New York City

First, I just wanted to say thank you for your kind words last week. It's so good to be back! Since I'm still catching up here, I thought I'd share a trip we took to NYC shortly after Q's homecoming. Seeing the New York City Ballet is one of those things on my bucket list, so we decided to head there and see The Nutcracker!

We were in the city for our anniversary through New Year's, which are just a couple days apart...aka the craziest, busiest time of year to visit. But it was totally worth getting to experience part of the holiday season there (at least that's what we kept telling ourselves!). This trip tested our patience in a lot of ways, navigating the city, crowds & a few mishaps, so it made me all the more grateful we could share in the adventure together. It felt surreal to keep realizing something we'd looked forward to throughout the last months of deployment was actually was really wonderful.

We spent most of our time exploring shops, cafes, & museums (the paintings above were two of my favorites at the MoMA), and also visited Rockefeller Center a few times to see the tree & the Top of the Rock. We loved the bird's eye view of Central Park surrounded by a sea of skyscrapers.

On our last night, New Year's Eve, we headed to Lincoln Center for The Nutcracker, which was amazing -- the dancers, the set design, and even the theater itself. And now, of course, I want to go back!

PS. Above is a glimpse of the tiny apartment we rented through Airbnb while there. It was inspiring to see how the owner lived so intentionally in a small space -- everything had its place and doubled in both form & function, like her bookshelf wall. Also, a couple (grainy) night photos from going atop the Empire State Building as well...because when you travel with an engineer, this is what they like to do! ;)

Making: A Stenciled Chair

Here's my second project for the 12 Months of Martha... I found this old chair on the side of the road a year or so ago (I thought it was cute and could use a new life!), and it needed so much sanding to re-stain it that I spray painted it Lagoon blue on a whim. It looked intense! But I've left it like that for almost a year now, and set folded blankets on the seat to cover the weird holes from removing the upholstery.

When I saw adhesive stencils in this month's supply box, I thought it would be an easy way to add some pattern to the chair, since the adhesive makes it a lot easier to reposition along curves. So I stenciled all along the front edge of the seat, as well as the top of the back rest. It's not perfect, but it was actually really fun and makes me want to start stenciling all kinds of things now. I like how it subtly breaks up the bold chair color...

It also finally prompted me to recover the seat too. I figured the simplest way was with rope, especially since I no longer had the upholstery template around (oops). Q helped me do this to the top of an accent stool once with jute, but this time I used a softer clothesline rope (I also tried tacky glue here instead of liquid nails, and it's definitely not holding together as well). To be honest, now that it's done, I don't love this rope with the paint pattern, but it looks a whole lot better than it did. Not bad for a free chair!

A few things I used:
- free, old chair for experimenting
- spray paint (Lagoon blue)
- paint for stencil (Martha Stewart Craft's blue, happens to be chalkboard)
- adhesive stencil (Pretty Borders) & foam pouncer
- clothesline rope & tacky glue (for seat)

(This post is part of the 12 Months of Martha, using Martha Stewart Crafts provided for a project each month. I'm donating/giving away my supplies and if you know of a local organization in need of craft items, please contact me!)

Making: Memory Gift Boxes

I've got two of these today! Shortly after sharing the Martha Stewart craft post here last October, I joined on with 12 Months of Martha to contribute twelve projects throughout this year. I was grateful to be asked, and knew that if I agreed to do it, it'd be a fun way to share some crafty things here and would give me no excuse not to blog anymore (even if I'm still behind...already!).

This was the first project I put together back in January, so it's somewhat Valentine's themed, but could work for any time of year. I love random bits of ephemera and hoard them just for special occasions, you know, like making memory boxes. ;) I still remember from the book, Modern Paper Crafts (a favorite of mine) how easy it is to make paper boxes using simple origami, so I made a bunch in various sizes. It's so fun to stuff them full of sweet, even cheesy little keepsakes to make someone smile. I had my husband in mind for the ones shown here, and included movie stubs, old & new postcards, and the dance performance ticket from the night he proposed.

A few things I used:
- square pieces of paper (cardstock & Martha Stewart Crafts red graph paper)
- bone folder
- keepsakes, notes, etc. (found items & Love Notes Postcards)

To make, take a square piece of paper (12x12" will make a 4.25" box), and follow these basic folding instructions to make boxes of various sizes. To create a lid that's slightly larger, adjust the folds in the fifth step (the closer to the center, the smaller it will be). These can get addictive once you start making them...I've made some with stiffened fabric, too!

(This post is part of the 12 Months of Martha, using Martha Stewart Crafts provided for a project each month. I'm donating/giving away my supplies and if you know of a local organization in need of craft items, please contact me!)

Hello (& A Homecoming!)'s been a long time, but hi again (if anyone is still out there?)! Boy, have I missed blogging, but I just needed to step away from here for awhile. I'm not even sure where to start -- I've had so many thoughts about the purpose of this space and what to focus on here going forward, but for now I thought I'd share more of a life update.

Q deployed with his unit overseas last May, and made it safely home a few weeks before Christmas. The photo above was from homecoming day as he waited for his bags, and I remember it all feeling so surreal at that moment. Shortly after he deployed, my brother moved to Nebraska for his first call, and my best friend got married & moved farther away as well. I'm so happy for the opportunities they had, but that summer was definitely an adjustment period without them!

While Q was gone, I found myself spending a lot less of my free time behind a computer, and much more of it engaged with those who really made life full in his absence. Technology still played a huge role, though, because this time (several years since his first deployment) I could video chat almost daily with Q (!!), as well as stay connected with spouses in the unit through a Facebook group (which made such a difference as we are spread around the state). And it still amazes me how two bloggers -- Mary and Claudia -- also became such supportive friends who walked through the deployment with me from afar, even as they each were on incredible journeys as military families. If there could be only one takeaway from blogging, getting to connect with women as brave and kind as those two would be at the very top of my list. I am so grateful for what their families (and others like them) do for our country.

So, that is one small window into life last year. It's hard to sum up all of my thoughts on it at once, but I hope to continue sharing bits and pieces of things I learned and experienced, along with other fun adventures and projects from the past year. This post honestly took me forever to write -- every time I started, it quickly turned into a novel (and not the page-turning kind). Anyway, more to come, and happy (very belated) new year!

October & Crafting

My goodness, I can't believe how long it's been since I've regularly blogged here. This season of life has been full in so many ways (more thoughts on that later), but seriously, I've really missed sharing ideas here and keeping up with all my favorite blogs.

The team at Martha Stewart recently contacted me about sharing a craft idea this month, and my instinct is to pass on this type of thing (I tend to freak out and wonder what the heck to make, plus I don't accept freebies through blogging), but I just had a feeling this would be a fun push to jump back into blogging again (and it definitely was -- here I am!). So, they sent a box full of fall-themed MS craft products to create a project with, and after admiring all the goods, I'm planning to donate or pass them on after this. Here's what I put together!

I've had these tiny plain notebooks from the craft store for the longest time, and thought they'd be perfect to decorate as favors or small gifts. I used paper from the MS Halloween pad, which includes textured pages like awesome felted cats (which I cut & glued to one cover), and glittery star paper & other fun designs that I wrapped like book covers. So cute and simple to make!

I styled it into a little table setting using some things I had on hand: a blue table runner, pearly garland, a vase of gold leaves, and pumpkins. I used a MS mini punch to make pumpkin confetti (gluing some of them onto votive holders filled with glitter), and stuck their masquerade masks onto painted skewers along with gold ribbon.

It was fun getting a chance to put this together, so I might share another post using more of the supplies before deciding where to pass them on (thank you again to Martha's team!). And thanks, friends, for sticking by here. Happy crafting and especially, happy October!

Clair de Lune

Clair de Lune happens to be one of those pieces of music that has really seen me through ups & downs over the years -- not just the music itself, but playing it on the piano. I remember the first time I attempted it, I immediately knew I wanted to learn it by heart. And I did. I played and played it... after a long school day it was the best secret to relieving stress as a teenager, hands down (then again, playing piano was my favorite thing to do!).

All this to say, I'm grateful to see today's Google Doodle (so much so that it got me posting again :) -- a tribute to Claude Debussy through a short animation featuring his amazing, wonderful little "moonlight" masterpiece. Go check it out!

(images from google, layout by hooray)

Happy Fourth!

I couldn't think of any better sentiment to share on Independence Day than this verse above -- a repeat from last year but paired with a recent photo taken at the Air Force museum in Dayton. Wishing you a long sunny weekend, wherever you are! And to those of you in the States, a holiday filled with fun and gratefulness for this sweet country we call home.

Recent Finds: Pillows

A living room with a couch full of cozy pillows is one of my favorite things, and ours are in real need of an update! Several have covers that aren't holding up well, so I'm slowly trying to replace them with ones I really love. I've had all of the above bookmarked as inspiration and kind of like the mix of patterns seeing them together here. I'd prefer removable (you know, washable!) covers, but these give me some good ideas. We'll see. ;)

I'm such a fan of all the designs by Bonnie and Neil where a few of these can be found -- check out the rest of their collection here.

Pillows: Green / B&W / Pink / Navy / Chinoiserie / Yellow

My Best Friend's Wedding

Hey there, it's been awhile! I've been waiting almost a year to write that post title! My best friend, who I've known since we were just babies, got married a few weeks ago in June and it was a great day to witness. Planning with her and having the privilege of being matron of honor, the thing that stuck with me most was her entire approach to the day -- she was more focused on the people sharing in the celebration than on any of the little details. Yet at the same time, all of those little details still reflected her simple style and personality so much.

So, some of the "fun" details: her mom sewed white flag garlands that we strung up everywhere the morning of -- across the old Opera House for the reception, outside along the porch, and at the entrance of the church for the ceremony. Totally felt like a scene from Downton Abbey minus (most) of the drama. And since it was Flag Day, we also incorporated paper flags with lantern centerpieces. The chalkboard table numbers were a nod to the groom being a teacher, and the take-home favors included little bags full of nostalgic candy such as peanut butter bars and strawberry candies. It reminded me of all the times growing up that we would raid an old metal cabinet at her farmhouse late at night for some of those same treats.

I only have a few photos of the actual wedding day, but just like her shower, I will share a few more from the planning process soon. Happy July to any of you still reading along!