Flashback Friday: January

Friday, January 30, 2015

Can you believe January is almost over? I know I say this every month, but seriously, time flies! Today we’re looking back at some of my favorite January posts from years past. Unsurprisingly, it seems like January is always a productive month for me, so there’s some fun projects in this month’s roundup…plus puppy pictures!

OK, let’s kick this off with a flashback to January 2014 –

Painting my grandma’s china hutch was one of the biggest/scariest DIY projects I’ve ever tackled, but it turned out to be one of my favorite pieces. I know my grandma would be happy that I kept this piece and made it my own. The unpainted inside has grown on me over the year, so I’m still undecided about leaving it wood or painting it. I do like how it highlights my ironstone collection, which has grown substantially since these pictures.


These pictures are probably the most shocking before/after pictures on my blog. The main living space changed so much in 2013! I wish I had done this same picture project the year before, so I’d have more pictures to compare. At least I remembered to do it this year, although the change isn’t nearly as dramatic.


Let’s rewind another year and look at January 2013 –

Two years ago we installed a doggie door. It might not be the most pinable project we’ve ever done, but it’s definitely the most practical. I love that thing…and so do the dogs! They are now free to come and go as they please during the day and at night, so this is definitely their favorite blog project.



I still have those pictures hanging in my dining room and I’m happy to report that the paint on the frames and mats has held up really well. I still love those pictures, but I’m planning a fun project for that wall, so their time may be limited. Although we all know how long it takes me to finish projects, so they are probably safe for a few more months…


Time to go WAY back to January 2012 –

This was a fun project and a great way to use one of those IKEA frames that everyone seems to have laying around. I took all of those frames down last year and got rid of most of them, but I still have my seashell art. I just need to find a new place to hang it.



My sweet Abby dog! She turned 3 years old this month! Getting Abby was the best decision I’ve ever made and the best thing that’s ever happened to me. She’s the sweetest, most loving dog and I love her to pieces. She loves cuddling and thinks she’s a little lap dog…and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I look forward to Abby snuggles every day (I love Ringo snuggles too, but some days he thinks he’s “too cool” to be cuddled).


I didn’t start blogging until February in 2011, so that’s as far back as we can go for January posts. It’s been fun looking back at how I’ve kicked off the New Year for the past few years.


Exploring AZ: Wildlife World Zoo

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Today I’m bringing back the Exploring AZ series and sharing our trip to the Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park, AZ! My boyfriend and I visited the zoo during Christmas break and we had a great time. It was definitely worth the hour drive.


First, I want to say that this place is huge! I’d never been before, so I had no idea it would be so big. My boyfriend said he’d been there as a kid, but it wasn’t nearly as large back then. You’ll definitely need a few hours to see everything. I also recommend bringing cash if you want to do any of the rides or activities. You’ll also need quarters if you want to feed the ducks or giraffes.

We started the day at the aquarium part of the zoo. They have everything from seahorses to sharks to otters. They also have a touch tank, which is always fun for kids and adults. We lucked out and arrived right when they were feeding the sea lions, so that was a fun start to the day.


We decided to work our way counter-clockwise around the park, so we started with the birds and monkeys. They have SO many birds at this zoo and I’m scared of birds, so I didn’t love that part. I did love the monkeys and they were pretty active, so it was entertaining.


Next were the tigers…and I have a great story to share about the white tiger! There’s one section of the enclosure where you can get pretty close to the fence and we were standing there with a few other people. The tiger started walking towards us. It got all the way up to the fence, then turned around and sprayed one of the guys in the group next to us! The tiger must not have liked his green shirt! Imagine spending the rest of the day in a tiger-pee soaked shirt!


From there we continued on past more birds, Dragon World, and the rhino. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a very good view of him because they were cleaning (or maybe rebuilding) his enclosure, so he was closed off further away. The skyride was nearby so we decided to jump on and tour the zoo from the sky. It’s $4/person and well worth it, in my opinion. The ride took about 15 minutes and we got some great views of the animals, especially the kangaroos.



Once we got off the skyride headed towards the giraffes. We passed zebras and camels on the way. Hump day!  Whoop whoop!


And then we fed the giraffes! They have quarter-machines that dispense a small handful of pellets to feed the giraffes. I love giraffes, so this was one of my favorite parts.


We decided to stop for lunch before walking through the safari park. We ate at one of the cafes and the food was expensive, but was actually not too bad. The burgers and fries were better than the ones in the cafeteria at work. Anyway, the last big section of the park was the safari section. They have everything from warthogs to baboons to hyenas.


The last part of the park was the leopards, more primates, and the porcupine.


And finally our last stop was the kangaroo walkabout. Seriously, there’s a roped off path through the kangaroo enclosure! I was a little nervous about getting the shit kicked outta me, but they were pretty much all sleeping. This guy was my favorite – “draw me like one of your French girls”.


Long story short – we had a great time at the zoo! Note: If you are planning on going, check Groupon first. It seems like they have deals for admission fairly often and we ended up saving $16 that way. I've also seen discounted tickets at Del Taco. You can find more details about the zoo here


A Clean Craft Room

Monday, January 26, 2015

It’s time to share another project that I crossed off my Christmas Break to-do list - I clean and organized the craft room!  I want to warn you about the before pictures, they’re pretty scary. Seriously, I’m embarrassed how messy I let this room get, but I like to keep things real, so I’m not holding anything back. Here’s how the room looked:




It looks me HOURS to clean everything out, sort what I was keeping/donating/trashing, and then organize everything, but it was so worth all of that time and effort. I finally have a functional craft room!

 

 
Now that the room is finally usable again, it’s time to finish decorating! I only have a few items on my to-do list, so hopefully this will be one of the rooms that I finish this year!

Here’s my craft room to-do list:
Touch up paint on desk
Replace light switch/outlets
Make/hang bunting
Artwork
Buy new set of chairs
More organization



The Friday Five

Friday, January 23, 2015

One – Italy


My mom and I are going to Italy in September!!! We leave September 26th and will be gone for 2 weeks! We are flying into Venice and we’ll be traveling down the boot with stops in Florence, Rome, and Sorrento, plus side trips to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Vatican City, Capri and Pompeii. I can’t wait! If you’ve ever been there, I’d love to hear about your favorite things to see/do/eat and any tips.


Two – KitchenAid Mixer


A couple months ago I mentioned that I was planning on buying a KitchenAid mixer on Black Friday. Well, I did and I love it! Plus my boyfriend bought me the ice cream maker attachment for Christmas! We made vanilla ice cream one night and we both thought it was the best ice cream we’ve ever had.

Oh, and you can also see my new salt and pepper shakers in the picture! They were a part of Wal-Mart’s after-Christmas clearance, so I paid less than $2 for the pair!


Three – BarkBox


Ringo and Abby got their January BarkBox in the mail this week! It’s kind of expensive, but they LOVE it, plus I’d probably end up spending $20 a month on treats/toys for them anyway. Of course now Ringo thinks every package in the mail is for him…This box included a stuffed toy and four treats, including these salmon skin treats. I’ve never seen anything like those before, which is one of the reasons I love BarkBox. It’s a fun way to find new toys and treats. One of Ringo’s favorite toys came from a box (this flashing ball).

Full Disclosure: The BarkBox link is an affiliate link. If you use that link for a subscription, you’ll save 10% and I’ll get a free BarkBox. This post is not sponsored. I’ve been a paying member for over 2 years and I just wanted to share something we love.


Four – Bowling Ball


Soooooo, I bought a bowling ball. My boyfriend has 3 of his own, so we are officially “those people” at the bowling alley. Of course mine is just one of those cheap 8-pound balls, but it was drilled to fit my hand and the first time I used it I bowled a 170 (my average is around 110)! We’re bowling in the league again (this was the first week), so we’ll see how I do this season with my new ball. Of course it’s mostly just a fun league, but still, I like to win =)


Five – Ultimate DIY Bundle


Have you seen this Ultimate DIY Bundle deal? It’s a package of eBooks and eCourses for $34.95. I bought the deal mainly for the Photography 101 course from Shoot Fly Shoot. I’ve been wanting to buy it for awhile now, so I can learn how to use my camera, but I’ve been waiting for a sale (I meant to order it on Black Friday). The course is normally $67, so it’s cheaper with the bundle plus you get all of those extra goodies. It’s only available through the weekend, so hurry if you want to order!


http://farmerbell.blogspot.com/     http://www.northcarolinacharm.com/ 
 
 

Julia Child Quote Kitchen Artwork

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Today I’m finally sharing one of the projects I crossed off my to-do list over Christmas Break! Yep, I finally updated the artwork in my kitchen!


For the past 3.5 years I’ve been using that framed print in my kitchen. I still love the print, but I was sick of the glossy black frame and I wanted to add a little more color, plus the wall needed something a little bit bigger. I looked around online and in stores, but never found anything perfect for the space so I decided to make my own!

I used my miter saw to cut a 1x3 into five 15 inch pieces. I secured them together with a thinner wood strip, some wood glue and a few nails. Then I painted the front and sides with a coat of Martha Stewart’s chalk paint in Brook and then a light coat of CraftSmart Robin’s Egg Blue acrylic paint.


After that dried I used my Silhouette and some scrap vinyl to cut out my wording/design (I still love that quote by Julia Child, so I decided to use it again). I just used some white acrylic craft paint for the lettering (I like to peel off the vinyl while the paint is still wet). Once the paint was dry I used some fine grit sandpaper to distress the lettering. This picture shows the difference between distressed vs. freshly painted. The distressed letters definitely look more “authentic” and less like stenciled wording.


Then I just attached a couple hooks to the back of the piece and hung it on the wall! I love how it turned out! I think the size fits the space better and love the pop of color! Plus I had all of the supplies on hand except for the wood, so this project ended up being less than $10!




http://www.shineyourlightblog.com/
 
 
 

2015 Home/Life Goals

Monday, January 19, 2015

Alright, I’m back with my home and life goals for 2015! A few of them are the same from last year because I didn’t complete them or because I want to keep up the momentum, but there are a few new ones too. Let’s jump right into it starting with my home goals for 2015:

#1 Landscape the Backyard
This goal is a carryover from last year and it’s my number one house goal for the year! Our backyard is huge with great potential, but it’s a serious mess right now. Honestly, it’s embarrassing how bad it looks and that has definitely kept us from enjoying our outdoor space. Because of the size, I think this a project we’ll have to hire out. I just don’t have the time/energy/heavy machinery to DIY this project. Ugh, this is going to be expensive…but worth it in the end.

 
#2 Finish a Room (or Five)
This one is a carryover from last year too, but I wanted to keep it on my goals list because I’m just SOOOO damn close to finishing a few of the rooms in the house. The laundry room, living room, office, craft room and master bathroom are only a few projects/purchases from being complete. I would love to call at least one of them (hopefully all of them) done by the end of the year.


#3 All the Small Things
I feel like I didn’t work on very many small projects or crafts last year and that totally bums me out. I’ve done a couple craft projects over the past few weeks and it reminded me how much I love doing them. I think I was so focused on big projects last year that I forgot about the small ones. I have some great ideas in my mind and pinned on Pinterest and I’d love to do them this year. So expect to see more small projects/crafts this year, which I think will make everyone happy because those seem to be my most popular posts.

 

#4 Master Bedroom Makeover
The master bedroom has become the most neglected room in the house…wait, that sounds bad…I mean design-wise it’s the most neglected. This year I really want to get the room pulled together, so we have a pretty, but comfortable space to relax in at the end of the day. This one is going to require some new furniture and a lot of work, but it’ll definitely be worth the effort.



OK, now let’s talk about some personal goals:

#1 Live Healthy
This one is a carryover from last year. I feel like I did pretty well in the second half of the year, so this is mostly just a reminder to keep it up. This goal is all about eating healthy and exercising, obviously. I’ve been trying to limit sugar and flour by sticking to a mostly paleo diet. Although I’m not super strict and I do have a couple cheat meals a week. Seriously, life is short and I’ll never give up chocolate cake, but I can limit it a bit. I also need to start exercising more. I’m definitely a slacker when it comes to exercise…I always have an excuse - and I’m not even talking about going to the gym, just walking around the block, doing Zumba on the Wii, or a few minutes on the treadmill. So this year I really want to make exercise more of a priority.


 
#2 Go Green
I want to make more of an effort to “go green” this year. Now I’m not talking about anything dramatic, just a few small things that can have a big impact (this site lists 50 simple things you can do to go green and help the planet). So I’ve decided to focus on the following three changes for the year: recycle more, stop paper bank statements and bills, and use reusable bags.

We have a large recycling bin that the city collects on Fridays and we use it, but I could definitely make more of an effort to separate recyclables and actual trash. As far as working towards going paperless, I already do most of my banking and bill paying online, but there are still a few accounts that I never updated. I also want to see if I can eliminate the amount of junk mail we receive. And the biggest (and hardest) change will be using reusable bags instead of plastic. I already have a few totes and I did use them grocery shopping for a couple months, but I kept forgetting them at home and eventually I just gave up on them. I’m sure I’ll still end up using plastic bags once in awhile, but if I could cut it down by even half, it would make a big difference.



So those are my goals for the year. I’ll post a mid-year recap in June, so I can share my progress and see if I need to get back on track on any of the goals.

Did you make any resolutions or goals for 2015?



January 2014 vs. January 2015

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Last year I did a comparison of the living room/dining room/kitchen area from January 2013 to January 2014 and it ended up being one of my favorite posts. It was crazy to see the difference over a year and really helped me appreciate how much I accomplished. If you missed that post, you can see it here. I definitely recommend checking it out because there were a lot more significant changes during that time period than in this post. The major differences you’ll notice in this post are tables and finishing touches.

January 2014


January 2015


January 2014


January 2015


January 2014


January 2015



January 2014


January 2015


Bonus - January 2015


I’m really happy with my progress over the past year and I love where the rooms are headed. I finally feel like they are starting to reflect my style and personality.



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