Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Beautiful Handmade Clutch

My little sister is so creative. She's just an artist, in general. Everything she creates is beautiful, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit to being a little jealous!

For Christmas, she gave me a pile of fabric...turns out she had too many projects going on and at the last minute, she just said screw it. Naturally, being the understanding (skinny and very beautiful - ha!) sister that I am, I told her not to sweat it and just give me the project anytime.

Well last night, she made a special delivery and I was BLOWN AWAY! Her attention to detail is amazing, her finish work is precise, and her creativity is apparent.

If you're interested in a pouch, makeup bag, or small purse that is similar to mine, she's currently taking orders. Her Etsy site isn't live, yet, but when I get through with her, she'll be all over the web! ; ) In the meantime, please feel free to email me at and I can get your information to her!
My sister is beautiful and she inspires me and I'm sharing her with the world (and Melissa's site) today!

Don't Wait for Something Special

This weekend, I cleaned out my garage and opened a box toward the back that housed something great grandmother's depression glass dishes.

I felt like a fool for forgetting they were there.

Aside from the fact that it just cemented my heinously messy garage, I was sad that I hadn't used the beautiful pink dishes in some time. Because I live alone, I sometimes think that my dinners (alone or with friends) aren't special, but then I changed my mind.

If I've got something as special as my great grandmother Edla's depression glass dishes, why on earth shouldn't I use them and celebrate her memory?!?! I decided then and there to get them out of the garage, give them a good cleaning and use them ASAP!

I used the gorgeous dishes on Sunday for my dinner party and last night for dinner with my friend Ashley. And dinner felt special.  All because I used a part of my family heritage, rather than keeping it away for something special...USING the dishes made dinner great and if YOU'VE got something like this tucked away, I encourage you to break them out and celebrate them, too!

I also received a special piece of decor this week.  My friend Lindsay has an Etsy shop that I highly encourage you to go check out.  I saw what she was selling and bought an item right away, because I support her dreams and because, dang it, I loved this tassle!!!

Lastly, I freaking bought my first iMac this week.  It's special as can be, and I'm totally obsessed.  I need to name it now.  Have any ideas???

Do you have special heirlooms or items that you keep putting off for a special day, but should be using more often?  If you do, I highly encourage you to go for it, and stop waiting for that perfect opportunity. Celebrate the special every day and I think you'll be happier than you could ever imagine!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Kitchen Confidential: Baked Chicken Provençal

Sooooo, I finally cooked. It's been ages. Why has it been so long since I've stepped foot inside my kitchen??? Your guess is as good as mine.

Do to the poopy weather this weekend, my shoots were cancelled, so I had plenty of time to organize/clean out my atrocious car and garage. I also had time to grocery shop and cook...and it felt good!

I invited some friends over for dinner and we had belly laughs and tons of fun AND I tried a new recipe that wasn't disastrous!!!

Check out my latest dish, Chicken Provençal:

First, I began with a delicious cava (the Spanish version of champagne). It was AMAZING!
Hello yummy ingredients! 4 garlic cloves, 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, thyme, tarragon, EVOO, 3/4 tsp salt, 1 (3 1/2 lb) chicken, 1 lemon, quartered, 1 lb whole small red potatoes, 2 red onions, each cut into 6 wedges, 3 plum tomatoes, halved, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 zucchini, 1 yellow squash.

Using the fresh herbs, EVOO, and some salt, create a paste and mix it together, then rub it under the skin and onto the breast and legs.
Quarter a lemon and jam it up inside the chicken. Ya, I just said that.

The last step involves wrapping the legs together with kitchen twine, then placing the vegetables all around the chicken. Cook on 425 for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is done (at about 180 degrees internally). I ended up having to cook mine for longer as I'm not really a fan of raw chicken. : )

Sadly, I didn't get an after picture because we tore into the delicious meal like vampires (sorry, Twilight was a topic of discussion at dinner). However, the bird was juicy and perfectly seasoned. We all agreed the recipe was a good one and that this would go into a regular rotation!

I'm sharing this recipe with my friends at Tasty Tuesday. Head over there for more yummy recipes STAT!

Blog Sugar - A Networking Event with Flair

On Friday night, I was invited to a networking event for bloggers. It had style, it had flair, it had wonderful bloggers, it had sugar. Everything you need for a successful networking event.

But it had more.

It had an ADORABLE organizer named Rachel.

Rachel has a wonderful blog and an estate sale business that I've followed for a while. Not long ago, I found out that she's the SIL of a photographer friend of mine and we started emailing. Isn't that how most online friendships work? Someone is a friend of someone or we stumble across them randomly?

Anywhoooo...Rachel seems to be a networker extraordinaire and decided to put together a group for a fun night out. And I liked all her friends!

We chatted, drank fizzy pink lemonade, ate cake pops (yes Ashley, your fave!), and networked and talked about our blogs. It was super fun and I can't wait to meet up with these women again.

I've been fortunate enough to attend a few different blog/twitter networking groups and if you have the opportunity to hit one up in your area, I say GO! It may be awkward at first, but once you start making connections, you'll start making friends!

The ingredients for Blog Sugar:

Adorable decor!
Delicious treats!
Name tags that also double as hairclips. Thanks, Julie!!!
Parting goodies!
Computers to check out everyones' blogs!
And adorable hostess!
Raffle prizes!
Details, details, details!
Thanks SO MUCH to Rachel for organizing such a fun girls night out.  You are truly a joy and I can't wait for more fun times together!


Hey, guess what?! I was also featured today on Better After. Go check it out when you have a chance!!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How to Keep Your Guests at the Table

I LOVE to throw dinner parties...even in the tiny condo. Whether I serve a several course meal or something that I've faked (yo, I aint to proud to admit that I've served Shake N Bake), I always enjoy having friends gather around my table.

I have conversation cards that usually come out after the main course is served, while my guests and I are enjoying a bottle of wine and waiting for dessert. They are the MOST fun and I highly recommend them! But I digress.

Sometimes, my guests adjourn to the living room to sit on the couches or the floor and while that doesn't bother me, I THINK I know why now...


Enter my latest home NEW DINING ROOM FURNITURE. You can't tell that I'm excited at all, can you?!?!

A few weeks back, I found the perfect chairs for my dining room, then last week I found my table. I didn't go with the most expensive table, but I did find one that I like A LOT and know that if I want to paint and distress it down the road, it won't be the end of the world. (Sounds like the inner workings of a sicko DIYer's brain, no?!)

I've spent some time this week just sitting in my chairs. They are cozy...and now I know that my guests will want to stay at the table with me, enjoying not only good food, but good conversation and friendship, too.

If you have a similar problem and can't necessarily afford new chairs now, I encourage you to look at seat cushions or even to make some. There are some great DIY options out there, so don't let anything keep you from creating a comfortable dining experience for you and your friends!

I'm inspired by my new dining room and can't wait to have guests over!!! I'm sharing this post with The Inspired Room this week. Please be sure to head over there and see what others are inspired by this week, too!

The Color Debate Continues...

I got my weekly BH&G newsletter delivered to my inbox yesterday and the first article was 58 Daring Ways to Use Neutrals.

images courtesy of BH&G

I turned up my nose.  This is NOT daring.

Lately, the blogosphere has been churning up the debate about color and I've finally decided that it was my turn to chime in.

Now, I've got some neutral walls in my house, so I hope I don't sound like a hypocrite here. I DO have a pretty green kitchen, that used to be brick red. I also used to have a sunshine yellow bedroom, but now I sleep better with less contrast.

I know apartment dwellers have limited options, and we condo peeps always think about resale issues. But I beseech you, don't force yourself to live in the temporary! Live it up in the NOW!

As for you forever and ever house gals, paint can be very affordable, so if you worry that you'll HATE it, like me and my sunshine yellow walls scenario, you can always change it! Let your home be a reflection of your personality. Let those walls envelope you in color. ROCK IT OUT. Do not feel like you have live in the Pottery Barn Catalog to make it beautiful. Make your home, YOUR home!

Now, perhaps you've got a breezy, beachy thing going on.  That's great...just add some color through accessories.  And the same goes for us apartment/condo dwellers!

Color creates DEPTH and volume and warmth.  And you know what else???  Color conveys EMOTION.  Let your home send out signals of happiness, love, and warmth, and it will be like a welcome mat to those you love!

Or, if you want, you can just have one of these out front:
That's all I have to say. The end.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Theme Songs

Remember the show Ally McBeal from the late 90s?  I LOVED it.  I loved that she was a strong, but super flawed, woman out to conquer the big bad world on her own.  But I also hated her.  She needed to get over her issues with the ex-boyfriend and move on.  She could also be super sappy.  But then again, what woman isn't at times??? Perhaps I was afraid I was too much like her...

There was a pivotal episode where I realized that the quirky show was right up my alley (pun intended). Remember when her counselor (Tracey Ullman!) recommended she have a theme song? All of a sudden, she could hear the words, and feel the beat, to I Know Something About Love/Tell Him...sometimes it was slow and sad, and sometimes it was upbeat. But it was always hers and once she owned it, it gave her a purpose.

I've never been one for a "favorite song" or a having an "our song" with a special boy. I usually just listen to the dribble on the radio. Lately, when I need a boost, I like to get sassy to these songs and in college, before a big night on the town, my sorority sisters and I "cat-walked" to this insanity. But not long ago, I heard the greatest song on the radio and KNEW instantly that it would be MY theme song.

As a single woman, I haven't given up on love or married my career. I haven't given up on hope that Mr. Right is out there, either. I think it's hard for for many of the happy couples around me to figure me out. Sometimes they look at me with the "what is wrong with her" or "what is wrong with guys" quizzical look. Sometimes, they assume that I'm sad and depressed and sometimes they see me happy as a clam. Regardless, I think they sometimes assume that I've given up on love and romance...HOWEVER, I aint givin up on it, yet!!! I still LOVE cheesy romance novels, sappy rom-coms, and yes, romantic songs.


I finally found the perfect romantic song for singles...and you know what?!?! I'm claiming it as my theme song! It's filled with HOPE, excitement, and even love for the unknown. It makes me happy, puts a smile on my face, and reminds me that HE'S OUT THERE!!!

So, please enjoy it with me today. Let it be exciting for you, too! If you're in a happy relationship, listen to the song and remember what it felt like when you met your someone special!!! Or at the very least, let Michael Buble's dreamy voice sing you a happy song!

So, what about you? Do you have a theme song for you life???  Wanna borrow mine for a while???  Don't worry, I'm happy to share.  : )

Oh, and PS (if you clicked on the links above), I have one more thing to say: ZIG A ZIG AH!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tool Talk Tuesday featuring Centsational Girl

I recently decided to bring back my Tool Talk Tuesday series because I missed the DIY section of my has gotten in the way of life and I haven't had much time to work on my house or do any projects!

At BlissDom, I met TONS of insanely talented women...and the DIYers inspired me more than I can say.  My second day at the conference, I had the opportunity to have lunch with a few women who I am proud to call friends now!  Kate, the Centsational Girl, has an amazing site and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!!!  So, she was the perfect person to relaunch Tool Talk Tuesday with!  Kate, thanks SO MUCH for lending me this post and for the sweet intro!  Next time I'm up in wine country, I'm looking you up!!!  XOXO

Hey JJ, you are a gal after my own heart.  I'm so flattered you'd consider me to be on your inspirational site.   I never get tired of paint and power tools, just like you.  You should see my closet now, it's bursting with even more supplies.  I just can't stop!  I was so delighted to lunch with you at Blissdom and know that you are an inspiration to your readers. Someday, we shall create a masterpiece together, you and I.  Until then, keep on DIYing.  Big hugs.  Kate

I’ve recently been asked by several readers what tools I consider essential to be a successful DIYer.  

Now some gals are proud of their closets full of designer shoes and clothing.  (Need I say Mariah?  Kimora?  Eva?  Paula?)  Not me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love clothes, handbags and shoes too, but I don’t have the budget to invest as heavily as the aforementioned celebs. 
In truth, if given the choice, I’d take the chair and chandelier in Mariah’s closet over that shoe collection.  But that’s just me.
mariah closet
But speaking of closets, there is one in my world that I like very much.  It’s not gilded.  It’s not glamorous.  It doesn’t have any shoes inside.  But I’m very fond of it. 
It’s my supply closet. 
cg supply cabinet
Oh, yeah, now THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about!  So many adhesives, paints, and brushes, it’s enough to make me teary.  I love my DIY supply closet. 
So to answer your question about necessary products, I’ll take this shelf by shelf.  These are the products on my shelves, but I consider only the items in bold to be essential. 
Top shelf cg
Shelf One: Rubber silicone sealant, crazy gluewood gluespray adhesive, light & medium spackling, acrylic latex caulking, rubber cement, white epoxy, grout sealant, metal polish,wood filler, tile & stone cleaner, and a caulking gun. 
Shelf Two:  Long handle paint roller, short handle paint roller, extra rollers, painter’s tape,disposable maskspaint thinner, stain/paint stripper, paint traysrecycled plastic containersfor smaller paint projects. 
middle shelf
Shelf Three:   Craft paints in various colors, rags, coarse grade sanding pad, medium grade sanding pad, fine grade sanding pad, regular sandpaper, artist’s flat brush, artists filbert brushnatural bristle paint brush for oil based paint projects, synthetic angled medium brush (nylon or polyester) for latex painting, small synthetic paint brushroll of plastic sheeting, roll of paper sheeting, spray primerspray paints in various colors, spray paint gun, staining pads
Oh joy!  It’s my prized spray paint collection. 
spray paint
Bottom shelves:  Oil based and water based Zinsser primer, various metallic glazes, leftover paint for all the rooms in my home, Minwax Wipe-On Polyurethane.   
paint and stain shelf
I also keep a supply of tarps on hand for painting and staining, as well as a stack of newspaper for all of my spray paint projects. 
Note: Even though I store all of these chemical in a closet, I do not seal it up tight to allow for some ventilation.  Something about stored up toxic fumes makes me a hint nervous.  So these doors are always cracked open a bit.   
And I haven’t even mentioned tools!  In Part Two, we’ll talk all about tools, including power tools, hand held tools, and craft tools. 
Not including tools, what supplies do you consider essential for your DIY projects?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Just in time for Valentine's Day

You already know that I have a totally sick sense of humor. I've mentioned my true love for before, too. I can't help it, even the naughty ones send me into fits of laughter. I've even been known to send these to people anonymously...they are just the BEST.

So imagine my complete and udder joy when I noticed they had new Valentine's Day cards ready already (yes, I just wrote that)! Please feel free to follow the links and send these to your loved ones or friends!

A little something for the couples:

Happy early Valentine's Day to someone who should already be planning the greatest night of my life
It's not what you do for me on Valentine's Day that matters but the amount of jealousy it provokes in others
I can't believe how much I'm not sick of you

And now, a little something for the singles (my category du jour):

Thinking of Facebook-stalking you this Valentine's Day
Join me for a girls' night this Valentine's Day to celebrate our independence before we drunk text our exes and quietly sob ourselves to sleep
I'm so grateful Valentine's Day is on a Sunday so I don't have to watch everyone's flowers being delivered at work
Try not to savagely assault happy couples this Valentine's Day

Friday, February 12, 2010

I Dominated my HOA

If you follow me on twitter, you know I had a slight war with my HOA recently.  I have had a hate hate relationship with the HOA management company for years.  I have anger DEEP in my heart.  However, I'm pretty much a rule follower, SO when I realized my screen door was broken, I called them to find out what the stipulations were for changing it out.

Imagine my surprise, when I found out that changing my broken screen door to THE SAME EXACT ONE would require a six page application, getting sign-offs from four neighbors, and a FORTY FIVE DAY REVIEW PERIOD.  Ooh la la, I was seething with anger!

Needless to say, I sent an email informing the HOA that their terrible management made me regret living here. It wasn't too snotty...not as bad as I'd wanted it to be. Then I asked when the next board of director's meeting was.

I showed up, made my case to the board about how inefficient and riddled with red tape this process seemed to be and I saw them all nod their heads. Then the HOA staff started to back peddle and talk fast. I knew I had her. So, the outcome...they changed our CC&Rs and By Laws. And I'm getting my new screen door.

And this adorable key. Because I need a trophy to celebrate my victory!  PS - for those who are wondering, this precious key is from Stat Key Company!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Ottoman Empire

Today at lunch time, some coworkers and I had a conversation about they're spelled, what they're good for, etc.

When you live in a small space, an ottoman can be your BEST friend. (Ahem...Ashley, go get one ASAP!)  And a storage ottoman is EVEN BETTAH!

I have this beautiful ottoman as my coffee table (well, almost the same - from Target!).  A silver tray from eBay sits on top of it with a variety of tchotchkes and remotes.  It also provides an excellent source of additional seating when I have guests over...granted, I don't make them sit on the silver tray.  : )

I'm a HUGE fan of these ottomans (from Living Spaces) because they also provide major storage solutions.  The first has a top that flips over and serves as a tray.  The second has drawers. AWESOME!

You can also find some great options that are super colorful and fun!  This one is from Bed, Bath, and Beyond and is SUPER reasonably priced!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this ottoman.  It has a sleeper in it's belly.  What a perfect option for small homes or studio apartments.  If you've got a one bedroom (like me), this is a GREAT option!

In college, I babysat for a wonderful couple.  They had one of the first gliders and glider ottomans.  I LOVED them.  And I'm not ashamed to admit that I fell asleep in that chair just about every time I babysat and didn't wake up until I heard the gate open.  One day, when I have a child, I'll have one of these bad boys!!!

And, if you're looking for an ottoman that just makes a statement (or is totally obnoxious and for laughs), you can always find bizarro stuff like this at the Targ!

What are your thoughts on ottomans? Do they take up too much space? Provide good form AND function? A fad that won't be around much longer? I'd love to hear your thoughts!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

CONDO2CASTLE: Embrace Your Walls

Have you ever heard that light and clutter-free walls make a room look larger? I grew up hearing that, but I now know that it's a total misnomer. Having spent the last seven years here in the condo, I've tried many different looks. Now I know that color, decor, and large scaled pieces DO NOT make the home look smaller, but rather, enhances the style of your home.

Fantastical Focal Points
Remember my dresses? Last year, when I bought the art piece, it had been displayed tightly together on a white background. I knew I wanted to enhance the sculptures and make them pop, all while making them a central focal point in my bedroom. Though it is not a large space, the art installation easily takes more than half the wall. And it makes the room look larger.  Don't be afraid to have an anchor piece in your house that serves as a focal point in one room or another!

Collages, Artwork, Mirrors, Oh My!
Many small spaces are rentals units or apartments.  And it's easy to get intimidated by rules and regulations.  Or perhaps you're in a similar situation as me and you own a small starter home.  Don't be afraid to decorate how you want for fear that it's not a "forever" home!  Girl, spackle can be your best friend and walls can always remain painted.  BUT, if you don't want to rock the boat, there are always decals.
image courtesy of Leen the Graphics Queen

Another option for wall decor with no permanent impact would be to utilize a leaning mirror!  Ikea has them reasonably priced and I just found this one for less than $100 bucks!

Fabric is Your Friend
If you live in a small space, you likely either have high vaulted or shallow ceilings. If you're lucky enough to have vaulted ceilings, PLAY THEM UP, GIRL! And if you don't...FAKE IT! By using window treatments that start at the ceiling above your windows, you'll visually deceive your guests AND yourself into thinking you've got lots of space.
image courtesy of Southern Living

Do you have a small space? Have any concerns or questions about decorating it and making it feel like home? Share with the class and maybe on the next CONDO2CASTLE, we'll tackle that problem!!!

Monday, February 08, 2010

More BlissDom Thoughts (and pics!)

I'm finally going through my BlissDom pictures and have been digesting my favorite moments and experiences.

When I decided to go, I assumed I'd enjoy the social aspects of the conference. In fact, I actually thought that would be the best part of the conference! As a public affairs professional, my career has prepared me well for this, but in my innermost being, insecurity still lurks. But, I met WONDERFUL women who I had instant connections with! It was so funny to think to myself "she's WAY taller/shorter in real life" or "she's WAY more charismatic/shy in real life."

I also got a lot out of some of the sessions. Not the kind of note-taking "a ha" moments, but reminders to focus and narrow my message. I need to put some time into that and start being a better blogger. I knew I needed to rebrand before I left, and that was very much confirmed for me, too.

Here are some fun pics from the sessions. Jess, Lindsay, and Rhoda taking it all in.

Just about everyone took their laptops and either live-blogged, edited images, or kept up with twitter.  I didn't take mine so that I could focus on people, instead of technology.  I did take my camera with me everywhere, but frankly, I kept it out of everyone's faces for the most part.
What a thrill it was to have a fun cocktail party on Friday night, too.  Our featured entertainer was HARRY CONNICK, JR.  OH MY WORD, he is so talented and HAWT!!!
My boyfriend and I...I mean, Harry Connick, Jr., and some new and old friends.  Thanks to Darcy (My3Boybarians) for making me look good!!!

Here's a pic of me and the stinker who harassed me into going to the conference.  She was relentless, BUT she was right.  I had a tremendous time and I know I would have regretted had I not gone!

Here's my girl Lindsay.  It was so great to be together again.  I am so fortunate that blogging brought us close again!
Sandy blessed me with some amazing conversation.  She walked up to me after a session and gave me a warm hug and I can't tell you how much that meant to me!  And it was too funny to know that she lives in the same town as some second cousins and totally knows them...small world! (By the way, I bought that flower headband at Forever 21 for a few bucks and I got SO MANY compliments on it on Saturday! Several girls even took pics of it for their blogs. What a riot!)
Before the conference began, my dear friend Kimm asked me to shoot some profile pics for her blog.  Here's a sneak preview.  I think she looks gorgeous and I can't wait to send her the rest!!!

And let's not forget the fact that I did my Shootsac giveaway at BlissDom!  Dawn helped me to draw two numbers and select two very excited winners!  This is the Sassy Irish Lassie and I heard that she did a happy dance when she saw the news on twitter.  Hilarious!  Jana Warnke also won a Shootsac.  We met at the i heart faces photowalk and she seems like a total doll!

Julia snapped this great shot of a few of us before the concert and cocktail party.  I had to borrow it because we all look like we're ready for fun!  We danced like maniacs and HAD A BLAST!

image courtesy of

On Sunday morning, i heart faces hosted a photowalk in downtown Nashville.  It was FREEZING COLD, so I snapped very few pics, but here are a few fun ones!

Then I went to lunch with my cousins and some other photo friends.  I got lost for almost an hour trying to find them, but once I did, I had a fantastic time enjoying my family.  PS - why didn't someone tell me that hat made me look like a cancer patient?