Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hold the Sugar Please

I have given myself a challenge. For the next 30 days (Aug. 1 through Aug. 30) I am not going to eat sugar. Yes, I know sugar is in everything (even fruit!) but what I mean by sugar is cakes/cookies/brownies/candy/chocolate/ice cream etc. Basically desserts or treats or whatever you want to call them, I'm not eating them for thirty days.

Why am I doing such a crazy thing? Because I am a sugar addict. I crave sugar like you wouldn't believe. I once put icing on ice cream; yeah I'm that crazy. A couple of years ago I did this shortly after Easter. I had so many Easter treats that I felt that I couldn't taste chocolate anymore it was like my taste-buds got used to the flavor. At that time I gave up all sweets for two weeks. Those two weeks made me more aware of everything I was eating and as a result I dropped 15 pounds in the following months.

Fast forward to today and I've gotten a bit (okay okay, a lot) off track. So in order to get myself back on track I'm giving up the one thing I crave the most, mean ol' mister sugar. Why am I blogging about this? Because putting my challenge online and sharing it with my friend and family gives me more motivation to not cheat myself. I know I can do it, but this provides more accountability.

What about you? Have you ever given yourself a thirty day challenge? Do you have crazy sweet tooth as well?

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Weekend Spent Camping

 Happy Monday everyone! This was my view over the weekend. Yes, I know I am one lucky girl. Let me take a minute to share with you a few photos of the sun going down.

I spent the weekend camping with family. My aunts, uncles and cousins all get together for a weekend camping trip in the summer time. We have had lots of different weather over the years. This year it rained for most of the day but by dinner time it cleared off and we were able to have a nice sunny evening.
My favorite part is spending quality time with people I love. I thoroughly enjoy the conversations everyone gets to have over the campfire while roasting marshmallows and making s'mores. I love that my little cousins enjoy climbing all over my husband and cuddling in his lap. I love playing lawn games with my parents and my uncle. I love conversations with my aunts about vacation planning and kid raising. I love that my sister, Alex, and I tag-teamed on bringing food and for once packed exactly enough food to feed all of us with only a little left over.  I love that my little sister got to hang out with us as well.

All-in-all it was a fantastic weekend. How was yours?

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Lovely Afternoon

Yesterday I spontaneously decided to take the afternoon off. I am so blessed to have a job that allows the flexibility for me to do this from time to time. So what did I do on my free afternoon? Let me show you...

I hung out with the beautiful Ellie, I gave her a good brushing which resulted in the removal of some mattered fur and a cat who was very very upset with me.
 I did a little bit of reading.
 Painted my toes :)
Straighten the pillows. I absolutely love making the family room neat and tidy.
I did a little project I had been wanting to try, dying some t shirts purple!

I also did the following things but spared you a picture.
-the dishes
-three loads of laundry
-cleaned all the bathrooms

All in all I'd say it was a very productive afternoon. It kind of felt like a snow day, you know when you get an unexpected day off. I love that feeling. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Stairway Gallery Wall Tips

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

Today I'm here to show you how I hung my book page gallery wall in our stairway. First off this post from Young House Love way a huge help. To adapt their method for going up the stairs I first taped up a big sheet of craft paper where I wanted the gallery wall to be.

I got a roll of this paper at the dollar store and it worked out well and it was cheap; two of my favorite things. Next I used a level and a yard stick to draw a grid on the paper.

After my grid was done I took the paper down and laid it on the floor to arrange all of my frames. I used the grid lines as a reference when I was figuring out my arrangement. They helped me keep the frames at the correct angle for going up the stairs.
After I decided on an arrangement I made sure to take a picture with my

phone so I could remember where everything went on the wall. Then I traced around the frames with a washable marker (I didn't trust myself with a permanent marker around my carpet.) Then I measured from the top of each frame to the hook where the nail needed to go and then copied those measurements on my paper and marked where the nail needed to go on the paper.

Then I hung my paper back on the wall and put the nails in the wall where I marked. I hung up all the frames with the paper still on the wall because I was too impatient and wanted to see how it looked. Then I took the frames down, the paper down and then hung all the frames back up in their proper places. (Actually if you're extremely observant then you might notice that I did a little tweaking with the arrangement of the frames.) Overall I'm extrememly happy with the result!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Book Page Gallery Wall

Happy Monday everyone!

I'm here to share what I was hinting about on Wednesday. I made a gallery wall going up our stairs, but instead of photos I framed pages of my favorite books!

The books I used are Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Rings. Before anyone freaks out about me cutting up books let me just say, I love these stories and I love that they get to be on display in my home. Also at the time of this writing there are 3,526 used paperback copies of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for sale on Amazon starting at $0.01 (which is where I bought mine because there was no way I was tearing up my hardcover copy.) Secondly, I actually had two mass market paperback copies of The Fellowship of the Rings so I didn't feel bad about that one either. Moving on...

I wanted to frame important pages so here is the very first page of Harry Potter.

This page is my favorite quote by J.R.R. Tolkien, and of course it's also important to the plot of the story.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king

A map of Middle-Earth anyone?

I also framed a few library cards. I lucked out with this one being from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince but I framed a few other cards that were not HP or LOTR related just because I like them and it ties into my library roots.

This page is Harry and Ron's first conversation on the train and the page next to it is when they first meet Hermione. I had a little bit of an accident with this frame . It's the biggest one I have and I er... didn't do a great job of hanging it up... and it fell off it's nail, tumbled down the stairs and the glass shattered into a million little pieces on the floor. After a thorough clean up I hung the now glass-less frame back up and I like it looks fine.
I'm debating about painting the wood frames black so everything matches, but for now I think it looks good. Actually having book pages hanging on my wall makes our "house" feel like our "home" more than any of the other changes I made.

Friday, July 19, 2013

My Photographic Life

I have always enjoyed photography, but lately I haven't been taking many "good" photos. I don't live in the picturesque hills of Tuscany but I do think my little slice of the world can be beautiful. Even truck tires and shoes can be photographed to look artsy (in my eyes at least.) So everyday this week (well starting on Tuesday) I made myself take a photo of something besides my cat. Here's what my week has looked like.

 I feel small sitting next to this big truck. The wheels and my car were the same size.
 It's been so hot out that all of these windows were foggy at 6am!
 Yogurt. And the tip of my finger which accidentally made it into the photo itself. I could crop it out but sometimes I accept these little imperfections as a reminder that the world is not a perfect place.
My shirt. I'm currently wearing it as I type. The only 'new' clothes I had been purchasing were from the thrift store but when my sister and I went shopping I found this gem on the Target clearance rack for $14. I love it so much because I feel like it's exactly my style.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sometimes You Need a Push

I'm really good at talking myself out of things. Out of buying something, out of going somewhere, out of countless career paths when I was in college.

But sometimes this is a bad thing. Like when I have a project idea but I talk myself into not doing it because I don't want to waste money on the materials and then watch said project fail, I think I don't have enough time, etc. One of the many good things about having friends who know you better than you know yourself is they know exactly how to give you a push to get you started.

This past weekend my best friend came for a visit. It was so nice to see her and just have some girl time. While we were talking about all of the plans I have in the works for my house, she gave me the motivation to get started on some projects. (Really, she pointed out that if I already have all of the supplies I need to complete a project I don't have much of an excuse to not get 'er done.)

Here is a sneak peek at what I've been working on.

She also set me up with a time line so I will have the project done and ready to share with you on Monday!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Inspiration Piece

Does anyone remember that show Room by Room  that was on HGTV in the 90's? It was my favorite show and they always talked about having an inspiration piece for a room. Well I'm happy to say that I'm taking their advice and using this painting by my grandfather as the inspiration for my living room.

My grandfather gave me this painting when I was a kid, probably seven or eight, and it's always been my favorite. I think the sunflowers are what caught my attention all those years ago (come on, who did love sunflowers are some point during their childhood.) Anyway, I wasn't sure where I was going to hang it but when we got the piano I propped it up there and loved the way they looked together. I grabbed the vases from around the house and my new Target lamp and I finally could see where I want this room to go. I have a grey couch on my wishlist which will pick up the grey tones in the barn roof in the painting.

This inspiration piece has definitely gotten the ball rolling in this room. Do you have any specific items in your home that have inspired your decor?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Practically Perfect in Every Way

Have you seen the trailer for Disney's new movie, Saving Mr. Banks? Well, if you haven't you can here. It was just released and I am beyond excited for it. It is the story behind the story. The story of P. L. Travers, who wrote Mary Poppins, as well as the story of how Disney made it a movie.

Mary Poppins has been and always will be one of my favorite movies. But, I have never read the book. I understand there is a difference between the cheerful Julie Andrews movie version of Mary Poppins and the more strict book character (or so I've heard) but I can't believe that I never got around to reading the book. Well that's going to change, while at the library today I swung through the Childrens' Department and picked up a copy. I'm excited to finally read the story and seen the difference between it and the movie adaptation myself.

What are some of your favorite stories from your childhood? Did you first encounter them in a book or on a movie screen? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Piano Bucket List

Do you have a bucket list? I wrote one out once and then I had this though what if I complete every item on my list? Am I then done with life? A pretty morbid thought, I know but sometimes my crazy brain goes there.

I do however have a bucket list for the piano. There are three pieces of music that I would like to master in my lifetime. Without further ado they are

1. Clair de lune by Debussy
2. The Entertainer by Scott Joplin
3. Linus and Lucy by Vince Guaraldi

I know there are easy piano version of all of these beautiful songs that I could learn how to play but that's not what I'm shooting for. I want to perfect the original versions of each piece. Also, I am in no rush to learn them because I know I will learn a lot of beautiful music over the course of my piano playing days. I do have a copy of The Entertainer and I've had it since I was thirteen. I could probably make it through the first two pages very v e r y slowly and that pace is fine with me. 

And now for your listening pleasure... my piano bucket list!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Five Things We Don't Spend Money On

First off, this post is not meant to come across as bragging. I'm hoping that by sharing a couple of things that we do without I will inspired a few others to save a some dough by cutting a few corners as well.

First up: Haircuts. My husband has short hair so I just buzz it with the clippers once a month and boom. Done. You can find hair clippers just about anywhere and they run about $15. So, for the cost of one haircut you can have lots of hair cuts. As for me, I'm lucky that my mom went to cosmetology school in high school. She's been cutting my hair for my whole life (except for a few occasions when I splurged and went to the salon.) But now that I have my own bills to pay I gratefully appreciate having her services available for free. That being said, I don't get my haircut very often and my hair is usually long enough that I can trim the splint ends myself, having a simple hairstyle helps a great deal when it comes to this.

Second: Cable TV. When we first got married we had basic cable (which was about 16 channels) when we moved we got a digital antenna and we now get about 12 channels (most are the same ones we were paying for with basic cable) for the one time $30 cost of the antenna. We just recently splurged on Netflix for $7.99 a month and we love it. We were paying about $25 for the basic cable before so our new set provides us with more viewing options for less money. Whoo hoo! Score :)

Third: Movies. Most of the time when a preview of a new movie comes out Mr. V and I look at each other and say "library" meaning we can wait till that movie comes out on DVD at the library to watch it. There are a few exceptions to this, we have our must-see-in-theaters-movies (The Hobbit, Star Trek In To Darkness and Iron Man 3, just to name a few.) But we don't normally pay to watch a movie. (Netflix adds to our movie options as well.) I am constantly putting the newly-released-on-DVD movies on hold at the library. Yes, sometimes I am at the bottom of long list but since I have a lot of movies on hold I'm usually getting a new one every couple of weeks. As far as the convinces factor goes lots of libraries now have drive through pick up windows so you can borrow a movie for free as easily as picking up a burger from a fast food joint.

Fourth: Manicures and Pedicures. Or any sort of spa service for that matter. I have occasionally indulged in this a mani and/or pedi but it was for special occasions only (like my wedding.) These activities are not part of my everyday lifestyle because I feel like the money spent on them can be put to better use elsewhere, like groceries or a date with my hubby.

Last but not least, number five. Laundry Detergent. My mom makes homemade laundry detergent every couple of months and it is most cost effective when it's made in big batches. Since she has so detergent much she shares a jug or two of it with me. This is just enough to last us until she whips up a new batch. This idea can be applied to lots of areas. Maybe you like to make homemade cleaning products that you can make in big batches and share with family members. Or if you are a member of a bulk grocery store maybe you can split (or trade) some items with other family members.

I hope my list gives you some fresh ideas for saving money by not spending it. If you are inspired by anything please share it in the comments. I'd love to hear from you :)

Friday, July 5, 2013

My Current Life

Right now I'm am currently...

Reading: You're All Ready Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be by Holley Gerth. This book is taking me a long time to read because it's challenging me. I like a good book that makes me think and I'm excited to dig into this one even more.

Watching: Top Gear on Netflix. It's actually a BBC show but the hubby started working through the seasons on Netflix and I caught a few episodes and now I love it. Yes, I've already picked out a dream car but I've learned so much. Plus, it's not just some guys standing around talking about cars it is also really funny.

Listening: Twenty One Pilots album Vessel (which is awesome)  and the audiobook of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth by T. Harv and I am learning quite a few things.

Eating: Fourth of July feasts! I made a skinny taco dip yesterday for the cookout I went to. I found the recipe on Pinterest and I think it turned out pretty well. I served it when blue corn chips just to be festive.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Target Deals that Light Up!

Hello Hello,

Today I'm here to share with you some deals I got at Target last weekend. I don't actually go to Target that often because it's not super close to home but I happened to be there this weekend (shopping for clothes with Alex) and I stumbled upon a great find.

The lamp bases were only $15 each marked down from $50 a piece. The lampshade was $9 and I don't remember what the original price of it was but I think it was $20. I only found one lamp shade so it will probably be moving to a different lamp and I'll find matching shades for these two bases and hopefully a place to put them. It's not that we have too many lamps, its just we don't have enough furniture to set them on but our home will come together over time. It's the journey I'm looking forward to the most.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Black Friday in the Middle of June

When we helped my sister and her hubby move last weekend I wore jeans. Why did I do a silly thing like that when the temperature topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity was at 90%? Because I don't own any shorts that fit. I feel like I'm a ten year old girl again, trying on clothes from last year and thinking when did I grow?

So during moving day my hubby took me aside to ask if I was all right because apparently I looked as hot as I felt. He got me some water and told me to take a break. When we got home from moving day he actually arranged a shopping trip with Alex for this past Saturday. (Which was sweetest thing since he knows I'm not the biggest fan of shopping for clothes and I have a more successful trip if I've got a shopping buddy.)

I really like Old Navy jeans so I wanted to look there for shorts first. We planed to meet at Old Navy when they open, 9am on Saturday morning because they were having the $1 flip-flop sale so we thought it might be a little busy and we wanted to try to avoid the crowds as much as possible.

That was not a good idea. The place was like a Black Friday scene with a TON of people in the store. The line was so long it wrapped around the store. My poor little anxious heart that is not a fan of crowds (or shopping) was stressing out. I have been Black Friday shopping before and had a blast but I was prepared for it; this random Saturday morning in June I was not expecting so many people.

The good news is I found three pairs of shorts that fit well and were a good price ($10 to $15) a pair. After waiting what felt like forever (it was probably 30 minutes) in line I get the register and the employee said "no flip-flops?" and I looked at her plainly and said "I hate flip-flops." She laughed and said I was the first person that morning leave the store without flip-flops .

The truth is I don't wear flip-flops much because I feel like there is not enough protection around my feet. I think I might be the only person in the world who prefers wearing socks to going barefoot. Plus when I wear flip-flops then my feet get all dirty and I don't like driving in them and I'm not the daintiest when I walk so I feel like I'm stomping around even more when I've got flip-flops on.  I do own a few pairs of them for going to the pool etc. but other then that they don't get a lot of use.

But, my dislike of flip-flops was intensified but the craziness that was that store on $1 flip-flop day. However, kudos to all those out there who are pleased with scoring their shoes for a buck cause I know a deal a deal and I'm all about deals. The next stop was Target, which was much calmer. Even Alex kept saying "this is so nice" referring to shopping when it is not very busy.

What about you? Do you like shopping? Do you enjoy the craziness or do you prefer to go at less busy times?