Month : July 2012

August photography challenge

Last January, for my birthday, my friends and family helped me to buy my very first dSLR camera. It was love at first sight and I have used it nonstop and experimented with a couple new lenses and flash…but a year and a half later, I was still working in auto mode. All the time. I was so pleased with the upgrade in photos after simply buying a nicer camera, that it was easy to forget how much more I could do with this camera, if I’d just take the time to learn.

My summer goal has been to get comfortable learning the ins and outs of all that this little baby can do. I’ve taken a couple classes at my local camera shop, read lots of books, and I’ve been devouring a bunch of online tutorials on how to get into manual mode. It’s been fun to be a student again and learn something new, but I’m constantly yearning for some new subjects beyond my hubby with only so much patience and the scene off our back deck.

Enter the Photo A Day August challenge! Every day there is a new topic around which to photograph. I’m going to make an effort to carry my camera with me more this next month and stretch my comfort zone to get some unusual shots. I figure even on days or at times I can’t use my dSLR I can at the very least whip out my iPhone to get the day’s shot. I’ll be posting weekly batches of my photos, I’d love to see yours as well! If you want to play along, here is the list of photos to take in August and check out her full post linked above if any of the daily topics have you stumped. Happy shooting!

Giveaway! Banned Books Print


***Want another chance to win?***
Check out the poll HERE for another shot at the goods!

Several months ago, I announced that I was closing the virtual doors to my freelance graphic design business, Liz Ink & Paper, as we turned our attention to some other business ventures. Despite the lightened workload, I have still been creating on my own time, making things like my meal planner worksheet and a few items that I plan to eventually list in my Etsy shop. The shop is hardly existent yet, but I hope to add some fun things in the near future and offer both some pre-made and ready-to-print items.

The very first (and so far the only!) item in the shop is my Banned Books print. This began as a Christmas gift that I later formatted to fit on bookmarks for the girls in my book club.

Today, I am offering up a free 8″ x 10″ print from my shop to one Life In Yellow reader, as a way to say a big, huge, “THANK YOU” for all of the Life In Yellow love you readers have been sending lately! The recipient will be able to choose an 8×10 Banned Books print from the color schemes shown and I will ship it to your home!

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this post and mention your favorite book of all time! One comment per email address, please, unless entering additional comments per the requirements below.
TO ENTER AGAIN: Mention this giveaway on your own blog, and post a separate comment with a link to your post, for a second chance to win.
TO ENTER YET AGAIN: Tweet or Facebook about the giveaway (linking to Life In Yellow’s twitter or facebook page) and post a comment notifying me of your Facebook mention or tweet (link if possible!), for a third chance to win the loot.
GIVEAWAY CLOSES: Tuesday, August 7, 2012
NUMBER OF WINNERS: One (U.S. and Canada residents, only)

Be sure to check back next Tuesday to see if you’ve won!

Stay tuned for a giveaway…

…as a way to say a big, huge, “THANK YOU” for all of the Life In Yellow love lately. Thanks to some Pinterest exposure, Life In Yellow hit an all-time record of 7,200 visits on Sunday! Know that every “like”, follower, and comment gets noticed and this is a small way for me to return the love. Check back yet this week for details on the giveaway and how to win!

tasty Pinterest finds.

We had a blissfully low-key weekend these past couple of days, with nothing much on our agenda beyond lots of Olympics watching. No weddings, no showers, no travel, no work. Awesome.

It was also the first weekend in a while that hasn’t been miserably hot – enough so that I don’t want to go near my stove, or oven, or grill, or for that matter anything that kicks out additional heat. In other words – I haven’t been doing much cooking.

Source: via Life In on Pinterest


But this weekend, I was missing my kitchen and wanted to try out a couple of healthy-ish recipes to much on while we watched the USA start its quest for medals. I started off easy, with this “skinny” version of poolside dip. Awesome on Kashi crackers, pita crisps, or carrots chips. I cut the recipe in half and did 4 oz. of light cream cheese, and 4 oz. of fat free. It had to chill a couple hours to get nice and firm and not too soupy, but totally worth the wait.

Next up was a quinoa salad that was inspired by a salad I had at the Des Moines Art Museum a couple of months back. Their menu changes constantly so I couldn’t look it up after the fact, but recreated and tweaked from what I could remember. This is yummy on a bed of greens with a little extra dressing, but I often just eat it cold out of the fridge for a quick lunch option. I cook 1 cup of quinoa, add half a package of Uncle Ben’s 90-second wild/whole grain rice blend, a can of drained (no sugar added) mandarin oranges, a generous handful of Craisins, and about 1/3 cup of a light fruity viniagrette (this time I used a Pomegranate). Toss and chill. Then eat…and eat more. I love the fruity+nutty flavor and the little bit of crunch from the softened quinoa. Yum.

Finally, I tried Skinny Taste’s baked steak fries and between the two of us, we ate almost the whole pan. I have to say, this recipe is all spices for flavor, so I really didn’t feel too guilty, and I made a couple of additional substitutions to the recipe, like turkey bacon for regular bacon. I was unsure if the “skinny” version would pass the man test – but Page has already said he would eat these again!

Anyone else whipping up yummy summer (or Olympics viewing) food?

paint chips.

I get asked from time to time about the paint colors in our home (there aren’t many wall colors yet, but I’m hoping to change that with our basement project and eventually add some accent walls around the house). But to cover what we’ve used so far, here’s a quick list:

Front Door: “Heritage Red” by Benjamin Moore
One of the colors I get asked about most is our red front door (you remember, the one that started out martian green – yikes – and then we poked fun at with our neighbor Christmas cards?) Well, it all worked out for the best and we love the final color.

Office – His: “Storm” by Valspar
Page’s office walls are a few shades darker than the grey in the rest of the house. The color is appropriate for the thunderstorm-obsessed dude. (And funny story – the runner up color was called “Man Cave” – I think either would have been appropriate!)

Office – Hers: “Deep Space” by Valspar
My office (which I deemed “Manolo Blahnik blue”) has some accents painted with a coat of this deep blue hue in a semi-gloss for extra sheen.

Kitchen stools: “Chickadee” by Valspar
Using my beloved LeCreuset as a color guide, I went a shade lighter for our kitchen stools, and tried to find a middle ground between our yellow rugs and the stand mixer as well (all of which are in the same yellow family, but different intensities). Knowing the color would get quite a bit of real estate on the two stools and would still be plenty bright, I’m so glad I went “up a notch” on the paint strip for this project.

Wall color throughout the house: “Mindful Gray” by Sherwin Williams
I include this photo to show how much more intense this color gets at night with the lights on, whereas during the day in natural light, it is incredibly subtle and soft. We agonized over fifty shades of grey (no pun intended!) before we finally selected this one, wanting a warmer grey that wouldn’t look too blue in darker lighting. Compared to blacker grey chips, this one almost seemed borderline taupe (something we did NOT want) but in the end it truly does register grey against the white trim. I would choose this color again every time. Love it.

So there you have it – the colors (so far) in our house. Hoping to add some fun new ones to the mix in the coming months…kelly green, a crisp navy…stay tuned!

gift planner worksheet (free download!)

First of all, a HUGE “thank you!” to all of the visitors who have stopped by Life In Yellow to pick up the meal planner checklist. Be sure to pick up the latest free printable babysitter notes as well!

You all inspired me to share more of the organizational tools I find myself using in some less-than-cute form and finally take the time the time to actually design a more eye-pleasing version for you all (and heck, myself!).

Consider it Christmas in July…I give you the Gift Buying Checklist. I use this list method to keep track of what I’ve bought, for whom, and approximately how much I’ve spent.

I realize it’s nowhere near holiday time, but if you’re like me, you think of ideas year-round or pick up on mentions of items and jot them down for future reference. I also like to spread out the spending whenever I can, so by fall, I’m in full gift-shopping and stashing mode in preparation for the holidays. Fill it in as you shop, or use it as a planning tool ahead of time to divide out your gift-giving budget, then cross out the items as you purchase them. Use the notes section at the bottom to remind yourself of coupons, tracking numbers for online purchases, and anything else you need to note.

But who says you need to use this just for holiday shopping? Use it to shop year-round for kids’ birthday gifts, or those things you like to have on hand when the day sneaks up on you (mother-in-law’s birthday, best friend’s anniversary). I keep a list year-round and use the “total” section to give me an idea of how much I spent the previous year on gift giving (and yikes…it’s always more than I thought…what can I say, a girl has to shop!).

Hopefully this list, like the meal planner, helps someone in addition to me – I’m a lover of lists and having a game plan. Happy shopping!

To Download: Depending on your browser, you can:
Gift Buying Checklist
A) click this link to open and print the PDF,
B)If the words above don’t show as a link for you, try hovering over them with your mouse and right-click and use the “save as” option to save it to your desktop and open it that way.

standing ovation for this bathroom re-do!

After brainstorming about our own basement half bath, I was further inspired when I saw this awesome bathroom post. Sending out a virtual high five (or ten!) to Living Beautifully DIY for this amazing bathroom transformation. I was laughing out loud at their narration of the before…the Roman sconces and window treatments had me cringing a bit as well. I so admire the vision here – and the execution. It’s stunning!

basement planning: the living room

So after a peek at what we’re thinking for the wet bar and the half bath, we’re on to the main living space on our lower level.

We want this room to be a bit roomier feeling and more laid back than our living room upstairs, which has hardwood floors and is right off the traffic and noise of whatever is going on in the kitchen. In contrast, we want carpeting down here to feel warmer and cozier underfoot and to absorb some noise. We’re also picturing leather seating, possibly in the form of one big sectional where friends or family can pile to watch a movie, game, or just hang out. Something current and cool looking, but still comfy enough you want to just run and flop onto it. Ideally I think we’re picturing a bit lighter brown leather, with more of the worn, western treatment, but this is as close as I could find on a whim…

Source: via Life In on Pinterest


Across from the seating will be the TV and components. Rather than finding an entertainment unit to fit the wall, and because we have the opportunity to drywall however we like, we are opting to do built-in sections right in the wall. The wall below is actual shevling, but pretend it’s actual drywall and you’ll get the idea. I’m sure the plan could change, but right now the idea is that the TV will be recessed into the wall, the components will either be in a separate cabinet or in a wall cubby of their own, and some additional storage will exist to hold DVDs and games.



As for colors down here, I am probably premature in showing this, since I really haven’t done much more than casually mention navy to my other half, but I think it could be an awesome color for this level. The dark color will absorb light when you want it dim to watch movies, but with the shades open and light coming in, it would be a great contrast to the white trim. It’s definitely a classic color, but is so particularly “in” right now that I’m dying to use it somewhere. And trends are great in wall paint – cheap and easy to swap out later. (PS I love the color of that light brown leather chair in the photo…that’s the tone I’m picturing for the sectional.)


After a couple of electrical walk-throughs, we’ve decided to use mostly canned lights throughout to give the illusion of higher ceilings, mixed with a few sconces we can dim as needed. I’m hoping the result of the combination is something like this…


With windows and doors along much of the wall space, and the TV on another, I’m not sure how much space there will be for art, but I’d love to do something like this on the wall opposite the bar when people first come down and turn into the hallway. I would never think to hang frames so low, but I love the overall paneled look.



It’s so fun to be in the “dream it up” stage before budgets and actual elbow grease set in. 🙂 But we’re excited to see this all come together in the coming months!