Month : January 2011

coming in for a close-up.

 
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When filling a recent order for some Hip Mama calling cards, I realized I don't have (and thus have not posted) any photos of the real deal, in printed tangible form. I have been very pleased with this printer I discovered last fall – the paper is a nice thick stock, the color reproduction is spot-on, and the UV gloss coat makes these extra durable! Plus, who doesn't love a little corner-rounded die cutting? Here are a few shots so you can see what these babies look like in real life – not just designs on a computer screen.

Bear with me as I'm still learning this brand new camera! Here you can see the glossy finish…

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And here they are, packaged and ready to ship to their new home!

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Checking things off my list…failed projects and all.

It's one month into 2011 and I'm feeling pretty good about progress on the list I put together last month.

  • Touch up paint all over – screw holes, nicks, etc
  • Raise the shower curtain in our bathroom, as seen here http://www.younghouselove.com/2008/08/movin-on-up-2/ (photo courtesy of Young House Love)
  • Invest in a QUALITY humidifier for our bedroom – the air is crazy dry.
  • Add a key hook in kitchen – several sets of keys are always floating around the counters
  • Add a deep freezer for extra cold food storage
  • Re-paint canvas for living room wall
  • Add some sort of entertainment center in the living room (corral all of those components/cords!!) – perhaps something like this….
  • Maybe add an armless arm chair for additional seating in living room – would take up less space that traditional arm chair – maybe try my hand at reupholstering something from my favorite flea market in town
  • Add an armless chair to Page's loft – while it may collect laundry, I'd like to have a place to sit and talk to him while he's working (he crashes on the guest bed to do the same to me in my office)
  • Come spring – solar powered lights around the patio – make this an additional "room" in warmer months – great grill/patio furniture – maybe add an outdoor rug and some citronella candles?
  • Start my photo wall – collecting black frames/white mats -black and white photographs – would like to run a photo wall up the stairwel or perhaps in the guest room
  • Continue to pare down the scrap/wrap/art supplies. Used up a lot of this stuff with holiday gifting, but still so much of it will end up going unused – make a donation run to Goodwill and take advantage of some freed up space in my Ikea shelf. 
  • New coffee table (one with storage for blankets/movies) – needs to have some color against our neutral sofas – would like either a "found object" like an old trunk or else a flea market/craigslist find that I could paint fit baskets/bins inside

So what's up with those couple of "sort of" crossed off items? Allow me to explain.

It all started with wanting some sort of entertainment center (read: NOT the fireplace mantle) to set our TV on and store components a bit more out of sight. With our new commitment to saving any extra bucks for some digs to call our own, the new plan was to either find something incredibly cheap on craigslist or work with pieces we already own.

I was feeling oh-so-clever in that by paring down all of my scrapbook/gift wrap/art supplies, I had moved everything from this bookcase…

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…into this one.

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Thus, freeing up the smaller bookcase to use as an interim entertainment center of sorts. Our TV is not very large (32") and would fit perfectly on the surface with a few inches to spare. Additionally, I had these three floating shelves…

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…that were no longer in use (I've since moved all the jar contents into the big bookcase as well) and they happen to match the bookcase perfectly. So my idea was to arrange the shelving on the wall above to help the setup take up a bit more space against the huge blank wall, and finally, drill a hole in the back of the bookcase for cords so the shelves could hold the Tivo, Wii, cable box, receiver, and DVD player. (On a side note, how has no company created an all-in-one component? This is just excessive!)

Anyway, in my head, I had it all worked out beautifully.

In theory

Perfect, right?

In reality, not so much.

Leave it to Page to pinpoint possible issues right off the bat that I hadn't even considered. His very first question: "Well, have you measured to see if the shelves are deep enough for the components to sit in there?"

Uh, no.

You can predict what happened next. I measured, and no, we weren't even close. Good ol' Tivo would have hung off the shelf by a good five or six inches. I thought for a bit and then had what I thought was another briliant idea. I asked about cutting enough space in the back of the bookcase to accomodate the extra-deep electronics. Page: "Not that I'm crazy about cutting into the bookcase anyway, but you realize if you do that, the Tivo is going to hang out the back and the bookcase will have to set several inches from the wall, instead of flush against it, right?"

Damn. Foiled again.

Fast forward through a bunch of frustrated pouting and wishing to win the lottery for some extra furniture funds. In the end, we decided to just live with the TV where it is now, but keep the bookcase in its new home, and meet another item on the list: blanket storage. I'll be on the hunt for a couple of baskets to slide in the shelves and voila, we'll have some storage for our board games and blankets. So in the end, not a total fail. And I can live with it until we move. Hopefully sooner than later. And yes, I do plan to put something on the wall and on top of the bookcase. I consider my style clean, but not THIS bare and boring.

Shelf with baskets

As for the other checked-off items:

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Less keys floating around the counters…

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…and more storage for freezer items. No more trying to slam our fridge door before everything comes tumbling out! Thanks to my brother, who is making a big move this month to Asia (!) we were able to buy this barely-used baby off of him at a sweet price. Thanks, little brother. πŸ™‚

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The final item I've checked off is the repainting of this canvas. You can read more about the process and inspiration here.

Hope you're having fun crossing things off your own 2011 lists!

re-paint canvas….check.

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So this seems to be the best (well, only) photo I can find of the canvas I painted a couple of years ago, that has been hanging in our living room. I loved it and lived with it for a while, but have been getting tired of it. The beauty of a canvas is that you can just keep painting over it!

So this week, I took a fresh pass at it.

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Originally I wanted to do some abstract words with the patriotic lyrics to "Chicken Fried". But I decided I have a different project in which to use those. Then I decided I didn't care WHAT was on the canvas, but the words, "Let it be" needed to be in there somewhere, somehow.

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I had already decided I wanted something in a fresh spring green (perhaps influenced that I had a good deal of green paint left over from a recent bathroom project). But beyond that, I was a bit lost. I started flipping through a bunch of old magazine and catalog clippings I'd saved, and came across a duvet cover I had torn out of a CB2 catalog ages ago. I was totally taken with the doodly "free love" design that seemed to be handdrawn across the cotton. I'm not in the market for new bedding, but I had saved the page anyway because I was in love with the design.

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Taking a cue from that pattern, I tried to take it in my own direction and realized the design totally leant itself to my three little words.

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(in progress….)

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and the final, finished product!

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not too shabby for a wednesday.

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A huge thank you all of the friends and family that made my 27th extra special. I was so touched by the texts and facebook posts, calls and cards.You sure know how to make a girl in her late twenties feel loved.

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Thanks in particular to a hubby who went all-out to make my "lame Wednesday birthday" excellent. Not only did he pick me up for a lunch at Flarahs, but I came home after Zumba to fresh yellow flowers from Trader Joes…

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…and a yummy dinner waiting for me!

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Tasty entree and some great new skincare products. It doesn't get much better. πŸ™‚

And yes, I know it shouldn't be all about "stuff", but I am beyond excited that after a couple of years of hemming and hawing over whether or not to take the plunge, I ordered my first dSLR, with some Amazon fundage help from family and friends. Thanks, you guys! Get ready to be hounded and have your picture taken more than you care to. πŸ™‚

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Isn't she pretty?! Gorgeous just as she is, but what's a girl to do without any accessories….

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…so this uber-cute camera strap is on its way from Etsy! (photo courtesy of Sassy Strap Boutique)

I feel like I have a pretty good grip on photo basics, but can't wait to start playing around and learning more. Here's to a super creative and well photo-documented 28th year…

Workin’ 9 to 5…and then some.

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Just as soon as it got here, January has packed its bags and flown the coop. Where has the month gone?

It feels as though I've been watching January in fast forward…ya know, with the zippy little lines across the screen and everyone moving at a mile a minute? Yes. That has been January. Page has been feeling it, too. Last week he lost track of his days twice, both times thinking it was earlier in the week than it actually was.

It seems to be a mixture of work and, well, work that has caused all the time zapping. We have both been feeling the weight of big to-do lists of projects and the need for an eighth day in the week. It's wonderful to have valuable work to do and I am always grateful to be employed, but sheesh it's been a busy few weeks! Add to the mix our "for fun" jobs, and it has been seemingly non-stop motion.

It seems this reminisce-about-January post has taken a turn towards the subject of work, so I might as well roll with it. Here's a quick little rundown…

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For me, my coworker, Tara, and I hit the road visiting a handful of company facilities and offices and doing some meet and greet work and touching base on some marketing projects. We spend so much time writing copy, creating ads, and overseeing marketing materials for these businesses that seeing them in person and learning more about how everything works is invaluable. We got a kick out of our hosts at one facility in particular – they had two pink hard hats waiting for us! I only wish we had gotten a photo together. Two years ago, I would have NEVER thought this kind of trip and tour might be interesting, but my how the times have changed….it totally was! πŸ™‚

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For Page, the month has kept him as busy as ever with web projects. We are anxiously awaiting the ADDY Awards, an advertising awards program (think the Emmys but for ad work) with all kinds of categories, one of which is "website". Page's agency entered several projects, including a recently completed website for Templeton Rye that Page was charged with building. Come mid-February, there will be a reception and the announcement of the awards for the Iowa chapter. Cross your fingers!! Here is Page posing with a billboard for Templeton last month. Good job, Mom, for demanding that he stand there while you take his photo. πŸ™‚

And that's been our month in a very quick nutshell. Of course we're capping it all off with a celebration tomorrow for yours truly. πŸ™‚ Twenty-seven…can that really be?!

 

Z3 High Octane Bars

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Last week, my favorite free publication, HyVee Seasons arrived in my mailbox. Some issues, I tear out almost every single recipe or decor idea. This issue, I only had eyes for one page – an energy bar recipe. With all of the working out Page and I are tackling, I thought these would be a perfect thing to test and have on hand for breakfast or post-workout snacks. Unlike some energy bars, there are no unidentifiable ingredients – the recipe is simple and straightforward. In fact, we had everything on hand without a need to run to the store. You can find the original recipe here or follow it below (note that we substituted chocolate whey powder instead of vanilla, thus the darker colored bars – since it was what we had on-hand). Also, I was about 2 oz. short on honey, so I substitued agave nectar to make up for it. Would do this again!

As you can see in the above, the bars are firm, but still a bit crumbly. Next time around, I would go a little easy on the dry ingredients and/or add another ounce of honey/nectar. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I also might use just a few less chocolate chips – between the honey and the peanut butter and the sweetness of the protein powder, there is plenty of sweet flavor. All in all, they've received rave reviews at home and at the office!

You will need:

2 cups steel cut or instant oats

1 cup peanut butter (we used creamy but chunky would work, too) 

1 cup honey

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1 cup craisins

1 cup flaxseed (milled)

1 cup whey protein (vanilla, chocolate, your choice!)

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No baking required – just mix it all together (I needed some help from my kitchen aid – these are THICK!) and then press into an 8×8 pyrex pan. Stick in the fridge (or the garage if you live in Iowa!) to chill for a bit before cutting into bars.

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steals and deals.

Sometimes you just have to brag about an amazing deal….or in this case, four of 'em! πŸ™‚

While on a busy road trip trek around the state of Illinois, my coworker and I managed to get an hour or two in the evenings to hit some bargain shopping stores in Downers Grove and Springfield. We hit up a HomeGoods (a home-only version of TJ Maxx) and it's probably okay that we had a car full of luggage – otherwise I might have brought home about three new pieces of furniture – MAJOR steals and deals to be had (yes, "steals and deals" – my dad's phrase that has now been engrained into me!).

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First up was my mirror – I don't even know where this is going in my house, but I love love LOVE the mix of angles and curves and it was a mere 25 bucks – um, YES PLEASE. To my delight as I've been catching up on blog reading this weekend, I noticed a very similar style on Young House Love – I feel so hip to know we have similar mirrors – ha!

I turned my attention away from the house and went a little crazy on purses. Now, in my defense, I recently got rid of a LOT of purses. I've had several of them forever and they just aren't striking me anymore as being too whippy. I haven't bought a purse in forever (well, okay, I bought a rockin' bright blue one last week, but before THAT it had been forever…) and when you see these prices, you'll understand why I couldn't leave them on the shelves, begging to go home with me. I swear – cute purses are worse than cute puppies!

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First up – my rockin' little Hobo clutch. I love the size (about a foot long – large enough for a clutch that I actually fit some stuff in here) and the asymetrical way that it closes and zips open to find this fun black/white lining (yes as you can see it also comes in pink – the green was speaking to me).

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I adore Hobo wallets and clutches – they come is such great, vivid colors – but for such small bags, they are just pricey enough that I much prefer to wait until they goes on sale a bit to justify the purchase. As expected, the retail tag was still tucked inside – $98.00 full price. Liz's bargain deal discounted amount? $29.99. Thank you very much.

It got even better the next night in Springfield. The town's mall was not exactly what I would call "happenin'" but I got over that QUITE fast when I scored not one but two suh-weet Big Buddha bags – one of my favorite brands of bags when you don't want to go all out on something designer.

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Exhibit A – a much needed go-with-anything black bag for winter. I have this exact bag in yellow and it is one of my very favorites – I love the size, shape, material – everything. I clapped with glee seeing that it came in black. Not only was the bag marked down, it was an additional 50% off the marked down price…and then a customer in-store event gave me an additional 15% off all accessories. (Can you hear the angels singing halleluiah??!) Original price $90.00. Liz's bargain deal discounted amount? $24.99

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Exhibit B – I have never had a brown bag that I just LOVED. I've bought and passed along some the past couple of years, always buying it out of necessity rather than love. I saw this and adored it instantly. I was all over the excessive hardware and super comfortable single wide strap (also, it's a bit darker and more reptilish than it appears here). But of all the racks in the store, it was on the only NON-markdown rack. Boo. I looked at the $90.00 full price tag (damn! I HATE to get suckered into full price!) but decided I loved it enough to just suck it up and buy it. Turns out the display was missing a sign – and my bag was missing its sale tag. Another 24.99 score!

Okay, okay that's enough bragging. I suppose when you don't have children or pets, your virtual brag book must consist of shopping steals. πŸ™‚ Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend – and if you get a chance, get out to the stores – there are some major deals happening out there!!