Friday Four

Hey y’all!! It’s Friday (finally) & 60 degrees (also, FINALLY). Here are a few things that struck my fancy around the Internet this week:

1. This shirt. I must have it in every color.

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2. How beautiful would these walls look in a closet with some industrial shelving and hanging? Lovelovelove.

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3. The back of this dress is INSANE. Seriously.

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4. As soon as I saw this was part of Emily Henderson’s house, I was all, “Facepalm! Of course it is!” Really though, how much are you digging the color? And that chair!

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Have a great weekend, guys!

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Longwood Gardens

Last month, I took a trip to Delaware to visit my cousin during spring break.

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“Delaware?” you say questioningly. Yes, Delaware. It’s gorgeous & warmer than New Hampshire & I adore any chance to see this crazy family of mine.

IMG_8843While I was there, we did a family photo shoot at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. If you haven’t visited there yet and live nearby, DO IT. You won’t regret it.

2014-04-20_0001In the early 1900’s, the land was developed by Pierre duPont, who started piecing the entire gardens together. We started in the conservatory, which was completed in 1973 as a replacement for the 1928 Azalea House. The Conservatory was not only the most incredibly beautiful montage of exotic plants and flowers, but one of the sunniest and best smelling places I’ve ever visited.

2014-04-20_0002My mouth dropped when we walked in. Is this real life? A fern wall? The Orchid Festival had just concluded, but we were lucky enough to see many of the displays still out.

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2014-04-20_0005I mean, really?? So gorgeous!

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2014-04-20_0006My favorite part, though, was the Orchid Room. There was literally every single kind of orchid you could think of in there hanging on the walls.

2014-04-20_0007The orchid on the left is self sustaining, since it catches drops of water in the bottom part of the flower to help nourish it. I loved the pink color of the orchids on the right!

2014-04-20_0008There was an entire section of desert plants (you know I was allllll over those succulents).

2014-04-20_0009I was amazed at how the Conservatory housed at least 4 different climates for all of the different plants.

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2014-04-20_0012Orchids, daisies, roses, cacti, orange trees, blueberry bushes, bonsai trees, banana trees, ranunculus…you name it, they had it.

We walked over to the duPont house after we toured the Conservatory, and he had a small conservatory connecting the original house and the addition he built…I’d love to have a mini conservatory like that! My favorite part was that the 6 foot windows on the sides retract into the ground in the summer!

2014-04-20_0010Just beautiful. I’d HIGHLY recommend Longwood if you’re ever in the area!

And because I can’t let you go there without some amazing restaurant recommendations, we ate at BBC Tavern & Grill in Greenville (try the nachos & cheesesteak egg rolls), Pizza by Elizabeths (order the spinach & artichoke dip & the Shannon pizza {fig jam, gorgonzola cheese & prosciutto} with the champagne Bay Breeze cocktails), & Taverna (hands down, MAKE SURE you get the coal fired vegetables, & if they have it, get the butternut squash ravioli). You’re welcome.

How was your weekend? Mine was great, minus the time I had to go a local firefighter’s wake and funeral. (In case you were wondering, firefighter funerals are the worst kind, especially when they are buried with military honors. Tears for days.)

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So you can imagine that when I got home I was a little down, and what better way to cheer myself up with some chocolate? I found these at the grocery store a few months ago & I’m completely obsessed with them.

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I figured that I could save a few bucks and make them myself, & it couldn’t have been easier.

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First, I cut the bananas into fairly equal slices (they were ripe but still hard, if that makes any sense. You want to be able to cut them without squishing them).

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I then created a double boiler for the chocolate (I ended up using 1/2 dark, 1/2 milk chocolate chips) using a large pot of water and even larger metal bowl to melt the chocolate.

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Once it was melted, I simply put the slices in and flipped them a few times to get fully coated.

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Then I put them on a foil lined tray and stuck them in the freezer for about 2 hours (or until the chocolate is hard).

IMG_9183They’re so freaking yum; I made sure to test one (or three) before sharing the recipe. You’re welcomeπŸ™‚. Make them today!

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Friday Four

This week (much like last, if I’m being honest) is dragging on forever. And I know, I know, I’m working so much (I should be happy I have a job), life is stressful (I should be happy I’m alive), I’m still freezing (yeah…nothing thankful about this), blah blah blah.

However I’d like to say for the record that since last Friday I’ve worked 51 hours and still have another 48 to go until I see a day off, AND it was 20 degrees this morning. I hate you, New England.

But I digress. Here are a few things that have helped me cope with the onslaught of work:

1. Avocado on rice cakes. Seriously y’all, I’m pretty sure this is the end all be all to my snacking. I’ve been eating it every day this week (mostly because I haven’t been home long enough in a week to actually cook, but hey…). Just smush up half an avocado on a rice cake and then drizzle the tiniest amount of soy sauce over it. Instant yum.

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2. One saving grace about Aprils is that the really colorful, watercolory sunsets start happening again, and the summer light makes its comeback.

2014-04-17 19.30.54(Ignore the horrendous flash that decided to go off.)

3. However, the down side is the fact that its spider season, y’all! I currently have 3 upside down jars in my house trapping spiders.

2014-04-13 21.18.08Please die. DIE DIE DIE.

4. And last but not least, Easter is on Sunday, which means Monday, all the good leftover candy is marked down by 50%. If you see a crazy lady buying ALL the Whopper Eggs, it’s just me. Walk away.

Have a great Easter weekend, guys!

Closet Envy

Perhaps it’s the bipolar weather that we’re experiencing, where I was in shorts and flip flops on Saturday and then we woke up to an inch of snow this morning; perhaps it’s the fact that things have been upside down and sideways this last week; or perhaps it’s because I realized an entire tower of the Fireman’s pants fell down at some point in the last few days, causing a major jam in the closet door that I haven’t even thought how I’m going to tackle yet.

I have organizing closets on the brain. I’ve been in and out of my seasonal clothing bin more times than I can count in the last few days, but I’m not at the stage to commit and pull warm clothing out (ya know, because it might snow again). I’m sure that when I do, I’m going to do a huge clothing purge from my winter clothes and try to reorganize the whole thing again. Am I the only one who dreams about having a walk in closet? No? Excellent. Here are a few of my favorites from over the years:

closet1I love how airy this feels, even though it’s narrow and long. The ceiling packs a great punch of color to complement the white cabinetry, and those angles around the window? Lovelovelove. Oh, & PS: it has a rolling ladder. Sold.

closet2Um. Drooling. Is there anything I need to point out about this one? I not only adore the built ins for the shoes, but I love the variations in the heights of the hanging spaces. And the glass topped island? Gorg.

closet6This one is just so simple and sweet & I love that it’s just out in the open.

closet4There’s definitely something that I love about a closet with a window of some sort! This one just pours light in, and that ottoman is to die for!

closet5I love how the over the door space was utilized as well, which makes the upper part so perfect for seasonal things, or chunky bags that wouldn’t fit anywhere else.

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And just because everyone needs to have a whimsical closet, I give you this. Seriously, the most fun one of all!

After looking at all of these, I’m definitely itching to get ahold of my closet now & revamp it (again)!

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2014 Goals

I just found a list of my 2014 goals, and even though it’s April, better late than never, right?

1. Paint more. Not furniture, actual painting, which I used to do so much of when I lived in California. Time to bust out some canvases!

2. Volunteer somewhere.

3. Be thankful everyday.

4. Cut spending in half.

5. Expand Page Photography.

6. Attend a photography workshop.

7. Blog more.

8. Write.

9. Travel.

10. Pay off my car.

11. Do more DIY.

12. Be more present in the moment.

13. Social Media Free Weekends.

14. Do a styled shoot.

15. Cook something new weekly.

16. Pass AEMT test.

So far I’ve crossed a few things off the list, and I’m definitely working on more as we speak. Honestly, having this posted will keep me accountable, instead of them just sitting in a notebook that keeps getting buried!!

Have you hit any of your goals for the year yet??

 

Unorthodox Planter

A few weeks ago I woke up with a raging headache and found a small Malibu bucket next to an empty container of mac and cheese on my kitchen counter.

It was a good night.

I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with the bucket, until I realized that I had a jade plant that was quickly outgrowing its container.

2014-04-06_0080Since there was no drainage in the bottom of the bucket, I put some big sea glass pieces in the bottom of the bucket.

2014-04-06_0081I added more soil, and VOILA!

2014-04-06_0082It’s quite happy in it’s new home.

2014-04-06_0083I’m glad I found this solution, because I have a funny feeling I’ll somehow end up with more buckets.

Hey guys! I’ve got a loooong picture filled post for y’all today, so buckle up & remember to keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times. Ready? Here we go.

I reupholstered my couch.

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I only wanted to burn it about 7 times & threw my hammer twice during the whole thing, so I’m no worse for wear. However, I’d recommend having someone around for a second set of hands. Take it from me.

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Heres what I started with. We have had a tan slipcover on it for 2 years but I was so frustrated with having to constantly tuck it back in every time I sat on it. So, one random Tuesday, I decided to take the slipcover off to see what the pattern was on it, and before I knew it, I had stripped half of the couch. Nothing like just jumping into a project with no warning. 2014-03-28_0002Originally, I was thinking about a dark gray couch (not too dark, but not light enough to be easily marked up). I searched high and low for fabrics, and basically accepted that I was going to pay no less than $75 for just material. Um. No.

Once I started ripping the couch apart (with absolutely no plan, by the way), I realized that I didn’t even have the time to wait around for material to show up in the mail, and realllllly needed supplies like, yesterday.

Off to Home Depot I went, and came home with a heavy duty canvas dropcloth, a new staple gun (I recommend it like crazy), and some Rit Dye from Walmart. And then I realized that my project just got a hell of a lot more complicated, since I now needed to hand dye my material.

I really like to just jump in with both feet, don’t I?

So first, dyeing fabric. I did it in the bathtub (which isn’t recommended, but we don’t have our own washing machine, so it was my only choice). First, I filled the tub and soaked my material thoroughly. In all the research that I did, I found that this is a crucial step, since you need to have all the material wet beforehand so the dye doesn’t look patchy.

2014-03-26_0006Once it had soaked enough, I filled an old tub with warm water, the entire bottle of Royal Blue dye, and half of the Black bottle. Then, I put the canvas in and worked it around for about 45 minutes. Because you normally dye in the washer, the material is constantly being moved around, hence the stirring. And kneading. And lifting. Do you have any idea how much 108 square feet of soaking wet material weighs!? Once it looked to me like the color(ish) I wanted to acheive had set in, I started to rinse it. I will admit that this was my least favorite part of the whole process. It was such a big piece that I felt like I had a lot of trouble rinsing it. Once it was (mostly) rinsed, it got washed in the machine, and then dried fully to let the color set.

I’m not going to lie, I actually hated the end result. In the lamplight, it looked purpley and I was worried I would have to redo the whole process. Once I started moving it around into different lights, however, it looked a lot more blue/demin, which wasn’t exactly the color I was going for, but fit perfectly in the living room.

By this point, the couch was in several pieces. Here’s another tip (actually, much more like a step): take lots of pictures. I mean, tons. It will help you when you start putting it back together. Make sure you photograph every piece that comes off, so you know how to put it back on.

2014-03-26_0005You’ll feel like its a time suck, but it’s really a huge time saver, especially when you can’t remember because it’s been three days and you haven’t been able to walk through your living room without stepping on a staple.

2014-03-26_0007Trust me on this one. Oh, and you might notice that the upper right hand corner picture shows a strange backing to the sofa. Why, you ask? Because it’s a sleeping sofa. Let’s not talk about the cursing that went into pulling the sofa bed out.

2014-03-26_0004It was ugly. However, I did make sure to take pictures of the mechanics inside the couch that were holding the bed in place; DO THIS!

2014-03-26_0001It pretty much saved my brains in the end.

2014-03-26_0008Stripped down, this is what the couch looked like. the batting was old and discolored, but for the most part nothing was screaming, “REPLACE ME!” Oh, and you’ll see the weird strips laying on the console table behind the couch. It’s tack paper and tack strips from the couch pieces. SAVE EVERYTHING. If your tack paper rips, no big deal; you can cut new ones from thin cardboard. But keep the tack strips.

2014-03-26_0009Once everything was taken apart, I laid all my pieces out on the dropcloth and maneuvered around to fit them all. It turns out that I was a little short, so luckily I had this great fabric left over from my pendant light, and was able to use it on the cushions. Once the pieces were cut (worst part), I started to put the big parts back together. Oh, and I didn’t mention that I wrote on every piece what part it belonged to so that I was able to keep them all straight.

Here’s where the pictures of reupholstering end (only had two hands), but honestly? I thought it was the easiest part of the whole thing. I would line the pieces up, and staple one side down. Once it was attached, I started with the other side, making sure to pull it snugly. I used my tack paper and strips exactly where they were supposed to be to create the sharp creases (again, pulling tightly). The material itself is very forgiving if you misstaple or need to pull it apart for some reason. Basically, I just went slow and put the pieces back on in the order they came off. Once the back and sides were finished, I screwed them back together and added the bed back in. At this point, I started working on the cushions. Those were pretty labor intensive (I threw them too; nothing says mature like getting frustrated with a pile of batting), so I’ll put them in a separate post.

The last step was adding the nailhead trim. “It’s going to be pretty!” I thought to myself. “It’s going to look classic!” I hummed.

NO NO NO. Just no. I ordered this off of Amazon, and if you’ve never used it, this is what it looks like:

2014-03-28_0004For some reason, this is not what I expected. Basically, you detach the amount of trim you want from the roll, and tap a nailhead in every fifth or so nail (where there’s a hole). Sounds deceptively easy, no?

Let’s just say I ruined 5 nailheads before I got 2 fully in the couch.

2014-03-28_0005They were super cheap, and maybe the wood I was putting them into was too thick, but we’ll never know. I ended up using a straight edge to keep them straight (duh), and tapped in a small nail before putting the nice pieces in. It went much easier with the arms, so those look fine, but the base? Not so much.

IMG_8795Next time, I’ll be buying the individual nails.

Here it is all finished:

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Worth it. Worth every single time I ripped a piece of fabric, or almost stapled my fingers, or got a splinter. The canvas is exactly what I wanted, and I love the look of it. Now that there’s no slipcover looking bulky and tucked in, the living room looks more streamlined. I swear up and down that I won’t do it again, but let’s be honest.

I probably will.

And now, some tips:

-When dyeing fabric, wear rubber gloves.

-Use a pair of needle nose pliers to help pull staples.

-Save your pieces; label your pieces.

-Take a million pictures…it will save your butt in the end.

Don’t throw the hammer.

-Keep your staples, because at the end of the day, you’ll look at it and think, “damn, I’m a badass for pulling all those staples by hand.”

2014-03-28_0003And honestly, it feels pretty freaking awesome to say, “yeah, I reupholstered my couch.”

Do it. Let me know how excellent it feels.

Then take a long hot bath, because God knows every muscle in your body will need it.

Oh, and for a budget breakdown…

Canvas Dropcloth: $26
Rit Dye: $6
Nailhead Trim: $14
Total: $46

BOOYAH!

Friday Four

I was going to chat today about my trip to Delaware and the fact that it’s Opening Day at Fenway (!) and other trivial things (big things in my life, really), but honestly? None of those things matter hugely in the grand scheme of things.

I don’t want to be a downer, but I’m going to get deep for a sec. Last Wednesday, two firefighters were killed in a fire in Boston. If that wasn’t horrible enough in itself, my partner and I listened to the fire and heard them call the Mayday and then stop responding on the radio.

It sucked. It was a tragedy that wasn’t caused because they were incompetent, or because of equipment failure. They weren’t newbies, they just got disoriented in a fire that quickly spiraled out of control.

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And it makes me think about life. Those guys didn’t go into work Wednesday morning knowing that their card was going to get punched that afternoon. Knowing that they wouldn’t return back to their families the next morning. They went into the station that morning expecting to do their jobs, maybe run a few calls, cook a big dinner. The usual.

I mean, we’re all human. We’re all bound to leave this Earth at some time. But it’s hard to imagine when you’re so young. When you have little kids. When you have your whole life in front of you.

I keep thinking of the woman who will never be able to hug her husband again. How shocking it must have been to answer the phone to hear firefighters who worked with her husband instead of her friend.

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Look, we know we have dangerous jobs. The fact that you might not make it home is always in the back of your head. Always. It’s just not something that you acknowledge.

It’s why I make sure I tell the Fireman I love him every time he leaves the house to go to work. We could be fighting; not speaking to each other, but I still always tell him, “I love you.” Because you know never know what day could be your last.

These two men were honored this week as firefighters traveled from all over the country to be at their funerals. There were two firefighters from St. Louis on my plane to Boston on Tuesday night. There were firefighters from BFD at Logan picking up others. Boston is a resilient city. Boston is a strong city. They’ve been through a lot in the last year, & this loss? The first deaths since 2007? A huge sucker punch.

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A sucker punch for us all. So tonight, hug your kids. Hug your spouse. Tell them you love them, & in the morning? Tell them again.

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Eggcelent Wreath

I’m just full of puns today, aren’t I? I apologize for no Monday post! I thought I had worked all the bugs out of posting when away from my computer, but no dice. I’ve got a super cheap Easter decoration for you today (which is perfect if you’re like me and flat out refuse to spend gobs of cash on decorations that will only be up for a few weeks). I actually made it last year, but it needed some touch ups when I pulled it out of storage last week.

IMG_8776This could not be any easier. I took a piece of heavy jute and laid it in a circle. Then I took the eggs and put them inside the circle and adjusted the size to make sure that they all touched. Once I applied some hot glue to the ends to hold them, I just glued on the jute to the back.

IMG_8780Easy, easy. Oh, and then I just made a loop out of the rest of the jute to hang on the door!

IMG_8778It’s not a perfect circle, but it was a $2 craft, so I didn’t put a lot of stock in it holding up well for the second year. So far, so good, though! Oh, and those patterned eggs? I found them at Walmart of all places last year. Crazy, right?

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