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Thursday, February 28, 2013

West Elm Spring Collection is Here!

It's here! Guess what just arrived in my mailbox? This baby:

Yep, that's right. The March West Elm catalog. And the spring collection has made its debut! It's so pretty I can barely stand it. I love the yellow and love the new prints. I just wish there was a West Elm store near me because I would go there and never leave.

There's tons of eye candy involved. I'm obsessed with these patterned poufs:

And I love this sectional (don't mind the weird texture it appears to have from my poor scanned image - it's actually really smooth looking):

And finally, the most amazing patterned rugs ever:

I love the Andalusian pattern (The gray and ivory one standing up).

Check out Their website for other drool-worthy new items....Oh, and if you like the Everett Arm Chair in Buttercup that's on the front cover of the catalog (duh, who doesn't) - You can enter to win it on their Facebook page through March 11! Just visit this page for more details.

Is anyone else obsessed? Is yellow the big color for spring? Ok, ok, I'm done...Just had to share all of the West Elm goodness with the world. The End. :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pinterest Challenge: Skeleton Key Art

I'm super excited to be participating in my first Pinterest Challenge! Every season, Katie BowerSherry Petersik, and two other crafty bloggers host the Pinterest Challenge where the goal is to take something we've pinned on Pinterest, put our own spin on it and blog about it. I decided to create some Skeleton Key art since I already had some lying around. I also had a spare frame, along with all of the other materials I needed. This project literally cost me $0.00...Woo-hoo for free things!

Here's how my finished project turned out:

Not bad for my first Pinterest Challenge, huh? I love it!

Here are a few examples of projects I found on Pinterest that served as my inspiration:

To make my skeleton key art, I used the following materials (All things I had lying around):

- Some old skeleton keys
- A frame
- Hot glue gun
- Scissors
- A brown paper bag
- Some house paint
- A small paint brush
- Painter's tape

And here are the steps I took to make it:

First I gathered up all the old skeleton keys I had. They were all in a small plastic bag I had found at my grandparents' house when we were cleaning it out to sell it. It was quite the collection! I counted 45 keys in there, all shapes and sizes:

There was even one labeled with the name O'Melia, which was my grandmother's mother's maiden name. 

Then I grabbed a frame to put them in. I don't have a huge frame collection lying around and I wanted to use what I already had, so this one was the winner:

This also came from my grandparents' house when we were going through things / cleaning it out. It had never been opened and was still in the plastic wrap. Not the most attractive frame, but I could see potential in there. It has three slots for 5x7 photos and the frame color was an ugly whitish-beige. A little ornate for my taste too, but it was nothing a little paint couldn't fix.

I chose some keys that worked and arranged them in the frame until I found an arrangement I liked.

You can see I took the paper that was inside the frame out and arranged the keys against the cardboard back. I tried some scrapbook paper I had behind the keys, but didn't really like how it looked. I did like the brown color of the cardboard behind it, but you could tell it was cardboard by the corrugation lines. So I decided to do my own take on what Allison at House of Hepworths did, and I used a brown paper grocery bag for the background.

Only instead of cutting it into small pieces and sticking them onto the cardboard using a paper maché technique, I did the following:

1. I cut a few larger rectangles out of the bag (a little larger than the 5x7 cut-outs in the mat):

2. I crumpled them each into a ball:

3. I flattened then out and set them behind each of the openings in the frame mat:

I thought it gave it a very worn, antiquey look.

Then I just used a hot glue gun to glue the crumpled paper onto the cardboard, and the keys onto the paper. And I had the start of some vintage looking key art:

Since the frame I used is not meant to be a shadowbox, just a photo frame, I was a little worried I wouldn't be able to use the glass to protect it, but I set the keys with the mat, paper and cardboard inside the frame with the glass, and luckily, it all fit inside.

After seeing it all together, I still definitely wanted to paint the frame for a more contemporary look. It just looked a little too old fashioned to me the way it was. I liked the old fashioned look of the keys, but I wanted to balance out the antiquey-ness of the keys on the paper with a more modern, contemporary look.....So I decided to paint white and gray stripes onto the frame to make it a little more "my style." I just love the look of gray and white stripes together.

I just grabbed a few cans of interior paint we had around the house in shades of white and gray.

Then I taped off my frame with Frog Tape to paint some gray stripes. I didn't measure at all, just went by eye. I didn't really care if it was completely is homemade after all. Any imperfections add to the character. ;)

For the gray color, I wanted a shade a little bit lighter than what we had on hand, so I actually mixed the darker gray Satin paint with white semi-gloss to create a lighter shade of gray.

Here it is with the light gray stripes painted:

Two coats later, I started peeling off the tape and painting the white stripes. I freehanded the white sections, just trying my best to stay between the lines created by the painter's tape.

 And here is the frame after two coats of the shiny white paint:

It was a tedious process, but I was glad to be done painting stripes! Finally, once it was all dry, I put the glass and the keys/cardboard back into the frame.

I really like how it turned out! The striped frame is my favorite part, but of course I love the keys, too! I think it's the perfect mix of old/new and it will look great in our soon as I find a place to hang it. :) I'm thinking the bedroom or my office...but who knows!

All in all, this was a fun but surprisingly time-consuming project. It took me about 3 afternoons of work. I think it was worth it though :) Hope you like it! 

And don't forget to check out the projects made by the Pinterest Challenge hosts: Young House Love, Bower Power, The Remodeled Life, and Decor & the Dog! I'm linked up at all these lovely blogs, as well as the awesome ones below!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Antiquey Finds in Galesburg, Illinois

I mentioned yesterday that I had a crafty and antiquey weekend. Part of that is because on Saturday, my sister Haley came over, and we decided to do a little antiquing! We went to a local antique mall about 20 minutes away in Galesburg, Illinois. It's in a historic downtown area that's really charming. Trent and I had been to the place a couple of years ago, and I was excited to go back! We had been watching a lot of Rehab Addict on the DIY Network and American Pickers on the History Channel. It got us in the mood to hunt down some good finds!

After browsing the store for quite a while, I walked out with three things I am quite excited about:

You might already know that I'm a plate collector - check out This Post to see what I'm talking about - so I was super excited to have found TWO new plates to add to my collection!

Aren't they purdy?!

This first guy is a larger plate I think I'm going to put in my China hutch. I think it is gorgeous, and it was only $4.00!

This guy is a smaller one and it was $15. A little pricey, but I love how detailed and colorful it is. I think I'm going to hang it in the kitchen with my other little beauties:

And then there's this guy:

For $10.00, I thought it would make an amazing bookend on my bookshelf! Of course, my little bookshelves are going to need a makeover before they can really look amazing and I can properly style them, but I loved the curvy lines of this horsey guy, and I am definitely wanting to paint him a glossy white color. I saw This Project via Pinterest, and it has the wheels in my head turning! I see another Pinterest project coming.....

On that same subject, stay tuned tomorrow for my Pinterest Challenge post! I've been working on a little crafty project I've been wanting to try!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Two Small Living Room Tweaks

Hope everyone had a great weekend! I had a crafty, antiquey one. (I'll explain more this week) I mentioned in my last Living Room post that the clock in there still needed to be moved to the left a little bit to be more centered between the window and the hutch. Here's what it looked like before:

See how it looks like it needs to be moved over toward the window? The clock was in this position because it was hanging there before the hutch was in here. It was centered - then the hutch came into the picture, and...not so centered anymore.

So this weekend when the batteries died in the clock and we had to switch them out, it seemed like the perfect time to move it over a bit. Trent grabbed the hammer and I stood back and made sure the new nail was in the right spot, and voila! 2 minutes later, we had the new, more centered clock position:

Much better! And a very quick little change. Another small tweak I did this weekend has to do with this jar of sea shells I wrote about on Friday:

As you may recall, it's a jar of seashells we collected on our vacation in the east coast last summer. It sat on my nightstand because I hadn't found a place for it yet where it could be properly on display. I had also thought about adding a label on the front of the jar. Well, this weekend, a little trip to Target and $1.00 later, I had these:

A small package of simple brown labels in the dollar spot at Target. I knew I could use one for this jar. SO....behold:

The jar now has a cute little label that says "East Coast Vacation 2012" and sits on the side table in our living room. And bam, just like that a little more sentimental value is added to the room.

 I love it. :)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

How I Eat Healthy and Stay Fit

I thought I'd do something a little bit different on the blog today and write a health-related post. Most of my life people have asked me, "How are you so skinny?," to which I would reply, "Um...I have no idea!" It's not something I think about a lot. I've always been thin, and the only explanation I can think of, besides a healthy diet, is that either it's genetic, or it's just my natural build. I have a really tiny frame. I'm 5'4" and about 100 pounds. I'm not super athletic, I hardly make an effort to work out. I do think my diet plays a part in staying thin, though. And I will try to pinpoint some of the factors that I think may be the reason I stay fit.

1. I'm a vegetarian.  I've been a vegetarian since I was around 11 years old, which is another topic people seem to find interesting. And another topic I don't have a lot of explanation for. I'm not a vegan - I eat milk, cheese, eggs, etc. - I just don't eat sea food (fish) or meat. Why? Well, basically I was a picky eater as a kid, and it just got to a point where eating anything "weird" grossed me out. Like..what are those random hard pieces you find in hot dogs or chicken nuggets, or taco meat? I haven't eaten any kind of meat at all since age 11 or so, and I honestly haven't regretted it since.

I have learned along the way that being a vegetarian is not just about not including meat in your diet. It's also about getting the right nutrition you need to balance that lack of animal protein, and getting those minerals and vitamins that are the most essential to a vegetarian diet. I am not fussy about nutrition at all and don't apply pressure to myself to get every vitamin and mineral and protein amount that I need every day. But I have learned to make an effort to eat foods that are nutritious as opposed to foods that aren't, or what I like to call - junk. Which leads me to my next factor:

2. I avoid Junk food.  I used to love my chili cheese fritos, my cheddar-blasted goldfish crackers, and my cheddar cheese Combos. Now, I still love them of course, but I only eat them VERY sparingly. My philosophy is this: Why put junk into your body, when you can feed it with nutrients it needs to thrive and stay healthy? Of course like any other human being, I love candy (ahem, chocolate..) and have a major sweet tooth. But sugary sweets and potato chips and french fries do not make for a healthy diet. In fact, they have no nutritional value and no real benefit - they can only harm your body, not help it. The key is just to eat them every once in a while as a treat, not all the time.

I don't drink pop much anymore either. Water, organic milk, tea, and wine are the only beverages I drink regularly these days. Water is my daily beverage of choice - I always have a glass or bottle of water next to me. I will also drink milk with meals or in my cereal, and I drink Organic Valley 1%. I have drank soy and almond milk and like both, but I prefer dairy, just to get that dairy protein in my diet. I drink Gold Peak unsweetened tea, which has 0 calories and tastes good with pretty much everything. I also like Honest green tea on occasion. I'll have a glass of wine every now and then, and red wine is my favorite, but I drink white, too. 'Hafta be fair. ;)

Fast food is pretty much the worst food to eat on a daily basis, and I hate eating McDonald's fries, because they're so greasy and salty. Not good for you at all. But I think everyone already knows that! It's just getting into that frame of mind where you would just rather eat carrots over fries and a salad over a burrito.

3. I stay conscious about what I eat. This last factor is something I've come to realize over time, and I feel like it is one of the most important factors in eating and staying healthy. Have you ever heard of mindless eating? Like, when you're sitting in front of the TV watching The Bachelor while chowing down on a quart of chocolate ice cream, and next thing you know you're looking at the bottom of the carton? Ok, just me then? Thought so. Kidding...Mindless eating is bad! I've learned to consciously tell myself when I'm hungry and when I'm full, and purposely choose food throughout the day that I feel like my body needs. Example: If I've had string cheese in my lunch, and milk for dinner, I'm probably not going to eat another dairy product for a late night snack - instead I might choose a fruit or a vegetable. Really, it's all about conscious choices and balance.

One technique that has really helped me consciously see what I'm eating and balance my meals proportionately is tracking my meals online. I use the website, which I discovered in 2007 and have been using it off and on ever since. The website has a feature which allows you to track everything you've eaten each day, as well as any exercise you've done. You can set a calorie goal to either gain weight, lose weight, or maintain weight, and it will chart how you are doing as far as the calories you've consumed, or the fat, protein, sodium intake, etc. you consume each day.

Here is an example of the food I tracked on one particular day:

You can see that it shows you the percentage of daily intake you've consumed for calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbs, fiber, protein, and sugar.

To track a food item, you simply type in what you ate, and it will give you a list of matching foods in the database. You click on that food, enter the number of servings and when you consumed it. Then click "I Ate This", and it adds the food to Your Plate.

There's even a "Food, Diet, and Fitness" Diary that shows you the foods and workouts you did everyday, and allows you to write your mood and a description that day. Here's mine for January 27th:

I've been trying to utilize this feature everyday since about October of last year. I used to get in the habit and then stop for a while, but I've tracked my food everyday for the last several months now. Tracking what I eat has really allowed me to see both the bad and good foods I put into my body and gives me that motivation to keep tracking the good ones! I love it when I have a really healthy day with a balanced diet all the way through, and I hate tracking junk food. So I tend to stay away from it more. Because once I eat it, it's set in stone in my Food Diary. And it's probably already done the damage to my body, too.

So those are just a few of the factors I feel keep me healthy and allow me to stay as thin as I am. As for physical exercise, I do force myself to do crunches once or twice a week, and maybe some lunges or light weights. I used to love doing pilates and would love to take another class - I just don't have the time or motivation to do it on my own! If I feel the need to, I will, but right now I'm content with just staying light on the physical activity. Especially in the winter time in Illinois! Ugh, it's so much easier  to go on a walk or be active when the weather's nice. During the winter I tend to be a little more lazy. :)

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