Sunday, December 18, 2011

365 Project: Week 51 - Merry Christmas!!!

It's been rainy and surprisingly warm in Indiana this week... so, naturally the water level is 8 feet over flood stage and there are actually new green plants sprouting up - what happened to WHITE Christmas?!  :)

I've been working quite a bit taking lots of basketball, wrestling, and swimming photos at schools and working in the office getting those photos ready for print. I've also been organizing and finishing up some Christmas crafting and wrapping (which I think is finally done!) I'm trying my best to get everything organized and stored so that we can start thinking about how baby Olive's room is going to take shape. Right now, it's still kind of a mess, but it's much better than it was 2 weeks ago! We've decided to leave the walls the light blue color they were when we moved in - whether baby is a boy or a girl - but so far, that's really the only decisions we've made regarding that room - so stay tuned for details. 

I hope you're ready for Christmas! (it's exactly ONE WEEK from today!!) We'll be leaving next Friday for Wisconsin and are looking forward to seeing lots of family - including Justin's mom, who we haven't seen in FOREVER! (Seriously... not since our wedding 2.5 years ago!) AND our new niece, Rylee, who was born about 2 weeks ago! We're going to try to get a lot of family time in in the week that we're there! Happy travels to you if you're going to be out-and-about also!  Merry Christmas!!

Baby Olive is on the way!!

365 Project: Week 50 - Christmas Frenzy!!

This week, I've pretty much finished up all the 'Christmasification' in my house and am almost done wrapping and boxing up gifts to make the trip to Wisconsin next week! I've been swooning over how gorgeous our Christmas tree is (I want to keep it up all year!) and decided to take a few days this week and document some of my favorite ornaments. I've also spent lots of time watching Christmas movies while wrapping gifts! This really IS the most wonderful time of the year! (if only it really were a 'White' Christmas instead of a 50 degree, brown, rainy one!)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

365 Project: Week 49: Deck the Halls! (with Christmas Craft Tutorials!)

It not only snowed outside this week (which has since all melted away, but was nice while it lasted!) but I spent most of the week decorating our house and crafting Christmas cards! (See a simple step-by-step on how I made them below!) We've also redesigned our over-cluttered and under-used loft area upstairs in our house - creating a very cozy media/entertainment space complete with a projector and screen! (Justin is in his glory! Although with the new sound system, we may all be deaf by summer...)

Christmas music has been playing and I've been cleaning up green and red fabric scraps all week! I love the Christmas season and all the magic that comes with it! :)  I was even inspired to make my own tree skirt from a tutorial I found on Pinterest! It is made of cheap white fabric,a canvas drop cloth, and a glue gun. It was SUPER EASY (just as the tutorial promised) and is a great accent to the tree!
The tutorial is here and my example is below. (I added a couple of rings of leftover red fabric I had and some of the scraps from the canvas drop cloth - which happened to be a lovely shade of burlap-looking tan - just to add a little color) Mine turned out a little more of a 'square' shape than a circle, but once it was draped around the tree, I didn't even notice! (You can see it under the tree in the 365 Project photo above)

Please excuse the bad-quality photo - I couldn't wait to see it under the tree so I just snapped a quick photo with my phone!

Cloth/Paper Sewn Christmas Tree Cards

1. Choose 3 contrasting fabrics in Christmas colors (I just used some leftovers I had - a patterned red/white, a green, and a tan canvas (actually some leftover canvas drop cloth that I used for my tree skirt)

2. Cut triangles out of fabric in 3 different sizes (I made templates out of thin cardboard to use so I didn't have to measure each one out.) You'll need 3 triangles for each card, one of each fabric, so cut as many as you'll need. I made 50 cards, so I cut 150 triangles total.

I mixed it up and used different fabrics for the large, medium, and small triangles, just to make each card different.

3. Cut card stock paper to the size you want your cards to be. My cards were 4" x 5 1/4" to fit the invitation envelopes I had on hand, but these would look great larger too, just make sure to cut your triangles to fit the front of the card. I used all green card stock because I had lots of it and it looked good with my fabric choices - I actually ended up using 4 different shades of green, which made each one even more unique.

4. Line up fabric triangles on front of card and sew a straight line. I used a sewing machine loaded with dark red thread and just held my triangles in place as I sewed. I started just above the tip of the largest triangle and sewed straight down and about 1" past the base of the triangles, to create a 'trunk'. (This step only took about 20 seconds per card!)

5. Trim any excess thread, add your own greeting inside and you're FINISHED! Feel free to add any embellishments you'd like - I kept mine just like this because I liked the simplicity of the shapes, but buttons and/or embroidery would look pretty great on them too! You may also want to try some other 'fancy' stitches on your machine, I tested a few but ended up liking just the straight stitch the best 

It didn't take me very long at all to make each one of these cards and the greatest part was: I didn't have to buy ANY materials to make these - I was able to draw from my 'craft arsenal' of materials and had everything from the fabric scraps to the envelopes! (I'm starting a new resolution for myself - STOP BUYING new materials until I use up some of the ones I have - and using what I had for this project was very satisfying!)

365 Project: Week 48: So Much to be Thankful For!

Instead of a lovely light snow, we battled a soaking RAIN while cutting our Christmas tree. Warmer? Yes. Messier? Absolutely.
This week was spent counting our blessings: Spending time traveling, eating, baking, and celebrating in Wisconsin with family, chopping down our first real Christmas tree together. We really have so much to be thankful for in our life and it's good to remind ourselves of these things this time of year! Have you decked your halls for Christmas yet?? I'm loving having a bigger space to decorate and am looking forward to wrapping some Christmas gifts!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

365 Project: Week 47: Christmas Crafts!

This week was very productive - I've jumped in head-first to Christmas crafting! Many of the photos are only partial projects because they may end up being gifts in a few weeks! We got to Skype with Justin's sister and her family on Friday night which was SO AWESOME... I really wish we didn't live so far away, but thank goodness for technology!! 

At long last, here are finally some photos from the AMAZING tote bag that Lisa from Git Down Kitty made for me as part of an 'Art Trade'! You should check out all the awesome stuff she makes, she's truly a talented quilter/goddess of the sewing machine and not only made me this amazing bag, but this wall hanging too if you remember! These gifts give me goosebumps!! 
Just to be clear, this bag is HUGE!! The inside pocket pictured above fits full size notebooks/folders. I could seriously tote Bella's full-grown 65-pound self around in it! (and it's constructed so strongly I probably could!)

I also took some time this week to reflect on WHO I'm thankful for and WHAT it is about them that I'm most thankful and sent them a note to let them know -- have you done anything similar to celebrate Thanksgiving? I hope to start some new traditions that make Thanksgiving more about recognizing WHAT it is that I'm thankful for and not just eating too much turkey and pie... and today I'm SO thankful that we're packing up the Olive circus (Bella and Jasper get to come too!) tomorrow and heading to Wisconsin for a week to spend some much-anticipated family time!!  I hope you're able to enjoy time with your family this week and stop to think for a minute WHAT it is that you're most thankful for - it's amazing how much comes to mind! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

365 Project: Week 46?

First of all, it's seems there's been a pretty big week mix-up... I realized that there's no way that this is week 42, and there's only a month left... unless there's 10 weeks in December (and PLEASE don't let THAT be the case) So I did some back-tracking and realized that I doubled up on weeks 3, 10 and 34... and I'm still at a loss at where the other missing week is... 10 points to you if you can figure it out :) For now, it seems that we're back on track...and with any luck, should end on week 52... *fingers crossed*

Secondly, I'm not entirely happy with this week's photos... the weather has been CRAZY windy and rainy, which makes it impossible to get out-and-about and I haven't been feeling all that great, so I've had no ambition to do it anyways. All excuses aside, almost all of the photos this week were taken of random things in my house that caught my eye or that made my day (see said love note from Isaiah and birthday invitation from Janessa:)

I've also been working on quite a few projects (besides the jigsaw puzzle... that's my mindless activity to take a break from the projects) but unfortunately can't post them as my photos of the day because they are intended as gifts for many of my diehard readers :) so they will have to stay my secret - but know that I AM actually doing creative things around here!  

**Side note: I took a photo today that will be posted NEXT week, of a FANTASTIC bag that my cousin-in-law (that term always makes me think of 'cousin Eddie' from National Lampoon's...which is in no way relates to Lisa AT ALL! :) made for me that I'm excited to share with you - and I know she's been waiting for the photos - they're coming, Lisa!!** 

Are you excited for the holidays?!! I know I AM!! I'm so excited to go home for Thanksgiving next week and see my family for some food, fun, and birthday festivities!! I'm also getting very 'in the spirit' for Christmas with all the projects I'm working on (although I refuse to decorate or dust off Trans Siberian Orchestra until after Thanksgiving) 

I hope you're doing well! I hope you thanked a veteran this week on 11-11-11 - I know I am certainly very thankful to each and every one of them and everything they've sacrificed and continue to sacrifice every day! (Forgive me for not taking a more 'festive' photo that day...)
Remember my challenge that I will be posting ON TIME for my remaining Project 365 posts! :)

365 Project: Week 41 - Alphabet Project!

First of all, let me apologize to all of you faithful followers who have been waiting patiently for a new post... It seems that I'll be posting 2 weeks together again! It's not that I'm not taking a photo every day, it's just that I haven't been getting around to posting them! 

I realized today that I only have a little over a month left and my 365 project will be complete!! (I started on January 1, 2011) I've been throwing around some ideas in my head for what will come next, but nothing final yet. It will be weird to not have a 'purpose' to blogging every week, so I'll have to come up with something similar. Knowing that I'm so close to the end, I'm challenging myself to be ON TIME with my final posts from now until then. It's not like I CAN do it, I've been been getting lazy I guess!

This week, as you can see, I've finally gotten around to taking some 'Alphabet' pictures that spell out 'Olive'. I've been meaning to do this for many months now, just have never gotten around to it. I'd like to get every letter of the alphabet, and numerous choices for each letter. I know it's not an original concept, it's just fun to find all the many places letters can emerge from in everyday life! I don't know if I'll finish the alphabet before the end of the year, but I'll try to get a few more banked up!

Besides the Alphabet, I have WAY too much Halloween candy leftover and completed a coaster project this last week - it was super cheap and easy!! I followed this tutorial, but instead of putting felt underneath, I put cork squares! I highly recommend trying them! They look great! (and make great gifts!! *hint* *hint* Christmas is right around the corner!)

Stay tuned! Week 42 is on the way!

Monday, October 31, 2011

365 Project: Week 40 - Happy Halloween!!

This week I enjoyed spending a daytime date on Monday exploring Indianapolis, spending cold mornings inside and warm afternoons outside, and finishing an entire book in one week! (I know get what all the hype over 'Wicked' is all about!)   I didn't have to work very many days this week, so I had a very relaxing week full of reading and Bella-walking :)

Tonight I'm super excited to pass out candy to all the kidlets in the neighborhood! We've never lived in a place that had any trick-or-treaters, so this will be the first year I don't have to eat all the candy all by myself! (Although I've all but overdosed on candy corn this week... I think I will be glad to not see it again for another year!) Justin has been at a work conference in Wichita all weekend and is missing out on Halloween at home so it seems the kids will have nothing to fear at our house! :) (he's usually the one that scares children and makes them cry and such... I just enjoy handing them candy and seeing all their cute costumes!)

Happy Halloween!! Send all your TWIX (& M&M's) my way!  Here's a little Halloween cheer for you:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

365 Project: Week 39 - Catch-up Week!

It seems I've gotten a little backlogged with my posts, so I guess this is a 2-for-1 week! For individual photo comments, see them on my Flickr page!

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

365 Project: Week 38 - A Trip to the Mountains!

Don't forget to visit my Flickr page to read individual captions for each photo!

This weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting my good friend, Liz, in Denver, CO for a long weekend! I've never seen the mountains before, so this was an extra-awesome trip! Liz humored me by driving me around to all the 'must see' places around Denver and Colorado Springs and my trip to the mountains was complete with:
• A bike tour of downtown Denver (where I was almost flattened by a city bus...YIKES!)
• A train Ride through the mountains
• A trip to the pumpkin patch - and pumpkin carving! (A true Amanda/Liz tradition)
• Afternoon walks with Oliver
• Breakfast at a good 'ol family resturant
• An 'O.C.' comeback marathon :)

Definitely a full 3 days of awesomeness! The weather was GORGEOUS the entire time I was there, which I was so grateful for!  Check out some extra photos from my trip below!

Monday, October 10, 2011

365 Project: Week 37 - Beautiful Days and a Very Special Birthday!

What a great week! The weather was so gorgeous - Bella got 2, sometimes 3 walks every day, I was out doing some sports shoots in the afternoons (which is really enjoyable when the weather is this nice!), we hung out at Happy Hollow park (which is beautiful any time of year- but especially in the fall!) and we took a drive down to Rockville, IN where there are more hills and trees, which means even MORE fall goodness! :)

I made a delicious batch of applesauce on Tuesday thanks to my brother, Josh and his girlfriend, Katie for the great crock-pot tip! It was super easy, it turned out so great and my freezer is stacked to get me through the winter! (Mmmmm Mmmmm Mmmm!)

One of the most exciting things this week is that I started AND finished a crochet project in only 2 days! I found this video on YouTube (It is a SUPER easy pattern and the video is really easy to follow, which was helpful for someone like me who took on WAY too complicated of a pattern last year and got so frustrated I ditched the project altogether) I was REALLY impressed with the way it turned out - and it fits me perfectly! (which is nothing short of a small miracle compared to last year's attempt) I was so pumped about the success I had that I also crocheted a flower and added that too - yay for a project finally coming together! This could be the start of a beautiful relationship with crochet :)

It was also BELLA'S 2nd BIRTHDAY on Monday! It's hard to believe we've only had her for 2 years, seeing how much she's grown and how hopelessly in love we are with her :) We celebrated by giving her a extra-thick peanut butter sandwich 'cake' 
She LOVES peanut butter sandwiches... look at that longing in her eyes when we were holding it up for her :)
Just to put things in perspective, here's a picture of Bella on her very first walk ever in early December 2009, when we first brought her home:
How was she EVER this tiny?! :)

And here she is now - Supersized:

I hope your week is off to a good start - I'm off to Denver on Friday to see my very good friend, Liz - I'm excited to bring back photos of the mountains!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

365 Project: Week 36 - Fall is in the Air!

Remember to check out my Flickr page for captions to the photos - I don't always have time to explain them all here!
This week, it really started to feel like fall, and was pretty dreary most of the days. I've been enjoying the chill in the air and the changing colors and cozy nights - fall really is the coziest season ever! This week was topped off by a quick little trip to Wisconsin to see my brother and sisters - Thanksgiving was just too far away!  I've been pretty busy at work, but in the next few weeks, things should slow down significantly - and I'm REALLY looking forward to a short trip to Denver in 10 days!! Woo Hoo!! 

I hope you're enjoying all that fall has to offer - have you visited the pumpkin patch/apple orchard yet?!
The sista's at the Pumpkin Patch!

All the sibs loving us a warm bonfire on a chilly night!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

365 Project: Week 35 - A Week on the Go!

This past week, I worked and traveled quite a bit, so all of my photos this week were taken via my Samsung phone! (I've taken photos with my phone in the past, but never a whole week!)    **How is it Thursday already?! This week is flying by!)

To sum it up, 
1. Schools in Indiana delay school due to 'fog' ... (wienies!),
2. My car had about $900 worth of work done on it, which landed me in a new Ford Fusion for 3 days (somehow in the craziness over those 3 days, I failed to get a photo of it - AND the tons of equipment that was strategically placed inside it!) *sigh*...
3. Stuffed Green Peppers = greatest meal EVER!
4. We enjoyed plenty of cuddle time in front of the fire reading and relaxing on Sunday before we went over to our new 'football friends'' house to watch the Packers stomp on the Bears! Yay! (Thank goodness they're doing so well - we're a minority here in Chicago/Indianapolis territory!)
5. Who's loving fall? We are!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

365 Project: Week 34 - Tall things, Short things, and... Robots!

Remember to click on the photos in my Flickr photostream for individual comments!
This week, I did a lot of traveling from school to school for work, so many of my photos were taken on the road. I got to drive by the wind farms numerous times and even got to eat some school lunch! 

This weekend, Justin and I hit up some rummage sales and stumbled across Brookston's 'Apple and Popcorn Festival' on Saturday, where we were lucky enough to catch the Brookston beauty pageant/talent show, which was adorable! It was a gorgeous fall day to be out and about! On Sunday, we stopped by the 'Art on the Wabash' art fair, where we stumbled across 'Kitchen Robots', charming little robots created by a local artist who takes recycled/repurposed/thrifted pieces of metal and creates characters out of them - I fell in love with each and every one! 
 Click here to see some of the pieces she's already sold on Etsy. *Swoon!*

It's been feeling much more like fall around here... have you been crafting anything 'seasonal?' More importantly, have you checked out Sons of Anarchy, yet?! Episode 2 was just as good as the first!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Inspired Wednesday: Mandalas!!!

I haven't done an 'Inspired Wednesday' in a while, but when Leah, a former student of mine (one of the most amazing 7th graders ever...seriously awesome girl that I miss like crazy!) let me in on a little Eau Claire, WI news today, I HAD to share my excitement!

In 7th grade art, (which is what I taught in Wisconsin for 2 years before making the move to Indiana) I taught a fantastic unit about Mandalas, which are a Buddhist art form practiced by Tibetan monks as a form of meditation aimed at bringing peace and understanding to those who experience it. The 7th graders created their own mandalas with colored pencil based on a theme of their choosing, something that was special and important and told something about who they were. (I even created mandalas along with them every semester I taught it - it was so much fun! See below for my examples :) 
Can you guess the 'theme' and personal significance of each of my examples? :)
So... on with the story. There are some traveling monks that are IN EAU CLAIRE THIS WEEK demonstrating a real 'sand mandala' live at UW-Eau Claire!! Of COURSE this would be the year I'm not in Eau Claire to witness it ... I've been longing to see a real one being created since I started teaching this unit! I would have LOVED to take my students to this demonstration - hopefully some of them go on their own - they too were fascinated with the traditional process. Click HERE for more information about the monks in Eau Claire and check out the video on that site to see how laborious and time-consuming this process is. Here's a little time-lapse video from a presentation that was done at Dartmouth University in January:

To sum it up: Monks spend about a week laboriously creating a circular design (mandala) out of loose sand (or crushed marble) on a table top and at the end of the week perform a ceremony and sweep up the sand, destroying the entire mandala design. It is meant to show the circle of life, everything is born, lives and then dies. How amazing!! If you ever get the chance, GO SEE THIS!! (hint, hint... anyone near Eau Claire!!)

Monday, September 12, 2011

"It's Autumn!" and I'm Feeling Crafty!

This week, I've been feeling very crafty! Justin was away working from Wednesday - Saturday, so when I wasn't working, I had lots of time to start a few projects! I finished up (or almost finished...) a laptop sleeve for my computer (via a tutorial I found here, started some really fun (and easy!) cloth rosettes to add to that laptop sleeve (and possibly a few t-shirts!)- tutorial here, AND some amazingly charming stuffed cloth pumpkins via Martha Stewart here! I'll be posting full photos of these projects next week, when they're 'finished-finished' but for now, teaser process photos is all I've got! Fall is definitely in the air! :) (Despite the fact that it was 90 degrees today and is supposed to be equally hot tomorrow - fall actually feels like July in Indiana right now!)

This was also a huge week because SONS OF ANARCHY: Season 4 has begun!! Justin and I have been pretty head-over-heels for this show ever since it first began, and this season is off to a great start! (I know it seems strange, but it really is an amazing and addicting show - if I were you, I would start at Season 1, you'll see what I mean :) Justin and I wore our 'Wisconsin chapter' shirts around town on Tuesday and got tons of comments! (Especially at JoAnn fabrics, of all places... :) Here's a little 'Season 4 teaser' for you - get excited! :)

I've also jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon this week (thanks, Janessa!) and I've become mildly obsessed... and spent WAY too many hours flipping through the billions of amazing ideas and project inspirations! :) Check out my pins by clicking the 'Follow me on Pinterest' link on the right!

Have a great week!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

365 Project: Week 34 - Project Reveal!

Justin and I were able to spend quite a bit of time together this week/weekend and spent it exploring some new places and relaxing at home! We got to grill out numerous times to get as filled up on sweet corn as we can before the fall weather becomes too obvious to ignore. We got some 'new' furniture put in our house (more on that below) and spent some time with a couple of our new neighbors playing ping-pong and poker!

Over the long weekend, we took a drive down highway 52, just to see where it would lead. We found a whole lot of wind turbines, fields, and tiny towns with huge courthouses, accidentally making it all the way into Illinios! We found the birthplace of Dan Patch (in the random small town of Oxford... where they are REALLY proud of Dan Patch, judging by all the streets/buildings/watertowers/historical markers that bear his name), drove through quite possibly the largest Labor Day gathering place in the state of Indiana, and even stopped into a local tavern and chatted with a fellow who apparently has a photographic memory and knew more about Wisconsin (more specifically, Wisconsin high school sports mascots) than we did! It was a great way to spend a Friday evening!

On Saturday, Bella got to experience her first 'Great Lake' when we drove to Michigan City and trekked out through the sand dunes to the southern beach of Lake Michigan. It was a beautiful day to spend playing in the water and exploring a new town! For anyone that didn't know Bella when she was a young pup, she was TERRIFIED of water. She would gladly walk out into traffic before walking through a puddle... it was pathetic. Then one day, Justin threw her beloved ball into the river and off she went- she's been a swimmer/water eater ever since! 

Do you remember when I took this photo of Justin sawing our old table in half? It was a good quality table that we just couldn't figure what to do with in our new house. (At our old house, it was my 'work bench' in the garage) So much to Justin's delight, I asked him to cut it in half knowing that if my 'experimental project' didn't work out, we wouldn't be out anything, seeing as we were just going to get rid of the table anyway.
Justin has AMAZING sawing-straight-line skills! It was perfect!
The project is now finished and since it turned out really well, It's time to share it! 
One half of the table got a ORB paint job (inspired by Sherry from Young House Love's beloved spray paint color - which definitely lives up to the hype she gives it!) and now resides against a wall in our bedroom:
Voila! Instant accent table! The Oil-Rubbed-Bronze Metallic paint gives the table the perfect 'sheen'!
It really looks perfect in the room, since our bedside tables are also a black color and this wall really needed something (it's between our two bathroom doors, so anything bigger would be too big and in the way) I will eventually be adding more things to the table to add some 'height' but I didn't want to take a photo with an empty table, so for now it's a plant, some candles and a wedding photo :)

The other half got a good sanding job and a coat of the same Red Mahogany stain that I used for the dresser project in our guest bedroom and now resides underneath our wedding photo collage in the 'sitting room' area right when you walk in the front door. (To the right is the living room and down the hall to the left is the kitchen)
Again, I haven't yet figured out what to put on TOP of the table yet, but I couldn't wait to share :)
Both tables seem to fit perfectly in their surroundings and help to give some weight to these otherwise empty display walls. What do you think? We've been pretty inspired lately to just DO something with our extra not-really-good-for-anything furniture. It's helping us to fill in some empty areas of our house! 

How was your labor day weekend? I hope you enjoyed every minute of it- judging by the 50 degree weather outside today, fall isn't wasting any time!