Month : September 2012

October Wallpaper – Free Download

I can’t believe it’s October, already! Time for another calendar wallpaper!

Click the images below to see them full-size, then right-click and save (PC) or drag to your desktop (Mac) to download to your device. On your iPhone, press and hold on the image until you are asked if you want to “save image” to your photos.

For iPhone:

For iPad:

For computer:

five.

This weekend, September 29 to be exact, marks the five-year anniversary of our “I do”s.

It’s hard to believe it’s been half a decade since we were married, and in many (good) ways, it seems so much longer. I started this blog just after our nuptials without any real forethought – it was simply a way to share wedding and honeymoon pictures with family. Fortunately, its existence endured beyond the honeymoon and, in a way, this little blog celebrates its anniversary every time we do.

I originally wrote the posts just for me as a way to archive our life together. Instead, what began as an audience of maybe a dozen or so readers (our parents, best friends, and the occasional lost Googler who landed on the wrong page!), changed drastically and has grown into an audience far beyond what I could have imagined when I started this project. As Smith life has evolved the past five years, so has the content that makes it into the posts. Hopefully the photos are a bit better composed and the writing a little more polished, but mostly I hope the perspective has grown a little, from barely out of college kids to the “late twenties” we are in now. 🙂

I often forget that most of the people who follow this blog now are those I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting in person and while I try to respect that and keep things light here and not too personal, it seems okay to me, today, in the spirit of blog and wedding anniversaries, to share a little more deeply than I normally might. I admit that I, myself, often skip the more life-behind-the-scenes posts of bloggers I follow but don’t know personally. So no offense taken if you want to pass right over this particular post. 🙂

I always post something about our anniversary each year. You can read about our first, second, third, and fourth years via the links. Most years I share a few pictures and brief thoughts, maybe followed up with a later post about how we spent the day or weekend. In past years, I have kept it brief, but I look back on this fifth, most recent, year with particular fondness and joy.

I have more to say this year.


September ’11 to September ’12 brought a lot of changes our way. It was the first year in our marriage that neither of us switched jobs, either by choice or chance. We were both content and in familiar places with steady structure. That alone made it a great year and we count the blessing every day that in an unfortunate time for many careers, we get to go to jobs we enjoy where we are challenged to think and get to see our ideas come to fruition. I look forward to seeing where our professional lives take us in the next five years. We have lots of ideas and plans on which we are ready to lay some groundwork. There’s no instruction manual on how to proceed from here, and we are figuring it out as we go. It’s scary and thrilling and frustrating and exhilarating all at once.

Speaking of laying plans, the most obvious milestone of our fifth year in marriage (and consequently, here on the blog) was the purchasing of our first home. The purchase translated into our first time building a home together, a process that both tested and united us in ways I could never have foreseen. It was amazing to see something come to be out of nothing and witness the mistakes we made along the way, and high five over the decisions we stood our ground on during the process. We work together often in our freelance businesses (even our day jobs have brought us around the same conference table more than once), but this was the first real time we worked together on something as personal as a home. It was an up and down (but mostly up!) experience of which I’m so glad I got to be a part.

When I think about the little bits that make our life so happy right now, I cut to some of the more random, unseen to anyone but us moments, like an enthusiastic late night meeting with a client, sitting around a kitchen table and feeling the palpable excitement of an idea coming to life. I think of peeking out a window as Page rearranges his sprinkler configuration for the millionth time and picture him as an eighty-year-old surveying the grass. I think of stopping whatever was originally on the day’s itinerary to go have a celebratory drink when some news at work (day job or otherwise) deserves a toast. More than anything, I think of Fridays after work, when I can almost count on coming home to a drink being poured for me and the speakers turned up for what always turns into an all-out dance party, just the two of us in the living room. Anyone else might roll their eyes at the ridiculousness. I love that I married the guy who stops only to turn up the volume.

I would be remiss in writing an anniversary post and not talking about the man I married. I am constantly inspired by his, “sure, why not?!” attitude and his huge heart. He is up for anything and always the first to give when giving is needed. I am continually amazed by just how hard he works. There’s no doubt Page lives by the mantra, “work hard, play hard” but most only see the second half of that equation – the half that golfs at every free moment and gets caught by friends driving too fast around town in his favorite toy. I think some of even our closest friends might be surprised to see how a typical day for this dude might involve getting to the office by 6 to work on a freelance project, start his “regular” day at 8, use up his lunch hour to meet with another freelance client, go back to the office to wrap up his day, then head home and address whatever needs to be done there – mowing the lawn, grilling dinner, and often helping out with my latest hair-brained idea for the house. He takes his job(s) as a web designer very seriously, but his job as a husband even more so. Lucky me? Understatement.

As much as I would like to think that marriages work or don’t work based on just “knowing” the person you marry is the right one, I don’t think it’s true. I think you have chemistry, you do a lot of getting to know each other ahead of time, and then you stay present in your marriage, you don’t coast, and hopefully, you have a stroke of luck or two that you don’t grow apart and each stays equally committed – particularly for couples who got married as young as we did. As much as I thought I knew Page inside-out the day we were married at age 23, I feel so much closer to him now, five years later. I have thought more than once, “wow, it’s so LUCKY that we’ve turned out to be so similar”. (Seriously, how scary is that?! Ha!)

Whether it’s been luck, good communication, or maybe a bit of both – it has kept us on similar paths. I love that we see eye-to-eye on when to splurge and when to be frugal. That we are in sync on the topic of a future family. That we are both talkers, drawn to positive, enthusiastic people with big ideas. I love that neither of us is tied to a single thing besides each other and we could move somewhere new in a minute, take on a whole new life, and be just as happy as we are now. Who knows? Maybe it will happen in the next five!

I promise to revert to my “short and sweet” approach for the six-year post. And I’m okay if no one (except for hopefully the guy I married!) even reads this far down in the entry. Life is sweet and years from this one, I want to remember all the reasons why. Happy anniversary to my best buddy and my other half.

Cheers (*clink!)

laundry room trials and some sort-of progress

I’ve had a few questions about seeing a “reveal” of the laundry room project I took on a few weeks back. Here’s the latest…

If you’re following the Life In Yellow facebook page, you might have seen the photos of my inspiration rug, (and how it didn’t quite work for this room). Ignore the nasty yellow cast of the iPhone pics…

No longer tied to the colors in the rug, you also might have seen how I was suddenly torn between completely polar opposite paint color choices. Seriously – I’m usually very decisive, but I was all over the place with this one.

I really thought I had my heart set on a bright “pop” laundry room color, but when I got a swatch of Pink Salmon on the wall, I was instantly overwhelmed. Fortunately, on a whim, I had also picked up a sample of Soft Mint Green (by Glidden) so I painted a square on the opposite wall. Ah, so refreshing and clean. If it could have a scent, I’m sure it would smell like clean laundry. 🙂

So with my color decided, I started by hauling everything out of the room and unscrewing everything from the walls. I patched and sanded the several holes, taped off the trim, and started cutting in along the ceiling and baseboards until Page got home to help me disconnect the washer/dryer .

Originally, my plan was to stack the washer/dryer and install shelving and some sort of countertop to the side of them. But after thinking it over, I decided I’d rather follow this tutorial and hoist both machines up a foot to a more back-friendly level and have a place to stash laundry below.

Armed with the supply list, I headed to Lowes for the lumber and we built and painted the pedestal over the following week.

Voila, I give you our laundry pedestal!

Nope. Scratch that. I still can’t believe it to this day, but neither of us (and I happen to love math!) accounted for the fact we’d have to be able to get this built-perfectly-to-the-size-of-the-room pedestal INTO the room. For which we’d need extra inches (lots of them) and things like, you know, walls got in the way. And because of the way it’s constructed, you can’t get in the angles/body positions you need to build it in place. It sounds ridiculous, and we are both still a little shocked/laughing at ourselves, but for as many projects as we’ve tackled with varying success, we’re thinking “eh, so we messed up on this one…let’s move on.”

In the wise words of Pinterest…

 

So, plan B. We took it apart and the whole thing is salvageable. We figured that we could at least wedge the bottom portion in, which elevates the washer/dryer up a few inches to a more back-friendly height and happens to be the same height as our trim. We will touch up where the baseboards and base meet and make the whole thing look built-in. I also like that the heightened appliances now hide the outlets/water hookup that were visible before. (As for the other platform from the pedestal, Page will use it in the garage for some ceiling-suspended storage he was planning on building anyway, so it’s hardly a waste.)

As for the baskets, rather than going below, we’ll add some shelves/cubbies above that can perfectly hold each basket, plus laundry supplies.

Some smaller changes include swapping our tabletop ironing board for this cool magnetic mat that won’t rattle on top of the dryer when it’s running. A gray dollar-spot container to hold some sewing and stain supplies will replace my previous lime green one to round out my laundry switcheroo. Not that anyone WANTS to do laundry…but I certainly won’t mind it as much in this freshened-up room when it’s all finished. We’ll keep coming back to this project as we have time, but right now framing the basement is the priority. We (and by “we”, I mean “I”) am a little ADD when it comes to starting a bunch of projects all at once. Sometimes I think it’s amazing Page doesn’t kick me to the curb.

So there you have it – the latest (and greatest??) on the laundry room. It really wasn’t abandoned…just taking a more scenic route than originally planned!

basement color scheme.

I never posted an official “before” pic of the basement – so here it is! I need to get some updated shots this weekend of the walls framed, but you can see from this that things are happening down here. I am amazed at how Page is literally teaching himself everything as he goes, and yes there have been a few curve balls (like having to move a gas and water line we hadn’t anticipated to meet code) but overall, things are moving along and we’re planning to be ready for electrical/plumbing by mid-October, and drywall, trim, and painting by Halloween. Woo hoo for progress!

I’m totally happy that it’s going at the pace it is – it gives me time to think and rethink how I want to decorate down here. I can take my time considering where I will need an outlet, what kinds of light fixtures to wire for, and other details that were much more hurried when we built the rest of the house.

Since posting back in July about our initial thoughts for the bar area, living area, and bathroom that will go in our basement, I’ve had some time to research a little further, shop around, and get my plan together. I have the green light from Page on everything I’ve picked or pinned so far – I have to say, I so appreciate that he trusts me to do my thing down here and with the exception of only one veto, I have his full support!

The “big” things in the room will err more on the side of traditional – I’m surprised even now to write that, since our initial hunch for this spot would be more industrial. I’m trying to bring in elements of that, but more than anything, as I keep coming back to key pieces I like, it’s going to be more eclectic than anything. Above is an inspiration board I made on Olio – some items are the real deal, others are inspiration pieces similar to what I hope to find for this space. Paint color ideas are in there, too, although I’m going to wait to reveal what we chose to go with and where for when I have actual finished photos to share. Although the colors are all different, I’m inspired by rooms like this one, and this one, and this one, and this one. Comfy and casual, but fun and not afraid of some color. I’m trying to channel my inner Jonathan Adler. 🙂

So the palette is decided – and no turning back, since this weekend (thanks to the Sherwin Williams sale!) we brought home 12 gallons of paint – trim paint, ceiling paint, drywall primer, and of course, some COLORS for the walls. I’m getting so excited to see this level of the house come together!

 

 

 

my favorite organization apps.

There truly IS an app for everything! Here are my favorites when it comes to staying organized:

Problem: Getting my outfit planning under control.
There’s an app for that: Cloth

Originally, this app sold for $2 but when I went to purchase it, it was “free” for a limited time! Whenever you put an outfit together that particularly works for you, snap a photo of it (either laid out ahead of time, or on you when you’re dressed) and you can apply all sorts of tags and categories to it. Over time, you have a library of ready-to-go, guaranteed-fabulous outfits for any situation.

Problem: Lots of bills, all due at different times, and the amounts are always changing. And sometimes I just wonder where all my money seems to go.
There’s an app for that: Pageonce

Not only does this app keep track of all your bills, when they’re due, and remind you ahead of time, but it allows you to see at a glance where your money is going. This means everything from a breakdown of categories in which you make credit card purchases, to an overall look at where you stand financially – from savings to debts and everything in between. Even my hard-to-impress web designer hubby was a fan of this one!

Problem: We’re all vulnerable to theft and natural disasters. How do you begin to document what might need replacing someday?
There’s an app for that: American Family DreamVault

I’m not sure how truly “organization” related this one is, but I am perhaps a tad more neurotic than most when it comes to keeping inventory of our worldly possessions. I watched in 2006 as my sorority house was ripped apart by a tornado. In 2008, I watched as much of my hometown of Cedar Rapids went underwater during massive flooding. We have tailgated with some friends-of-friends who recently lost everything they owned in a freak fire started by a gas grill. You just never know what could happen.

You may remember I took on a huge home inventory project back in ’08. It took me weeks to get everything together and recorded, and try as I did to be organized about it all, it was still cumbersome to document everything both in text and pictures.  We love our insurance company, American Family, (Hi, Bob!) that developed this app that allows you to, by property and then room, take a picture on your phone of every notable possession and attach to it any details including cost to replace. Even if your phone itself is destroyed, the inventory can be recovered from any internet connection using your username and password to aid you in filing a claim.

Problem: Keeping track of kids’ chore assignments, ensuring they get done, and rewarding accordingly.
There’s an app for that: iRewardChart

I don’t even have kids and I think this one is genius! It’s been featured in several magazines and on television shows, which to me, says credibility. You create the list of tasks for kids to complete every week, and mark off as they are accomplished. You set the rewards (i.e. ten stars equals a trip to DQ). Just as if your kid had invoiced you, the app keeps track of what they’ve done, what they have left to do, and which rewards they have earned thus far. I could see older kids having the app on their own ipod and being accountable for recording everything themselves as opposed to Mom or Dad doing it. Where was this when I in my allowance years?!

Anyone else have any cool organization-related apps? Or any fun apps in general??

decorating for fall.

This month one year ago, we were going through the motions of purchasing our first home. Which, for us, meant purchasing a lot and beginning to plan a build. Those early weeks were all-encompassing and decorating our townhouse for the season was at the bottom of my priority list. With the exception of this little project (which found a home in the bookcase this year), I didn’t do much in the way of fall decor last year.

This year, I’m excited to bring the season into our home after a year off, filling in some gaps with a couple new items, and infusing some autumn warmth into this house for the first time.

When it comes to fall decorating, I like to keep it simple and on a reasonable budget. I’m already behind the curve and just now getting to it, and before you know it, it will be time to swap out for some Halloween pieces and then more wintery items. In other words, the season is brief, so I keep the effort to a reasonable level. I’ve never been big on the oranges and browns and eggplants you see in most fall decor, so with the exception of my front door wreath, I decided to see what I could do with more neutral fall things this year. Here’s a peek at how I’ve been trying to bring some touches of fall into our home.

I started at the dollar spot and picked up a few plastic pumpkins and hit them with some white lacquer spray paint. A bag of pinecones and a couple shimmery “twig balls” as I call them from Pier1 and I had myself a nice little hurricane accent with just a touch of glitter, the way I like it. 🙂

The centerpiece is still a work in progress. I’ve been dying to bust out my mercury glass candle holders – I collect them in all shapes and sizes, but phase them in and out throughout the seasons. I brought them out and added a couple glitzy pumpkins from Target to make the arrangement more fall-ish. I have a few mercury-colored taper candles I want to work in for height, but haven’t found the right candlesticks. I know, first world problems…

…in the meantime, I’m having fun rearranging them and enjoying them lit at night. There aren’t many things more gorgeous to me than mercury glass…LOVE it.

Inside our entry is a tall glass cylinder vase that I change out the contents of with the seasons. During a TJ Maxx spree a couple weeks ago, I found these battery-operated (aka no need for a nearby outlet – which I don’t have) LED branches. I love them at night, obviously, all lit up…

…but I also love that unlike many I’ve seen, they’re gorgeous during the day as well. They have these little amber-colored glass beads in them that catch the sun.

My last fall item is a pumpkin similar to this one that I bought from Target on clearance last year but unlike this one, it has lights intertwined in the branches. He is still roaming around looking for a home, although right now he’s hanging out on the kitchen island where he can be plugged in at night.

It’s a work in progress, and I’m still tweaking things as I figure out what “works” in our house for our first fall here. Anyone else doing any fall decorating? Send me a link – I’d love to see! 🙂