Saturday, July 28, 2012

Photoshop Fun

I downloaded a free trial of Photoshop a few days ago, and have had fun playing around with it since. I've used Photoshop before for college classes and have downloaded trials of older versions in the past, but I feel like I'm finally getting bold enough to try out some more exciting projects this time around.

I stumbled upon some great tutorials over at Pugly Pixel that I've really had fun with so far. The other day I posted some craft inspiration using the collage tutorial, and here are some pictures I made using Pugly Pixel's Blending Modes tutorial.

For this image I created my own stripes layer, and used a glitter tutorial for the texture layer. The photo is one of my favorite wedding pictures of ours. The floral layer is from The Graphics Fairy.

This next image uses my same stripes layer (just modified slightly) and a built-in texture from Photoshop. The floral background is once again from The Graphics Fairy.

Instead of using a separate image on top of the embellishments, I used a layer mask to bring parts of the original floral background to the forefront.

Can you tell I have plenty of free time right now? Haha. Neither of the images I created are perfect, but I think they're pretty fun! It's going to be a sad day when my free trial runs out.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Inspired by Anthropologie

It's been awhile since I've posted a craft/DIY project, mostly because my craft supplies (and most of our other belongings) are in storage right now. But I have been cultivating ideas for projects I'd like to complete once I have the resources I need so I thought I'd share them with you.

I have a lot of free time for perusing Pinterest and doing some online window shopping, and Anthropologie is one of my favorite stores to look to for fun ideas to turn into DIYs. Here's what I'm loving right now and will hopefully recreate on my own soon enough.

Right now I'm leaning towards tackling the jewelry box first, but we'll see how I feel when I actually get around to starting!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Birthday Adventures (And a Job Update!)

I completely forgot to mention that Drew and I headed over to Downtown Disney to celebrate my birthday a few weeks ago.
After lunch and wandering in and out of shops for awhile, we decided to check out the scenery (and ice cream) at the Yacht & Beach Club and Boardwalk Resorts. We got some of the biggest sundaes ever at Beaches & Cream.
One of my favorite parts of the day? Seeing this little kid hanging out in the Magic Kingdom monorail station dressed up just like the monorail cast members. He was waving his arms to direct traffic and everything, and it was adorable. I didn't think to snap a picture until our monorail started to leave, so this blurry picture is the only evidence I have of him.
Our original plan was to hang out at one of the Magic Kingdom-area resorts to watch the fireworks that night, but by around 6 or so we were hot and tired enough to call it a day. Even though it would have been better if we could have actually visited the parks, it was still a fun birthday!

Plus, we'll have plenty of time to visit the parks whenever we feel like it now since I was officially offered a job with Disney yesterday! I start in a few weeks, so Drew and I are officially on the hunt for an apartment in Orlando. Wish us luck, because apartment hunting is intense and a bit tougher (read: waiting-list filled) than we expected.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


During the two years I lived in Michigan, I had about 8 job interviews in attempts to land a position better suited for me than the job I had. Obviously none of them worked out, which is part of why Drew and I moved to Florida.

Since we arrived a few weeks ago, I've had three interviews (OK, really just two since the 3rd is tomorrow). Clearly the job market is a little bit better here than back up north, which is just fine with me. I'll give some more details about my job hunt once I have some more interesting news to share (i.e. when I actually have a job - which will hopefully be soon), but for now I'm focused on the interview.

Specifically the interview suit. For all of the interviews I've had in the past two years, I've had the same rotation of 2 or 3 shirts to wear with my suits. Which is getting kind of old. So I've been doing some online window shopping lately to daydream about something more interesting to wear on my interviews and to my eventual job.

black & white

Top row (left to right): J. Crew, American Eagle, Topshop
Bottom row (left to right): Alloy, Forever 21, J. Crew

I made the collage with Polyvore, which is an excellent time suck and a great way to make collages if, like me, you don't have PhotoShop or Snagit. If you're interested, you can check out my other Polyvore collections here.

Hopefully I'll have a job update for you soon, but until then I'm prepping for my next interview and planning some more posts (I might as well be productive in my free time, right?).

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Scenes from Florida

baby palm tree by Banana River
our temporary home (aka Drew's grandparents' condo - we're spoiled)
pretty flowers outside the condo
Tropicana Field in St. Pete - home of the Tampa Bay Rays!
At the Rays v. Tigers game! And we won!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Greetings from Florida!

We've finally arrived in Florida!

After spending all day Thursday loading all this:
into our storage cube, Drew and I spent the next two days driving from Saginaw, Michigan, to Cape Canaveral, Florida (our temporary home until we find an apartment in Orlando).

We arrived on Saturday night, alongside tropical storm Debby. So, unfortunately, it's been overcast and rainy since we arrived and we've been holed up in the condo to stay dry. We even closed the hurricane shutters on the patio last night just in case (things have cleared up enough for the sun to at least peek out a bit today, though).
Debby sure knows how to make us feel welcome in our new state...
As far as getting settled here, we pretty much feel like we're on (a storm-affected) vacation right now, although my first job interview in Orlando is tomorrow! So hopefully all goes well and we'll be able to move into our own place shortly. Stay tuned for an update on our job hunt and how badly Debby terrorizes us.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Big Move

For those of you who haven't heard yet, Drew and I are moving to Orlando this week. As in Orlando, Florida. Yes, this is a huge change for us, but it's something we've been considering pretty much since right after the wedding.

Since we met in Orlando over two years ago when we were living there to intern at Disney, we're familiar with the area (and the weather). We miss being able to visit the parks whenever we want and we want to live in an area with plenty of amenities and things to do and explore.

Around March or April, we finally decided to figure out the logistics to make this move happen, and have been slowly plotting our move ever since. Now we're only a few days away from packing up and heading down South!

I'm sure you have plenty of questions about our big move, so I'll do my best to answer some of the questions we've received the most since announcing our plans to various people.

Where are you going to live?
Our goal is to end up in Orlando, since that's the part of Florida we're familiar with. Plus, given the fact that Florida has hurricane season, we figure it's not a bad idea to avoid the coast. We're incredibly lucky that we get to stay in Drew's grandparents' condo until we figure out exactly where we want to live in the city. Anyone have any nice, safe apartment complexes to recommend in Orlando? Hopefully we'll be looking soon!

What are you going to do when you get there? Do you have jobs?
We're going down to Florida totally blind on the job front, so, no, we do not have jobs waiting for us when we arrive. Drew's job up here ended with the school year, and I quit my job. As of right now we're both completely unemployed, which has been nice for packing and finishing up the final details of our move.

Don't get us wrong, though, we realize the risk we are taking and are as prepared as we can be to deal with our unemployment. One huge thing working in our favor right now is that the Orlando job market for marketing/advertising jobs (the field we both wish to work in) is significantly better than it is in Michigan (go figure). In fact, I already have two interviews lined up for after our arrival. We know we're optimistic, but for now that can only work in our favor!

Are you going to go to Disney World all the time?
Oh, heck yes. After finding jobs and an apartment, I think it's safe to say purchasing our annual passes is next on our priority list.

Are you insane?
Okay, no one has asked us this. In fact, everyone we've talked to about our plans has been incredibly supportive of our decision. Especially our families, which I'll admit was kind of a surprise. But, as I mentioned, the job market in Michigan is not in our favor right now, so taking this leap is pretty understandable. We know this is probably the only time left in our lives when we'll be able to just pick up and move like this, so we're taking advantage of the opportunity. It's now or never, basically (you know, #YOLO and all that).

So that's what's going on in our lives right now. We're really excited for this change, and can't wait to be settled in our new home in Florida. We will absolutely be keeping everyone posted about the move, our job search and our new lives in Orlando. And, of course, we'll be back to the midwest plenty to visit family and friends.

Anyone else picking up and moving to a new state or have other big changes in their lives? We can't be the only ones...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Recipe Review: Homemade Chick-fil-A Nuggets

A few weeks ago I tried out a new recipe in honor of our upcoming move down South: homemade Chick-fil-A nuggets. I've seen this recipe from Iowa Girl Eats floating around for awhile now, and finally decided to try this recipe out.
I hate when all of the food on my plate is the same color. Does this bother anyone else, or am I just weird?
I've got to say, I was a little worried about this recipe at first. I've never fried anything before, so I was concerned I'd either burn my arm off or burn the nuggets. Turns out, that part of the process was really simple, so I had nothing to worry about. 

Also a concern? Part of the marinade (and apparently the secret behind the taste) is pickle juice. Huh? Sounds a little weird, and now we have an uneaten jar of pickles in our fridge since we had to purchase them just to use the juice in this recipe. Luckily, the final product didn't taste pickle-y at all.
The verdict: I honestly couldn't tell you when the last time I ate at Chick-fil-A was, so I have no idea if these taste like the real deal. But they were pretty dang tasty. I would recommend not using whole wheat flour, though, since the coating was a little more gritty than we would have preferred. But that's what I get for not following the recipe exactly.

Overall, this recipe was simple to follow, quick to prepare and pretty tasty! Now I'll have to order some real Chick-fil-A nuggets when we get to Florida to get a better comparison.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ten for Tuesday: Girl Stuff

I haven't written a Ten for Tuesday posts in awhile, and I'm inspired to write about some of my favorite girly things after writing about some serious stuff. Something about the warm, sunny weather just makes me excited about all of the brightly colored clothes and accessories that are in stores now. Plus my closet feels pretty boring lately, so I've been doing a lot of online window shopping.

Sorry, dudes. This one's for the ladies.

Ten for Tuesday: Girl Stuff

1. Straw hat, H&M. Wide-brimmed hats are slightly ridiculous, but necessary for sunny days spent on the beach. I need to invest in one of these hats, and I like the yellow stripes in this H&M version.

2. Skinny Jeans, Old Navy. Don't judge me for wanting a pair of jeggings. It's really only a matter of time before I actually own these, so get used to it.

3. Blouse, ModCloth. I'm really into the look of peplum shirts right now, and I like how this one from ModCloth is slightly flowy. I can see this working well with jeans or even under a blazer for work.

4. Ruched swimsuit, Old Navy. I think the last time I owned a one-piece swimsuit was sometime in middle school so I'm a little hesitant to actually own one again. This black one is pretty cute, though, and the low-cut top keeps it from being too "mom"-ish.

5. Nike Free Run+ 3, Zappos. I need new running shoes like crazy, and these are the newest version of the Nike's I currently own. Obnoxious lime green running shoes? Yes, please.

6. Shorts, J. Crew. Drew says that my 3" shorts are too short, to which I say, "Whatever." But I'm also turning 25 in a little more than a month, so maybe he has a point about getting some longer shorts than the ones I wore in high school. I love the J. Crew shorts I already own, so I have my eye on these slightly longer (read: age-appropriate) 5" chinos.

7. Heels, Seychelles. The first and only pair of Seychelles I own are my wedding shoes, so I have a soft spot for this brand. Most of their heels are more retro that these yellow heels, but I really like the color and the cork heel on these shoes. I have no idea where I would actually wear them, but that doesn't stop me from thinking they're cute!

8. Dress, Kohl's. This flowy dress is crazy cute, and looks nice and light for summer. Not that I need any more dresses right now, but this is adorable. (PS - the image is actually from Real Simple)

9. Sally Hansen Nail Polish, Amazon. I actually bought this exact nail polish from Walgreen's a few weeks ago, and I love it. In fact I'm currently wearing it on my toenails. It wears pretty well (on my toes anyway - it chipped on my fingernails in about 2.5 seconds) and is an easy way to wear the mint green trend that seems to be everywhere right now.

10. Wallet, Kate Spade. I'm a fan of larger wallets, and I've wanted to invest in a really nice one for awhile (my bank account disagrees though). This bright patent leather version is so cute, and could double as a clutch for a night out.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The One With the Flood

Two weeks ago we had a pretty nasty thunderstorm that flooded our apartment building. Everything was a mess, and I think I'm just now starting to process what happened and feel like everything is back to normal. Sort of.

On Thursday, May 10, we were getting into bed when our power went out. This wasn't really surprising considering that a thunderstorm had been going on outside for a few hours. What was surprising was when frantic knocking on our door woke us up around 3am. A maintenance guy from our complex came by warning us to try to move our cars out of the parking lot right then or risk them flooding and possibly being picked up in the water.

Uh, what?

We found out later that apparently the sump pump in our building quit working and water was flooding not only the parking lot, but had completely filled the basement-level apartments and storage area.
Yes, the water really was almost to the top of the doorway. Notice the floating piece of drywall that broke off of the wall.
We weren't able to move our cars, but luckily they weren't picked up in the floodwaters or damaged too badly. The next day emergency workers came to start pumping water out of our building (and a few other buildings in our complex), while we dealt with trying to dry out our cars. We ended up not having either of our cars for about a week - I couldn't even get a rental car until the next Wednesday because Enterprise had such a long wait-list of people who needed rentals.
Standing water in my car - almost up to the door - the next day.
The nasty water in my trunk.

The next day, after they had started pumping water out of the basement. It took so long to pump out all of the water that we had to evacuate the building over the weekend (since the power couldn't be turned back on with all of the water still there).

The next building over from ours. I added the black arrow to draw attention to the line where the water was in the middle of the night. Some basement windows (including the ones in our building) were actually blown out from the flooding, unlike this one.
Everything in the basement obviously was much worse off. Almost everything we had stored down there had to be trashed, but fortunately we didn't keep much down there to begin with (mostly moving boxes). Our biggest losses were our Christmas tree, Drew's bowling balls and our nice down comforter we bought as a wedding gift to ourselves. Crappy? Yes. But there are two units in the basement that people lived in, and they lost everything. We were lucky. We were even able to save most of our Christmas ornaments (some fabric ornaments from Drew's grandparents were even completely dry), which was my biggest concern.
Our apartment complex is still in shambles two weeks later. Emergency restoration workers are still here, and most of the trash (a.k.a. everyone's possessions from the basement) has just been removed. Don't even get me started on the damp, moldy smell that hits us every time we enter our building (but thankfully hasn't made it up to our third-floor apartment).
One of the giant dumpsters invading our parking lot so the workers can throw out basically our building's entire basement.
What the basement looks like now. Hard to believe the door on the right led into someone's apartment two weeks ago.
So that's what's happening in our lives right now. It wasn't fun, but at least it's pretty much over. And for anyone wondering, the residents in the basement apartments made it out safely before the water level got too high (you can read some of their story here).

I think it goes without saying that I've been pretty busy and preoccupied lately, but I'm hoping to be back soon with another recipe review and news about what we're doing this summer. I can't wait to not have to deal with this anymore!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Recipe Review: Oatmeal Bars & Chicken Chili

I've recently tried some new recipes that I think are worth sharing. I found both recipes via Pinterest, of course. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Bars
from Gingerbread Bagels
I actually tried this recipe twice: first subbing applesauce for the bananas, then with bananas. I didn't use eggs either time since we don't have any on hand, and got sort of mixed results. The applesauce version came out fine in my opinion, probably because the applesauce kept the bars moist. The banana version was a little crumbly, though, and definitely needed the eggs to hold everything together. They still tasted fine, though. The first time I tried this recipe I actually at the whole pan myself in two days, so I guess you could say they're tasty. I highly recommend eating these bars warm.
Also, as an FYI, these bars are sort of cake-y as opposed to being more chewy or solid like a granola bar. So don't expect a homemade Kashi bar or something out of this recipe. And definitely don't skip the eggs in the banana version.

Grade: B 
While tasty, these bars could use a bit more flavor - maybe from some chocolate chips or pumpkin pie spice. If I make these again, I'm going to stick to the applesauce version for sure.

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili
from Skinny Taste

[check out Skinny Taste for pictures, because this recipe is anything but photogenic]

This recipe was so, so good. Drew and I have made chicken chili in the past using Ina Garten's recipe, but we agree that this recipe from Skinny Taste tasted more like chili and less like a vegetable soup with chicken. Plus this recipe was significantly less time-consuming.

Since this is a slow cooker recipe, the hands-on time was only about 10 minutes. I think the hardest part of this recipe was chopping up the onion. This recipe was delicious, incredibly filling (fiber!) and so easy. It makes a ton, so be prepared to eat this for a week or make this for guests.

Grade: A
Next time we're going to double the chili powder for more kick.

Have you tried any recipes lately that are worth sharing? Let me know! Or, find out what other recipes I've been pinning for your own inspiration.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Six Months

Six months ago, Drew and I got married.
Can you believe it? We certainly can't, mostly because our math-challenged minds thought that it's been  our six-month anniversary for the longest time (or at least the last two months). I promise we really do understand the basic concepts of addition and subtraction.

Anyway, the last six months have been crazy, amazing, challenging and so much fun. Since getting married we:
  • moved to a new apartment/town
  • became an aunt and uncle
  • spent our first Christmas as a married couple
  • celebrated our 2-year dating anniversary
  • returned to Disney World, where we first met, for our honeymoon
  • purchased our first real furniture (dining room table + couch)
  • have had an amazing time enjoying the first few months of marriage!

I'm pretty amazed by how much has happened since we got married. The past few months have been jam-packed for us, and, as you can see from my list, we've experienced a lot of changes and new experiences. I know the next six months will be just as crazy for us, and I'm really looking forward experiencing everything with my best friend by my side. I can't wait for the many years we have ahead of us!
Also, as a fun side note, today is not only our 6-month wedding anniversary, but it's also my younger sister's 20th birthday and our nephew's 4-month birthday! Crazy! Guess there's just something about the 8th of the month in our family.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New Couch & DIY Pillows

Our apartment finally has a new couch!
About a month ago we finally bit the bullet and decided to finance a new sofa to replace the old, dingy couch I inherited from my parents when I first moved to Michigan. So when an awesome sale was taking place at Art Van (like, every week), we picked out a new couch to have a nicer, newer and more comfortable couch to lounge on.

The downside? We had to special order our new couch (the only color they had available immediately was some weird green-khaki shade), which meant waiting up to eight weeks for it to arrive in-store and be delivered. Bummer.

Lucky us, though, our new couch arrived in about half the estimated time! So now our living room looks like this:

So much better than it looked with the old couch. (By the way, I explained the mirrors earlier this week).

As for the old couch, we opted not to get rid of it immediately and moved it into our second bedroom/office. Plus, we didn't have to lug the old couch out to the dumpster or figure out how to get it to Goodwill (there's no way that beast could fit in a normal car).

But back to our new couch. We love gray, but not that much, so we needed something to bring some life into the color palate. I had some extra fabric lying around that I had picked up from the clearance aisle at Jo-Ann's awhile back, so I used that to whip up some pillows.
This was my first attempt at sewing my own pillows, and it was so incredibly easy. I didn't use any tutorial or a pattern - I just measured out 4 equal pieces of my remaining fabric to make two small pillows. Pretty simple!
I used this tutorial to sew an "invisible" seam to close up the pillows.

The pillows aren't perfect looking, but they're pretty comfortable and add a nice pop of color to our giant gray couch.
Making these pillows gave me more confidence in my ability to sew in a straight line, so now I feel like I'm ready to tackle a more involved project. I definitely have plenty of ideas floating around on my Pinterest boards right now, so I just need to get started!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mirror(s), Mirror(s)

Drew and I have been busy redecorating our living room lately: new couch, DIY pillows and a fun mirror project. I'll get to the couch and pillows later this week, but for now let's talk about the mirrors.

Of course I found inspiration for this project on Pinterest. I found this pin a few months ago, and we've been hoping to implement something similar in our apartment ever since.

We loved that the project used simple back-of-the-door mirrors and would be super cheap, especially compared to a larger mirror that would take up the same amount of space.

Hanging up three mirrors on a wall seems pretty simple, so why did it take us somewhere around 4 months to finally get this project accomplished? Well, we didn't want to hang up plain mirrors. Sure, they look great in the picture and would look great on our walls as well, but we wanted to add a personal touch.

Our second inspiration for our project came from quite a few sources, but the one that helped us out the most was (of course) Bower Power. Katie added a stenciled pattern around a window, and we loved the idea enough to try it on our mirror project.

We like the look of frosted glass stencils, and Katie had nice, thorough instructions for us to follow. We basically did the exact same thing she did with her window with almost the exact same products.

Frost effect paint and stencil sponge brushes by Martha Stewart, purchased at Michaels.
Originally we planned to put the mirrors above the dresser in our bedroom, so we picked up a floral stencil from Michael's that coordinated really well with our bedding. By the time we got around to actually tackling this project, though, we changed our minds and decided to put the mirrors in our living room instead. So the floral stencil had to be replaced.

Drew came up with the awesome idea to use a skyline as our pattern, so he printed out a picture of the London skyline and cut out the image with an exacto knife to create a stencil. (Why London? No real reason, but it is the only foreign city we've both been to - although not at the same time).

The project was super straight-forward after that. We taped the stencil in place and used our stencil brush to lightly layer on the frosted paint (we ended up doing two layers of paint). After the paint dried we peeled off the tape, and were finished!
Well, except for actually hanging up the mirrors, which was a little tougher. A little piece of advice: when using 3M velro strips to hang up a mirror, do not put all of your body weight into the back of the mirror. It will crack, and it will be tragic. Plus, you'll have to delay finishing your project so you can pick up a new mirror at Target. Not that I'd know any of this from experience or anything...

Anyway, we relied on good old trial and error to map out where we wanted our mirrors to hang and where to place the velcro strips. There is probably a simpler way to hang up mirrors in an evenly spaced pattern than using pencil marks, rulers and guessing, but eventually we figured everything out and now have three mirrors hanging next to our brand new couch in the living room.

We still have a lot of rearranging/redecorating to do in our living room (and our apartment in general), but we think things are coming together pretty well so far. Our mirrors make the room feel bigger and brighter, and we love how they turned out.

Don't forget to check back later this week for a recap in my adventures in pillow-making.