Thursday, December 30, 2010

Project Life

One of my new years resolutions (definitely the biggest, and the only concrete one at this point) is to do something with all the pictures I take instead of leaving them in my computer. Forever.

Have you heard about Project Life? I had before today, but only in passing. I read quite a few blogs related to card-making and scrapbooking, but it's mostly designer pages for stamping and papercraft companies I like. Today, I stumbled across Becky Higgins website/blog and started reading about Project Life. Within about 5 minutes of reading, I was on Amazon ordering one. I got mine in Amber:

So why did I jump all over this so quickly?
1. It's really cute. That's often the motivation for my purchases.
2. I think it's an awesome solution for a problem I've been dealing with for quite some time.

Confession time: Though I say I'm a scrapbooker (I probably mention this to someone at least once a week)...I haven't made a scrapbook page in at least 3 years. Yup. I said it, it's in blogland for all to see. I'm ridiculous and apparently, a liar. But I really do consider myself a scrapbooker. I'm always buying supplies and albums, I take pictures all the time, and save memorabilia with the intention of putting everything together in one handy little book. It never happens.

Because I make cards and stationery and they're so immediately gratifying (as in, I get to see the final product within an hour or two of starting the project), I tend to slack off on my scrapbooking. Even one layout will take me that long, and one layout does not a scrapbook make.

Enter Project Life. It seems to me that this system of scrapbooking is laid out in such a way that I might actually...you know, make a scrapbook. Novel, right? It's all about putting your pictures out there, telling your story, and combining everything so those memories aren't lost with my good intentions to finish that super-embellished scrapbook.

As I told my friend Kathy this morning when I texted her in my Project Life-induced excitement...this isn't my style of scrapbooking at all. I tend to love things frilly and vintage and distressed and embellished to the extreme. That isn't changing because I purchased this kit. I've actually given myself permission to like both styles. Amazing, right?

Here's the thing...when (if) I have time to sit down and complete a traditional-for-me layout, then I'll do it. That will never go away, I hope. In the meantime, this system makes scrapbooking manageable for me in the moments where I don't have time or I don't feel inspired to make a full layout.

So, I can't wait to get this package in my hands. I'm planning to make it a 2011 project, which means I'll start January 1 (2 days from now) and go forward. I've done Project 365 (badly) before, and failed within the first 3 months because I've missed a picture or two. That obviously doesn't work for my life, so these won't be week in the life pictures or a picture a day or anything like that. I just want to capture our real lives, instead of waiting for big moments or vacations or something our nieces and nephews do. And I never want to say the phrase, "Oh, I'll take pictures of that when we have kids..." again. No more excuses from me.

I hope you all have thought about your resolutions and are making them attainable and planning steps to achieving them. It's really a fantastic feeling.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

So Much To Think About

My mind is moving in a million directions right now. I can't seem to stay focused on anything, which will probably include this blog post. So, I'm giving in to it.

  • I met up with Mike's cousin Brent and his fiance Saranne last night to get some final details for their wedding invitations. I love the invitations they chose, so classy and perfect for their black & white damask wedding. I can't wait to get the materials and start making them.
  • I'm in heavy organization mode. Not that I'm doing any actual organization, I just want to plan it right now and then execute. I found these cute shelves at Ikea that I think I might invest in. The theory is that I could put my cookbooks on these and get them the heck off my kitchen counter, and have like 3 feet more counter space. Woo!

  • Mike & I have decided to move our bedroom from the second floor to the first floor. I think the first floor bedroom was always supposed to be the master bedroom, but there's no real way to tell since all the bedrooms are tiny with no redeeming qualities. The reason we moved upstairs in the first place is because our queen-sized box spring won't fit up the staircase, so we just made the downstairs room into the guest room. Well, I hate sleeping upstairs, so we're moving everything downstairs, and junking the guest bed. It was a hand-me-down and it has a chunk missing from the foot board where my beloved Karma (mom's doggie) decided to chew one night while she was bored. Instead, we're going to be getting some twin beds and using them in the guest room...and later, our kids can have them when they're ready. Here's some cute inspiration pics for that look.
  • From Country Living
  • I decided not to do the stenciling on the dining room wall like I planned. I will probably do it elsewhere at some point (like one wall of my craft room), but I want to go for a more rustic look in the dining room to tie the first floor together. I do hope to go pick out paint this weekend and get the room painted. I still need to figure out what the heck I'm doing for window treatments, so if anyone wants to tell me, that'd be great :)
  • I'm a lot more emotional this week than I've been in the past. It's kind of annoying to be honest. I'm not bottling things up at all, and let's face it, there are times that things really should be bottled up. I'm letting things really get to me that I have zero control over...my anxiety is definitely in overdrive.
  • Miss Molly tore one of her toenails last night and was obviously in pain. I was a mess. I have no idea how I'm ever going to deal with kids and their various injuries.
  • We have a new member of the family, Buster. He's an adorable baby calf (not so little, even though he's only a week or so old). I hope he gets along well with Scooter.
Okay, that's all the randomness I can spew for now. Happy Hump Day!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Dream

I've spent my entire life trying to figure out what I would be when I grew up. When I was very small, I thought I'd be a teacher. I liked teaching my brother and stuffed animals things. Why not? Over the course of elementary school & junior high, the topics I'd be teaching changed, but that's what I wanted to be. Then in high school, I decided I would do something in international studies. I could travel the world, speak all the languages I knew, and maybe even still teach if I wanted to. In college, I wanted to be a high school French or German teacher. Then I wanted to be a political science teacher. Then I just wanted to be a politician. And then a speech writer. And then a lobbyist. The next time I went to college, I thought I might work in Human Resources (and I do, a few hours a week.) Now, apparently, I think I might want to work in Marketing & Fundraising (where I spend most of my week). But the reality is that none of these are things I actually want to do as a career...I enjoy my job, don't get me wrong, and I think I'm okay at it, but this isn't my dream either.

I often find myself walking around a store, poking through someone's blog or on Google Images, scouring magazines...all with the thought, "If I had a store, I'd sell that..." (and enter the name of a really cute item here." I think you all know I spend my time in the fall attending craft shows, trying to sell the things I make. I love doing craft shows, but they're limited...I can only take so much with me and get it set up in the allotted time (and tear it back down later that day). I can't decorate a Christmas tree to show off how cute they would look with the felt garland I made to match. I can't set up a vignette on a piece of furniture to show how cute that book print wreath would look with my white dresser and black lamp with a burlap shade. I also have my Etsy store, but have found I'm terrible at keeping up with it, especially when there's nothing driving me to it. Empty Etsy? Eh, no big deal. I'll get something up there soon.

So, here's my dream.....I'd love to open a small store someday. A building would give me something to work toward...a full store. I could set up vignettes, properly display the things I make, feature local businesses or creations...it could be whatever I want it to be. Best of all, I could make it work to fit into my life, rather than having to fit my life around a job. It wouldn't have to be Monday-Friday, leaving my house before 6am and not getting home til almost 6pm. I could make my family a part of it (once I have children). I could be the stay-at-home mom I want to be (even if my definition of home expands to include a cozy playroom in the back of a store).

How's that for dreaming? :)

I don't know that this will ever happen, but it's something I want to dream about and work toward. Whether that's creating things that will eventually go in it or just figuring out a way to save all the money to make it happen in the meantime. And I figure that by saying it out loud (or writing it on a blog) then it makes me accountable to actually doing something about it, instead of making excuses or forgetting to make time for what I want.

So there you have it. My dream. What do you dream about?

Happy Holidays!

Our Christmas was absolutely awesome...such a great weekend. I hope you and your family had a lovely holiday as well!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last Minute Awesomeness

Need a last-minute gift? These gifts in a jar from Midwest Living are so awesome. I wish I'd found these a couple days ago! (The link has the finished recipes and free printable labels...how awesome is that?)

Happy stocking stuffing, office giving, or neighbor visiting...all without the stress!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I have a feeling that God is trying to teach me a very important lesson. And that He has been for the last year or so. I'm the type of person who loves to plan, pays way too much attention to tiny details, and thinks all of these things matter when it comes to celebrating a holiday. There's a plan, we better stick to it. I know this about myself, and though I know it's not necessarily the most important thing in the world, I have fun with it, so I don't mind going to the trouble.

Enter my lessons.

1. Last year, on Christmas eve, my plan was to make it home after celebrating with my side of the family. We left in a terrible blizzard, and though both of us said we should turn back and stay with my brother, we never did. About a mile away from our house, we got stuck in a snow drift, and decided to walk the rest of the way home. I won't go into details, but I can safely say that was the worst decision I was part of. At the end of it though, when I was slightly less traumatized, I realized that all that mattered was that Mike & I are an incredible team when we're up against a challenge. We support each other and encourage each other...we succeed together and fall apart together.

2. You read about my Thanksgiving weekend. Again, plans galore, and they all fell apart.

3. This year, it looks like it's going to be another bad snow on Christmas eve (not as bad as last year, thank goodness). I feel the panic attacks coming already about this. My Christmas eve dinner will most likely be cancelled. We probably won't make it to church. I may not get to see my family anywhere near Christmas this year. Yesterday, we found our that our foster nieces will be going home before Christmas. It feels like part of the family will be missing from our celebrations.

So what should I be learning from all of this? Perspective. Does it matter that I didn't get to go black Friday shopping as planned? No. Does it matter that we might not get to have Christmas on Christmas? No. Does it matter that I maybe didn't buy the perfect gift or get every decoration up or get my Christmas cards in the mail until today? No. The sentiment is still there. The reason we celebrate is still there. We are lucky we lived through last Christmas. I'm lucky that I'm in reasonably good health. We're lucky to have had our foster nieces in our family for as long as we did. We're lucky to be able to see our families on a regular basis.

I hate being a couple of days away from Christmas and being bummed, so I'm choosing to be thankful instead. I hope that whether your plans go perfectly, or everything falls apart, you choose to be thankful for what you have.  

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010


I work in the non-profit world (and always have), so I'm very aware of the kindness of people. I have a pretty good outlook on life and the openness of peoples' hearts when it comes to caring for others. It takes a lot to overwhelm me and shock me when it comes to generosity.

This is the view of my office from the door. Nothing but gifts, as far as the eye can see...only a path for me to get to my desk. I walked in to my office after a meeting one day, and it looked like this. Gifts coming from every part of town, from organizations and individuals...everyone having one thing in common: they love our residents and they want them to have a happy holiday season. What's even more amazing is that this isn't everything. This is maybe....MAYBE...half of what we have been given this year. We have around 140 residents living here, and every single one of them will have a gift bag under the tree full of things they put on their wish list...and each of those bags was donated by someone or a group of someones with huge hearts.

This is an amazing Christmas miracle :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


One of the pictures we decided not to use for our Christmas cards...

Geez, I love my Molly Monster. :) Happy 10 days til Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cards, Cards Everywhere

Holy wow, guess who hasn't posted in 2 weeks. Insane. I really didn't mean to, but I can't imagine a busier time than the first 2 weeks in December. Except maybe the 2nd two weeks. I could tell you what I've been up to, but it would just bore you...lots of projects and lots of things for work. Let's just say the 2 weeks have flown by.

Anyway, the reason for my post today: holiday cards. It's inevitable. Every year, my mailbox gets flooded with cards from December to January (or if you're on my Christmas card list, possibly you could be receiving a Christmas card on Valentine's Day). I don't know about you, but I love to see pictures of my family and friends, read those Christmas letters, check out the beautiful foiled cards, even display them as holiday accents.

So, how do you display your cards? I have a few different ways I've tried over the years, and a new one this year (I actually just got my first card this weekend, so I need to haul it out and take a picture.)

Here are some cute ideas I've found and saved:

(I think these are from Pottery Barn)

I have the one on the right (the tree-shaped one), so I'm guessing they're from Pottery Barn, but I can't remember where I found this picture. I love the way the tree looks when I first start getting cards, but once it's full, it's a little overwhelming. Plus, it always falls at least once a year as people are trying to read my cards :)

(From Country Living)

Loving this idea. Of course, I don't have a banister, but if you do, go for this one!

(From Pottery Barn)

Their current version. I'm loving the star shape, but not investing in another one of these.

(Pottery Barn)

Loving this one. I'll probably make my own version of this for next year, with chicken wire instead of the cable (I have the frame, just not the time.)

(Found on Room Remix)

I really like the branch trend anyway, but I think this is a fun twist on it. Not sure how steady it would be...

Just a few ideas for you. How do you display your cards? Any fun ideas?? 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Not Exactly As I Planned

How was everyone's Thanksgiving weekend? Lots of good food? Plenty of black Friday deals? Hopefully some time with family or friends?

Mine was good, though not as I planned (which I'm sure you could gather from my title). I'm assuming that I just needed to rest this weekend and my body finally told me so.

After a great Thanksgiving dinner with Mike's family, I came home to spend the evening with him and wasn't feeling 100%. Fast forward to 3:00am when my alarm went off so I could go black Friday shopping, and I knew I was sick. I'll leave the details out, but let's just say the next 24 hours I was dealing with a fun stomach bug.

Then, as soon as I felt somewhat human again, my mouth started to hurt. I couldn't pinpoint the pain to just one tooth, which I thought was really odd. Over the course of the next two days, I experienced all sorts of pain that I didn't even know my mouth was capable of. In fact, my cheek bones and eye sockets hurt it's so bad. All weekend, I was either sleeping or trying one of many home remedies for toothaches. {FYI - best one I found was gargling with a cap full of vinegar - yes, it was disgusting - then waiting a few minutes, rinsing my mouth with water, and dabbing vanilla extract on the pain with a q-tip. Sounds ridiculous, but it totally worked.}

I took yesterday to go to the dentist, where after a lengthy visit and about 6 x-rays, they couldn't figure anything out. I don't know about you, but it's not at all comforting to me when a doctor tells me they don't know what's wrong with me. Best guess for them is that I need to have my wisdom teeth removed, so I get to schedule that surgery soon. Joy.

I had hoped to get some Christmas decorating done this weekend. Didn't happen. Hopefully I'll feel up to it during the evenings this week.

The great news is though, none of my plans (except black Friday shopping) had to be cancelled this weekend and I got to see both sides of my family. I'm extremely grateful for that!

Happy Tuesday, all!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Since I doubt I'll be writing tomorrow, I thought I'd just write my Thankful post now.

I'm so blessed to have the life I do, even when things aren't great. My thankful list could go on and on, but I'll try to keep it relatively short (and in no real order).

  • First, for Mike. He is my best friend in the world and I'm so lucky to be married to him. I couldn't hope for any more in a husband.
  • For little miss Molly. She is the sweetest dog and her adorable face makes me happy no matter what. She surprises me all the time with her fearless attitude, and I love that she loves being a farm dog and playing with her cows.
  • For our family. As I've said before, I got very lucky to marry into the family I did. Everyone in Mike's family is so awesome and I love that I get to be a part of the family now. I'm so glad that I'm so close to my mom's side of the family and that we see each other as often as possible. I love that my grandparents are living closer in Lincoln too. And my brother is an awesome guy...as annoying as he is (that's what brothers do, right?) he's still one of my biggest blessings and I don't know of anyone who makes me laugh harder than he does.
  • For my faith. Enough said.
  • For my job. I was fortunate enough not to lose my job completely last year, but my hours were cut significantly. Since then, I've taken on a new (full-time) role doing our marketing and fundraising, and although it's not the direction I planned to take, I love it. And I'm so thankful to our organization for trusting that I could do a good job and for giving me a chance.
  • For our home. I never really thought too much about the qualities I'd have to have in a house to make it our home. I just knew that we'd know it when we were there. And we have absolutely found a place we can call home for the rest of our lives. I love that we already have so many memories there, that Molly loves living there, and that we have some great moments to come.
  • For my friends. They have been my extended family throughout the years and are people who make my life infinitely better. I'm so blessed to have such an amazing group of people in my life.
  • For my mom. She was the best parent I could possibly imagine and my very best friend. I never imagined this part of my life without her, and I miss her terribly, but I'm so thankful for the 24 years I was blessed with her.
  • And for YOU! I know most of the people who read this blog are friends from other walks of life, but I appreciate you going the extra step to read my thoughts and ramblings whenever I get around to posting them. And for the people who read this blog who don't know me "in real life," thank you so much for taking the time to explore my blog! Leave me a comment sometime and introduce yourself, I'd love to get to know you!!
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who is reading!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Favorite Things

I don't watch Oprah, but I hear her Favorite Things episodes were aired on Friday & Monday. I'm not giving away a car on this post (so don't get your hopes up), but I will share some of my favorites from all walks of life.


We'll start with a manageable one. Comfy shoes:

You can find these at Target. Of course, because I love Target. I wear these babies just about everywhere...from lounging around the house (why didn't anyone ever tell me that hardwood is freezing in the morning?!? Okay, I know my husband did before we bought the house, but someone besides him so I'd actually listen!), to running to the store, sometimes even to work when I'm needing a comfy day. I've had mind for 2 years now and they're holding up really well, especially considering how often I wear them. I'll be buying another pair next time I go to Target, just in case.

Next is my spendy option. A Coach handbag:

This is similar to the first bag I bought, and I still have it and love it (mine is the black on black version...unfortunately, my particular bag isn't made anymore). I know that it's out of the price range for a lot of people, but here's what I say to that: This bag (or any Coach bag) will last forever. You wouldn't believe the crap I've put all of mine through and they're still holding up well. I've been known to break lesser purses within 3 days of buying them. Figure out how much money you spend on inexpensive bags throughout a year...either because they're season specific or because they break. I bet it adds up to more than you'd spend on a Coach bag (unless you're not into bags, but come on, who doesn't love a pretty purse??)

And finally, the hand-crafted item. This awesome, unique ring:

(Excuse the cruddy phone picture, it doesn't do the ring justice.) I just found this twisted metal ring this weekend at a craft show I was in, and I fell in love immediately. The artist creates these herself, using Swarovski crystals and pearls (mine happen to be white and onyx pearls). I love them and they're very reasonably priced. Here's her Etsy store, Word2Wear, and although it's empty, I'm sure if you convo'd her, she'd be happy to work with you. She's really a great person and I was happy to talk with her this weekend!


Reasonable (and something everyone can use). Tim Holtz Scissors:
Yes, I will buy anything with Tim Holtz's name on it, but I swear that's not why I'm recommending these. They are awesome and I use them for absolutely everything. They don't hurt my hands when I use them for long periods of time, they're great for whatever kind of cutting you're doing (even detailed, though I've heard some people say they don't use them for that). I also love that they cut every material I've ever tried, including chipboard, fabric, and wire. And they're scissors are fine for it and not showing any wear. The other thing that's great is that they are non-stick. It seems like I'm always cutting over adhesive somehow, so that's perfect for me. I don't want to have to take the time to clean my scissors before or after I use them.

More expensive (and not so universal). The Cricut Expression
It took me awhile to get in the groove of using my Expression, even though it was something I had wanted for a long time (Mike got it for me for our first Christmas together). Once I did though, I don't know how I lived without it. I'm the type of person who mostly uses it for cutting base shapes or letters for altered projects. I don't know that I've ever made a card with a die-cut element, but that's not really my style. I know a ton of people who do and they're beautiful. I also think it will be super handy for school projects once we have kids that age, and I would imagine it would be good for scrapbooking (that I never seem to get to). There are less expensive options for die cutting, and I have a couple of them (the Cuttlebug and Epic Six). I've also played with the Big Shot when I was an SU! demo. While all three of them are fine for what they do (I wouldn't trade my CB or ES for anything), they just can't compare to all the options with the Expression.

Hand-crafted. Honestly, there's no way for me to narrow these options down because of all the talent I see at craft shows and the stores I browse on Etsy. Seriously, just take the time and look around, you'll love it. The one I'll showcase though is this camera bag:

This is the one I purchased (birds, pink, and polka dots? it's perfect!!). The quality is amazing, and it's holding up to everything I've put it through. I also like how roomy it is because I only carry one extra lens. I'm able to put my cell phone and wallet in the bag and not have to carry a purse too (which is perfect for sporting events). It's also deep enough to hold a camera with the lens attached, which is awesome for me...I don't want to be taking lenses off to put the camera away in a hurry. Janine has so many varieties of camera bags (as well as laptop, ipad, kindle/nook cases), I'm sure you'll find something you love. And her prices are very reasonable! Check out her Etsy shop, JanineKingDesigns

(By the way, how ridiculous is it that my two main categories are crafting & accessories and everything else in life falls into the "other" category?)


Had to have a Nook anyway, so glad the hubby made me wait til Christmas because now I get to take advantage of the NookColor. I played with this the other night at Best Buy and love it. Can't wait until Christmas morning!

BeautiControl Perfect Wet/Dry Foundation

My must-have make-up. I really couldn't care less if I wore anything else, but I must put this on every time I leave the house. There's no need for cover-up or powder if you're wearing this because it's basically all-in-one. If you don't have a BeautiControl consultant, let me know and I'll get you the contact info for mine.

Dr. Grip Gel Pen

This particular pen is the greatest thing to ever happen to handwriting. I've been known to throw out a perfectly good pen just because it makes my handwriting look ugly. Have you ever noticed that the type of pen affects the way you write? Or maybe that's just me :) The gel version is a must...I don't really like the ball point version, even though I normally prefer ball point to gel.

Temp-tations Bakeware

I'm always getting compliments on this stuff. I have two different sets (the one shown, and a 2 casserole/2 loaf pan set) and am completely in love. You can bake in it, serve in it (everything they make is pretty), refrigerate or freeze...love it. So, the theory is that you can take a dish from the oven, put it in the cute little basket that comes with it on the trivet (that also comes with...see them standing up in the back?) and there's no heat transfer. I tested it out and they're completely right. The other set I have has rattan trivets and they totally work too. Which is great for someone like me who gets burned fairly often on hot dishes :) With their system, you can grab the basket handles or the bottom of the dish (handy for passing dishes at the dinner table) and not get burnt. Genius. I bought mine on QVC and I'm not even sure it's sold anywhere else. QVC has great deals though, so go that route. 

Dogalicious Treats

This is a local dog treat maker I also found this weekend at the craft show. I normally try to buy Molly homemade dog treats whenever I see them because they've got to be better for her than the processed stuff, plus, she likes to try new things. But these have been her favorite by far...normally we have to be very choosy about the kinds we buy because she gets sick if we feed her bacon-flavored anything, and doesn't like certain flavors or colors. But so far, she's loving these things. His mixed bags include 20 good sized bones for $6, so it's really not expensive at all. I wish I could remember all the flavors he has, but my memory is failing. They smell so good in the bag though, unlike so many other icky smelling dog treats. Visit his website here for more details and his contact info. Local people can visit him at the Omaha Farmer's Market.

Okay, this post is long enough. I hope you find something on this list that's new to you so you can enjoy it. And for the things you already knew about, I hope you love them just as much as I do!

Have a fabulous Tuesday all :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Less Holiday Waste

Every year around the holidays, I think about how blessed we are to have what we do. In doing that, it's important to be conscious of the waste that we create, especially during the holidays (I don't know about you, but it seems like we accumulate so much STUFF every single year).

Here's some thoughts on a less wasteful Christmas season, in plenty of time for you to change your habits starting right now!

From Country Living
  • Vintage documents (maps, sheet music, magazines, newspapers, book pages). Look in your attic, the junk drawer, a box in your basement...I'm sure you can find something that will work and look awesome.
  • Fabric scraps
  • Wallpaper
  • Gift bags from last year (seriously, where do all these go if you don't save them??) or the rest of the roll of wrapping paper you had to have 
  • Reusable packaging (give a loaf of bread in a bread pan, or cookies in a cute basket)


From Country Living
  • Reusable items such as Christmas ornaments, hair bows, or small toys (we do this, especially when we find a cute Christmas ornament that we think would be perfect for the recipient...it gets tied to the top of their gift)
  • Scarves
  • Natural elements (dried flowers, pine cones)
  • Bundled cinnamon sticks (how awesome would that smell? I'm definitely trying this one, though I'm not sure how the dog is going to react to that, and those gifts may go out of her little reach)

  • Old jewelry
  • Small stuffed animals or toys (how cute would this be in a child's bedroom?)
  • Cookie cutters (we hang a bundle of cookie cutters in the kitchen with a pretty red ribbon)
  • Toy cars (again, great for a kid's room...my nephew would love this)
  • Food stuff...again with the cinnamon sticks, stringing popcorn or cranberries, gingerbread cookies
After the holiday parties are done, gifts have been opened, and everyone heads back home before the turkey coma, take a little time to be green during clean-up.
  • Save the discarded gift bags that people don't take home for next year (see above).
  • instead of tossing the discarded wrapping paper, run it through a shredder...the shredding makes really great packing material for the next year (and it's coordinated!).
  • Recycle whenever you can...cans, paper, plastics, and so on
  • Use cloth cleaning towels
  • Don't let leftover food go to waste if you won't eat it. We always have too many cookies or an extra pie, so I'll give them to a neighbor who doesn't have much family, bring them to work (a nursing home) to share with the residents, or figure out a family from church or the community who needs a little boost (maybe someone who just lost a loved one, or who has a new baby, or who is recently out of work)
There's nothing in this list that will require a lot of extra work for you this holiday season. In fact, it may save you from making that extra trip to the store for another string of garland or roll of wrapping paper. You can be conscious of your level of waste without spending a lot of time or money.

Happy Thanksgiving Monday, all!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shoe Shopping

Love this photo...which is sort of a sneak peak to a project from a couple of weekends ago.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Vintage(ish) Christmas

If I had the forethought to take pictures of everything I've made in the last month or so, I suspect you would notice that I'm obsessing over all things vintage and distressed. I actually had to write myself a reminder note to stick in my craft space that says, "Not everyone likes stuff to look old!"

But for my first real Christmas-y decoration, a banner, I couldn't resist. I was at least inspired by vintage things, and I definitely had my distress inks out.

What do you think?

The whole banner

A close-up of one pennant

A different angle...tons of dimension

I love glitter (obviously) and I'm really into this color combo (aqua, light pink, and cream) right now. I almost hope this doesn't sell at my upcoming craft show, since it would be perfect for the Grandma room (my guest room). I have plans for all my pink Christmas decorations to go in that room this year.

A few notes on supplies: I used Ranger distress inks, Martha Stewart glitter, SU! kraft cardstock, October Afternoon patterned paper (from the Thrift Shop line...it's the blue doily paper), Tim Holtz patterned paper (can't remember the name of the line...the paper to make the rosettes), Tim Holtz's rosette die, and SU! rope and giant eyelets. The rest is just random craft store finds...some trim, some holiday picks and paper doilies.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Dining Room Make-Over (Pt. 2)

Yesterday's post got a little long, so I didn't want to go even further, but there's still more swimming in my head about our dining room.

Our dining room is easily the largest room in our house. Which is pretty cool when we have people over, but let's face it, we have a group that big maybe 6 times a year. I need to figure out how to use that space more efficiently without it becoming completely crowded.

These shelves that I posted yesterday

Would do just the trick, I think. There would be a work space on the counter (the lowest "shelf") and plenty of storage for all the vintage kitchen-y and serving pieces I've been finding or inherited over the last few years. In fact, the more I look at those shelves (because I've posted them twice in two days), the more I want them.

One other thing we plan to do to fill some space without it looking like we're filling space is to change out our dining room table. Right now, we have a bar height table that's a dark colored wood and square. I loved it when I bought it, and I still love it, but it doesn't exactly fit in our house. It has simple, clean lines, and it looks new. Not modern necessarily (and not new as in good condition...I've been known to craft on this table when I want to work upstairs), but definitely not something that belongs in an old farm house.

Anyway, here's the plan.  We have this shed/barn/building/whatever in the pasture. I actually think it was a chicken coop at one point, but that could just be in my head. This building lives in the middle of our pasture, and got hit by a tree or two during a recent tornado. No great loss because we weren't using it anyway, and only the roof is damaged. So, I'm thinking we use the wood from the building to make a dining room table, and then hunt around for a much of (mismatched) wooden chairs. Something like this:

It doesn't seem to unreasonably hard to me, even for those of us who aren't so handy. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but I figure we can always ask for help if we need it. I see ours being a little wider, so we can have chairs on each end, and plenty of room to serve dinner from the table, should we ever want to do that.

Random memory: we always serve family meals buffet style...Mike's family does too. One year for Easter, my mom decided she would serve dinner around the table. My brother and I didn't even realize big meals could be served that way, and neither of us were too please to pass food around the table when we wanted to eat. To this day (easily 15 years later), we still talk about the Easter dinner where mom tried that "pass it around" crap. We aren't fans. :)

It would be nice to have everyone in the family sit around the table. If we were to invite everyone in the immediate family to dinner now from both sides, we'd have 17 people around the table. That doesn't include grandparents, who are usually included at holiday dinners (that's another 5). I know I will never have a table that seats 22, but it would be awesome if we could get at least one side around the same table and have a meal. My goal is to make the table seat 14 to allow for foster nieces and nephews or new additions to the family over the years.

Another option would be some sort of additional seating not directly tied to the table, but that could be used when we have large groups over. Something like these:

I think the window seat concept would certainly fit with a farm home (especially the first one), we'd just have to make sure we didn't go overboard and make it look too "country" in style.

Okay, there's the rest of my rambles. The only thing I really haven't thought through is the window treatments. Which is sort of odd since I know I won't even start painting or recovering until I have something in mind. There's too many windows in the dining room to leave them open all day and night...our house would be freezing!

So, any suggestions for (inexpensive) window treatments based on what I've posted about?

Have a great one!!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Dining Room Make-Over

Remember when I used to post once a week? Or sometimes (gasp!) more than once a week?

That was fun. I miss it.

Long story short, we had a house guest most of this weekend. I'm very very happy that it's just Mike, Molly & me again. There's only minor craziness coming up this weekend, and then all hell breaks loose with my schedule next week. But I will be enjoying this week off (sorta) to do all sorts of fun things. Like plan my dining room make-over, yay!

Here's a couple of pictures:
(Photo from hollymathisinteriors.com)

I found this awesome aqua & white damask fabric at Hobby Lobby on clearance for $7.00 a yard. There were only 2 yards left, which is perfect because I only plan to use it to recover our dining room chairs. Of course I didn't take a photo of the fabric, so I'll rely on what I could find in google. Ignore everything else in this picture :) If I have have leftover fabric, I might do a wide trim at the bottom of my window treatments to tie everything together. We'll see.

I plan to paint the walls in the dining room some gorgeous shade of grey. No, I haven't picked it out yet. And then I'd like to paint a design on them, to give them the look of wallpaper without actually having to paper. I hate wallpaper. I'm going for something like Emily from Jones Design Company did here:

Emily has major skills. I'm not sure I'm that ambitious. (She painted that entire office except for one wall with that pattern...hello, amazing.) Maybe I'll stick to one wall. Fortunately, I don't have a ton of wall space in my dining room because I have ginormo windows on two walls, and a set of french doors on the third (the fourth opens up into our kitchen, so it's really just sort of a soffit (I'm not sure that's the right word, but you get the idea). The point is, if I decide to go for the whole thing, I think it's manageable. Time consuming, but manageable. (Talk to me after a weekend of painting and see if I still think it's manageable.)

I've also been looking for a dresser to use in my dining room as sort of a make-shift buffet. We have a counter that runs between our kitchen and dining room that I set food up on when we eat buffet style. It works so well, I'm not really looking to replace it. The reason I want this dresser though is mostly for storage...linens, candles, holiday things...I just never seem to have a place for them. I have this hutch:

Which was a wedding gift from my grandparents. But it is stuffed to the brim with wedding china and glassware, and those drawers really aren't deep enough to use for anything but our wine bottle opener and some photos I haven't framed yet. I needed more storage.

Enter my awesomesauce sister-in-law. We were at her house last weekend and I saw this great dresser in her garage. I jokingly asked her what was up with the dresser, and she said I could have it. I really didn't expect that, and if she wasn't using it, I had planned to offer to buy it from her. But, I can't pass up free, and now she is one step closer to her garage to master suite makeover (I hope!) Of course, I have no pictures of said dresser, but since it used to be in my niece's room, I'm sure you can imagine the fingerprints on the white paint, and the cute pink plastic knobs. Needless to say, there will be some painting and handles to come.

The only other thing to do is figure out some sort of shelving for one of the walls for more display. Something like this perhaps?
Or this?

Or this?

I really haven't decided yet. Though the bottom ones are my far and away favorite. Especially that counter on the bottom? Love it. I also love the beadboard wallpaper that goes up to the counter. I'd love to have something like that, with shelves framing the window on the front wall of my dining room (which is the focal point)...the counter could run along the bottom of the window, and then shelves along either wall. So pretty, but such a big project. I'd like to ask my grandpa to build me whatever I come up with, but he's in the middle of all kinds of home projects since he and my grandma just moved. This may be a project that happens later on in the make-over.

And then, of course, there are all the little decor details I want to incorporate. Like these, for the counter seating:

Somehow, they manage to be rustic and elegant all at the same time. In my opinion. Plus they're fun, and fit right in on the farm.

And these lights, to go on top of my new dresser/buffet (from The Nester):

Only mine will hopefully be the perfectly matching shade of aqua (the white ones are awfully pretty too).

Then I'll just need to figure out what to do with the light fixture (currently a pretty ceiling fan that we have no use for). I plan to move the ceiling fan to the living room, get rid of the ugly living room one (or at least move it to the guest room so we have a working overhead light), and then figure out something for the dining room.

So, what do you think? Any brilliant suggestions?

Have a happy Hump Day (thank goodness the week is half over)!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Maybe it's because I got an hour less sleep than normal.

Maybe it's because this is the most stressful, over-scheduled week I've had in a long time.

Maybe it's because (seemingly) everyone I work with is in a crap-tastic mood.

Maybe it's just because I'm feeling like being a brat.

No matter what, I'm cranky. Not just cranky, crankee. I hate feeling like this, but it is what it is.

I'm stepping away from work, I'm stepping away from my sources of stress, and I'm going to go shopping (it's for work, so not totally stepping away, but you know what I mean).

How many days til I can catch up on sleep?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Disappearing Vogt

I disappeared without warning! Sorry about that, I didn't know it was coming or I would have warned you.

Things have been insane, so I imagine my break will last awhile longer, but I promise to come back. I promise.

Here's a little list of what I've been up to:
Re-designing our website for work. I don't know how to make it work, but I think I've got a handle on how to make it pretty. Hopefully our web designer can take my ideas and run with them.

Planning a special event for work. It's so much fun, but since this is our first year, it's a lot of work.

Basically, constantly working :)

Estes Park was awesome, and I have some great pictures. I promise to share soon.

We have another open house this week for a bunch of vendors, including Vogt Design Co. I'm so excited to display some of my Christmas creations, for the first time this year. If you're local and would like to attend, let me know and I'll be happy to provide you with the info.

My good friend Ernesto is coming to visit the last weekend of the month, so Mike and I are busy bees getting everything ready around the house and finishing up some year-end yard work, since it seems to be getting colder. I wish the weather could stay like this forever.

A couple more craft shows on the calendar for November, which of course means lots of holiday creating. I love it, but of course, I have zero time to make my own holiday projects.

Anyway, I'd better get back to all my projects. I promise to pop in from time to time, even if it's just to share all the awesome fall & Christmas inspiration I've been seeing in blog-land.

Have a great day, all!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Estes Park, Here We Come!

I mentioned before that Mike & I will be celebrating our 1st anniversary soon (next Sunday to be exact!) We had an entirely different trip planned, but yesterday, we decided we should go somewhere else.

This morning, we decided it should be Estes Park, CO.

I've never been to Estes Park, but my good friends go all the time and love it and told us we should go. I'm up for trying new things, and this a manageable drive for us (we decided wherever we go next weekend, we'll be driving rather than flying).

So, I started looking at pictures to find a place to stay this morning (because, you know, all lodging decisions should be based on how pretty the place looks on the outside), and settled on this one:

Isn't it pretty? I can't wait to stay there.

I checked out weather.com today and apparently it's supposed to rain the entire weekend. Yay. {sarcasm font} That won't stop me from doing things, but it might make me want to sleep a little bit longer.

We have a couple of things we definitely want to check out, but I'd welcome any advice or "must-see" attractions.

Cannot wait to get out of town!

Happy Friday, all :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fall & Halloween Decor - Outdoors

Happy Tuesday all...only 2 more days of September and then it's one of my favorite months of the year! Our anniversary AND Halloween...love it!

Chances are, you'll be seeing some blog posts with awesome fall and Halloween ideas and decor. Halloween is seriously my favorite non-sentimental holiday (Christmas is my favorite holiday that has some meaning behind it). I love everything about it...scaring people, handing out candy, pumpkins, the colors, the fun, pumpkins, costumes, little people in costumes, pumpkins, puppies in costumes (yes, I dress Molly up...deal with it), did I mention pumpkins??

So, here are some awesome outdoor decor pics for fall & Halloween:

(From Pottery Barn) I love this so much and wish I had a porch big enough to pull it off. I have a couple of those lanterns in my house, so I might re-purpose them as porch or patio decor. I have tons of garlands of leaves left over from our wedding, so I'll put them to good use too. And I found like 5 of the black birds the other day that I think will make things appropriately spooky.

(From here) I like this one too. I have to wonder if anyone ever trips on a pumpkin going down the steps? I'm loving the urns (or whatever they're called) at the bottom of the steps, I'm looking for something similar when I'm out yard saling. And I love the idea of the flowers in the bushel baskets...I just bought a couple of pots of mums this weekend, so I may be replanting shortly!

(From here) Just kidding, I like these urns better. And I love the hay bales, but after last year's incident with the snake, I think I might pass on hay bales this year. Though, if I just put them away in a timely manner (or had my husband take care of that chore), I may not have a snake issue.

(From Good Housekeeping) So stinking cute. Love me some pumpkins

(From Country Living) How cute is the entrance to this Halloween party?

(From Country Living) Ignoring the cheesy guy in the (very scary) clown costume, I really love the idea of lining a walkway with pumpkins. I wonder if I could pull that off on part of mine? (Without animal interference, I mean)

(From Country Living) How cute is this little vignette? One of the things on my junkin' list is a cute little table like this that I can try to weatherproof for our patio.

(From Country Living) Why on earth have I never thought of using the pumpkin stem as a nose?

(Still Country Living) All lit up at night. Very cute (+ practical for safety purposes when walking)

(From Country Living) This is a pretty little set-up. I don't know that a blanket left outside in Nebraska would fair very well, but it made for a cute photo shoot

There ya have it. Do you decorate outdoors for fall and Halloween?

Have a great day!