Thursday, May 31, 2012

DIY Framed Chalkboard Menu Planner

I did it.
I haven't done a lot with chalkboard paint because it's kind of a craft trend. I try to avoid blogging craft trends since they're hard to make original and also they kill everything. I never, ever in my wildest dreams thought I could be annoyed by nutella. I'm pretty sure I subsided on it for the entirety of every Euro Adventure I've had. 
And yet... when (another) recipe comes down the line on Pinterest that (oh! what a shock!) features nutella... my stomach does an involuntary turn. 
However, my mom bought me this super cute pink chalkboard paint and I really like it. Plus, John has been asking me to create a meal plan organizer for MONTHS now. He really objects to my way of doing things, which is clearly superior.
It goes like this..
a) Realize we need to eat something for dinner.
b) Get an elaborate idea in my head.
c) Make a beeline for the grocery store.
d) See all sorts of other delicious items.
e) Leave with a $100's worth of groceries.
f) Repeat. The next day.
What?! So it's a *little* bit hard on the budget...  
Ok, so the boy has a point.

Anyway- that's where this came from. I had an extra $3 frame leftover from my DIY photo wall and tons of yellow paint. That meant it was technically a free project, which is of course my favorite kind.
It was extremely easy, and if you buy Krylon Chalkboard Spray Paint you can paint the glass directly and get a better finished project. I can't do that because mine was in a jar. Most chalkboard paint that comes in a jar will only stick to porous surfaces.
That begin said, I used a piece of card stock which turned out surprisingly well? Two coats. It went like this...
(1) Cut it. I cut out a piece of card stock using the glass as a stencil.
(2) Paint it. I painted on 2 coats of the chalkboard paint to the card stock (allowing to dry for an hour in between) and 3 coats of yellow acrylic on to my frame.

(3) Flatten it. Once the card stock has dried, it'll curl up. So flatten in for 24 hours under some crazy heavy books. Coincidently, the chalkboard paint needs to cure for 24 hours, so it works out well.
(4) Finish it. Decorate the frame, add some embellishment to the chalkboard (I considered writing 'Menu' at the top in black chalkboard paint) ... whatever. Then stick it back in the frame (putting all backing materials in as well, including the glass if you didn't paint that) and hang it up! I only had giant sidewalk chalk, so the handwriting on my finished project is... entertaining. Also- I manhandled it while finishing the project, so half of the chalk got erased! Do forgive. 

I can't wait to do this again with a much larger frame as another way of organizing. I'd like to write out what the week holds for la vie and make a list of necessary supplies, etc. Vive organization! What's your favorite way to organize? I need to hear it, because the smaller the space, the larger the need for organized living!
I hope you're having an awesome day, and as always, thanks for

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

DIY Pillow Update

Oh hey, Wednesday, how are you treating the world? It's amazing how Memorial Day messes with my sense of time ... I haven't been able to easily figure out what day it is all week. Ah yes. We are all creatures of habit.
Especially me.
Here is a project for even the least crafty amongst us.
I was shopping for swimsuit material (tutorial coming...) when I spotted this pretty, French-themed upholstery fabric. I immediately wanted it for our home, but didn't necessarily have a project for it. I thought of a rather boring and sad little pillow that lives in our living room. It got into a fight with a table and lost part of its corner and now it just hides behind other more complete and lovely pillows.
I thought this fabric may be the key to the restoration of our heroic pillow's pride and bought 1/4 yard, which was more than enough. Basically, I added a little panel to both sides. It was crazy easy. And guess what? You can choose your skill level, baby!
(1) Cut it. Cut 2 panels out from your fabric. I made mine 10 inch squares, but they can be circular, hearts, stars...whatever.
(2) Treat it. Here's where your choice comes in... You can treat the raw edges with fray check, fold over the edges and hem or hot glue down, run a stitch along the edge. I chose the last option so that the edges would make a fun frayed line.
(3) Attach it. Hot glue it down!
The entire project took about 10 minutes and 2 dollars. It was a fun way to update a rather boring, cheap pillow. Before, it hid behind it's more lavish counterparts in our living room,  but now it can proudly stand alone. Holla!
I went with Meghan from SPLIT THE LARK to a fun West Michigan Blogger Meet Up and met some really cool people with super fun blogs from the area. I'll have to introduce you to them in the weeks to come and show you what they're all about. Each lady had a specific theme to her blog and all of them were cool. 
I have two more projects for the week, both are clothing related. I'm deciding between several refashions OR posting the latest beach cover up this week. We'll see. I guess it comes down to whatever gets finished ;) Oh hey... tomorrow is the last day to get in on the May giveaway (custom hair piece) before a new one starts in July. As always, la vie FACEBOOK fans are automatically entered. Have a fantastic day, and as always, thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Le Weekend, Hydration + Fruity Angel Food

So. We left my netbook charger at my parents' house this past weekend. That means I have to either blog from John's mac or the touchpad.
Both options are less than ideal because of keyboard issues. In fact, I'm typing this out for the second time! The first go was totally lost due to the aforementioned keyboard issues.You'll have to forgive any errors today... It's just going to be a little rough! Actually, all week.
Today I want to share 2 things plus some cute pictures of my niece from my family birthday dinner. The first is a fruity angel food cake and the second is flavored water.
fruity angel food cake:
1 angel food cake (bought or made)
1 can crushed pineapple
8 frozen strawberries, thawed + mashed
whipped cream, non-dairy whip or ice cream

Mix up your mashed strawberries with the strained pineapple. I put the mixed fruit in the center and then covered it with whipped cream because of my dairy allergy. If I had my way, I would cut the cake in half hamburger style and put a layer of fruit down. Then I would fill the center with ice cream, top with more fruit and then a layer of whipped cream. Yum. 
Flavored water isn't anything new but I thought I'd share a few of our recipes today. John has a serious sweet tooth and that includes pop. However, we don't really drink pop ... It's expensive and so bad for you! John would drink it occasionally but a recent minor health scare showed him that he needs to bid adieu forever to the sugary poison. That being said, the flavored water I keep in the fridge has been a huge help. We bought a glass pitcher from T.J. Maxx for 6.99 (twice. I break everything.). Every morning I fill it with water and then choose a combination of flavors. I wash, chop, add and then chill in back in the fridge! If you're big drinkers, just add more water throughout the day. Dump it all at night, wash and set aside for the morning.

1. Lemon + strawberry
2. Strawberry + lime
3. Strawberry + lemon + orange
4. Lemon + orange
5. Cucumber + strawberry (favorite!)
6. Grapefruit + strawberry
7. Mixed berry (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries)
8. Lemon + cranberry
9. Kiwi + lime

If you're wondering how much fruit to use, I use one piece per for lemons, 6 strawberries, a handful of other berries, 2 limes, 2 kiwi, 1/2 orange, 1/2 grapefruit and 1/2 cucumber. There's really no limit to the combinations, those are just the most common at home! Pineapple, pomegranate, let your imagination soar! 
Lastly, here are some adorable pictures of my niece, Lilah. I wanted some of her older sister, Penelope, too but my favorite 3 year old is camera shy lately.
I have to get rolling! I'm heading over to a west Michigan blogger meet up with my girl, Meghan, from SPLIT THE LARK. I'll let you know how it goes. Stay tuned people, it's going to be a good week! I've got a fourth beach wrap designed and ready to blog about, courtesy of more requests. I LOVE requests, so if there's something you want, please let me know! As always, thanks for reading!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

Just a quick note for well wishes. I'll be taking the day off from (official) blogging to celebrate freedom. I Hope as you enjoy your day with family and friends that you take the time to remember those who have served, fought and died to give us the freedom we enjoy each and every day.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Coming of Age: A Birthday Post

Happy birthday to me! Want to hear something funny? I thought I was turning a year older than I am. John had to tell me how old I *really* am. Oops?
In honor of my birthday, I have a little present for YOU! A story... a rather embarrassing story for everyone involved. Warning: Not appropriate for younger readers... so don't read it!
Ok, here's the thing. When I was little, my brother and I were hamster killers. Seriously. We went through them like candy! I'm talking 13 or 14 of those buggers. It was a sad, sad history. Some day I'll blog about how they all met their demise (the majority committed suicide. You may be laughing now, but wait til you read about it... it was bizarre). For today, I'm going to tell you a tale about one of my two favorite hamsters.
I bought queen as an eight or nine year old girl. I loved her. She was a teddy bear hamster, which if you haven't seen, is a very fluffy variety. She was a nice light tan color. She was my buddy.
One day, Queen started developing two tumors... it was horrible. I was completely distraught and in tears over this poor, sweet hamster who was now getting tumors. I cried constantly. I begged my mom with all of my strength to take Queen to the vet for an operation.
Poor mom. What do you do, mothers, when your little person is in dismay ... but wants a zillion dollar operation for a $5 hamster?!
You come up with a compromise. She told me that we should take Queen to the pet store to have her evaluated. I wasn't thrilled, but it was a start. We packed her up and took her.
When we got there, I produced my fluffly little Queen with tear-filled eyes and asked the store clerk what could possibly be done. Maybe you're already ahead of me and know what happened next...
That day, my dear readers, I learned that 'Queen' was simply a 'King' and, how do I put this gently, *He* was *ahem* 'coming of age'.
My friends, that is how I learned about the Birds and the Bees.
I'm off to celebrate my birthday with my dear, dear family + sweet husband. It was always weird having a birthday so close to Memorial Day. Parties were hard to schedule, the weekend before was reserved for my brother who has a birthday 3 days before mine. And so many people were out of town for Memorial Day. Very sad for a little girl. But now I kind of love it... I always get a 3 day weekend to celebrate in style! Have a great day everyone, stay safe and remember that the reason we celebrate (and get a day off!) is to remember the wonderful men and women who died to give us FREEDOM! Thinking of my family members + friends who have served. You are my heroes.
All the best, and as always, thanks for reading!

(hamster picture courtesy of

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Le Weekend + DIY Chocolate Spa Part 1: Chocolate Mask

Hello, gorgeous! What a beautiful day it is outside. This post should have come on Monday, but I decided to take the day off. It's just a few peeks at some fun parts of last week + upcoming goodness in la vie. Oh- and don't forget the incredible lux chocolate mask!
(1) Bikini: I'm actually going to do a post about bikini mix + matching/coordination soon. But- because of the way I work it, I can buy just one piece of a bikini and make it work with my collection. This past weekend, I got this bandeau top. I love it. The colors are fantastic and it matches 4 of my bikini bottoms (holla!). I paired it with this aqua floppy hat my mom got me. I had nothing to wear it with prior-to, so now I'm pretty excited. This will be heading to the beach with me for memorial day weekend.
(2) Blooming Azalea: John bought me this little Azalea tree instead of getting me a bouquet for my DANCE PERFORMANCE in mid-may. It's really starting to bloom. I want six more. One for every room. I'm serious.
My mom + niece
(3) Mani/Pedi: My mom coordinated another spa day with the ladies last weekend! We've been meeting each year at a day spa for manicures, pedicures and facials with her family. She comes from a BIG family with 5 girls, who all in turn gave birth to girls... creating an entire army of loud, opinionated (but also smart and funny) women. It's a ton of fun getting together with them, even though not everyone can make it. This year she themed it after chocolate and made all kinds of treats. I'm going to share the recipe for her chocolate oatmeal mask below and then others throughout upcoming posts.
(4) Happy Early Birthday!: Tomorrow is my birthday and last weekend my sweet boy surprised me with a load of gifts! He gave them to me early because we accidentally forgot our anniversary. Oops. That actually isn't as big of a deal as it would seem. We eloped on a random day + had a big celebration several months (nearly a year) later. SO- we celebrate the day we started dating instead. And we always forget. Always. Boat shoes, a new wallet (you should see how pathetic my old one was- I'm going to do a post on it), an adorable set of ombre notebooks to write my ideas down in & a fantastic backpack to use when riding my lovely bike. We're having an entire week-long celebration of my birthday this week- courtesy of all the freebies (Red Robin, Culvers, Coldstone, Biggby, Panera... I love you all), so it was fun to get my presents early. There are still surprises to come!
(5) Chocolate Spa
a. DIY Lux Chocolate + Oatmeal Mask
b. DIY Chocolate Balm
c. DIY Kissable Spray
d. DIY Chocolate Soap
These are the things my mother made... as well as a lotion, now that I think of it? Anyway, today we'll start with the mask, which is pretty fantastic.

1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 cup honey
 3 teaspoons oatmeal powder (can be purchased ready made or ground down)

Mix all of the ingredients together and store in a jar (refrigerate).
You're supposed to take one tablespoon of the mixture and add in 2 tablespoons of sour cream or heavy cream before applying it in circular motions to your face. If I may- I say that you should sub in (sorry, mom!) 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt instead. 

That's it for today! We're almost to the long weekend. Does anyone have fun plans? I hope so! All the best, and as always, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

DIY Beach Wrap- High Back (STREET READY!)

Here you go! This one is for all of my super-amazing Facebook followers who have been asking for a high-back version.
I'm not going to lie- this took more effort. But if you want to skimp, I'll give you some cheats. It's really stinking cute, though, so it's worth it to put some extra time in (vs. the 20 minute version).

You'll need...
a) Knit jersey fabric. I used .85 yards (a remnant for $4.30, holla!) but you will need more or less depending on your weight. You'll want the fabric to wrap around your body 1.5 times with maybe some extra. If I did it again, I would make it tighter. This version can't be as loose as the other since it doesn't have the weight of the backless draping to help give it shape.
b) Sewing machine/needle and thread/fray check/hem tape, depending on what level of "finish" you're looking for.
c) Matching thread
d) Extra fabric for the straps
e) Buttons
f) Scissors

(1) Cut it. Cut your fabric to the length + width you'd like (plus allowance for a hem, if you're going to add one in). It's always best to start with too much, once you wrap it around you can decide if there's too much fabric on the width or if you need to trim the bottom. When you wrap it, look at yourself in the mirror. Hold each end up to the opposite shoulder and take note of how it hangs. Make it right for YOUR body, looser or tighter (by adding or subtracting fabric) as needed. When I do it again, I want it a little tighter.

(2) Hem it. Optional. With jersey it isn't exactly necessary since knits don't fray. I hemmed the top of mine and I think I'll hem the bottom as well. Sides are treated with fray check to be sure. If you want more info on hemming, CLICK HERE.
(3) Measure it. Here's where the straps come in. I made mine out of the same fabric, but in a yellow color. Kind of like a strawberry lemonade theme. You have the option of doing the same thing I did (machine required) OR using the braided straps from THE ORIGINAL POST. Either way, wrap the cover up around you, hold the ends in front tightly. With a tank top on underneath, have a friend mark with a pin where straps should be. Wearing a tank top makes this easy, you can follow exactly where the tank top straps are. Then, hold a measuring tape (easier if a friend can do this, too) from pin to pin to get your strap measurement. Make sure to add on 1/2-1 inch extra for seam allowance.
(4) Strap it. Make your straps. If you're using the braided ones, you can skip this. I measured out 17 inches of fabric, 2 inches wide. Fold in half (pattern side in, if they're patterned) and pin. Stitch down the sides. Flip them right side out, put the original stitch in the center and run them through the machine two times each to make a nice seam on each side of the strap. The side with the center stitch is the back, the side with 2 stitches is the front. Attach them with pins to where they go (where your 4 pins were). Slip it on (carefully!) to make sure you like the placement and they aren't too low or too high. Run them through a machine or hand stitch to attach.  **you could also cut straps off of an old item of clothing or use some seriously thick/substantial ribbon**
(5) Button it. Next, slip the wrap on and mark off where your buttons should be, which is about 1-2 inches shy of the shoulder. If you're using braided straps, this will be more tricky. The buttons may not attach so solidly to braided straps. If some brave soul wants to try it, please let me know! Alternately, those with braided straps can use a much shorter strap and attach the buttons AT THE BASE of the strap, right where it meets the actual cover up. Next, cut a little, teeny, tiny hole in the upper corner of each side of your wrap. This is to slide over the buttons. Remember that jersey stretches, so make that hole SMALL (mine was about the size of a hole punch)! You can either  treat the button hole with fray check or make a loop stitch all around it to secure. 
(6) Angle it. Cut an angle into your wrap. Use a yard stick if you're super picky and angle it from the TOP to the BOTTOM so that it's wider at the top and more narrow at the bottom. Your angle should start about an inch below your button hole and travel all the way down to the bottom of your wrap. If you cut it about 6-8 inches in, that's a great angle. When you wear it, the angled side will go in front.
(7) Wrap it. slip it on, attach the un-angled side to the opposite shoulder, make sure the fabric is wrapping around your side for better coverage. Then attach the angled side to the opposite shoulder and attach. Done! Optional, add a belt to take it from the poolside to lunch! So cute! 
Like I said before, it's a little too loose on me. I'd like to do it again and make it tighter. I did buy some of the same fabric in a really cool pool color. It's gorgeous. Actually- maybe I'll make it again and give it away for the June give away... what do you think of that?! As always, I give away something for free to one facebook follower every month. To be automatically entered, just head over there and "like" it :)
I have a fun peek at my weekend coming tomorrow. It's full of really awesome (FOUR!) DIY natural chocolate beauty products. Maybe I'll stretch it out and do a mini-chocolate series. Friday is my birthday, and I do plan to post.. so be on the look out! Have a great day everyone and as always, thanks for reading!
TERMS OF USE (Modified from ISLY)
This project is free for personal use is not to be distributed/republished without my consent. If this inspires a project for your own blog, that is awesome! But please remember to link back to my original post. Please do not copy this text, use the images or steal this idea for any publications without my consent. Thanks for promoting the freedom to INSPIRE!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Take Some Love Ad + Happy Birthday, Nico!

I want to dedicate today's post and project to the greatest brother who ever lived, my big brother, Nick, who turns 30-something today. (tutorial below)
While all of you were growing up with a brother that gave you wedgies, beat up on you or called you names... I had a brother who taught me karate at 4, punched a kindergarten aged kid in the face for looking at me, always gave up his freshly buttered bagel for me and taught me my entire life that I was beautiful and valuable.
What a brother. 
It was kind of hard following him, though. He's basically brilliant. Let's just get it out there. While I was using a dribble cup, he was coming up with high tech inventions. 
And they worked.
Whatever, man. 
Cutest care bear ever... 
My mom kept a very detailed baby book for him:
8 months: Today Nick drank out of a full-sized cup!
9 months: This morning, Nick took his first steps!
10 months: All day Nick has been solving the world's clean water problem and ending world hunger through his design for a vertical skyscraper farm.
My baby book is empty.
I guess, "Today Auna said her first words!" isn't comparatively impressive for a 4 year old.
Other than that, growing up with Nick was awesome. God gave me the best brother a person could ever ask for, and today he's just as great. Always just a phone call away, still the smartest man on the planet... and the most gentle, too.
I love my brother. I love him for all of his selfless, wonderful qualities that he has had his entire life. And I hope some day to be a little bit more like him.
My brother (left) getting reading for my marriage celebration with John (right)
Nick making sure I didn't fall to my doom while taking some risky  photos. It makes me laugh EVERY time.
In honor of Nick, I'm recreating something I saw while shopping with my friend, Brittani. I can't remember exactly how it went, but it was super cool. The idea was that the base of the poster was like an ad. You know those ads; people are trying to sell an old piano or give guitar lessons and at the bottom you can tear off a way to call/email/get in touch? Mhm. That's what we're doing here. Except we're selling happiness + warm fuzzy feelings. For free. You're having people take away something encouraging or useful instead of a phone number.
It's super easy! Just decorate the top to say whatever you'd like. You can theme it after a person and put his/her pic at the top. You can theme it for an organization/church/school with that logo/name at the top. Whatever you want. Write out your little take-aways and you're done! I wrote "love selflessly" for all of them in honor of my brother. Here are examples of what else to write...
a) Chores! Haha- take it, kids!
b) Encouragement- little quotes, scriptures, wise words, whatever
c) Mottoes
d) Helpful hints
e) Reasons you love 
Have fun with it. I used my PowerPoint program on my husband's mac (don't judge.) to create mine. There are certainly more elaborate programs, but for the lazy like me- that will work just fine.
Make sure to cut lines between the take-aways and bend them a few times to ensure that they're easy to tear!
I hope your week is refreshing. I can't wait to celebrate birthdays with my awesome brother (mine is three days after his)! Have the greatest day, and as always, thanks for reading!