{inspire} slow. down.

A simple reminder for both me and you this weekend.

Work has been more than a little crazy for the last couple days. The result? Slowing down my life a little to balance it all out. It works :).

Hope you all are having a great weekend, so far!


{inspired} creating your own style

I had a weird epiphany this weekend. Chris and I were out running errands Saturday afternoon and we innocently stopped by a Pottery Barn. As I wandered around the gorgeously styled place setting, bedrooms and bathrooms, I had a weird feeling niggling at me. You know those feelings that you can't quite put your finger on? It didn't occur to me until later that the feeling was actually disappointment.

I've always loved Pottery Barn. I loved spending time in their stores. I loved receiving their catalogs, from which I would tear out page after page for my inspiration folder. A few years ago I would've been so happy if I could've decorated my entire house from that store.

But I sense something shifting in me. Walking through the Pottery Barn this weekend, I couldn't help feel that everything fell a little ... flat. Sure if I pick a piece of theirs up here and there I make it personal. I do have and LOVE these dishes. But gone are the days of my wanting to pick up an entire room of theirs and bring it home.

I blame this on blogs. But, not in a bad way. :) Reading blogs, writing my own blog, have really opened my eyes to so many different ways of creating a space. Now, when I need to put a room together I look in many, many places for inspiration and I choose what works best for me (and Chris :). I pick pieces that I love and try to stay away from my room looking like any other room. I choose pieces that I can transform and make into my own. As I continue to learn and refine my own personal style I realize that I am most comfortable in rooms that are a little quirky, a little traditional and a little fun.

I don't mean this to post to be down on Pottery Barn. Their items are gorgeous and I'm sure it would happen if I walked into any big chain store (well, maybe not you West Elm ;). I just hadn't realized this change that was occurring in me. It caught me a little off guard. I had really dove into looking at our style last year (here and here), but it's nice to have another piece of that puzzle fall into place.

Blog friends, what changes have you seen to your style since you started your blog? How do you feel about stores that encourage/inspire all rooms looking similar? I am very curious to see what you guys have to say about this! :)


{create} gallery wall, part deux

A little insight to my family: My parent's are completely amazing. They are the type of parents that I hope I can be if/when we have a kiddo. One of my greatest memories growing up, and even now, is Christmas. My mom's favorite holiday, she spends an enormous amount of time picking gifts that she knows the recipient will LOVE. The thought and details she puts into making sure that everyone is happy (both via gifts and experiences) is truly outstanding. 

My parents also happen to be impossible to buy gifts for. They are at that stage in life where if they want something, they buy it. So a few years ago I decided that I wanted to make sure my parents had as memorable a Christmas as they'd always given to us kids growing up. I teamed up with my younger brother, Jeff, to gift them experiences for Christmas. Concerts they would never buy tickets to, but would love, a tour of Oregon's wine country with their close friends, etc. 

Why am I telling you all this? Because today I'm going to share what we gift them this year: a gallery wall. Not an experience, per se, but also not something they would ever create themselves.

They sort of unexpectedly moved out of the house they'd lived in for 30 years, a couple years ago. It's taken my mom a couple years to really get comfortable and start to decorate. The downstairs is gorgeous, but the upstairs walls are a little neglected. This is the view when you walk in the door. Because of the insane staircase, you automatically look up to see ... nothing.

Here's the wall. Jeff is a super amazing photographer, and every once in a while I get a good shot. So we decided to pull together some of our best photos of places that have meaning to my parents and create a gallery wall.

Here's how we went about doing that :

1. Creating a layout doesn't have to be as structured as I'm showing here. You can see how I created the layout for my own gallery wall here. It was way more casual. But, since this was a gift I wanted my parents to see what we had in mind for the wall right away. So I pulled all the photos into Adobe Illustrator, sized and scaled them to the wall measurements. I came up with three layout,s and Jeff and I picked one. The perk of this is we realized we were short one frame and were able to get a new picture framed without holding up the whole process. We also gave this layout to my parents after they'd opened all the frames so they could see what we were planning.

2. I think paper guides are a MUST DO for large gallery walls. Even though we had a very specific guide, we ended up making a couple minor changes once the guides were on the walls. Moving taped paper is so much easier than creating more nail holes.

3. Hang the frames. Here Jeff  and Chris working hard, while I'm .... managing taking photos. HAHA!

This one was also a HUGE help ;)

4. Remove the paper guides from under the frames. And, you're done!

You can see that we mixed brown and black frames. All from IKEA. We tried to get the widest variety of IKEA frames to keep it from being too matchy-matchy. 

Do you recognize the bridge sunset picture above? It's from our trip to Astoria last summer! My mom grew up there and my parents met there. I was so happy to captured such an awesome moment in that town to share with them.

And, here's the view now when you walk in the stairs. So. Much. Better. My parents LOVE it, which is the most important thing of all.

Have you ever created a gallery wall for someone else?? What unique gifts have you given someone in the past?

ps. If you'd like to take a look at my gallery wall, you find it here.

I am also linking up to:


{create} double-chocolate brownies

Let's talk about brownies. Chocolate-y, gooey brownies. Do you fall in the fudgy brownie camp? Or, the cake-y brownie camp? I fall squarely into the fudgy brownie camp. And for the record, I don't like cake. So friends, the recipe I'm sharing with you? If you fall anywhere near fudgy, you're gonna want to make it this weekend. 

If you've delved into our archives at all, you know that we're a gluten-free home. Chris has some pretty crazy food intolerances, so I'm always on the lookout for awesome recipes that will make him feel not as bad about the situation. And here's how I judge if a recipe is AWESOME: I serve it to our friends. Not only do I make this recipe all. the. time, but it's requested by our really picky, overly-opinionated friends. Which means, I NEEDED to share the love with you guys! :)

Yep, technically, they're paleo. Grain free. Please don't let that scare you. They are in no way *healthy,* and are so insanely awesomely yum.

Double-chocolate brownies

  • 16 oz of almond butter, creamy or crunchy. We use Trader Joe's raw almond butter and it works really well. 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup honey or agave
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 ounces dark chocolate bar {I use 83% cocoa}, chopped, or chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix almond butter, eggs, & honey. Mixers work better than a whisk. Add in cocoa powder, salt, & baking soda. Fold in chopped dark chocolate/chips. 
  3. Spread into a greased  9×13 pan.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool before cutting.

Don't be fooled by the no flour and no white sugar. These brownies are DIVINE. And, so easy to whip up. These pictures make me want to eat a brownie for breakfast. Oh wait. I already did :).

Happy friday friends!

I'm linking this post up to:


{create} felt art

Before Christmas, I created a small custom art piece for our mantle. I meant to post a how-to, but then never actually got around to it. But a couple people have asked and it has made the transition to our *winter* mantle, so today I'm going to show you how to make felt trees.

It's really simple. Felt. White artist canvas. I got the idea from here. And, I kept the trees neutral, hoping this simple this piece of art would transition nicely from *Christmas* to *winter*. It does.

Here's how you can create your own:
Supplies: Felt, of any color cut into triangles (2 per tree) and a stump. Thread, of a coordinating color and stuffing. 1. Put the two triangles together and straight stitch* down one side. 2. Round the corner to the bottom and put the stump in place. Stitch over to secure. 3. Stitch up the third side until almost to the top. 4. Fill with stuffing and then stitch up the rest.

Using hot glue, glue the trees onto an artist's canvas into any configuration you'd like. I chose striped rows to keep it more modern looking, rather than *cute* looking.

*Straight stitch. Below are directions on how to sew a straight stitch. Please skip if you already know how. But, I once didn't know how, and so I know there are some of you that don't know how either. It's really easy though, and worth giving a try.
1. Thread the needle from behind, with enough space to create the stitch length you'd like. 2. Bring the needle back toward the last stitch. 3. Pull through the fabric to create a stitch. 4. Repeat. At first it will feel like you're working backward, but it produces a great, easy stitch. It also helps me keep the line straight. 5. What the back will look like.

The great thing about this project is that you can create any shape for any space. I can see cute stitched flowers in a nursery. Have fun and be creative!

Do you have Christmas decorations that make the leap to winter?

If you're looking for more great crafty diy projects, visit our project gallery here. 
I'm linking this post up to Serenity Now's weekend reads. So. much. good. stuff friends. Go check it out! :) And, also linking up to Along for the Ride's weekend craft link.  

ALSO, linking up here:


{inspired} simplicity

Last week I shared about how I was having trouble kick-starting this year. This weekend, the reason WHY I'm struggling hit me. 

Last year, I was inspired in a big way to get cleaned out and organized right after Christmas. I also took a very close look at my style, and the direction we're headed for our house. (You can read about all that good stuff here.) But this year, we don't really have a lot to clean out and I'm still on board with the conclusions we drew last year about our style.

Yesterday we FINALLY put away all our Christmas decor (I know, I know). We put away all our Christmas stuff, but haven't yet brought our regular decor back in and I felt this huge rush of calm. This feeling that I could actually breath again. Our living room is completely emptied of *stuff*, and I just want be there and revel in the calm.

My motto, at least for now, has quickly become:

What does this mean? Friends, I'm not even all that sure. But I know for now it means that I'm going to very carefully choose what I bring back into this room. And it definitely means it'll be a little minimalist for awhile. I think in the bigger picture though, it ties back to my resolution of getting healthy. In a way I can't quite put my finger on, I feel like simplicity and healing go hand in hand.

**all photos are taken of my bare-bones, simple living room. Aaaaahhhh. So much room to breath. :)

Today I leave you with these incredibly wise words:

"Simple living is about living deliberately. Simple living is not about austerity, or frugality, or income level. It's about being fully aware of why you are living your particular life, and knowing that life is one you have chosen thoughtfully. Simple living is about designing our lives to coincide with our ideals."
 -- Janet Luhrs from The Simple Living Guide via Operation Simplicity


{inspired} Focusing on 2012

I'm having a hard time kick-starting this year. Usually I come off the holidays with a list and a ton of energy to just get things done. Not this year. I was inspired to create a list of home goals from a couple of my bloggy friends. I have my resolutions, but I think I need concrete tasks for the house. Tasks that will focus me and help me start planning our bigger projects.

My biggest obstacle is that the projects on our list are HUGE. Like, gutting rooms HUGE. So they're a little intimidating. But if I've learned nothing from this blog, it's that if you take projects one step at a time they become both manageable, and finished.

2012 Home Goals

  • Install new counter top
  • Tear up linoleum (BOTH layers) and refinish hardwoods
  • Build a kitchen island
  • Install a dishwasher
Back Porch
  • Refinish chairs
  • Paint floor
Bathroom: gut.
  • Install new non-wood window
  • Tear out everything
  • Tile floor
  • Tile shower
  • Paint

Craft room
  • Find a suitable organizing system
  • Finish decorating
Are we crazy for thinking that we can tackle a kitchen AND a bathroom in one year? Maybe. Probably. So we'll see how that goes. We need to decide which is more important (bathroom) and which will be easier/less intrusive to our life (kitchen). Sigh. 

What's the #1 thing you like to accomplish in your home this year?


{inspired} painting interior doors

I have the urge to paint. Specifically, an interior door. Even more specifically, our front door, the one that opens up to our living room.  
 Top, the front door. Let's not even talk about the hardware. It's on *the list*. Bottom. You can see the door in comparison to the gallery wall. This will be important below.

Clearly we've done this before. I love the pop of color on our back door, but am hesitatant for a pop on the front door. Besides the fact that it's easy to be wild and crazy with color in a spot that is NOT a focal point, my main concern about a pop of color on the front door is the door's proximity to the gallery wall (see above). I don't want our living room looking like a circus.

Yet, I still think the door, as-is is snooze-ville. Let's look at some interior painted door ideas, shall we?

Pop of color.
One of my favorite doors of all time. I originally posted it here. Love it. But, probably better in a room that is more mellow than my living room.

Black doors.
Black interior doors are gorgeous. And, incredibly in style right now. But, maybe too much black in that back corner with the door, black gallery wall frames and black dresser?

One shade darker.
This is more the direction I am thinking. Painting the door one to two shades darker than the wall color. Adds a little interest, but not so much overwhelming *wow*.

Same color.
This one also caught my attention. I like the simplicity of painting the door the same color as the wall. This door is beautiful, without having to scream it.

What do you guys think about painted interior doors? Have you done it in your home? What are your thoughts on a pop of color vs blending it in with the wall?

Updated 12/27 -- We painted our front door! Want to see how it turned out? You can see it here


{inspire} winter color palettes

Fact: there are very few times of year that I shop more than at after Christmas sales. Every year I tell myself to not even bother looking, but then every year I happen to catch wind of one amazing sale and it's all down hill from there. From that vein, I thought it was time again** to pull together a couple of my current favorite color palettes, for both you and your home (!), to get through the rest of winter and into spring.

Palette #1
Neutrals, especially gray, with a pop of color are my work uniform. I love this shade of plum. I think the whole look translates to a room that is light, airy and doesn't take itself too seriously.

Palette #2
To me, this palette is a touch of 70s and a touch of modern. I love it. You all know that I LOVE yellow in rooms and I think the shades of brown really ground it.

**A word about color palettes: For each season I pull together a color palette that translates to both your room and your home. For previous posts see: fall color palettes, summer color palettes, and spring color palettes.

What is your favorite look of the two? What colors, for both rooms and clothes, are you loving right now?

Happy friday friends!