with laziness. Personally, I think that women everywhere are wondering why their full-time careers and day-care supported lifestyles are unfulfilling. I’m certainly not saying that all women should quit their jobs and be home full-time with their children, but I am suggesting that maybe, for some of us, the dreams of getting women out of the kitchen and into the workforce have gone too far.

You may wonder what I back up my statements with. The truth is, I don’t have charts and statistics to refer you to. What I know is solely based on interactions with other women, and personal experience. I work a full-time job. I spend 50 hours a week are driving, working, and frankly, wishing I am somewhere else. When I get home, my husband takes priority, and my household is usually in need of more attention than I can give. As much as I would like to love my job, for me it has always been just a way to earn a living. I graduated from college with a degree in music- vocal performance to be specific. My early years were spent practicing piano and planning to be a famous pianist like my Grandfather. Then I went to college and discovered a love for singing and changed my focus to a career in opera. With the support of my college faculty, after graduating I planned to throw myself into a graduate degree in Opera, and see where that would take me. But (there’s always a big but isn’t there!) that was not God’s plan for me.

Instead, He led me to a decision to take a couple of years off and pay down some of my student loans. Then, He led me to a full-time job with the government (the best paying option that I found), where I met and started dating an amazing man named… Josh. 2 years later, I am happily married and my career in opera is far removed from daily thoughts.

I wrote a while ago about the hardship of letting go of dreams, so I won’t delve into that here. Suffice to say, I no longer have a desire to pursue that kind of lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, I still love singing and I’m actually planning a career move into that direction soon. But it won’t involve bright lights, stage makeup, and tiny microphones taped to my forehead. As much as I love performing, that lifestyle just doesn’t appeal to me anymore. The kind of satisfaction that I get from cooking a meal for my husband, taking care of my little home, and creating a peaceful, beautiful environment just can’t be matched by hours spent in a practice room, or even getting on a stage and singing my heart out. Instead, I find myself longing to be first and foremost a wife, a caretaker, and hopefully someday soon, a mother.

What does my ideal Inner Housewife look like? Well, she certainly doesn’t lounge around in sweats, watching Soap Operas and eating Bon-Bons all day, because only someone like Zsa Zsa Gabor could find fullfillment in that kind of lifestyle. She doesn’t wear frilly aprons and kitten heels while she cooks meatloaf and cleans, and she doesn’t immediately rub her husband’s feet when he gets home from work (unless he asks nicely and then returns the favor!).

Maybe she works 10 hours or so a week doing something she loves, and then has time to spend playing with her children and cooking delicious meals. Maybe she volunteers at a women’s shelter one day a week, or devotes time to blogging and maintaining relationships with friends and family.

One thing I do know for sure, is that whatever she does is glorifying to the God who made her. So that’s why I’m an “Aspiring Housewife.” I’m aspiring to be more than just a federal employee, and a day-care mom. I’m aspiring to be a creative, organized, loving, family-oriented, innovative, hard-working Housewife. And I’m really glad that you are coming along for the journey…

As always, I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts. Have you felt these same feelings? Do you aspire to be a modern Housewife? Or if you already are, what led you to that decision?

and here it is...

Here is Mr. Couch in his new home. As you can see, it's a bit messy. Also, this couch is large.

I'm realizing that since most of our furniture is vintage, it is also smaller-scale. So throwing a new-ish couch into the mix makes for a wee bit of a design dilemma.

I'm thinking we need a chunkier lamp on the table to the left- maybe something like this:

And also- seeing our hand-me-down coffee table is giving me a nervous eye-twitch. We actually have plans to make one similar to this:

(Hey, that couch looks familiar...)

So, with a few modifications I think it will start coming together.

Do you have any tips you would like to share for blending furniture pieces? I am a huge fan of mixing up different styles- I love the look of mid-century modern but with the warmth of some classic pieces mixed in. Have you found any tricks to be helpful with this?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Couch Love, Part Deux

I am thrilled to report that we finally found a new couch! Our saggy old couch had certainly seen better days, and it was time to move on. So yesterday Josh and I snagged a Corona couch off Craigslist. The picture above is our couch, but off of the Macy’s website. I haven’t had a chance to take any pictures of it in our living room yet because it’s just a huge mess in there!

The couch is practically brand new (the couple we bought it from were getting rid of it because they were moving).

The best part?

Cost new from Macy’s: $899

Price we paid: $350

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Learning from Retail

Do you ever go "window shopping?"

Step into your favorite store, and drool over the beautiful displays, knowing full well that you can't afford even one thing?

It's depressing, really.

However, I am realizing that there is a LOT we can take from the "expensive" places, and find ways to incorporate them into our own homes/lives.

The other day, Josh and I were walking around Grand Ave (for you non-Minnesotans, it's one of our "chic" downtown areas, ritzy with lots of fun, expensive little shops). We walked into "Traditions," a really fun furniture/accessories shop. Unfortunately for us, even their smallest pieces of furniture cost around $700.00. SERIOUSLY???

OK, so maybe a bit out of our price range.... But, I learned a few things from this place that I thought I would share!

#1 Group things together for a bigger impact.

I love these sunburst mirrors- so pretty and chic! I wouldn't think of putting 2 together, but it really does create more impact. (Plus, I've seen these all over the place, I'm sure you could find a more inexpensive version without a problem!).

#2 Bringing unusual elements into your decor keeps it exciting and fresh.

These hanging "topiary" lanterns are so cool! So fun and unique, and they could create instant visual interest in a variety of settings.

#3 Chandeliers aren't just for expensive/100 year old homes.

They had chandeliers all over the place! I have always been a wee bit prejudiced against chandeliers (read: they only belong in fancy restaurants, and the White House), but after seeing how they fit in so seamlessly and are such an elegant touch, I may have to rethink that.

#4 Decorating with artwork is easier (and cheaper!) than you may think.

This caught my eye right as we walked in the door. I have this exact same print (it's a Van Gogh I think) and I bought it online from a poster store for 4.99. I also found a frame almost exactly like this one for 19.99 at IKEA. Their version was a bit more spendy (like in the 500.00 range!). That nightstand, by the way, was $699.00 (seriously, click on the picture to see a larger version of the price tag!). Sheesh.

#5 Pull things out of storage and use them for displays!

I have several candlesticks that don't have candles right now, so they are tucked away. But hey, if Traditions can use candle-less candlesticks then why can't I?! Also, I like how the topiary plants make it looks so fresh and spring-y. They were fake, but you could hardly tell.

#6 Seriously, chandeliers are awesome.

Need I say more?

I hope this encourages you to look at things differently too. There's so many cool ideas you can get from "window shopping." What are some of your favorite, most inspiring stores?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Notice Something?

I've been gussy-ing up my blog a little! I really wish I knew more about HTML/web site stuff, but sadly my knowledge is very limited. However, being the type of person who has to decorate EVERYTHING, I just had to make a few changes. What do you think? Also- please let me know if anything is affecting readability or something. I have tried to check over everything, but I would love to know your opinion!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A little something for the men

I saw this super-cute idea here, and I thought, "hey, I could make that!"

I was needing something to go with the shaving kit I bought for my hubby's birthday, and since it's the only kind of mustache my man will be allowed to sport (I told him, if he ever grows a mustache I will shave my head. So far it's working.), I figured it would be a fun project to tackle!

Here's the details:

~You will need~
1 hand towel (I found mine at Wal-Mart for 2.99)
a small piece of felt (for whatever color 'stache you want)
a sewing machine, or nimble fingers
a mustache template (I just searched on google for "mustache template" and found a bunch!)

I imported the image into Word, and expanded it to the size I wanted:

Then, I cut out the pattern and pinned it to the felt. (As you can see, I trimmed it a little in the middle because it was a bit too wide).

Once the mustache was cut out, I pinned it onto the towel and sewed around the edges. It was a little tricky to keep the line straight, and right up to the edge of the felt but it can be done.

And voila! So easy, and fun. Perfect for a Father's Day gift, or for your bf or hubby.

*Edit~ I am linking this up to DIY day at ASPTL... head on over and check out some other amazing projects!

A Song for the Day

Sometimes certain songs just grip my heart, and I just can't help weaving them into the soundtrack of life. This one has been running through my mind a lot lately:

(Photo from Jonsi's official site, here)

We all grow old, use your life, the world goes and flutters by
Use your life, you'll know you are
Use your life, the world goes and flutters by
Use your life, you'll know you are
(Lyrics by Jonsi, Boy Lilikoi)

Monday, April 5, 2010

a day off

Today, we had a day off. It was fabulous. I actually dragged myself out of bed before 10 am (what a feat!) so that made the day even longer and more glorious.

It was fun to celebrate the birthday of this handsome man, that I have the pleasure of being married to:

We went to the Tea Garden to celebrate, and Josh got a taro cooler. What is Taro, you ask? Supposedly, it is made from sweet potato roots. It has a nutty, vanilla-y taste and is really quite good. I got my favorite: spiced chai. YUM.

To anyone who lives in the Twin Cities metro area: you should check out the Tea Garden. Anyone who lives out of state: come visit me and I will take you there personally!

We also found the house that we will buy someday.

It's perfect. It's also within walking distance of the Tea Garden!

this old lamp

Last summer, we "inherited" this lovely lamp from an older lady from our church. I think it is from the 1920s, judging from the wiring and the way it exploded a while ago when I was moving it. I was a little leery of bringing the lamp back from "lamp hell" (where all exploding lamps surely go). But, Josh was confident that he could rewire it and make it safe again.

So, while he worked his rewiring magic I decided to work a little magic of my own!

We took the lamp apart and found that it was just a series of pieces strung onto a metal tube. The glass pieces were all completely solid, this lamp was really an incredible piece of workmanship!

I took the metal pieces (the inner tube, decorative elements, shade-holder and finial) and gave them a good scrub with some steel wool to get the flakey, metallic paint off. Then, I coated them with Heirloom White, using a cereal box to hold some of the smaller pieces in place.

One thing I learned? It's really a good idea to wait until spray paint has dried completely. Otherwise, it may chip off easily. I can't help it, I'm just too excited to get things done sometimes!

Voila. The cost of this makeover? $1.97. That was the cost of the new cord (just a white extension cord from Home Depot).

I was almost ready to throw this old lamp out- but I'm so glad we fixed it instead! I really had no idea it was so easy to rewire a lamp. Maybe I will have Josh help me make a tutorial... electrical things kinda freak me out but this was so simple I think even I could manage it!


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