holy crafty mama.

the other day i received the most-awesome package in the mail from my mom.  priority mail- straight to our doorstep.  the box was a belated valentines, happy everything kinda present stuffed with shaving cream and lotion and girl scout cookies and love notes.  it also contained the most thoughtful messenger bag.
at first glance, i thought it was purchased- and then upon closer inspection of the fabric, i noticed it held a similar resemblance to the yard of random fabric i found in my mom's sewing kit over the holidays and planned to take home (only i completely forgot).  i guess it's a good thing i did- otherwise i wouldn't be have in my possession such a rad bag.

growing up my mom made a lot of our holiday clothes- you know, those 1980's poofy floral onsies?  no?  well, i knew them all too well.  she also made us some killer halloween costumes and much to my dismay today, when the time came for me to learn sewing, i wanted nothing to do with it.  had i know what a kick ass seamstress my mom was, i wouldn't be learning techniques via youtube.  but i digress...

anyway, she wanted to make each of us a camera/messenger bag and has a good friend who makes bags as a hobby (check out her etsy shop!).  my mom worked with her to get some killer fabric and went to town, pattern in hand.  she made a bag for each of us (well, she's still making the fourth) careful to take into account our various personalities, color preferences, etc.
isn't it amazing?  it was honestly one of the best gift i've received in a really long time.  not only because of it's functionality, but also because of the thought, energy & love that went into each stitch.  i took it with us to lake george and it made a great purse during our travels.  she knows us all too well.  sometimes, even though we're hundreds of miles apart, better than we know ourselves.
ps: my bag is the burlap with the chevron inside and my sister's bag is the one with the birds.  there are two more bags out there that i was unable to get pictures of- but they're just as awesome.
pps: to send me that cool montage photo, my sister used and introduced me to picframe.  i'm obsessed.


letters for soldiers.

recently i signed up to adopt a solider.  it kinda happened on a whim as i was looking into a few things online but since a.s been home, i've really missed supporting the soldiers overseas.  that said, when i stumbled upon this website, i thought this would be a fantastic way to continue to show our appreciation.  i signed up, received our adopted soldiers profile and was asked to begin writing letters immediately.  

writing letters to complete strangers isn't as easy as it sounds.  you have to wonder how much information to pass along and what they would be interested to hear.  this brought me back to my pen pal days.  minus the barrage of questions and the new pals that changed as often as my grade. so i wrote and the words came, as they always do.
i had so much fun writing to them & found this purpose extremely gratifying.  if you enjoy writing letters and are looking for something kind to do for someone else, write a note to a solider.  it's lonely overseas and your gratitude and good cheer will help keep their spirits high.  seriously, it's amazing how much appreciation soldiers (or anyone really) have for a single letter.  

and yes, this card was created by yours truly.


a quick weekend retreat and a new purpose.

this weekend a. and i spent the weekend in lake george on a marriage retreat.  neither of us had ever been to lake george- and the sleepy town totally lived up to it's name.  with the exception of our little group, there weren't too many people out exploring...so it was almost as though we had the village to ourselves.  & considering that we were there to spend time re-connecting- it was the perfect backdrop for this weekend.

occasionally, the army offers a weekend marriage retreat.  when a. first signed up for the military, we scoffed at this option- considering, he spent so much of his week around all things military why would we bring it into our weekend if we didn't have to.  so for the first 5 years, we opted not to go.  then, when a. was getting ready for his second deployment, he signed us up.  basically, it was a free trip to niagara falls.  why would we say no?

we had an outstanding time in niagara.  the lessons learned were nice- but better yet, was the quality time we spend together and the thought-provoking conversations that followed after the workshops, made the trip so beneficial.  so when we found out they were offering it again, we signed up in a heartbeat.  

this year we were given and reviewed the book, the 5 love languages.  i'd heard about the book before and was excited to dive in deeper.  much to my dismay, we didn't review the book or challenge ourselves as much as i had hoped.  to be honest, i left feeling a bit unfulfilled- and kinda jipped.  you see, as a military couple (or any couple with a long-distance relationship), we spend a lot of time apart.  between trainings and deployments i've known couples who have spent the better part of 2 years away from one another (that's a long time).  and when you're not apart, you're living in a state of transition: adjusting to living with one another and prepping for the next deployment. 

talk about stressful.  luckily for us, we only had 4 years of that life- but other couples have an entire marriage and family built around that uncertainty.  the 5 love languages is a great book with some very cool insight.  but if you're a couple like a. and i who both share a primary love language of quality time- how do you implement that language into a long distance relationship?  better yet, if you can't, what's the next step to leaving your partner fulfilled and your relationship strong?

we thought we had figured this out during a.'s first deployment.  there were lot's of boxes and care packages and as many skype calls as the shoty internet would allow.  the second deployment was harder and while the lines of communication were open- the time wasn't there.  and try as we did- it was very, very hard to stay connected.  so what do you do?  

to be honest, i don't know.  but i walked away from this weekend with a mission: to find the happy forever after.  for everyone.  you see, i love love.  and i want everyone who falls in love and marries their one and only, to foster in a happy, strong and healthy relationship.  it's possible.  it won't be easy, but it has been done.  and through a. and my trials and errors and lessons learned- i hope to share how.


red + white stripe crush.

i've been swooning over stripes these days and for personal reasons, red and white stripes in particular.  i'll share the reason for my infatuation eventually, but in the meantime, i'm totally digging the bold contract and classic vibe.  
1. tote 2. paper bags 3. table cloth 4. cupcake 5. pillow 6. straws 7. shoes
i hope you have a festive and enjoyable weekend! 


not your typical kinda day.

yesterday i woke up early (& i never do that) to start my day with yoga.  it was fantastic and a perfect jump start to a beautiful morning.  i then had a relaxing morning as i pulled everything together for the day.  again, pretty rad.  work started out organized and happy...then i wound up at the urgent care.
not just like that- but kinda.  you see, i had to grab some conference tees from the back of my car so we could ship them to the venue.  as i was walking out of the parking garage, my arms full of boxes, i exited through a heavy, metal door backwards.  as i was walking from the door, the door slammed onto my poor heel & left me fighting for my life.  kinda.  sorta.  okay, not really.  but there was blood- and lots of it.  

i made my way up to my office on the third floor, walked to the ladies room and stuck my foot in the sink to wash out the dirt and grime.  minutes later, we had a restroom full of co-workers, 2 incomplete first aid kits and my ankle wrapped with the last of the gauze and bandages.  
once in the urgent care, i waited.  & waiting is always the hardest part.  this time was especially difficult since i was there on the clock and have some pretty big deadlines looming at the end of this week.  so i kept on waiting.  & when the doctor finally saw me and assessed my mere flesh wound, she gave me the scariest news...i needed stitches.  gulp.  
somehow in all my 28 years i have managed to skate through life without a broken bone or single stitch.  and there i was, after carrying a box of t-shirts into our office, getting 4 stitches in my heel and a tetanus shot in my arm.  needless to say, the day was ruined- though i think i got a relatively good story out of it.

so there you have it.  it definitely wasn't your typical kinda day.


weekends lately.

the weekends lately have been full of new do's (i went back to the bangs...although i'm working on getting used to them) and a sushi date night.  a fun production to support a dear friend and double dates with yummy desserts and awesome wine.  sweet surprises under my pillow (and the first jewelry a.'s given me since we've been married) & cleansing juices for breakfast.  research dates at barnes & noble and birthday celebrations with a few of my faves.  and while there was work to be done on president's day, a lunchtime ice skating break was the perfect way to wrap up an otherwise fantastic weekend.


homemade marshmallows.

there's something very, very wonderful about being able to make something as technical as marshmallows.  i mean they're made in factories...with machines...right?  

not in this house.  these homemade, ooey-gooey vanilla goodness' were made right in our kitchen!  who would have thought.  the process took way more than a few hours- actually a couple days- but trust me, these are totally worth it.    

i don't know if you've noticed, but handmade marshmallows are all the rage.  they're showing up at weddings, showers and parties.  they're chocolate dipped, swirled, rolled in coconut or sprinkles.  and i love them.  imagine a fireside setting complete with homemade marshmallows and a 'build your own s'more' bar.  the possibilities are endless.

i used barefoot contessa's marshmallow recipe (minus the toasted coconut) since it's extremely simple and has very few ingredients.  some recipes call for eggs, cornstarch, etc., whatever you decide, just be sure you use the best ingredients you can find.  
the recipe says to whip the mixture for about 15 minutes.  i whipped this batch for about 25 and then immediately poured it into the tray.  i let it sit for about a day and then flipped the sheet of marshmallows over on another cookie sheet so it could continue to dry.
once the marshmallows were dry and dusted with powdered sugar & cut, i put a few in some candy bags and labeled them with super sweet tags from the nimbus factory.  they were a huge hit at the office- and i can't wait to make another batch.  have fun making these- they're incredible.


happy "whatever age you are!"

technically, her birthday was yesterday- but i'm in the spirit of a double celebration, since you only get to turn twenty-something once!  so lindz, how do you feel, now that you are the age you are?  happy birthday week! xxo.


getting organized // office edition.

this february i committed to getting more organized.  when i made this pact with myself, i didn’t have an actual space in mind…it was just an overall, “get organized.”  i have plenty of things in my life that require a bit of tlc, so if the only thing i organized this month was my sock drawer, that’s okay.  & without the pressure of organizing a specific room/closet/etc., i’ve been much more willing to just start.  for example, during a day in my life, i organized my desktop folders and the first weekend in february, i took a giant step and organized my workspace. 

actually, this was as much organizing as it was simplifying.  since i scrapbook, i love to hold onto anything that holds a memory and that has potential to be memorialized.  that said, one can only guess how much crap i have.  a lot.  and i was sick of it. 

while a. and i were in pennsylvania the other weekend, we made a quick stop at ikea for some office supplies.  while they didn’t have a lot of organizational options to choose from, we stumbled upon this great find.  we then ventured to target for some drawer organizers and for about $60 (getting organized is not cheap), we stocked up on a few variations of different trays.
then i went to town.  i found half-finished projects and a lot of other stuff that could otherwise be recycled or donated.  i purged and organized.  & it felt great.  there’s a lot to be said about finding a perfect place for everything.  it’s so gratifying and cleansing.  no more huge piles or disheveled drawers.  just space.  and lots of it.  soon everything had a home and no longer were projects daunting or impossible to work on.  i was finally inspired and ready to create.
today, i still love my space.  i’m productive and eager to make beautiful things.  i’ll continue to collect little treasures from our day to day life, but with organization comes motivation & everything will quickly find a home- not a pile!
i hope you find motivation and inspiration this weekend!


painted letter valentines.

earlier this month, while in urban outfitters, i found some great metal letters.  and while i loved them the way they were, i wanted to do something a little different for valentine's day.  

after a quick trip to target and lowes, for stickers and spray paint respectively, the project started to come to life.  originally, i was hoping to go for a subtle blush and champagne palette but luckily for me, the only available colors were pink, pink, or fluorescent pink.   

this project took a few days to complete between the prep, paint and dry time.  but it was so worth it.  the letters have been gifted, received and everyone seems to love them!  who says valentines day to be either flowers or chocolate?  how about a fun decoration to adorn your house year after year.

- letters
- spray paint
- heart-shaped stickers
- masking tape

the steps:
1. after cleaning off the material you're planning to use, apply stickers (these should be easy to remove so you're not fighting the adhesive after you finally have everything spray painted.) in the design you'd like to use.  my designs varied per letter since each had a different negative space. 
2. cover anything you don't want to paint with the masking tape.  in this case, i covered the hangy-thing (you know, for the wall).
3. in a well-ventilated space, spray paint your letters.  i used two coats of paint and let the first coat sit for a few hours before applying the second.
4. once the paint has dried com.plete.ly, begin removing the stickers from the letters.  these stickers were a bit more adhesive than i thought and i ended up using tweezers to help remove the stickers from the metal letters.
5. gift, hang and enjoy

i hope you and all your friends enjoy this valentine's project!  


stay with me.

i'm a sucker for valentine's day.  always have been.  growing up, my mom used to make it such a special day.  she'd send us upstairs while she took it upon herself to make dinner & set the table.  we loved this for two reasons: 1. we got out of a chore! and 2. there was so much anticipation for a pretty, festive table with little gifts for each of us.  she did this every year while we were growing up and continues to do it to this day.

celebrations such as this taught me about the importance of love.  finding love, embracing love, and celebrating love.  it's not only about romantic love- no, it's about recognizing the love that surrounds you, every. single. day.  & today is the day to publicly and openly share that love with others.  yay!

of course, now that a. and i are celebrating the holiday together, i want it to be magical.  while i try to downplay the day and all the fluff and lovey-dovey-ness, it is nice to have someone to celebrate with.  so to each of you, grab someone who you love.  a friend, your dad, sibling, child or pet and celebrate your love for one another.  make it special.  drink pink milk.  go surfing.  or skiing.  for today isn't about jewels or chocolate or fancy dinners,  it's about spending time and giving thanks to those who mean the world to you.

i'll leave you with one of my favorite lyrics from pearl jam's breathe
oh i'm a lucky man to count on both hands the ones i love

happy, happy valentine's day! xxo


a day in the life//feb 2012.

for as many pictures i seem to have, i'm honestly not very good at remembering to document the little stuff.  having my phone with me has helped me get better at remembering, but not always.  the other day i was reading this post and was immediately inspired.  

This is a day in my life.  Sunday, February 12, 2012.

8:30am: i slept in.  today is the only day during the week i don't set my alarm.  i love waking up calmly and at my own pace.  it's finally snowing today.  i let radley out, boiled some water for my tea and stood by the window watching the snowfall.  i couldn't help myself and had to draw a little token of my affection towards mother nature.
8:45am: emptied the dishwasher and started doing the dishes.  i find if i don't get a jumpstart on the kitchen, it takes over our life.  also, i did a bit of baking saturday and had some final dishes left to wash.
9:10am: a. wakes up and radley gets excited.  he loves socks.  this pair he grabbed from the laundry basket and started prancing around the house.  he's so happy his people are awake and moving.
9:30am: an impromptu game of catch.
9:35am: time for breakfast.  after a small fridge purge, juice is on the menu.
9:45am: into the office for a desktop clean-up & weekly blog planning while a. finishes his weekly reading before his exam.  we ate breakfast (fresh juice and homemade banana bread) at our desks.  
11:00am: take a quick shower and get ready for the day.
11:30am: dressed and out the door for church.  this was the first time we've attempted to go/ been to church in forever.
 11:45am: on the road.  i love our car rides together.  
 12:12pm: church.
1:35pm: we get out of church and are starving.  head to panera for lunch.  we both had a soup and sandwich combo.  me: black bean soup with a mediterranean veggie sandwich, a.: steak chili with a southwestern flatbread.  when i can't finish my lunch, i usually pass them over to a., who has no problem helping me out.
2:15pm: onward to office depot for photo paper and ink and lowes for a new shower handle.  we love both office supply and hardware stores.  so a little extra window shopping is in order. 
3:30pm: on the was home we swing by an open house.  i'm totally that nosy neighbor and love, when possible, to get a sneak peak (& design ideas) into the lives of our neighbors. 
3:50pm: arrive home, let radley out and check on the marahmallows i made saturday.  they have to dry a lot so i cut them up and let them air out.  of course we taste-tested.  after an impromptu dinner part on friday, my no sweets rule was out the window the rest of the weekend.
4:15pm: while a. took his test and case study, i spent some time editing pictures and finishing up a scrapbook from november & december 2010.  
6:00pm: decide i better start making dinner, otherwise we'll be eating late again.  without using a recipe, i decide to make vegetarian stuffed peppers for dinner.  luckily there are plenty of ingredients in the fridge and cupboards for this to be a success.
6:15pm: a. rocks his test and case.  we open some homemade raspberry beer to celebrate.  he helps me prep some of the ingredients before heading back into the office to continue reading.
6:30pm: do the dishes while dinners cooking.  sometimes i feel as though all i do is cook and do the dishes.  then repeat.
7:00pm: dinner's ready.  i dish up, a. sets the "table," and we opt to sit in front of the tv to eat.  there's a new show on abc called, the river we decide to try.  totally up a.'s alley.  
7:30pm: since we've already had marshmallows, we dig into a yummy cake that a friend left behind from friday night.  the rest goes down the disposal so there's no more temptation in the house.
8:20pm:  we're enjoying the river more than we thought we would.  despite our better judgement, we watch another episode.  i need to blog, so i grab the computer and begin this post.
9:15pm: a.'s off to bed while i finish blogging.  i break to clean up the "table" and put the dishes away.
9:40pm: close up the house and turn off radley's "heater."
9:45pm: wash face, floss & brush teeth.  take vitamins, set alarm and head into a warm bed.  i just finished the third book of the hunger games and spend some time online figuring out what to read next.  generally, i try not to bring the computer to bed with me.  i just don't seem to sleep as well when the last this i see is a screen.  sometimes though, it happens anyway.  settle on and continue reading steve jobs biography.  

11:00pm: good night, sleep tight.

that's a day in my life.  totally cool and totally fun.  i'd love to do a week in the life since this is a great exercise to slow down, capture and reflect on all the little (and big) moments in your day.  to be honest, i don't know that this was a typical or abnormal sunday.  it was life.  hour by hour.  & a day that i know i'll love to remember.