Wednesday, September 17, 2014

DIY Fireplace Reveal

HIIII!!!!
I am sosososo EXCITED to share this with you!  I have talked about this fireplace since I started this blog.  It has taken me a really long time to complete.  There really is no excuse for it, I literally stopped working on the dang thing for like 8 months.  I finally got off of my butt and finished it, and let me tell you....EEEEK!!!!  I feel like a twelve-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert.  I'm so thrilled and it is SO pretty!  Today I'm just going to share all of the pretty pictures and I will be back soon with a tutorial on how I made this.  I can tell you one thing, though.....I did it all by myself! whooo! It feels so good to make something with your own two hands, sit back and stare at the finished product and wonder....Did I really make that????

Without further ado!


All pretty and finished! 
I'm kind of regretting not taking down that swag of fabric that is on the window before taking these pictures.  I'm considering making a roman shade out of it...what do you think? Yay or nay? 

more shots...

All of the tile is white Carrera marble.  Hex tiles and subway tiles. 



The area where the wood meets the wall is a little rough, since I still have to paint the walls.  


a nice BIG mantle. 


The inside is painted with chalk board paint!  
This is a faux fireplace right now, but it has the option to add a gas insert to it.  It can be vented through the wall behind it or we could go ventless (my preference).  The chalkboard piece is removable, so it would be very easily done.  


My favorite part....I love it. 



I built this around the tv....never even took it off of the wall, haha! 

The stupid glare!  I had to open the front door to get enough light for these photos. 



Here's a fun little thing I devised....I hinged part of the frame around the T.V. so we can get to the television controls. 


You can see a glimpse of my next project here...re-doing the trim around the back door! 



Check out those crown moulding returns on the front of this....yeah.  I did that. 



and here's a crappy shot of the whole wall...just so you can see.  I have a lot of things to fix left on this wall...

Changing the trim on the door...adding trim to the window and making a roman shade....ditching the ac unit.  It was a necessity with our AC going bad this summer....painting the walls and adding a wall treatment.  I've got a long way to go...but not as long as how far I have come! 

Oh and here's a really funny before shot for ya...This was right after coming home from the hospital when we had our first daughter.  My mom caught us in a rare moment.   The room has changed so much.   The window in the back and the wall behind the couch are the same wall and window you are looking at above :)

Oh and one more thing to mention....this bad boy came in at just under 200 dollars to make :)  You can't beat that, can you? 

Do you love it???  I'm just so happy it's DONE!  
Now I get to come up with some really great fall mantle decorations and decorate my bookshelves!  
Hope you guys have a great day! 
xo
Anna 



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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Struggles and Lessons Learned Through Making Friends

Hey There!

Guess what, y'all....I've finally finished my fireplace that I've mentioned, I don't know....a hundred times.  I have been working on it for a year....I'm so excited that it's all done.  How sad is that....a whole year...anyways, I'll have a post about that for you pretty soon.  I wanted to take pictures of it today, but it has been dreary and rainy all day and the light wasn't good enough to get any decent pictures....instead I thought I would talk about something that has been on my mind lately....The art of making friends...I'm going to get a little deep and pretty personal.  Be forewarned.

I'll be the first to admit, I was somewhat of an ugly duckling.  I was pretty cute (I think) when I was really little...and then...I don't know what happened... part of the story has to do with my somewhat traumatic childhood.  Wish I could share that story with you guys, but you know....it's not just my story and I'd hate to share things that others involved wouldn't want me to....it's too bad, though, because it's a good one ;).  Let's just say that I was left with a very low self esteem and self worth.  It was kind of pitiful actually.  

I'm the one on the left, with my mom and my sister.

with my Aunt


And oh this pitiful creature in blue is, yes...myself along with my two sisters. 


I had sisters growing up.  I also had a step sister that isn't pictured here, but she was raised in the same house as my sisters and I, so there were four girls.  My first sister, my step sister and I were all within three years of each other, so for a long time they were my friends.  I didn't need to find any others...and when I did, they were usually very shallow friendships and with some questionable characters, I recall.  I can remember my "best friend" in the fourth grade stabbing me in the leg with a pencil....for no reason....just because she felt like it...and I didn't do anything about it.  Low self worth.  
We moved constantly during my childhood.  I think we moved on an average of every single year.  Two times we lived somewhere for two years and then other times we lived places for only six months.  So as I went on, I made very shallow friendships, and then my sisters were the only constant.  It went on like that until high school (when we finally stayed one place for four years)....I had one dear sweet friend in high school.  She was the one who introduced me to my faith, my husband, and absolutely changed my life, to which I am forever thankful :) She will always hold a place in my heart and my life  



She graduated early from high school and went away (far far away) to college, got married and stayed out west. And although we visit each other here and there, we aren't really in each other's lives anymore.  Throughout high school I felt like my whole identity was "Sacha's Friend" so when she left, I had to try and find friends on my own. It was really hard for me when she moved away.  This was also the time when my VERY best friend (my sister Megan, my sister just under me pictured above) passed away... (a whole other story).  Now two very huge crutches in my life, when it came to friendship, were all of the sudden gone.   All I ever knew was how to make a very superficial "acquaintance" type of friend....and then I would get my feelings hurt so badly when they wouldn't reach out to me to do things....or leave me out of things.  

This continued into my adult years.  I always felt as though I had no friends.  Sure I knew a ton of people, and I think most people liked me well enough (I guess)...but I always had this feeling that people didn't like my personality, or that I just plain didn't have one.  I never reached out to others, but always got my feelings hurt when nobody would reach out to me.  I guess I was just afraid and intimidated by other women.  Too afraid of how I might be judged to let the real me shine through.  Also, I might add, confidence is the most attractive thing to people, and I had none of it.  The sad thing is, that I know that there are so many women out there that feel the same way.  People have different ways of covering their insecurities and getting along, all the while feeling less than on the inside....and this is the reason I'm sharing this story.  

I managed to make another good friend after we both left our mutual job at the same time...and stayed in touch.  She has been one of my very best friends for the last 13 years. I know I said I felt like I had no friends, but I can't count her out!  She has seen me though some major major things :)  


We weren't super great friends at the very get go.  We got along great, but the real friendship took time to blossom.  One of the important things she has taught me is that deep friendships aren't made over night.  You have to let things take their natural course and grow slowly.  I could never imagine being as at ease with a friend as I am with her....that only comes with time and investment...something I knew nothing about.  

Although I did have one very good friend, I still felt like people in general didn't like me.  I didn't have a "group of girls" like I see in so many people's social media, etc., and I had always wanted that.  I would get really down on myself about it. I have literally thrown birthday parties for myself where nobody would show up....I'm not making this stuff up, Y'all.  I would think that "acquaintances" were pretty good friends and the other person would be like...huh?  I don't really know you that well....it made for a lot of awkwardness.

  I am at heart a super super super extroverted person.  I am at my happiest when I am socializing....and my dream would be a neighborhood where all of the houses back up to each other (think backyardigans) and they were all filled with my best friends and family....and we would take walks together and hang out at night after the kids are in bed....my heaven. I never get tired of "people."  

It wasn't until I was sitting in church one day and the lesson was on this talk by Dieter F. Uchtdorf. (really...follow the link and go read it....seriously) The lesson was all about judging others....and he says, simply "Stop it!" ...I was really turning inward while listening to this lesson, trying to think of how I could apply it to myself.  I kept coming up blank because I really don't judge others.  It's always something I've thought of as a virtue of mine, I'm not judgmental, I like everybody.....then I thought, if only others would stop judging me...and then it hit me, BAM, like a ton of bricks!  I AM judging others, by assuming that they are judging me (getting deep here...).  Why must I keep such a negative image of myself in my mind that I refuse to give others the benefit of doubt that they aren't thinking bad things about me?  We do this way way way too much ladies.  It was such a revelation.  After said revelation had struck me, a lady in the class made a comment...and let me tell you, this changed my life forever.  She said that even though she may have this fault or that fault, her friends and sisters in our church "love her anyway."  It was such a simple thing to say, but it struck me like a lightning bolt (which, looking back, was clearly the holy spirit enlightening me).  I suddenly realized that people don't have to like every little tiny thing about me....and that's OK!  I'm not perfect and neither is anybody else.  I thought about how I felt about people that I really admired.  Are there things about them that get on my nerves...sure!  Do I still love and admire them....absolutely!  I thought about how I felt about people I hardly thought of....do I still love and admire them?  Why yes!  If I felt that way about others, then they must feel the same way about me.  I don't have to be perfect or even un-annoying for people to love me! I just have to be me and not afraid of friendship. 

 From that day forward I have been a different person.  I have no issue making friends.  Some of them come and go, some stay. Some have started to grow into really deep, long lasting, meaningful friendships.  I realized that you have to take responsibility for the life you want to have and take action to make it so.  If I want to hang out with someone, well....then I had better ask them!  You can't expect other people to think of you first, you have to reach out to them.  The best is when you find someone who also "gets it" and then they do reach out to you back.  You just can't sit and wait for it.  Never assume that people don't like you, or that you aren't even noteworthy enough for them to take notice and seek you out.  It simply isn't the case.  People generally are just into their own thing.  If they aren't seeking you out, it's because they are busy thinking about what they've already got going on....which has nothing to do with you!  

We all need to just stop trying to guess what other people have going on in their minds....and be okay with the fact that they typically aren't thinking about you.....oooor.....that it might even be something negative about you....heck I think critical things about people I love, value and cherish all of the time.....and I know you all do it too, admit it...  I wouldn't say those things out loud, of course.  But, guess what... it doesn't matter, because I love them anyway!  

I'm happy to report that I now have so many friends that I find it hard to maintain a relationship with them all because I don't physically have the time.  I have been freed from this life long issue of mine and I hope this post finds it's way to others that may benefit from this advice like I have.  

Some of  my friends!!!!



This was for my birthday...my good friend threw me a birthday brunch :)



Love to you all
Anna 

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Spinach, Tomato, Gorgonzola and Cashew Salad with a Parmesan Balsamic Dressing.

Hi Friends!  Sorry I haven't posted in a few days.  I'm still super sporadic with the posting.  Maybe one day I can get myself settled into a routine...but that day hasn't come yet.  Lately I have been on a really big healthy eating kick, and I am working on my second week of going to the gym every day.  I am taking the classes every day after I drop my daughter off at preschool.  I do Yoga on Monday and Wednesday, Body Pump (weights) on Tuesday and Thursday and then Pilates on Friday.  I am committed!  Wish me luck and consistency. :)


Today I thought I'd share with you my favorite thing right now.  I eat this salad basically every day for lunch.  It's a really really basic salad of Spinach, Tomatoes, Gorgonzola Cheese and Cashews and then I make this really amazing dressing from scratch (that I made up) that goes on it.  Every time I make this for a baby shower or brunch or something, everybody raves about this dressing...and now I'm going to share it with you!  

Here are the things you'll need:  

Fresh Spinach


Cashews, Gorgonzola cheese, and tomatoes.  I use one large tomato or two small ones (these are roma)


The salad is pretty simple.  Chop your tomatoes and throw it all in a bowl. 


I always put a ton of cashews on here because I'm substituting the nuts for a meat.  Sometimes I'll throw some chicken on here, if I have it. If I do that, I go light on the nuts.  



Here's how you make the dressing: 

You need: 
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
lemon juice 
Cavender's Greek seasoning
Garlic powder
Salt (optional)
Pepper
Grated Parmesan Cheese


There is no measuring here....you do everything to taste.

Start by covering the bottom of a small bowl with olive oil.  Just the basic amount you think you'll need on the size of your salad. 


Add balsamic dressing.  How much depends on how vinegary you like it.  


a little bit of lemon juice cuts down on the sharpness of the vinegar.  I prefer a fresh lemon...but this is all I had today.  Just give it a little squirt.


Cavender's Greek Seasoning. You can find it at Walmart.  This stuff is my FAVORITE.  I use it so much on so many dishes.  This is the salt free kind, but I usually buy the regular kind...they were just out, so I got salt free.  Cover the surface of the liquid in a good sprinkling of this seasoning.  Think about it as if you were covering your whole salad and put basically that much in your dressing. 


Next, sprinkle across Garlic, and cracked pepper.  Salt is optional.  I only used it because I had the salt free seasoning above. You really don't need it.  


Dump in a bunch of grated parmesan cheese.  This seriously MAKES the dressing.  You don't want to soak up all of the liquid (as it looks like I have done below...I haven't).  You just want a good thick sprinkling across the surface of the liquid.  



whisk with a fork (or a whisk...but who wants another dirty dish) And it should look something like this.
  Now taste. 
 See if you want a little more of any of the seasoning, or if it's too strong, you can add more olive oil to settle it down.  


Pour desired amount over your salad


Mix it up and enjoy! 


Oh man....this is so good.  



Hope Y'all have a great day! 
xoxo
Anna

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Disney's "Brave" Inspired Costume Dress

Good Afternoon!
Today is a lovely, warm, sunny day....the kind of day that just makes you happy...and I have been perfectly happy all day :)  Let's see if it lasts...

For the past couple of days I have been working on caulking and puttying my fireplace.  I would be finished by now, but I ran out of supplies...so I will be finishing that this afternoon.

Today I am going to share with you the dress I made for my one-year-old niece's birthday party a couple of weeks ago.  It was a "Brave" themed party and my sister was having a hard time finding a Brave costume for her daughter that was small enough to fit her newly one-year-old daughter.   I started thinking about it, and decided I could make one for her.  I can not believe how awesome it turned out!  I made this before I started back blogging, so I regret that I don't have a lot of "detail" pictures of it.  I did take a few though....because I just couldn't resist texting them to my sis while I was mid-project.
Disney's "Brave" Inspired Costume Dress



The materials I used were this:

Skirt

  • 3 yards of dark teal netting
  • 1.5 yards of kelly green netting
  • 1.5 yards of light blue tulle 
  • 1.5 yards of lime green sparkly tulle
  • green crocheted headband stuff on a spool (yeah...I'm not sure what it's called...see picture below if you're confused) 
Bodice
  • 1/8th yard of dark teal satin (ish) material
  • 1/8th yard of gold satin (ish) material
  • 1/8th yard of blue and green tartan plaid material
  • a whole bunch of gold rope trim.  I bought three different kinds.  
  • gold ribbon
Quiver:  
  •  two sheets of brown felt
  • a small section of leather cording
  • hot glue
  • more gold rope trim
  • head of a fake daisy
bow and arrows: 
  • stem from a fake flower
  • gold elastic cording
  • small piece of leather cording
  • three strait sticks (or dowel rods could work)
  • brown "real looking" craft feathers
  • glitter gold felt
Total cost:  around $25 dollars and I bought it all at Hobby Lobby...I used my 40% off coupon! 

Here is the skirt after I got it all assembled:  


It's just your basic "tie tutu."  I measured my niece's chest and then stretched out the stretchy crochet mesh so that it would fit her well, and then I sewed the crochet mesh closed into a circle.  I used a zig zag stitch and sewed the heck out of it over and over so I could be sure it would hold up. 

I cut all of the netting and tulle into equal lengths and folded them in half.  I took the center fold of each tulle piece and put it through one of the crochet holes on the very bottom row of holes.  I inserted it from the front so that a  little loop of tulle was sticking through to the inside of the crocheted mesh.  I then pulled the loop down, stuck my fingers through the loop and grabbed the tails of tulle that were hanging and pulled them through the loop and tightened, so that it made a knot.  I wish I had a detail picture of this, but I don't. It's really easy though....just knot the tulle into the little holes....and repeat!  until you've used up all of your tulle. I did a little math with mine so that it had an even pattern of the different kinds of netting and tulle.  Here's a close up: 


Side note:  Using both netting and tulle will make for a stiffer tutu.  I loved the netting, but if you want it to be really soft and flowy, then I'd go all tulle...but you will need a lot more than what I used here.  

After I finished the tutu, I took two pieces of braided gold rope to make straps.  I hand stitched them into the inside of the front of the tutu only.  I left the back pieces free so that I could adjust them on my niece when she put it on.  Those were just safety pinned in when she put it on.  

This much by itself is a perfectly good tutu dress, but I wanted it to be special, so I made an adjustable bodice to fit, unattached, over the tutu dress.  Here's what I did:  

This is the finished front of the bodice:  


and the finished back:  


I measured by niece's chest circumference and made the length around approximately that length.  I cut two matching pieces of the shiny blue fabric in a basic long rectangle, but added a little dip down to a point in the front, to make it look more medieval ....the length of this rectangle needs to be as long as the chest measurements.   No pattern, I just eyeballed it.  I made sure to keep in mind that I was going to do a 1/2 inch seam allowance around the whole thing.  It looked kind of like this:



After that, I figured out how wide I wanted the plaid fabric to be and I cut out the piece of plaid fabric to the same height of the blue fabric.  I then cut only one of the pieces of blue fabric (the one that will act as the front of the bodice....the other will be the lining of the bodice) in half and then cut off the part where the plaid fabric will go, except I left a 1/2 inch seam allowance on both the plaid piece and the space where I cut to make room for the plaid piece.  Does this make sense?  I am basically replacing part of the blue fabric with the plaid fabric....but you still want your entire front piece to perfectly match your still intact back piece.  Jeez, I wish I had a real photograph of this. In my lovely diagram, pretend the green part is plaid.  


Before sewing this together, I cut several tiny pieces of gold rope and pinned them in a zig zag pattern across the plaid part in the middle.  I would recommend gluing these in place before you sew it, because the seam itself wont' keep them in place.  They slipped out a bunch.  

Now you want to put your right sides together and sew the plaid piece to the left blue side and then do the same thing to the right blue side, so that you have the same shape you started with of blue, plaid, and then blue.  Take this piece and then match it up to it to it's matching liner piece and set aside. 

  I then cut four long rectangles out of the gold shiny fabric to make two sleeves. Two pieces for each sleeve.   I put two pieces together, right sides together and sewed them along each long side, but left the ends open.  I then turned it right side out using a safety pin to pull it through....and then I repeated for the second strap.  These were about two inches wide and looked like a long strap before I added them to the dress. 

 I then dry fitted them into the bodice (everything right side out, and you have to fold the bodice around so that it makes a circle...like it's folded in the picture above) to see where I wanted them to go.  I ended up putting them in at an angle so the strap would go off of her shoulder.  Make sure they are long enough for an arm to fit.  Pin the straps in where you want them at the front of the bodice and at the back. Only pin on the front piece of fabric, so that you can turn the pieces inside out (right sides together) while you sew.  Once you have your straps pinned in place, take the bodice pieces apart and put them together with the shiny sides together....the tops of the strap pieces will be weird and squish up inside.  I recommend pinning them down, so they won't sneak up and get caught in your seam.  The ends of the straps will be sticking out of the seam.  Pin all around, and then sew all of the way around on both the top and the bottom of the bodice, but leave the ends open. Be careful to remove pins as you sew...or some of them will wind up sewn inside of the bodice. Turn it inside out and it should look a lot like the above picture, just minus the rope. 

 On the open ends, I folded them in on themselves and then took two pieces of gold rope trim and made loops.  I stuck the loops into the opening and then sewed it down.  I repeated on the other side.  I then got some of the skinny gold rope trim and threaded it through the loops like you would a shoelace and tied a bow.  This way the top is somewhat adjustable. After that, I glued some braided rope trim on top of my stitches where the loops are, and then I glued the twisted rope trim all of the way around the bottom of the bodice.  I used hot glue...but a better alternative is fabric glue.  I just told my sister to only wash it in cold and not put it in the dryer.  Fabric glue would be better...but you use what you have...

Here it is put together (not the skirt is not attached to the bodice, this is a two piece outfit).  I also added a little bit of gold ribbon that I had to make a bow on the front of the dress.  


After this I added some embellishments to the skirt.  On the back, I tied in some of the braided gold rope into the loops on the crocheted mesh and then did the same with the ribbon.  I got lucky and it curled by itself.  :)  


I also made her a bow, arrows and a quiver for them to go into.  Here is the bow:


I made this by cutting the flower head off of a fake flower and using the bendy stem to bend into a bow.  I then notched the ends with a knife and tied some of the skinny gold elastic cording to both ends, and then I hot glued a little bit of leather around the handle.  It was the perfect size for a one year old and pretty child proof too.  

I ended up adding more embellishment to the front of the dress too.  


I googled how to make a celtic knot and used my left over twisty gold rope to make one.  I then looped some more gold rope through the top of the celtic knot so that I could hang it down the front of the dress.  I just safety pinned it on the inside of the green crocheted mesh.  I covered the ends of the rope with a little bit of blue fabric and hot glue.  

For the quiver, I used all hot glue and brown felt.  I cut a circle, cut little slits around the edge of the circle and folded them up.  Next, I glued a rectangle sheet of felt around the folded up edges of the circle to make a cylinder.  I then made some little holes in the felt and threaded through some extra leather laces that I found around the house (not sure what that belonged to...lol).  I took the flower that I had already cut off of the stem to make the bow and glued it to the front of the quiver.  I also made a shoulder strap out of the same brown felt and glued it on.  I finished it off with a little bit of extra braided gold trim that you can barely see going around behind the flower. 


For the arrows, I found sticks in the back yard, hot glued some craft store feathers to one end, and I cut two triangles out of gold glitter felt and sandwiched the stick in between them with hot glue.  I don't have any great pictures of the arrows.  My sis is supposed to be sending me one, but it's not downloading....I gave up trying to get it from her, lol.  You can see them in some of these pictures. I'll add a better picture of the arrows later if I can get a hold of one.  
Little princess in her dress! 




With her little baby best friend who also had a Brave tutu on. My sister, her husband and a friend are also pictured. 



I really love love love how it turned out!  Funny story....my step-mom loved this so much, she asked me to make her an adult sized version for her to wear to work at a pediatric dentist's office on Halloween.  It's just cracking me up that she wants to wear this! I'll bet the kids at the dental office will love it though.  
I'll be back soon with more updates on the fireplace soon!  Have a great day! 
xoxo
Anna 






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