Archive for January 2011

Elements Speak

To continue expanding my knowledge on decor and to better prepare myself for decorating a house, (when we get one) I recently signed up for a class at Kendall College for Interior Design.  This is an adult community class that goes on for about 2 months and so far, I've enjoyed it immensely. I highly recommend taking a class from CJ VanDaff!  Before diving into more technical aspects of design, we've discussed major elements that you can find in design.  Depending on your personal style, you may not use all of these or choose to use them all in unique ways.

Pictures are the best way to describe these elements.

Rhythm can be best described as repetition of objects.  The above picture shows the picture frames having broken repetition.  You can obviously have even repetition, which would appear if these frames were all in a row or column.

Michelles Master Bedroom. eclectic bedroom

Using contrast in a room, whether it is contrast in colors, like the picture above, or contrast in shapes, patterns, and textures will all help create interest in your room. 

This picture above displays a symmetrical balance of a room. Pairs of items in the room (like the lamps, fireplace decorations, and bookcases) are used to create a restful balance.  This is rather too matching for some, so this is where asymmetrical balance can be used. 

This pretty much explains itself, the use of different or the same patterns in a space.  It is okay to mix patterns, despite what some people think! 

To create more appeal in a room, some items need to be put on display...make visitors take interest instantly! These focal points in your space, like this fireplace above, are accented by these bright, large, and unique objects around it. It forces the eye to check it out.

Using texture: soft, ridged, shiny, smooth, harsh, uneven, shaggy, are all ways to make a room feel a certain way.  Want something soft and feminine for your bedroom? Why not add shag carpet and silky satin sheets?  

Scale is defined as how big or small objects appear in a room.  This element is hard to execute, but when done properly, looks amazing.  The object above this bed is rather small in comparisons to the rest of the room and the space on the wall, but it piques your interests and adds an asymmetrical feel to the bedroom. The picture below depicts scale on a larger verison with the huge purple lamp in the corner! 

Julianne Kelly eclectic living room

Shape is an easy element because most objects have a distinct shape about them, but it is especially intriguing when the shapes are odd, very small, or really big, and mixed with other different shapes.

Take a look at your space and see if you can see these elements.  What element are you particularly drawn too?  For me, using color as contrast and rhythm would be a fun elements to play with.  It is when you collaborate particular elements together to create a cohesive look, that beauty occurs.  

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Cupboard Chili

Don't be fooled by the title folks, this dish has it going on, despite how it sounds.

With each day never being long enough to let me do all the things I wish I could do, I'm finding my cooking time diminishing.  Eating healthy is not only more costly, but is is also incredibly time consuming. I cherish cooking and the calmness that comes over me when I'm entangled in the warmth and stirring smells of the kitchen, but it quickly becomes a chore when other items on my to do list trump it.  To not eat out during my lunch hour requires planning and prepping; and to make a homemade dinner every night definitely requires at least 30 minutes to an hour of cooking. With classes, running, errands to be ran, and events I like to's hard to do find the time to squeeze this in.

I have slowly started to take advantage of my crock-pot.  Knowing that I would have no time to eat, let alone cook anything for dinner the other night before class, I knew my crock-pot would save me. I whipped this "cupboard" chili (not to be confused with cardboard) together during my lunch break.  My cupboards were filled with beans, fridge with corn, tomatoes, and carrots...viola! Dinner! By the time I came home all I had to do was get out the Tupperware. Thank you crock-pot. You may be really old and ugly, but you sure make a mean cupboard chili.  

Here is my recipe...but I suggest you throw in whatever items you like or have on hand! 

1 can Black Beans
2 can White Northern Beans
2 cans diced tomatoes or 2 cups of fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 small can of tomato paste (optional)
1 1/2 cup of Corn
3 medium Carrots, peeled/chopped
2 cups Vegetable Broth
1/2 Onion, chopped
Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Chili Powder
Dash of Cayenne Pepper/Red Pepper Flakes
2 tablespoons Oregano
1 teaspoon Cumin and Basil
Salt 'n Pepper

Saute onions in olive oil until tender.
Add beans, broth, carrots, corn, and onions to crock-pot.  
Stir then add spices. 
Leave on high for 2-3 hours. 
(I'm sure if needed, you could leave this on low for longer)

So that's it. A yummy, healthy chili for when you are on the go. 
Great thing about soups is that if you make too much, you can freeze them for later! 

Yummers. :)

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Feathered Friends

I woke up this morning in realization that I had lost the good fight. Okay, maybe Zach is right. Maybe I do have a slight inclination to love all things "bird" like...even though I do not particular like birds themselves.  With relentless teasing, I continue to pick out items of bird stature...little house decorations, jewelry, photos, anything that hits bird cuteness when we are shopping I declare, "I love it! Look at the birds!"  So, Zach you win, I do kinda like the birds. :) 

Now when I heard that my hairstylist, Kayley, was putting feather extensions in, I freaked.  I adore the softness of feathers, how unique this looks, and the implication of can fly! Alright, so I won't be able to fly with feather extensions, but regardless I got them last night and had to show a little preview.  The first ones are with my hair pinned back so you can see them more. They are very subtle (I went with the natural colored feathers) and if placed correctly, you will only see glimpse of them. 

Let me know what you think. I finally convinced Zach last night that it fit my personality.  Thanks dear for understand and thanks Kayley for putting them in and giving me a much needed hair cut! Check out Kayley's blog for more hair tips and tons of advice on wearable fashion at Sidewalk Ready.  


Vintage Accessories

As an organizer, my focus is typically held in the present and more importantly, the future.  But as a lover of all things fashion, the past can't be ignored.  Vintage items harbor this appeal for me; saying "I'm unique, old, buy me and love me!"  Nostalgia does not escape me. I'm the girl who has kept every important note given to her since grade school; scrapbooking emails or cards that are important and cherished. Traveling back to these moments; remembering awkward, terrible, happy, or blessed times in my life.  Vintage pieces keep the past alive, in physical form, and that makes me smile.  I want to display a few of my favorite vintage accessories. My hope is to start collecting and incorporating them more into my wardrobe.  Showing appreciation for the old things in this world is crucial, let others see that it's not always about purchasing what is the "latest" or what the fashion world deems vogue.

This Seiko watch I picked up from Heirloom Estate Sales for about $25.00. I love how it fits on my wrist and how light it is. Granted it has a few scratches on it, but I dig the worn look.

This flower pin and the funky pink and white earrings were found at One Girls Treasure for under $10.00. OGT has a combination of modern and vintage apparel and accessories.  You can also bring in your used pieces as well for money!  I don't think I've ever left this store without a sweet, reasonable purchase. 

 The lovely portrait earrings were my Grandma's.  Every time I wear these I think about her; which is bittersweet. She was the epitome of the woman everyone loves, and I pray I become like her more each day.

  These last earrings were also purchased from Heirloom Estate Sales, in hopes of putting studs on the back and using them on my wedding day.  They hang really low on my ear with the old fasteners on them, so I broke those off and reapplied stud backings with some heavy duty craft glue.  Still to be determined if I will wear these on my wedding day, but if not, they still rock. 

Challenge yourself to search out vintage pieces.  Pick items that stir your soul, make you wonder when it was made, and tickle your fashion sense.  Shoot me an email if you know of hip stores or places online where I can score vintage buys and tame my vintage addiction. :)

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Groom and Groomsmen

Well, according to TheKnot, I'm way behind on some important aspects of my wedding, that being what Zach and his groomsmen are going to be wearing. We've talked about our style for the wedding and have concluded that since we are going for a laid back and casual vibe, we'd want to reflect that in the apparel as well. I also didn't want the gentlemen to look severely formal since my wedding gown is more appropriate for an outside setting. Here are some of our ideas thus far. 

Zach's Inspiration

Zach (and I) are currently watching season two of MadMen and love the show. Something about this era is super sexy, and Zach loves how well all the men dress in the show.  Now, if it were up to me to dress Zach in the manner that depicts the perfect soul mate, then I would have him looking like this....

But alas, he didn't go for the chest baring look. Although, at the beginning of our wedding planning he was talking about sporting the ascot! Someday, I'll get him to look like Mr. Darcy.  Someday. :)
Below is a suit that is similar to what we are looking for. Light grey, slim suit, that is reasonably priced. 


Zach looks really handsome in grey, since he is more fair colored, and black might be a tad too hot in June. We didn't want the groomsmen having to spend a lot on suits, since we nixed tuxedos a while back.  Right now, we would like them to all have matching vests and pants, with a tie that goes well with the bridesmaids dresses (in fresh mint), but this has been pretty hard to find so far. I'm guessing more grey suits and vests will start to come out closer to Spring. If not, we are thinking about just doing grey pants with a tie and forgetting about the vests.  For the tie, I'm not sure if we want to match perfectly with the bridesmaids or not, but if we do go that route, I found the perfect tie on Etsy. This artist custom sews neckties that match J.Crew's "fresh mint" dresses! 

Hopefully we can get this sorted out in the next month or two. I'm trying to take a more casual approach to wedding planning in general. We've decided that the wedding planning should not be the sole focus when we spend time with each other, since it is the marriage aspect that needs the most attention devoted to it. It floors me when I read about how much time an engage couple spend planning for one day in their life, whereas they should have been focusing on how they were going to spend the rest of the lives together! Speaking of which, I probably should quick blogging and spend some time with my fiancé! 

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Visual Reminders

As much as I detest getting up early, today I made the exception and attended an event for professional organization before heading off to work. The speaker, Mary Dykstra, a professional organizer, enlightened the group about the best ways to stay organized mentally and physically in your work environment and at home.

I am always looking for a better way to stay organize and her tips got me to question my efficiency at work. Mary discussed that before clearing away clutter on your desk, you must focus on how organized your thought processes are during a normal day.  Do you try to multi-task way too many thing together and end up wasting more time? How long do you take to email or simply read all your emails?  How many of us are guilty of consistently checking email, Facebook, Twitter to a point where we wonder how much time was spent working that day?  I know I have a bad habit of wanting to multi-task as much as possible, but Mary stressed to work solely on the most important item for that day and get that done first.  When we try to squeeze other tasks in between, we end up creating a bigger distraction for ourselves.  Along with many other useful tips, Mary discussed some ways to clean up a cluttered desk. You would be surprised how people perceive your work habits just by looking at the cleanliness of your work space.  Would you trust a co-worker with a filthy desk to keep track all of your important documents?  Thanks Mary for your insights! 

So how do I stay organized at work?  I love using folders and shelving for the stacks of papers my desk accumulates, but one of my favorite organizational tools are any type of "message boards." Super nerdy, I know, but it's true. Zach even bought me a cork board for my birthday this past year...he knows me so well. 
I love tacking reminders up at my desk; I know I will never forget about them if they are pinned in front of my face, instead of hiding in a folder! 

There are all types of organizational "boards" that you can use around work or home.  For me, this is also a way for to visualize ideas...colors, fashion, recipes, projects, etc.      

These are some of my favorites! 

Bamboo Dry Erase Board

Flower Cork Board

Fabric Bulletin Board

These fabric bulletin boards are also really easy to make.  During high-school I had a 4X4 feet one in my room that I filled with pictures and notes.  Click on the link for a quick "how to." What type of organizational message boards, if any, do you use? I hope this post inspires everyone to clean out there desks (whether at home or work) and get organized for this 2011 year. Tack up a picture or quote that makes you happy... something nice to look at everyday. :)

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Noodle Bowls

My latest food cravings have been for any kind of ethnic noodle or rice bowl.  The possibilities of different combinations are endless and they never seem to get old to me.  Upon seeing this lovely recipe on One Tribe Gourmet, I knew I wanted to create my own for dinner.

Spicy Stir Fried Udon Noodles with Vegetables

I didn't have every ingredient on hand for this recipe and wanted to customize my own, so I scrounged up what was available in my cupboards and fridge. If you keep plenty of noodles on hand, you can usually thrown in whatever veggies and form of protein you like.

1 pkg of Udon Noodles
Drizzle of Safflower Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 inch of Ginger, minced
5 - 6 Shiitake Mushrooms, chopped
1/2 pkg of Firm Tofu, cubed
1 cup of Carrots 
Handful of Bean Sprouts
1 small stalk of Bok Choy
1/2 - 1 cup of Corn (frozen or fresh)
3 to 4 teaspoons of Peanut Sauce
 (I used House of Tsang Peanut Sauce but you can make your own)

  1. Prep all the veggies you want to use before starting. This will make the cooking process a lot easier and less rushed!
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil and throw in noodles (can use udon, soba, ramen, or even linguine).
  3. While the noodles are cooking, heat saffron oil in a skillet or wok. 
  4. Sauté ginger and garlic for a few seconds. 
  5. Add tofu, sauté this until slightly brown. 
  6. Start tossing in veggies and peanut sauce in order of how long it takes to cook each one. (i.e. carrots first, bok choy last) 
  7. Cook for 5-7 minutes, tossing gently. 
  8. Drain noodles and rinse throughly. If you like you can add these to the stir fry mix as well. 
  9. Cook for a few more minutes with noodles, then serve!

I made this for dinner last night and had tons of leftovers for lunch today. It was a great meal after a long, cold run, especially since I was so hungry and didn't feel like cooking!  Do you have any delicious noodle bowls you love to make or pick up at a restaurant?  If so, send me a link or comment on the best place to eat noodles in GR!    

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The Closest Thing I Have to a Child - Plants!

Upon leaving work and witnessing the snow covering everything in sight, I thought today's post about house plants would bring a chipper aura to the cold day. Or at least make me feel better about the weather.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the snow...but not for very long. I already yearn for the first days of thaw. Those days in college were signified by throngs of students playing frisbee out in the Pine Grove, jamming on guitars, and wearing shorts even though it was still way to cold to do so.  Spring hurry up! 

So to make you feel like Spring is getting closer, let's talk plants.
 There are tons of reasons why every house, and every room should have plants in them: 

- Plants are pretty! They will pique the interest of others and improve your decor, naturally! 

-Humidity takes a nose dive when you introduce plants to your house.

-Some claim that they are stress relievers.

-Whether we admit it or not, we like taking care of things and having something that "needs" us. When we see our plants grow, we are proud and excited! (You should see Zach baby his plants!) 
-Your air will be cleaner because of these little guys.

It wasn't until I bought myself a bonsai that I gained an interest in plants. All through college and up to now I've had the same bonsai.  Over the years I've attempted to use plant wire and pruning techniques to shape it in a unique fashion. It came in a pretty big pot and I'm slowly attempting to cut back the roots to get it into a regular bonsai pot, which is very shallow.  One of these days I'll work on giving him a name as well. Zach usually names all his plants. :) 

In such a small space, like my apartment, you'd think that a normal amount of plants would be two or three.
 But no, there are eight plants craving my love in about 750 square feet of space! 

I know once we buy a house, it will be filled with all different kinds of plants. I love looking at Viva Terra for home garden ideas and awesome plant vases.  I first saw these crazy cool plants that Zach's sister-in-law had and loved that Viva Terra had them! 

Air Plants

I also have a slight obsession with succulents. These are so adorable, yet tough and hardy.

A "dream" plant inside my home (if there is such a silly thing) would be to have a big tree in the living room or entry way! 

Okay, maybe not that big, but it definitely looks epic. 

Do you enjoy littering your home with plants as much as I do? Does anyone have a really quirky plant?  Suggestions are welcome, I'd love to add to my collection...

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On with the New: A Reflection and Trends for 2011

Happy New Year! 
It ceases to amaze me every New Years how far I have come in just a single years time. This year in particular will be forever etched into my soul as one of the top.  On our run today, Zach and I were very contemplative, soaking in the silence and beauty around us. As I watched the wind urge the last of the fallen leaves to dance around our feet, I thought about the tremendous changes I've been through this past year.

Leaving my first full-time job to seek a career that aligned with my passion for running and also challenge my intellect was in itself an arduous task.  That transition into a new job is never smooth.  Neither is leaving behind the city I had grown quite comfortable with after four years to a much larger, daunting, unfamiliar one.   It was all bittersweet at the time, seeing as Zach and I had battled a tough year apart from one another. I remember how ecstatic I had been when I told him I got the job, yet incredibly sad at the same time. I knew that this meant I wouldn't be moving to Cleveland to be near Zach.

Being as ambitious as Zach is, it wasn't two months later that he received a promotion to Grand Rapids. This was what we had been waiting for, a chance to move on to the next step in our relationship. Zach didn't wait too long before popping the question the following month.

With the changes, brings growth and learning experiences.  As I write out my resolutions, most of them reflect the changes I've encountered and the growth I want to continually have.

2011 Resolutions
-Develop in my career and the responsibilities it entails
-Become more involved in the GR community, find more local friends, and a stable church
-Maintain a high motivation level for my second marathon training (would love to race under a 3:20)
-Get Married!
-Buy a house that Zach and I can renovate

Have you thought about what your resolutions for this year will be?  Do you usually fulfill them?
With the new year comes changes for fashion as well!  Here are some trends I've noticed coming into play or have been forecast by the "trend-setters" of the world.

Trends for 2011

Pantone Color of the Year: Honeysuckle

Bright Colors

High Platform Shoes

Elements of Biker Chic, Military, and Punk

More Lace!

1970's Elements
Look for high waisted pants, bow or ruffled blouses, jumpsuits, shirts tucked into pants or skirts, and bell bottoms.

Stripes - Nautical

Vintage Accessories

Mixture of Prints - Lots of Floral!

Are there other trends you think will be vogue for 2011? Any trends you wish would come back?

I wish everyone a great start to this New Year! 

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