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Good Goods

Another round up of my favorite goods lately:

  1. Symbol // Looks like such a great book! Want.
  2. Striped tank from Target // I bought it in 4 colors.
  3. Deborah Lippmann in Lara’s Theme // The perfect orange.
  4. Mineralogie cream concealer // Dark circles be gone.
  5. Water bottle with storage // Perfect for the gym!

Any good goods that you’ve been into lately? I’m in the market for some new clothes to workout in. Any recs? I like inexpensive!

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3 New Things: July Edition

I totally failed last month’s 3 New Things. June really opened my eyes to 1) how fast a month flies by and 2) how much I can actually accomplish within those days. I only visited Cleveland (I was aiming at 3 new Ohio towns), I skipped making natural cleaner because I still have a lot of organic, natural cleaner that we bought earlier this year and I didn’t even attempt my DIY camera straps. Supplies=money and we had to shell out a large wad of cash this month due to car issues.

This month I’m attempting things that will be new, but not necessarily out of my time limitations or budget. The three new things I’ll be trying are:

  1. Make healthy versions of popsicles (inspired by this photo). I already have the molds and the ingredients!
  2. Make my own cheese platter (idea & tutorial found here)! We buy and try new cheeses often. It’d be nice to label each kind.
  3. Experiment with iPhone + video + Photoshop CS6! (Photo found here.)

July is going to be insanely busy but I feel great about these three new things. I know that I won’t break the bank and I know I’ll really love learning by trail & error. Expect three posts throughout the month documenting my progress and accomplishments!

Any new things you want to try in July? Can you believe it’s July already??

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Apartment Living DIY: Outdoor Space

Apartment Living DIY is a monthly series where I spruce up something in our apartment. Adam and I currently rent a small one bedroom apartment and always get an itch to customize. Unfortunately we can’t knock down walls or upgrade appliances so we thought we’d work on a fun temporary DIY each month.  Last month I shared a light fixture DIY and today we’re sprucing up our outdoor area! Obviously this DIY might not apply to your apartment outdoor space (perhaps you don’t even have much of anything outside) but I hope it will spark ideas. Below is a photo of what we were working with:

We share a small concrete patio with our next door neighbors and if you walk down a few steps there is a shared grassy area. We decided that we wanted to host a fun cookout next weekend and it was looking a little “blah” back there. As you can see, we had a snow shovel and a random piece of wood just….sitting there. I use the railings to hold my herbs and that’s about it. Adam measured the exact space we were working with and we set a budget of $100. Our goals were:

  • Creating shelving space around the edges of the patio
  • Attain at least 2 chairs
  • Control the bug problem (lots of gnats and mosquitos)
  • Fun plants!

We attempted to find most of what we were looking for at thrift stores but that proved to be too expensive (most outdoor furniture is sold in sets). We did all of our shopping at Target and Home Depot. Below is everything we bought:

Here’s a breakdown on costs:

  • 2×8 foot piece of wood cut down to the lengths we needed – $5.82
  • Screws – $7.97
  • Four 6″ x  8″ shelf brackets – $4.68
  • 3 plants – $13.94
  • 3 Terra cotta pots with saucers – $9.75
  • 4 Citronella candles – $4.88
  • 2 Bamboo torches with bitefighter fuel – $14.96
  • 2 Target outdoor plastic chairs – $19.22

Total cost was $81.22 before tax! Technically we still have $18.78 to spend but I’ll share some of my ideas on that later on in this post. Here are some photos explaining exactly what we did with all of these materials.

First of all, Adam had to fix up the corner section of the patio. He removed the piece of wood covering the cement post and reattached it. Once that was in place, we took brackets and essentially created a shelf right below the rail.

Since our makeshift patio isn’t really perfect, we made sure to use a leveler.

Once we put up the shelves on both sides, we added our plants and candles! Look how pretty it looks!

We made use of our chairs too! They’re sitting out in the little grassy area and we still have yet to place our torches into the ground. It was a little too hard so hopefully it’ll rain a few times and then we can plant them near the chairs.

So there it is! Our little outdoor space is looking a lot better for the summer months. We might not have the prettiest “lawn” or the ability to make drastic changes but I think this will hold us over until we buy a house next year!

Any fun, inexpensive ways that you’ve spruced up your outdoor area? Sometimes even a few plants and a wind chime can brighten up an area. Any ideas on what I should spend the last $18.78 on? Some ideas that I had were:  a nice big blanket that I can use in the yard to lay on, a cooler, or some plants I could hang from the balcony above. 

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Hello Adulthood: Healthy Living

My parents did a great job raising their kids in a healthy house. We were never concerned with weight, physical appearance, or trendy clothes. We ate hearty, home-cooked meals and I can honestly say that I was never self-conscious about my appearance as a teen. Here’s the thing, I’m really petite. I’m 5 feet tall and I broke the 100 pound mark in high school. I’m not “athletic” in the sense that I didn’t play sports as a kid/teen and because of this I sort of took it on as part of my identity. Since this was how I identified myself…other people did too and I ended up becoming the butt of many jokes throughout my life. While I was usually nodding in agreement, I think a lot of those jokes really affected me. To make someone feel like they can’t be physically active without looking like an idiot really prevents that person from ever attempting on their own.

For most of my life, however, it didn’t matter. I didn’t really need to workout because I always stayed relatively thin. But all of that changed once I got my first (miserable) full-time job. Leaving work for lunch was sort of my “escape” and because of that I developed really awful habits after I got married (and ultimately gained weight). The MOST frustrating part of the situation was when people made me feel guilty when I tried to get healthy. I would get, “Why do you need to work out? You’re little,” or “OMG stop. You look fine. What do you weigh 70 pounds?” Listen up all: being petitie is not equivalent to being healthy.

So finally this year I decided to make lifestyle changes. They included the following:

  • Remove gluten from my diet : I’ve been gluten free since February 2012 and I haven’t regretted it once. Oh and you can read my post about going gluten-free and some of my favorite products.
  • Workout regularly : No brainer, huh? In order to force myself to make it a habit, I joined a small gym down the street. I can walk there within two minutes and there are rarely more than 5 other people working out at the same time. We’ve met with a trainer a few times now and I’m excited to target reducing body fat (versus just reducing weight). I’m still kind of nervous to try group classes but I’m working up the courage.
  • Choose whole foods and avoid processed “foods” : When I look at ingredients, I have to be able to pronounce or identify every single one. Red dye? Potassium Bromate? Even white sugar. Uhh, no thanks. Because of this I cook a lot more and have been able to experiment with a lot of new produce.
  • Stick to red wine : I’ve eliminated beer (mostly because of gluten) and liquor. Why? Because I feel like sh*t when I drink. I was sick of ordering drinks just because everyone else was and then getting an awful headache or feeling nauseous. I can have a glass of red wine and feel good. I’m listening to my body now and it feels great.

I thought I’d share some of my favorite “healthy” products:

  1. My snazzy Adidas shoes. I had no idea how much a difference shoes make when working out. I feel like I could fly!
  2. Dr. Mercola and all his products. I love reading his articles. SUPER eye opening.
  3. Cold oats in the AM. Fuels my day in a delicious way. (Rhyme!)
  4. Royal matcha green tea (powder). Besides water…it’s like the best thing you can drink.
  5. [Not pictured] Agave Nectar, a natural sweetener. I’m officially off using sugar in my coffee and I love it.

Long story short: I feel great, I don’t get horrible headaches anymore, I have more energy and I’ve lost a few pounds! Win-win-win-win.

Have you made any lifestyle changes as an adult to benefit your health? Any bad habits you want to break? I’d love to discuss!

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Here We Go: Sidebar

Today we’re discussing the sidebar! Exciting, huh? When I first started blogging I didn’t really give a lot of attention to my sidebar. You can see it here. Ugly ugly ugly! I’m going to list a few key components that I think you should consider when constructing your sidebar:

It’s really important to keep all of your important information at the top of your sidebar. What’s important? Well it’s obviously up to you. I would definitely suggest keeping a small photo to “introduce yourself” to new readers that links to your ABOUT page. It’s also important to make it easy to connect or subscribe (whether that’s RSS, links to social media, or something like Google Friend Connect). In a nutshell: introduce yourself and make it easy for people to stay in touch.

I think this was one of my biggest mistakes when I first started blogging. Most of my links were literally links. You can really spruce up your sidebar by creating buttons and graphics that allow your readers to dig deeper into your blog. It’s also important to keep one single width. On my blog I make sure that every button is 200 px wide. Since your sidebar (whether it’s on the left or the right) essentially frames your blog, it really keeps it clean.

There are many opportunities to share lists on your sidebar. It could be your blogroll, categories or tags. I would suggest keeping it short or using a drop down menu when possible. Heck, go crazy in your blog posts but I definitely wouldn’t overwhelm your readers with a lot of text. Oh…and make sure your links open in new tabs. Why would you want to point them away from your lovely space?

Sometimes I get so frustrated when I return to a favorite blog (or find a new one) and can’t search for content. Perhaps I read about your great pesto recipe but forgot to bookmark it. I should be able to go back to your blog and use your search bar to find your delicious recipe! Make it easy and if you use Google search, make sure it’s searching ONLY your blog’s content and not the entire internet.

I also found another easy post about adding images to your sidebar and sizing/aligning them correctly with HTML. I hope those four tips help. Obviously there are many other great things that you can add to your sidebar and I’d love to hear what works for you! What do you include on your sidebar? What bugs you about other blogs’ sidebars? Let’s aim to improve!

 

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I Met Her When I Was 10

I met her when I was 10 years old. She was this tiny being that came into my life without much warning. I don’t even remember my parents telling me that they were pregnant. Absolutely no memory. I remember being annoyed. “Another girl? I like being the only girl in our family.” It’s easy to be annoyed with someone you don’t even know and I was a selfish 10 year old. All feelings of irritation vanished once I held her. Being so much older than my sister has really been a blessing. I don’t have many memories of my own childhood but I remember everything from hers. From her first steps, to her first day of kindergarten, and recently seeing her finish up her first year of high school.

In 2009 she was diagnosed with celiac disease and thyroiditis and it was then that I saw her transform into someone that I truly admire. At 12 years old, she was forced to think about how she wanted to address these issues and instead of the easy way out (pills, pills, pills) she radically changed her diet. She doesn’t cheat. She doesn’t complain. And now that she got her braces off…she actually flashes that awesome smile all the time.

I feel lucky to admire someone that is 10 years younger than me. I know that I’ll be inspired as I grow older and can continue to invest in her without hesitation.

The reason I’m sharing all of this is because The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio asked me to write up a little blog post about a woman or girl that has made the greatest impact on my life. I chose my (almost) 15 year old sister. She isn’t awesome by accident. She stands firm in what she believes in and prioritizes things that are important to her. My sister teaches me that no matter how old I am, I can impact the world around me. What can you do to impact the community and relationships around you?

The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio is excited to welcome special guest Whoopi Goldberg to Nationwide Arena (in Columbus, Ohio) on Friday, June 29th for Keyholder 2012. The Women’s Fund’s annual Keyholder event is a preeminent gathering in the central Ohio area, attracting thousands of people to honor the women and girls who have made a significant impact in their lives. Tickets are on sale now for $50 each and all proceeds are used to provide grants that promise social change for women and girls. Call 614-225-9926 to purchase tickets or stop by their site for more information. Connect with The Women’s Fund on Facebook and Twitter.

BUT before you buy your tickets, perhaps you can try to win a pair here on my blog! You can enter to win 2 tickets ($100 in value) to The Women’s Fund’s annual Keyholder event and can enter up to six different ways. The giveaway will end at midnight on Thursday, June 21st. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Check Out My New Ride

My plants are growing (I used my first basil harvest to make margherita pizza on Friday) and I got this awesome bike this weekend. Our friend Kevin buys old bikes and frames and makes sweet rides like this! A friend on Twitter suggested I either get a yellow seat or basket so it’s CMYK. I love it. Any recs on where to buy pedals, baskets and seats?

How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun? I had lots of plans to make popsicles, camera straps and natural homemade cleaner but I stayed up SUPER late last Thursday night freelancing and it hit me on Saturday morning. I took a nap instead. I NEVER take naps and it was magical.

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My Very Wide-Angle View

I snagged one of these White Slim Angel Wide-Angle Cameras from Poketo awhile back and I finally got my roll developed. The roll turned okay alright (36 exposures) and below are some of my favorites from Columbus and then WMC Fest 3 in Cleveland! I forget how cameras like this can’t really handle any dim light so most of the best shots were taken outside during the day. I didn’t edit them at all and it’s fun to see the vignetting that happens naturally with this camera.

[From top to bottom: DK Diner brunch with Megumi and Adam, Columbus Commons, Avett Brothers concert, downtown Columbus, my view…jean shorts and summer sandals]

[From top to bottom: Saigon Plaza, Reinberger Auditorium, reflections and posters, um best shirts ever, iLTHY gallery]

Overall it’s a really fun camera to carry around because it’s so light and small. I think I’ll probably keep it in my tote all summer and try to stretch an entire roll until the end of August. I always feel like shooting film is kind of like a time capsule. Happy weekend to you all! It’s going to be a hot one. I kind of want to buy one of those plastic pools. Or a sprinkler. And a badminton set. And popsicles. Alright, peace out.

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Beginners Guide to Jewelry Making

Every month I decide to try 3 new things. Last month I decided that I wanted to make my own jewelry so I thought it would be fun to document it all and share! I originally used this post as a guest blog post over on Ciera’s blog yesterday but I wanted to post it here too in case any of my readers missed it. Before we begin, you must know that I’ve never made jewelry before I created the necklace I document below. I literally went to Hobby Lobby and thought, “What supplies make sense?” I had already ordered some amazing vintage Japanese beads on Etsy beforehand so I just needed to make sure I could thread them. Here are the supplies that I used:

I picked up a basic jewelry tool kit and a few options when it came to chains. I ended up using a really thin (and cheap) gold chain so I’m excited to experiment with more quality supplies later. Here is a visual and brief tutorial below. I’ll go into more details on each step below the image!

 

Okay here’s more of an explanation for each step:

1. I am using a 2″ eye pin here. If I were to re-create this necklace again (which I probably will), I might consider adding a drop of super glue to keep the two beads together. If you aren’t extremely precise, it’s hard to keep them close together while closing the eye pin in the next step.

2. I used the round nose pliers to hold the eye pin steady while I literally bent the other end perpendicular.

3. I didn’t get a photo but I did clip the end of the eye pin so that it was shorter. I didn’t want to bend it into a loop and then have extra wire. Here is a great tutorial on creating loops with your eye pins.

4. As you can see, I have created the loop and now the beads are secured. My loop is definitely not perfect but it works!

5. I wanted to make sure I knew how to create a loop before I strung the chain through (so this is technically a little backwards) but by the time you get the hang of it, it doesn’t take a lot to pull the loop apart and add the chain.

6. Now you have a completed and seamless necklace! After this, I snipped the chain (where it would fall on your neck) and added the clasp! Ta da! Necklace completed.

So there’s my beginners guide to jewelry making. I learned a lot and didn’t even really study any techniques. It was almost more fun going into it neutral and not having an preconceived ideas of what my necklace should look like. I did run into a few issues the days following this little DIY experience. I realized the beads weren’t really heavy enough and I felt like it was constantly lopsided. There wasn’t enough weight pulling it down. It also “broke” one day while I wore it. Essentially the chain came off the looped eyepin near one of the beads. I just need to make my loop tighter. Let me know if you have any advice or tips – I’m all ears.

Be on the lookout next few weeks for updates on June’s 3 New Things! I’ll be experimenting with camera strap making + making my own natural cleaners this weekend! Wish me luck!