Thursday, April 30, 2009

CONDO2CASTLE: Don't Overlook Outdoor Living!

In my quest to turn my little condo into a castle, I thought about one sure-fire way to increase the square footage of my home...bringing the indoors out. I can hear you now saying, wait JJ, don't you mean the outdoors in? While I love the idea of making my house springier and more airy, the answer is NOPE, that's not what I meant at all.

If you're fortunate enough to have a deck, patio, or balcony, then you're fortunate enough to have an extra room! That's right, people. This post is dedicated to OUTDOOR LIVING!

The issue of outdoor living is timely...especially here in southern CA! Last week we had a few days of 100+ degree weather. While the blazing heat hasn't lasted, it's guaranteed to be back soon with a vengence! So, I guess that means it's time to finally figure out what on earth I'm going to do on my deck.

My deck is HUGE. I have a slider in my living room AND my bedroom. I have a utility closet AND a storage closet out there. I have a nice view of the trees and the pool, but all I have out there is a dusty (and under used BBQ) and a couple of chairs. My deck is BEGGING for a makeover and I'm guessing some of you are in the same let's all look for inspiration together!

This cottage look is so precious! I love how the colors pop against the white woodwork!

Do you like mixing and matching bold colors? Any Amy Butler fans out there? I'd love something like this! A porch swing is so dainty, relaxing, and mixed with these colors, ever so girly!!!

Americana much? This is something my mom would scream for...wicker is a great outdoor product because it can take a beating, and down the road can be spray painted, if needed!!!

This classic setting is something I'd LOVE someday. I'm planning to get an outdoor rug for my deck in the near future...even though my awful HOA may not like it...but I haven't forgiven them for towing my car last week, so I don't really care what they think!

Like to entertain in your yard? Why not use fabrics and textures to create an elegant and rustic atmosphere? And let's not forget that a chandelier can be just as FABULOUS outside, too!

Want a peaceful retreat? Don't be afraid to put a couch outside and soft accessories!!!

All photos courtesy of

So tell me...if you were me, which style would YOU do on my deck to turn my condo into a castle?!?!? Inquiring minds want to know!!!

I'm sharing this post at Julia's Hooked on Friday's linky party...because I'm HOOKED on outdoor living...well, I will be once I figure out what to do on my deck! {giggles!}

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oh Melissa, what have you gotten me into???

Earlier this week {uh, yesterday}, I posted about my search for a lyre-back chair and how difficult it's been. Well, I finally found one on eBay and it's a TRAINWRECK. Regardless, I bought the stupid chair anyway, because it was 14 bucks and I knew that it was no challenge for the DIY Diva. However, this little baby has a lot of nooks and crannies and I've just been dragging my feet about sanding it down. Waaaaaaah.

I also plan to recover the ahem, PLASTIC, cushion with some fabulous fabric that matches my new semi-custom drapes! So what if the fabric has been sitting in the back of my car for at least a month now...wait when did I blog about the drapes? March 3, oh LOVELY.

Now confession addition to keeping the fabric in the back of the car for an eon, I've had the chair for like two weeks already. It was NEXT to my desk (where I plan to use it), then it's been sitting in my living room for a few days where I took it to shoot a photo. I'm so lazy, I would have just left it there until it refinished and recovered itself. I'm so lazy that I NEARLY ignored Melissa's challenge to us procrastinators...

BUUUUUT, she's given us two weeks to make our projects sparkle. Two weeks should give me plenty of time. Hey, if I can grow AND kill a garden in two weeks, I should be able to do one lowsy chair, right? (Ironically, Melissa's doing six -- ha ha ha ha!).

Join me for this PROCRASTINATORS PARTY and link up over at The Inspired Room. We'll tackle our projects together and not allow ourselves to be too lazy!!! And hopefully, in two weeks, I'll have a beautiful AFTER photo to brag blog about!!!

More maternity pics of Clare...this time with Matt!

Matt loves Clare. Matt loves sports. Matt loves his '66 Fastback. Next month, he'll get to meet his son and will fall in love all over again.

When Clare and I did some maternity pics a couple of months ago, Matt had other plans; this last weekend, we wouldn't let him get away from my camera, though!

To see some more pics from our wonderful shoot,
click on the image below and it will take you to a slideshow!

I've been featured!

Remember Clare's "cravings" baby shower? Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle because it was selected for a feature over at Creative Parties & Showers. Woo-hoo!

Seriously, I feel unworthy! Have you ever seen this website? I've spent some time over there and am in utter amazement at how incredibly talented and creative these party people are! Having said that, we had a TON of fun eating at Clare's shower and I know she enjoyed it, so it was all worth it!

PS - the phrase "I'll be a monkey's uncle" was one I learned at Pioneer Girls Camp in the 2nd grade...still don't know what it means, but yes, I still use it. ; )

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Shipping Large Items for Less!

I recently purchased something I've been wanting for a long time...a lyre back chair. You see, I'm an Alpha Chi Omega alum and the lyre is our beautiful symbol that I've loved it since mumble mumble cough {1995} cough mumble mumble.

When I went to college in Texas and then later lived in Virginia and DC, traditional furnishings were in abundance. But, having been back in CA for almost 8 years now (dang, really?!), I've been on the search for my chair and haven't ever seen one! Thus began my online search...

So on eBay and Craigslist, etc, there are plenty of lyre back chairs...for like $1,400. Um, no bueno. However, I did find this ahem, charming BEFORE for like 14 bucks. Sadly, it was far away and I knew the shipping would exceed the actual cost. BUT, I found out that Greyhound offers low-er cost shipping alternatives!!! My chair showed up a few days after I bought it at the Santa Ana Greyhound station. SO EASY!

Please girl, this will soon look remarkably different!!! Don't be hatin!

Then I remembered that my friend Sarah sent all her boxes from Sacramento to DC via Amtrak when she moved home. It was WAY cheaper than movers or shipping through the mail. So cool, huh?!

If you're interested in learning more about either of these options, check out Ship Greyhound and Amtrak Express Shipping, maybe these options will work for you! To see other great WORKS FOR ME WEDNESDAY ideas, jump on over to We Are THAT Family!

Tool Talk Tuesday featuring Living With Lindsay!

My fab friend Lindsay asked me several months ago if my blog was "open for business." The way she asked made me laugh, but as she'd been kicked butt with her blog and making friends out in blogland, I think she wanted to bring me along! Not long after that funny email, she posted my accent wall in her Teach Me Tuesday feature and I couldn't wait to feature her, too. She's a homemaker EXTRAORDINAIRE (she's also incredibly politically astute and wickedly smart...I know this as I went to grad school with her!), and can do more with a glue gun than anyone I've ever met, but we couldn't find the perfect opportunity until recently...when she was given her very own tools!

Please join me as we hear from Lindsay about her 5-year anniversary gifts...that came in a tool box!

For our five year wedding anniversary, my devoted husband gave me a tool box.

I know what you are thinking..."A tool box?" Well, there was a diamond necklace inside of it, so don't feel too sorry for me, okay?

Along with my beautiful necklace, he also filled my tool box with some essentials. You see, he's really picky about his tools and we both decided that I needed my own basic set. Too many tense situations have erupted over me using his tools in ways that he has deemed harmful to the tools (not to myself), so this gift was a long time coming.

The tool box was originally Home Depot orange, but DH figured I'd want to paint it with plastic spray paint anyway. He knows me so well! Now it's all pretty and Lindsay-like!

If you don't have your own set of tools or are looking to add to your current collection, here's a list of my "any gal" must-haves:

1. Cordless screwdriver/light duty drill - I have a Ryobi 4-volt from Home Depot, and I am very happy with it. It has enough power to drill a light duty project (like adding the hinges to
my makeover desk) and plenty of power to take the wrist pain out of manually driving screws.

2. Tape measure - Seriously, I can't live without this thing. I have this nice 25-foot metal tape measure, a fabric measuring tape, a yardstick, and more rulers than you can shake a stick at. When you are working on DIY projects, precision is key to having great results. Find a tape measure that feels sturdy in your hand and look for one that has a long rigidity length (i.e. how long you can extend it upwards before it starts to bend).

3. 8-in-1 hand screwdriver - When the cordless screwdriver won't do the trick, definitely have another screwdriver on hand. I love mine because it's green it has eight different bits in the handle so I can pretty much use it for any size and type of screw.

4. Painter's tape - I think blue painter's tape is one of the greatest inventions ever. This is the tape you use to paint straight lines and mask off the areas you don't want to paint, but you can use it for all sorts of things, such has holding trim in place while the glue dries, marking touch up spots on a piece of rehabbed furniture, and holding a set of hardware together so the screws don't get lost. It's pricey as far as tape goes, but I think it's well worth it.

5. Light Duty Hammer - I actually don't use a hammer very often since Tom has explained to me why it's better to use screws than nails in most situations (they don't pull out of surfaces as easily as nails do), but it's always good to have one on hand...even it if it's just for closing a paint can.

6. Precision screwdriver set - It's nice to have a set of small screwdrivers for those tiny little screws that crop up out of nowhere. A set of 6 is pretty cheap, so they are definitely a good tool to add to your toolbox.

Of course, we have many, many more tools than this, but these are the necessities I wanted to have of my very own. What's in your tool box? Anything I need to add to my must-have list?

Lindsay wants to know what's in our tool boxes, but I want to know what that diamond necklace looks like!

I love that Lindsay has her very own tools now! Sharing a love for beautify-ing our homes and DIY projecdts have been such fun additions to our friendship...and I can't wait to visit her in TX next fall for a big thrifting adventure that we'll both be blogging about later on down the road!

Lindsay is a clever chick with impecable taste and talent. PLEASE visit Living with Lindsay often for inspiration, fab ideas, and to be amazed by what one woman can accomplish!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

What I've Been Snappin Lately

Met up with Clare and Matt this morning for some maternity shots and I just loved this one...they're having a boy and Matt can't wait to meet his little athlete, so we met at the sports park! So far, I'm lovin these pics!!!

My darling 18-year old cousins came to So Cal for Easter, so I was able to snap this pic of them for the grandparents and their parents. I was extremely pleased with how this turned out!!!
My dear friend, Lisa, had her bridal shower recently and I served as the "house" photographer. We had a fantastic time and her sister planned an INCREDIBLE day! (PS-I'm jealous of those beautiful blue eyes!!!)
My lovely friend Rebekah came out for the weekend from Chicago and I snapped this pic and think she looks absolutely gorgeous!
On Sunday, I go to another Augie Chang workshop -- WOO HOO! Then the following weekend, I have three sessions AND a wedding. What a dream come true!

Friday, April 24, 2009

PhotoFANatic Friday featuring Jaime Pott

I recently came across Jaime Pott Photography after entering my goofy self-portrait in the I Love Faces contest. Jaime is a photographer based in Wyoming, Michigan...a city and state combination I'd never heard of...but nonetheless, her work is lovely! She is a studio/natural light photographer who specializes in newborns, babies, children, family and wedding photography. Having tried working with some babies and children lately, I can tell you that it's a challenge...but I believe this is where Jaime really excells!

The interweb is such a funny place. I love it because I can get tips on everything from DIY to photography...AND meet new friends!

I've spent some time poking around Jaime's website and blog and felt that she was absolutely worthy of the PhotoFANatic Friday title and I can't wait to share her thoughts and work with you!!!
    1. How did you first get interested in photography? Getting into photography for me was easy. I love design and art. Photography has both. I have always loved photography and starting a business has only made sense. I love to capture the true feelings of life and getting to know each family makes it all worth while.
    2. In your opinion, what makes a perfect shot? The perfect shot could mean many different things. I believe a perfect shot is different for every session. Genuine smiles, laughing, and true emotions are the perfect shots.
    3. What has your professional journey been like? When I started my photography journey I never thought it would have turned into what it is today. I have learned and grown so much in the last three years. I am very excited to see where I will be in the next year.
    4. Describe your best shoot ever. The best shoot I have ever had would be with my very first clients. Everything went well and it was so laid back it didn't even feel like I was working. The were so willing to do anything I wanted.
    5. What's the best piece of advice you were given when you were just starting out? The best piece of advice I was given when I was started out would be to practice practice practice. Know you camera. Read read and reread your camera manual. Get as much knowledge as you can before starting your business.

Isn't her work great?! If you're anywhere near Wyoming, Michigan, I really encourage you to check her out!!! And please be sure to stop by her blog for the latest and greatest!!!

Jaime, thanks so much for being today's PhotoFANatic Friday feature! Keep up the great work!!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I'm Hooked on Built-Ins!

My next home will have built-in bookcases. There said it, can't take it back. It's now a fact, not just a dream.

There's just something so elegant and classic about a little feature that really can't be all that's just an added step, which frankly is why most condo builders just don't even bother with - don't get me started on my condo right now. This week, my car was towed from right out in front, so I'm not speaking to my HOA for a while...I'm so defiant.

But back to built-ins...

I'd probably buy this house immediately without looking at any other rooms based on the fireplace and built-ins in the living room. Okay, not really, but I do LOVE this look. (PS-can you taste the bungalow flavor???)

And please, a built-in in a niche...this space was MADE for a built-in!!! I'd paint the wall in the upper portion a bold color, then hang an art piece there. GORGEOUS.

My friend Nathan, over at Laurel Street, has some killer built-ins in his NOLA home...I want to go visit him, then become a squatter...hey, squatters have rights, too, ya know!

And HGTV is KILLIN' me here with this kitchen built-in for cook simple, yet so GENIUS!

Just found Kelly's blog and I love her built-ins and her whimsical accessories! The yellow and green paint really make this room!

From Traditional Home (via Material Girls) - I love how classy and understated these bookcases gives this living room the look of a library. So divine...sigh.

And speaking of libraries, I saw this BEAUTY on Better Homes & Gardens website...I'm in LOVE!

BH&G also featured this bistro-style kitchen makeover. Isn't it awesome? I love how the function and form blend so nicely!!! I'm not a huge fan of yellow, but I could totally live here if I HAD to...(smirk!)

I'm sharing this over at Hooked on's a fun weekly blog carnival that you should absolutely check out!!!

Silver Lining

This week has been a long one...and it's not even over, yet.
  • On Monday, I slept through my alarm and missed bootcamp.
  • On Tuesday morning, my car was towed...from MY HOUSE.
  • On Wednesday morning, after bootcamp, my car wouldn't start until I gunned it with some gas. On Wednesday night, I had a REALLY LONG and REALLY BORING work dinner to attend.
  • This morning, my battery died again and I had to miss a meeting to run over to Tustin Acura.
This week has been a long one...BUT,
  • I checked my mail yesterday and found a thank you note with a gift certificate to Nordstrom from one of the families I recently shot -- Seaton Family, you're too generous and thoughtful!
  • I was finally able to get my groovy navigation bar done on this blog. Thanks to Judith Shakes Designs!!!
  • I found out the domain I'd originally wanted for my photography website WAS available, and so I purchased it for 10 bucks! And now I've begun the process with a designer for a whole new image!!!
  • When I had the battery replaced in my car, I found out it was under warranty so I got a new one for FREE!!!
  • Tomorrow afternoon, some coworkers and I are competing in a charity boat of the more hilarious events of the, we get to leave work early to do it!
  • On Sunday, I'm going back up to SF for another photo workshop and I'm SUPER EXCITED!!!

Dwelling on the negative things that have happened this week won't bring a smile to my face, won't cause this week to end any faster, and won't allow me to live a grateful life. However, focusing on the positive things sure while it's not always easy to focus on the positive, I'm sure gonna try!!!

How about you? Have you allowed circumstance to get you down and situations to ruin your mood? Or have you lived a grateful life and appreciated all of the beauty around you? Let's make a pact and encourage one another this week!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I'm a TOTAL freak!

I don't know where this weird OCD characteristic came from...certainly not from my parents, as they give me the "our child is CUCKOO" look when this issue comes up. What's the issue/characteristic, you ask?! Are you sure you're ready for it?!


See, totally and completely freakishly weird.

BUT, my NEED for gloves doesn't mean I can't have style...because I've used darling retro dish gloves for the last few years with ruffles, bows, and now, bling! Check out my latest pair of gloves!

These adorable babies came from Pier 1 and were on sale! They're so cute that I don't even need to hide them under the sink! Stylish, huh?!

And because I'm having so much fun with these adorable gloves, I wanted to share with you some other options! I played around on everyone's favorite web merchant for homemade products, Etsy, and found a few retailers whose products were absolutely worth mentioning! If you're in the mood for adorable dish gloves, I encourage you to CHECK THESE CHICKS OUT!

Julie Meyer Clean In Style Gloves

Divine Domestics $3 Gloves!

bebemoon Pretty Hands Dish Gloves

Raven Brook Domestic Diva Gloves

So, ya, I'm a total freak for the whole wet food thing, but I'm HOPING that my adorable gloves make the issue less obnoxious! These gloves WORK FOR ME. To see what other tips and tricks are out there helping women (and men), head on over to We Are THAT Family for a super fun blog carnival!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Kitchen Confidential | My Go To Dish...Mexican Meatloaf

When I'm on a healthy kick (as I happen to be right now), I have a GO TO dish that I like to prepare for dinner parties. It's a fan favorite, is easy to make, and frankly has a lot of flavor for minimal work...and that makes it a winner in my book! This is such a funny meal because I ALWAYS get requests for the recipe, in spite of the fact that it's from the WW and SHOULD be bland as heck!!! Guess it's true what they say about not judging a book my its cover...anyway, enough of my BLAH BLAH BLAHs, let's get on to the eats!

MEXICAN MEATLOAF, brought to you by WW

1/2 lb lean ground beef, 1/2 lb turkey, 4 oz green chilis, 2 oz bread crumbs, 2 egg whites, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp cumin, 8 oz enchilada sauce, shredded mexican cheese
mix meats in a large bowl
add 2 egg whites
add bread crumbs
add chili powder and cumin
add chilis, then half the enchilada sauce
and mix all those kids together!!!
then spray some cooking spray on a double broiler and form the mixture
bake on 375 for an hour, then pull it out, pour on the remaining enchilada sauce and springle some cheese on top and bake for another 5 minutes!
then get YOUR EAT ON!!!!

I'm sharing this YUMtastic meal over at Tasty Tuesday. Stop on over there for some other yummy goodness!