Monday, April 30, 2012

Mother's Day Printables (Download of the Month)

It's time for another free download of the month.  May is perfect for some Mother's Day printables.  I had so many ideas for Mother's Day Printables that I actually started more than one template.  In the end I decided I wanted something that was clean and simple but described some of the things my mom is to me.  

As an adult child I would say that next to my husband, my mom is my best friend.  She is the person I call the most and know is my number one fan.  She is the person I look to for advice and counsel and is the kind of mother I hope to someday be.  Thus, this printable was done in her honor. 

You can find this free printable on my website here.

It was designed to be printed on and 8.5 x 11 size paper and then trimmed to fit into and 8 x 10 frame. 

What words would you use to describe your mother?  Be sure to check back at the end of the month for another free download that coordinates with my Mother's Day Printables but for Father's Day.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Upcycling Ideas for the Home (Dining Decor)

Lately I've been brainstorming various upcycling ideas for the home.  It's always a little exhilarating when I can make something pretty out of something I already have around the home.  One of the things I have been saving for the last couple of years are glass bottles and jars knowing they would be the perfect inspiration for upcycling ideas.    

For this simple, elegant table decor I took these bottles from hubby's Valentine's Day gift and a couple of mason jars from my canning supply...

And turned it into this.   We have a long dining room table, perfect for entertaining lots of guests.  Our dining room also is joined with our living room so the decor should transition seamlessly through both spaces.  I've got a few different styles mixed throughout the space: Best described it is simply chic with touches of modern.  Don't let the simplicity of these decorating projects fool you, it took several hours to complete all five bottles.    

The first of these simple decor ideas was wrapping a silk bamboo yarn around two of my  Crush bottles. I admit it, I did not have this yarn in my supply stash but I don't typically buy yarn.  The hand of this yarn is so smooth and soft.  I couldn't stop touching it while at the store.  It is easiest if you start at the bottom.  I  used hot glue to glue the first layer around and then would add a drop of glue every few rows of strings until I got to the curve of the neck.  This is where it gets tricky.  I found it best to glue small sections down and not pull the string tight as you get up to the skinniest part of the neck.  Then you can continue adding a drop of glue every few rows.  

Next I wrapped a third bottle with jute, that I did have on hand, to have a contrast in texture both visual and tactile using the same method for adhering the string to the bottle.  

Finally, I used Looking Glass Spray and vinegar/water mixture to create my own Mercury Glass Jars.  There are lots of tutorials online that teach you how to do this.  One of the things I learned from experience though is that it is best to do this on a warm day out in the sunshine and the wider your opening, the easier it is.  My hand started hurting after having to repeatedly shove it into the inside of both  glass jars.

While fairly easy, these upcycling ideas took 5+ hours so make sure and plan accordingly.  The great thing about all three pieces is that they add so much diversity on my table between the shiny metallic  luster to the course neutral jute with and effortless ease.  They answer to the scale of my table and visually carry the long line creating a larger looking space.  I can't wait to show the hubby my latest creation.  What upcycling ideas are you working on?  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

10 Secrets to a Happy Marriage

Have you ever looked at a couple and wondered what their secrets to a happy marriage are?  I know I have.  Lucky for me I have lots of great examples: my parents, my in-laws, my grandparents, and of course a few friends here and there.  One of the things I learned rather quickly is that marriage is HARD!  It takes a lot of work and has lots of bumps.  We've had a lot of heartbreak and some pretty trying times in the last few years and yet... I still feel like I have a happy marriage.  Even in those darkest moments my husband will have me laughing over something.  How can that be?  How can your heart be broken in a million pieces but you still wouldn't trade your life for anything?  I don't know that I have an answer for that other then that's just part of marriage.

So here are 10 of my Secrets to a Happy Marriage:

1) Write Each Other Love Notes:
We've done this in a few different ways.  We each have a journal for one another.  The idea is that each week or as often as we like we take each other's journal and write a love letter.  We started this after my husband read the book The Wednesday Letters early in our marriage.  It has been fun going back and re-reading those love letters and reminiscing on the past.  It's also not uncommon for random sticky notes to end up all over the house throughout the week.

2) Learn to be Spontaneous:
This one has been a little harder for me to learn.  I am a planner through and through.  Ask me what I'm wearing in two Sundays from now.  While I love structure I have seen the value of picking up and doing the unexpected.  Sometimes it is quickly packing an overnight bag and heading to a some new destination for exploration, other times it is as simple as letting your husband push your around the dance floor even if you are trying to make dinner.

3.) Invite Friends Over/ Game Nights:
When we were first married we lived in an area where we didn't know anyone.  We were in school and found that while we loved being with one another we missed the social aspects of our lives before.  So we started having "Cookie Nights."  We would invite a few couples over for cookies and games.  It is a tradition we have carried over through the years.  Sometimes its a bbq other times it is a Wii Just Dance party.  We try and mix it up a little.  Usually by the end of the night we have both laughed so much that we can't help but feel happy with our marriage.  (FYI:  We do better playing on the same team:)  

4.) Sing As Loud As You Can In the Car:
I know it sounds a little silly but if you can't let your hair down with your spouse than who can you with?  Our marriage has us on the road quite a bit and you can bet that Journey has never been done quite like our renditions.  Once again it's one of those moments where you forget about the hard parts of marriage and just have fun.  I dare you to try it and not laugh.

5.)  Take Turns Planning Weekly Dates:
Dating your spouse after marriage is probably more important than the courtship before (and that's pretty important).  Marriage is about give and take.  Thus one week we will do something I like and the next we do something he likes.  Believe it or not but we are two completely different people with different interests.  It goes a long way in marriage if you try something your spouse enjoys or wants to do.

6.) Let the Other Person Have Their Own Activities:
While it is important to date on a weekly basis and alternate activities it is just as important to let the other person participate in activities with people other than you.  I know shopping with my besties is a better experience for me and my husband when I don't have to drag him along.  I am happy when he comes home from a great day on the golf course with his buddies.  Not only am I not a patient person with the clubs but its good for him to have friends other than me.  My husband is my best friend but lets face it, he is not a girl and sometimes there are needs that need to be met by another girl.  It's all about balance.  

7.)  Support Your Spouse In Their Hobbies/Dreams:
I know this is kind of like #5 and #6.  However it's important for a happy marriage to know that your spouse supports you whether it is attending your city league softball game or helping you achieve your dreams of being a business owner.  Support often takes some form of sacrifice which is part of the very definition of love and love leads to happiness.    

8.) Take time to Unplug From the World:
The husband and I both have jobs that have us on the computer a lot.  We have meetings throughout the week.  Even if we happen to be home at the same time we often obligations that keep us apart.  One thing we have recently tried out is calendaring each other in.  Each Monday we look at our weekly calendar and discuss times when perhaps we can pull away from the computer, phone, tv, etc and just be with one another.  Again it may sound silly but we will schedule times for us to sit in the same room and read, going on a short walk, play a game, etc.  Otherwise technology often overtakes us and we find ourselves at the end of the week wondering who the other one is.

9.)  Take time to Remember Where You've Been:
This is one of my favorite things to do as a couple.  It's important to remember how far you've come and the fun and happiness you have had regardless of all the bad.  I love conversations that start with, "Remember that one time when I made you take back women's underwear because I accidentally bought it 10 sizes too big."  It's a chance to talk about the good times but also to get to know your spouse better.  Share stories from when you were a child; a favorite memory, favorite birthday, a story about your grandparents, etc.  Sometimes this can be a conversation, other times it can be  sitting at the computer looking through photos from years past.

10.)  Learn How To Talk with Your Spouse:
This is probably the most important.  When we were first married we found ourselves in counseling together to learn how to help manage my anxiety.  I am not ashamed one bit to admit that we were in counseling.  It is perhaps one of the best things we've done to ensure a happy marriage.  Through this process my husband learned how I think and why I do the things I do and vice-versa.  Guess what? We think differently and have different needs.  He learned that most of the time unless I specifically ask, I don't need him to fix my problems, I need him to listen and just be there.  Listening can go a long way.  I learned that he needed more validation from me.  The process of learning to communicate has taught us to trust.  It takes a lot to give someone your inner most feelings and thoughts and trust that they will handle them with care.  Being able to calmly discuss our fears, problems, and work through our differences builds not only a happy marriage but a strong one.  I can't emphasize it enough.  Talking consistently with your spouse is so so important.  This includes telling my husband on a daily basis that I love him.  While I think he knows that he still needs to hear it as do I.

There are things in our marriage that bring sadness, like our miscarriages but, in the end the happiness of the other parts of our marriage wins; making life together the best gift we have been given.

What are some your secrets to a happy marriage?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Baby Shower Designs (Dinosaurs)

Last week I had a client contact me wondering if I had any dinosaur themed baby shower designs.  At the time I didn't, but as always if I don't have what you're looking for I will happily get to work.  Up until this point I had intended that all of my birth announcements could be turned into a baby shower invitations.  While this holds true I thought it time to introduce my first baby shower designs package.

This particular package includes one 4 x 6 dinosaur invite and one 4 x 6 coordinating thank you notes for baby gifts design.

As usual, this set is available on my website in both psd format for those with Photoshop and of course a jpeg file for those without it.  You can find both packages under the baby boy announcement section.

The PSD package is available for $8.50.  You can download both designs and customize them for the perfect baby shower.

The JPEG package is set at $13.00.  After receiving your order, I will then send an email requesting the information you would like on both designs and if you have any other changes you would like.

Right now the trend for baby shower designs is simplicity.  I felt like I was able to accomplish this with both designs and still have some visual interest.  The colors used make it easy to coordinate the rest of the shower decorations unifying your overall theme.  Pinterest has a lot of great ideas for decorating.  

Most of all they were fun to design.  I like to have a new challenge to conquer.  If you have any questions or designs you would like to see please don't hesitate to contact me at .

For the rest of you, have a "Rawriffic" day!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Glass Artwork (A Chihuly Exhibit)

When it comes to glass artwork three names that pop into my head are Murano, Lalique, and Chihuly.  In school I remember working on a group project where we designed a patio filled with glass artwork inspired by some of the greats.  It's always a treat getting to see some of these fine pieces of work in real life.  Today I thought I would share some photos from one of these artists, Dale Chihuly.  Never heard of him?  Perhaps you've been to Vegas and seen some Chihuly art in the Bellagio gardens.

A few years back, shortly after I graduated my husband surprised me with tickets to the Botanical Gardens in Phoenix where they had on display Chihuly art throughout the desert landscape.  I was like a kid in a candy shop with so many pretty colors competing for my attention.  Believe it or not but the landscape was the perfect background.

The organic feel of the smooth flame like glass next to coarseness of the cactus was a sight to behold.  There were some pieces that fit so naturally in the desert.  

Each piece itself had so much texture and depth.  

We went to the gardens just before sun down so the light was reflecting off each piece, making the gardens glitter.  

I think perhaps one of the reasons I felt that the Chihuly art fit so well in this setting was because of the great diversity in plants.  You had tall plants, short stumpy plants, prickly plants, lush green bushes, etc, but overall they were still in the neutral color family, showcasing the individuality of each piece of glass without trying to be competitive.     

Yet it wasn't hard to picture these crystal like pieces naturally flourishing throughout the land.   

Sometimes they were the center of attention, other times they were hidden treasures to be found like this boat.  If I remember correctly this piece was slightly hidden behind some bushes and trees.  Overall it was my favorite piece.  I loved the color, setting, and the innovation of shapes and lines.  I love art, in all forms.    

Monday, April 9, 2012

Architecture in Arizona (Taliesin West)

After graduating from college and moving to the Valley of the Sun I decided I wanted to see some of the architecture in Arizona.  Arizona was new territory to me and I loved getting to see some of the places or designs I studied in school.  Architecture in Arizona definitely has its own look.  One of the places the husband and I wanted to go see was Taliesin West, a Frank Lloyd Wright design.    

Some believe he wasn't always the nicest person and very stubborn in his designs.  While he believed in organic architecture buildings not everything was as functional or comfortable as his clients would like.  Regardless I think a lot of his designs were simply beautiful.  He thought architecture and design should blend in with its natural background drawing and reflecting upon nature's own shapes and colors.  I would be lying if I didn't confess that at first, I wasn't a huge fan of the color palette for architecture in Arizona.  Everything was so brown or orange or red.  I grew up in the heart of the Rocky Mountains where I was surrounded by all sorts of greens.  Mountains were blue.  Plants thrived.  However, I've come to appreciate the beauty of the desert and yes even its red mountains and abundance of cactus.    

Frank used Taliesin West as a school for design.  His school was one where hands on and discovery were encouraged.  Frank Lloyd Wright at some point would have his students living out in nature to understand it on a deeper level.  This is where the original drafting building was located.  Unfortunately we weren't allowed to go inside.  I love these beautiful blue chairs.  The design of his furniture again was organic and reflected its surroundings.  Taliesin West is still used as a school today taking 22 students a year from around the world and based upon it's founders principles and beliefs.  

A student once confronted their mentor debating that there was no way to cool a place down in this barren desert.  If you've spent anytime in Phoenix during the summer you might understand where this student was coming from.  However, this sentiment made Frank Lloyd Wright so mad that he got to work disproving this theory.  The result is the above area known as The Breezeway.  Surprisingly it really was much cooler as we walked through.  

Some may have suspected Frank Lloyd Wright to be a little crazy, especially when he bought the "water rights" where his property was located.  Everyone knows there isn't water to be found in the desert.  Of course now those people are walking with their tails between their legs as Frank soon discovered a well.  I'm sure it was the best $7 he ever spent.

The rock used throughout the property is known as Taliesin Quartzite.  It can only be found within the boundaries of his property.  Each stone was brought down the mountain by hand.  It was one of the ways in which students helped to pay for their room and board.

Finally, Mr. Wright encouraged his students to try new things and develop talents they did not already possess.  One student took up sculptures where they are currently located in a garden on the property.

After this tour I left with a greater appreciation for architecture in Arizona.  So much thought went into the designs that I would be a fool to not see past what I once thought beauty was.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fashion Color Trends (Meet the Green)

Margarita - Pantone 14-0116

When I saw the Pantone Colors 2012 for spring this green was my least favorite of the colors.  I just couldn't see how it would it would translate into fashion color trends or even for interiors.  It's not that it can't be found or that it can't work, I just don't see the general public taking this color and running with it, me included.  So I set out to see what I could find.   

After quite a while of online searching I found the above pieces that are kind of in the same color family.  It proved even harder than anticipated.  I know I've seen a lot of green in the fashion industry as of late from colored skinnys to accessories.  While searching I realized that I was right, fashion color trends aren't so much following the Pantone Colors 2012 when it comes to green.  This particular green is more in the Sage Family, which is not trending.

What you will find is lots and lots of Mint and Sea Foam Greens leading the fashion color trends.  Now this I love!  I love it for fashion.  I love it for interiors.  As the feather earrings show, it is all the rage to pair some of these great pastel colors with bright colors.  They balance so well.  

Some are having a hard time jumping on the colored jean train and that's ok.  There are so many different opportunities to incorporate these colors.  My personal favorite from this collage are the heels with a bow.  Add them with regular jeans, a nice white shirt and perhaps a scarf with the same green and you have an outfit made of sophistication.   

Like I said the mint green or sea foam would look great in interiors especially as paint colors.  However, I feel that to do these colors justice I must write a separate post.  

I think what I love about the trends right now is that there is a little bit of everything.  Pastels. Neon. Vintage. Modern. You get the idea.  How would you use green and which color is your favorite?  What is your favorite thing about this year's fashion color trends?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Printable Quotes (Download of the Month)

This weekend I stumbled across this quote on Pinterest and wanted to design some printable quotes to frame and place in my home.  I made sure to check the source as not everything is credible on Pinterest.  Sure enough I stumbled across the quote in this talk This, the Greatest of All Dispensations.
It couldn't have come at a better time.  Having a fourth miscarriage fairly recently I've been struggling with trying to find the hope to keep trying.  As I try to prepare myself to go through with a Frozen Embryo Transfer in a few short weeks I find myself trying to list all of the reasons it won't work, why I shouldn't do it, why I should just be done for awhile. 

Then there are moments like this weekend where I find the inspiration I need to keep going.  I set all of the appointments for a FET because somewhere there is still hope inside if me.  It's our dreams that keep us going and so I will go on believing that someday those dreams will come true.

I loved this quote so much that I decided it will be this month's FREE download of the month.

You can find these printable quotes (without my watermark) on my website under my download of the month section.

May all of  your dreams come true!