Friday, June 29, 2012

I Am Old: An Ode to a Bum Leg

An unfortunate event occurred recently. I pulled a muscle in my leg. It was in the front of my leg in the thigh, my quad. I don't really know when I did this, but it happened over a month ago. Then I aggravated the situation when I was playing cricket during field day at school. Oh yes, this truly did happen. How do you hurt yourself at a kids' field day? It is shameful to admit.

Let's move this story along by a few weeks. On Wednesday night I went to play softball as I often do in the architecture/contractor league that Andrew's firm plays in. ***Side story for a second. It is unfortunate that nicknames on your softball t-shirt are picked by other people from the firm. It is even more unfortunate that they decided to use The Jersey Shore nickname generator for everyone's nicknames this year. It is completely most unfortunate that my nickname happened to be The Whip and Andrew's happened to be Domesticated.*** Ok. Moving on here people. There is nothing else you need to know from that side story. Now go ahead and laugh at my unfortunate predicament.

Anyway, I was playing softball like I often do. Yes, The Whip just happens to be decent at softball since I played since I was about 6 years old. I had a nice solid hit my first time up to bat and while running to first, I aggravated my quad again. Then I thought it would be a good idea to have three more hits on my next three times at bat and sprint really fast around those bases to score some runs.

Let's just say that by the end of the game, I could barely move my leg and I struggled to get into my car to drive home. Yesterday morning I thought I was going to be fine. I didn't have coursing pain through my leg and knee cap like I did the night before and I could actually bend my leg. Then came the kicker. I needed to buy some toiletries that I was low on and didn't feel like driving to Target. So I went to the Walgreens which I usually never go to. I was trying to find shaving cream. I had to walk all over Walgreens five million times just to find the row that had the damn shaving cream. Who knew shaving cream would be so hard to find!? And in all of that walking, my leg started to hurt really bad again and I thought I was going to die (I like to exaggerate if you didn't notice).

I am old. Yup. I'm facing the music here people. I am 28 years old and I aggravated a pulled muscle by walking around a Walgreens a couple of times. This is a sad, sad story indeed.

I suppose there was really no point to this post other than the fact that I had to share how ridiculous I felt the whole situation was. In fact, this post my be super boring since it doesn't even have any pictures (nursing a bum leg takes too much energy so I didn't feel like finding or taking appropriate pictures). So I applaud you for having gotten this far.

There was one more thing I wanted to let you all know about though as this month of June slowly creeps to an end. I'm still accepting super duper sponsors on my blog for the month of July. And I have a fab deal as well. You can get $3 off any sized ad by using the code JULY when you purchase your ad (and they're already super cheap!). Also, I'm currently accepting swaps like I have in the past so hit me up on email if you'd like to swap! I'm really looking forward to this coming month and would love to have you join my awesome blogging community!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Year of the House: Studio Tour

I've been very, very slow when it comes to updating you on our improvements in this row house. After quite a long time, the transition of our second bedroom to a studio and reading room is finally complete. I would still like to add a few things like artwork, a small side table that would fit between the chairs, and a few small storage options next to my desk. However, the room is finally fully functional and very efficient at that.

You can revisit the looks of how the room used to look here and here. The color scheme didn't change too much-- we stuck with browns and blues. We have two incredibly comfortable chairs along one wall. The large pillows came with the chairs and the smaller blue and brown pillows were made by me when this was a bedroom. And no reading area would be complete without a cozy blanket to curl up with.

No creative and cozy space would be complete without a nice green plant, some FLW inspiration, and some coasters that I made for a tasty beverage.

My printer, The Beast, is sitting on top of a small dresser that we moved from our master bedroom. I repainted it four years ago with leftover paint a friend gave me and would like to try to find some neat knobs from the architectural salvage to replace the wood knobs. I store my packaging and shipping supplies as well as my ink in the dresser. The clock was originally purchased for the original bedroom from Uncommon, and it just so happens that the dresser matched it exactly! This is a great space with lots of natural light and I enjoy being in this room hence the yoga mat rolled up next to the dresser. It's a good yoga space!
My desk is along the wall opposite of the chairs and gets lots of great natural light from our second story deck. I use one of our dining room chairs so as to save space on our first floor when we don't have guests for dinner. The exposed brick wall is one of my favorite features in our house. It runs the full length of the house on both floors of the house. Things not to pay attention to? The mirror that is currently camping out here while our first floor half bath is still under renovation, and that cardboard box that is currently being used for my recycle bin. I'm currently in the hunt for some aesthetically pleasing recycling and trash receptacles.
On the desk is my trusty macbook, my scanner, a flat screen monitor that I use while working on designs or editing photos, a calendar, and my to do list (of course!). I stow away my external hard drives and my graphics tablet in a super secret drawer that also serves as extra work space.
The calendar from Smock is a perfect way for me to keep track of things with a simple glance and it doubles as a great art piece.
On the wall opposite of the windows, we have what would appear to be your average sliding door closet.
But in reality this closet hides a lot of my essentials. I have two storage units that I picked up at IKEA. The lower one houses all of my paper (though you may notice I still have some overflow on top of the storage units. The upper unit is turned sideways so that it would fit and stores all of my crafty odds and ends. I keep my boxes of envelopes both in the corner to the left and on a shelf above the storage units.
And there you have it! Hope you enjoyed my little studio tour!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Strawbery Banana Smoothie for a Post Run Refreshment

If there is one thing I am most certain about myself, it is that I am not a runner. I've always excelled in exercise that was focused around a sport. To me, running is torturous and boring. Competitive sports though are fun. And fun = not boring.

About three years ago I attempted to go running with Andrew. We took a nice little loop the whole way around Patterson Park. By the time we had made our way back to our street, I thought I was going to die, and I proclaimed, "That's it! I'm done! I'm walking the rest of the way!" The rest of the way, mind you, was only a block and a half.

Andrew began to laugh. He then said that it was funny that I couldn't at least jog the rest of the way to our house and that I had only run a quarter of a mile. I disagreed. I had definitely just ran more than a quarter of a mile! I was sure that I had run about a mile. Ok, not a lot, but a good starting place for someone that is pretty out of shape.

For the next week, Andrew continued to give me a hard time about my inability to jog more than a quarter of a mile. Finally, in an attempt to prove him wrong, I went to the computer, pulled up and plotted out our path from a week before. Sure enough, I was right. I had jogged more than a mile! I had jogged a mile and a quarter!

Long story short, I never went running again after this particular event. I told Andrew I had been traumatized. Give me a hard time about trying to get in shape when I've never been a runner to begin with? Yup, traumatic.

Until Monday.

On Monday morning, I woke up, put on my running shoes, and took a 10 minute jog. I know it wasn't a lot-- about half a mile. For whatever reason, I seemed to have thought this was going to be a good idea. It was a pretty crappy experience, but at least I didn't have anyone to make fun of me or tell me I had to run more. And maybe the next time, I'll go a little further.

You may find yourself wondering what this has to do with anything. I know I find myself wondering that a lot when it comes to some of my blog posts, so I'll try to get to the point of this post. After I went on my horrific and grueling half a mile jog, I was hungry. And hot. It was 9:13 in the morning and I wasn't even quite sure what I was doing up at this ungodly hour during my summer break anyway-- let alone going running! I needed a super awesome breakfast and something to cool me down, but I'm not much of a breakfast person. So I tossed together a few ingredients and made a delicious smoothie. I used to buy or make smoothies all the time when I lived in Australia and it had been much too long.

Monday's go to flavor was Strawberry Banana, but you could definitely use all sorts of fruit for this simple recipe. Sometimes I use mango, peach, or pineapple as well. The key though, I believe, is to use fresh fruit!

Toss these ingredients into a blender--
  • 1 1/2 cups of cut up strawberries
  • one banana
  • 1 cup of low fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
Blend everything until it is nice and smooth. I prefer to use low fat instead of nonfat yogurt. The nonfat yogurt tends to have weird additives in it that makes it nonfat. And I also use unsweetened 100% apple juice not from concentrate again for the same reasons.

Yuuuuummmy. It was just what I needed after my endless morning workout. And by endless, I mean ten minutes.

Anyone is the same boat as me when it comes to running? What tactics do you use to get yourself motivated to run?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Design a Day ::: Days 7 & 8

Sunday was a day to unplug. No blogging. So today I'll share both days 7 and 8 for my Design a Day Challenge. Day 6 is single card that I created from some of my leftover scraps. You probably saw cards like this before when I shared the first few that I had made. I've made a few more in the past week. There is something super satisfying about bold blocks in coordinating colors or funky patterns on a clean white background.

Today's design is more blocks of color with a black handwritten "hello" that I created by using my tablet. The original intention was to use four squares of the same patterned card stock that I had left over. I was going to use black pen to write the hello, but decided to do something a bit more uniform and use my tablet. After I had printed the cards with the "hello," I decided against the patterned card stock and made new blocks out of similar textured colored card stock. I like this look a lot more than I liked the original idea. I also like to be able to offer a variety of colors in one set of cards.

What do you think about the "minimalist" look on the second set? I'm kind of liking the less is more approach with these.

Home Brew

No secret here that we tend to be beer snobs. Well, actually, we tend to be food, coffee, music, chocolate, and beer snobs. We just have such a hard time drinking beer that tastes like watered down something or other that's not even beer. Aside from the occasional Natty Boh (which is a Baltimore staple, so it's a fair excuse), you'll find us going for the more potent, flavorful, and artfully crafted varieties.

This past Christmas, Andrew's parents gave us a home brew kit. We had tried an English Bitter beer that they had given us a kit for and it turned out fairly well. However, it was a beer that you'd rather drink with food rather than have as a refreshing beverage on a hot Baltimore summer day. As our supply of the first beer dwindled, we decided to brew a second batch-- this time my favorite, an IPA. The process is a long one with a lot of waiting after actually brewing the beer, so at this point we're waiting on the final carbonation process that occurs after the beer has been bottled.

The process starts with a giant pot of very hot water, some grains in a bag, and finally the addition of malt and hops.

It ferments for almost a week after some yeast has been added, and looks something like this when it is ready to be bottled.
Super tasty looking, right? ;)

The next step is to add a priming sugar that starts the carbonation process and then siphon the beer into a new bucket in order to filter out all of that sludge. Finally, it is bottling time!

We've been thinking of a few names for this particular batch and then I'll be designing labels. We'll be waiting about one more week until the beer is ready to drink, so I'll try to update you all then.

Have any of you tried home brewing?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Design a Day ::: Day 6

Short and to the point, this card is for new moms (which is seems there are a lot of these days in my age group).

I am still hooked on aqua and will soon need to turn to some design palette inspiration to get some other color schemes in my mind. I'd love to start with some bright summery stationery sets.

What colors do you associate with summer?

P.S. A few of my readers have been asking me about whether or not my designs are for sale. The answer is yes! If you click on the photos each day that I list my new design, it will take you to the listing in my shop.

Year of the House: Patio Furniture, Part Two

In case you ever wondered what patio furniture we decided to go with for our roof deck, I thought I should finally let you know.

Thank you, Crate & Barrel, for single-handedly making this summer THAT much more awesome. I have to admit that we didn't use our deck a whole lot before. Mostly it was the hassle of having to carry our camp chairs up every time we wanted to use it. We like to eat up there so it was annoying to have to take several trips up and down the steps only to have a not very relaxing spot to enjoy. Now that it feels like an additional room in this house (a very relaxing one at that!) we've been using the deck a lot. It is pretty nice to enjoy an evening breeze, actually see the stars come out at night (something that we thought wasn't possible in the city), and just relax after a long day. This has easily become our new favorite "room" in the house. Andrew compares it to the relaxing screened in porch he grew up with at his parents' house where he could stretch out on the furniture, do nothing, and be quite content with that all while spending time outdoors.

(Oh, and p.s. there is also an awesome umbrella that isn't up in these photos. It's pretty sweet too.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Design a Day ::: Day 5

It is wedding season for sure. I was just discussing this with a friend last night, a friend that is getting married this summer at that. We both seem to have a lot of invites just for this summer and more than any summers as of late. When I asked people what they wanted to see in the shop in terms of cards, the same friend said she'd love to see wedding cards. So today my goal was to create something simple, yet light and summery. I didn't want anything that was too mushy because I'm not a big fan of those types of cards.

I love the pairing of the envelope because it gives a fun, summery pop of color to the final design.

Are you like me this summer with a long list of weddings to attend?

The Truth About Summer So Far

I've got to be real with you people. I need a little bit of advice. During the school year I was so busy that at times I literally didn't have time to eat. To compound the insanity of school, my shop became super busy as well. Woohoo! I was so excited! I thought it would be great to finally have the summer off so that I could work on my shop. No more stressing out about whether or not I'd have enough time to get my orders finished in time.

Then Father's Day came and went.

Then I stopped selling anything in my shop.


The truth about this summer so far is that instead of having the extra time to work on orders, I have too much extra time with no work to be done. And to be honest, this has been rough. Really rough. The good news is that I have all the time in the world to experiment with new designs, so I'm trying to look on the bright side and keep my head up. I know that I can't be the only one that has experienced this sort of thing before. I mean, demand for certain items come and go with the seasons, but I just have never experienced a lull this bad before. I don't want to sit around twiddling my thumbs-- I want to do something about it.

via NiftySwank

So, I'm curious to know from any of you that are handmade business owners-- what do you do to stay positive when you're stuck in a rut like this? What are some ways to help boost business during low points in the year?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Design a Day ::: Day 4

Recently I bought a whole heap of washi tape at Target so that I could use it as a final touch on my packaging for my outgoing orders. I tie up each of my orders with twine and use a button for the knot. Then I slip one of my business cards under the twine. However, I was always worried that the card would get lost in the mailer and that my customers wouldn't get to enjoy the little note I had left for them on the back of the card. So enter washi tape as a cute little way to attach my business card.

I had just finished packaging up an order with washi tape when a thought crossed my mind. Why not make stationery that looks like a little name card has been taped to the flat note? Enter this new set of stationery.

These are probably the most girly flat notes I've designed in my entire life. Easily. And as we all know, I'm not one to be super girly. However, this design just needed to be made. It is one of those designs where a vision of how it was supposed to look flashed through my mind.  And you know what? After the final product was finished, it looked EXACTLY like my quick two second vision. Awesome. It isn't every day that that occurs, but when it does, it is definitely something to be happy about.

A Roof Deck Dinner Recipe ::: Round-Up Bean Casserole

It has been hot. And when I say hot, I mean the Baltimore kind of hot where there is so much humidity in the air that your skin pores can breath the instant you step out of the air-conditioned house. Combine the humidity with 95 degree, 99 degree heat index temps at 11:01am (yup, I'm writing this as we speak and have pulled up because I'm a weather nerd like that) and you are going to die when you walk out of that house. Well, you probably won't die, but it will at least feel like death until you are back in the A/C with an ice cold glass of water.

Yesterday, I did what any normal and sane person would do-- I played softball in this kind of weather. I was standing in the dugout, yes, just standing, and I felt the sweat drip from my forehead three minutes into the game. I did not die, thanks to chugging three bottles of water that were readily available, but once I got home and needed to make dinner, I didn't want to move a muscle.

These kinds of days happen more often than not in Baltimore. It is a shame because you know how much I love spending time outside. Luckily, believe it or not, our roof deck is the coolest place you could possibly find outdoors in this kind of weather. It has a nice breeze and the humidity is not nearly as bad. Plus there are usually no bugs. None of those awful mosquito bites!

So what to do for dinner on a night like this? Crock pot it up early on in the day, cook some corn really quickly, throw some greens on a plate, grab a good ol' IPA and you have a delicious dinner on a breezy roof deck.

This was the perfect summertime roof deck dinner. The baked bean casserole is a super easy recipe that my mom used to always make. It's a recipe that you usually bake, but in an attempt to avoid the heat of the oven I decided to try making it in the crock pot earlier in the day. Best idea ever. It turned out just as perfectly and left me with the chance to be lazy and enjoy summer break while it simmered in the crock pot.

Round-Up Bean Casserole

Fry together:
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
In your crock pot, mix a can of kidney beans, butter beans, and pinto beans. Mix together with meat and onion and the following mixture:
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • salt to taste
Set your crock pot to high and cook for 2 hours. Stir the casserole and cook at low or warm until ready to serve. If you choose to go the baked route instead, mix everything in a casserole dish and bake at 350 for an hour.

This casserole can serve as the perfect main course along with some other veggies, or as a baked bean side at a barbeque.

And as with any roof deck dinner, you can't forget to enjoy the sunset as an after dinner treat.

What summer foods have you been cooking up lately?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Design a Day ::: Day 3

Today's design was one that I'd thought about doing for quite some time after I had made these record cards. I finally decided to get my butt in gear and conjured up a birthday card that many of you will probably enjoy (as long as you're old enough). It has to do with cassette tapes. Yup. I was one of those kids that had a blank tape sitting in my tape recorder/radio and would run to press record when one of my favorite songs came on the radio. **True story and side note: Once I listened to said cassette tapes years later and one of them had basically this song, this song, and that song on repeat.** Anyway, it was only natural for me to make this fabulous card.

And for those of you that actually watched the videos and listened to the songs I mentioned in my side note-- I am sorry. That will probably be ten minutes of your life that you'll never get back. And no, I don't know what is going on in the SWV video either. I wish I knew.

Sad and Happy Babies

I hardly intended to get some people bent out of shape yesterday when I took an impromptu poll about whether or not this new card I had designed was mean or funny.

You see, sometimes when I need some inspiration, I turn to Andrew to help me brainstorm. It may be quite possible that Andrew plus me equals completely, horrible, off the cuff, un-PC humor. May I remind you of the fart card and how that came about? Ok. See? No further explanation needed.

Well, apparently most of you thought that it was super funny. However, a few of you seemed to think it was a tad offensive. My defense was that the card was actually pretty true. And while I am not a mom, I think that in most cases, I tend to see humor in the reality of our world. What is the point of sugar-coating things? I do not perceive this outlook as negative, but rather realistic. After all, I tend to be a realist rather than a romantic. It is my way of preparing myself for what is to come.

However, I like to please you all, so in order to look on the bright side a bit, I came up with this design.
So everyone was happy then, right? Nope. This new design cause all of those sad baby card lovers to say, "Booooo. Sad baby was better. Why is everyone so offended?"

Boy oh boy. Who knew that a simple card design would be so controversial? I tend to get people's heads to turn. I like to start a good debate, but I was just quite surprised by the feedback that I go from both ends. 

But enough of that. You know what is less controversial than a sad baby vs. happy baby card debate? Some of these wonderful ladies that you should meet! They would love to introduce themselves. And for a little bit of fun, I asked them what their favorite thing is (or was) about summer break.

Hey everyone! My name is Bree, and I blog over at The Thing About Joy! I'd love to get to know you, so be sure and stop by and introduce yourself! xoxo

My favorite thing about summer break... we'll, I am still in school. I got a 2 1/2 week break before summer session started. *sad day* But, its only two classes right now, and the homework load isn't as bad as during a regular semester!! I love being able to sleep in, go to the pool, and do all kinds of crafty things during my summer spare time! I've just gotten started with some mixed media designs and I am having so much fun! Some of my designs will show up soon on my blog, so check it out! Plus, this summer I have become obsessed with Art Journaling! Check out my post on SMASH books! That's only the beginning of my obsession. :)) 

I'm Beth and I blog at Dot in the City. Dot in the City started as an outlet for me to write about the things I do and often about making our 90 year old house into a home.  When I'm not tweeting, blogging or dreaming up how to make our 90 year old house into a home with my husband,  you can find me walking our dog, Milton, reading other blogs or soaking up New England for all its worth.

When I was growing up, my favorite thing about summer break was lunch with my mom. I have the best memories of packing picnics and going to fun places when I was in elementary school. We lived in Colorado for part of that time and I remember going to an overlook to watch air planes/parachutes, panning for "gold" in a river (fool's gold that is) and going on nature hikes. I'm thankful my mom made even boring things like lunch an adventure. 

Hey yall! I'm Cassie and my blog is my little slice of internet heaven! I'm a daughter of God, wife, momma, shop owner & aspiring author! I share our journey through this beautiful crazy life!

As a kid my favorite thing about summer break was sleeping in and no school! :)

Laura, from Our Reflection, is a passionate lifestyle photographer. She is, regrettably, a bit addicted to social media. She has a constant connection with Facebook and Twitter. She loves Starbucks, the colors pink and yellow, mountain biking, foot massages, the piano, her two amazing daughters and admirable husband.

My favorite thing about summer breaks was family vacation-- going camping and to the lake. Great memories. 

I'm Danielle! I first began my blog in April of last year as a way to document the end of my high school years. Now it has evolved to be about all things fashion and beauty related. I love to bake too and am hoping to include some more recipes on the blog soon along with some DIY projects. I am also obsessed with chevron and mint green, which you'll see by my blog design! 

I love having the summer off of school. I love to stay up late every night blogging and then sleep in every morning. I also enjoy doing lunch dates at Panera with my mom and spending the afternoon shopping. The summer keeps me very busy with two part-time jobs and swim lessons, but I LOVE it!
Thanks ladies! It's been real having you! And if you're interested in having one of these fun little posts on my blog in July, you can head over to my sponsor page for all of the details. I still have plenty of medium and small ads available, and I promise that the rates are SUPER affordable. I'd love to have you awesome people! ;)



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Design a Day ::: Day 2

I love simple design. While I browsed through my seemingly endless collection of card stock, I stumbled across a retro patterned mustard yellow card stock that instantly jumped out at me. I was immediately inspired to create something simple. I paired the patterned paper with a dark gray {happy birthday} and a sea blue envelope.

I knew that while I only had enough card stock to make four of these cards, that I had to make them anyway. Sometimes a design just needs to be created. And sometimes there is something really awesome about knowing there are only four of these cards out there in this big world.
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