Stuff does matter

for all the crafters & designers out there, what you make does matter. you create joy, inspiration and happiness when there may have been none. i found this on one of my favorite blogs this morning, design sponge. Love this...
 



Simple Caprese Salad

Tomato, basil, and mozzarella together is one of my favorite flavor combinations. Here is a super simple caprese salad recipe that will be sure to satisfy your taste buds. This is a perfect, tasteful idea for an appetizer if you are having a small dinner party!   
  • 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella
  • Fresh basil leaves [packages are normally sold in the produce section]
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper 
Cut your fresh mozzarella and tomatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices. Pick fresh basil leaves apart from its stem. Assemble as desired on a large plate or serving platter. Gently drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle salt and cracked black pepper for seasoning. The colors just scream Italy - enjoy!

Italy, a Must-See European Destination

Last year, I went on my first trip abroad... ITALY. It was an experience I'll never forget, and there is no doubt in my mind I will go back. There's just nothing like being immersed in a culture unlike your own. I only got a sneak-peak of 5 beautiful towns/cities, and I can't wait to explore other regions of Italy.

After my trip, I compiled a lot of my photos into my first ever iMovie attempt to highlight my favorite parts [which was pretty much everything]. I hope you can see why I love this place. Ciao!



P.S. I highly recommend a tour with Contiki. It's the best way to see everything you need to, especially if you're trying to stay on budget and are limited on time.

Support Your Chest Workout!


“Callie, will you support my chest tomorrow?”  Ally asked in all seriousness. It’s her pure honesty that reminds me to smile each day. I knew she was really asking if I would spot her on the bench press. Of course I would and the term "Be my bra" was born. Never lift a lot of free weight without your bra!



As embarrassing as it was, we both started training on the bench press using the 45lb bar and no plates (and yes we spotted each other even then). Each week we added a plate and have now both reached over 100lbs on the bench press.  It’s amazing how quickly your body responds if you consistently train and continue to push your max weight each week. So let’s end this work week with the Support your Chest workout routine.
My coach (and husband) on the Smith Machine
This one’s dedicated to you Ally 
  • flat bench chest press
  • dips
  • pec fly machine
  • nose breakers

I dream in ikat


My hubby and I just moved in to our very first home. It’s a small bungalow in the heart of Buckhead. I am truly head over heels for it. Our first furniture purchase was this mid-century modern sofa from Room & Board. With the hard lines, this pretty girl is in need of some fluffy pillows to bring in some warmth and coziness. Visions of ikats, stripes and linens have been dancing thru my head.
I headed off to Lewis & Sharon Textiles during lunch today. It was like I was a little girl again set free in the Barbie isle. Rows of beautiful fabrics, brilliant designs and amazing textures. (post on my dreams of being a fabric designer to come) anyway – I found about 100 fabrics I liked, narrowed them down to about 20, cut some samples and skipped back to the office in time to spread them across the floor to show Ally. 

I picture large linen pillows with smaller ikat pillows to bring in color. Maybe add a subtle stripe on the reverse side of the pillow. These are my top 4 ikat finalist:


Next weekend is my birthday (yippie!). I think sewing pillows will be the perfect way to celebrate. Okay so maybe not, but hopefully these will get done soon and I can share my step-by-step process for sewing piped pillows!





It's Thursday Leg Day!


After all our cardio this week, we gotta get back in the weight room. I am going to let my favorite fitness model, Jamie Eason show you my routine. Warning - if this is your first time lifting weight with your legs, stock up on pain meds. This can be brutal! 

My photos are from bodybuilding.com. They have a great exercise database if you are ever looking for instructions or new exercise ideas.  Click here to check it out

Smith Machine Squats











Leg Press (narrow stance) & Calf Raises











Dumbbell Lunges













Pulled from the Closet, Sweet Deschanel

Zoey Deschanel would fall in love with this outfit. A vintage style top from Modcloth looks great with a simple black skirt. Flats will make this outfit easy for a blister-free day at work! Add some gold accents in your accessories to make you shine.


Sweet Deschanel


Sheer shirt
$40 - modcloth.com

Navy skirt
£25 - riverisland.com

Sahani clear jewelry
£215 - kabiri.co.uk

Pieces flower jewelry
$15 - asos.com






Hump Day Plyo Routine


Get over the mid-week hump with a group plyo workout.  Due to an after work dinner with two of my favorite peeps, I am flip-flopping my Wednesday and Thursday workout to have TRX today and legs Thursday. Wednesday’s are a good day for leg workouts when your schedule allows, giving you enough recovery time before the long run or bike on the weekend.

I rounded up a few gals from the office (including Ally of course) and headed out to the Georgia Tech Rec fields for an all-body toning session. We set up four stations including two TRX stations, a kettle bell station and body weight station. We went thru each station 3x with a different exercise on each round and then repeated the routine once more for a full 24 minute workout. Everyone worked really hard and did really well. Very proud of my girls!

Don't forget the warm up:
side shuffles
high knees

Repeat 2x (45 seconds active: 15 to seconds move stations)
TRX Station 1                                                TRX Station 2
right leg lunge                                                plank push ups
left leg lunge                                                  oblique plank + twist
bicep curls                                                      hip thrust

Kettlebell Station                                           Body Weight Station
stand up sit ups                                              mountain climbers
up right rows                                                  jump squats
figure 8 squats                                                tricep dips

Pulled From the Closet, Summer Blush

Pale blush tones are perfect for the summer. Paired with skinny jeans and pumps, and you're ready to go. I always try to incorporate some pop of color, and the long turquoise pendant does the trick! Try tucking a shirt in and adding a chocolate belt for some extra sophistication.


Summer Blush


Wallis sleeveless top
$25 - wallisfashion.com

Olive jeans
£40 - riverisland.com

Alexander McQueen high heel pumps
$290 - net-a-porter.com

10 Easy Ways to Save Extra Money

My mom would be proud to know that when I step foot in a store, I head straight for the clearance racks. Because of her, I enjoy the rush of a good bargain, and have learned the value of a hard-earned dollar. I consider myself an above average frugal person, so I'm always looking for multiple ways to save money. Here a few that have worked for me:

Head to the park w/ friends for a free, fun activity
[Callie's catching & I'm kicking!]
1. Monthly Budgets - I know we all have those moments where you just don't understand where all your money goes. Mint.com links up to your bank account and puts your purchases into categories (restaurants, groceries, gas, ect.) every time your card is swept. I was amazed at how much I spent at coffee shops!

2. Air is Always Free! - Instead of finding something to do on the weekend that involves loads of cash, go outside and enjoy the fresh air! Parks are always flooding with people engaging in a fun activity. You can always get a group of friends together to get some sort of game going. Find a hike or walking trail.. perfect if you have a dog!

3. Closet Liquidations - Those shirts and shoes with cobwebs on them are not doing any good by sitting in your closet. Pack up a garbage bag of things you haven't worn in the past year and bring it to your local consignment shop like Plato's Closet to see if they'll give you any cash for it. If your clothes are in good condition, it's an easy $50. If you have to ask yourself, "But what if I need this for Bob & Betty's engagement party?" please toss it.

4. Stay Away From the Theater - Going out to see movies can get pricey, but if you create an account with GoFobo, you can get special RSVP invites to watch movies in your area for free. The best part.. sometimes the movies haven't even been released yet! Another go-to.. redbox it. Nowadays, you can easily find a redbox or Block Buster kiosk at a grocery store or drugstore where you can rent for $1... Pretty much close to free!

5. Got Apps? - Download some good money saving apps (they're FREE)! Groupon, Scoutmob, and Living Social want you to have fun with your friends for half the cost.. it's their mission! You just have to keep your eyes open for the deals of the day.

6. Dine-In -  "I don't know how to cook" is not a cop-out. If you've made it past the fourth grade, you know how to follow directions. The easiest way to cut your food costs down is by cooking. It doesn't need to be anything fancy.. could be as simple as tacos. You can also dumb-down a recipe, so you also can't use the "Well, I don't have all of the ingredients" excuse. I grab a lot of recipes from foodnetwork.com and always cut ingredients out if the recipe only calls for a small amount.

7. Sign-up for Newsletters - If you have three minutes of your life to spare, sign-up for a newsletter. Some stores offer you an incentive if you sign-up to receive their promotional emails. Old Navy sends you $10 off that you can use online or in their store. If you don't want to receive them anymore, you can always unsubscribe!

8. Cut the Cord -  I've been living without cable for two years now. It's not the end of the world, and the easiest utility to cut out of your expenses. If you have internet, you can watch any shows you've missed online, so it's not the end of the world. Plus, you will most likely find yourself being more productive with your time.

9. Feed Your Piggy - Keep a jar around for spare change. It all adds up to a nice chunk of change!

10. Being Thrifty is Nifty - Don't be afraid of the thrift store. I've found that they can be a hit or miss, but if you're patient, you can snatch some good finds. You could hit jackpot if you want to be creative and re-purpose items like furniture pieces.

Summer Workout Cont...Tuesday!


After a double workout Monday, Tuesday is fairly easy. Put on your running shoes and head out for a 30 minute run. If you're feeling good at 20 minutes, go longer. Loving Fort Minor... it keeps me going on these early mornings... and my fabulous newton trail shoes. 

This is 10% luck,
20% skill,
15% concentrated power of will,
5% pleasure,
50% pain,
And 100% reason to remember the name...

See you Wednesday! 


Summer Workout Routine

If my body is my temple then the gym is my sanctuary. Each week I plan out my workout schedule based on other events on my calendar. This way I have no excuses for skipping a workout because of events like a friend’s birthday or an after work dinner. For the most part, each week is the same with major changes happening every 3 months to account for the change in seasons or to avoid burn out.

Somehow so many ladies have been convinced eating dairy will keep their delicate bones strong. I say we ditch that food industry lie and get in the weight room to gain our strength and stay slim. Besides eating clean, weight lifting is my number one priority above all else for staying healthy. 

Lift 10lbs a day or eat 10lbs a day, you do the math.

Everyone’s gym personality is different so find what works for you, whatever excites you and leaves you wanting more. My favorite weight lifting workout style is the pyramid. I do 6 reps at my max weight, 8 reps about 10-20% lighter and finish off with 10 reps another 10% lighter. I know I used the right amount of weight when my muscles are screaming bloody mary by my last set.

To begin, here is my Monday routine:

monday
am: back, bis, shoulders
o       pull-ups wide grip & underhand grip
o       seated rows
o       shoulder press
o       dumbbell flys
o       bicep curls
o       good mornings
pm: track cardio
o       stadiums  
o       2 x 400 sprints (build up)

See you tomorrow for Tuesday’s routine!


DIY Tree Candle Holders

My mom is one of the best cooks around. Her attention to detail and her ability to remain patient continues to amaze me and makes for amazing food. With all her focus on the food, the table settings were the last priority on the to-do list. We were set for the dinner but had no d├ęcor. With the expert cook having all of the food preparations under control, I decided I would undertake decorating the table. With a budget of $0 and a few hours until the guest arrived, I looked around for some materials. The dusty silk flower arrangement from the attic just wasn’t giving the table the ‘pop’ it needed.

My parent’s house has a rustic comfortable charm, nestled in the trees, perched above a lake. When the wood stove is burning, there really is no place like home. I remembered an episode of HGVT, where a designer used a tree trunk as a lamp base. This sparked my idea to make candle holders the same way.

Off to my dads shop we went.

Materials:
  • 1 small tree trunk (make sure it's not rotting)
  • saw
  • router
  • tea candles
1. Cut the tree trunk to multiple sizes. I cut 5 pieces to make a set.

2. Allow time for any water to drain from the tree and the wood to dry




3. Trace the tea candle on one end of the trunk



















4. Using the router, cut out the circle the same depth as the tea candle


5. Place tea candle inside tree candle holder

6. Set the table


Slim Down, Energize Up Green Smoothie

Greens provide many benefits from stabilizing your pH levels to providing key minerals and vitamins to keep your brain, bones and immune system running strong.

I find it essential to start most mornings off with fresh, raw greens. Roasted, boiled and fried veggies at dinner just won’t cut it if you’re looking for results. Local farmers markets are booming with different greens and fruits, so its easy to mix it up and keep things interesting throughout the season.

A few helpful hints:

  • Wholesale stores like Costco can save you tons on bulk organic veggies and organic almond butter
  • Add half an avocado to make your smoothie extra creamy
  • Try only using spinach if all the veggies below seem like too much. Spinach has a very mild taste compared to other greens like kale or swiss chard

Fill your blender at night with all ingredients except the coconut milk and water. Store in the fridge and it's ready to go in the morning. I have also used immersion blenders with protein shaker bottles which makes the whole process super easy. Sadly my immersion blender burned out the other day so it’s back to the good ol’ blender.


Ingredients:
  • 2 handfuls spinach
  • 1/3 cucumber
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 1tsp fresh ginger (careful with this one)
  • 2 shoots celery
  • juice of one lemon
  • 5 strawberries
  • 1 scoop whole foods vanilla protein powder  
  • 1 - 2 tbs almond butter
  • 1c so delicious coconut milk
  • water & ice to taste
Directions:
Blend all ingredients together until liquid. Add a straw and enjoy.

Update: I added a tablespoon of coconut oil this week and the shake was even better. If you live in Atlanta, I recommend buying organic coconut oil at the Dekalb Farmers Market. They sell large quantities for a great price.  

Photoshop your Bridal Party

I'm getting married! About a month ago, I got engaged to my boyfriend of 7 years [be patient, ladies!]. I was not that 10 year-old who dreamt of my picture perfect wedding, but I do LOVE to plan! 

I'm a huge aesthetic person, so naturally, choosing my colors are extremely important to me. It just pulls everything together, and can really set an overall theme for your big day. If you know some basics in Adobe Photoshop, choosing a color scheme for your bridal party will be a cinch! I was able to play with color palettes to see the whole picture. 

I found photos online that fit was I as looking for. Try going to any bridal boutique's website to find a style of dress that you like - they always show you the colors that are available, so you can grab your images from there. After all my images were saved to my desktop, I went to town with copy and pasting various elements together [cropping where necessary]. 

Customized bridal party in Photoshop: flowers, ties, pocket squares - WAH-LAH!
The ONLY keys you need to know:
  • Polygonal Lasso Tool [to select a specific area]
  • Command (⌘) + C to copy [for mac]
  • Command (⌘) + V to paste [for mac]
  • Ctrl + C to copy [for PC]
  • Ctrl + V to paste [for PC]
  • Polygonal Lasso Tool + "delete" key to crop

This is what I came out with..
For the Ladies:
  • Charcoal grey dresses
  • Peach rose bouquets
For the Lads:



Dress up your wine

Callie comes from one of the nicest and generous families I have ever met. She invited me and my now fiance [sounds so weird to say!] down to her family's beach house in St. George Island, Florida for the weekend. As if my Thailand trip wasn't enough of a vacation, I just couldn't pass up the offer.

Callie's mother, Leslie, had a really cute idea to make wine charms. While on her beach strolls, she gathered sea shells that were weathered with holes, and placed them on silver hoops to attach them to wine glass stems. I thought it was the cutest idea, so as a thank you present, I stamped metal discs with everyone's names. The extra accessory gives a great personalized touch, and Leslie really appreciated the gesture, which is what mattered the most.

These are a piece of pie to put together. Below are the materials that were used to create these adorable wine charms:
  • Stemware hoops [$1.47 from Hobby Lobby]
  • Sea shells [w/ holes to slide onto hoop]
  • 1/2" metal discs [plus 1 jump ring]
  • Metal stamping kit
  • Permanent marker [to fill in stamped letters]
  • Pro-polishing pad to wipe away sharpie and give it shine [$3/pack of 10 from FusionBeads.com]