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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Vacation Jar Inspiration

Remember the little Vacation jar I made with the sea shells I collected from the East Coast last year? OK, you might not, but here it is:

Yep, that's just one little memento to remind us of our wonderful vacation in Virginia Beach, Wrightsville Beach, the Outer Banks, and Myrtle Beach. This year, we're just planning a small getaway to Lake Geneva. But - there's still a beach there! And this time I'm planning on picking up a mason jar and collecting some sand and maybe some shells and other items to put inside. I recently looked for inspiration from my dear friend, Pinterest. Here are some different variations I think are pretty cool for a "vacation memory jar":

(From here) I love the random souveniers like the plane ticket and the wine cork. I think it would be cool to put random items as keepsakes inside the jar. I have so many old ticket stubs and receipts from trips Trent and I have taken together that are all hiding away in a box. SO much better to display them!

(From Pinterest - found here) I really like the idea of putting a photo inside....And the twine...And I think labels are totally necessary. They're cute and they let visitors to your home know what the heck it is. Also, I'd probably be one to find a jar with a bunch of sea shells in it and think, "Where were these from again?" So labels might be nice in that situation. 

This one's from Young House Love. I'm sure this is where I first saw this idea. These two have been my inspiration from the start for all ideas DIY and crafty!

(Sources: Left, Right - found on Pinterest) A couple of more cute ones using mason jars. Simple shells and sand...sometimes that's all you need. :)

I cannot wait to make some more memories in Lake Geneva 4th of July weekend. And I will definitely be making another keepsake jar this year to help preserve those memories!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Thoughts on Blogging

Hello all and happy weekend! Now that I've been blogging regularly for about 5 months now, I decided I would share my thoughts on the subject and answer a few questions that people might have about blogging - from the mind of a Beginner Blogger! First I have to say that I've been in this "blog world" long enough to see a lot of amazing bloggers out there who blog for a living and actually earn money doing it. I couldn't imagine how much work it must be with sponsors and giveaways and all that, but I'm sure it is mostly fun work if you love it. Blogging is not my job, though. I have a regular, 9 to 5 full time job, where I go to an office everyday and work 40 hours a week for a small company. I currently don't make any money off of this blog, I do it for fun as a hobby, mostly because I've found it to be a great creative outlet for me that I really like! I don't know if I will ever be a full time blogger, but right now that's not really why I blog. Which kind of leads me to the first question...

1. Why did you start this blog?
Technically I started this blog back in 2010 when I was getting ready to move into this house with Trent. I planned on writing about all of these new adventures I would have moving in, documenting all of the renovation projects we undertook...I thought it would be awesome to look back on in the future. Plus, I used to religiously read Young House Love (who am I kidding, I still do!), and they inspired me sooo much to start my own home blog! They were a young couple in their first house too back then, and I got so many ideas from them, including the idea to create Mood Boards for each room I decided to tackle.

Unfortunately, I wrote a few posts here and there and never really got into it, or had the time to devote to a blog. I was still going to school full time while working part-time, then trying to find a job. So even though the house projects continued, this blog didn't.
Working on our kitchen remodel in 2011
In January of this year, I decided to devote time to regularly blogging, I guess because I was itching for a new hobby and something creative to do after I got off work every night. I'm more comfortable in my 9-5 job now, and I feel like I'm at a place where I have more spare time and can share what I've learned so far about home renovation and decorating. I also felt like maybe this blog would be my motivation to complete more projects and get more done with the house! With that said, I'm SO glad I started blogging again! It felt good to be able to backtrack and share the progress on the house so far, and of course now that I've caught up on the last couple of years' progress, I'm happy to share all of the other little projects in between!

2. Is it hard to find topics to blog about?
At times - when we don't have a big project going on with the house (like right now), I might feel like I'm forced to think of a topic I want to write about. Sometimes I draw a blank. Or I don't feel motivated or don't have the time to write. So I just don't blog that day. I only blog when I'm inspired to take on a new project (ex: Painting wine bottles), when I'm itching to be inspired (ex: Gathering summer porch inspiration or Abstract paintings I'm loving at the moment), when I want to share home improvements we're tackling (ex: Hallway renovation), or when I'm really passionate about a topic (ex: Ceramic animal decor).
A couple of my crafty "in between" projects - Bookcase makeover and DIY Earring holder

I always thought I would run out of ideas - that we would go months without making any progress on a project and I would be stalled. But life happens everyday. New projects come up, I find something new at Target or at a thrift store that I didn't expect and that I get excited about and want to always continues. And when I want to share my weekend happenings or something random that happened that day, I do. Because it's my blog so I can share it if I want to, right? Heck, I just decided to write this post on a whim because I had some thoughts going on in my head, so I just started typing. And out came this LONG post!!

Sometimes, I'll be doing the dishes or getting ready for work, and a blog post idea will pop into my head. I have a running list of blog post topics on my iPad that I think would be fun to write about. Some have been sitting there for quite a while - projects I have yet to tackle but would like to, recipe posts (I have always wanted to write a recipe post but have yet to do this. Maybe because I don't cook or bake. Like ever.)...The most important thing I'm trying to say about this is - I don't want my blog posts to be forced. If I'm writing about something, it's because I'm excited to share it. That's all. It's not my job. It's my happy place.

3. Does it take up a lot of time?
I can honestly say I never used to think I could find the time to blog. I thought it would be so time-consuming and that I had so many other things I needed to do instead. Like I said before, I work full-time, so I didn't want to spend the little spare time I have when I'm not at work, doing one hobby and nothing else. I'm happy to say now that I'm glad I faced my fears and gave it a try again. Because I seem to always find time to pop in at least a few times a week, which is enough for me. When I started I felt like I should write every single day. I had a lot of topics to cover, and I wanted to make sure I was constantly updating and didn't slack like I did when I first started a few years ago. Maybe that was a good thing, because I'm still keeping it up - maybe not every single day, but most.

Like any hobby, if you really love doing it, you find the time to do it. And you still have time to do laundry and make dinner and go grocery shopping and everything else that life requires. Keep in mind, though - I don't have kids! If you do, I'm sure it's a lot harder to find balance. I enjoy blogging though, so I will continue to do it in my free time. The little time it takes up is worth it for me. I get to be creative, and I feel like I'm being productive, getting projects done around the house, and sharing my story. So maybe others can relate and gain inspiration from it.

4. Is blogging hard?
I used to journal all the time when I was younger, so the writing part is totally natural for me, and not hard at all. I think I've always needed that creative outlet my whole life. I used to draw constantly, I've always enjoyed writing, art, crafts, decorating...anything creative really. And I always seem to have lots of ideas floating around in this brain of mine. So, no, it's not hard. As long as you have something you want to share and feel passionate about, it's quite easy! Think of a topic, type it up, maybe complete a project while you're at it, and have fun. Anyone can start a blog. There's no pressure if you're doing it for yourself. It's just a bonus if others join you for the ride. Probably the most awkward and time-consuming part for me is taking photos of all of my projects (especially if I'm outside by's weird having to take pictures of all of my projects that I work on!) Then uploading all of the photos and editing them all for the blog..that's probably the worst part, for me anyway!
My recent bottle and jar painting project 
5. Are you worried you won't have followers or no one will read your blog?
This seems like such a weird thing to worry about, but before I started this blog, I was scared I would be doing it "for nothing." That nobody would read it. Soon after though, I realized that I could easily feel all of the pressures of blogland that are out there to have 500,000 followers and be the top home blog, or whatever, but I don't care about all that. I love when people read my blog, comment, follow me, and I thank the few people who have done just that!! But I really just blog because I enjoy it, and for all of the reasons I've stated above. I know a few family and friends read it, and that's more than enough for me.

All in all I'm so glad I started blogging again, and I'm really just glad to be sharing all of our life experiences in our first house. We will always have these stories to look back on and can say, "Remember when we did this?," or "Look how far this room has come since then!" Even if our progress isn't as fast as I would like sometimes, it's best to just enjoy the ride and each little craft, project, life event, and random thought that fills the space in between.

Friday, June 28, 2013


I feel like I've infused so much color into the house this spring and summer! And I love it! It really makes me so much happier than just plain old neutrals everywhere.
Don't get me wrong - I love my neutral furniture and walls. But I also love those little pops of color in the way of accessories, art and fun DIY projects!

So, I've collected some bright and happy spaces I've found around the web for some color-infusing inspiration:
(source - left, right) One of my favorite ways to bring in color is with bright and patterned pillows. Start with a solid colored sofa, chair, or bed, then bring in the colorful pillows for a little "pop." Colorful flowers on a table also bring in a happy vibe.

(source - left, right) More colorful, patterned pillows! The photo on the right proves that it can also work with a brightly colored sofa. Just try to keep everything else around the room more neutral to avoid overdoing it.

(source - left, right) Use the walls as one big, colorful canvas! A surefire way to infuse color into a space. (I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to try a bold blue shade yet, though!) I absolutely love the different colored frames and mats on the wall in the picture on the right. The color combination is lovely!

(source - left, right) More colorful pillows against a mostly neutral space. And the perfect place to infuse color? Kids' rooms and nurseries! Big, bold abstract art is just one way.

Now, go make your space more colorful! :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Another DIY Votive Complete!

Remember my painted votives made from mini fruit jars? (Click here to view my post on them back in May) Well I painted another one over the weekend. Only this time instead of yellow, I used turquoise. And instead of keeping it on the porch, this one is currently living on the side table in the living room.

It matches the frames in there perfectly! I swear, it's almost the exact same color. And I didn't DIY the frames - I bought them like that from Target. Awesome, right?

All I did was paint the bottom third of the jar with craft paint and a paint brush (creating an imperfect, slightly wavy edge - who likes perfect, right?), then set it upside down to dry for a few hours.

Another easy jar project is complete!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Our Lake Geneva Trip is Getting Closer...

Our Dave tickets came yesterday!! Trent was so excited that he took a picture of every stage of opening them. (I'll just post a couple though and spare you the rest.)

We'll be seeing Dave Matthews Band two nights in a row at Alpine Valley in Wisconsin, 4th of July weekend. (I blogged about this trip in the beginning of March, that's how ready I am for a vacation!) We're kind of huge fans...the ones that go to one of their concerts every single year. Yep, those.

I'm excited to see them in Alpine Valley this year though. We haven't been to that venue yet, and it's supposed to be awesome. I'm also getting excited for the other activities we'll be doing on our little weekend getaway! We leave for Lake Geneva the morning of the Fourth, then hopefully we'll get some time to hang out during the day and watch Fireworks that night. Then Friday and Saturday are the concerts, and Sunday we have a whole day to explore, and it's back to Illinois that night.

Trent's cousin and his wife live in the Lake Geneva area, and they sweetly sent us some information booklets with all sorts of things to do there.

They even tabbed off some pages with little notes. It was the most thoughtful thing! Thanks, Jenny and Dan!

We hope to meet up with them soon after we get there, and have some fun hanging out and maybe kayaking or something on the lake. If I haven't mentioned it already...We're getting excited! 8 Days :)

First Veggie Harvest of the Year

So, I had the whole day off work yesterday! We didn't have power in the office because of the storm that came through Monday. But I'm not complaining. It was a nice day off. And I got a lot of work done on my blog :) In other news though, we officially have our first harvest of the year from our garden...although it's a really small one:
Cayenne peppers. In case you are unaware, these peppers are Spicy and HOT! Trent = just had to get these. Me = haven't tried them yet, as I am not a fan of hot & spicy things.  I'm hoping maybe in small doses they will be good in salsa?

They are continuing to spawn...Trent just transplanted them into the ground from the original pot they came in.

Moving on from the peppers - a vegetable I am actually excited to be growing - Tomatoes! And we are growing LOTS of them this year! These guys aren't quite ripe yet, but hopefully soon!

Also - does anyone know what this plant is?.........

YEP - It's a cucumber plant! No cucumbers yet, but I didn't know they grew such pretty flowers, did you? You can see more of our garden here. I have another little update to share coming up this afternoon, so stay tuned! I've been a busy gal with no work and all. ;)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Painted Wine Bottles and Jars

Hey y'all (Is it wrong to say y'all when I'm not from the south? ;p). I was in another crafty mood this weekend. So I whipped out some more paint and decided to see what else I could come up with using materials I already had here at home. These weekend projects were easy and completely free, since I used a couple of wine bottles and mason jars we had on hand. And I think they turned out really cute!

Here's how I made them:
First I just grabbed some old glass jars and a couple of bottles and cleaned them with soap and water. 
For the wine bottles, I removed the labels by soaking them in some hot water for a few minutes, then peeling as much as I could off with my fingers. For the smaller parts that were left over, I used a cotton ball and some rubbing alcohol, and just rubbed the sticky parts until they came off. It took maybe 10 minutes for each bottle.

Then I took them outside where they got sprayed down with white spray paint (primer/paint in one) - here they are before...
And after about two even coats of paint:

I decided to paint one of the wine bottles with some turquoise spray paint I had leftover from my plant stand project.
After sitting outside for a few hours, we carefully brought them in to the laundry room to dry overnight, since the forecast was calling for rain.
I was really happy with how smooth and glossy they looked after the paint! I was all, " shiny!"
Once they had dried for about 24 hours or so, I whipped out my acrylic paints and went for the dipped effect on the mason jars, just using a paint brush. It took at least three coats for each color. The darker pink color was especially hard to get looking even. But I did my best.

I really like the way they turned out. I can't wait to get some flowers to put in them for a cute little summery centerpiece.

I decided to go fairly simply with the wine bottles. I loved how smooth and shiny they looked and didn't want to ruin the finish by painting over with acrylics. So I stuck on a couple of my cheapo Target chalkboard labels and called it a day!
I think I might put them in the living room, because I absolutely love them! They would also make a really cute centerpiece, I think.
The possibilities are really endless with jars and bottles. I've seen so many different ways people have repurposed them. Has anyone else ever painted bottles or jars? How did yours turn out? Do tell!

Linked up to This Week: The Pin Junkie, I Heart Naptime, Domestic Superhero, Liz Marie Blog, Natasha in Oz, Twelve O Eight, Tatertots and Jello.

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