Thursday, May 31, 2012

More pallet art

I have a confession to make. Sometimes we do big house projects and I don't show you right away because they aren't "finished." And then I never show them to you because they're never finished. Case in point - our bedroom. We spent a weekend doing a bedroom makeover in January, and I still haven't shown it to you yet. Oops. We still need to add the finishing touches that really tie the room together - art, etc. - and we talked that a bit over the weekend.

I'm obsessed with the pallet art I made last fall, and ever since we found another pallet, I've been itching to make another one. Pinterest inspired me with things like this:

and this:

Zac made the pallet into a sign just like he did last time, and we went to work. I was planning to cut the letters from cardstock or contact paper, but my friend Clare caught me in time and cut them for me on her Cricuit. That saved me a ton of time. And made it look like this:

She cut the letters out on colored paper and we taped them to the pallet.

Our next step was to trace the letters with a pencil. Zac's more precise than I am, so he took care of this part.

Derby, meanwhile, was super helpful. But oh my goodness is he cute.

Tracing the letters turned into this...

which then turned into this.

We wanted a "rustic" look, so I used a paint brush to fill in the letters. I used a paint pen where I needed it, but for the most part I just used a brush.

Here's our finished product:

If we did it all over again, there are a few things I would do differently (like not use black paint), but overall, I'm happy with it.

Here it is in the overall room:

I really like the contrast between the silk curtains and the rustic art. What do you think? Fingers crossed that I'll show you the whole room over the next few days. We love it and I hope you will too!

Click HERE to see the blog parties where I'm linking!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Weekend Recap

I swear there is something magical about three day weekends. They just feel sooooo much longer than normal weekends. I wish every weekend was three days... but I digress.

We had a fantastic weekend. We managed to get a lot done around the house, tackle a few projects that have been half finished for awhile, and even squeeze in a little fun.

I'll share a project with you tomorrow - but first I want to share the fun we had! Taste of Cincinnati happens ever Memorial Day weekend, and it's one of our favorite events. It's the world's longest running culinary festival, with more than six blocks filled with vendors selling yummy food and drinks. Each booth offers multiple choices, with prices ranging from $2 - $5 depending on the dish. We love to walk the length of the event and sample different choices from different booths.

A few picks from this year:

Mac and cheese pizza

Fresh tacos... mmmmm.

While we were there, I found the C-Change pig! You can read more about these fancy pigs here, and learn more about C-Change here

After sampling some yummy treats, we walked down to Smale Park to get some pictures of this cool place, this time with our fancy camera.

Zac playing in the fountain

I love the lights!

It's seriously the coolest park ever.

Sticking my feet in

The sun sets so fast. This is the Moerlein Lager House when we got to the park...

and again just a few minutes later.

Zac playing in the water fall. He's actually behind it - he stayed dry!

Stephanie trying to get just the right shot with their camera.

The Roebling Suspension Bridge. You've seen this bridge before...

The lights change every few seconds. I promise these are three separate pictures, and no fancy photo-shopping was worked!

I can't get enough of this park. Can you tell??

I hope you had a great long weekend as well!

Friday, May 25, 2012

It's okay to not like things...

This post is going to be a rant, and there's just no way around it. I feel like everywhere I turn, people are being just plain mean to each other. Not always intentionally, not always blatantly, but there's just so much MEAN.

Case in point. A pregnant friend told another friend the name of her baby the other day. Response? "Oh really? I hate that name." SERIOUSLY? This isn't your baby!!!

I was told recently that there were only two things someone would never volunteer for in our community because they were a waste of time. The two things? The things that person knows I dedicate almost all of my volunteer time to. Ouch.

This happens in the political realm as well. I have a lot of family and friends who don't share the same political views that I do - which is fine. What isn't fine is that I sometimes get bullied about mine and told they aren't okay. Why? I don't say those things to them... ever. I would never tell people that their beliefs were wrong, even though I don't agree with them. (Am I giving away my political views here??).

Everyone doesn't have to agree. In fact, it would be a really boring world if everyone did. But does that mean we have to be mean about it? Why can't we disagree with each other but still be nice about it?

I'm not the only one suffering from these feelings. Adrianna from Crafterhours shared this video a few days ago and I've been thinking about it ever since. I think we should all adopt it as our motto. Warning: it does contain mildly offensive language. Side note: if you don't read Crafterhours, start right now. You will not regret it.

So please, just be nice. If you don't like the names of my future children, you don't need to tell me. Don't share my political beliefs? It doesn't matter. Let's just agree to disagree - we can still be friends. Think that the color of my bedroom is ugly? Keep it to yourself. Don't volunteer where I do? Good - that means somewhere else gets your service time.

Next I'll be back with my sunny attitude and potentially even a project. But in the meantime... it's okay to not like things. Let's just be nice about it. Enjoy your holiday weekend!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Happy birthday... to me!

Today's not my birthday - it was actually last week. I turned the big 2-7. When I was approaching that birthday, it seemed like a "big deal" sort of birthday. I feel like I'm pretty solidly an adult now - no excuses or getting around it at this point. I wanted to share with you some pictures from my birthday celebration... though if you want to continue to celebrate it for a few more days, I'm totally fine with that!

My birthday kicked off the day before my birthday when my two favorite senior search interns, Marina and Caroline, brought me birthday presents! They are the sweetest high schoolers I've ever met and made me feel so special. I also think they will freak out with joy when they notice themselves mentioned on this blog... hi guys!

On my actual birthday, my parents and Zac's parents came down and we all went out to dinner. I had no idea where we were going - Zac set the whole thing up and picked the place. We went to Palomino's, which is one of my favorite places in Cincinnati. The restaurant overlooks Fountain Square and their food is delicious.

This was a birthday / graduation celebration, so I dressed up extra fancy!

Presents from my in-laws! Zac's mom found a Vera Bradley outlet store. Her daughter-in-law (me) was in heaven!

She also gave me this gorgeous bracelet. The pink coat is from my parents. In this picture, I'm modeling all the things I think my sister Beth will be jealous of. I'm not a terrible sister - I promise. If you knew her, you'd understand!

This is how much our parents love each other - and we are so grateful for that. Our dads shared dessert. And pretty much laughed this hard through the entire two hour dinner.

My handsome husband and I.

The birthday crowd! My parents are on the left, Zac's are on the right. Just curious - who do you think I look more like? I was always told growing up that I look like my mom, but I think in pictures now I look a lot more like my dad?

On Saturday night we met my friend Tory at Asian food fest. She was so sweet - she even ordered me these fireworks for my birthday!

Sorry for the blurry pic. And she didn't really order the fireworks! 

I had a great birthday... thanks to everyone who helped me celebrate! Facebook is probably the best thing to ever happen to birthdays. I had well wishes all day long and it made the day extra special. Here's to making 27 the best year yet - it's off to a great start so far!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

All sorts of random

I'm sort of in a funk this week. I think it stems from being really tired - Zac's brother and sister-in-law are finally home from their trip around the world (yay!) but their flight was delayed until 3:00 AM on Sunday so I'm just exhausted (boo!). I haven't been in the mood to do much creating lately, and some of my pictures are on my home computer, and others are on my work computer, and blah blah. Huge problems, I know.

What I have been in the mood for is some organizing and purging. We did a completely overhaul of our guest room on Sunday - which was good since Josh and Steph ended up needing it in the middle of the night! We took an entire car load of stuff to Goodwill and rearranged the room to be a bit more functional. I didn't take pictures for you - this is all temporary as we have bigger plans for that space, but other things need to come first.

We also pooled together the last of our wedding gift cards to buy this beauty:

It's from Crate and Barrell. I had to accept that we're never going to get around to building one. It's gorgeous though, and it was pretty affordable. The chairs? Not so much (at $200 a pop). We are either going to buy unfinished chairs pre-made for $79 a piece, or try to garage sale some un-matching ones and re-finish them to match the table. Does anyone know the secret to making that look classy and chic and not just a hot mess? Something like this but a little less funky?

Or maybe the key is to add some fabric and color?

The table is back ordered until June, so we have some time to decide. We do need to get that room painted before it arrives though!

Other randomness based on the cell phone pictures I've taken recently:

Cincinnati has a new park downtown with these color lights and water features. I can't wait to take our good camera to get real pictures!

I have been crocheting up a storm and I don't know why. I'm hooked... pun intended! I got some sweet baby yarn on sale at JoAnn's and bought it without a project in mind. I ended up making a baby blanket. I'm just about finished, so you'll get pictures soon.

Sorry for the random brain dump. Unfortunately, this is what it's like to be in my head this week!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Awards, friends, and pretty blue bags...

This blog is a little bit of everything... stuff I make, stuff I like, our house projects, and my life overall. One of the things I love about blogging is that it documents a lot of the little things that happen that I might not focus on otherwise. I like to look back at my posts from the past two years and remember when we painted this, built that, went there, or did that. In a small way, this blog is also documenting the story of our lives. There are sometimes things I want to document and remember for me that probably aren't interesting to you. Just skip these posts.

Earlier this week, Zac and I went to the Junior League's annual dinner. I have been a member of the Cincinnati League for three years, and I've really enjoyed my experience. I was honored at this year's dinner for my volunteer work. I was so humbled to be chosen. The dinner was beautiful and it was a wonderful celebration of the thousands of lives in our community that have been touched by the League's volunteer work this year.

JLC Outgoing President Melanie Chavez, one of the most inspiring women I've ever met.

My sweet friend Erika presenting an award.

Receiving my award from Brooke. Yes, those bags are what you think they are. Yes, I almost died of happiness when I saw them. I didn't even know those bags came that big!

Tory, me, and Natalie. Tory and Natalie are two of my favorite friends!

And in case you were wondering about that bag...

It is a gorgeous bud vase that I can't get a good picture of for the life of me. But it looks gorgeous in our china cabinet and I'll think of this night every time I use it. It will definitely become a family heirloom piece for us.

Thank you to the JLC for honoring me with your Rising Star award. I'm proud to be part of a such a dynamic group of women!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Holiday Helping Hands

Last fall, my friend Clare asked if I would help a class with a service learning project. Clare has a really cool job - she works for a foundation and is in charge of pretty much all service learning projects in our city. If you aren't familiar with service learning, it is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.

I worked with students at Arlington Heights Academy. This is a sort of last chance high school for a lot of kids. Many of them have struggled at other schools for various reasons, but here they have an incredibly supportive teacher who truly loves them as individuals. She seeks out unique learning opportunities for them that set them up for success.

And, each December, they execute an event called Holiday Helping Hands. These students, many of whom come from severely disadvantaged backgrounds, donate various items from around their house to fill a secret santa like store. They create a literal wonderland in their school and invite hundreds of kindergartners to experience holiday magic. They create reading and math activities that teach the students while they have fun. It's a truly magical experience for both the older kids and younger ones.

My role was to help them make a quilt hat would reflect what they learned from the experience. My first visit was last fall, where I taught the students about quilting and helped them create a design. The students came up with exactly what they wanted - my only role was to make sure it was "do-able."

The students decided that they wanted a picture border around the outside, so they also chose pictures to go around the edges.

When I came back the second time, I had printed the photos onto photo transfer paper. The students cut out the pictures and ironed them on to white fabric squares. I was so surprised... they loved it!

Another part of their design was creating twelve circles that simulated a Candy Land board, one of their main decorating themes. Each circle had a word that described their service learning experiences.

They traced the shapes onto wonder under paper and then chose the fabrics they wanted to use. 

I took their work home and tried to turn it into their original design. I brought it back to school for them to tie together. I thought about quilting it for them, but I wanted to give the students as many opportunities to touch the quilt - literally and figuratively.

How cute are these high schoolers? Many of them are just freshmen.

I still need to add the binding -- but here's where we are now.

I'm really grateful for the opportunity to work with these students. Is the design my favorite of all time? Probably not. Is any single part of it straight? Nope - many hands don't make straight quilts. But it darn well might be one of the most beautiful I've ever seen.

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