Last Minute Must-Haves

I've been running around trying to pick up last minute necessities for my & J's trip out of the country. In the midst of everything, my car decides to not cooperate. With my car troubles fixed, I was off to finish buying everything on my must-have list.

First, I found the perfect Monteau dress for prancing around on the beach. I also thought it could double as a cute sailor halloween costume.

It's going to be a long flight, so I had to pick up the first book in the 50 Shades series to keep me company. And I want to know what all the buzz is about. I'll review it for you when I get back. By the way, it's not available everywhere, but I did find it here.

There will be nights when it gets cool & plenty of walking, so I picked up plush new Ralph Lauren socks, which I got from here.

Different temperatures do crazy thins to my locks, so I opted for some Frizz-Ease hair spray to hold everything in place.

And obviously, the REAL necessities- sunscreen & bug spray. I don't travel many places without these two items.

As long as I have a little dress, something to occupy my time, and wilderness protection, I'm all set. Hopefully my two suitcases full of other "necessities" come in handy too!



Guest Room Switcheroo

J & I have a guest room that's slowly but surely becoming a non-functioning junk collecting room. Any time we clean & can't find a place for something, it ends up on the guest bed or thrown somewhere in the room (not because we're lazy, but we literally have no storage space).
I hate that our apartment doesn't feel like a home sometimes. It's so cramped & what little room we do have is taken over by furniture & necessities.
I decided to do have a serious cleaning out & organizing process.
I took a few before pictures of our disaster of a guest room.

Of course I had to open up my wedding dress bag & make sure everything was still ok ;)

Yes, that is my wedding dress STILL laying on the bed from a year ago. I love that I have easy access to look at it whenever I want, but hate that whenever anyone sleeps over I need to find another safe place for it.
J & I only ever enter this room to exercise & to throw crap in it. I wish it was more functional, but after getting everything in there that we need, there's maybe 10 feet of floor space.
I mapped out where everything could go to get the maximum amount of floor space & this is what I ended up with.

I measured everything in the room & the room itself & was able to at least double the amount of walking space within the room (even with the treatmill unfolded).
And the best news is that I was able to move enough things around in the double closet to fit my wedding dress safely inside (all 10 feet of the train, too)!
I was even able to move a shelving unit that I've been cringing about from my bedroom to the guest room. All in all, I'm very happy with the end result!
If you think your apartment is too small, work with what you've got! Draw it all out on several different pieces of paper & see what will give you the most space. It can't hurt!



Spray Paint Makeovers

This past weekend has been a total release of creativity.
I've been living in different tiny apartments with Hubby for so long & feel like I can't decorate the way I would if we lived in our own house. It's killing me!
Believe it or not, we actually live in an apartment by choice right now. We want to be able to pick up & leave the second J gets a job offer in a location we want to be in (Texas, Georgia, Chicago, anywhere but here). We don't want any roots keeping us here.
All weekend I've been looking at before & after pictures of peoples homes who have been remodeling & redecorating. I absolutely cannot wait to get my own B&A's on the blog, but until then, I'm starting small (so as not to shock J when he gets home from work every day).

Yesterday, I started with a few old picture frames & some vases I picked up at a thrift store for $1 each. I have a zillion frames that are mismatched (& pricey), but I can't bring myself to throw paint on them just yet... give me a while.

Not only were they not the same frame at all, they were all different shades of silver. I knew a good coat of paint or two would at least make them look good together.

This is literally the easiest thing to do & transform the look of anything. Spray paint! I took out the glass so I was left with just the metal frames. I set the frames outside on large sheets of paper (to protect the grass) & sprayed away- no sanding, priming, or sealing.

I was so spray-happy I forgot to get before pictures of the vases. Trust me, they were just clear, regular vases.

My family room is filled with shades of tans & browns with some black shelving (c'mon! we're newlyweds who mushed our furniture together when we moved in with one another). We desperately need color in this room... ahem, every room, but we'll start with the one we're in most of the time. I love the pop of blue added to such dull, boringness. J said he really liked the look & gave his approval to do anything I want to the apartment as long as he never comes home to find the tv screen spray painted. Deal!



Paper-To-Canvas Transfer

There's nothing I love more than doing something hands-on. If I see something I like, I'd rather make it than buy it. Maybe I get that from my Dad who is always remodeling/building/fixing something.
One of my best friends & bridesmaids gave me a canvas portrait as a wedding gift & I've been trying to figure out how to make my own ever since. When I saw this by the bloggers at A Beautiful Mess (once you see their canvas, browse around & fall in love with everything else they have created), I knew I had to give making my own canvas picture a try.
I went through all of my wedding & engagement pictures, but I was using a left-over canvas & it is a weird size. None of the pictures would have looked right, so I chose one of my favorite quotes of all time. J & I were watching a reality TV show when we heard it & thought it was completely appropriate for us & our relationship. The only problem is, I have no idea where it originated.

What you'll need
Stretched canvas
Laser copy of whatever you want to transfer
Gel medium (Liquitex, found in the paint section)
Paint brush
Spray bottle filled with water

Like I said before, my canvas was left over from a previous project. I got it from Hobby Lobby as a set of 2 for $7.99 & it is 15.5x20 (weird, I know).

I went to staples to have the quote printed out. It was actually printed on 2 11x17 sheets of plain ol' paper. This gets a little confusing, but because when you go to transfer the image you need to lay it the image side of the paper touching the canvas, the image will be reversed. When using an actual picture this wouldn't be a big deal, but because I was using words, I had to reverse the image so when it was laying face down it actually looked right. Does that make sense?
This picture is how the sheets looked when they came off the printer, but when I'm doing the transfer, I will flip them over so the inked side is touching the canvas.

I used this gel medium by Liquitex. I found it at Hobby Lobby. This little container costs about $14, but I only used about 1/3 of it for this huge canvas.

You want to spread a thick layer of gel medium all over the canvas.

Then lay your image face down onto the gel medium. See how you can actually read it now?

Smooth it out as best as you can without moving the paper. Let it dry for at least 3 hours. When it is completely dry, it will be wrinkle-free.

When you're positive it's dry, spray one corner with water & rub the paper. The paper will begin to peel off.

Make your way around the canvas spraying with water & rubbing, revealing your image. This is very messy & takes some time. Lay down newspaper or do it on a surface that's easy to clean.

You might rub too hard in some areas, taking off the ink. Don't panic! If it's not perfect, it's more yours than anything you could have bought.

When you get all the paper off, put a top coat of Mod Podge or gel medium over the top of the image. I opted for Mod Podge because it's half the cost of the medium & I want to do this over & over & over again with ever canvas I put my hands on...

Thank you to A Beautiful Mess for demonstrating this- it turned out beautiful!



Busy Friday

Today has been a busy one. I began the day making/eating banana bread. Then I spent some time with my Grandma working in her garden, which you can see here. Then I took a wander through the mall looking for dresses for vacation (which I found, but you'll have to wait until I get back to see them). When I got home, I made myself a spicy little lunch that I wanted to share with you.

It's full of jalapenos, olives, a slice of tomato & lettuce all sandwiched between rye & pumpernickel swirl bread.

The real treat is the cheddar spread I put on the inside of the sandwich.

Not only did I spread it on the bread, I melted some down in the microwave & dipped my sandwich into it. Talk about indulgence!

What's the best easy snack or meal you've come across recently?



Guilt-Free Lunch

I'm always searching for something to eat that is quick, easy, inexpensive & delicious. I can usually find 2-3 of those but never all 4. I rummaged through the fridge & cupboards and ended up with a delicious, light meal that took less than 5 minutes to make.

Start with a fresh piece of iceburg lettuce- the bigger the better.

Then fill the lettuce with tomatoes, olives & green onions.

My favorite part of the meal was the topper. I used Newman's Own black bean & corn salsa. First, I love that the profits go to charity, but the quality & taste of this salsa is unbelievable!

Roll it up & eat guilt-free.

Depending on your appetite & how full you stuff the lettuce, 2-3 of these may be appropriate. I paired mine with cottage cheese & was fully satisfied.
Try adding shredded chicken, fish, or other veggies.



Invitations & Stationary

Last year in the midst of losing one of my jobs due to downsizing & returning to school full time I still really wanted to make my own money. I've never been one to depend on other people & the thought of having to rely on J was killing me. Don't get me wrong, J was happy to support both of us, but I had been babysitting & working different jobs since I was a young teen, so the adjustment would be a difficult one.
Among the many things I did, I was a graphic designer for an engineering firm. I wanted to put those skills to use, so I created an invitation business. So far, I have only done wedding invitations & save the dates, but my plan is to expand to doing birthday, shower, & graduation party invites & everything else you could need on paper for any event.
Here are a few examples of invitations I've done recently...

If you know anyone who needs custom invitations, send them my way, I'd be happy to take care of them!



Grammy's Garden

Throughout this week (& many weeks to come) I've been helping my Grandma weed, plant, & landscape her garden. My grandparents' yard is as green as a rainforest & as welcoming as their home. As of late, the gardens have gotten out of control with weeds taller than small trees & plants that need trimming.
Before we get to the "before & after" shots, I want to share some beautiful pictures of her yard...

Now for the before & after pictures...

Now this one is a bit of a stretch. I forgot to get a good before picture of this. To the left of the picture look under the tree into the jungle of weeds.

Now that we're almost done weeding, we'll be planting more flowers & dividing up some of the existing ones. Do any of you green thumbs have suggestions on what to plant?
We should finish up in the next few weeks, so look forward to some victory pictures!

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