Friday, February 26, 2010

LATDTC featured...

...on Amy Anderson's (aka blogger of Modpodgerocks) Twitter!

What a great resource for ideas, eh?

You Are Now Reading an Award Nominated Blog

That's right, folks,

Laura from Navigating the Mothership sweetly nominated me for a "Beautiful Blogger" award. This, of course, is based on my supermodel good looks and cover-worthy face. Just kidding. Thanks, Laura! (check out her blog. Her notes on motherhood have me in stitches everytime I read a post. Seriously. She is hilarious!)

So, my duties as a nominated "Beautiful Blogger" are to tell you seven interesting facts about me and then nominate 7 more beautiful bloggers. Here goes:

1) I have two middle names. They are Nichole and McKenzie. If you know my last name, you would understand why I never under any circumstances would have hyphenated my name when I got married.

2) When I was a 7th grader I played the role of Oliver Twist in a local college production. It would be the height of my acting career.

3) I am one of 8 lovely ladies in a group of high school friends. We attended the same dance studio. We still take a mostly-annual trip together after all these years. Our name is Fatmess.

4) I studied the cello in college, and play in the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra. We have a concert this weekend!

5) I listened to Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber every single night for a whole summer.

6) I climbed Long's Peak, a 14,000-er outside of Estes Park, Colorado.

7a) I hate red paint on walls. Not YOUR walls! If you have red paint on your walls, it is lovely.
7b) I am a people pleaser. See 7a.
There you have it. Now to nominate. I don't think I even know 7 bloggers, but I'll do my best.
Lindsay from Gietzen Ground
Dee from Riz-Bitz
You ladies are Beautiful Bloggers!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Epic Hair Fail

What I am about to show you is downright embarrassing, but so hilarious that I had to share. These are honest-to-goodness attempts to do my daughter's hair. As in, I was really trying! These are not jokes! But they turned out so funny I had to take pictures. Er...maybe a little too much baby oil.
At least she's working this style

My attempt at pig tails.
I did the clip on the side and it turned out okay, but is tough to get a picture of since she keeps turning to look at the camera.
Her hair is SO long. It's at that straggly stage. Maybe I'll just stick to headbands from now on. If you have any tips for me, Ava would appreciate it :0)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Baby Steps

Hello there,

I am making a bit of headway on my projects. I wrote them all down on a list last week. Oh boy, it was a long list! So, I'm trying to just stick to one area. I chose the office, since it'll probably go the fastest and involves the least painting.

I added another jute pencil holder-thingy to the desktop plans. We had this very modern looking pencil holder already. Now there are two! See, it looks less lonely this way.
I have been getting into Mod Podging lately. I really wanted to try Mod Podging the plastic file bin that sits on our desk. I used fabric from Joann's. Seriously, it took me three visits to the store and multiple websites of searching to find fabric. Mr. Wonderful offered to watch Ava so I could browse at my leisure. I was still there for about an hour! I didn't take before pics, as I'm sure you know what a plastic filing tub looks like. I didn't even sand it or anything before I started. I started on one end, first brushed the tub with podge, then the back of the fabric and smoothed as I went along. I did two coats of podge over the top. I trimmed the top edges with a swiss army knife to make it look even. I had to go slow and do some creative folding to make it work, but I'm pretty pleased with the result:

I also did a pretty box that I got a gift in for Christmas. I really like the way it looks together! Mr. Wonderful cleaned the desk off last weekend, so it's really starting to come together. There are a few more pieces to work on, though. Centsational Girl (love!) did a series on organizing and pointed out that when your filing box is pretty it feels less like work to do your bills! So true. In fact, I'm gonna go file right now!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Featuring the Work of Mr. Wonderful

Several years ago there was an article in Real Simple magazine about turning your personal pictures into art for your home. It looked like a great way to personalize your home, and it stuck with me. After Mr. Wonderful and I got married, I loved the idea of using a picture from our honeymoon for art. Unfortunately, the cost of getting a canvas made of your pictures is prohibitive. It generally starts at around $100. So I sighed and tucked that idea away for another day....

Until Mr. Wonderful surprised me one day! He had the canvas printed for about $45 at the FedEx store, made his own frame and stapled it around the back. It is such a cheery memory and picture. (especially on gray, dreary, Februrary 22nd days. I mean, gray, dreary days.) Look at the color of that water! Here's a close-up of Mr. Wonderful's handiwork. You could also have the color strech around the sides if you choose. Doesn't that fold look great?
Mr. Wonderful customizes on the cheap! I'm so thankful for my creative and handy husband!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Clearing out "Valuable Real Estate" (Thx, Nester!)

For how much we have gone to being an "e" society, there sure is a ton of PAPER in our lives. I am amazed at the sheer quantity that enters our house on a day to day basis. Mr. Wonderful is an electronics-oriented person, and he helps bring me into the 20th century. So when we started combining our files (read: PAPER) he wanted to get a scanner/printer/copier, scan our old papers in, and recycle the documents. What I heard? DECLUTTER! Yay! I'm all in.

As you can see, it is kind of a messy process. It took some time to get them all in, decide what we needed to still keep a paper copy of, and shred the old ones. But all our documents now fit in half a file drawer. It doesn't take long to keep up with the new documents either. I have a "to scan" file on top of our desk. Handy dandy. We try to do a good job of going through our mail regularly, and recycling things we don't want right away. But we fail a lot more than we succeed at that! Who am I kidding? You've seen my desk.
Here's what we DID keep:
  • receipts for major purchases
  • pay stubs for the current year
  • retirement documents
  • tax documents for the past 7 years
  • Investment documents
  • Some important medical/dental/vision benefit statements

The rest is stored on our hard drive (and backed up). We ended up using the ABC method for organizing our paper documents.

A is for Action. Action documents are anything that we need to take action on. To pay, to mail, etc.

B is for Basic. These are our basic working documents that we will add to over time. Pay stubs, bills, receipts, etc.

C is for classic. Classic documents are those that we don't use on a monthly basis, but are very important. Birth certificates, wills, deeds, etc.

Action documents are generally stored on our desktop file for easy access. Basic and classic documents are stored in our file cabinet or on our computer.

I got most of these ideas from other websites, like Want What You Have and Flylady.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

As promised, here are a few pictures of Ava and her tutu:


Her hairpiece was done by my friend Nicole. She does beautiful work! I'll be sure to post her website link when it is up and running.

Pictures were taken by our friend Rhonda who has a little studio in her basement. Thanks Rhonda! I got the photos taken for Mr. Wonderful's Valentine's Day gift. Plus a photo printed mouse pad so he can see his little ballerina while he is at work.

This is the photo that convinced me to chop off my hair. Plus the little fist that likes to pull on it.

This one is my favorite.

I have to say that we don't usually go this girly with Ava, but it was a lot of fun. I didn't think that we'd get good photos, because the first few times I put the tutu on her it went right into her mouth, but they are so cute!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Where I'm Coming From

I thought it would be fun to give you a bit of background info on our little home. I find that it helps me to know where other bloggers are coming from when I know something about their life and how they think about their home.

Our home is a recovering bachelor pad. Mr. Wonderful bought it about six years ago when he was a single guy and didn't like apartment living. He had anywhere from 2-4 people living here at any given time as roommates. It was the epitome of a bachelor pad. There was the free, incredibly uncomfortable couch. All the walls were white(ish). There was, we shall say, no cleaning routine. (You might be able to delete the word "routine" from that last sentence). This was the case for about four-and-a-half-years.

I didn't see my husband's bedroom until about halfway through our engagement. I thought he was being protective of my purity, but it turns out he was a little sheepish about the state of his room!

Housekeeping had the potential to be the most problematic area in our marriage. We are pretty compatible in most areas. (In fact, in our pre-marital counseling, our pastor told us that we are "disgustingly compatible.") But while Mr. W sees a house as a place to live, I obsess over houses. I have this deep desire to create order in them. I am thankful to be able to say that God was faithful to teach us how to come to a middle ground in this area. He gave me the patience to build a home slowly so I could do so without being overbearing. He gave Mr. W love for me, and a desire to serve me, even when he doesn't understand my obsession!

Here is a picture from our Valentine's Day date! Mr. W cooked me dinner (fettuccine alfredo with chicken and chocolate peanut butter cake for dessert!) and we watched the Olympics, while some friends offered to watch Ava. It was so relaxing! Thank you, Mr. Wonderful!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Things are finally coming together for old Liz Lemon

Maybe I should just call this blog "Quotes From 30 Rock." It's so addicting!

I am delving into the world of Mod Podge! I wanted to start small to practice, as I am craft challenged. I saw some Mod Podged binder clips somewhere in blogdom, and I had some binder clips I wanted to pretty up! Maybe my craftlessness is turning.(things are finally coming together for old Ally Lemon...) I just looked through a magazine, found some cute backgrounds and cut them to fit the black part of the binder clips. Then I applied Mod Podge to the binder clip, and the back of the magazine paper, and stuck it to the binder clip. I started on one end and tried to smooth the paper to the edges as I went to the other side to prevent bubbles. I put a layer of podge over the top and let it dry for about 15 minutes, added the word on top using the same steps. I let it dry again and did one more coat for good measure.
I'm using the binder clips in our laundry basket to keep the canvas bag from slipping down (over and over and over...) so I used "laundry" like words.

It was a fun project to practice Mod Podging. There will be more Mod Podging in my future. For more fun projects, check out It's hardcore!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Five Minute Free Kitchen Makeover

I could not believe the difference this made in my kitchen. How it looks AND how it feels. Look at this fridge. Look at it! It's ridiculous. It does have some wonderful things displayed. In the upper right hand corner you can see the picture I was talking about in my last post. "Paid in full" document from one of Mr. Wonderful's school loans. Ava's ultrasound picture. But I was ready for a change. So I took it all off! It gives me some breathing room. Some blank space in our home. Makes it feel less cluttered. It made me more accountable for making sure I have a place for everything. And it prepares us for what I ultimately would love to do with the fridge. Looking for the fridge in the link? Why, it's underneath the beadboard of course! (dying, dying, dying, I love this so much. She did it herself. So genius.)

But for now, I'm loving THIS!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Oh Heavenly Day!

Most of the time I feel like I can't get going on a lot of projects. It feels like there is a roadblock at every turn. I'm just not a naturally crafty person. I'm not a cutthroat organizer like my mom (seriously, you should see her work. Its ridonkeykong.) But yesterday the heavens opened, the angels started singing and I actually accomplished something.

I've been working on getting some pictures on the wall in the living room and the master. In the living room we have kind of a fun vibe going on, so I wanted to hang some more pictures from our honeymoon and just some fun times. One of the roadblocks I encountered was that a couple of the frames I wanted to use only had easel backs and not hooks. Thanks to mom (see?) I had a tool kit that included hardware for frames. So I used some tiny nails and put a hook on this bamboo frame that we bought on our honeymoon. (Antigua. Heavenly!) Almost 2 years ago. I guess its about time I got around to using it! On Young House Love, I was reading about how they use strips from a photo booth they rented for their wedding as art. Well, it just so happens that we have one of those from a wedding we went to a couple of years ago, and I had just taken said photo off my fridge when I was cleaning it. (Can you hear the angels singing?) Isn't it cute and fun? We had such a good time at the wedding and I thought it would add to the fun factor in our living room. Roadblock! The couple's (though they are lovely) name and wedding date are on the picture!

Well, in the said tool kit, there happened to be a roll of electric tape (heavens opening...) I personally like to call it "custom matting." This frame only had an easel back as well. I ended up using a swiss army knife to cut a long horizontal rectangle in the top of the back (it is basically cardboard) and hung it on the nail from that.

Not bad, eh?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Storage. Not just for plastic tubs.

One way that you can cut the clutter living in a small space is to look for pieces with storage built into them. For example, my sister gave me these excellent end tables when I moved. (She did the tile mosaic on the top. So creative!) We have two of them, so there are six extra drawers for storage. Much more than if we had typical table-style end tables. Plus I love the hardware on them.
Other ways you can add storage is by using ottomans with a top that comes off, a chest for a coffee table, a stack of vintage suitcases as a bedside table, or a dresser as a changing table or sideboard. You want your furniture to multi-task in small spaces. If you have any tips, please leave a comment and share!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Adding some texture

I'm getting started on a project for our office area. When I picture the office area, I really wanted some natural textures incorporated. I have seen other bloggers use jute twine in their projects, and it looks easy, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Here are my supplies: I used a tin can with the label taken off. To prevent sharp edges, the top of this can was taken off with a safety can opener (LOVE those things). I got the twine at Ace Hardware (I love the selection there and the service was incredible.) Basically I glued the twine in a spiral around the can and kept going!
I used waaaay too much hot glue, though, so for my next one I'm going to try to use less and really push the twine together as I go along. It looks a little forlorn all by itself, but I think it'll look really good on the desktop with the other stuff. And such a green craft!

I'm going to link this to DIY day at A Soft Place to Land (with THE Kimba, who FYI, commented on my rug! Woot!)


High Storage

This is a picture of the upper cabinets in our kitchen. Whoever designed the kitchen put cabinets from floor to ceiling! Even the toe kicks are only about an inch high. I see a lot of houses today with cabinets that don't reach the ceiling. For a situation like that, it would be a great place to display items that work with your decor. I love that I don't have to worry about creating "vignettes" because I have no horizontal space! I'm terrible at stuff like that. You're going to have to ask The Nester about that. While for a shortie like me it doesn't seem super practical, its a great place to keep candles, vases, and other stuff I don't need to get into very often. It's going to look so good painted! I can't wait to get started!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Underbed storage

Back at it! We just got our new computer (!) up and running, so I've been away a bit.
I realized recently that we are not using the space underneath our bed and our guestroom bed. This is prime real estate in a small home! I decided to use the space under our guestroom bed as gift wrap storage.

We have a TON of gift bags from our wedding and our baby showers. When you get married and have a baby in a 15 month span of time they tend to pile up. Also, we almost exclusively use gift bags for the reuse aspect of them. That's why I decided on this storage solution.

Since they fold flat, I just got some cardboard underbed storage boxes from the dollar store. I folded the mountains of tissue paper flat as well to be reused.
So we went from this piled up in the basement:

To sliding these away under the bed:

These are the boxes I used from the Dollar Store:

They do the job just fine for something you won't be in and out of very often. I'm happy with how it frees up the basement space (another one of our projects). And with the amazing number of babies due at our church and in our circle of friends, we'll hopefully weed through those gift bags and free up some space for other things.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A bit of healthy accountability


I'm about to share with you some of the more...unsightly corners of our casa. They are the places that need some help. But thankfully the ideas are flowing. But it's gonna take awhile.

Behold! Our stained counter tops. They are white and speckled. Some would say that speckled is good because it hides the spots, but they pretty much just look LIKE spots to me. We're planning to tackle our kitchen this spring or summer. Which should be interesting, because we don't have a budget for it. Or any of what is to follow....But! We're going to paint the cabinets, and get new counter tops, as well as install a bead board back splash as well as other tasty ideas I have stolen from other bloggers. Mwahaha...

Gasp! I know, this is not like those other blogs, with their beautiful glossy pictures and their fabulous for less glamour. Nope, we're getting down and dirty today! This is the top of our stairs, which is shockingly right next to our back door (where pretty much everyone enters). Not very welcoming. AND it has potential to serve a purpose that is not being realized. This is a big no-no when you are trying to live in a small space.

Headed down the stairs. I don't even know what kind of material is on the walls. But it seems to be some kind of fiber-y board that has been painted different colors over the years. Blaze orange, green, and now white.

Next, onto our office area. Our office is currently located in the "butler's pantry". It is really just an extra wide hallway, that we will someday steal space from to put a bathtub in. BUT I'm very excited for the office, because I've been doing a lot of Mod Podge research, and Mr. Wonderful gave me full reign to transform his file cabinet! Plus, we have this fabulous library table from my parents to work with.

Lastly (for now) our coffee table. With these monstrous brown couches and a brown coffee table and natural wood floors and trim (I know, I know, everyone is painting theirs white) our living room is being taken over by a lot of dark brown. So the least I can do is paint our coffee table. In the past, I really didn't like our coffee table, especially the hole where there used to be a drawer and now there isn't (the hole is on the other side of the table). However, lately I've been picturing it white with a little shelf where that drawer used to be, which is the perfect size for our laptop, or mmm...maybe Ticket to Ride (our favorite game. Small obsession. Very minor.) But I think the shape of it will come out more with some white paint.

Do excuse the mess. I know I should probably try to make my house look pristine for pictures, but I always get a little discouraged by "perfect" houses I see on the web, so I want to try and be real here.

So there you have it! If you don't start seeing some progress on these projects, tell me to get in gear! The painting projects might take some time, as it's cold here and I don't want to paint indoors anymore!

Go With the Flow

Continuing our series on small space living, let's talk about spacial flow.

I recently learned from a Young House Love article that round tables are better for spacial flow than cornered tables. Which makes a lot of sense, now that they mentioned it. I would start looking for a new coffee table for our living room, but I don't think it would work for two reasons. #1. we have an unnatural addiction to Ticket to Ride, which fits perfectly on our table. And #2. a circular coffee table would look funny off-set on a circular rug. And I am not making another one. :0)

Using a round ottoman mixes up the shapes used in this configuration, and makes it so much easier to move around. You cannot DIY that view, my friend!

Well, I'm off to try and figure out how to get some of these fabulous pictures to show up from the web instead of just putting up links. Because this blog post is looking BOR-ing.

I know! I'll post a cute picture of Ava!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tutu tutorial

"Tutu cute". "Gaga for tutus. " So many options!

A friend of mine made a couple tutus for our other friend who is due this month, and she shared her secrets with me. Once again, it hadn't occurred to me that one could make one of these adorable baby accessories rather than pay $25 for them. But it is a no-sew, super easy and super CHEAP project. Not to mention that tutus are the latest in baby couture :0)


A length of ribbon. I chose pink satin ribbon and I got a yard of it, but it would probably be smarter to, you know, measure the waist of your prima ballerina.

Tulle. I ended up using 2.5 yards, but I've seen tutorials that use SIX yards. Depends on your desired level of fluffiness.

And that is seriously it!

I figured this out as I went. All you have to do is cut rectangles of the tulle, and tie them onto the ribbon. I'm guessing my rectangles were about 6" wide and 12" long. At first I used knots, and then I started looping the ends through and around the ribbon like so:

I don't really notice a difference either way. I just kept tying the tulle on until it covered the ribbon to where I had just enough left to tie a bow in the back.

At the end I just trimmed it with a scissors until it looked even to me. I should probably burn the ends of the ribbon to stop it from fraying too. The cost was about $4.00 (with coupons at Joanne) Don't you wish I had posted pictures of Ava wearing the tutu? Well, stay tuned, because they are coming. And the cute factor is going to go thorough the roof, so watch out!