Archive for 2010

DIY Canvas Tote

Winter usually provokes a great desire in me to be "crafty" and make attempt, after attempt, to sew eloquently.  My homebody side takes over during these chilly months; reading, crafts, or cooking are the things I'd rather be occupying my time with.  About a month ago I came across this darling tote on Design Sponge and had to try it. Problem...I didn't have a sewing machine.  I waited until I traveled back to Illinois for Thanksgiving and then swiped my mom's for a bit.  You can guess what I have already added to my wedding registry. :)

Renskes Minimalist Tote Bag

Click on the above link for step by step instructions on making this Minamalist Tote Bag. 

If you take on this project some words of might be hard finding big enough eyelets for this bag and a strap that fit through the eyelets! I had to compromise on my tote handle and went with a thin strap that could squeeze through a smaller eyelet and that could easily have rivets or fasteners hammered through. Originally I had picked up a super cute leather belt from Salvation Army to use for the was way to wide and thick to use with the biggest eyelets I could find.  Here is how my tote turned out. Thanks Mom for taking these awesome pictures with your amazing camera!

I highly recommend checking out all of the other DIY projects on Design Sponge, their site rocks.
Hopefully this posting will spark your crafty side for the winter months ahead!

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Mingle 'n Mix: Fashion, Décor, and Clutter Control

As much as I adore organization, I've noticed that a majority of storage and organizational products are rather bland and quiet frankly, ugly!  Function and aesthetics that blend and compliment each other are essential. Usually the need to display items or storage them comes into play when we accumulate more than one amount of a certain item.  Shoes, jewelery, books, clothes, spices, cleaning products, belts, and the list goes on.  When the trend for bold and long necklaces began, my collection expanded as well. Not having a big enough jewelry box, I used a 3M hook in my closet.  This setup grew old reallllly fast; thus began my search for a delightful and pretty way to store my long necklaces.  Going through some old Pottery Barn magazines, I found my inspiration! 

Jewelry Display Frames

I loved how this took care of my storage issue and also gave me a great piece of art! Finding a frame was easy enough and since I wasn't wild about the hooks on these frames, I just used clear push pins! I first hung this up in my apartment when I lived in Holland and got a tremendous amount of compliments when friends visited.  Since the bold jewelry trend is still alive and well this year, I've kept it up in my new apartment.  

Here is another divine option for hanging your jewelry. This one is from Real Simple

How do you store or display your collection of jewelry? Do you have an innovative way or does a 3M hook suffice? I'd love to hear any ideas! 

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Tis the Season: Christmas Wish List

Christmas is almost here! 

Enjoying the company of our loved ones during Christmas is something I cherish.  Traditions have changed dramatically over the last couple years with the passing of my grandparents, but this time of year never fails to bring joy to everyone.  Reflecting on this past year, I realized how blessed my family has been and how wonderful it will be to revel in that this holiday season.  

At this point in our lives, Zach and I know that we don't NEED anything for Christmas. Despite our good efforts to tell our families that we'd like to not do that many gifts (or none at all) we lost the battle and had to write up our wish lists. My list of course reflects my interest in cooking, decor, fashion, and running.  I made a point to only put  items on my list that I know I would use or at least put in a future house. 

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

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Escort Card Tree

It seems like this holiday season I've been a bit distracted from my wedding preparations, mostly with work and the errands that Christmas brings with it.  For a person who wants to have every detail planned out in advance, this wedding has been a teaching tool that I can't do everything at once. That I need to enjoy this preparation time and journey. While searching one of my favorite sites for random craft ideas, Apartment Therapy, I came across this branch centerpiece that I immediately adorned.  Zach teased me when I showed this to him and expressed in a child-like voice, "Well I kinda like the birds!" 

I scrambled for the perfect branch behind my apartment and decided to spray paint it silver instead. After doing so, I put it on the bistro table and decided, "Hmm this looks dumb."  I usually get frustrated when an idea I envision doesn't work out, but I loved how the branch looked so I just stuck it in one of my MANY mason jars that I'm collecting for the wedding. That's when I realized that this would be a perfect escort card "tree" for my wedding. 

Now the idea of a escort card tree is not by any means original, brides have been doing this for a while, but I think that with my sea glass take on the tree, I can make it my own. Here are a few trees I found online.

Right now I still only have that one branch in the mason jar, but I envision tons of branches coming out of this jar (or perhaps one of my larger mason jars) with the escort cards attached.  Here is a what I have so far. Of course I'd put real daisies in this jar, maybe have a few dangling from the higher branches.  I'd like to keep the end result a surprise, so you'll have to wait for the wedding pictures! What do you think? 

I love working on these wedding reception details...I believe these little crafts are what make a wedding more special and meaningful to the bride and all the guests. Plus, all of these ideas in my head are usually budget friendly! Mom, hope I'm not "chintzing" up the wedding too much!  

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Christmas Time

This weekend I had some last minute Christmas gifts to shop for and with a light cascade of snow coming down in Grand Rapids, I wanted to be comfy as well. Comfy nowadays for me usually equals leggings and a hoody, but today I didn't want to look like a bum. With Christmas fast approaching, I felt it appropriate to dress in the holiday colors. I know most people, including me, aren't a huge fan of green and red together, but when paired with different shades of green and red, I don't think it looks too bad. Now please excuse the poor quality of these pictures. Until I get a better camera, these will have to do.



I love this hoody and how easy it is to throw it on top of any outfit. My finance calls it my "Frodo" hoody, but I don't see the resemblance. :) Besides, I don't think Urban Outfitters specializes in hobbit clothing.  The nice thing about leggings this time of year is they can be used for dressy or causal occasions and still look awesome. These Groundhog "Molly" Boots was one of the best investments last Christmas and are one of the most comfortable boots I own.  Most of the clothing I wear is pretty simple...I'm not big on huge prints or flashy styles. Plain tees and sweaters are one of my favorite staples and can easily be a base for any fashionably great outfit. To give this outfit a pop, I added my gold belt that I snagged at Plato's for $8.00 and my lovely hand warmers that Momma got for me from The Garlic Press Store.

Now off to wrap my Christmas presents! 

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Lentil Burger and Sweet Potato Fries

I didn't always adore cooking. Most children and teens take this art form for granted; a task their mother or father takes care of. This was the case for me until I left home for college and realized how spoiled I was at home. My mother is a wonderful and natural cook, but it wasn't until later on in life that she pursued her dream. She has worked at The Garlic Press, which is an awesome little cafe in downtown Normal, IL and now works as a sorority chef at the local university. I can honestly say that I probably wouldn't have that strong of an interest in cooking or baking if it wasn't for her.
Thanks Momma!

This past year I trained and ran my first marathon, yet another hobby that I couldn't live without.  It was during this serious training regime that I became even more engrossed into cooking; and doing it in a ultra healthy matter. As of now, I'd consider myself to be almost a full fledged vegetarian. So sorry meat lovers, but most of the recipes I will post will be vegetarian or vegan centered...feel free to substitute!

My fiancée had requested that I try a lentil burger for him, so after searching quite a few recipes, a lentil burger from Everyday Vegetarian was the one I decided to make.  I also had to make my favorite Sweet Potato Fries!

I used brown rice in these patties and brown lentils as well. I did not have any sunflower oil, so olive oil was substituted here. Instead of using flour, I used Panko Bread Crumbs and mixed about a cup or so into the mix before making the patties. Topped the burger with spinach, tomatoes, and onions and put it on sprouted grain bread. These burgers are extremely tender, so be careful when frying them.

Sweet potato fries are such a healthy alternative when you get that craving for real french fries.  I know sweet potato fries usually aren't as crispy, but think of how many more you can eat! Not to mention the health benefits that come with them. :)

Happy Eating!

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My Slight Addiction

Besides being addicted to coffee, blogs, sweet potato fries, and shopping; organizing is right up there.  Yes, many call me bizarre for I love to clean and have been known to organize many people's houses for the fun of it, but this hobby of mine is one way I stay sane. Every person has a level where they can stand chaos and clutter, mine is just not very high. :)

I'd like to share with my readers advice on how to become and stay organized in many aspects of your life and will continue to make postings on the latest and greatest in organizational tools, websites, and books.

My first clue to my parents and myself that I was exceptionally organized was in grade school. I had scolded my mother for putting away a blue shirt in the green section of my closet. To this day I still keep my clothing color coordinated to make it fast and easy to find exactly what items I'm looking for. This also allows for a easy color palette selection!

Organizational Tip of the Week: 
Organize your closet in a way that makes your morning routine go a little quicker!

Whether you color coordinate your clothes, store your unused shoes in boxes, or buy hooks for your accessories (ties, belts, purses, scarves) you will notice how easier it will be for you to find certain items and how efficient this will make you! Discard older items that you haven't worn for a while. Trust me, they won't be missed!

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Fashion Styles

Out of all of creative releases I pursue, fashion is by far my favorite. Allowing me to express myself, personality, and love for style everyday is exhilarating. For me, deciding what to wear is a challenge that I aim to win every morning. Putting together a unique blend of colors and textures is like decorating; it takes time and requires an eye for style. I love how fashion is constantly changing, requiring one to be innovative in your attire.

Over the years my fashion sense has evolved, greatly changing from the high school years of just wearing what was "cool" to wearing what I perceive to be rousing, despite what others proclaim. Being in the workforce, I'm silently restrained to a dress code, but there are always ways around that. :) 

I love taking pieces from the variety of style categories.  I'd say I tend to stick within these three main categories:

  • Classic - a modern, timeless style
  • Eclectic - a style comprised of broad and various trends
  • Indie - an independent, original style with thrift or vintage hints 

My style varies with each setting. For work I tend to shift more towards a classic look, whereas on the weekend or when I'm just bumming around, I like to wear Indie inspired clothing. 

What fashion style do you tend to lend upon? Has it changed over the years or stayed the same?

In future posts I hope to provide "look books" of my current fashion style and how I go about each day creating a unique look.

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Color Scheme

The way you and others visually perceive your surroundings carries great significance. Is your living room an eye sore because of the particular shade of pea green it gives off? Color is often the hardest decision a person will make when decorating a house. Ironically it is often the easiest to overlook.  Color has such a powerful influence in our daily lives, much to our amiss.  It infuses us with emotions and expresses personal style.

Becoming familiar with color schemes and theory will dramatically make decorating simpler and look more professional. Understanding what harmonious colors are (colors side by side on the color wheel) and what complementary colors are (opposite colors on a color wheel) along with many more color schemes will aid in the process of deciding what colors "go" together.


          Websites for Color Inspiration

                             Colour Lovers
                             Color Schemer
                             Color Matters

I recently found an amazing book that has helped me when I pondered over what color palette would work best for my wedding. The Color Scheme Bible discusses color theory, lighting, moods color creates, and how to find inspiration in color. The rest of the book is basically a color palette directory, displaying 200 different colors. 

The Color Scheme Bible

Color Palette Directory

I highly recommend buying or renting this book from the library if you find putting color palettes too strenuous or are just interested in expanding your color awareness. Many people fear color. DON'T! The more you realize how fun color is to play with, the more intriguing your decor will become.  Step out of the box and try a bold color on one wall. What is the worst that could happen? It look horrible and you have to repaint a wall? This is nothing compared to the delight you will receive when finding that perfect color that completes your look.

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Simple and Organized

Personifying myself through my fashion and the way I decorate my surroundings (i.e. apartment and work space) has always been a creative outlet that I continually seek to improve. When I was in high school, I declared to my parents that I wanted to paint the ceiling of my room purple. I also painted the inside of my closet the same color; hand-painting shooting stars throughout. I still have the birthday card that inspired me to do so.

Once moving into my own apartment, the decor became essential.  It's funny how the state of one's living space can greatly enhance one's happiness.  Going home after a long day to my own space that displays my interests, alway puts me at ease.  I grew up in a meticulously clean house and have been raised with that same instinctive desire to always have organization, along with an interesting decor.  

These are just a few of the several amazing websites that I utilize to help me keep my decor fresh and my organizational tools top-notch. In my following posts, I'm sure these will continue to pop up. 

I've found that one of the best ways to inspire new ideas for decorating is to physically go out and window shop. My favorite places to find hidden treasures are antique and thrift stores. With a keen eye and clever imagination, many "junk" items can be transformed into the focal point of a room. Not only do these items come with a pretty price tag, but they allow buyers to reuse and recycle high quality goods. Most older furniture I've come across is constructed with more solidarity than furniture of current, making a great bargain buy.  My preferred store to find unique refurbished items is Second Chance in Holland, MI or Estate Sales Warehouse in Grand Rapids, MI.  

With any urge to redecorate, my first task is to envision how I want the space to eventually appear.  Mood boards are a perfect way to start your visualization. Rip out pages of items that spark your interest in magazines or create a "Home Design" bookmark on your Internet browser for pages you want to save.  Let products from outside of the decor realm become inspiration for you; fashion, nature, food, architecture and industrial. Beauty is all around. Being able to pick up on that beauty and incorporating it into your decor has great potential for success. Another helpful tidbit to jump start your decorating journey is to find out what your "style" is. Knowing this can save you time deciding between what you like and do not like in terms of furniture and accessories.

Picking out one item that you want to be a focal point in each room is key.  Say your focal point is an inspiring  abstract painting in bright colors. Utilizing the colors and textures in this painting can be a starting point to picking other colors in that same color scheme that you'd like to incorporate into the rest of the room. Keep the room consistent.  If it helps to take a picture or color swatch of your focal point and bring it with you when shopping, then do so! I always carry a card with the color wheel on one side and my "color analysis" on the other in my wallet. These come in handy usually when I'm shopping for clothes and want to remember what colors look best on me, but also help when deciding what colors blend best for decorating. I'll talk more about colors in my next post.

Upon deciding your focal point and a color scheme, buying the items can actually be the easiest part. Take your time when buying items for your apartment/house. If you go without a lamp or chair for a couple of weeks, it won't be the end of the world. In that time, you can make sure you know exactly what you want and know that you did your research prior.  Try not to buy all your house fixings at the mall. Yes, it is convenient, but usually bland and not unique at all. There are so many awesome online resources and plenty of cool antique/thrift stores out there to quench any decorators thirst. Remember to remain true to yourself and to buy items that reflect your personal taste.

Try to use your space wisely, balancing between overcrowded and sparse.  Nothing leaves guest more uncomfortable than coming into a house that doesn't have enough seating or is so crammed that there is no room to move! When placing furniture in it's intended spots remember that you can always rearrange your furniture in the future, it does not have to permanently say there. This is a cheap and quick way to change the way a room looks.

More to come with helpful hints on decorating!

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When guests arrive for your wedding reception, the first thing most people notice are the centerpieces. These usually present important questions. Did you make these yourself or have someone else do it? Are they tacky or elegant? Expensive or Thrifty? Creative or just boring? 

I wanted these to reflect Zach and I, while staying within our budget. Once again, the assortment of blogs helped me narrow down this vision to something I could put together with the help of my florist.

To help with the "thrifty" aspect of these, I had my mother and future mother-in law ask friends and family if they'd be willing to let us borrow any blue mason jars. With our luck, we ended up with way more than we needed! Who knew that so many people would have these.  They run any where from $5 - $10 a piece at antique stores/online and we got them for free!

Wanting to focus on the details, I struggled with finding other pieces to go with the mason jars.  Since we could only find rather large pieces of driftwood, we nixed the idea of putting these on each table. Going with our "wood/nature" theme, I found inspiration on craigslist. While searching for paper lanterns, I came across this picture and knew at once that I wanted to duplicate the wood slices they had on each table.

I love the rustic vibe these centerpieces give.  The burlap table linens give it a dramatic flair and complete this look. This is similar to what we envision our reception to look and feel like. I'd love to incorporate one more item to our tables besides the wood slices (with candle) and blue mason jars. Grouping items in three gives a space visual interest and a "decorator look" to it. I'm contemplating using succulents, but not sure if this will clash with our theme. Here are my inspirations thus far.

Succulent Centerpieces

Succulent Place Cards

With plenty of time, the rest of these preparations have been put on the back burner for now.  Moving on to more pressing matters like what Zach and his groomsmen will wear! :)

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Color Palettes

What is one of the first questions any woman asks another who recently gets engaged?

"What are your colors?!"

For me, I've always been pulled towards the blue spectrum. Ever since I was little, it has been my favorite color. This was definitely an important feature to our wedding and Zach was all in favor of a blue scheme....I don't think he realized how many types of blues there were until I asked him what shade of blue. :)

So with the color blue in mind, I searched for inspiration and fell in love with sea glass.


Getting Inspired with Color by Pearls Events

J Crew

I knew that I wanted to incorporate our love for the outdoors and nature in general; so along with the sea glass color scheme, hints of wood tones helped bring that rustic outdoor feel to the palette. Of course, driftwood came to mind first. Having the lovely Lake Michigan at our disposal, we found some nice pieces before the winter hit. My vision was to drill a few holes large enough for candles to sit in and use these on our bridal party and gift tables. Once we got home, I realized we had way too many pieces of Zach surprised me by displaying one of the pieces in our apartment. A cheap way to liven up a plain apartment wall! 

With the color palette set, choosing bridesmaids dresses came easy. Being an avid J Crew shopper, I knew I wanted to get the dresses there and figured I could find them cheaper than most bridal shops. I was pleasantly surprised to find four different style dresses all in "Fresh Mint" color on super sale! 

Having a clear focus and vision for my wedding, I was able to get all of this decided and bought before October...about a month after I got engaged. Yes, my fiancé calls me crazy, but I am pretty content knowing that I won't have to scramble to find the perfect bridesmaids dresses and that I am not making my girls pay an arm and a leg to do so! 

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