Organizing: Small Victories

I just want to say that today is Monday and I am thankful I made it through the weekend in one piece.

In hindsight, it was probably a little over-zealous to try and cram so much into one weekend. In case you're not convinced that I'm crazy, here's what went down over the 4-day weekend.

- food prep (mostly figuring out how to use a mandolin - they are awesome)
- eating lots and lots of food
- football on TV
- showing family around the new house
- packing, packing and more packing

- the big move, for which the truck showed up at 8 a.m.
- visting with family and friends who came to help - I now know movers don't want any help. They have their system and you are just in the way.
- Harris family movie - The Blindside was so good. I highly recommend it.

- Pre-football breakfast
- NCSU vs UNC (huge rivalry, for all you non-Southerners) at which I screamed my head off
- Hicks family Brunswick Stew (10 gallons!) and mom's homemade banana pudding

- hooking up appliances
- first home-owners trip to Home Depot
- finally a bit of relaxation while I worked on Morgan's invitations

So yeah, I'm a wee bit tired today. That being said, I have to celebrate the little things. Is my house unpacked? Not even close. Is my closet organized? Big fat nope. But I did organize my scarves last night.

Like I said, it's the little things.
I hope you all had a more restful holiday than I did.

Living: Wish Me Luck!

If you're a fan of praying or thinking good thoughts, send some my way. Today is the big moving day and I'm hoping it's relatively stress free!

If you like to specialize your prayers/good juju, here's my wish list:
- that we actually get packed in time
- that nothing breaks
- that I make it through the day without stress crying
- that boxes get put into the proper room - I really hate it when boxes get dumped wherever

As I mentioned earlier, once we get over the hump of moving I hope to have lots of home beautification projects to share with you. Stay tuned!

Making: Memories Part 2

To follow up this morning's post, I thought I would tell you about a tradition from my side of the family: the green vegetable.

Five or so years ago, my Mom was preparing Thanksgiving dinner. This was to be the first Thanksgiving dinner she celebrated with her boyfriend (now my step-dad) Bruce. Mom wanted it to be perfect. Whenever she entertains, everything has to be just-so. The crisp linens, the charming decor and the well-thought and balanced menu. A key to this menu is that there has to be something green on the plate, for nutrition and a pop of color - a plate full of neutral colored food is just dull.

On the other hand, Bruce is notoriously picky. The only green vegetable he will eat is canned, french-cut green beans - not plain canned or frozen french-cut. Mom looked all over for his favorite but couldn't find it - apparently this variety of beans is quite elusive and hard to find.

Jump to the morning of Thanksgiving. Mom still hadn't found the beans. Bruce was okay with this, willing to forgo vegetables altogether. Mom would not be dissuaded - "There has to be something green!" In a moment of frustration (I'm sure a kitchen timer was beeping) she sent Bruce and I to the grocery store and told us not to come home until we found something green.

Bruce and I had no idea what to buy. Neither of us wre keen on vegetables. The few I would eat he hated, and I didn't like the few he could stand. Then, wandering through the holiday section, Bruce had a brilliant idea. M&M's were green. We bought a family size bag of red and green holiday M&M's and headed home. Before we showed Mom, we spent a few minutes separating the red from the green, then presented her with a bowl full of shiny, green M&M's.

It wasn't exactly what she had in mind, but it was clever and she does love chocolate. The "green vegetable" was a big hit with all the kids (and vegetable avoiding adults) and has since become a fixture of her Thanksgiving table.

Making: Memories

My husband's family has a wonderful tradition I would like to share with you. Every Thanksgiving after the turkey has been eaten, the football has been watched and the naps have been taken, they all go see a family movie together. Sometimes it's a Christmas movie, sometimes it's a musical but the chosen movie is supposed to be light-hearted and uplifting.

This year's movie is The Blind Side. I have been looking forward to seeing this movie since I first saw the trailer. I'm probably going to cry, but that's ok because the theater is dark and hopefully no one will notice.

So tell me, what unique tradition does your family enjoy during the holidays?

Buying: Party Boots

Inspired by Kate Miss, I have come to the decision that I need some heeled booties to get me through fall and winter. I think any of these would look fabulous with some tights and a party dress, don't you agree?

Which ones should come home with me?

From left to right, top to bottom: Truffle by Hive and Honey, Indigo by Clarks, Gallop by Fergie, Sweater Cuff Wedge by Kimchi Blue, Kline by Report, Wedge Bootie by We Who See, Suede Zip Bootie by Deena & Ozzy, Patent Oxford Wedge by Deena & Ozzy, Nash Bootie by We Who See

Coveting: Throw Pillows

I am just in love with the pillows by Dimmalimm Home. I originally found their shop because Apartment Therapy wrote a post on their line of coasters, but I was much more impressed with their pillows. They have a sculptural series (grey and white) but they also craft pillows from authentic Japanese kimino silk (orange).

They are definitely on the pricey side, but I would love to have one of their pieces on my couch!

Making: Upcycled Summer Scarf

Because posting has been so light lately - ok, almost non-existant - I got on the ball and wrote lots of posts to hold me over while we paint/pack/move/etc. By next week my sanity will be dwindling and you do not want me writing new content in that condition.

Anywho... I'll kick off my series of pre-scheduled posts with my DIY scarf. Inspired by this crafty chica, I set out to follow her tutorial for the summer scarf:

I'm a big fan of scarves any time of year - I am always, always cold - so I thought this would be a great opportunity to purge some of my giant giveaway T's that have been pilling up.

For my first attempt I followed her tutorial to the letter, and my results were... just ok. There were 2 key problems for me: 1) She recommended using an XL t-shirt which has a lot of volume. I have a petite torso - small shoulders, short waist and all that - so it was a little overwhelming on me; 2) I did the fringe because I thought it would be a fun detail. Not so much. It was a lot of look for me, so I will probably go back and cut off the fringe.

My subsequent attempts were much more successful; I downgraded to M and L t-shirts and ditched the fringe. I like the outcome because it creates a light-weight scarf perfect for transitional weather. My office is in an old, drafty building and I often wear scarves all day to keep the chill off my neck.*

Another bonus is its versatility. I can wear it long like a scarf...

... or doubled up like a choker.

As usual, I am a fan of any project where I can make something useful out of something I would normally wash the car with. This is such a simple project (it literally took me 45 seconds to cut up the shirt with a rotary cutter**) you could stock up on $0.25 t-shirts from Goodwill and make a scarf in every color.

So, any fun tutorials out there I'm missing out on? Any trash to treasure DIY you've come up with? Do tell!

*Yes, I'm secretly an old lady. I also complain to my landlord when my neighbors don't clean up after their dogs.

**Prior to this project I didn't own a rotary cutter, because no one bothered to tell me how awesome they are. Cutting t-shirts with scissors = lame.

Listening: Do You Want To Know A Secret?

It's no secret that I love the Beatles, but I have had this particular song on my mind for the past few days. Because it's an older recording there is no official music video*, so look past the blurry photo slideshow and enjoy the music. Happy Friday!

*I could have posted this instead, but I didn't want to subject you to that much wierdness. Even I don't love the Beatles enough to sit through that.

Living: My Apologies

Dear readers, I am sorry I didn't post anything yesterday. I was busy closing on my new house!! I had planned to take lots of pictures for you, but it was dark by the time we got the keys. Posting will probably be pretty light for the next month as I pack, move, unpack and paint the house. I will try to take plenty of before and after shots as I tackle my projects. So if I don't come up for air very often remember I haven't forgotten about you!

Until then, feel free to share any DIY or crafty goodness with me. I would love to share your projects with my other readers! Just e-mail me stories, photos or links to your blog at

Buying: New Stamp for a New House

I just got a new goody from Etsy! In preparation for our upcoming move, I bought a return address stamp from Modern Art Stamps. I plan on making my own change of address announcements, and a stamp will make my life so much easier - not to mention it will look cute on future birthday cards and thank you notes.

First of all, my stamp came all the way from Costa Rica! I really love the volcano postage stamp and the 'handmade with love' custom stamp she used (even if it did get splattered in the rain).

Each of her stamps comes hand-cut and unmounted, although she will mount it for a small fee. I tried it out unmounted, and it works well enough, but I will definitely be getting a mounting block in the near future.

Here's my test print. Of course I picked an owl stamp, and I think he's just so cute in a vintage sort of way!

You know me, I won't ever show the internet my address - safety first! - but you can see the full design with a sample address here.
So how about you guys? Are there any stationary splurges you can't live without?

Remembering: Childhood Favorites

In honor of National Corduroy Appreciation Day*, I thought I would take a moment to remember one of my favorite childhood books.

Corduroy is the story of a stuffed bear, named Corduroy because of his overalls, who lives in a department store and comes to life at night. He searches for a new button because he fears no one will take him home with a missing button. The book tells of his adventures and the love of the little girl that finally takes him home in the end. It is a touching story and I encourage you to read it to the little boy or girl in your life.
* I love that 11.11 is Corduroy Day because the repeating 1 "approximates the texture of a cotton fabric with vertical wales."

In Focus: A Cure for the Blahs

So, yesterday I had a case of the blahs. It seems the folks at Apartment Therapy knew just what would cheer me up:

This collection of photos showed up in my reader this morning, and it's just what the doctor ordered. Precious Pets + Fabulous Furniture = Bye Bye Blahs*! Does that puppy just not melt your heart?
*Sorry, I'm a sucker for alliteration. Nerd? Guilty as charged.

Living: I Have a Case of the Blahs

Do you ever just feel 'blah?' Well I do. I feel so overwhelmed by packing, moving and grown-up mortgage stuff I haven't felt very inspired lately, blog-wise.

image source
Hopefully next week will pull me out of my blogging funk. We close on our house on Monday, so I promise to rush over and take lots of 'before' pictures to share with you. Then there's all the To-Do List maddness... You see we don't have to be out of our apartment until December 15 so we have a whole month to try to paint and get a few things done before we have to move all of our stuff in. Which is a good thing, but now I have all the unreal expectations of what I think I can accomplish in that month.
So I promise to stop being 'blah' very soon. In the meantime, I may just have to post some flikr eye candy for a few days. My apologies.

Making: Jewelry Organizer

Up until now I have been storing my accessories in a jewelry armoire I got when I was 10 (that looks a lot like this), only mine is missing its legs because they broke off. I originally thought I could store my jewelry in my vanity but the drawers were too big to keep everything organized and visible.

I set out to create customized solutions for all my jewelry. My top priority is to have everything visible and in one place. I took care of necklaces with my display board so my next task was to organize my rings and small earrings - I have another project on my to-do list to display my big earrings but it won't accommodate hoops and studs.

I found the base for this project at a thrift store and I think it has the neatest back story. The piece was originally used as specimen storage in a science lab. Each drawer has space for 100 little test tubes that were run through a centrifuge. The rack is steel and the compartments are hard white plastic.

I wasn't crazy about the white sterile aesthetic so I worked some crafty magic. I decoupaged each box with brown paper lunch bags and mod-podge to give it a softer feel. It still has an industrial vibe because of the steel rack, but it no longer screams 'I came from a lab!'

Here is a view of the empty drawers before I customized them.

The top drawer is for my small earrings. Using pliers I removed all of the plastic prongs except for the ones I needed to support the dividers. This was very tedious work so I opted to abandon this technique for the other drawers. I used cardstock to create the dividers and fashioned the cushions out of scrap fabric - a sweater for plushness and linen for finish. The linen really works well because the open weave allows me to push my earring backs into the fabric to keep them straight and tidy.

The second drawer is for the gold and silver rings I don't frequently wear. I kept all of the plastic prongs but used unrolled cotton balls to create a padded infill. I'm not crazy about this technique, and I may redo it in the future, but it gets the job done for now.

The next three drawers hold my large collection of button rings. Again, I left all of the plastic prongs. I used more cardstock to make each divider to stand my rings up.

I still have four more empty drawers that can be filled with other accessories. My favorite thing about this project is that I can customize each drawer to suit the needs of my accessories but they still read as a cohesive unit from the outside. Another great thing was how cheap this project was. The storage case was only $8 and I did everything else with stuff I already had in my craft supplies.
I didn't break this down as a tutorial because the thrift store piece is one of a kind, but you can take the idea behind this project and apply it to any storage and organization project.
#1) Think outside the box. You would never guess lab equipment would make a good jewelry box so don't be afraid to spend some time digging through thrift stores, garage sales and antique shops.
#2) Use what you have laying around your home. Don't always feel like you need to buy a lot of stuff for a new project.
#3) Use items for something other than their intended purpose. Lunch bags as decorative paper? Sweaters and cotton balls as pillows? If you can make it work, go for it!

Living: Busy Weekend

Dear Readers, I feel like I have so much to do this weekend!

-Friday night the hubby and I are double dating with a couple we don't get to see much so I'm very much looking forward to that.
-Saturday afternoon I'm going to cheer on the Wolfpack with the hubby's family. It will be nice to get back in the football stadium after a long stretch of bye weeks and away games.
-Saturday night the hubby and I are having dinner with my Mom and step-dad to (belatedly) celebrate my birthday.
-Sunday afternoon I'm going with Morgan to help her shop for her wedding dress. I love, love, love wedding planning, and I have to say it's much more fun when it's somebody else's money!
-Somewhere in there I have to squeeze in a haricut, laundry and packing - we close in less than 2 weeks!
So what about you guys? Do you have big plans for the weekend?

Coveting: More Rugs

Damn you Apartment Therapy!* What I am experiencing right now is way beyond the normal amount of coveting that goes on over here.

I have been searching for the perfect rug with warm greys and hints of yellow. Just when I decided I couldn't afford a real rug and settled on this set of FLOR tiles...

... the helpful folks over at Apartment Therapy have to go and show me this...

... which then led to me wanting this...

... and this.

All three rugs are made by The Rug Company and they don't list any prices on their website, which is never a good sign. According to AT a 5'x7' owl rug would only set me back $3,285 or, to put it in terms I can really understand, over three months rent! As cute as that owl would be in a nursery - OK, who am I kidding I would put that in my living room** - it's never gonna happen. Because I have to buy stuff like food.

Stupid Apartment Therapy.

* OK, I don't really mean it. Please let me keep reading about DIY goodness and home organization.

**By now we all know how I feel about owls.

Buying: Rubber Stamp Kit

I just bought a vintage rubber stamp kit from EBay and I can't stop playing with it. I initially bought it to make the guest favors for Morgan's wedding but I figured I might as well get more use out of it.

The kit, which comes in this lovely yellow packaging, contains two blank stamp mounts, mounting rods and 200 or so individual letters, numbers and symbols. This is more than enough to stamp a return address or any short saying you might want to write more than once.

Once I quickly figured out how to assemble a stamp I set out on my first stamping project. When I started my job a year ago I was given a box of 1000 business cards. Then I passed the LEED exam in May, so my business cards were no longer completely accurate. Instead of throwing away the 950 business cards I have left - that wouldn't be very green of me, now would it? - I modified them using my stamp kit.

Now my business cards reflect that I am a LEED A.P. but also quirky and thrifty. I have lots of ideas up my sleeve for this bad boy, so stay tuned.

P.S. I know I keep showing you my business card and blurring it out. It looks tacky, and I apologize. But you never know what kind of crazy stalkers are lurking on the internet, so you can never be too careful.

Buying: New Cell Phone

I am so excited! After months and months of saving, I finally got my iPhone! I'm terrible at saving money, and it was so hard to not get lots of tights and scarves and boots for fall, but now that I have my new phone it was worth it!

I previously had a Blackberry Curve, and it was ok but not nearly as user friendly as I expected from the first seller of PDAs/handhelds/smart phones. It might be great for busy executives, but I want something with a little more pizazz.
I already grabbed lots of great apps (Swede Shop, Feather, Awesome Note and Pandora, just to name a few), but I'm always looking for new ways to make my life better and easier. Tell me, iPhone users, is there an app you can't go a day without using?

Going: LEGO Store

The hubby and I were walking around the mall over the weekend when he spotted the new LEGO store. His eyes lit up like a little kid and said "Can we go in there?" Being a total LEGO nerd myself, I said "Hell yeah!"

The front of the store had large glass displays with assembled specialty kits. My favorite was the LEGO valentine. I would be so thrilled to get this for a special occasion.

The back wall of the store was covered in these clear plastic bins. From far away the display looks like giant LEGO blocks...

... but upon closer inspection I realize each bin holds open stock LEGO parts. How cool is that? The one thing that always kept me from really going wild with my blocks was the shortage of specialty parts.
I couldn't resist taking this shot down the wall.
Lastly, I was very tempted to purchase a stormtrooper keychain. The store had a whole rack of keychains made from common - and not so common - LEGO characters. As you may remember from here, I find stormtrooper accessories quite amusing.
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